Every month in my neighborhood another homeowner takes the plunge and adorns their roofs with solar panels. Being a more conventional homeowner, it never seemed like a practical decision. Is switching to solar right for you? The answer is…it depends. This article will guide you through the possible return on your investment, home solar system types and the additional potential concerns that come along with a solar unit.
Return on Investment
Calculating the return on investment is a key part in understanding whether the solar plunge is for you. This involves not only the amount of energy saved from ditching the grid, but also federal and local tax rebates if applicable. There are a variety of online solar calculators available, but many are placed by solar companies themselves leading to inaccurate results. A thorough well thought out approach can pay dividends in the future.
While taking the time to calculate energy loads and potential payback periods, an energy audit of your home is recommended. Replacing old heaters, refrigerators, and air conditioners is a cheaper and easier way than solar panels to lower your electrical bill. A call to the electrical company to switch to a contract plan can also be a good idea.
In some cases, with government incentives, homeowners can recover almost 97% of their investment. In some areas, the payback period can be four hours or less. That sort of return on investment is impossible to duplicate on cost-comparable home improvement projects such as a bathroom or kitchen remodel.
Solar System Types
Solar shingles have garnered a lot of attention lately via Tesla’s advocacy. They have yet to gain a sizable foothold in the residential market as traction for new roofing products typically come from roofers themselves. Solar shingles also struggle to be cost competitive with conventional solar installations. Another obvious downside is they are only applicable when the roof itself must be replaced.
Conventional solar panels are not as aesthetically pleasing as their solar shingle counterparts. They require installation by a professional, which typically can be accomplished in a few days work. They offer a quicker payback period than solar shingles and their lifespan can typically be considered to be 20 to 25 years.
Ground mounted and community solar installations are two ways that solar can be used in a community without a dedicated rooftop mounted unit. These installations can be in a common area or mounted on the ground and bypass any potential roofing hurdles.Additional Potential Concerns
A solar panel installation must be a fit not only for you today, but long-term. This is why a proper calculation of a payback period is critical. Even if a homeowner doesn’t plan to stay in the house for 20+ years, solar panels are usually attractive to potential homebuyers. These potential homebuyers are enticed by the possibility of zero utility bills. Additionally, subdivisions may have deed restriction guidelines involving solar panels. Usually solar installations are permitted but approval must be obtained prior to construction.