There are many benefits to solar energy. Sunshine is a renewable resource, which means it doesn’t produce emissions or pollute the environment. Solar power is becoming increasingly affordable, thanks to advancements in technology and government incentives. Solar panels can also help you save money on your energy bills.
However, while solar panels offer many benefits, there are also some downsides and factors that may influence your decision even if you decide in their favor. Here are five of the most important things to consider before installing solar panels on your home or property:
1. Do your research.
Installing solar panels is a big decision, so it’s important to do your research before making any commitments. Talk to other homeowners who have installed solar panels, read online reviews, and get quotes from multiple contractors before making a final decision. Consider the energy and pollution associated with their production, transportation, and installation. Calculate the breakeven point—how long after the panels are installed will it be before you begin to see savings?
2. Your location matters.
Solar panels need to be installed in an area that receives direct sunlight for most of the day and your roof needs to be in good condition. If your property is shaded by trees or other buildings, or your roof is not appropriately oriented, then you may not get enough sun exposure to make solar panels a worthwhile investment. Every state and country has its own laws and regulations regarding solar panel installation and power usage. You may also be eligible for tax credits or additional incentives depending on what type of solar panels you choose and a variety of other factors.
3. Your savings will take time to materialize, and solar panels don’t last forever.
Solar panels typically have a 20-year lifespan, so when you are tracking your savings, make sure to factor in the upfront and/or monthly costs of your system when determining your breakeven point. According to ecowatch.com, the average US homeowner will break even approximately eight years after having a solar system installed. At that point, you may want to divert your savings to an account earmarked for replacement of your solar panel system.
4. You can lease or purchase solar panels.
There are two options for obtaining solar panels: leasing and purchasing. When you purchase your solar panels, you may be eligible for tax credits and incentives. With the help of energy savings, you may be able to pay off your purchase in eight years or less. Alternatively, lease agreements are typically 20-year terms. You won’t get the incentives, but you’re less likely to put down as much cash up front, and you won’t be responsible for maintenance.
5. Extreme weather affects their maintenance and lifespan.
Solar panels can be damaged by severe weather conditions. Take this into consideration if your property is located in an area where hurricanes, tornadoes, or other extreme weather events are common. You will have to budget for repair and maintenance costs that may be higher than those of solar users in places that do not experience these events. Additionally, systems installed in these places may need to be replaced sooner. Your installer should know what is common in your region. Anticipated maintenance costs and the odds of early replacement may be reasons to choose to forgo tax credits and other incentives and lease your solar panels.
6. There are different types of solar panels.
The type of solar panels you have installed will also impact both cost and energy output. For example, monocrystalline panels are considered premium, as they have some of the highest efficiencies of any solar panels. However, this makes them the most expensive option. Thin film solar panels are the least efficient but most flexible option. Because of their affordability and ease of installation, these panels are very popular. Consider your ability to make an upfront payment as well as the anticipated breakeven point of the specific system that you are considering before making your decision.
7. Your home’s value could be affected positively or negatively.
If you plan on selling your home within the next 20 years, you’ll need to factor in the resale value of solar panels. Sometimes, solar panels can increase the value of your home, but this isn’t always the case. For example, if you are leasing your panels, you may have to pay off the lease with the proceeds from your home’s sale. Still, having well-maintained and paid-off solar panels can be an alluring incentive for potential buyers.
There are many things to consider before installing solar panels on your home or property. Use these tips to make a decision that could benefit your wallet and our environment.