Top 10 Questions About Solar Answered
Solar power is a confusing topic to many. Here at Approved Home Pros, we get a lot of questions about solar, so we sat down with our solar experts to answer the top 10 questions about solar.
Top 10 Questions About Solar
Q1: How expensive is a solar system?
A: The cost of a system depends on many factors including the number and type/quality of panels and other equipment. No two systems are exactly alike. To size a system correctly, it is important to understand your current power use any changes to your future power use (like adding an electric car). One key to remember is that most people finance their system, meaning that costs are spread out over a number of years. Your total monthly payment for your solar system should be less than you are paying for your current electric bill. Often substantially less. This means you are saving immediately.
Q2: How will solar affect my property value?
A: Your property value should increase with a solar system. In almost all cases, a home with effectively no electric bill is far more attractive to a buyer than a home with an electric bill. One area to be aware of is that a leased system can cause some complications in the sales process. If you are thinking of selling your home in a few years, you should look more to a loan than a lease when adding solar.
Q3: What solar energy rebates and incentives are available?
A: As of 2017, there is a 30% federal tax credit available for solar.
Q4: Will I still get an electric bill?
A: Yes. You need to be connected to the grid and there is a small connection charge. You will also get an annual bill that will have your debits (money you owe from times you didn’t produce enough power and had to use power from the utility) subtracted from your credits (money you are owed from times you over-produced and gave power to the utility). You will generally want that annual bill to be close to $0, because your credits and debits should come very close to offsetting each other by the end of the year. This is where proper sizing of your system and knowledge of your lifestyle is important and why choosing the right solar contractor is very important.
Q5: What happens if I sell my house?
A: If you purchased your system for cash, there is nothing that has to happen outside of a regular home sale. If you financed your system, you would likely take the added proceeds from the solar system being priced into the sale price and use that money to pay off your loan. In some situations, buyers can assume the loan, but that is more complex. If you leased the system, it is also more complex to sell the home. Some realtors and buyers shy away from a home with a leased solar system. You should talk to your realtor about the specifics. If you are thinking of selling your home in the next several years, a lease may not the be right choice for you. Q
6: How do I compare solar quotes?
A: Financially, you need to look at Cost Per Kilowatt Hour. This will allow you to compare apples to apples in terms of the cost of your energy. You should also look at the quality of the panel manufacturer, the warranty and the reputation of the installation company to determine which price includes the best value.
Q7: How long will a solar system last?
A: Most solar systems are warrantied for 20 years, but many will warranty reduced production of the panels over time. Meaning that at 20 years the panels are expected to produce only 80% of the energy they produced in year one. There are domestic manufacturers, such as SunPower that will warranty much more. This is a key to look at when you are comparing solar quotes.
Q8: Are there big differences in solar panel manufacturers?
A: Yes. Some panels are much better than others. There can be significant differences in the amount of power a panel will produce. This means that you will need fewer of the higher-producing panels to do the same job as an inferior panel. Though you may pay more per-panel, the added efficiency will pay off in less total panels and greater production. Also, as said above the warranty from company-to-company can vary greatly. Overall, domestic panels tend to be better than those made overseas.
Q9: Is my roof suitable for solar panels?
A: This is an important question. Shade and roof angles are important, but a good solar installer can work with these issues. The more important thing to consider is the expected life-span of your current roof. There have been many stories of lesser solar companies putting a solar system planned to work for 20+ years on a roof that would need to be replaced in 2-3 years without telling the homeowner about the roofing problems. This is not only unethical, but potentially very costly. It is important to either use a solar company that also is a licensed roofer or to get a roof inspection from a qualified roofer.
Q10: Do solar panels produce power when the sun isn’t shining?
A: No. They only work when sun is shining on them. When the sun is down, you are using power from the power company. During the day, you are typically generating more power than you need and the power company buys that power from you automatically and gives you a credit for it. Then, when the sun isn’t shining they give power to you and those credits you got during the day pay for your nighttime use. Or, you may choose to install a power storage system (battery). This allows you to store the power you produce during the day and use it at night, largely bypassing the power company. These systems are becoming far more trustworthy and economical.