According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, the average cost of solar panels has dropped nearly 70% since 2014, making solar electricity competitive with conventional energy sources in most states.
The Solar Energy Industries Association projects that more than one in seven U.S. homes will have a rooftop solar system by 2030. Let’s assume the home you’re moving to has a conventional energy supply and that you’re considering installing a solar system in your new home. But even if it is already equipped with solar panels, does it make sense for you? Let’s weigh the pros and cons.
Pros of Installing Solar Systems
- As long as you have unshaded, south- or west-facing exposure, a roof that is in good condition and enough free space to provide room for the panels, a switch to solar can be a great way to significantly lower your energy costs. You can estimate the efficiency of panels in your area by using tools such as the SolarReviews calculator.
- Although the typical solar panel system, including installation, will cost between $15,000 and $25,000, it is a long-term, relatively low maintenance investment that can last 25 to 30 years before needing replacement. Solar panels add value to a home and may let you benefit from federal or state tax incentives.
- In many regions of the country, you can also lease your solar panels or install them under a power purchase agreement. This means you pay for the power that your panels produce rather than for the panels themselves. This way, you won’t need to invest any money upfront or take out a loan.
- Because solar panels reduce your dependence on fossil fuels, your energy costs will be more predictable and stable, especially during periods when the demand for energy is high. Energy produced from solar panels is clean and free of pollutants, and it emits no greenhouse gases, significantly reducing your carbon footprint.
Cons of Solar Systems
- Your system’s energy output depends mostly on direct sunlight. If you live in an area prone to cloudy days, it will definitely impact its efficiency. Solar system will work best in sunny regions like the southwestern U.S. and will be less productive in more temperate regions such as New England, especially during winter.
- Once a solar energy system is installed, it is more or less permanent. Dismantling and moving it to a different location would risk damage to both your panels and the roof. That said, the value of the home also increases with the solar installation, so you should be able to recover most of the cost if you leave your solar panel system behind for future owners.
- This is not a DIY project. According to the Center for Sustainable Energy, a typical solar system and its installation runs between $15,000 and $25,000. The panels themselves are expensive, difficult to work with on a sloping rooftop and need to be installed correctly to realize any benefit.
- Limited roof space can be a challenge. A solar energy system needs sufficient space both to install and to run smoothly. If you have a small roof or an unusual roofline (think Victorian-style garrets) you might not be able to install enough panels to power your entire home.
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