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When Should You Invest in Rooftop Solar Panels?

solar panels

There are many benefits to investing in solar panels for your home. Recent advancements in technology and solar cell efficiency have made it an even more attractive proposition. In addition, the U.S. Congress recently implemented a plan to extend the tax credits for installing solar panels on one’s home through the end of 2019.

With these incentives, how do you know if solar is right for your home? And how do you best implement this technology? We attempt to answer these questions below.

Is Solar Worth It?

pixabaySolar panels on house

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Places where the cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity is higher will reap greater benefits from a solar panel install. New England, New York, Michigan, California, Alaska, and Hawaii have the highest energy costs in the country; homeowners there stand to benefit most from generating their own power. However, if you live in another state, it may still be worth it, especially if you can sell your electricity back to the power company.

Check your state’s kilowatt hour cost on this chart, or check your utility bill to see if an install makes sense for you. In addition to the 30% federal tax credit on solar installs, don’t forget to take into account potential state incentives. The NC Clean Energy Center maintains a Database of State Incentives for Renewables that allows you to look up what additional credits or financial incentives can be taken advantage of when you install panels on your home.

EnergySage is a site that allows solar companies to compete for your business with abundant resources to help homeowners make the right decision on solar. They help compare your kWh cost to the cost of a solar install. You can then determine how much you stand to save on electricity costs per year.

Though these numbers are moving targets, take the time to figure out the benefits. It could save you thousands of dollars per year. Best of all, you can increase the value of your house by up to 40% upon resale.

Which Solar Package is Right?

Once you decide to install panels on your home, it’s time to figure out the best method. The next decision is whether to buy the system outright, loan, or lease (PPA) the equipment.

Large home with solar panels

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The benefits of paying cash up-front are pretty clear: with a high initial investment, all of the value is immediately attached to the house. Only positive returns and occasional maintenance need to be taken care of moving forward. It takes a bit of time to make back the money spent, but afterward all power generated is profit.

Loaning the equipment will offer smaller financial benefit in the long run, but you will still own the system by the end. The price that homebuyers will pay for a home with a solar system installed will reflect that. It also has the added benefit of no up-front cost to you.

A PPA is similar to a lease, allowing the solar company to install panels on your home. You then buy your energy from the solar company. It will still lower your utility bills by about 10-30%, but you do not own the system and it will not affect the final asking price for your home.

What About Tesla Roof Tiles?

Home with Tesla tile roof

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A lot of hype has been swirling around the Tesla solar roof tiles, or “solar shingles”. They are objectively gorgeous, durable, and completely replace the roof instead of sitting on top like traditional panels.

The negatives, according to Wholesale Solar, are still too numerous for the average consumer to be making a smart financial decision by investing in the Tesla model. The Solar Roof is vastly more expensive than traditional panels and require more maintenance, which eats into long-term cost. It also takes over a year from initial estimate to project completion.

However, if your home needs a brand new roof and the idea of having an aesthetically-seamless roof that also generates power is appealing, then Tesla’s Solar Roof may be for you.

For most consumers, the equipment decision will be between monocrystalline and polycrystalline roof panels.

Hopefully this information has helped you get a better handle on the options available to become self-sufficient energy producers. If you’ve been on the fence about solar panels, take time to figure out if it works for your home; after 2019, the federal incentives decrease yearly until they are phased out completely by 2022. And take the time to invest in a home warranty, which will guarantee increased life for all your appliances and maintain the value of your home for years to come.


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