Are Solar Panels Worth It?
5 - Minute Read
PUBLISHED: Sep 16, 2022
If you live in an area that frequently gets sunshine, you may have asked yourself the question "are solar panels worth it?" There are a number of factors to consider when deciding if a solar system is a good option for you. This includes the amount of sunlight your area receives, the upfront cost and the orientation of your home and roof. In this article we will take a look at these factors to help you decide whether solar panels will be worth it for you.
Understanding Solar Panels
Solar panels capture the sun's rays and transform them into electricity. Using energy from the sun to power your home can be an attractive proposition, especially if you live in an area that gets a lot of sunlight. You can pay upfront to build a solar panel grid and then save every month by reducing your electricity bills.
A solar panel is usually made up of several photovoltaic (PV) cells, and the energy that they produce is typically measured in watts. The output of a solar panel system (consisting of several solar panels) is typically measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). Usually, a solar panel system is connected to a solar inverter that takes the direct current (DC) from the photovoltaic cells and transforms it into alternating current (AC) that most homes use.
When You Should Consider Getting Solar Panels
Here are a few things that you'll want to consider to decide if solar panels are right for you:
You Want To Lower Your Electricity Bills
If you have high electricity bills, you might want to consider getting solar panels. Solar panels typically have a large upfront cost (which you can often finance) but then could save you money each month because you’re relying less on grid-generated power by making your own. The more you are currently paying each month for electricity, the more you stand to save by getting solar panels.
Your House Gets A Lot Of Sunlight
One of the biggest factors in deciding if solar panels will be worth it for you is how much sunlight your home receives. Each solar panel’s energy is typically measured in watts, which gives the amount of power the panel produces when exposed to the sun. The energy produced by an entire solar grid system is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), which is the wattage of each solar panel multiplied by the number of hours of sunlight the panel receives. So the more sunlight your area receives, the more electricity your solar grid system can generate.
Your Roofing Conditions Are Right
The conditions of your roof also play a part in deciding if solar panels are right for you. You'll need to own your own home or get the property owner's permission before installing solar panels on your roof. Ideally, you'll want to make sure that your roof faces south or west and has adequate space. You'll also want to see if installing solar panels might void any roof warranty you have and make sure that you won't need to replace your roof in the near future.
There Are Incentives Or Exemptions Available
There are a variety of different solar incentives, tax exemptions or rebates available at the federal, state and local levels. A recent extension to the federal solar tax credit ensures that homeowners could qualify for a benefit through at least 2034. Depending on where you live, you may be eligible for some of these incentives, so it makes sense to check and see what might be available for you.
Advantages Of Solar Panels
Here are a few of the advantages of solar panels and installing a solar grid system at your home:
High Return On Investment
Solar panels may add to the property value of your home. If you think about it, having a solar energy system may make your home more attractive to potential buyers, since they know that they may have lower monthly electricity bills. The appreciation in your home's value could even be enough to get a return on the initial investment to install solar panels.
Lower Electricity Bills
Getting some or all of your energy from solar panels will likely lower your electricity bills. Exactly how much your monthly bill will drop depends on the size of your solar array and how much your utility company charges you for electricity. It's not unheard of for people in high-sun areas to generate more electricity than they use and actually sell their excess energy back to the grid.
Minimal Maintenance Costs
Unlike many other complex mechanical systems, a solar panel system has very few moving parts. This helps keep the maintenance costs for solar panels to a minimal amount. Most solar panels come with a warranty and expected lifespan of 10 – 25 years.
Reduced Environmental Impact
Green smart homes and solar panels have a positive impact on the environment. So not only could you save money by lowering your monthly energy costs, you're also lowering your carbon footprint. Reducing your environmental impact can have a positive non-monetary benefit for many people.
Another benefit of solar panels is that they can decrease your need to rely on energy companies. Especially if you live in a very rural environment, you may see a lot of benefit from being able to generate much or all of the electricity that you need. This also increases your self-sufficiency, whether you choose to remain connected to the electric power grid or go completely off-grid.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?
A solar panel system can have a wide range of costs. A single solar panel can cost $200 – $300 on average, depending on the size and number of watts it produces. The number of panels you plan on purchasing, along with installation, labor costs and other add-on purchases will increase the total for your installation. Considering installation and other expenses, you can look to spend anywhere between $3 and $5 per watt to install solar, although the actual price may vary depending on your situation.
There are solar loans available to help pay for the cost of installation. Solar tax credits, rebates and other incentives may help you to recoup some of your out-of-pocket installation costs.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
Because solar panels have very few moving parts, they last a lot longer than many other home systems. Depending on the type you choose, your panels could last 20 – 30 years and may include a warranty. A solar inverter is another part of most people's solar installations that turns the DC power generated from your panels to AC which most household appliances use. And while an inverter has more moving parts than the panels themselves, it still should last 10 – 20 years at least.
The Bottom Line
Installing solar panels can be a great way to save money each month, lower your carbon footprint and become more self-sufficient. Solar panels have a relatively large upfront cost, but can save you money on your electricity bills each month. Depending on the size of your solar grid and how much sunlight you get, it’s realistic to expect the solar panels to “pay back” your initial investment in anywhere from 7 – 10 years, especially if you can qualify for the tax credit.
Rocket Solar does not provide legal or tax advice. The information herein is general in nature and should not be considered legal or tax advice. Consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific situation.