Are Solar Panels Worth it? Should you Switch?

  1. What do you gain by making the switch?
  2. How much will you save on energy bills?
  3. What about the Tax Breaks and Grants?
  4. How will Solar affect the value of your home?
  5. Are solar panels a good long-term investment?
  6. How long do the panels last?
  7. Are you benefiting the environment by going solar?

1. What Do You Gain by Making the Switch from the Grid to Solar Power?

Are Solar panels worth it? We all know the hefty cash load that utility bills add to our monthly expenses. Here’s an infographic from Connect4Climate showing the breakdown in the energy use of a typical home.

are solar panels worth it for saving energy bills

Photo Credit: Infographic by Connect4Climate

Space cooling and heating, together with hot water, accounts for over 60% of the energy usage in the home. In addition, the average American home uses a wider range of appliances than ever before, and these all require power. While our appliances have generally become a lot more efficient over the years, the total amount of energy used just keeps climbing and climbing.

Why are We Using So Much Power in Our Homes?

There’s a fascinating exhibit at Disney World in Orlando, showing how the appliances in a typical American home have changed decade by decade over the past century. The list of electronic items that didn’t exist for the previous generation, is quite staggering. Home computers, laptops and tablets with broadband internet and wi-fi connections have become commonplace. Every member of the family has a mobile phone, and TV’s in every room are widely the norm. Home entertainment systems are very much the in thing, with hi-fi players and music systems.

We are bombarded in the media every day, with calls to buy the latest gadget. The ads give a dozen reasons why it will save us more time, make us more efficient and just plain give us more pleasure.

Will Our Needs Keep Growing?

This all means that we keep ramping up the amount of energy we are using on a daily basis. The U.S Energy Information Administration has predicted that consumption will increase by over 50% in the next 20 years. With the cost of traditional fossil fuels climbing all the time, the result will be that we will keep paying more for power. Or will we? Is there a solution? Are solar panels worth it as a way of gaining independence from the cost spiral?

The ideal would be to rid ourselves of our dependence on the expensive energy grid, with its reliance on traditional power sources.

The Solution is at Hand!

Fortunately, there is a way to do this! We can now power our homes with the free, clean and renewable energy that flows unceasingly from our sun. So, are solar panels worth it? The answer is a resounding yes.

Read on to find out why.

2. How Much Will You Save on Energy Bills?

One of the main reasons to switch to Solar generated power for your home, is of course the massive savings benefit. Installing the appropriate number of solar panels on your roof can dramatically reduce the amount you have to spend on utilities each month. It is quite possible, with a properly designed system, to completely eliminate your electric bill, making you entirely independent of the energy grid.

How is This Achieved?

Your savings with solar will depend on the amount of power your installation generates, and how much you need to power your home. While this may sound complicated, it is a very straight forward calculation for your installation company.

Here’s How They Calculate It

Based on your electricity bills for the past 12 months, they will determine your monthly usage in kWh. They will then divide this figure by 30 to arrive at your average daily power usage.

Using your location and the average number of sunlight hours per day, they can then accurately determine how many panels you would need to generate this amount of electricity.

Naturally this is a simplified explanation, but the principle is clear. Your Solar installation company will provide you with a free quote, setting out the exact specifications. You will then know exactly what installation you need and the cost to install it. This will be the first step to answering: are solar panels worth it.

Best of all you will largely be independent of the expensive energy providers!

3. What About the Tax Breaks and Grants?

To encourage the installation of renewable Solar energy panels, a Federal tax incentive is made available to you. This means you can reduce the net cost of your Solar system by 30%. This tax credit was due to expire, but recent legislation means it is now still available to homeowners in some form through 2021.

In addition, various States have additional incentive programs available. Maryland has the Residential Clean Energy Grant Program. It provides a rebate of $1,000 to homeowners that install a solar-electric system. In order to be eligible, the property must be the applicant’s primary residence. This grant may also be subtracted from adjusted gross income for state income tax purposes.

When Can the Rebate be Claimed?

The legislation passed now allows you to claim it as soon as the installation of the system is complete. Just make sure that the system is fully operational by December 31, 2023.

If you are not in a position to deduct the full amount in a single tax year, you can roll it over. This means you can claim the total amount over a number of tax periods.

4. How Will Solar Affect the Value of Your Home?

4are solar panels worth it to add value to your home
Photo Credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Maybe you are still asking: are solar panels worth it?  I understand that they will gain me freedom from the grid, but will solar actually add value to my home? An article entitled “Soak up the sun: Impact of solar energy systems on residential home values in Arizona” gives an interesting answer. A survey prepared for the US Dept of Energy by Berkely Lab found: “As of the second quarter of 2016 more than 1.1 million solar photovoltaic (PV) homes exist in the US. We find home buyers are consistently willing to pay PV home premiums across various states.”

Clearly, the attractive black low profile panels are enhancing the appearance of homes, and proving very attractive to buyers. As a result, realtors are increasingly finding that Solar home values keep gaining in resale value, and are easier to sell.

A few years back, the US Department of Energy surveyed 4,000 homeowners with solar powered homes. They reported that buyers were willing to pay $15,000 more for a house with an average-size PV system. The larger the system, the more the resale value increases.

The number of homes that have gone solar since these early reports keeps climbing daily, and now numbers in the millions. Realtors are report that solar homes are proving more and more attractive to buyers, and the number of installations keeps climbing.

5. Are Solar Panels a Good Long-Term Investment?

While cost of installation and immediate savings are the first questions people ask, one also needs to look ahead. Are solar panels worth it in terms of the cost involved vs the long-term return from the investment? The real question is: are solar panels worth it?

Once the installation has been paid off, the investment value becomes dramatic. Monthly utility costs are minimal or even zero. The resale value of the home has been substantially enhanced, and one is entirely free of the price increases that non-solar homes will be paying.

Clearly, the trend towards sustainable renewable energy sources is increasing. Fossil fuels are going to be with us for some time, but as we move forward, the cost of traditional power supplies is going to keep climbing. Being able to cap utility costs by moving towards free solar power is a powerful reason to invest in them now.

Solar installations typically will have paid for themselves within ten years of installation. At that point, the question “are solar panels worth it” becomes a no-brainer!

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently reported that rooftop solar panels have the potential to generate nearly 40 percent of electricity in the U.S. Clearly this is a train one wants to be riding.

6. How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

The American-made solar panels that are installed by the better Solar companies are of a high quality, with a life expectancy in excess of 30 years.

As panels age, there is a tiny drop-off in the amount of power produced. Typically, you will be guaranteed to receive not less than 97% of the rated power of the panels during the first year. Over time, the power will not decrease by more than 0.7% of the rated power per year, which means that the panels are guaranteed to supply your power needs for many decades to come.

After the decades-long warranty period ends, you will still have operating panels delivering usable clean power, albeit at a slightly reduced rate.

A study of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory confirmed that photovoltaic solar panels will deliver excellent power for many decades. One can expect power in excess of 80% of the originally rating  more than 25 years after installation. In some instances there was hardly any degradation at the end of the warranty period.

Maintenance required is minimal. While it is a good idea to keep the panels clean, this can easily be done with a garden hose. Other than this no other routine maintenance is required.

7. Are You Benefiting the Environment by Going Solar?

The traditional fossil fuel reserves of coal, petroleum and natural gas, while still fairly large, are nevertheless running down. As there is no way of replenishing these energy sources they are becoming scarce and more expensive to source.

Aside from this problem of supply, these fuels contribute in a large way to increasing greenhouse gases thereby affecting the climate and raising the acidity of the oceans. This level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, known as the carbon footprint, must to be controlled, and unless this is done, the environment is at risk.

You Can Help Limit The Carbon Footprint

are solar panels worth it for reducing the carbon footprint
Environmental Benefits

The solution to reducing the Carbon footprint lies in reducing the world’s reliance on fossil fuels. As a result, we are making massive efforts to try and find alternative “clean” renewable energy sources. These are energy sources that will naturally regenerate without depleting their source. Nuclear energy is also used quite widely to generate power, but due to the inherent danger and difficulty in using this source, it has not proven to be the solution that the world was looking for.

Where Does the Clean Renewable Energy Come From?

For thousands of years water-driven mills ground our grain, and the wind drove our vessels across the oceans. Today we are again using these natural energy sources, but in a far more sophisticated way.

Enormous wind farms with hundreds of wind-driven turbines can generate sufficient electricity to deliver power over a wide area. Water too, can drive large hydro-electric turbines to do a similar job.

But a newer “clean” source is making its presence felt. Thousands of solar panels now cover giant areas of the countryside generating photo-voltaic power on a new and massive scale across the globe. The same technology is now economically viable at a level which makes it possible to power individual homes.

The solar panels that can power your home emit no carbon dioxide, and they provide clean energy free of charge!

By adding these gleaming and aesthetically pleasing panels to your roof, you benefit, and you encourage your neighbors to do the same.

You are Helping Create Jobs by Going Solar

In addition, the solar energy is a job creator. A recent report by the Solar Energy Foundation stated that the industry creates more jobs than any other US sector. The number of people employed is nearing 300,000 and keeps increasing. In 2016, 1 in every 50 jobs was in the solar industry!

By powering our homes with the clean renewable energy provided free by our sun, we can play a joint role in benefiting the environment and the world at large.

The Answer to Your Question

Installing solar panels is really a no brainer. We can save on our monthly utility bills, our home value will increase, the environment benefits and we help create more jobs.

Do we still need to ask: are solar panels worth it?