Does solar power for my home make sense?

What makes the best candidate for home solar?

#1 You own your own home.

Since this is a major home upgrade it doesn’t work well if you don’t own the property (although you can always try to convince your landlord to go solar).

#2 You live in a state with a good solar market.

This typically means average to high electricity rates (this is key in terms of system payback time). There are also state-by-state incentives, credits, credit markets, tax bonuses, utility programs, and so on. Don’t be scared off by this, it all gets rolled into the details of a solar estimate and payback time.

#3 The location and positioning of your home and roof is ideal.

Obviously solar panels need sunlight to operate properly, and even a small amount of shade during part of the day can significantly cut power production. The other major factors here can by the type of roof you have (eg Asphalt Shingles vs Spanish tile) and the angle. The type and slant of roof matters for actual installation, eg it may be more difficult for a worker to go about the panel installation on ceramic shingles, which break easily. Roof direction and angle is another huge factor in power output — a south facing roof at an ideal angle will be more suited than something steeper and north facing.

#4 You have good credit.

Without going into the details here, the three basic ways to fund home solar are to pay cash, lease the panels (eg lock in lower utility rates but to not own the system), or to get a loan. All three have advantages and disadvantages which your particular circumstances will dictate.

#5 You’ll be staying in your home for a few years

Solar panels will increase the value of your home if or when you decide to sell. It’s important to consider how you’ll pay for the system and what the payback time will be when you consider this. How does adding $5900 per installed kilowatt to your home’s resale value sound?

  • by Clayton
  • |
  • October 7, 2014