Why Solar Panels?

Why install solar panels, or use solar energy?

The most basic question of all concerning solar energy: why use it? Is it actually ‘better’ than alternative sources? Will it actually save you money?

The answer is essentially: yes.

#1 – Solar panels reduce the use of dirty energy

Solar energy is considered “clean” when compared with sources like coal or natural gas — anything that must be burned puts combustion products into the atmosphere. Even when you include the full production impact of solar panels, what we would call the full lifecycle cost, which includes materials used in manufacturing the solar panels, transport, lifetime energy output, etc, they produce much more energy than they use.

Solar panels also have an incredibly long lifetime, easily 25 years of output. This is a very robust, simple, efficient technology for producing energy out of the sun’s energy.

#2 – Solar Energy can immediately save you money on your utility bill

What if you could immediately lower your electricity bill, then keep that fixed rate forever (at a substantial discount when everyone else’s energy bills are only going up)? Sound to good to be true?

It’s not: many solar installers offer what’s called solar lease. Basically, the homeowner leases panels from the solar company. The solar lease payment + the new electricity bill is set lower than the expected cost of electricity. So the savings are immediate–as soon as the solar installation is complete.

Many homeowners choose to treat solar as a financial investment, and the returns are very good. For example, $10k invested in a solar panel array can pay itself off in just a few years. After that the home’s electricity is free or extremely reduced, and in some states there can be other financial benefits including feed-in tariffs (utility company paying you for electricity), tax incentives, and other credits.

How much does solar actually cost? It depends on where you live. Take a look at the infographic below to learn more about how much solar energy costs.

solar-energy-infographic

Why go solar now? Because solar panels have seen record drops in cost over the last few years.

As you can see from this graph of solar panel installations, things are growing dramatically:

solar-installations-2014

#3 – Solar energy is a better investment than the stock market

This might sound crazy until you’ve seen the numbers, but solar panels are the only home improvement that pays for itself. Not only do solar panels boost property values, but the money you put down on your system will come back to you with interest.

Take a look at the following charts:

solar-panel-roi-nj

Things have changed slightly since this chart was put together, but the point is that solar can outperform the S&P 500 by a wide margin. Here’s a state by state analysis of why solar panels beat stocks:

solar-panel-roi

Need we say more?

The reason to seriously consider solar is good for you home, good for your wallet, and good for the community.

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