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Five Reasons to Install Residential Solar Panels

Stephanie is always looking for ways to lighten her carbon footprint. She is enthusiastic about solar power and solar gadgets.

Install Residential Solar Panels and Save

If you have been considering installing solar panels on your home, now is the time to do so! Sales of solar power systems have been increasing in recent years, as prices continue to fall. I would even go so far as to state that putting solar panels on your roof is like insurance for the future.

But should you go solar? After all, aren't solar panels expensive? Is it worth it to make the investment?

The answers to all three questions are "yes." There are five reasons to install residential solar panels this year: (1) solar electricity is free; (2) solar panels increase the value of your home; (3) you can guard against future utility rate increases; (4) the cost of solar power is reduced by tax incentives and credits; and (5) they offer you the opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and live greener.

As a land use/development attorney, I have witnessed the positive impact of solar panels on the price and re-sale value of homes. The bottom line is that in today's economy, with current energy trends and incentives, you can install residential solar panels and save!

Should you install residential solar panels?

Should you install residential solar panels?

1. Solar Electricity is Free

Sunlight is abundant in just about every state, country and region around the world. As ultra-violet light strikes photovoltaic (PV) panels it can be converted into free solar electricity. Over the life of a solar panel system (25-35 years), you can tap into the world's oldest renewable resource. Your investment is merely for the solar panels.

At current solar panel prices, taking into consideration incentives and tax credits, the retail cost of an average home solar power system in the U.S. ranges from $20,000-40,000. After installation, many homeowners see their electricity bills drop by 2/3 or more - some down to zero. Plus, with net metering, homeowners with grid-tied solar power systems can watch their meters turn backward as they get credit for additional solar power generated but not used, which is fed back into the grid.

The return on investment for residential solar panels averages 7-10 years, which means at least 15-25 years during which you are not paying anything for solar electricity!

Lest you are concerned about installing solar panels because you do not live in a sunny region, consider that the leading solar power country in the world is Germany, and one of the top solar power producing states in the U.S. is New Jersey! Solar energy can be generated wherever there is sunlight - whether filtered by clouds, or not.

Installation of Residential Solar Panels

Home solar panels increase property value

Home solar panels increase property value

3. Solar Power Helps Guard Against Future Utility Rate Increases

Utility companies frequently raise rates and, with governmental pressure to generate increasing percentages of the power they sell from renewable resources, they seek to recoup investments in the new technology required to do so. While fossil-fuel based electricity remains cheaper than solar power or wind, government mandates cut into utility's profit margins. This means that we can expect more and greater rate hikes.

A solar power system can help guard against utility rate increases, however. When you generate your own electricity, you are less affected by inflation in your power bill. Even if you don't want to purchase your own solar panels, you can enter a solar panel lease or a solar power purchase agreement whereby you buy cheaper solar electricity from the owner of the panels at a fixed rate over the life of the lease or contract. These types of arrangements require no money down, as well. Once again, you can lock in existing rates and guard against future utility rate increases with solar power.

2. Solar Panels Increase the Value of Your Home

When most people calculate the return on investment for residential solar panels, they usually only consider the price and life of the solar power system as it depreciates over time, plus the savings in electricity bills. But another, very important factor is that solar panels increase the value of your home. When you put your home on the market, they also help your house sell faster and for more money than a similarly situated property without solar panels.

The United States EPA reported in the Appraisal Journal that, for every dollar you save in annual utility costs, solar panels increase the value of your home by $20. Simple math calculations show that this can significantly add up. Let's say you save 40% of your monthly electricity bill by going solar - for us, that would be about $80 per month. Over 12 months, that is a saving of $960 which results in an impressive and immediate $19,200 boost in home equity. In other words, you instantly regain nearly 100% of the cost of a solar array in home value. A 2011 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research similarly calculates that installing residential solar panels boosts home prices by 3-4%.

During installation of residential solar panels

During installation of residential solar panels

4. Solar Power Costs are Reduced by Incentives and Tax Credits

Currently, homeowners can save even more with residential solar panels through incentives and tax credits. In my home state of Oregon, the price of solar panels can be reduced by up to 80% as of the date of this publication. That takes an average $25,000 solar power array down to $5,600!

Solar power companies and other experts agree that the incentives and credits will not last forever. Several federal tax credits are set to expire the end of 2012, if not renewed. With solar panel prices dropping at precipitous rates (over 50% reduction in the past 24 months), the purpose for continuing incentives is shrinking. So, now is probably one of the best times to invest in solar energy when you can maximize on reduced costs and generous rebates.

See the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiencies for a complete list of solar power incentives across the United States.

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The Number of Residential Solar Panel Installations is on the Rise

5. Going Solar Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The vast majority of grid-based electricity comes from burning fossil fuels like coal and gas, which releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. That's why you can cut your carbon footprint by reducing electricity consumption. Simply, if we all used less power, demand would be reduced and utility companies would pump out fewer emissions as a result.

For the same reason, going solar reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Relying on renewable energy generated right at your home means you will not be as dependent - if at all - on grid-based power generated at polluting power plants. Even if you do not "believe" in global climate change, solar power is greener and safer than coal for many reasons: (1) no emissions; (2) no dangerous coal mining activities; and (3) no coal ash.

In summary, you can save money and the environment by going solar!

Perhaps you are now convinced that going solar is the right choice for you? Consider a DIY solar panel kit, or work with a professional solar installation company, which can also help you maximize rebates and tax credits.

Rooftop solar panels in the process of installation

Rooftop solar panels in the process of installation

Installation of Home Solar Panels

Why you should install solar panels

Why you should install solar panels

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2012 Stephanie Marshall


radharenu from India on October 18, 2017:

Nice Hub. Thanks for all the excellent information. I am sure many people would be encouraged to go solar on reading such informative and useful articles. For more information, you may visit this link also:

David Hamilton from Lexington, KY on June 17, 2014:

Good overview. I would love to implement solar power to my house, but the price of entering the door is too steep right now!

SolarWind9 from New York on May 22, 2013:

Good information and thanks for the well designed hub. A couple things to note: The leasing deals are almost always bad deals because the leasing company gets all the incentive money and pay back. The end-user just gets solar power. So, like a car lease, your just paying for usage and its not an investment. With a fully owned solar system which is connected to your electric utility, on good sunny days your dial will run backwards and you will be getting credits on your bill. Meaning, the utility is actually buying power from you. With a system like this you can not only save, but actually make money. I do this for a living, so I know.

LongTimeMother from Australia on January 15, 2013:

Hi Steph. I think one of the points about solar power that is often overlooked is the importance of being able to store your own power in batteries as well as feeding your excess solar power into the grid. I have friends with many more solar panels than my mere six panels ... and yet when the grid goes down they are left in the dark. Because I have deep cell batteries storing power, I am the only one with lights on.

Great info. Thank you for helping create a greener world.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 10, 2012:

Hi algarveview,

Countries all over the world are setting renewable energy targets (i.e. 20% of all electricity from solar and/or wind), and solar power is becoming more mainstream with each passing month. Thanks for your comment. All the best, Steph

Joana e Bruno from Algarve, Portugal on January 10, 2012:

Hi, Steph, very interesting and useful. Here our situation is a bit different, namely we don't have the same benefits, but anyway, as long as a person has the money to invest I think it's a no brainer, just has to be done, it's the best solution. Voted up.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 09, 2012:

Its up! Check my profile page! :)

Alexander Silvius from Portland, Oregon on January 09, 2012:

Awesomeness - I guess I can wait a little :-)

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 08, 2012:

Oh good! The weekend got busy but it will be done soon!

Alexander Silvius from Portland, Oregon on January 08, 2012:

Looking forward to your hub on solar panel kits - checking every day!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 07, 2012:

Thank you allpurpose and kashmir,

I hope that anyone interested in installing residential solar panels considers the benefits and the fact that prices are as good as they have ever been. Cheers, Steph

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on January 07, 2012:

Hi stephhicks thanks for all this excellent information, it will help anyone looking to install solar panels.

Vote up !!!

David Guion from North Carolina on January 07, 2012:

Thanks for this excellent and useful summary of an important topic. Voted up.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 06, 2012:

Hi Simone, that is a definite possibility! The only risk you have in that regard is that solar power incentives and rebates will go away, or get reduced. In any event, its great to hear that you are thinking about solar. Thanks for the comment - Cheers, Steph

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on January 06, 2012:

Awesome Hub! I would LOVE to install solar panels someday, but... I don't own a home, so I haven't yet had the opportunity! Perhaps the one benefit of me having to wait is that costs will go down even more :)

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 06, 2012:

Thank you Gypsy Rose - I hope that you can consider solar power to help heat your house at a lower cost. Cheers, Steph

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on January 06, 2012:

Fantastic info! We have a very drafty old house here in Latvia and eventually we will have to consider alternatives. Thanks for this very useful hub.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 06, 2012:

Hi Alexander - you are referring to solar panel kits, which are absolutely perfect for mobile homes, RVs, boats and more. They can also be used for sheds/shops to help generate electricity to avoid the use of propane tanks or grid-based electricity. Your plan is a good one. I am writing a hub on solar panel kits right now, so check back in a day or two. Best to you, Steph

Alexander Silvius from Portland, Oregon on January 06, 2012:

20K seems like a lot of money to me, but I am planning on plopping a mobile on a piece of land and buying solar panels as I get the money together. I have heard they are cheaper when bought as small components and then you just build on more as you can afford it. Can you really manage all your power needs in a regular home with the kind of system you have written about?

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 05, 2012:

Thank you HomeEnergy,

I have heard conflicting information regarding energy tax credits, but you are right that the window of opportunity to take advantage of them and install residential solar panels will be closing soon. I appreciate the comment! Best, Steph

HomeEnergy from California on January 05, 2012:

A well written hub, I hope people will listen to reason and install a solar system.

Regarding energy tax credits - this is a window of opportunity that will stay open until tax year 2016 only.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 05, 2012:

Thanks Robie! I see no reason why the majority of homeowners cannot switch to solar in the next 5-10 years. Thanks for the comment. Best, Steph

Roberta Kyle from Central New Jersey on January 05, 2012:

Five great reasons, Steph--and I'm hoping we will all be going solar one of these days. I love the idea of not having to pay for oil-- great hub. Voted up, useful and awesome.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 05, 2012:

Hi KoffeeKlatch,

Glad to hear that my five reasons to install residential solar panels match up with yours! thank you for the kind comment. Cheers, Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 05, 2012:

Hi Nell,

Thanks for the comment - another thing that some people have to consider is whether there are any CCR restrictions (community rules) that forbid rooftop installations. Perhaps one day your housing association and others on your block would decide to install solar panels. Best, Steph

Susan Hazelton from Northern New York on January 05, 2012:

Steph, we have been talking about installing solar panels. Your reasons are all very valid. They are the same ones we came up with. I look forward to the installation. Terrific information. Very convincing.

Nell Rose from England on January 05, 2012:

Hi, I would love to install solar panels, unfortunately I live in a housing association, and I am joined by others in the block, but what a great idea! I had forgotten that you can earn money by selling the excess power to companies, I saw it on TV, think of all that money saved! great hub, thanks nell

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 05, 2012:

Thanks everyone! I will be writing more hubs on solar power and solar panels, as I have a great deal of information on the benefits of going solar, the cost and its many useful applications. Appreciate the comments! Best to you, Steph

jerrysaliu from Warri, Nigeria on January 05, 2012:

Love this! Great!

Barry Rutherford from Queensland Australia on January 05, 2012:

Good enough reasons for me voted up!

Sushmita from Kolkata, India on January 05, 2012:

I was in my school when I first came to know of Solar power and panels for home electricity. I know more or less the technology of it, but what I was more concerned about was how does the First world countries like the USA, ensure its domestic application and directly impact carbon footprint? Your article explains the incentives,the cost-benefit analysis that the consumer must see if he is aware of the crisis in the environ. The idea of the solar grid is so much better. Thank you for the very informative hub, which targets at what would be meaningful to the homemaker rather than only scientific and economic directives. The links are further help, though I have not yet been able to read through them all. Voted up.

Jeremiah Simpkins from Pulaski, VA on January 04, 2012:

Love the list of reasons. Hopefully more people will start installing them on their homes as the costs come down and companies that lease panels out become more popular. Voted up!

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