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Information about solar energy for home use

Imagine locking in the price of gasoline for your car back in 2004 when it was at about $1.50 per gallon? Wouldn’t it be nice if it were still that affordable?

That’s what a solar panel system can do for your electric bill.

We help you can get a quote from a reputable installer and discover the facts so you'll be in the know.

Top 10 States for Installation: California, Arizona, North Carolina, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Hawaii, Georgia, Texas, New York Colorado What do solar panels cost? Are they affordable?
How long does it take to recoup cost of investment?
How long do solar panels last?
What maintenance does a solar panel system need?
What about batteries to store your excess energy?



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Top 10 States for Installation: California, Arizona, North Carolina, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Hawaii, Georgia, Texas, New York Colorado

Of the top states California blows the others away. In fact it accounts for over twice the installations of all the other top nine combined. Georgia on the other hand, is the fastest growing solar installation state even though it doesn’t come near California in total installations.

Arizona, Massachusetts, New Jersey and 3 other non-top 10 states have had all of their new electrical energy capacity come from solar. In Hawaii over 1 in 9 homes has solar.

What do solar panels cost? Are they affordable for your home?        back to top

Usually when we discuss price we are talking about a whole system for your home, plus the installation as one total package.

Thus, are 3 main costs that get lumped together:

  • The cost of the panels
  • The inverter
  • The installation.

People always want the cheapest solar panels but they also know that quality is important. The same goes for the inverter.

The graphic below shows the informaton on the average net cost in 2011 per state after any rebates and tax credits, the inverter and installation together. California leads in the west.

Net cost of solar panels

You should know that the type of roof also affects installation cost. The most affordable situation is to have asphalt shingle roofs. It is more expensive to install panels on Spanish tile or shake, due to the latter two being so brittle. Shake or Spanish tiles may add 8% to over 20% to the installation cost. Many of the warmer states like California, Arizona and Florida have those kind of tiles. It takes more work and expertise to seal off areas where solar panels are attached to brittle tiled roofs.

Obviously the size of your house and amount of panels needed to power up all your big and little people toys and appliances will affect the cost.

The price of solar installation is also affected by local permits, which can vary by location.

How long does it take to recoup cost of investment?

If you buy as opposed to lease, it can take typically anywhere from 5 to 12 years to recoup the cost, but in a situation where the factors are not favorable it could take up to 20 years. If you lease, there is not a cost to recoup; there is only your bill being lower if you did it right. For information on all the other factors, see Are solar panels worth it?

How long do solar panels last?

They can easily last longer than the warranty. The warranty is typically in the 20 to 25 year range. Solar panels can last 30 to 40 years if treated properly.

The warranty on the inverter on the other hand is usually in the 5 to 15 year range, so it will likely have to be replaced sooner.

What maintenance does a solar panel system need?        back to top

They are about as low maintenance as a toaster. An occasional hosing and/or leaf removal is about it (for the panel system, not the toaster).

Well, unless you get snow on your roof, then there is snow removal, which is the biggest hassle of them all.

What about batteries to store your excess energy?

People dream of living completely off the utility grid, but it’s not practical for most people in the USA.

Firstly, if you don’t tie into the local utility grid, you probably won’t qualify for any rebates.

There’s also another reason most people tie into the local utility grid instead of having a battery storage system. It’s not cost effective. The batteries need to be replaced every 5 to 10 years and they aren’t the cheapest to buy. And they take up a lot of space. You need to have a proper shed to house them.

The local utility grid becomes most people’s de facto battery storage unit. This is the cheapest way to go because there is no start up cost and no maintenance on the home owner’s part. The solar panels can produce extra power in the daytime, which causes the ol’ meter to spin backwards, giving them energy credits they can use at night or on rainy days etc. They only pay for that power used from the utility company if all of their credits are used up.

Not all warranties are created equal

You’ll want to get a warranty on the installation, that they won’t cause leaks in your roof, or that they will repair your roof if they did inadvertently cause a leak. You’ll also want a warranty on the solar panels and the inverter. Solar panels area often warranted for 20 to 25 years and for inverters 10 to 15 years is typical.

Update your homeowners policy

Your solar panel system is an investment. If you don’t update your policy, it won’t be covered. It probably won’t cost very much more for the additional coverage.

Your Home

What about property tax increase?

Installing solar panels usually won’t increase your property taxes. You can ask the county to make sure.


Solar Panel Installation —Tips for Choosing the Right Installers    |   back to top

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