Did you know that the price of solar installation has dropped by 70%?
Many people who would like to go solar think that it will be too expensive. But this is old data. Solar technology has been advancing in leaps and bounds – with the result that home solar installations are now the cheapest that they have ever been.
If you have been considering a solar installation for your home, now is the time to do it. Besides the ever increasing affordability of solar tech, the Federal Government is currently offering a 30% tax credit for residential solar setups.
This makes 2019 the year to invest in that solar rig you have been contemplating.
But, there is one important thing to do first. And that is to get solar savvy.
Even though solar costs have more than halved in the last nine years, getting a solar setup installed is still an investment. And as with any investment, you want to do the research beforehand.
Otherwise, you may end up paying more than you need to.
This is why I am sharing this guide to going solar – so that you can rig out your home at the best price.
Read on to find out all of the ins-and-outs of going solar.
What Are the Costs?
While the cost of solar panels was prohibitive to many homeowners previously, with the ever lowering costs, even the best solar panels are now becoming affordable.
But what, exactly, is affordable?
The exact cost depends on the specific power needs of your home. Nowadays, you can expect to lay out roughly $3.05 per kilowatt of power that your home requires. In 2008, the cost worked out to be just over $8.00 per kilowatt.
The average home requires a system of around 6 kilowatts. This puts the average cost of a solar setup for a homeowner at approximately $18,300.
But this still sounds like a lot!
Well, the good news is that you can slash the number down considerably, thanks to rebates and the 30% tax credit that the Federal Government is offering this year on home solar panel installations.
This credit is scheduled to reduce to 26% in 2020, to 22% in 2021, and terminates completely on December 31, 2021. So, to take advantage of the high tax credit for 2019, make sure that you get your installation done this year.
How to Reduce Costs by Staying Connected to the Grid
Going off-the-grid is an almost interchangeable term for going solar. But, it is actually much more cost effective to install solar, but stay connected to the grid.
Here is why.
You Won’t Need Batteries
If you remain connected to the utility grid, you can use it like a battery. This means that you do not need to lay out extra cash for a battery bank. Battery banks are expensive, and batteries tend to have a shorter lifespan than solar panels.
You can expect your panels to last between 20 and 30 years. Most guarantees are for 20 years, and the best solar panels come with guarantees for up to 25 years.
Batteries, on the other hand, have a lifespan of between 5 and 15 years. This means that you could have to replace your batteries up to five times during the lifespan of your roof solar panels.
You Can Sell Back to the Grid
The other benefit of staying connected to the grid is that you can sell back excess power.
During the times of day that you push power into the utility grid from your solar panels, you receive credits from your utility department. When you draw power back out of the grid, these credits are utilized.
If you consistently produce more power than you use, you will end up with credits. You can then choose to sell these back to your utility company and they will write you out a cheque.
Most solar installers who know what they are doing will advise you to go with a system that can produce up to 25% more electricity than you need so that you are never short. Selling excess power back to the grid is a great way to make up the extra cost this incurs.
How Long Does It Take for Solar Panels to Pay Themselves Off?
The exact break-even point of a solar installation varies from state to state. This is the point where the price of the installation has been recovered by the money you save by not having to pay for electricity.
On average, across the US, the expected break-even point for most residential solar systems is 7.5 years. This means that you could essentially enjoy 100% free electricity for up to 20 years. When put like this, residential solar systems start to look like a hot investment!
How Installing Solar Increases the Value of Your Property
Besides having the potential to supply you with free energy, a solar setup also increases the value of your home.
According to research conducted by the NREL, every $1 of energy savings that your system provides increases your home’s value by up to $20.
This makes solar panels one of the savviest home improvements.
Taking Advantage of Tax Credits, Rebates and Grants
Besides the 30% tax credit offered on solar by the Federal Government, you may also qualify for the following state rebates or grants:
- Green retrofit grants: available to low-income areas and distributed by The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to local organizations who then further distribute the grants.
- Grants for high energy costs: Grants of up to $20 000 designated by The U.S. Department of Agriculture for homeowners in rural areas where energy costs are high and prohibitive to farming.
- State utility rebates: State-specific rebates on solar panel installations and solar water heaters. These rebates are usually derived by using local installers.
To check if you qualify, you can visit the website of the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency to see what incentives apply to your area.
Assessing Your Roof and Sunlight Hours
Once you have decided to install solar, the first thing to do is asses how many hours of direct and indirect sunlight your roof receives. When doing this, it is also wise to factor in tree growth particularly on neighboring properties where you do not have the right to trim or cut down trees.
Additionally, you need to make sure the roof on which you want to mount the panels is strong and in good condition.
Ideally, you will want to have a strong, South facing roof expanse that is large enough for installation and has a slope of between 15 and 40 degrees.
If your roof is shaded or in any way unsuitable for solar panels, you can also consider a ground-mounted setup. These usually consist of solar panels mounted onto a metal frame that is sunk into the ground.
Calculating the Power Needs of Your Home
The next step is the calculate the power needs of your home. You can do this by going through old utility bills and working out the average and maximum amounts.
Also, consider if you are anticipating any changes in electricity consumption. For example, are you going to get an electric car in the future? If so, you will need to cater to this additional consumption.
Get Multiple Quotes from Installation Companies
Once you have worked out what size system you need, and where to put it, you can shop around for quotes and bids from solar installation companies.
Here are some of the key questions you can ask contractors to ensure that they are legit:
- Can they provide references?
- Are they licensed? (you can contact your state electrical board to double check this)
- Are they familiar with county interconnection and permitting processes?
- What warranty do they offer?
- Do they have any pending/acting judgments against them? (This you can also check up on by contacting your state electrical board)
Once you have selected the best installation company it is almost time to get those panels up.
It is very important that your contractor assists you to comply with permit regulations and other procedural steps.
If you are connecting your solar panels to the grid, then this process will take some additional time. You will also need to have a bidirectional meter installed that can measure your electricity usage from the grid, as well as your inputs.
The Installation Process
The actual installation process should not take more than a day or two. The installer will mount the panels onto your roof and complete all of the wiring. If you are using a battery bank they will install and connect this up as well.
And what happens after that…. is that you enjoy free, green energy for years to come.
Are You Ready to Go Solar?
Going solar is a pretty exciting prospect… especially in 2019 when the installation costs are at the cheapest they have ever been.
If you choose to go solar in your home, not only will you get clean energy – but it also qualifies as a sound investment. The resale value on your property will increase. And after an average of 7.5 years, your system will have paid itself off. Meaning that there on after, your home will be on free energy.
All of these factors make solar installation a super smart upgrade.
If you are all about smart upgrades to your home, then check out these 4 impactful upgrades for your home.