Is Solar Worth It?
While we would like to say solar is a worthwhile purchase no matter what, the facts beg to differ.
That's right. Not everyone is a good fit for solar.
Furthermore, not everyone qualifies for solar. While the standards for qualification vary from solar company to solar company, several factors matter to you as the consumer, no matter what. Not seeing what you're looking for on this page? Visit our "Is Solar Worth It?" blog posts
So, Is Solar Worth it For You? When we take all these factors together, a picture of your home's solar viability emerges. In summary, solar is worth it when the homeowner:
1 Uses Enough Electricity for Solar (500 kWh Monthly, Annualized to 6,000 kWh).
Energy Usage (Not Square Footage) Determines the Size of Your Solar Array
The first step to determining whether going solar is worth it is finding your energy usage. If your energy usage is too low, purchasing solar panels won't prove cost-effective. You’ll spend more money than you would if you stay connected to the grid.
The baseline requirement for Go Solar Group is an average of 500 kWh per month in electricity consumption, which typically warrants a 12 to 15 solar panel system. This system size translates to 6,000 kWh annually. Homes with <500 kWh (kilowatt-hours) per month in electricity usage won't benefit as much.
However, there are exceptions to this rule: If your home is a new build with no documented electricity usage, we are happy to install a home solar panel system. We prefer to start customers without usage data with a small residential solar system to gauge how the new home will affect electricity consumption patterns. If the system needs more panels to offset the power bill once you've moved in and logged some usage in the new home, we (and most companies) can install more panels as needed.
Beware of companies trying to sell you huge solar arrays based on the square footage of your home. Square footage is not an accurate determinant of how many panels the home needs. If you want, one of our inside solar consultants can talk to your electricity provider and help you verify your usage history. A year of accurate usage will help us create a free customized quote for your home.
Any solar company worth its salt will ask for your monthly energy bill and utility provider to determine whether it’s worth it to get a solar quote. Your utility should also have access to and provide you with a more in-depth breakdown of your power bill.
You can also use an energy usage calculator if you're in a rush. The U.S. Department of Energy's home energy use calculator can help you find your home’s overall power usage and what factors contribute most to your usage. There are also numerous third-party usage calculators available. Or, if you're interested in learning what solar can save you and already know your monthly electricity usage, visit our market-specific solar savings calculator pages.
2 Has a 650+ Credit Score or Is Paying Cash for their Solar Array
That leaves us two main options for purchasing panels: cash and loans. Cash provides the most savings since there is no interest involved, but most people don’t have enough cash lying around to pay for a solar installation outright. A loan can be spread over several years and puts you in control of your power right now. At Go Solar Group, we require a credit score of 650 or higher. Depending on your credit score, we may be able to help you go solar for zero down. Homeownership is Necessary. If you aren't the homeowner, Go Solar Group can't install modules on the property unless the owner decides to have them installed. Homeownership is a requirement because of the need for a permanent location for the installation. Solar may seem like an expensive long-term investment if you're researching the benefits of buying panels up-front. However, leasing doesn't make solar cheaper or more cost-effective. Leased solar panels have many hidden downsides for the consumer. For this reason, Go Solar Group does not lease solar panels.
3 Has an Unshaded Roof with the Proper Pitch and Azimuth
Several solar calculators claim they can calculate an accurate quote without physically meeting your home. They accomplish this task by using Google Maps and similar tools. Unfortunately, determining how much sun your home receives isn’t that simple. Here are some of the factors that go into figuring out how much sunlight your home receives.
The Shade Factor
How much shade your home receives can impact the viability of solar. Go Solar Group's preferred residential solar inverter (SolarEdge) is optimal for homes that receive no shade or lots of shade. This inverter works well for these extremes and the range in between because it optimizes each solar panel individually, rather than taking them all as a single group like many inverter brands. However, if you have a home with lots of trees, your roof may not receive enough sunlight to make solar panels worth it. You can, of course, have some or all of the foliage removed.
Pitch and Azimuth
When it comes to solar, azimuth measures the angle of the roof in comparison to the sun. Having the correct azimuth measurements for your roof is immensely helpful for maximizing the potential gains from your solar modules. The best roofs face south, as they receive the most direct sunlight throughout the day. East or west-facing roofs can also provide enough sunlight if other factors don’t obstruct the transduction process, but north-facing panels are often too shaded to make them worth it. Pitch refers to roof incline. Your roof can face east, west, or south. However, if the pitch isn’t right, you aren’t getting the most out of solar panels. Steep roofs lose valuable daylight hours when the sun is overhead, but shallow roofs lose energy at almost all points except midday. Determining whether your roof has a good pitch and azimuth is part of an in-person solar quote. While programs can project and predict these measurements, having a potential installer analyze your home in person with the correct software is the best way to go.
4 Will Owe Federal Taxes in the Year of the Solar Array's Installation
Once we’ve determined that your home is a solid structural fit for solar energy panels, we can move on to the offered incentives. These incentives comprise a big part of the savings associated with solar, so if you don’t qualify for these incentives, it probably isn’t worth it to go solar unless your reasons for doing so aren't strictly financial.
The Federal Solar Tax Credit (ITC) and Taxable Income
Why does taxable income matter? If you earn taxable income, you can save up to 26 percent off the total cost of your installed solar array through 2021 (some social security qualifies as taxable income, and so does the money earned from investments, even if you're not working). However, on average, the typical residential solar customer is still working and qualifies for the taxable income portion of the solar screening process via their place of employment.
The solar ITC would have phased down to 22 percent in 2021, but in 2020, Congress renewed an extension. Homeowners who install solar by 2022 are now eligible for a dollar-to-dollar tax credit worth 26 percent of the total system cost. Those who install solar in 2023 are eligible for a 22 percent credit. While four percent may not seem like much, it can add up quickly if your home's energy usage is high enough to warrant more solar panels than the standard 12-to-15-module roof-mounted system.
Because the solar ITC represents a large amount of savings for those interested in solar, we at Go Solar Group discourage those who don’t owe federal taxes from going solar. Solar becomes much less affordable without these incentives.
5 Can Benefit from their State-Level Solar Incentives
On top of the potential savings from the federal government, state governments also offer incentives. These incentives comprise an integral part of ensuring you save the most. Let’s go over some of these state-level incentives for a better grasp of the potential savings in your area.