Should I Get Solar Panels Now or Wait?

Solar panel ROI
Should I Get Solar Panels Now or Wait?

Most interested in solar have asked themselves when is the best time to get solar at some point. Solar is an investment, which means there are several factors to consider.

As with other investments, it is wise to consider all of the factors involved before jumping in. Taking an in-depth look at these factors increases confidence in the product and the value it can offer.

Some of the factors worth looking into include the worth of the array, the impact of future technology advancement, and whether the interested party qualifies for solar.

Solar Panels and the Worth of the Investment

When purchasing a dollar store item, people don’t think twice about the life of the product. Customers expect low quality from these products.

However, when a purchase cost more, people expect it to add value in some way. This value could be the durability of the product, long-term savings or convenience.

Determining the worth of big-ticket items is a practical and smart consumer practice. Two ways to determine the worth of solar include the added monetary value and potential savings.

 The Added Value of Residential Solar Panels

Home improvement projects often add both monetary value and functionality. Residential solar can also contribute to owners’ lives in these two ways. Residential solar gives a clean energy option that homeowners can control while increasing the value of the home.

According to Zillow, one of the nation’s most popular real estate companies, solar panels increase the value of homes by 4.1 percentThe home’s increased value won’t pay off solar. However, this value increase does cover a large portion of the original cost.

Solar Panel Savings

Increased home value makes solar worth considering because it isn’t the only return that this investment offers. It is in addition to the projected savings of residential solar.

The comparative cost of solar compared to the local utility rates throughout the array’s life are often drastically lower. Solar savings are even higher when the customer decides to use a loan or pays in cash instead of getting a leased array. 

The savings of solar are dependent on solar’s Levelized Cost of Energy and the retail electric rate of the utility throughout an array’s life. According to EnergySage, the average projected savings are between $10,000 and $30,000.

The Cost of Waiting for Better Solar Technology

Because the price of solar has drastically decreased over the past several years, many fear that the cost of solar isn’t as low as it might be in the future. While this might be the case, these individuals aren’t considerating what is being lost every month they are without solar.

The current price of solar is already below most local utility electric rates. Every month a homeowner goes without solar, they are missing out on the savings that an array could have provided them. As utility rates go up and the value of the dollar goes down, the buying power of the dollar decreases.

So, although a solar array may cost less in the next five or ten years, inflation could mean the cost is close to the same without the savings over those years of waiting.

The Variables that Go Into the Cost of Solar

Another factor to consider is the cause of the decrease in solar costs. Solar tech has been the main contributing factor to the past price decreases. However, solar panels are no longer a large part of the cost of residential solar.

Photo Credit: NREL

Soft costs, such as permitting, which are different for every city and town, are now the leading cost variable in the price of solar. Even with continued decreases in technology costs, solar prices won’t decrease at the rate that they were.

The Price of New Tesla Solar Shingles

Another consideration that many have is whether to wait for tesla solar shingles to become affordable or even available. Solar shingle roofs are best for new builds and homes that need the roof replaced.

If this isn’t the case, solar shingles cost significantly more than an array with solar panels. Even the tesla site refers customers to solar panels if they don’t need a new roof.

Qualifying for Solar Panels

Not everyone is in a place in their life where they can get solar. For some, this is a question of being able to afford solar. However, most can’t get solar because their home doesn’t qualify.

Ensuring the home qualifies is a necessary part of determining the right time to go solar. Several different things can make or break a home for a solar install.

Determining what might prevent the home or homeowner from qualifying can help customers plan for the future. It can also help homeowners that thought they couldn’t afford solar, realize that they actually can.

The Role Credit and Taxes Play in Solar

Credit plays a role in solar purchases. Unless the customer is paying in cash, the homeowner’s credit can determine if they are eligible for a specific financing program.

The other thing to consider is whether the homeowner owes federal taxes. The ITC is a federal tax credit applied to solar installations. Those that lease solar or don’t owe federal taxes don’t qualify for this tax credit.

What Usage is and Why it Matters

Usage is the amount of electricity a home uses. To create accurate solar estimates, solar companies need at least 12 months of usage. This usage tells them how much energy the homeowner needs to produce with their array.

There is a delicate balance between making a profit and saving the customer money. This balance is why solar companies turn away homes that have low usage.

If the home usage is to low, there are a couple of things you can do to increase your energy consumption and qualify for solar. Two of these things include adding electrical appliances and increasing the number of people living in the home.

Home Factors Used to Determine Solar Accommodation

There are lots of factors that go into whether a home is a good fit for solar. Some of these factors include shading, direction, pitch and azimuth of the roof. A solar professional will verify these things won’t prevent maximum solar production before the system is approved.

Homeowners that don’t have a qualifying home may not be a lost cause. If the home can’t qualify for solar, unshaded space in the backyard is worth considering.

Ground mounts, otherwise known as backyard panels, need at least 210.12 square feet of unshaded space. The property line setback requirements of the city the home is in can increase the minimum space required for an array.

Another thing to consider is the type of home. If the home is a modular home, mobile home, or the person applying for solar is not the owner, it will not work.

The Best Way to get Solar Panels

Once the customer finds the best time to get solar, it is time to figure out how to get the best deal. One of the factors currently impacting the cost of solar is the ITC. 

This tax credit will start to phase down in 2020. Customers that can get solar before the start of this phase-down would be wise to do so.

Another thing to consider is how best to compare solar bids. When comparing solar bids, interested parties should account for the products offered. Just because something is cheaper doesn’t mean it is better. Lower prices don’t mean the deal is better.


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