“How much money is your roof making you?” is my favorite reply when people see solar panels on the roof of my house and ask me if I like having solar.
“Well, I haven’t had an electric bill for 12 years,” I tell them. That’s when I had my system installed.
You may be wondering about the price of solar panels, however, and we will cover that and much more in this article.
Now that my wife and I are retired, we realize what a great idea it was to install solar, as that’s one utility bill we get every month that says “No payment due.”
Whether you are serious about helping the environment, reducing your “carbon footprint” or saving money on energy costs, installing solar electric panels is a wise choice.
Initial Cost of Solar Panels
Solar panels produce “free electricity.” However, there is a large
initial cost, and it will take some time to payback the cost and
But eventually, it will begin to actually make you money.
Homeowners typically take out a home equity loan or work with a lender suggested by their solar installation company.
In some instances, a lease-purchase deal may be available, but personally I recommend purchasing a system outright, even if you need to take a loan.
Then the system is yours. Realtors will tell you that adding solar panels to your home will increase it’s value should you ever decide to sell it.
You may just be interested in installing a small system to provide electric to heat a swimming pool.
Such systems are not overly expensive. Panels can be mounted on the ground, a roof of the house, on a garage or other outdoor structure.
Ways to Save on the Price of Solar Panels
The biggest cost of a solar project is not necessarily the panels themselves, but rather the associated hardware and labor costs.
You can install a system yourself if you have the experience required, however, a solar contractor will have knowledge of the latest equipment available, and will also be able to help you with paperwork when applying for a loan and to apply for any local and state rebates and green energy program discounts and incentives.
Since each state has different programs, it is a good idea to use a local installation firm that is familiar with the benefits available to you in your area.
There are several ways to reduce the cost of installing solar panels. First, the federal government (and some state governments) give credit on your income tax, thus reducing the tax you owe.
Some states offer rebate programs, giving grant money toward the installation. Your solar installer will know about
clean energy financing initiatives available in your state.
With solar panels, you’ll be saving money every month for decades to come on your electric bill. With electric bills always going up, never down, that amount saved increases every time the power company raises rates.
In my case in New Jersey, my 9-kilowatt system generate more electricity in the summer than in the winter.
My summer electric bill typically has a $1,000 or more credit on it. In the winter, I’m still producing power daily, though not as much as the summer, due to less hours of daylight.
The extra credit I’ve gained in the summer is applied to my winter bills, resulting in my always have a credit with the electric company.
What Are Tradeable Renewable Energy Certificates?
Finally, generating solar electricity can actually pay you money through the use of “tradeable renewable energy certificates.”
A digital meter will be placed on your system to record generation. Once a month, I log onto a website and report my meter reading.
The site converts the generated power into a tradeable renewable energy certificate, which is sold to utility companies, and I get a check.
One certificate is given for every one megawatt-hour of electricity generated. The amount of money you get depends on a fluctuating marketplace.
As of this writing, I’ve been getting between $200 and $300 per certificate, and my system creates about 6 or 7 of those a year. Your solar installer can help you set up an account to receive this income.
Important Tips and Considerations
In addition to financing, there are a few things to consider before adding solar. Solar panels, of course, need full sunlight, so if you don’t have an acceptable roof on your house facing east or south, you may have to install panels on the ground in your yard.
Any trees that block sunlight will have to be trimmed or removed in order for the panels to operate efficiently.
How much will your solar system cost? There are many variables, including your location and the number of panels installed.
According to ConsumerAffairs.com, after solar tax credits, the cost for a solar panel system on an average-sized house in the U.S. ranges from $11,144 to $14,696.
Of course, the panels do not generate power at night, so your system seamlessly draws power from the electric company when you aren’t producing enough to meet the needs of your home.
But during the day, you’ll generate more power than you use, and this should keep your electric bill at or near zero at the end of every month.
What if You Lose Power?
For the safety of utility line workers, if the power goes out, your solar system is automatically turned off.
Solar systems can have battery back-ups, but these are very expensive, and not worth the investment unless you live in an area that experiences frequent power outages.
Getting Started With Solar Panels
If you hire a solar contractor to setup your system, a solar installation engineer will visit your property and evaluate your physical location, the availability of sunlight and determine panel locations.
Have your electric bill handy, as the engineer can give you an idea of how many panels you would need to take care of your entire electric bill.
The average-sized home uses about 867 kWh per month.
Conclusion: The Price of Solar Panels
Solar systems are silent and require very little maintenance.
You should enjoy many years of excellent performance, a reduction in utility bills, all while know that you are helping the environment.