I Installed Solar Panels on My Roof. Is it Right for You?
As an extreme analytical, I like to research things to death, ruminate on the findings, ruminate some more, and then maybe–just maybe–make a decision. So when a client mentioned to me that they had decided to install solar panels on their roof, I was intrigued…and then I went down a rabbit hole.
For six solid months, I researched, interviewed solar companies, evaluated cost versus benefit, researched some more, discussed ad nauseum with my husband, and then finally made the decision to install solar panels on my roof.
Obviously, I decided that the pros of installing solar panels outweighed the cons for me. But is it the right decision for you? Let my research and rumination benefit you—below are the pros and cons of installing solar panels:
- The most obvious: solar reduces your electric bill. Not only can solar offset your electric usage, but you could also be eligible for net metering, an electric billing tool that sends the excess power your panels produce back to the electric grid. If in a day your solar panels produce 20kWs and your home only uses 15kWs, 5kWs get sent back to the grid and offset your electric bill.
- Your potential monetary savings will increase over time as electricity continues to increase in price year over year.
- You should be eligible for federal tax credits, if you own your system. Currently the Federal Solar Tax credit is 30% of the cost for installation (until 2032). So, if your system costs $30,000, you could be eligible for a $9,000 tax credit, thus lowing the net cost of the system to $21,000. Obviously, consult with your tax professional to make sure it works for you.
- You also could potentially sell SRECs, or Solar Renewable Energy Credits. SRECs are created for each megawatt-hour of electricity generated from the solar energy system. Some states have created SREC markets to boost solar installations by requiring electricity suppliers (Pepco, BG&E, etc.) to purchase SRECs produced by in-state solar energy systems as part of their obligation under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). In our area, the District of Columbia and Maryland offer SREC programs. The value of the SRECs can vary state by state and month by month. DC has one of the more robust SREC markets.
- Solar panels are low maintenance. You don’t really need to do anything to the panels other than keep debris off of them.
- Solar will decrease your dependence on non-renewable resources. Because saving the planet is always a pro.
And the Cons:
- The up-front cost can be cost prohibitive. It can cost between $2,750-$4,000 per kW system, so if you have a 10kW system the range should be $27,500-$40,000. Obviously this is a lot of money up-front and it can take years to recoup the cost.
- Some HOAs may not allow them or restrict where they can be placed on your home.
- If you live in a wooded area or in the shadow of larger buildings, you won’t be able to reap the maximum benefits.
- If you don’t own your roof (common element of a condo/co-op), you likely won’t be able to install solar panels.
- The overall aesthetic. Let’s be honest: they aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing part of a house.
I have not regretted my decision to install solar panels for one minute. Since doing so, my husband and I have been able to take advantage of the tax credit, we’ve been able to sell our SREC credits (we live in DC), and our electric bills have reduced significantly (we’ve even had negative balances some months). And the most fun part is logging into the app to see how much energy we’re producing.
If you are thinking of adding solar to your home, let us know. Properties on the Potomac would be happy to talk you through the process and make recommendations.
Here are some additional solar resources.