There’s a lot of information about solar online nowadays, but navigating it isn’t always easy. I have curated what I think are the most important things you need to know about solar right now. This is based on what we tell people who contact us with questions about solar for their home or business.
1. Going solar is a huge money saver.
Believe it or not, solar panel systems are an excellent way to save money even if you’re on a budget. This is a purchase that will pay you back. If you can afford to pay your electric bill on time every month, you can afford to install solar panels. It may be more money upfront, but eventually, with the right planning, your solar system can generate enough electricity to essentially eliminate a big chunk or even all of the cost of your electricity bill for 10, 15, even 20 years. For more details check out this blog post answering all questions about how solar pays for itself.
2. Solar panel systems are durable & practically maintenance-free.
Fortunately, solar panels do last a long time and also come with a long term warranty. Here in New England, unless you’re in an extreme circumstance, your panels won’t need to be washed, cleaned off, or attended to directly in any way. Just let them be and do their thing. Because they’re made of tempered glass they can survive through most anything from hail to snow to rain. Plus, your panels actually add a layer of protection over your roof, making it also last longer. Ultimately, your solar panels could last 30 to even 40 years!
3. Solar panels don’t have to just go on your roof.
Although the roof is the most common place (you already have a nice structure there to put them on), a solar system can be installed just about anywhere if there’s direct sunlight and minimal shade. For example, what we call a ground mount or even a carport. The only catch: panels that face south will produce the most electricity (but they can also face east or west).
4. Solar is more affordable than ever before.
Solar systems have been around for many years. The first system was actually invented in 1945 by scientists at Bell Labs. In 1977, it cost $77 per watt for a simple solar cell. According to the SEIA’s and GTM Research’s 2017 Solar Market Insight Report, the cost of a “raw solar cell” (meaning not including all the other parts that go with it) is now $0.21 per watt.
5. Solar panels actually increase the value of your home!
According to the Department of Energy, homeowners are actually willing to pay up to $15,000 more for a home with solar. There’s also evidence that those homes sold faster than homes without solar. Specifically to the Northeast, Redfin Realty reported that a home with solar in Worcester, MA had a median sale price $42,000 higher than the standard price. Even better, in Boston, solar homes are averaging a median sale boost of $179,000. Since the typical system at New England Clean Energy costs between $20,000 to $30,000, you can expect to earn back the cost if/when you choose to sell your home.
6. Solar energy is green and renewable energy.
During the lifespan of a solar power system, customers can save as much as 75 million barrels of oil and 35 million tons of carbon dioxide. If you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint in an affordable way — solar is the way to do it.
7. Solar cell technology is not poised for a major leap forward.
Solar cells, also called photovoltaic cells are made of semiconductors like silicon. Their function is to convert sunlight into electricity. Basically, when light hits the cells, the electrons separate from their atoms and flow throughout the cell to then create electricity! Most solar cells on homes can convert about 20% of the sunlight into electricity. Although technology is always advancing, solar is not like computing power – not even close. It is advancing slowly and is believed to have a limited ability to change. Many experts assert there is a “theoretical limit” that’s only a few percentage points higher than 20%; as a result, waiting for something “better” really is not worth the foregone benefits in the meantime. So, there’s no time like the present!
8. Incentives are falling.
The federal government provides a solar tax credit, known as the investment tax credit (ITC), that allows homeowners and businesses to deduct a portion of their solar costs from their taxes. If you install solar panels in 2020 you are eligible to receive 26% back as a tax credit as opposed to waiting until 2021 when that credit drops to 22% of your overall investment. So, to get the best incentives it’s time to go solar now!
9. The actual installation of a solar panel system is pretty quick and simple.
Once all the necessary planning and site visits are completed, the actual installation of solar panels should only take a few days. While it does vary depending on the person and home, the part that takes the most time is the planning. This might include dealing with engineering reviews for snow load capacity, town permits, and approvals from the utility just to name a few. If you’re not sure where to get started with your planning, check out this blog post on what to expect at a solar site visit.
10. Over 2 million residents of the United States have installed solar.
Solar energy systems are way more popular than we realize. The odds of you having a neighbor with solar panels are increasing every year. The SEIA predicts that by 2024, 2.5 percent of all U.S homes will have a solar installation. Will you be one of them?