Why You Should Not Install Solar Yourself: Paperwork, Permitting & Regulations

Over the last ten years, we’ve seen the hot trend of Do-It-Yourself home improvements, promoted by plenty of reality TV shows. And while we’re all tempted to roll up our sleeves and become DIYers around the house, there are some occasions when it doesn’t save you money. In fact, when it comes to DIY solar installation, you’ll not only squander a whole lot of your valuable time, but will end up spending far more, will probably do damage to your roof or home, and can even put yourself in danger.

You may even see advertisements for DIY solar panel installation kits or systems, but once you make that purchase, you’ll find yourself way over your head and with no place to turn. Going solar at home is far more complex and involved than just jumping up on your roof and attaching the panels, and there’s good reason why the DIY solar option is more fantasy than reality.

In this series of articles, we’ll cover the four reasons why DIY home solar panel installation is a bad idea, including:

  1.   Paperwork, permits, and regulations
  2.   The cost
  3.   Potential damage to your roof and your home
  4.   DIY danger!

Today, let’s look at #1: the paperwork, permits, and regulations that make DIY solar installation unrealistic.

Solar Installation Paperwork

The paperwork necessary to initiate, install, and finalize your solar installation adds up to scores of pages quickly and can even measure up to the stack of documents necessary when you sign a home loan!

If you try to go the DIY solar panel installation route, the burden of finding, organizing, and submitting all of that paperwork will fall on YOU, the homeowner. 

To mention a few, you’ll first probably have to file for a permit with your local building and planning department. Typically, they’ll want to see a detailed site plan that outlines the specs of the solar install. But that also includes an electrical diagram, including the calculations showing that the new solar system is compatible with the home’s existing power grid, as well as safe.

If that doesn’t make you throw up your hands and call LGCY Power instead of going the DIY route, you’ll also need to submit plans and specifications to your local utility provider to get their permission to even connect your proposed home solar system to their power grid.

Even if you get through that arduous and very detailed process, most building departments will only issue permits if you can show that professional contractors with specific certifications or licensing are doing the work. And there are no easy exceptions for DIY solar installation! When it comes to electrical, solar, and power systems in your home, the licensing requirements are in place to protect you, the homeowner.

The river of paperwork flows on when it comes to the rebates, incentives, and tax credits that may be available when you transition to solar. Part of the reason why solar power is so cost-efficient is the availability of various rebates and incentives, which may be offered on a state, local, or federal level. Of course, those incentives come only after filling out the necessary paperwork and going through the stringent application process. 

Solar Tax Rebates

The same is true of tax rebates that may be available from your state and also federal taxes with the Internal Revenue Service, including the highly valued Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit

Want to access a financially lucrative grant such as the USDA REAP Grant or take advantage of solar renewable energy credits (SRECs)?

Unless you know what’s available and have vast experience accessing grants, tax credits, and other incentives, I can almost guarantee that you’ll leave a lot of money on the table when trying to DIY your solar panels.

Even if you could find a way to navigate that huge paperwork process, there’s another profound reason why you don’t want to try DIY solar installation: the warranty. 

When you coordinate your solar with a company like LGCY Power, there may be warranties and guarantees available on the equipment, production, and installation, safeguarding your investment. 

However, DIYers will surely lose out on those warranties, as well as all of the other benefits and financial incentives!

So, if you’re ready to get serious about saving with solar at home and making sure you do it right, contact LGCY Power today!

Will a Solar Panel Work With Moonlight?

Do Solar Panels Work at Night?

With each passing day, more and more homeowners are installing solar power systems for their homes. People everywhere are taking advantage of the significant cash savings that can come with a residential solar system, and doing your part for the environment is always a great benefit as well. But what happens during the hours when the sun isn’t shining brightly on your solar panels? Do solar panels need direct sunlight? Can the moon charge a solar panel? Do solar panels work on cloudy days? Find out the answers to these questions and more below!

Electricity Generated by Your Solar Panels at Night Is Minimal

Seeing as moonlight is just sunlight reflected off of the moon, you will be happy to hear that the answer is yes: solar panels do technically work with moonlight. However, the electricity generated by your solar panels at night — even when the moon is shining directly on them with no cloud cover — will be extremely minimal. On a clear night with a full moon, you should only expect 0.3% of the energy production that you would experience in direct sunlight.

 

That means that if your solar panels typically produce 300 watts of power during the daytime, they will only generate roughly one watt in direct, full moonlight. That’s not even close to the amount of energy required to run an ultra-efficient LED light bulb — in fact, you would need roughly 18 times more electricity to operate one lamp with an LED bulb. And that’s with a full moon! For the rest of each moon cycle, your solar panels will produce even less energy from moonlight.

 

There’s another complicating factor involved when answering the question, “do solar panels work at night?” Most home solar panel systems will enter into “sleep mode” at night, meaning they are not actively producing electricity. In addition, your solar inverter might deactivate if your solar panels are generating such a tiny amount of energy. In other words, the energy levels generated by your solar panels at night are too low for most systems to bother with.

How Your Home Will Be Powered At Night

With this in mind, you may be wondering how your home will be powered at night. There are two common solutions to this issue, and the first one we’ll discuss is solar battery storage units. If you install a solar battery as part of your residential solar power system, you can store the excess energy generated by your solar panels during the day and use it at night. Some solar batteries even enable homeowners to go off-grid entirely, severing their ties with the traditional utility company.

 

There are many different makes and models of solar batteries for home use — too many to dive into here. When purchasing a solar battery, pay close attention to the power capacity offered by each battery. Choose one that offers sufficient energy to power your house and avoid wasting money on a solar battery that stores more electricity than your home actually uses.

The other way to power a solar home at night is by using net metering, a billing method that has become increasingly popular in the United States. With net metering, you don’t need to have your own energy storage capabilities at home. Instead, you can export the excess energy produced by your home solar system each day into the grid. In exchange, your utility company will give you energy credits.

 

Then, once night falls and your solar panels stop producing meaningful amounts of energy, you can exchange those credits for power from the grid. Net metering makes powering your home with solar energy easy and largely eliminates the need for a solar battery. Today, the vast majority of American states have net metering laws that require utility providers to provide net metering options for solar customers.

Do Solar Panels Work On Cloudy Days?

How about cloudy days? Do solar panels need direct sunlight? What if it’s raining? The good news is that your solar panels will produce electricity during the day, even when the sun isn’t out. However, you should only expect roughly 15% to 20% of your system’s typical energy output on fully overcast days. Therefore, solar batteries and net metering policies can be highly beneficial even in the daytime, as they prevent you from needing to seek alternative energy sources due to a lack of sunshine.

 

So, do solar panels work at night? Technically, the answer is yes. After all, moonlight is simply reflected sunlight, and everyone knows that sunlight is what produces energy in your rooftop solar system. However, the amount of power produced is minimal.

LGCY Power Is Here To Help

Do you still have some questions regarding how your solar panels work at night? Are you wondering whether a solar battery or a net metering agreement is the best option for your residential solar power system? The solar energy experts at LGCY Power are here to help!

 

Our team members have extensive knowledge of net metering regulations in all 50 states. They can help you determine whether you need a solar battery as part of your rooftop solar system or if you can rely on net metering to provide the energy your home requires. In addition, we can help you schedule a consultation with one of our Solar Consultants. They will analyze your home and determine your energy needs, then assist you in choosing the best option.

 

Setting up your own home solar panel system can save you a tremendous amount of money compared to paying traditional utility bills, even if you’re not getting any meaningful production from your panels at night. Contact LGCY Power to learn more!

The Best Tools and Resources to Learn About Solar Energy

Solar power continues to gain popularity in the residential market, as more and more homeowners find themselves saving money while doing their part to protect our environment. That said, many people are still seeking deeper knowledge about residential solar power systems before making an investment into a system of their own.

There are many websites offering solar energy resources these days, to the point where it can be difficult to tell which ones you should pay attention to. That’s why we put together this comprehensive guide to the best tools and resources available to help you enhance your understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of solar power for your home.

Solar Energy Industries Association

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is a national trade association for the United States solar energy industry, with more than 1,000 member companies. This nonprofit organization develops and implements educational programs to advocate for the widespread adoption of solar energy, and also maintains a database of solar job openings across the country.

The SEIA has been around since 1974. The organization’s website has a wealth of information about industry news, an events calendar, state-by-state solar guides, initiatives, advocacy, and more. The website’s resources page reveals some highly beneficial information, including guides about solar industry data, solar market insights, fact sheets, major solar projects, and other valuable solar energy resources.

Energy.gov (The Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy)

Energy.gov is operated by the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, an office of the U.S. Department of Energy. This site is one of our favorite unbiased solar energy resources, as it includes several helpful guides, like this one about planning a home solar electric system. With Energy.gov, you can learn about solar energy technology development, review the results from solar power studies, and find out how to save money on your rooftop solar system.

While Energy.gov certainly has plenty of information about solar power for your home, the site also has tips and tricks to help you maximize your energy efficiency in other ways as well. For instance, you’ll find information regarding heating and cooling, weatherizing your home, energy-efficient home design, saving electricity and fuel, and more.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is actually a subsidiary laboratory of the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, but the NREL has its own collection of solar energy resources that makes it worth a look. The NREL’s research focuses on the three main categories of integrated energy pathways, converting electrons to molecules, and developing a circular economy for energy materials.

The NREL’s residential solar energy resources include a study about the energy efficiency of various solar batteries in residential systems, data about solar installation costs by year, and a convenient solar calculator that helps homeowners estimate how much solar energy they’ll get from their planned rooftop solar system.

Smart Electric Power Alliance

The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) is a nonprofit organization with a uniquely specific goal: creating an entirely carbon-free energy grid for the world by the year 2050. While this organization’s research is slanted a bit toward the commercial and industrial side of the market, there’s plenty of good information to be found about residential solar as well.

SEPA’s “Knowledge” page allows users to search through all of the organization’s solar energy resources, including in-depth research, blog articles, and an on-demand media library. Simply type a few keywords into the search box at the top of the page, and you’ll find a broad selection of resources for your chosen topic.

Clean Energy Authority

Clean Energy Authority is a company entirely dedicated to connecting consumers with solar energy resources. The organization’s founders have decades of experience providing consumers with valuable information that helps them make informed purchases, and that’s certainly the case with the Clean Energy Authority.

Paying a quick visit to the site’s “solar energy resources” page indicates the breadth and depth of Clean Energy Authority’s helpful knowledge base. You’ll find articles about ground-mounted vs. rooftop residential solar systems, the effects of snow on solar panels, renewable energy credits, residential solar panel insurance, and home solar batteries.

Build It Solar

Build It Solar is a solar power site based on the idea of DIY projects. While we never advise installing your own residential solar energy system due to the complexity of the process (and the fact that self-installation often voids your warranty), Build It Solar has a ton of information available on more than 500 other renewable energy and resource conservation projects.

The most relevant section of their website for our purposes is the solar photovoltaic (PV) systems page, where you’ll find information on various residential solar energy resources. These include the basics of PV systems for your home, how to design a solar system that doubles as an awning or canopy, the differences between off-grid and on-grid residential solar systems, and much more.

LGCY Power

If you have any questions the above resources can’t answer — or if you would like to discuss the specifics of solar system installation for your home — feel free to contact LGCY Power at your convenience. Our representatives are true experts who can connect you with a vast array of solar energy resources. We can help you determine whether your home is suitable for residential solar panels and how much a sufficient solar power system could cost, and find reputable solar installers in your area.

In addition, LGCY Power’s “Get Smart” resource center has in-depth guides to a wide variety of residential solar questions and issues. You’ll find information about how to get started, how to choose the best residential solar installer, how you can eliminate your electric bills, and more!

What Are Net Metering and Gross Metering?

If you’re looking to install an on-grid residential solar system for your home, you will need to know whether your system will use net metering or gross metering. These are the two commonly used systems available for people who live in solar homes. Depending on which one you use, there could be a significant difference in your solar system’s cost-effectiveness.

Saving money is one of the main reasons why people install solar panels for their homes. However, the metering option used by your utility company can dramatically alter the viability and profitability of your rooftop solar system. As you’re about to find out, one of these options is much more consumer-friendly than the other. In fact, the other isn’t even allowed anymore in some parts of the United States.

So, how do net metering and gross metering differ? And which one is the better choice for you?

How Does Net Metering Work?

Net metering is a form of energy billing that gives homeowners credit for the excess energy they put back into the grid. Obviously, your home solar system produces much more energy on bright, sunny days than it does on rainy, overcast ones. With net metering, your utility company will provide the additional energy you need at night or on cloudy days in exchange for the excess energy your system produces on sun-soaked days.

Net metering is so popular because it pays you back for times when your system generates more power than you use, while not penalizing you for pulling excess energy from the grid. As long as your “net” energy consumption evens out, you won’t owe a dime for the energy you pull from the grid.

You can find net metering rules and regulations in most American states and territories, as this form of billing is now available in 34 states, four territories, and the District of Columbia.

How Does Gross Metering Work?

Gross metering is a different form of energy billing that is far less common than net metering. When it comes to gross metering vs net metering, it has become quite clear over the years that most consumers strongly prefer net metering. But before we get into that issue, let’s take a step back and discuss what gross metering actually is.

Gross metering and net metering are quite different in many ways, starting with how the home’s solar system connects to the grid. With net metering, the solar panels connect to your home, and any additional power you don’t use within your home is transferred to the power grid. However, with gross metering, your solar system is actually connected directly to the grid, not to your home.

This means that all electricity generated by your home’s solar panels is sent to the grid, and the utility company pays you a set rate in exchange for this energy. Unlike net metering, which only requires one bi-directional energy meter that keeps track of energy imports and exports from the home, gross metering requires two separate meters — one that tracks consumption and one that tracks production. Gross metering also typically involves two different bills — one that the homeowner pays for electricity use, and one that the utility company pays for the homeowner’s energy production.

Consumer Preferences and Legislative Challenges

In many cases, you do not get to choose whether you want to use gross metering or net metering. Instead, the decision is made for you by the government and/or your utility provider. In the United States, net metering is much more common. For instance, the state of Maine had a highly publicized (and politicized) legislative battle in the 2010s regarding gross metering vs. net metering.

Former Maine governor Paul LePage abolished net metering in 2017, ushering in an era of gross metering for his state. However, gross metering proved to be extremely unpopular with consumers. The reasons for this were twofold. First off, gross metering’s requirement of two separate meters adds an additional expense for customers looking to develop solar energy systems for their homes.

Secondly, Maine’s specific gross metering policy decreased payouts to homeowners based on how old their solar systems were. For instance, a system installed in 2015 and generating 300 watts received more money than a system installed in 2010 that generated the same amount of energy. In 2019, current Maine governor Janet Mills reversed LePage’s solar billing policies, eliminating gross metering and bringing back net metering.

Maine’s issues with gross metering closely mirrored similar issues in Nevada when that state tried to switch from net metering. When Nevada eliminated net metering in 2015, the state saw a shocking 39% reduction in solar installations, and the nation’s top three residential solar companies all stopped doing business in the state. Gross metering lasted for just 18 months until Governor Brian Sandoval — the same governor who signed the bill to eliminate net metering — reversed his own decision and brought net metering back.

In Conclusion

The most important thing for most homeowners to understand regarding the differences between gross metering and net metering is that net metering typically saves you more money. The way gross metering systems are set up provides less compensation for the excess energy produced by home solar panels, in addition to the expensive requirement for two separate upstream and downstream energy meters.

For more information about gross metering and net metering, simply contact LGCY Power today. Our representatives have extensive knowledge of each state’s energy metering regulations, and they can help you determine which one you’ll be using at your home.

The 5 Main Disadvantages of DIY Solar Installation

As solar power becomes increasingly popular all across America, homeowners might be looking for ways to save money on solar panel installation costs. Specifically, some people are installing their own residential solar panel systems instead of hiring professionals. After all, if you can tackle tasks like painting your own house, replacing your own flooring, and gutting your own kitchen, why can’t you DIY a solar installation?

One of the main reasons people install solar panels in the first place is to save money on their electric bills. Therefore, some people might think that a DIY solar installation is another way to cut costs. As it turns out, there are plenty of good reasons to stick with professional solar panel installation companies instead of setting up your own system.

Complexity and Hassle

While it may seem simple on the surface, there is actually quite a bit of complexity involved with solar panel installation. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could get in over your head in a hurry. When you hire a reputable solar installation company, you’re getting a licensed professional who has been certified by your state government. There are industry standards these companies need to adhere to as well, like certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.

An aspect that not enough people consider before trying a DIY installation is that solar panel installation companies can help you acquire, fill out, and file any relevant permits and licenses for your new residential solar system. In addition, they can help you find an electrician to inspect and certify your system’s compliance with legal requirements. In some states, this part of the process can be a much bigger hassle than most people expect, and it’s always advisable to be able to hand off this step to a true pro.

Efficiency Issues

In many cases, a self-installed residential solar panel system will be less efficient than a similar system installed by professionals. First off, people who cut corners on DIY solar panel installation are more likely to pinch pennies on the solar panels themselves. Keep in mind that saving money is great, but solar installation isn’t something that should be done haphazardly or at the lowest possible cost, regardless of quality or qualifications.

Furthermore, there are quite a few steps to the solar panel installation process, and failing to complete any of them correctly can have an adverse effect on your system’s efficiency. For instance, you would need to install the mounts or racks on your rooftop, attach the power inverters, install a grounding wire, and position a roof junction box (which often involves drilling through your roof).

That’s all before you even install your panels themselves! Once that step is complete, you need to set up a conduit to connect your panels to your home, and you’ll also require an emergency disconnection system and a junction box. If you incorrectly complete any of the steps we’ve outlined in this section, it’s likely that your solar system will operate at less than peak efficiency. Even one loose wire can drain your system’s effectiveness.

If you want your solar panel installation to produce as much energy for your home as possible, you should have it professionally installed to ensure that everything operates correctly.

Professional Help Often Needed for Other Steps

We mentioned earlier that solar installation often requires a series of permits and licenses. Especially if you want your residential solar system to operate off the grid, you typically will need approval from a professional. If you’re going to need to hire professionals for these steps anyway, you might as well have them handle your entire installation and rest easy knowing that your system was set up by a reputable solar panel installation company.

Risk of Fires, Leaks, and Electric Shock

One of the best reasons to hire a professional to install your system is that an incorrectly assembled solar system can cause some serious problems. For instance, if you incorrectly install a circuit, you may have just installed a significant fire risk on your roof. It’s also quite easy to cause structural issues or leaks if you make a mistake while drilling and sealing holes.

Additionally, installing a solar panel system for your home obviously involves working with electricity. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can easily expose yourself to a high-voltage electric shock. When you’re dealing with enough electricity to run your entire house, you could subject yourself to an extremely dangerous amount of voltage that could even be fatal!

No Warranty

Finally, a DIY solar installation won’t be protected by a warranty. Most solar panel manufacturers (as well as companies that make the other necessary components) will void your warranty if anyone other than certified representatives from solar installation companies installs your system. Seeing as many manufacturers’ warranties can last for quite a few years, it’s often worth it to have a professional install your solar system for this reason alone.

In Conclusion

For the vast majority of homeowners, the risks of DIY solar installation far outweigh the benefits. In most cases, you will be better off hiring a reputable solar installer who can set up your system in a professional manner. If you have any further questions, contact one of our LGCY Power representatives at your convenience. We’ll be more than happy to walk you through the details of the solar panel installation process and help you find the right professional to install your system.

How Can My Home Benefit From Installing Solar?

Solar panel installation for residential purposes seems to get more popular with each passing day. Across the country, people in every corner of America are installing rooftop solar systems to save money and protect our environment. However, many people don’t realize how many benefits there can be from residential solar installations.

While you certainly can save money in an eco-friendly manner, it’s important to understand the underlying machinations that drive these benefits. By fully grasping the details of the many significant benefits of a home solar installation, you can view the full picture of how residential solar can impact your life. Let’s take a look at the five main benefits of a home solar panel installation.

Reduce or replace your electric bills

For any homeowner, your monthly electric bill from the utility company likely makes up a significant part of your overall expenses. Even in an area that only receives a moderate amount of daily sunlight, a good residential rooftop solar system can often power your entire home. That means that your one-time investment in solar panels can nearly permanently end your need for energy from your utility provider.

This is especially true if you live in an area that has generous net metering regulations. With net metering, your utility company gives you billing credit for any excess electricity your solar system generates. For example, your solar system produces the most energy on bright, sunny days with plenty of direct sunlight hitting your panels. However, your solar panels will produce much less energy on cloudy days — sometimes as little as 10% of the energy produced on sunny days — and don’t produce anything at night.

With net metering, you only pay for the net energy your home needs from the grid. Therefore, any extra energy your panels produce during the day goes into the grid, and any electricity you need on cloudy days or at night comes back from the grid. If your outgoing and incoming energy requirements are equivalent (or if you produce more than you use), then you will not owe your utility company a dime.

Outstanding return on investment

The best savings account you could ever hope to find with a traditional bank will provide less than a 1% return on your investment. As for CD accounts, a five-year investment can usually bring back 1% to 1.5% in annual percentage yield. Even a 10-year government bond from the United States Treasury only brings in roughly 1.7% per year. If you’re a smart investor in the stock market, you can expect to make about a 10% profit in a typical year.

Now, let’s take a look at how residential solar panel installations generate returns for your hard-earned money. It may surprise you to learn that a solar installation can provide a return on investment that beats most traditional investment methods. Of course, the solar installation cost isn’t something to be taken lightly, as even a small residential solar system will still cost thousands of dollars.

However, you can actually generate yearly returns of at least 10% with solar power for your home. Many people even experience far greater financial benefits, approaching 25% to 30%! There are many variables involved — from your utility company’s rates to your state tax incentives and more. Still, if you purchase your solar system up-front (instead of entering into a purchase power agreement or solar lease), you can expect to save at least 10% per year compared to simply paying your electric bill.

In addition, with residential solar panels, you don’t have to care nearly as much about rising energy costs. In the last decade, the typical cost of electricity for a home has increased by 15% or more. As you might expect, it’s highly unlikely that these costs will ever decrease again. As the cost of fossil fuels continues to rise, so will energy rates charged by traditional utilities. With a solar installation for your home, you won’t have to care or even notice!

Increased property values

For the most part, solar panels for home systems tend to raise home resale values by up to 5%. Especially if your solar panels are fully owned, the new homeowner won’t have any additional financial responsibilities for them, except for routine maintenance from time to time.

If there’s still money owed on the solar panels, the math can certainly change. But if they’re entirely paid for, a residential solar system will almost always significantly increase a home’s value. If you live in an area where solar power is especially popular — like the American Southwest — your solar energy system could add even more than 5% to your resale value.

Protect our environment

There are many major environmental benefits to residential solar panel installation. The most significant is how powering your home with solar reduces pollution from fossil fuels. Instead of using natural gas or coal to generate electricity for your house, you will instead use 100% clean energy from the sun. That means you’ll be doing your part to reduce carbon emissions and keep our air, water, and plants thriving for generations to come.

In Conclusion

Are you looking for solar panel installation companies in your area? Perhaps you have questions about solar installation costs? Contact LGCY Power at (855) 569-0097 today and one of our solar experts can help you find the information you need to make an informed decision about a solar panel installation for your home.

Do People Prefer Buying Homes With Solar Panels?

All across the country, more and more Americans are installing solar panels for home use. And it’s easy to see why — you can save a considerable amount of money while also doing your part for the environment. Despite the growing popularity of residential solar power systems, many people still have questions about selling a home with solar panels.

If you are looking to buy or sell a solar home, you will want to know how much you can expect the home solar power system to affect its value. As it turns out, there’s a big difference depending on whether you own your solar panels, financed them with a solar loan, or entered into a purchase power agreement (PPA). There are also some more specialized methods for acquiring solar panels for your home that are only available in certain parts of the country.

Let’s discuss the details of each financing option and see how they affect the process of buying and selling homes.

Initial Expectations for Solar Homes

Before we dive too deep into the specifics, it’s important to point out that residential solar power systems almost always save homeowners a considerable amount of money. This is because, no matter how you purchase them, solar panels for your home produce energy at much lower rates than the vast majority of utility companies offer.

In addition, solar energy is far better for the environment than using electricity generated by fossil fuels. Still, not every homebuyer wants a home solar power system. That’s why you should know as much as possible about the home’s solar panels before you buy or sell the house.

The Four Most Popular Ways to Pay for Solar Panels

Not all solar panel purchases are created equal. It is true that solar panels for home systems typically increase the value of a home by roughly 3% to 5%. However, if you’re buying or selling a solar home, the value of the solar panels largely depends on how they were initially purchased. These are the most common ways to pay for residential solar power systems.

Up-Front Cash Purchase

If the home’s solar panels are fully owned, that’s the best-case scenario. When you buy solar panels with an up-front lump-sum payment, your financial responsibilities for that solar system end, other than some occasional routine maintenance. Solar panels purchased in this manner are the most valuable for home selling purposes because they’re entirely paid for.

Solar Loans

Residential solar power can be expensive to install. That’s why so many people choose to finance their purchases with solar loans. An interesting twist to this option is the fact that the original homeowner who entered into the contract will remain responsible for making loan payments. The contract does not automatically transfer to the new homeowner.

If the home you’re buying has a home solar power system on a solar loan, you should find out if the asking price includes funds to help the existing homeowner pay off that loan. That said, while you might encounter greater up-front costs helping the seller pay for their solar loan, you will still most likely benefit financially from the home’s solar system. As long as the additional costs outweigh the long-term utility bills, you will come out ahead.

Purchase Power Agreements (PPA)

Solar leases and PPAs are similar to solar loans, with a crucial distinction. When you finish paying for a solar loan, you own the solar panels. When you finish paying for a PPA or solar lease, solar power companies will either ask you to extend the agreement or buy the system from them. If you don’t, they will remove your residential solar power array.

In most situations, a PPA will last for around 20 years. Throughout the life cycle of the contract, your solar provider will perform all necessary maintenance and repairs, and they also typically monitor energy production from your system. One important note is that a PPA or solar lease will almost always include a buyout clause that allows the homeowner to purchase the solar panels outright or transfer the remaining lease period to a new homebuyer.

PPAs and solar leases usually provide homeowners with fewer financial benefits than either up-front purchases or solar loans. However, they often have minimal initial costs or none at all. As a result, buying out someone else’s PPA or solar lease isn’t always a great idea — the structure of the PPA often front loads the financial benefits. If you’re buying a home with a solar lease or PPA, keep this firmly in mind.

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing

The least common of these options is to finance solar panels for your home through a Property Assessed Clean Energy program. This is because financing through PACE is only available in certain parts of the country due to local government programs. PACE financing is most comparable to a solar loan. However, there is often no down payment, and the contract usually stipulates an annual payment, rather than monthly.

The most important aspect of PACE financing for a prospective homebuyer is that any remaining money owed on the solar system transfers to the new homeowner when they buy the house. With a solar loan, solar lease, or PPA, the original homeowner retains financial responsibility unless the new homebuyer agrees to the transfer. With PACE financing, this responsibility remains attached to the home, not the person who owns it.

In Conclusion

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article, and it’s understandable if you still have some questions about the differences between up-front payments, solar leases or PPAs, solar loans, and PACE-financed solar systems. Feel free to contact LGCY Power today, and our expert representatives can help you figure out which is the best option for your home.

Are Solar Panels Worth It in the Long Term?

You’ve probably heard the sales pitch a million times: “Solar panels for your home can save you thousands compared to paying your utility bill!” In reality, there’s quite a bit of nuance involved when determining whether you should install a home solar power system. With that in mind, let’s take a deep dive into the different factors you need to consider when you’re thinking about taking the leap into residential solar power.

How Much Are You Currently Paying for Electricity?

The first aspect you need to consider is how much you’re currently paying for electricity. Depending on where you live, you might pay less than 10 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), or you might pay in excess of 20 cents per kWh. Obviously, how much money you stand to gain from installing solar panels is based largely on how much you’re paying for energy right now. The more expensive the rates charged by your local utility, the more money you can save with residential solar power systems.

It’s also crucial to consider how much you will be spending on solar panels for home installation. One of the main considerations in this area is how much energy your home consumes. If you have a small house, and your roof is in direct sunlight for much of the day, you can probably get away with a rather minimal setup. On the other hand, if you live in a large home — or if you don’t receive much direct sunlight — it could take a much larger solar system.

How Do You Plan to Finance Your Solar Panels?

Continuing along these lines, how you choose to finance your solar panels also matters. Buying solar panels for your home with an up-front payment will almost always provide the most significant long-term savings. Solar power companies often offer solar loans, which can also provide robust savings compared to using a typical utility company for your electricity, although not to the same level as paying cash.

The other common option is a power purchase agreement (PPA), which usually does not require a down payment and includes regular maintenance. The PPA will provide the least amount of cost savings but can still save you at least 10% compared to simply paying your utility bill.

Additionally, different states have different programs available for solar incentives. 2021 was scheduled to be the final year of the federal solar investment tax credit, which allows homeowners to deduct a large percentage of their solar costs. The expiration of this program is now unknown. Because the expiration of federal programs are unknown, state solar programs are even more important. Some states, like Florida and California, have generous solar incentives that can save you a tremendous amount of money. Meanwhile, other states (for instance, Arkansas) have no solar incentives of any kind.

Solar Energy Prefers Some Climates Over Others

The climate where you install your home solar power system also plays a significant role. In general, solar panels will produce more energy when they’re located in sunny, dry climates as opposed to cloudy, wet areas. That’s why residential solar power is so popular in the American Southwest and relatively less so in the Pacific Northwest.

How Long Does It Take For a Solar Install to Pay For Itself?

The vast majority of residential solar power installations pay for themselves over time, but how long does that take? The answer to this question has quite a bit of nuance, as it varies depending on the frequency of direct sunlight, the cost of electricity from utility companies, and the available solar incentives. For the most part, a typical American homeowner’s home solar power system will likely pay for itself within about a decade.

When you consider that the typical solar panels for home installation last 25-30 years, it’s clear that you can save a significant sum by installing solar panels. The best solar panels for home systems can last even longer! Once you hit the break-even point on your system, the rest of your residential solar power system’s life cycle is basically free energy.

Solar Panel Maintenance

We should probably also discuss the issue of maintenance. Thankfully, solar panels are quite simple to maintain, so this aspect shouldn’t sway your decision too much. You will occasionally need to clean dirt and debris off of your panels, and you might need to do some snow removal in the winter. Other than that, there isn’t much maintenance required for residential solar power systems.

Do solar panels increase the value of your home? For the most part, yes. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, you can expect a typical residential solar system to add roughly $15,000 to the value of your home. However, it’s worth noting that this figure can vary considerably based on your location.

Still Have Questions?

If you have any remaining questions about whether installing solar panels for your home pays off, feel free to contact LGCY Power at your convenience. Our solar experts can help you figure out if installing solar panels for your home is a wise decision, and we can also assist you to choose the system that’s right for your home.

As you can see, there are quite a few variables involved when determining how much money you can save by installing residential solar panels. However, for most people, you will end up seeing noteworthy cost savings someday. The big variable is how long it takes for your solar system to pay for itself. In some situations, it can take as little as just a few years, but in other cases, it could take decades. Make sure you understand how these variables will affect your home before you purchase your solar panels!

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