In our numerous years of helping homeowners determine whether a solar electric system is right for them, we've found that a number of questions tend to arise. Like, how much do solar panels cost? What solar rebates, tax credits and other incentives are available in my area? Is my roof good for solar? What should I do before I get solar? And what the heck is a solar renewable energy credit, anyway?
We're happy to help answer these and other questions -- seriously, just call us at (800) 265-3646 and you'll get a real, live, friendly and informed person. But at the end of the day, sometimes it's helpful to take a step back from the jumble of details and revisit the basics. Why is everyone so excited about solar panels for their home? What are some of the main advantages of solar energy?
(1) First off, solar panels are quiet and unobtrusive. This might sound obvious, but it's worth emphasizing. I'm sure anyone who has tried to put up a residential wind turbine in their neighborhood can appreciate this point...
The bottom line is that you'd probably forget you installed solar panels if it weren't for the big monthly savings on your electric bill (see point three below).
(2) Solar panels require very little maintenance -- so little, in fact, that "set it and forget it" comes to mind. Unlike wind turbines, solar energy systems have no moving parts. The main requirement is that the solar panels be periodically washed free of dust and dirt. Often, this is achieved by a rain shower. (No kidding.)
The only other major maintenance-related item tends to be inverter replacement, which is a one-time affair. You can read more under point five of this blog post. Note that inverter replacement is likely a moot point if you install a solar energy system with micro-inverters.
(3) Solar panels can substantially reduce your electricity costs. Seriously, do the math. Would you rather pay $200 a month for your electricity or $60?
After taking into consideration the 30-percent federal tax credit and any solar rebates and/or other incentives -- which reduce the cost of solar installation -- you may well find that these savings add up quickly enough to offer you a reasonable payback and a strong rate of return.
(4) Solar cost savings are reliable and quantifiable. A lot of solar skeptics like to point out that solar panels don't produce much (if any) electricity when it's really cloudy -- or, for that matter, at night. This is true. But what they often fail to mention is that, while sunshine may vary considerably on a daily basis, it is highly predictable on an annual basis. The same may be said of solar electric systems. No solar installer in their right mind would ever present a project proposal without taking into consideration how much sunlight your particular location receives over the course of a year.
(5) Solar panels are warrantied for the long haul. We're talking 20-plus years. Always read the fine print, but quality solar panels are encased in tempered glass and have passed tests for things that Mother Nature may throw at you, like hail.
(6) Solar panels can add value to your home. Don't believe me? Check out our white paper, "Five Things Homeowners Should Know About Solar."
(7) Solar panels help shield you from the rising cost of electricity. This point isn't entirely self-evident (read more about how rising energy prices are actually good for solar panels). But, simply put, the more the price of electricity goes up, the more you save with your solar energy system.
So that's our list. Please feel free to add to it -- or ask questions -- below.