Should you buy a house with solar panels? Find what to consider before purchasing, including the pros and cons of buying a house with solar panels. Plus, learn about choosing an installer to fit your needs!
Should you buy a house with solar panels?
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “going green.” There are many ways to do this, but one of the easiest is by installing solar panels on your home.
With solar panels installed at home, you will be able to save money on your electric bills. Solar panels are not only environmentally friendly because they don’t use fossil fuels or emit any greenhouse gasses, but they also provide a good return on investment for homeowners.
But is that all there is to the story?
Not exactly. When you are buying a home with pre-installed solar panels, you need to ask yourself some pertinent questions.
Is the panel fully paid for?
If you are not familiar with home solar installations, you may not be aware that not all solar power systems are owned by homeowners. One of the popular methods adopted by homeowners who want to go solar is to lease the system.
Leasing arrangements come with many advantages. But if you are buying a home with solar installation on a lease, you need to understand the terms of the lease agreement well. And you also need to consider the monthly lease amount you would be required to pay.
Only if you are comfortable with the arrangement and the ensuing expenses, you should go ahead. The best choice would be buying a house with fully owned solar panels.
Who is the panel manufacturer?
Like any other purchase that you make that has a long life expectancy, you should invest time and effort in finding out the quality of the solar system and the terms of its guarantee or warranty.
Solar panels typically have a lifetime of 20-25 years. You would want the manufacturer to provide customer support in case of malfunctioning and repairs. If it is a locally manufactured system, you would probably have the right kind of consumer protection that a US manufacturer is legally bound to offer.
However, if this is not the case, you may find yourself in trouble in case something goes wrong with your solar energy system after you buy the home.
Who did the installation?
Many homeowners self-install solar panels in an effort at cost-cutting or because they believe they can manage it without help. A faulty installation can lead to many problems later on.
This is why many solar installers offer a warranty on their workmanship ranging from five to ten years. This warranty is in addition to the one offered by the manufacturer. Both will be limited to their specific areas of responsibility.
While the manufacturer may offer service for manufacturing defects and repair or replacement of parts for limited periods, installers usually cover installation defects. With both warranties in place, you would be amply covered for future breakdowns.
As the lifetime of the solar panel is considerably long, you should take time to understand the various warranties before going ahead with it.
Is it generating enough energy for your needs?
Are you expecting the solar system to cover your entire energy needs? If so, is its capacity large enough to meet your energy needs?
Just because a home has a solar power system doesn’t mean it will provide as much energy as you want. If you are a high-energy user and expect the system to support your entire need, you should do some homework before purchasing the home.
Such as, how much energy you consume per month. And what is the capacity of the solar system? If these don’t match, you will be in for a rude shock at the worst or at least a disappointment. You will end up paying for the additional power drawn from the grid.
Not all homeowners install solar panels to cover their entire energy needs. Many use solar power as an add-on or backup to grid power. Understand this before choosing the home.
Does it come with a battery backup?
Solar panels generate electricity only during day hours when the sun is shining. At night and on cloudy days, you will be forced to draw energy from the grid if you are connected to it. Or else, you can use the energy stored in a backup battery if it is included in the installation.
The solar installation will be more useful and more valuable with a backup battery in place. It can store the excess energy generated during the daytime for use later on.
Is a net-metering arrangement in place?
Based on your location, you might qualify for the net-metering arrangement. This will allow you to sell the excess energy generated by your system to the grid.
This arrangement will help you earn extra money and allow you to get the best from the installation. In case net-metering is not already in place, you should find out whether you can opt for the arrangement at a later stage and the cost involved in the process.
Leased vs Owned solar system
Leasing offers homeowners a chance to go solar with limited upfront investment. The previous homeowner may have opted for leasing to avoid the heavy initial expenditure. However, the leasing arrangements can vary vastly.
Leasing typically is a 20-year legal contract that has a monthly payment attached. The terms of the leasing agreement usually stipulate that the liability of monthly payment will pass on the next homeowner if the home is sold.
The points to consider when buying a home with a leased solar system are:
- How many years are left in the agreement?
- What is the monthly lease payment?
- Will you own the solar system at the end of the lease period?
- How will it impact your mortgage loan and the loan amount?
None of this matter if you are buying a house with owned solar panels.
Pros and Cons of Buying Solar Powered Homes
Sunlight comes free of cost. So, once you have the solar installation in place in your new home, what is there to worry about? Aren’t solar panels an asset?
If this is how you understand the situation, you need to do more homework on how solar installation can impact the value of your home. If not, you may regret it later.
1. Impact the sale.
Even if the solar installation is a fully owned one, it can be treated as a liability by homebuyers. If it is a leased one, the less said the better. Some may consider rooftop solar panels less appealing to the looks of a house. However, if the future home buyer is an environmentalist, it can end up adding more value as well. Generally speaking, homes with solar installations are harder to sell.
2. Owned or leased.
A leased solar installation is considered personal property and the new homeowner needs to go through procedures to assume the lease. Moreover, leasing entails added liabilities to the new homeowner.
3. Extra work and expense.
The cost of solar panels is high. But once installed, they do not entail much expenditure on repairs. However, it is important to keep the panels clean. This necessitates periodical washing. You can either do it yourself or get professional help.
4. Higher property taxes.
If the previous homeowner used specific finance schemes to buy the solar system, the amount is repaid through annual property tax payments. Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) program and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) are examples. If this is the case, you should be ready to pay higher property tax for your new home.
May not qualify for some mortgages. Houses with solar panels may not qualify for conventional mortgages since they’re considered “energy efficient improvements” rather than standard features like central heating systems.
The advantages of buying a home with solar panels are clear. It is an investment that will save you money on electricity bills, provide cleaner air for your family to breathe, and reduce your carbon footprint. However, you also need to be aware that there are also disadvantages to consider when purchasing this type of property.
Solar power may increase property value but the catch is to find a homebuyer who appreciates it when you eventually decide to sell it. And, make sure you take into account any additional costs associated with upkeep when considering this option.