Though it still accounts for only a small fraction of energy in the US, the solar power industry is growing more rapidly than you might think, especially residential solar which grew 60 percent in 2013 and continues with strong numbers. Growth is due in large part to the plunge of residential solar panels prices and the environmental and economic concerns of conscious consumers like you. During 2014, more than 195,000 installations brought the total number of homes and businesses that have gone solar to 645,000. By 2025, some forecasts say residential solar may be the cheapest energy source for many people around the globe. Chances are some people you know are already benefiting from solar power and doing so is easier than you think. Here’s what you need to know before adding residential solar panels.
Costs and Benefits of Installing Residential Solar Panels
The cost of residential solar panels has decreased significantly in the past few years. A drop in prices plus new incentives and rebates now make solar an affordable option for most homeowners. Price of residential solar panels does, of course, vary based on the size of the system being installed; the average ranges from $15,000 to $40,000, but dips below $10,000 in several states.
You might think that still sounds steep, but in terms of investment solar offers a number of very appealing long term benefits you should take into account. Installing solar panels isn’t just a way for you to be more environmentally friendly, it has real financial perks. Typically your property value rises, utility bills lower, and the return on investment is rapid, with some people even managing to sell energy back into the grid.
Furthermore, solar power requires relatively little in maintenance costs. The photovoltaic cells that panels are made of are extremely durable and need minimal maintenance. With regular cleaning and removal of debris, your solar panels should last 25 years or more.
Before Installing Residential Solar Panels
Once you’ve decided to take advantage of residential solar power, you’ll need to talk to a solar power company and have them do an assessment of your house. This will help decide if the size of your roof, its orientation, and the amount of sunlight would make the system beneficial. Depending on the company, you may have the option to buy or lease solar panels, whichever ends up being more financially feasible and gives you the best return on your investment.
Since the number and size of solar panels installed depends on the energy usage of your home, it’s prudent to become as energy efficient as you can before investing in solar panels. Take steps like upgrading to energy-efficient appliances, replacing regular bulbs with LED ones, and so forth.
Installing residential solar panels is tricky so you’ll want to contract an expert to do the wiring and placement. Find someone you trust who has good recent references, doesn’t outsource installation, and provides panels with a strong warranty. Panels should be covered for 20-25 years under and inverters for at least 10 years.
So, what are you waiting for? Take the next step towards solar power now and you won’t only be saving the environment, but also your wallet.