Solar panels: are they right for you?

Have you wondered about installing solar panels? Are solar panels right for you? Are you confused about the proclaimed benefits?

I am and so I found this Boston Globe article Are solar panels worth it? very helpful.

The main points I took away from the article were:
– the appearance of solar panels on the roof may not appeal to everybody or be appropriate on all styles of property, although some experts claim solar panels increase a property’s value
– the life span of solar panels is 20-30 years and the roof needs to be in good condition for the installation. It is not clear to me what happens to the panels when a roof ages or needs later replacement
– leased panels can complicate the sale of the property
– much of the projected financial benefit comes from tax credits, which are currently set to expire at the end of 2016, and assumptions about future electricity price increases.

Installing solar panels when electricity is supplied by a municipal electric company, as in Marblehead, is more complicated. Indeed the “leading” company I called this week does not offer solar panels in Marblehead for that reason.

There are also several requirements before solar panels can be installed.
Here, for example,are the requirements of the Marblehead Fire Department:

• COPY OF AGREEMENT BETWEEN INSTALLER COMPANY AND MHD CUSTOMER
• ALL DRAWINGS SHOWING PROPOSED ARRAY(S)
• RACKING AND ROOF MOUNTING DETAILS
• ELECTRICAL SCHEMATIC DRAWING
• LETTER REGARDING STRUCTURAL ROOF LOADS
• COMPLETED INTERCONNECTION AGREEMENT
• SIGN OFF FORM SIGNED BY FIRE DEPT., BUILDING INSP. & WIRE INSP

Financial savings
The article states: “The average Massachusetts household paying $100 a month for electricity can save an estimated $35,900 over the next 20 years — almost $1,800 a year — by purchasing and installing a rooftop solar system, according to data from EnergySage , an online marketplace for solar-energy consumers.”

I cannot understand these numbers. If I am spending $14,000 to save $1,200 a year, then it would seem that over 20 years my savings would be 20 x $1,200 = $24,000 minus the $14,000 cost = $10,000, or $500 a year. I know the solar companies are assuming future increases in the cost of electricity, but I still cannot understand the numbers quoted. And they are quite a lot higher than the numbers I saw on EnergySage’s website.

Comment
I can imagine that a commercial or industrial building might be able to justify the installation of solar panels, while I can also see that a newly built contemporary home might be able to incorporate them in the house design. I can also see that panels on a pool house might be used to heat the pool.
Solar_pool
But for the rest of us, I see a lot of negatives for a (potentially) small gain.

If you – or somebody you know – are considering buying or selling a home and have questions about the market and/or current home prices, feel free to contact me on 617.834.8205 or Andrew.Oliver@SothebysRealty.com.

Read Which broker should sell my house?

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty. Each Office Is Independently Owned and Operated

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