Are Solar Panels Worth It? How Much They Cost vs. How Much They Save

Renewable energy is all the rage these days.

The move to sustainability is a smart one and it will help to keep our earth clean and habitable for the future. Wind power, hydroelectricity, geothermal energy, and biomass energy are just a few of the many types of renewable energy that will guide us into the decades ahead.

The easiest and most popular way for homeowners to incorporate renewable energy into their lives is through the use of solar energy. However, many homeowners wonder: are solar panels worth it?

Solar energy has become more affordable over the past few decades, which has resulted in more widespread use. Most people who try it do so with the environmental benefits in mind, but also because they want to save money.

The purchase and installation of solar panels can be pricey. Before moving forward on this home improvement project, you'll want to determine whether or not solar power is worth it for you, your home, and your situation.

Read on to learn all about solar panels and to find the answer to the question, "Is solar worth it?"

How Solar Works

People have been using the power of the sun for thousands of years. The earliest use of solar power was likely the direction of concentrated light into some kindling to start a fire.

We've come a long way since then.

In 1839, French physicist Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect that explains how sunlight can be converted into electricity. It wasn't until a little over one hundred years later in 1940 that Russell Ohl, inventor of the transistor, invented the solar cell.

Solar panels use photovoltaic cells to absorb sunlight and convert it into usable energy for us. The collected sunlight is first converted to DC electricity, then a solar inverter converts it to AC electricity so this energy can be used in homes to power various appliances. Any excess electricity that is produced is fed into the electric grid to be used in other homes as needed.

The Cost of Solar Panels

The purchase and installation of solar panels is not cheap. In fact, according to the Center for Sustainable Energy, the average cost of a residential solar system is between $15,000 and $25,000 before tax credits or other incentives are applied.

This may sound like a lot and it is. However, although this is a large investment up front, you will likely be saving money on your electric bills for years to come.

Are solar panels worth it? The answer to that question will vary. In order to determine the answer for you, you must first ask yourself a number of questions.

Questions to Ask

There are a number of questions that you should ask yourself before moving forward with a residential solar system purchase and installation.

If your main goal is strictly to promote sustainability, then go ahead; the answers to these questions are irrelevant.  However, if you are wondering if you will save money in the long run, these questions are crucial.

1. How Much Is Your Electric Bill Now?

Solar panels can offset your electric bill or eliminate them altogether. If your home electric bill is quite high, you will save a bundle every month with a residential solar system. However, if your bill tends to be quite low, you may not save much in the end.

2. How Much Will Your Solar Panel System Cost?

The overall cost of your home solar panel system will depend on a number of things. The size of your home is a factor and the specific type of panels you choose is another. You also may find that different companies offer vastly different prices when it comes to quotes.

The best thing to do when shopping for solar panels for your home is to get a number of quotes. Contacting several different companies is wise and you will not only save money this way, but you will also discover the company that feels right for you.

3. How Will You Pay for Your Solar Panel System?

Because of the cost, most people who have solar panels installed choose some sort of financing to pay over an extended period. Of course, if you pay in cash outright then you will save a great deal of money, but not everyone can do that.

If you do choose to finance, make sure you get a good deal without too high of an interest rate. The faster you pay off your loan, the more you will save in time.

4. What Incentives Are Available?

Every state and the federal government offer tax incentives and rebates for people who switch to solar power. These vary from state to state, but depending on where you live, you could pay off a large percentage of your initial investment with these. Be sure to add these discounts into your calculations when trying to determine whether or not solar power is worth it for you.

Shopping Tips

When it comes time to shop for solar panels for your home, there are several additional tips to consider.

One thing to think about when trying to determine if solar power is worth it for you is the amount of tree cover over your house. Solar panels do not require direct sun to collect power, but it certainly helps. If you live in a forest, solar panels may not be right for you.

Also, when you are shopping around for different quotes, do your research. Learn about the companies you select beforehand so you know what to expect. Different companies offer different options for equipment and installation, and it will be beneficial to you to know a bit about these things before meeting with someone.

Are Solar Panels Worth It?

The answer to the question, "are solar panels worth it?" is different for everyone.

For some, solar panel installation will save them thousands of dollars over many years. On the other hand, for others, the initial investment may not be worth it down the road. Your decision should depend on the answers to the above questions and more.

If you are interested in determining whether solar panels are right for you and you would like some help, please contact us today. We would love to discuss our products and options with you and, if you decide that solar panels are right for you, we would love to install them for you, too.

Give us a call; we can't wait to chat with you!

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