The thought of adding a solar panel system to your home is appealing. After all, who does not want lower utility bills and protecting our environment. If the installation is done right, these systems are advertised to last 30 – 40 years. It sounds good, but you will want to see the cost payback, right. Absolutely, but is this all there is to it, the installation cost versus the payback.
What happens when you need a new roof? I have owned my own home for the last 40 years. In this time, I have not had an asphalt shingle roof that has lasted more than 8 years. My roofs have needed replacing due to bad shingles from the manufacturer, hail damage, wind damage, or poor shingle installation. Today’s technology will require the solar system to disassembled to replace the roof and then reassembled. This cost has been estimated to cost between $1,000 - $2,000? Should a person budget this cost every 8 – 10 years?
Another cost to consider is the annual maintenance cost. Solar systems need direct sunshine to work efficiently and these panel surfaces get dirty and block some of the suns energy. The panels will need routine cleaning to remain efficient. The other part of the annual maintenance will be to prevent any shading over the panels from trees, antennas and power lines. It would be simple to manage your own trees, but what happens when a neighbor’s trees start shading your panels?
The last item to consider is whether a solar roof panel system will help or hurt the resell value of your home. This depends on the buyer. Consider the case of a person selling a home with a swimming pool. Most homebuyers do not want a home with a pool due to the associated work and cost of maintaining a pool. It greatly limits the number of prospective buyers who will consider a home with a pool. I believe the same thing would apply to a home with a solar panel, especially when the solar system has a monthly cost associated with it, such as, a monthly lease payment or a buyer assuming a long-term contract.
Capturing the free energy provided by the sun appears to be the right thing to do for our environment, but the total cost is not making the decision simple. It costs money to convert light energy to electricity. Today’s technology and costs make the proposition close to breakeven endeavor.
Chuck retired from an engineering management career to start a home inspection business