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What to Weigh Before Switching to Solar

Solar energy can save a homeowner money – but it will also first cost them for the installation. They should weigh all pros and cons before committing to an upgrade.

NEW YORK – Switching your home to solar energy could save you money in the long run and help save the planet, research shows. An average home could save $10,000 to $30,000 over 25 to 30 years, which is the lifetime of a solar panel system, according to solar platform EnergySage.

Before you jump in, homeowners should get to know the process of buying solar services by comparing costs and benefits. People interested in installing solar panels should understand financing and maintenance costs, as well as the energy produced and money saved, said Travis Hoium, an investment analyst for The Motley Fool.

How to choose a solar panel system

For people who already have a specific solar panel brand in mind, they could start with the products and then reach out to solar installers, Hoium said. But for those who don’t, they could compare solar quotes on platforms like EnergySage and Sunrun.

“Solar is typically going to be an investment that you expect a return from, so you should be saving money on your overall energy bill,” Hoium said.

Not all homes would benefit from converting to solar, because some roofs might have obstructions or not enough space, so solar installers could visit to help homeowners decide whether or not solar energy is an option.

Should you purchase or rent a solar energy system?

Homeowners usually have the choice of either purchasing the system or renting the system. Although the latter might seem less expensive at first, it comes with several disadvantages.

When homeowners rent the solar system, usually they would sign a long-term agreement with the installer and purchase electricity at a certain rate, Hoium said. But the rate might increase every year, depending on the contract.

“You also don’t own the solar system, so if you sell your house, now you have to transfer that agreement to the new buyer, which can get complicated,” Hoium said.

How much does this system cost?

Installing a home solar panel system usually costs $15,000 to $30,000, but the price could vary greatly depending on the location and size, Hoium said. Homeowners could pay upfront, with credit or a combination of both.

The Inflation Reduction Act, recently passed by the Senate, would extend a program offering a 30% tax credit to households that install solar systems.

System planning could take months, although the installation takes only a few hours. Electricity generated from the solar panels would then feed back to the grid, reducing the amount for the households every month.

Hoium said homeowners should go online and compare solar quotes, because the solar panels will stay on the roof for several decades.

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