|Tesla Solar Panels|
Over the past few years, solar energy has interested me to the point where I asked that our house be built to enhance the support for future solar panels on the roof. My personal financial investments have also revolved around renewable energy. And so I've recently looked into having solar panels installed on our home. In my opinion, it's not yet inexpensive from a financial standpoint.
But from the perspective of climate change and the health of our environment, it's probably invaluable at this point.
Here's the high level overview and some of my thoughts:
- One of the first things that people interested in solar look into is the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Despite the fact that solar hasn't been so widely adopted yet, the credit seems to be already phasing out. The credit comes as a tax benefit and is computed based on the initial cost of the system. You get the full credit in year one. As you can see, residential customers have less than 3 years to get any kind of credit for adopting solar. I hope that there is a renewal of the incentives.
- 2016 – 2019: The tax credit remains at 30 percent of the cost of the system.
- 2020: Owners of new residential and commercial solar can deduct 26 percent of the cost of the system from their taxes.
- 2021: Owners of new residential and commercial solar can deduct 22 percent of the cost of the system from their taxes.
- 2022 onwards: Owners of new commercial solar energy systems can deduct 10 percent of the cost of the system from their taxes. There is no federal credit for residential solar energy systems.
- Solar panels have a life of somewhere between 20-25 years. But they have practically no maintenance, other than maybe having to spray them down with water to remove any bird droppings.
- The ability to capture enough sunlight depends on the orientation of your house, how much sun you receive, whether or not you have trees or adjacent buildings creating shade, the slope of your roof, and the surface area of roof you have to add panels to.
Southward facing home with 46 solar panels
- Some solar companies can only build you a system that does not exceed 10% of your power utilization. They use the previous year's energy bill and consumption in kilowatt hours as a guide.
- I take issue with this because the older your home gets, the less efficient it is. Additionally, if you had problems with energy consumption in the past year, your data may not be as accurate. A system built today may not be appropriate for your usage in 5 / 10 / 15 years.
- Unless you live on a farm or out in the middle of no where, you have to remain connected to the energy grid. A battery is really only good for storing energy in case the power goes out. I learned that if there is a power outage, because you are still connected to the utility and the solar power feeds the utility lines automatically, if there is a power outage, the solar system shuts down automatically. So there's not really an option to be living a battery-powered life. In any event, a single battery costs about $9-15k. So tack that on to the cost of your system. And likely, you will need more than 1 battery if your home exceeds a certain size.
- The cost of the system itself depends on the amount of energy you will need to create and the amount of space that you have to lay out solar panels to create and store that energy. In general, the bigger the house, the more energy consumed, the more panel you will need.