At first glance, solar power seems like an obvious choice. It can lower electric bills, boost home values, and lower carbon footprints. However, solar power requires a significant up-front investment, as well as a few other downsides to consider. In this article, we’ll help you weigh the pros and cons of solar power so you can make the best choice for your home.

suburban home with solar attached to roof. blue skies above.

Pros of Residential Solar Energy

Lower Energy Bills

The average savings in the US on energy bills is $1,500 per year ($125 per month) when using a solar energy system that can meet the energy needs of an entire home. That said, there are a number of factors that impact this estimate.

The amount of energy you consume, the size of your solar power system, and the amount of power it's able to generate all play a role in how much you’ll save. Plus, each city has different electricity costs. If you live in a more affordable area, the savings will be more minimal than in a high-cost city.

Tax Breaks

The cost of solar power systems decreases every year. One factor that makes them more affordable is federal tax credits. There’s a 26% to 30% tax credit provided by the federal government, depending on the year you installed your system. So, if your system costs $15,000, you could get about $4,000 in tax credits that lower your federal income tax liability.

Environmental Benefits

Solar power is a clean, sustainable energy source that doesn’t emit greenhouse gasses, unlike the fossil fuels we normally use to produce power. Overall, solar has 95% lower carbon emissions, 99% lower water consumption, and 99% lower air pollution than coal. The average home has a five-kilowatt solar power system, which provides a reduction of over 15,000 pounds of CO2 per year.

Increased Property Value

Since solar panels equal long-term energy savings, they can increase your home’s value when it comes time to sell. Per Zillow, homes with solar panels sell for 4.1% more than homes without them. That’s an additional $9,274  on average. Depending on the median home value in your area, you may experience more or less value.

two hands holding an tablet with a solar wind mill on top

Cons of Residential Solar Energy

Initial Investment Cost

Sticker shock is usually the top reason people shy away from solar. The average cost varies depending on your system size, use of solar batteries, and location. Most solar companies will provide a free consultation and quote, so finding out your cost is typically risk-free.

The average cost ranges from $13,000 to $20,000. However, a small system can cost as little as $5,000. You may also opt for a solar battery, which stores excess energy during sunny hours and saves you more money in the long term, which can cost up to $14,000 on top of your initial investment. As you can see, the cost can vary widely.

Varying Efficiency

Solar panels rely on direct sunlight to work efficiently. If your home is highly shaded due to trees or other structures, solar power might not be the best option for you. Your geographical location also plays a role in your home’s sun exposure. Homes in states with more sunlight hours per day, like Arizona and California, will save more than states with fewer hours.

Your home’s orientation is another factor to consider. If it’s oriented away from the sun, you’ll get more shade and won’t be able to produce as much power with a solar energy system.

Not Suitable for All Homes

Solar power doesn’t work on some roofs. You’ll need enough surface area to install solar panels. Older roofs may not have a strong enough roof to support solar panels. Likewise, wood and slate roofs are brittle, making it difficult and expensive to install solar panels.

Is Solar Right for You?

Ultimately, choosing solar energy is a highly individual decision. Your home’s location, orientation, and roof type all play major roles. If you do get a good amount of sun and can afford the upfront cost, solar power could save you thousands over the years, increase your home value, and lower your environmental footprint.

Want to lower your environmental impact in other ways? At LIM Living, we design ADUs so you can add more livable space to your home without a negative environmental impact. Checkout our Mini accessory unit or our Studio ADU

June 26, 2023