Solar Panel For Your Home: Is It Worth It?

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Recent natural disasters, such as the California wildfires, have inspired more Americans to seek sustainable living and adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle. Installing solar panels for your home is an investment that lets you reap various benefits such as reduce electric bills, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and potentially increase a home’s value.

However, installing solar panels requires a homeowner to shell out large sums of money to purchase the equipment in addition to the installation costs. This begs the question – is solar power worthwhile?

According to a 2019 solar research report by Zillow, installing solar panels not only helps lower monthly utility bills but also increases a home’s value by up to 4.1% in the United States. States like New Jersey have one of the highest solar premiums, with solar-powered houses selling for up to 9.9% more than those without solar energy systems.

Three Types Of Solar Panels

Aside from aesthetics, solar panels have different capabilities when it comes to energy efficiency and total installation costs. The three most widely known solar panels are monocrystalline solar panels, polycrystalline solar panels, and thin-film solar panels.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels: Dubbed as the most common solar panel for residential rooftop installations, monocrystalline solar tiles produce more electrical power and look gorgeous with their flat, black appearance. Made of pure silicone, they are shaped like squares with corners cut off and have the highest energy efficiency ranging from 17% to 22% among solar panels. These solar panels cost more than polycrystalline solar panels but tend to last longer and come with better warranties.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels: Constructed of crystalline cells, these solar panels are ideal for homeowners who want to install a budget solar energy system. Even though polycrystalline solar panels are cheaper than monocrystalline panels, they are less space-efficient and have a lower efficiency rating of 15% to 17%, causing more people to pick monocrystalline solar panels instead.

Thin-Film Solar Panels: Thin film solar panels are also inexpensive and provide more flexibility than crystalline solar cells. In fact, they can be manufactured into solar roof shingles. Also known as photovoltaic shingles, solar power shingles replace your existing roof with advanced solar tiles to power your home. They mimic the function and durability of conventional asphalt roofing. However, this solar panel offers a contemporary beauty and a reliable solar energy system capable of an efficiency rating anywhere between the 10% to 13% range.

Which Type Of Solar Panel Is Best For You? 

Consider these several factors when choosing the best type of solar panel for home use:

  1. Your budget for the components and the overall installation cost.
  2. The amount of roof space you have for the solar panel installation.
  3. Your home’s orientation, ideally without trees or other objects obstructing the sunlight.
  4. The desired energy efficiency you want to achieve.

Here are the main things to look for when selecting your solar panel:

Cost Per Watt ($/W)

Pricing is the number one factor that influences homeowners’ decisions when investing in solar power. Knowing the cost per watt allows you to design and operate a solar power system that does not need to supply as much power and costs significantly less. You can calculate $/W by taking the total price of the solar panel system that you want to install and divide it by the number of watts it produces. For example, a 10kW solar system has 10,000 watts. If that solar energy system is priced at $20,000, then the cost per watt is $2 per watt ($20,000 / 10,000W). Doing this simple measurement will get you a true pricing number that you can use to compare all other solar panels. 

Efficiency Rating

A solar panel’s efficiency rating indicates how much of the sun’s energy is converted into usable electricity. The most effective solar panels on the market today have efficiency ratings as high as 22.8%, whereas most solar panels range from 15% to 17%.

Warranty and Company History

Select a solar panel for the home with an excellent performance and workmanship warranty. The performance warranty guarantees that your solar panels will work above their rated efficiency for the duration of the warranty. The industry standard is 25 years, with some manufacturers offering even longer performance warranties of up to 30 years. Meanwhile, the workmanship warranty will protect you against defects in solar panel manufacturing, material, and design. The industry standard for workmanship warranty is 10 years with some companies offering up to 20-year guarantees. Another thing to consider is the reputation of the solar panel company that you wish to purchase from. Make sure to look at the company’s track record in the solar industry and the longevity of their service.

UL Certification

UL is a trusted independent technical advisory that performs thorough testing, inspection, and risk management in the solar energy industry. They offer a comprehensive standard for the solar panel’s safety, performance, and reliability for residential use. Any solar panel must be UL listed to be installed on your home.

I Don’t Plan on Staying for 25 Years in My Home. Should I Still Go Solar?

Since solar panel systems are proven to increase the value of your property, installing it can help speed up the process of selling your home in the future. Even if you don’t have plans of living in your house for a long time, many interested buyers are thrilled at the possibility of owning a solar-powered home with zero monthly utility bills. Despite the expensive upfront cost, a solar panel for your home has a high ROI or solar panel payback period. On average, U.S. homeowners break even on their solar panel system cost in about 8.5 years.

Jephonie Villegas is a full-time writer with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and previously taught English to foreign students.