Is buying a house with solar panels a smart move on your part? That question has likely been rattling around in your head throughout the home buying process.
We all know that increasing our usage of renewable energy is good for the planet long-term. So, does that automatically mean that we should value homes equipped with solar panels more highly? Is purchasing that kind of home the right move for you?
Come up with your own answers to those important questions by continuing with the rest of this article. Use the information we have compiled here to make your home buying decision easier.
Essential Considerations Before Buying a House with Solar Panels
Should you purchase a home that comes with solar panels? As much as we want to provide a clear and immediate answer to that question, the truth is we cannot do that.
Numerous factors affect the value proposition presented by solar panels. We first have to go through those factors one by one to determine if that type of home makes sense for you.
Let’s discuss those factors in greater detail below.
The Party That Owns the Solar Panels
Before you go any deeper into the pros and cons of residential solar panels, you must first find out if they include them with the property. Many buyers simply assume that the solar panels installed on a property are bundled together. Making that assumption would be an unwise move on your part.
Some solar panels get merely leased out to a property. If you are buying a home that gets energy from rented solar panels, you will need to pay a monthly fee to continue using them.
Monthly rent for solar panels typically ranges from $50 to $250. Do you want to continue paying that fee to use those panels?
Lease agreements for residential solar panels also tend to be lengthy. Do not be surprised if the agreement spans twenty years.
You may be able to purchase the solar panels from the company that owns them, but they will usually only sell if they are getting a good deal. Otherwise, they are content with letting the lease agreement continue.
If all of that sounds like a headache you would rather not deal with, you should prioritize properties that already come with fully owned solar panels. You will pay more upfront for that but save plenty of money moving forward. It is also good to have complete ownership of the solar panels so you can manage them as you see fit.
The Usefulness of the Solar Panels
Next up, you need to account for how useful the solar panels will actually be.
Rhode Island gets a decent amount of sunlight every year. According to BestPlaces.net, Rhode Island gets an average of 202 sunny days annually. That number ticks up slightly to 205 for the rest of the country.
Of course, the amount of sunlight that Rhode Island receives yearly is not the only factor that affects the usefulness of solar panels. You will also have to account for the current condition of the property you are eyeing.
Does it look like the solar panels are oriented the right way, or are they missing out on some valuable sunshine? Are there structures or trees that could permanently stop sunlight from reaching the panels?
Those are some of the questions you need to ask to determine how useful your solar panels could potentially be. You should not kill a deal because the solar panels are not optimized in their current state. However, you should feel free to use that as a negotiating point.
Try to talk the property owner down to your number by pointing out that you still need to make changes to the solar panels to use them properly. They may agree with that sentiment and decide to reduce the price for you.
The Cost of the Solar Panel System
No one likes making a bad deal. That is why you need to take a moment and evaluate the effect the system is having on the house’s price before you push through with any purchase.
Ask the property owner how much they are tacking on to the price of their home because of the solar panel system. Once you have that number, you will be in a better position to make a good deal.
Per MarketWatch, the average price for a new 6-kilowatt-hour solar panel system costs somewhere in the range of $16,000 to $21,000. If the property owner is exceeding that range by a wide margin, they are overestimating the value added by their solar panel system. You can understand if they are doing that to recoup their initial investment, but that does not do you much good.
Instead of purchasing that property, you may be better off buying a less expensive home now, and you can work on getting a solar panel system installed down the line.
You can also use what you know about solar panel system prices during negotiations. Point to that as a reason why the property in question is currently too expensive. Hopefully, the seller will agree and present you with a more appealing price point.
The Potential Tax Savings That Come with Solar Panels
While deciding between a home that already comes with solar panels and one that does not, it is important to remember that taxes can affect how much you will ultimately need to pay for a home that utilizes renewable energy.
Let’s say that you decided to purchase a home without solar panels. Even if you pay for the solar panel system yourself, the cost of doing so may be lower than you expected due to taxes.
The government offers a 30% renewable energy credit for the cost of a new solar panel system and its installation. That tax credit may be enough for you to favor the less expensive home, even if it does not come with a solar panel system.
Once again, you can use that renewable energy credit as a point of reference during your negotiations.
You can convince the owner to sell at a lower price because you will not need to pay that much to have a system installed on your own. They may be more amenable to reducing their number once you point out the tax credit.
The Availability of Net Metering
Solar panel systems offer numerous benefits. One particular benefit you should not overlook is gaining independence from your area’s power grid.
Depending on how you set up your system, you may be able to power your property without any assistance from the local electric company. Those electric bills you used to dread will become a thing of the past.
You may even be eligible to receive payment for the power you are generating via your solar panel system.
In the state of Rhode Island, residents with eligible systems can “receive bill credits for all power generated up to 125% of the on-site consumption during a billing period”. Net metering does more than save you money. If your system generates enough power, you can turn a tidy profit thanks to your solar panel system.
Consult with a realtor to pin down the exact net metering policies in the area where you are planning to buy a home. That way, you will know how much money you can save or make long-term.
The Impact the Solar Panel System Will Have on Your Property Plans
Thus far, we have focused mainly on the financial ramifications of buying a house with solar panels. Obviously, there is more to the system than that. You also need to consider how those solar panels could affect the plans you have for your property.
Changing your plans for your backyard may be necessary because you need to clear room for your solar panels. Making home repairs or renovations in the future could also become trickier because of how you arrange those solar panels.
Take a good look at the property and examine how the solar panel system affects its appearance. If you are okay with the visual impact that the panel system has on the property, then you should proceed with the purchase.
The Maintenance Requirements of a Solar Panel System
Lastly, you must remember that solar panel systems require diligent maintenance. Cleaning them up regularly is an absolute must if you want them to work properly at all times. Fail to clean up your system, and it could fall into a state of disrepair sooner rather than later.
You must also be prepared to commit to your solar panel system. Those systems can last for decades, but that will only happen if you consistently work to keep them in good condition.
Are you hoping to purchase a home equipped with solar panels in Rhode Island? If so, we at the RI Home Store can help. Hire us to be your buying agent, and we will find the homes that meet your specific criteria.
Contact us today so we can start searching for your dream home!