Purchasing a home equipped with solar panels offers a compelling blend of environmental consciousness and financial benefits. However, navigating the realm of homes with pre-installed solar panels requires distinct considerations. From assessing panel conditions to understanding warranty terms and evaluating the impact on resale value, our guide details what you need to know about buying a house with solar panels already installed so you can make the best decision as a potential home buyer.
- Does Having Solar Panels Affect Selling Your House?
- How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?
- Key Considerations When Buying a House With Solar Panels
- Assessing Solar Panel Performance
- How Do Solar Panels Affect a Mortgage Application?
- Professional Assessment
- Solar Panel Removal
- FAQ About Buying a House With Solar Panels
Does Having Solar Panels Affect Selling Your House?
The impact your solar panels have when it comes time to sell your house depends on factors like your local real estate market, energy costs, the condition of your solar panels, whether they are owned or leased, and buyer preferences. Typically, solar panels installed on your house affect its resale value and marketability.
Consider both the positive and negative impacts of a home with solar panels already installed.
- Reduced energy costs: Most solar panel installations lower electricity bills, making a home more energy-efficient and appealing to potential buyers.
- Increased property value: According to Realtor Darren Robertson, solar panels increase a home’s resale value, particularly in areas with high electricity costs and strong renewable energy incentives.
- Environmental advantages: Many buyers prioritize sustainable living and environmental responsibility, making solar-equipped homes more attractive.
- Initial cost: The higher upfront costs may deter some buyers.
- Transferability challenges: Leased or financed solar panels present potential complications when transferring an agreement.
- Hidden costs and repairs: Many buyers do not want to deal with upkeep or potential repair costs associated with existing solar panels.
- Aesthetics: Solar panels do not match the design preferences of many buyers.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?
The cost of solar panels varies widely depending on the type, installation complexity, location, incentives, and more. On average, you can expect to spend between $15,000 to $26,000 for solar panel installation before incentives. The cost typically includes solar panels, inverters, mounting equipment, electrical work, and installation labor.
Key Considerations When Buying a House With Solar Panels
There are several key considerations you should keep in mind when buying a house with solar panels already installed.
Assess the Age and Condition of the Solar Panels
Newer solar panels offer higher efficiency and longer lifespans, translating to better energy production and cost savings. It is crucial to assess the condition of the solar panels before purchasing a home.
Older panels may require more frequent maintenance and could be closer to the end of their usable life, which means reduced output and fewer savings. Request maintenance records and have a professional inspect the roofing materials and panels for wear, damage, and discoloration.
Evaluate the Roof
It is always essential to assess the condition of the roof before purchasing a home, but add solar panels, and it becomes even more important. Roof integrity is paramount, and roofs typically last 20 or more years, depending on the roofing material. Similarly, solar panels last between 25 to 30 years with proper maintenance.
Roof deterioration before the expected end of your solar system’s lifespan could cause the removal of the solar panels for roof repair or replacement. On average, solar panel removal costs $4,370 on top of the cost of your roof repairs or replacement, adding to the cost and complexity of your home improvement project.
Check out the average cost of some common roof services:
|Roof Service||Average Cost*includes labor and materials|
|General repair||$348 – $1,186|
|Inspection||$120 – $320|
|Leak repair||$390 – $2,000|
|Replacement||$5,706 – $11,185|
|Ventilation||$297 – $583|
Who Owns the Solar Panels?
Solar panels are an expensive upfront investment. Many homeowners lease or finance their solar energy system to eliminate or reduce the initial cost and spread it across small monthly lease payments. You must understand the ownership of the solar panels as a new owner.
Leased Solar Panels
Determine whether the home seller owns or leases the solar panels or whether they are under a power purchase agreement (PPA). Ownership provides full control of the system, its benefits, and savings.
Solar panel leases and PPAs come with terms, transferability concerns, and monthly fees. Be clear on the ownership of the solar panel system to gauge the long-term financial implications and responsibilities of the leasing company and your solar lease agreement that affect your bottom line.
Talk to your real estate agent and mortgage lender to understand the significance of buying a house with a solar loan. If the seller used a solar loan to finance their solar energy installation, a portion of the home’s purchase price is associated with the outstanding loan balance, influencing the home’s price negotiations.
Some solar loans, like Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans, are transferable because they are tied to the property instead of the owner. Lenders determine the repayment amount as an assessment of the solar panel project cost added to the home’s property tax bill.
Will You Save Money by Keeping the Solar Panels?
Keeping pre-installed solar panels can lead to financial benefits. Solar panels can substantially decrease your reliance on the national grid, lowering your electricity bill. However, factors like local incentives, maintenance costs, energy usage patterns, and the age of the solar system and roof all affect the amount of your savings.
Newer solar panels increase a property’s resale value. However, a system nearing the end of its lifespan and those with reduced output lower resale value, affecting warranties, financing, and cost benefits. Assess the system to decide if you will save money long-term, or if removal is a better option.
Understand Net Metering Incentives
Consider the incentives that come with being a solar owner and increase your energy savings. Net metering is a billing arrangement and state-based policy that allows solar system owners to receive a credit for the excess electricity their solar panels generate and feed back into the grid.
The arrangement reduces your utility bills and maximizes the return on your investment. Policies vary by location, and your local government and utility company sets the regulations and limitations. Net metering applies to solar panel ownership, and some leased solar systems, depending on the terms of the lease agreement and local regulations.
Solar Panel Maintenance
Assess the potential maintenance and repair needs of the solar system. Solar companies often maintain leased solar panels. However, if the home comes with an owned system, you will take over the annual solar panel maintenance and cleaning.
Clarify your responsibilities to ensure a smooth transition, being clear about the consistency of care from the previous owners, transfer requirements, and warranty compliance regulations.
Homeowner’s Insurance Impacts
Solar panels affect homeowner’s insurance policies. The impact varies depending on factors like your insurance provider, location, and your solar panel system. Ensure your system has coverage to avoid damage from weather. Assess the cost of your homeowner’s insurance with and without the pre-installed solar panels to determine the cost-effectiveness of keeping the system.
- Coverage increase: Most insurance companies require homeowners to increase their coverage amount to account for the value of the solar system, because they consider solar panels part of the home’s structure.
- Separate coverage: If your insurance company does not cover your solar panels under your traditional policy, a separate rider policy is necessary to cover the system.
- System maintenance: Companies often require installation and maintenance documentation to ensure the system meets safety standards and minimums.
Assessing Solar Panel Performance
Understanding the ins and outs of solar panel performance provides insights into the system’s effectiveness and potential energy savings.
How Were the Solar Panels Installed?
Knowing the installation method of the solar panels provides valuable insights into their condition, efficiency, and potential problems. Professional installation follows industry standards, increasing reliable performance over a DIY installation, and well-installed panels are more likely to operate efficiently.
Installation affects a roof’s structure, and professional workmanship ensures the roof’s integrity remains intact. Similarly, well-organized wiring minimizes potential hazards and increases the energy efficiency of the system.
Average Output vs. Consumption
Compare the average output of electricity the solar system produces to the home’s average energy consumption. The average output refers to the amount of electricity the panels generate over a specific period, usually one month, measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). The average consumption of the home is the amount of electricity the household uses.
Evaluating these two factors can help you determine if the solar panel system covers the energy demands of the home, increasing your savings. If the average output of the panels is greater than or equal to the home’s consumption, there is potential to reduce or eliminate your electricity bills, resulting in long-term savings.
Use the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) PVWatts Calculator to help estimate the output and consumption of the home.
The warranty terms of the solar installation outline the coverage and protection you have in case of issues with the panels or solar components. Consider:
- Performance warranties guarantee a level of energy production over a specific period, typically 25 years. If the panels’ output falls below the threshold, the solar company offers repair or replacement.
- Product warranties cover defective panels, including manufacturing flaws and premature degradation. They typically last 10 to 25 years.
- Inverter warranties cover a system’s inverter, the component that converts direct current into alternating current to be used by your home. These warranties typically last five to 15 years.
- Installation warranties depend on the installer and cover issues arising from incorrect installation.
- Transferability concerns arise with some solar panel warranties. Transferable warranties enhance the system’s value.
- Claim processes differ between solar panel manufacturing companies. Understand how to start a warranty claim and the steps required.
- Maintenance requirements are part of many warranty terms. Warranties require regular maintenance to remain valid.
How Do Solar Panels Affect a Mortgage Application?
Buying a home with solar panels impacts your mortgage application in several ways:
- Property valuation: Solar panels increase the value of the property, affecting the appraised value and influencing the loan amount and down payment.
- Debt-to-income ratio: If the sellers own the solar panels and they contribute to lower energy bills, your debt-to-income ratio improves, making you a more favorable candidate for a mortgage. However, if the sellers lease the solar panels, lenders consider them an added monthly expense, affecting your debt-to-income ratio.
- Energy savings: Some lenders consider reduced energy costs when assessing your ability to handle mortgage payments.
- Appraisal: Solar panels increase the appraisal value of a home and your loan-to-value ratio.
- Documentation: Most lenders request documentation for solar systems, including ownership, maintenance records, and agreements, to assess the impact on the property’s value and your financial situation.
- Lender experience: Be sure to select a mortgage lender with solar experience to ensure a smoother process for both buyer and seller.
Engage a qualified solar technician for a professional assessment of the solar panels. They will perform an in-depth evaluation of the condition, efficiency, and overall performance of the system. Solar panel inspections typically include visual inspections, wiring and connection assessments, energy production and shading analyses, warranty checks, and maintenance recommendations.
Solar Panel Removal
If the solar panels are nearing their end of life or you don’t want to keep up with the maintenance in your new home, you can opt for solar panel removal. There are a couple of options to consider:
- Negotiate with the seller to remove the solar panels before the sale to accommodate your preferences.
- Remove the solar panels after purchasing the home. You can expect to spend between $2,820 to $5,920 for professional removal services.
It is important to communicate your preferences to the seller and carefully weigh the pros and cons of keeping and removing the solar panels. Consider financial implications, changes in property value, and contractual obligations related to the solar power system.
FAQ About Buying a House With Solar Panels
Some incentives may still apply. However, the purchasing homeowners are the party eligible to claim tax credits and solar rebates. If you buy a home with solar panels installed, you will probably only be eligible for local net metering credits.
Yes. Most times you can upgrade or expand the system. Be sure to consult a professional solar panel installer and keep in mind the age of the solar system.
Yes. Consider having a professional solar inspection completed before moving forward with the home purchase. Talk to your real estate agent to help arrange the inspection and note that you cover the cost.
Solar Panel Maintenance, Repair, and Removal Services
As a new homeowner, purchasing a home with solar panels presents both environmental and financial opportunities. While panels lead to reduced energy costs and increased property value, a thorough assessment of the solar system is crucial.
If you’re considering purchasing a home with solar panels already installed or need to have an existing system repaired, let RoofGnome connect you with a local solar professional so you can gain peace of mind, lower your carbon emissions, and increase your home’s energy efficiency.