How much value does a solar installation add to a property?
It’s a question increasingly on the minds of consumers who are interested in the cost-benefit analysis of residential solar installations, also known as photovoltaic systems.
Currently, the U.S. has 2 million solar PV residential and commercial installations, up from 1 million three years ago, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. The total is expected to reach 3 million by 2021.
The growing interest in solar installations is easy to understand. “A lot of people like the idea that, number one, they’re going to be paying less for electricity, and number two, they’re locking in the price for electricity; they know exactly what they’re going to pay for electricity for the next 20 [or] 30 years,” says Vikram Aggarwal, CEO of EnergySage, a website that screens PV system installers and allows homeowners and businesses to request competitive quotes.
Once a system is installed, a homeowner typically pays a small monthly charge to be connected to the utility. This means they can divide the cost of the system by the monthly cost they have been paying for electricity to find out how long it will take to break even; after that, the savings continue indefinitely.
In parts of the country where power outages are common, solar installations with battery storage have an additional appeal because homeowners can store electricity for times when the grid is down.
But how do you assess the value of a solar installation for a home on the market? The dollar value depends on several factors, including the size, location, and age of the system, and the local cost of electricity.
Homeowners who purchased and installed solar photovoltaic systems last year can look forward to filing their returns. That’s because they can claim a 26 percent federal tax credit, on top of whatever state incentives they qualify for, for the full cost of their PV systems.
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