Money Matters

What we know about solar – and what you should know, too 

Written by

Emily Gunn


October 7, 2021

If you’re thinking of going green by adding solar panels to your home, you’re not alone.  

With improving technology and reduced costs (Solar Industry Research Data reports solar prices have dropped 70% over the last decade), homeowners in every state are taking the plunge. 

But even with increased affordability, solar can still be a pricey upgrade. Don’t worry! We’ve rounded up a list of our biggest pros and possible cons, so you can go green with confidence.  


  • The energy savings can be significant. 

Depending on how much energy your household uses and how much your solar panels generate, you could see $0 energy bills. And if your panels end up producing more than you need, your energy company will buy back the extra wattage. That’s right, solar could end up making money for you. 

  • Adding solar may increase your home’s value. 

Thanks to their energy cost savings and eco-friendliness, solar panels can be an attractive property feature for prospective buyers. Zillow did some research and found that homes with solar panels sell for 4.1% more on average, but much depends on where you live and the wattage your system produces, so you might not want to rely on a future home sale to recoup your solar dollars. Think of it as a probable perk. 

  • Upkeep should be pretty easy. 

While the initial investment is big, the ongoing costs are minimal. There’s very little maintenance needed (maybe brush off any leaves or grit once in a while) and the technology is so good these days, your solar panels should last for decades. Like any big home improvement, it comes at a cost, but it’s an upgrade you can enjoy and benefit from for years to come. 

  • There are ways to make solar more affordable. 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, homeowners can receive a tax credit for 26 percent of project costs in 2021, and individual states offer additional rebates and incentives. A local solar company should be able to give you all the offer details for your location so you can maximize your savings. 

And you might want to shop around to see if any solar programs in your community conduct group buys, where homeowners team together to make a collective purchase and get a better deal. 

Plus, if you can’t pay cash upfront (not everyone has $20k lying around), there’s a wide range of affordable solar loans, along with some other traditional lending options, to make your solar plan possible. 

  • A free estimate will answer a lot of your questions. 

A reputable solar company (or two or three – remember to shop around!) can provide all the details. They’ll look at your energy usage and your roof to help you make a plan. They can tell you how many panels will fit on your roof, how much energy they’ll likely produce, how much it will all cost, and how long it’ll take you to break even on your investment based on your energy consumption. It’s the best first step if you’re really interested in adding solar to your home. 


  • Your breakeven point could be years away. 

There’s a big upfront price tag to install solar panels on your roof ($17k-$23k on average). However, those panels will lower your energy bills, so the cost should even out over time. But how long is too long? If you plan to move before you break even, you’ll want to consider all the factors to make sure solar is still worth the investment. 

  • Your roof could be a dealbreaker. 

Since this is where your solar panels live, your roof’s personality plays a big part in your solar journey. First, if your roof is old, you may want to wait or re-roof first. You can install solar on an older roof, but when it’s time for a new roof, you’ll have to pay extra to have the panels taken off and reinstalled. Womp womp. 

Shady roofs obviously won’t get the biggest benefit from solar power. And there are other requirements – ideally your roof has lots of space for panels, and it’s slanted, south-facing, in good condition and made of shingles. Plus, your roof needs to be sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the panels.  

That’s a lot! Luckily, the professionals can inspect your roof as part of a solar estimate and help advise on what’s best for your home. 

So, what have we learned? 

At the end of the day, solar is a smart investment for many homeowners. You help the environment, lower your energy bills, increase the value of your home and set a good example for your non-solar neighbors. Plus, with a variety of financing and incentives available to help foot the bill, it can definitely qualify as a win-win.