Is Solar Energy a Good Long-Term Investment?

Solar Energy InvestmentIf you are one of those homeowners who have been on the fence about whether or not solar is worth the investment, it’s time to see the light. The sunlight, that is. Harnessing the power of the sun comes with a number of great benefits, and when it comes to dollars and cents, solar is a great long term investment. Although there are a number of factors that can determine how quickly you’ll see a return, the number of immediate benefits a solar energy system provides will quickly show you just how valuable it is.

Here is a look at why solar energy is considered a great long term investment:

1) Incentives Put Solar in Reach for Many Homeowners

Some homeowners may disregard solar as an option without a second thought because they believe a solar energy system will cost more than they can afford. In reality, you may be pleasantly surprised at the final cost once incentives are taken into consideration. In many parts of the US, there are excellent tax breaks, credits, rebates, and other incentives to accommodate homeowners & business owners who are interested in investing in solar energy. Speak with a solar expert near you to find out what your state & federal incentives are that will help reduce the final cost of installing a solar energy system.

2) Escape the Rising Costs of Utilities

The cost of electricity has steadily risen year over year which can put a strain on any homeowner’s budget. By the end of this year, the average increase for electricity in the residential sector is projected to be 2.3% higher than in 2014. With oil prices once again on the rise and the supply of fossil fuels dwindling, energy costs will continue to increase. Energy from the sun, however, will not increase. The sun is abundant & free to harvest, and your solar energy system will consistently collect energy from the sun, even the cloudiest days.

3) Become more Energy Independent

The more sunlight that your system harnesses, the less electricity you will need from your utility supplier. This can significantly reduce your heating & cooling costs. Your total savings will be determined by the size of your solar system, how much power you use, and the current price of energy, but on average, homeowners save about $84 per month.

4) Increase Your Home’s Value

Did you know that the value of your home can increase by 20 times the annual electricity savings when your home includes a solar energy system? That means that a home’s value will raise an average of $20 for every $1 that is saved annually while the system is in use. According to a recent study, a solar PV energy system will add an average of $24,705 to a home’s sale price.

5) Solar Panels Require Very Little Maintenance & Upkeep

Because solar panels have no moving parts, they rarely malfunction. Most homeowners can keep their panels clean by spraying them with their garden hose to remove debris or dust. If you live in an area with heavy snow or brutal freeze/thaw cycles, it’s a good idea to have regular inspections, but overall maintenance is minimal and well worth the effort to keep the effectiveness of your unit intact.

6) Solar Energy is Extremely Reliable

tesla new home batteryThe sun has been burning for billions of years and will continue burning for potentially billions more. As other fossil fuels continue to dwindle in supply, solar energy will remain steady and powerful. If combined with a battery backup/storage system, such as the brand new Tesla Powerwall home battery system, your stored solar energy can be used during a blackout. Whether the blackout is caused by a severe storm or grid overload, you can rest assured knowing that you will be able to continue life as normal, even when you are not receiving backup electricity from your energy supplier.

There are plenty of reasons why solar is considered to be an excellent long term investment, and these are just the tip of the iceberg. If you have questions regarding solar energy or you would like to learn how you can take advantage of harvesting the sun’s power, speak with one of our local member stores. We can help set you up with a system that will perfectly suit your needs & usage requirements and will offer great returns in the years to come.

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Compare Roof-Mounted with Ground-Mounted Solar

Roof mounted solar pv systemThinking about cutting energy costs by investing in solar energy for your home? The installation of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system can be a roof-mount, a ground-mount, or a pole-mount. Which is best for you is determined by a number of factors, perhaps even strict guidelines enforced by your homeowners’ association. Since pole-mounted panels and ground-mounted are very similar, comparisons here will be between panels installed on the roof versus installed on the ground.

Optimal Conditions for Roof-Mounted Solar

The most economical method for homeowners to install a solar system is on the roof because no additional structures are required for mounting the solar panels other than the roof itself. Your best option is to go with roof-mounted solar panels if the following conditions exist:

  • The appearance of solar panels on your rooftop is something you are comfortable with
  • The roof faces south
  • There are no significant obstructions to sun exposure on the roof, such as nearby trees, buildings, hills, or mountains
  • The roof itself has few obstructions which would interfere with installation of panels, such as sky lights and chimneys
  • The roof has an adequate amount of room for installation of solar panels
  • The homeowners’ association where you live doesn’t disallow rooftop solar panels
  • You have small children and are therefore concerned about their having contact with electrical wires on a ground-mounted system
  • You prefer the added security provided by having the solar panels up on the roof rather than on the ground

It’s possible that the size of the solar system that can be installed on your roof may be limited due to lack of space, if you are interested in generating a certain amount of solar energy. Our NASS professionals can help you determine what size solar system you can install with the amount of square footage available on your roof and answer any other questions you may have about installing solar on your rooftop.

Reasons to Install a Ground-Mounted Solar System

If the following conditions apply, installing a ground-mounted solar system may be the right choice for you:

  • Ground-mounted solar energy systemYour roof does not give you the opportunity to maximize on solar capabilities, whether due to size, too many obstructions, too much shade, or a shape that doesn’t accommodate solar panels
  • Your property is roomy enough for ground-mounted solar panels
  • Your roof is made with material that is difficult to work with for solar installation, such as clay tiles
  • The pitch of your roof doesn’t work for solar panel installation
  • Your roof is old and needs to be replaced within a few years (solar panels usually carry a minimum 20-year warranty)
  • Your area usually gets an excessive amount of snow
  • You want the option of being able to maximize solar potential by adjusting the solar panels seasonally

The greatest benefit of ground-mounted solar panels is that you may have better options for placing your solar panels where solar capabilities are optimal, since they can be installed to directly face south. The air flow is better for ground-mounted solar, which means there is a slight, though not significant, increase in performance. The additional materials required to install ground-mounted solar panels includes structures underneath and wiring which should be trenched in order to connect the panels to the house. If you live in a particularly rocky area, trenching the wires could be a special challenge.

NASS can help you, whether you need professional installation of ground-mounted, roof-mounted, or pole-mounted solar panels. Give us a call today and get energy savings started.

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Finally, Installation of Solar Panels at the White House is a Reality

Solar Panels on White House

As of August 2013, solar panels have been installed on the White House

In 2010, President Barack Obama’s then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that a demonstration of a commitment to increasing renewable power would take place in the form of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and solar hot water being installed on the roof of the White House. Fast forward to now, August of 2013, and it has happened. It took 40 months, but solar panels are now installed on the White House roof. And, incidentally, business owners and homeowners across the U.S. have also installed solar on their rooftops since 2010 to the extent that solar power has quadrupled during Obama’s administration.

Advocates of solar energy, to a large extent, are more frustrated than congratulatory about the new White House solar panels. After all, as many see it, Obama has not provided an example of leadership to Americans by the way the solar project has been delayed. There are also many initiatives he could have implemented as President which would have made much more significant advancements to solar, many argue. And there is no denying that Obama is far more famous for the failure of Solyndra, a bankrupt solar manufacturing company which received a $535 million federal loan guarantee, than he is for an increase in U.S. solar installations.

While they can’t all be attributed to Obama, let’s look at various solar advancements which have taken place during his Presidential term:

  • The capacity for electricity generation with solar technologies is close to four times what it was when President Obama took office.
  • In 2012 alone, solar power capacity in the U.S. was increased by 3.3 gigawatts, which is a stunning amount. New solar power capacity that was added last year was greater than the previous three years combined – and they also marked great solar strides.
  • President George Bush signed an 8 year Investment Tax Credit into law in 2008, but few utilized the tax credit during his tenure due to the global recession that was underway at the time. The Section 1603 Treasury Grant Program (TGP) took the 30% investment tax credit and allowed the credit to be claimed as a grant for renewable energy project developers. In short, developers which did not have tax equity access were able to claim the tax credit at the startup of construction, which benefited the solar industry tremendously. In fact, in solar projects encompassing all 50 states, awards were made to about 44,000 domestic solar projects which leveraged over $7.17 billion in private sector investments as of September 2012.
  • Solar IncentivesIn spite of serious economic downturns in the U.S., the solar industry has grown enormously, due to the TGP, in large part.
  • It is estimated that the TGP has supported approximately 60,000 jobs in recent years.
  • Stimulus funding in the amount of $16 billion went to fund the pre-existing Loan Guarantee Programs of the U.S. Department of Energy. A full 87% of this huge sum of money backed loans mostly to solar and wind power generation projects. Only a small part of the funds funded technology start-ups such as Solyndra.

The story of solar power being installed at the White House has previously been a dismal one. For example, President Carter installed solar panels and President Reagan had them removed. Let’s hope the panels now installed are there to stay and that the current and future administrations will take a stronger lead in advancing a switch to solar power and other renewable energy sources.

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Going Green is Fine, but will Solar Save me Money?

Cut Utility BillsGone are the days when homeowners installed solar panels on their homes only because they (A) lived in a remote location or (B) wanted to help save the planet. With the soaring costs of electricity, many homeowners are installing solar panels on their rooftops because it is a good financial investment that saves them a lot of green. For example, when solar systems are correctly installed for maximum output, many homeowners have immediately experienced a significant cut in electricity costs. In some cases savvy homeowners  actually turn the table on their utility company and get monthly payments back from their utility for the excess electricity their solar systems feed into the utility’s power lines. Check out the following factors which will help determine how much money you could potentially save on electricity costs by tapping into the power of the sun.

Factor #1: The value of rebates and other incentives where you live.

There may be great state and local incentives to purchase solar panels where you live, or federal incentives may be your only help from the government, as far as reducing your cost to install solar panels. Doing some homework on these opportunities is necessary, but it’s also a fairly simple assignment. If you go to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency at dsireusa.org, you’ll find all of the information you need about government incentives. For example, Pennsylvania has a state rebate program for solar panels which, together with federal incentives, can help with your bottom line on investing in solar.

Three programs which can help to make a solar system a profitable investment are net metering, feed-in tariff (FIT), and solar renewable energy credits (SRECs):

  • Net metering is available in most states. This program involves the utility grid taking your extra energy production and crediting it at retail electricity rates. The inputs and draws from the grid are monitored by electric meter monitors. If you use more electricity than your solar system produces, you use credits to “buy back” those kilowatt hours.
  • With feed-in tariff (FIT) programs, the production of your solar system is monitored separately from the electricity consumption for your household. Based on a specified contract, you are paid a high price for solar-produced electricity over a course of years.
  • In states where they are allowed, solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) produce income because environmental attributes, such as avoiding the carbon emissions caused by fossil-fueled electricity sources, can be sold.

Expanding Solar PV System InstallationsFactor #2: Getting the right system installed by professionals.

A little homework is also recommended when choosing a solar installer. A professional installer will be able to accurately evaluate such details as the shading and orientation of your roof. You want to get the most out of a solar system, and smart system design is important to the success of your investment.

Factor #3: The warranty on your solar system.

When working with reputable solar manufacturers, it is typical to get a warranty that is a minimum of 20 years. Because your solar panels will last for decades, you can look forward to savings for many years to come.

Factor #4: Your payment source for purchasing a solar PV system.

The interest rate that you pay on your solar system, of course, will be a factor in determining how much money you ultimately save on electricity costs. Possible sources are vendor financing, a credit union loan, and a loan backed by the government. Whatever your loan source, as long as your system is properly installed, you can count on cutting your electricity costs.

No matter where you live in the U.S., there is enough sun to justify the installation of a solar system. Contact one of our professionals with North American Solar Stores (NASS) for help in determining the feasibility and potential profitability of a solar PV system on your rooftop or property. The sooner you contact us, the sooner you could start saving some green.

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