Are solar panels worth it? (2022 Guide)

 Read our guide that covers the cost-effectiveness and potential savings presented by solar panels to answer the question, are solar panels worth it?



The benefits and perks of solar energy are often well-covered, but the expensive up-front costs associated with a solar photovoltaic (PV) system may have you confused. You might be asking yourself, are solar panels worth it? We at the Home Media reviews team have researched the best solar companies in the United States to help you learn which homeowners will benefit most from installing a solar system and find which solar panels and installers are worth it.

When are solar panels worth it?
There are various ways solar panels pay off, ranging from reducing your carbon footprint to increasing your home’s value. Recently, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that for a home with a solar power system, every dollar saved on energy increases a home’s value by $20. That is a 20-to-1 return on investment (ROI). 

Here are some factors to help you maximize the value of your solar investment. 

Location
The location of your home plays a vital role in the value of a solar power system. If you live in a part of the country that gets lots of sunlight exposure throughout the year, you will get more out of using solar panels than others. 

The data analysis site Stacker determined that the following 10 states receive the most exposure to sunlight in the United States:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Kansas
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • Utah

Though states like Florida, Texas, California and Arizona are excellent regions to install a solar system, solar panels may not generate enough energy to be worth the cost if your home experiences a lot of shade from trees or other buildings. Additionally, roofs facing south, southwest or west (in the northern hemisphere) receive more direct radiation from the sun, so the panels will generate more solar energy. 

Roofing
Your roof’s design will also influence the cost-effectiveness of your solar panels. For example, you want a roof with plenty of surface area that does not feature a lot of skylights, chimneys or other roof features so that panels can be installed without hindrance.  

Solar panels may be worth it for smaller roofs if you install a system that uses more efficient solar panels, such as monocrystalline solar panels, as they generate more power using less space. 

The ideal roof slope for solar panels is between 30 degrees and 45 degrees. Steeper roofs pose problems for technicians to install the panels and may result in higher labor costs and additional costs from mounting equipment. 

Tax incentives
Solar tax incentives and rebates are offered on the federal and state levels. For example, the federal tax credit offers a 26% credit on installing residential solar systems through the solar investment tax credit (ITC). 

Other solar incentives vary from state to state. For example, Florida offers homeowners the Property Tax Abatement for Renewable Energy Property. This incentive adds more value to your solar installation through a 100% property tax exemption for residential renewable energy property, as well as an 80% property tax abatement for nonresidential renewable energy property. 

We encourage you to use the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency to learn what other rebates and solar tax credits are available in your state. 

Energy consumption
Before installing solar, you should take stock of your monthly energy consumption. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average household uses around 893 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month. A residential solar setup produces anywhere from 350 to 850 kWh per month. Therefore, you can save as much as 95% off your utility bill.

If you experience higher electricity rates, switching to solar will likely be a good investment. However, if your home does not require a lot of energy consumption to operate day-to-day, you may not save enough to balance the installation cost. 

You should also reach out to your local utility company to see if they offer an established net-metering program. Net-metering is a billing tool in which the energy produced by your solar energy system is sent back out to the grid. The amount of energy produced is also deducted from your energy bill, saving you money and providing clean energy for your community.

How much do solar panels cost?
The price of solar panels varies by brand and retailer. However, solar panels only make up a fraction of the total cost of installing a solar system. Ongoing maintenance and additional equipment, like inverters and solar batteries, make up the remaining solar panel system costs. 

The total cost of solar panel installation varies from property to property. The Solar Energy Industries Association reports that the average cost of a residential solar panel system has dropped by an annual average of more than 60% over the past decade. In 2021, a standard 6-kWh system costs between $16,000 and $21,000 for professional installation and equipment.

The bottom line
A solar energy system is not suitable for every homeowner. However, if your home has the right location, roofing and state tax incentives and you experience high energy bills, then you might generate significant savings with solar energy. For the right home, solar energy is an investment that pays itself off over time, so be sure to take some time to consider the factors listed in this guide to determine if solar panels are worth it for you. 

We recommend you use our tool below to find local solar installation companies in your zip code. These companies will conduct virtual consultations to provide accurate information and estimates on your possible solar savings.

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