While solar panels are commonly viewed as an alternative source of energy for utility
companies, those same panels are increasingly seen as a smart addition to homes and
small business operations around the country. They can be an investment not only in
future sustainability for the nation, but also as a dollars and cents boost to property value.
If you haven’t previously considered just what benefits can accrue to you as an owner of
solar panels on the roof, consider the following facts:
• Solar energy is completely renewable.
• Solar power can not only light your home, but it can heat it, run air conditioners,
heat your pool and the water for your bath, run your washing machine and
dishwasher, and provide the flame for your gas range. In short, solar energy can
fuel your home — in all the ways you now consume natural gas, oil and
• Even though direct sunlight produces the most energy, solar panels don’t actually
need direct sun to make electricity.
• Solar panels are silent; they also produce no pollutants, give off no odor and are
not detrimental to humans, animals or plant life.
• The cost of solar panels continues to come down. Average cost has dropped about
80% in less than a decade, according to industry experts. Even though you can
rent solar panel installations, most buyers pay off the initial cost of photovoltaic
panels in six to 15 years, but there are also a number of federal and state tax
incentives and local rebate programs that can affect both initial price and payback.
• Solar panels add value. A Forbes article from 2011 reported that, based on a
nationwide average cost of just under $21,000 at the time, the average premium at
sale of a home was more than $20,000 for an effective return on investment of up
to 97 percent. That’s smart, no matter how you calculate it; and costs, as noted
above, have come down since 2011.
• Green and energy-efficient upgrades are in demand with home buyers across the
While many think of solar power as modern technology, the method of harnessing the
sun’s power was discovered in 1839 by Alexandre Edmond Becquerel who termed it the
photovoltaic effect; more than 100 years later, the solar cell was invented. During the
industrial revolution, the sun’s power was used to heat water, creating steam that was then
used to power engines and other machinery. Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) systems are
used today in many locations, including the United States, and the technology has
developed in a number of different ways, primarily by directing the sun’s rays in a way
that generates steam to produce electricity. Experimental CSP research seeks to find a
way to power thermo chemical reactions that will continue even after the sun has set,
effectively extending the benefits of solar power.
Photovoltaic panels, however, are the primary source of solar power generation today. As
the price per panel drops, they are destined to become more commonplace on residential
roofs, government buildings, factories and office complexes, in addition to large scale
“solar farms” in areas with abundant sunshine.
By installing solar panels at your home, you have the ability to “partner” with local utility
companies in most areas to reduce your monthly bills and return “unused energy” for
credit. Not only is it of personal benefit in the short term, but it has beneficial
environmental impact over the long-term, and adds real dollars to the value of your home.
Home buyers are looking for reasons to pick one home over another, and a difference like
this can go a long way in their minds.
It’s a pretty effective way to “have your cake and eat it too,” as they say.