The saying that something sells itself is especially true of solar-energy solutions. Let's take a look at the five of the most convincing advantages of solar power.
1. Lower—and ultimately eliminate—utility bills
The most immediate effects a business or homeowner will see after purchasing and installing solar are lower utility bills. Once you hit the point where your solar panels have paid for themselves, it’s real savings straight to the bank after that. With utility rates climbing regularly, each year you’ll save more with solar than the year before. However, the long-term advantage of solar energy is energy independence. Once the upfront costs for the system are paid, you no longer need to worry about the availability or price of energy as long as the system is running - you are your own energy provider.
In some states and regions, utilities have net metering programs in place that allow you to sell any excess power your system produces back to them. With net metering, whenever the solar system is creating more power than you actually can use, it will flow back into the grid and you will receive a credit for the energy your system is pushing onto the grid. This is especially beneficial in situations where power generation does not align with the times of demand. For example, in the middle of the day when the sun is highest and generating the most solar power, household demand is often lowest, so you would still be putting your excess power to use.
2. Increase the value of your home
Buying a home with solar panels directly translates into lower electricity costs, which can be a benefit if you're looking to sell your house. Just like homes in preferred school districts or homes with good Home Energy Ratings, solar panels will increase a home's value on the market. A study conducted by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) concluded that homes with solar panels sell 20% faster and for 17% more money than those without, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that the sales price of the average home increased $17,000 with solar panels.
The exact numbers vary from property to property and installation to installation, but recent research shows that "home buyers consistently have been willing to pay more for homes with host-owned solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems--averaging about $4 per watt of PV installed--across various states, housing and PV markets, and home types. This equates to a premium of about $15,000 for a typical PV system," according to another study by the Berkeley Lab.
The property value advantages of solar energy only increase as you scale up, and as electricity prices go up (as they most certainly will), it's likely that the value of a solar installation will rise as well.
3. Tax credit and rebates
Federal, state, and local governments often offer lucrative tax credits, rebates, and other incentives to encourage homeowners to switch to renewable energy.
The federal government allows you to deduct 30% of your solar energy system costs off your federal taxes through the federal investment tax credit (ITC). If you do not expect to owe taxes in the year you purchase your solar system, you can roll over your federal solar tax credit to the following year.
Other incentives vary widely by region, and will be determined by local legislation and utility regulations. You can find a full list of incentive programs available in your area at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE).
These incentives can dramatically lower the cost of a solar energy purchase and can often make solar power less expensive than power from the utility company. Help potential customers crunch the numbers to see how available tax credits and rebates will affect the final cost of their solar system.
4. Low maintenance and high reliability
Modern solar systems are built to withstand normal and seasonal environmental conditions, and a high-quality system will require little to no maintenance. Operations and maintenance (O&M) involves preventative routines mostly defined by inspections, both periodic and after significant events such as storms. Owners of residential and small-scale commercial installations often can perform these inspections themselves.
These low-maintenance, high-reliability systems mean that all homeowners need to do is sit back and enjoy their solar savings without needing to worry about system failures or weather-related damage, and will ensure your customer's peace of mind for years to come.
This is the most obvious benefit of installing solar panels, but it's worth mentioning again. While in use, solar panels create absolutely no waste or emissions. Unlike fossil fuel power plants, they produce clean, renewable energy from an energy source that requires no excavation, transportation, or combustion. It’s a simpler, cheaper, cleaner, and all-around better energy solution. And, of course, solar grants energy independence, since sunshine can't be bought or monopolized and is available everywhere, free of charge, for everyone.
Get a head start on your next solar sale: download our white paper, "Solar System Design Options," to learn more about creating the right solar system for your customer.