Interested in saving with Solar? ... Smart choice! Here are 5 questions to help savvy homeowners fully understand the value of a solar investment.
1. What happens to solar when there is no sun?
There are times when your panels will not produce all of the energy required by your home (i.e. night-time and during heavy overcast). 'Net Metering', an innovative utility process, provides a solution to store extra energy for times when it is needed.
Net Metering allows for ‘virtual storage’ of your energy. In months when your solar system produces more energy than is consumed by your home (i.e. long summer days), extra energy production is stored on your utility account as an energy credit. These credits are automatically used to obtain utility energy during times when there is less sun and your solar panels are not producing all the energy used in your home (i.e. winter months, night-time).
Net Metering gives you independence from utility energy rates because you can use stored energy to power your home even when the sun is not shining. Homes with "100% Energy Offset" generate enough energy credits during the sunny summer months to cover all additional energy needs through the winter, without the need to purchase any energy from the utility.
2. What if the panels break?
You want to guarantee the long-term stability of the panels and your energy, that is understandable! Panels are warrantied with a 25-year performance guarantee. The performance guarantee means if the panels break or fall beneath a strong performance threshold within 25 years after installation, you are entitled to free and full replacement of the panels.
These warranties were put in place to provide absolute energy certainty and security for homeowners using solar energy. If a panel breaks or underperforms, the panel is replaced with no cost to the homeowner.
3. What if I sell my house?
Great question, the time may come when you choose to sell or move out of your home.
2 Options when selling your home:
Financing Payoff: Solar technology will increase the value of your home. You may use the additional funds from the sale of your home to pay off any remaining solar loan balance, giving the new owner full-ownership over the solar system and NO monthly solar deposits (free energy!).
Financing Transfer: You may transfer any remaining solar loan balance to the new homeowner, provided that the new owner satisfies the Lender’s standards for assuming the loan. You sign, they sign, and any remaining deposits are transferred to the new owner!
4. How do the government incentives work?
Government incentives are based on state and federal guidelines, and can cover up to 56% of the cost of your solar system.
Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC): The Federal ITC covers 26% of the total cost of the solar system in 2020. In 2021, the credit will drop to 21%, after which it will expire. These credits are calculated and claimed using IRS form 5695, which is submitted on the annual income tax schedule. Homeowners must have an income tax liability of an amount equal to 26% of the system cost to claim the full credit in year 1. The ITC is good for 20 years, meaning if you don’t have the ability to claim the full amount in year 1, you will have subsequent years to claim the remainder of the incentive amount.
Illinois Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs): The IL state-level solar incentive pays for an additional 25%-30% of the system cost, which is added onto the 26% provided by the Federal government. SRECs are calculated based on the value of estimated solar production of the system for the first 15 years after installation, and paid to the homeowner 3-4 months after installation.
$33,900 total system cost (Large solar system in IL)
- $8,800 Federal Tax Credit (26%)
- $10,300 IL State Incentive (approx. 30%)
= $14,800 Net Cost to Homeowner
5. Do I have to pay anything up-front? How much does it cost?
Short answer, there is no cost up-front, and the monthly deposit will depend on the size of the system (i.e. # of panels installed).
Total Cost Breakdown: The total system cost is dependent on the energy use of the household. Less energy use = Less solar panels required to produce energy for home = Lower monthly deposit. Total cost is reduced by the amount paid by the government (up to 56% in IL), which leaves the remaining 44% of the system to the homeowner. This 44% is split into monthly deposits and covers everything including the installation, equipment (solar panels, inverter), warranties, and maintenance.
$33,900 total system cost - $8,800 (Federal Incentive) - $10,300 (State Incentive)
= $14,800 Net Cost
$14,800 of monthly payments (assuming 20 year solar financing @ 3.99% interest)
= ~$88/month for Solar (vs. $140 Utility Bill)
= $50 Savings Per Month in Year 1.
Lifetime Solar Investment Savings: ~$20,600!