What Happens When You Buy A House With Solar Panels?

You’re looking to buy a home, and you notice that there are solar panels on the top. Get the inside knowledge on what to do.

You’re looking to buy a home, and you notice that there are solar panels on the top. You’re not sure what to do with them.

There are 2 major things to consider:

  1. Does it affect the price of the sale?
  2. Are the panels leased or completely owned.

This article will discuss these main points.

Price of the sale

Home solar panels have become popular nowadays. According to the Clean Energy Regulator, over 2.66 million rooftop solar systems have been installed across Australia. 

Here are some interesting statistics that show how having a solar panel affects the price of the home you want to buy.

  • As per a study, each watt of solar power adds around $3 to the home value. So, a 5kW solar system can increase your home value by $15,000. However, the price may vary between the cities and states.
  • In 2019, Zillow conducted a study and found that houses without solar panels are sold for 4.1% less than the homes with solar panels. 
  • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) also found that homes with solar panels sold 20% faster than non-solar homes.
  • According to the Appraisal Journal, your home value increases by $20 for every $1 reduction in annual electricity bills. So, a solar system that saves $500 per year would add $10000 to your home value.

However, how much a solar system adds value to your home depends on whether the residential solar panel is owned or leased. It has been found that buyers shy away from buying houses with leased solar panels or if the solar panels are purchased via a loan.

Difference between solar panels that are loaned vs leased

Installation of a solar system requires a huge investment. But not everyone can bear the upfront cost of solar panels. So, some companies offer financing options, like solar loans and solar leases, to make it easier for homeowners to install solar systems.

However, houses with owned solar panels and leased solar panels both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Let us check out what makes both types of solar panels different from each other.

Owned Solar Panels

  • Ownership: The primary difference between the owned and leased solar panels is who owns the solar panels. In the case of owned solar panels, a homeowner buys solar panels via cash or a solar loan & he/she will own the solar panels.
  • Upfront cost: When a homeowner buys a solar panel, he/she has to pay the full amount for the solar panels. So, in the case of the owned solar panel, the upfront cost is higher.
  • Maintenance cost: In this case, the homeowner has to take care of the maintenance. If there is an issue, you have to pay for it. However, solar equipment comes with a warranty of up to 20 years. So, you don’t have to worry more about its maintenance. But once the solar panels are out of warranty, the maintenance cost of solar panels can be too high.
  • Monthly Payment: Solar loans can vary up to 5 to 20 years. You can own the solar panels once you pay the full amount. In this case, there will be a fixed monthly payment.
  • Tax rebates: In this case, the homeowner qualifies for the cash rebate and can reduce the total cost by 50%. However, the homeowner may have to arrange some paperwork to reflect the net amount.
  • Selling your property: Owned solar panels increase the value of your home. So, you can recover a higher amount than what you owe on the system. However, it will depend on the type of solar loan. Also, studies reveal that you can sell your home relatively faster than a house with a leased solar panel.

Leased Solar Panels

  • Ownership: In the case of a solar lease or solar PPA, the homeowner will get the least benefit. In this case, the homeowner need not pay any upfront costs to install solar panels although. He/she has to pay a monthly fee to the solar company for using the solar power created by the solar system.
  • Upfront cost: If solar panels are on the lease, the homeowner need not buy the solar panels; he/she has to pay a monthly fee for using the solar energy generated by the solar system. So, the upfront cost, in this case, is relatively low.
  • Maintenance cost: In this case, the maintenance cost is zero. Since a solar company or third party owns the solar panels, the homeowner need not worry about the maintenance. The solar company itself will take care of the solar panels and other parts.
  • Monthly Payment: Solar leases and PPAs are usually for 20-25 years. Once the lease is over, you can either increase it or renew it. In this case, you have to pay a monthly fee with an increased rate of 1-3% annually.
  • Tax rebates: In this case, the homeowner doesn’t qualify for tax credits or cash rebates as the panels belong to a third party.
  • Selling your property: In this case, home sellers either have to buy out the lease from the third party or transfer it to the new owner. As a result, it becomes difficult to get potential buyers without adding much value to your house. Apart from this, the third party may not allow the new homeowner to enter the contract due to a poor credit score.

Here is a table to help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of both types of solar panels.

Owned Solar PanelsLeased Solar Panels
Upfront costsHighLow
Monthly FeeZero$50-$250 
Own the systemYesNo
Long-term savingsYesNo
Qualifies for the federal tax creditYesNo
Qualifies for SRECsYesNo
Easy to sell your homeYesNo
Maintenance costHighLow

Buying A House With Solar? Top 10 Important Things You Should Consider

What is the size of the solar panel?

The size of a solar system significantly impacts its functionality and decides how much you can save on electricity bills. So, always check how much the solar panels will generate electricity to ensure it is sufficient for your home appliances. By having an energy generation estimate, you can also decide how much energy you can sell to the grid. 

Can I remove the panels?

In the case of owned solar panels, you can ask the existing homeowner to remove the solar panel and buy it. And if he/she agrees, you may have to pay the cost of re-roofing the home in some circumstances.

However, if you have leased solar panels, you need to check your agreement whether you can remove the solar panel or not. Some solar panel leases include a buyout clause; some don’t. Generally, the buyout amount is cheaper than monthly payments. However, it may vary with every case.

What if I have to repair my rooftop?

Restoring a rooftop with solar panels is much more complicated than a rooftop without solar panels. If you want to repair your rooftop with solar panels, you need to hire a reputed firm or experts to remove and replace your solar panels. 

Once your panels are down, your roof is ready for repair. And once your roof is in its shape, you can re-install the system. However, you have to incur the cost of restoration, which may vary between $700 to $2000.

What happens if the panels don’t work?

If a home features rooftop solar panels owned by someone else other than the homeowner, then the person who owns the system is responsible for maintenance. You need to ask the company or installer to replace the equipment or pay the maintenance cost.

On the other hand, if you’re buying a house with an owned solar panel & it gets damaged after you sign the agreement, you have to pay for the maintenance or replacement of equipment. Hence, find when the solar panels are installed, how much electricity it will produce, is there any scope for parts replacement, etc. Considering all these questions will help you reap the long-term benefits.

How much warranty is left on panels?

Usually, solar panel manufacturers offer a warranty for 20-25 years. But it is crucial to check the warranty left on solar panels before you buy a house with a solar system. It helps you ensure that your solar system is free of malfunctioning and offers you the best value for your money. 

With a warranty, you can ask the manufacturer to replace the equipment or bear the maintenance cost in case of a system failure. So, it is recommended to check how much warranty on solar panels is left or is there any option to increase the warranty period.

Related FAQs 

Do solar panels ruin the rooftops?

No, solar panels never damage your rooftop, especially if you hire a qualified and experienced professional to install your solar panel. But if you choose an inexperienced installer, there are high chances of roof damage.

Is it worth buying a house with solar panels?

If you are buying a house in an area where the electricity cost is high, it is worth investing in a home with solar panels. Not only is it an eco-friendly way for energy production, but it also reduces your utility bills.

How long does it take for solar panels to pay for themselves?

The savings you earn by going solar can vary between 7 to 20 years, depending upon the area you’re residing in. But once you cover the initial cost, you can save up to quite a bit annually.

Conclusion & Summary

Buying a home with solar panels is a great decision, as it saves your money on utility bills and enhances your home resale value. But make sure you own solar panels as you may have to face some drawbacks of installing the solar panels via lease over time, such as:

  • You may find difficulties while selling your house.
  • Potential buyers may prefer homes with owned solar panels.
  • Lease payment increases annually, which reduces your savings.
  • You don’t own the solar panels.
  • A solar lease is a long-term contract.

Now that you know what you should consider when buying a home with solar panels, what are you waiting for? Call your real estate agent & find your dream home. 

All the Best!

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