Houston Solar Panel System: Is it worth it? Best Tips Before You Buy
September 20, 2022
Homeowners in Houston, Texas, ask themselves if solar panels are worth the investment. With the cost of solar dropping, it's no wonder people are curious about the option. Here we'll take a look at what goes into the decision and help you figure out whether or not solar is a good fit for your home.
Table of Contents
1. The cost of solar in Houston
Solar panels have become increasingly popular in recent years as solar costs have decreased. Solar panels are now a more affordable option for homeowners looking to reduce their energy costs.
Solar panels in Houston, Texas, typically cost $2.75/W. A 5kW solar panel system size would then average $11,688 to $15,812, while the total median price is around
$13,750. This all depends on how much you want to offset your electric bill and how big of a system is needed.
Given the 30% federal investment tax credit (ITC) and other state and local solar incentives, you may save thousands of dollars on your solar power system. Learn more about how solar works Here.
2. How much money can you save with solar energy in Houston
The average homeowner in Houston can save about $800-$1000 a year on their energy bill with solar panels. This all depends on how much energy you consume and how many solar panels you install.
As anyone who has paid a utility bill knows, energy prices have been on the rise in recent years.
Houston, electricity rates have increased by nearly 30% since 2011.
Prices of solar panels have dropped dramatically, making the cost far below the cost of grid-produced electricity. As a result, installing solar panels can help you save money on your energy costs, even after accounting for the initial investment.
In fact, in Texas, solar panels typically pay for themselves within 8-10 years. And in Houston, where sunlight is abundant and electric rates are high, solar panels can provide an even higher return on investment. So if you're looking for a way to hedge against rising energy costs, solar panels are an excellent option to consider.
3. Tax Benefits and incentives
As solar companies begin to offer solar panel installation in Texas, some residents are understandably confused about their financial incentives. In particular, much misinformation is circulating about the federal solar tax credit.
The solar tax credit is not a check or reimbursement that you will receive after installing solar panels. Instead, it is a credit that reduces your federal tax liability by 30% of the cost of your solar installation.
If you install a system that costs $10,000, your tax credit would be $3,000. In other words, if you owe $1,000 in federal taxes, the solar tax credit will reduce your tax liability to $0. This credit is available for 5 years after installation, so the additional $2,000 tax credit will roll over to the next four years depending on your future tax liability.
This tax credit is available to all taxpayers who purchase and install residential solar panels on their homes. If you are considering going solar in Houston, Texas, be sure to research and take advantage of the financial incentives available to you.
Fourtounutly, Texas is a state that allows net metering. Net metering is a billing system that allows solar panel owners to sell any excess electricity generated back to the utility company. This works in terms of energy credits.
When the sun is out, the majority of that energy goes to your home, but if you're not using very much electricity, the excess produced by your solar system will go to your utility provider to use for other homes and businesses.
They pay you in credits that are automatically redeemed when the sun isn't out or when you use more electricity than your system can produce, like in the winter months. To bypass this, you can install a solar battery. This can help offset the cost of installing solar panels and make going solar more affordable.
4. Houston Solar and Property Value
According to a recent study, homes with solar sold for 4.1% more on average than comparable homes without solar power. For the median-valued home, that translates to an additional $9,274. So if you're looking to boost the value of your home, Houston solar power is definitely worth considering.
Interestingly, the study found that the most significant impact was in Houston, Texas, where homes with solar panel systems sold for 9.2% more than comparable homes without solar power. So if you live in Houston, you can expect an even more significant return on your investment.
5. Houston Hurricanes and solar panel system weather resistance
What happens when a solar panel system is exposed to the infamous Houston hurricanes? Wind and water are the biggest damage a hurricane can do to a solar panel system. In theory, strong winds can knock Houston solar panels off their mounting structure or hit them with debris or other objects, but this all depends on how strong the wind is. For example, in Houston, Texas, the law requires solar panels to withstand wind speeds of up to 130 miles per hour.
Wind loads are measured in Pascals. Pascal is a unit of measurement used in materials science to express the stiffness and strength of materials.
Solar systems and Durability
Most solar panels are manufactured to withstand up to 2,400 pascals (which equates to wind speeds of about 140 MPH), but durability varies from state to state due to different solar laws.
Given that the average hurricane wind speed is around 75 MPH unless there is a very strong gust of wind or flying debris, it is unlikely that the solar panels will be damaged by the wind.
A bigger problem is usually flooding when solar panels are installed in flood-prone areas like Houston.
However, most solar panel systems have a warranty covering all water damage.
Hurricane season can be a concern for some solar system owners, but as long as you have the right insurance, you can be confident that your investment is safe.
6. Houston Solar System and the esthetics
Residential solar panels offer many benefits to your home in terms of energy efficiency, but their appeal is a bit daunting. While the look of solar panels may be appealing to some homeowners looking to harness solar energy, they tend to look clunky, bulky and stand out on any roof.
Solar panels can be challenging if you care about your home's aesthetics. Several companies like Tesla are trying to solve this aesthetic issue with solar roofs that look like traditional shingles, but the technology is still new and expensive.
7. Things Solar installers don't want you to know.
You should do some due diligence before taking a solar company because many are deceitful. Many of the salesmen that show up at your home are usually new due to a high turnover rate in the solar sales workforce. This is due to sketchy sales tactics, solar companies not paying their sales contractors, and the salesmen's relationship with their clients that want to cancel their solar installation.
Most solar installers' main goal is to sell and make profits, and throwing a sales guy under the bus is what they do.
The story's moral here is that most sales representatives for solar companies are very new to the solar world, and the overwhelming majority don't get paid until you sign that contract. Lies and misinformation are usually given to get paid. Here we will list some things to look out for.
In Texas, you have the right to cancel a solar contract within three days of signing. This important consumer protection measure gives you time to change your mind or shop around for a better deal.
Unfortunately, not all solar companies are transparent about this rule. Some may trick you into signing a "contract of intent" and say it is not legally binding when you are signing the actual contract. Others may simply fail to mention the three-day cancellation period.
If a company tries to rush you into a decision or mislead you about your rights, it's a red flag that you should not do business with them. Solar panels are a major investment, and you should take the time to research your options before signing any contracts.
Replacing your roof
Before you invest in solar panels, it's essential to have a roof inspector take a look at your roof. Most roofing companies will provide this service for free, or you can contact your homeowner's insurance to see if your roof needs to be replaced. Some solar companies will lie and say that you don't need a new roof if they feel it will make you more hesitant to sign the contract.
Replacing a roof is a pricey endeavor, and if your solar system is already installed, you'll need to pay to have the panels removed and reinstalled. Most solar companies will have roofing services available, but we recommend contacting a reputable third party to make this assessment. Doing so could save you several thousand dollars.
Solar companies often advertise that they will pay you to go solar, but this is not always the case. When a company offers you a rebate or incentive for getting solar, they are typically just adding that amount to your solar loan. This means you will end up paying interest on the money that was supposed to be a rebate.
If you want to avoid this, be sure to ask the solar company to remove any rebates or incentives from your loan amount before you sign the final contract. That way, you can be sure that you're actually saving money by going solar.
When you're considering installing solar, it's important to do your research. Not all warranties are created equal, and solar can be confusing as to who is responsible depending on the manufacturer and the installer. Smaller solar companies might not exist later when you need to claim damage, so it's important to find reputable companies.
These warranties cover not all damage, especially if a natural disaster happens. In Houston, Texas, hurricanes are a concern, especially near the coastal areas. Many companies say that acts of God are not covered by the warranty, so FEMA or your home insurance should cover that. But always ask about the specifics of the warranty and get it in writing.
Knowing what you're covered for will give you peace of mind if something happens.
When considering solar panels for your home, it's important to factor in the cost of insurance. Solar can be expensive to replace if they are damaged, so most homeowners insurance policies will charge a higher premium for homes with solar panels. However, there are ways to get around this.
Many solar companies have relationships with insurance agents who can offer special rates for solar homeowners, so simply ask. In addition, some insurers offer discounts for homes with solar panels. So when you're shopping for solar, be sure to ask about insurance options. By doing your homework, you can find an affordable policy that will give you peace of mind in case of damage to your solar panels.
Permits, HOA, and Installation time frame
Just like any other city, there are a few things to keep in mind when getting solar installed in Houston. For starters, the process should not take more than 60 days. However, permitting and HOAs can sometimes get in the way and cause delays. That's why it's important to stay in close communication with your solar company and stay up-to-date on your solar panel installation status.
Some homeowners have even been stuck without solar for months because the city or county inspected the work and found improper electrical work, building materials, or structures.
When it comes to HOAs, they can be a bit trickier. But in Houston, an HOA cannot tell you that you cannot install solar.
Even if the solar company says they will take care of the HOA permits, you should still check in with your HOA just to be sure. This is usually where a lot of issues occur. So always ask for permit proof from your installer to make sure things are being done correctly. Following these tips can help ensure a smooth and successful solar installation process.
8. How many solar panel installation companies are in Houston?
Many. That is why we are here to help. We vet and have companies compete for your business and walk you through the complicated sales process to ensure you get the best deal. Contact us today to get started! Or read our blog post Is Solar Right For me?
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