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Solar Isn't for Everyone, and We'll Let You Know It

Shannon Higgins

September 2021

solar install around chimney_unbrandedI'm guessing that headline may have surprised you a little. Why wouldn't a solar company want to push solar on anyone remotely interested in it? Unfortunately, there are many shady players in our industry that do exactly that, and ultimately leave a trail of burned solar customers in their wake. Sometimes these customers struggle to get their "customized system" to fully address their energy demand, or worse, they're left hanging when their solar installer goes out of business. Remember, solar panels have an operating life measured in decades, so going solar should be an investment you want to live with for a while, and you should pick a partner who's going to be around for the duration.

At Sun Valley Solar Solutions, we believe in honesty and transparency, and the honest truth is that solar isn't suitable for everyone. Solar would make sense for everyone in our perfect world, but sometimes the costs and ROI simply don't pencil out.

This blog looks at the top 5 reasons why solar might not be the perfect fit for you. From the condition or shape of your roof to not being eligible for solar tax incentives, there are a few reasons why solar might be an unwise investment.

In the spirit of full disclosure, please read on and keep these things in mind while doing your solar research. Most importantly, always be wary of any company that tries to pressure you into going solar without clearly laying out the financial case for it. The numbers don't lie so take the time to look closely and ask questions.

 

1. Your electric bills are already low

Arguably the most common reason homeowners go solar is to save on their electric bills - especially living here in Phoenix when our hot summers make our bills skyrocket. When you're producing your own energy instead of buying it from your local utility, you can realize big monthly savings and a tremendous solar ROI. But if your electric bill is already low, the time it takes to create a positive ROI on your solar energy investment gets extended significantly. Maybe you have a small house with low energy needs, or it's extremely energy efficient and creates small monthly bills. When your energy bills are already low, we generally recommend against going solar - although you certainly can still make the switch and reduce your carbon footprint if your objectives are primarily environmental!

 

2. You can't take advantage of solar incentives 

Solar incentives make installing solar on your home dramatically more affordable. The most lucrative one available to homeowners is the 26% solar investment tax credit, more commonly referred to as the solar ITC. With this, you can take a tax credit off your personal income tax return for 26% of the solar system cost with no cap. To qualify for this incentive, you must have a tax liability.

At the state level in Arizona, not only is there is no sales tax charged, but you can receive a state income tax credit of up to $1,000 for a solar purchase. If you don't have a tax liability, these incentives are virtually useless. Without these incentives, the increased cost and longer ROI of going solar might not make sense for you.

 

3. You're moving or you're selling your home soon

Going solar is one of very few home improvements projects that starts paying you back from the moment you turn it on. But if you're not in your home long enough to reap the investment benefits of going solar, it could be a deciding factor to avoid the switch. While installing solar does increase property value - Zillow estimates an increase as much as 4.1% - we generally advise against going solar for the sole purpose of improving your home's resell value as you might not get your entire investment back.  

Some people think they can install solar on their home and then take it with them when they move. While this is technically possible, there are significant labor and hardware costs associated with uninstalling, transporting, and then reinstalling the system on a new home. Not to mention the fact that your new home's roof might not be suitable for solar, or the local jurisdictions may have different codes and requirements to install solar, making your current system obsolete. We recommend waiting until you're in a home plan to keep for 7-10 years before making a solar investment.

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4. Your solar quote is too good to be true

As with most things in life, details are important. This holds true with solar and all the fly-by-night operators out there who are quick to close a sale but leave you hanging when you need them the most. Solar ROI is easy to calculate, but it requires a detailed look at your energy usage through every season and a purposeful design to address those consumption cycles and meet your goals. Most importantly, solar arrays are high-voltage systems, so real skill and training are required to ensure safety and longevity.

Some red flags to watch out for are quotes that come in dramatically lower than other quotes. Sadly, there are plenty of solar installers who will do anything to get a sale, even if that means cutting corners on quality and safety. Also, look out for workmanship warranties that are overly vague and companies with minimal history or no in-house service teams. Most of these companies don't last, and the Valley is littered with abandoned solar customers as a result.

 

5. Solar panels won't work on your roof

There are multiple factors that determine whether or not solar panels will work on your roof. The layout, space available, roof condition, and shading all contribute to whether or not your roof is suitable for solar. Let's take a closer look at different roof considerations and why they matter. 

Layout

If your roof doesn't face the sun or if the angle is less than ideal, your solar panels will produce less energy than they would under optimal roof conditions. Depending on your specific case, your solar energy system might not produce enough energy to lower your electric bills.

Space available

If you have a small roof that will only reasonably fit a few solar panels, then it might not make sense to go solar if they aren't producing enough energy to impact your bills.

Roof condition

While this doesn't automatically rule out someone from going solar, it can be an added cost if you need to repair or replace your roof before initial installation, or down the road in a few years. Understandably, some homeowners don't want to deal with this added step and cost to go solar. And while it's possible to install solar on almost any roof - even if it's not in the best condition - we always recommend getting it repaired or replaced before going solar so you avoid the added cost of removal and reinstallation later.

Shading

Similar to the layout of your roof, if your roof is heavily shaded by trees or other buildings, your panels will be limited on how much solar energy they can produce and might not be enough to make going solar worth it.

An honest and reliable solar company will be able to assess your specific situation and determine whether or not going solar would be a smart move for you. Our trusted solar integrators will never sell a system just to make a sale and prioritize education above everything else.

 

If you're wondering whether or not solar makes sense for you, we invite you to download our free guide, Is Solar Right for You? In it, we discuss more factors that make up a solar purchase. If you're ready for a free solar quote, you can click here.

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