Is Solar Worth It Now?

Is solar worth it now?

With global energy demands rising and the negative impacts of fossil fuels becoming ever more apparent, solar energy has emerged as one of the most promising sustainable energy sources. The potential benefits of going solar extend far beyond climate change mitigation. As an individual consumer, installing solar panels on your home can provide cost savings, increase property value, and give you energy independence. But is going solar worth the investment for most homeowners today? This article examines the costs, benefits, and policies related to residential solar to determine if now is the right time to make the switch.

Cost of Solar

The average cost of installing solar panels in the US in 2024 is around $16,000, according to Forbes. However, costs can vary significantly depending on the size of the system, number of panels, and geographic location. In some states like California and Arizona, average costs are around $13,000 while in others like Indiana and New Hampshire, costs are closer to $19,000.

There are also several financial incentives and tax credits available that can dramatically reduce the net cost of going solar. The federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) offers a 26% tax credit for systems installed in 2022-2023, and 22% in 2024. Many local and utility providers also offer additional rebates and incentives. When factoring in tax credits and incentives, the true net cost of solar is often 50-75% less than the gross system cost.

It’s important to get multiple quotes when considering solar installation, as costs can vary significantly between installers. But with the right incentives and installer, solar power can deliver an attractive return on investment in most parts of the country today.

Payback Period

The payback period for solar panels refers to the amount of time it takes to recoup the upfront costs of a solar installation through energy savings. This is a key factor when evaluating the value proposition of going solar. The payback period can vary substantially depending on the size of the system, electricity rates, net metering policies, incentives, and sun exposure.

For a typical residential solar system, payback periods range from 6 to 12 years. In the best case scenarios with high electricity rates and incentives, the payback period can be under 5 years. On the longer end, payback periods of 15-20+ years are possible in less ideal scenarios. Commercial systems often have faster payback periods of 3-5 years.

The main variables that impact payback periods include:

  • System size and cost
  • Electricity rates and utility escalation rates
  • Amount of annual solar production/sun exposure
  • Available tax credits, incentives, and rebates
  • Net metering policy determining bill savings

Generally, higher electricity costs, larger systems, and better incentives lead to faster payback. Homeowners can maximize the value of their solar investment by properly sizing their system, researching incentives, and understanding net metering rules in their area.

Environmental Benefits

Solar energy provides significant environmental benefits compared to fossil fuel sources like coal and natural gas. Most notably, solar panels generate electricity without producing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. According to a recent study, an acre of solar panels reduces 208-236 times more CO2 per year than an acre of trees and thousands of times more than corn ethanol or coal power plants.

Over the 25+ year lifetime of a solar panel system, it will offset 50-100 times the emissions from its manufacturing and installation. For example, a 6 kW residential system in the U.S. will avoid over 30 tons of CO2 emissions over 25 years – equivalent to planting over 800 trees or taking 6 cars off the road. Compared to coal power, solar generation emits 96-98% less CO2 per kilowatt-hour. This makes solar a key solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change.

In addition to CO2, switching from fossil fuels to solar significantly reduces emissions of other air pollutants like sulfur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and particulate matter (PM). These reductions in air pollution provide major public health benefits by lowering rates of respiratory disease, heart disease, and premature death.

Grid Independence

Installing solar panels allows homeowners to become more energy independent and reduce reliance on the traditional electrical grid With a solar and battery storage system, homes can continue to power critical loads during grid outages. Battery options like the Tesla Powerwall allow solar homeowners to store excess energy produced during the day for use at night or during an outage–storage-battery-systems-in-the-home/. These systems provide backup power to keep the lights on and refrigerators running when the grid goes down.

Being able to power your home independently is one of the major benefits of having a solar and storage system. While no home can be 100% energy independent year round using only solar power, with sufficient solar panels and battery capacity, many homes can come close to meeting the majority of their needs from the sun.


Proper maintenance is crucial for solar panels to continue operating efficiently over their 25-30 year lifespan. The main maintenance tasks involve cleaning the panels and inspecting equipment like inverters. Dust, dirt, snow, and debris can block sunlight from reaching solar cells, reducing power output. It’s recommended to clean panels at least twice per year, but more frequent cleaning may be needed in dusty/pollen areas. Use a soft brush and soap/water solution to gently clean panels without scratching.

Inverters, which convert DC power from panels to AC power for your home, typically last 10-15 years. When inverters fail, they will need replacement, costing $500-$2000. Other equipment may also need maintenance or replacement over time, like batteries, charge controllers, and wiring connections. Inspect these components regularly per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Overall, expect to budget around $300-$700 per year for solar maintenance costs depending on system size.

Home Value

Installing solar panels can significantly increase a home’s value. According to a recent study by Zillow, homes with solar panels sold for 4.1% more on average than comparable homes without solar. The increase in home value varies based on location, but solar is generally seen as a desirable upgrade.

For many home buyers today, energy efficiency and sustainability are top priorities. Solar panels demonstrate a homeowner’s commitment to clean energy and can reduce or eliminate monthly electricity bills. This makes solar panels an extremely appealing feature when selling a home in competitive housing markets.

Upgrading to solar signals that a home is modern and upgraded. Solar panels are a tangible upgrade that buyers are often willing to pay a premium for. Like a remodeled kitchen or new pool, solar adds real value by improving the home’s amenities.

Additionally, solar panels are eligible for the 26% federal tax credit through 2032, so buyers can enjoy significant savings on the original solar investment. With solar energy costs continuing to fall, solar power offers homeowners long-term savings and insulation from rising utility rates.

For all these reasons, investing in solar panels is likely to pay off in a higher sale price when it comes time to sell. Solar adds to curb appeal and can make a decisive difference for buyers choosing between comparable homes.

Net Metering Policies

Net metering allows solar panel system owners to sell any excess electricity they generate back to the utility grid. This provides a credit on their energy bill for power produced but not used. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid.

Net metering policies can vary significantly by state. In some states like California, net metering credits roll over indefinitely. However, in other states like Indiana, excess credits are wiped out at the end of each billing cycle. Customers in states with less favorable net metering policies may find it takes longer to recover the upfront costs of installing solar panels through energy bill savings.

When considering solar, it’s important to understand the net metering policies in your area. Resources like the DSIRE database provide details on state net metering rules. The most favorable policies allow indefinite roll over of credits at the full retail electricity rate. Less advantageous policies may limit credit rollovers or compensate at reduced wholesale rates.

Future Outlook

The future of solar technology looks promising with predictions of rapid growth and cost declines. According to the Energy Systems Integration Group, the annual global photovoltaic market is projected to grow at an annual average rate of 24% between 2020 and 2030, going from over 115 GW in 2020 to over 930 GW in 2030 (IEA, Solar PV). This rapid growth is expected to come with cost declines of up to 15–35% by 2025 compared to 2020 costs (MIT, The Future of Solar Energy).

Efficiency improvements in solar panels will also contribute to growth and cost reductions. The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) forecasts solar panel efficiency can reach up to 47% by 2050, an increase from around 20% today. This will enable more electricity generation from the same solar installation footprint (NREL, Building a Solar-Powered Future). Overall, continued declines in solar costs coupled with efficiency improvements will drive rapid expansion of solar energy and make it an increasingly cost competitive renewable electricity source.


In conclusion, there are several factors to consider when deciding if solar is worth it now. We’ve looked at the decreasing costs of solar panels and favorable payback periods in many areas. The environmental benefits of solar energy are clear, reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Going solar provides energy independence and stability from the grid. While solar requires some maintenance, it can also increase a home’s value. Net metering policies make solar more affordable but they are changing in some regions. The future outlook for solar remains strong with improving technology and incentives.

So is solar worth it now? For most homeowners, the answer is yes if you have a suitable roof and adequate sunlight. The payback period continues to drop, making solar a smart long-term investment. With solar incentives still available and panel prices declining, now is a great time to go solar before policies change. The environmental and independence benefits are icing on the cake. While solar may not make sense everywhere yet, the verdict is clear that for many homeowners, solar is certainly worth considering today.

Similar Posts