Today, the average period of home-ownership is 7 years. This means that while you may intend on staying where you are for the next 25 years, the numbers tell us this is unlikely. But how should that impact your decision to pull the trigger on a residential solar power installation at home? The following study can give us some insight.
At the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, a study from 2002-2012 looks at the resale value of homes with solar installations. Out of the over 500,000 homes in the US with rooftop solar, the study focused on the 150,000 “host-owned” or non-leased solar systems. Leased systems indemnify the home owner to a contract that includes escalated recurring payments for the life of the solar system (25 years). As the majority of people move within 7 years, any remaining payments due to the leasing company either need to be paid off out of pocket or by discounting the price of home to the new home-buyer attaining your lease. The liability of transferring the solar system at the time of resale for the home lies upon the homeowner and not the company who sold the system (lessor). On the other hand, homeowners who have purchased their solar system outright are experiencing much different results in the secondary market of home sales. According to the study, the average premium by which a home’s resale value increases is $4/W installed. The average residential rooftop installation in the US is roughly 3.75kW DC. This means that solar increases the value of a home on average by $15,000. (3750W x $4 = $15,000)
Home-buyers are consistently willing to pay more for a property with solar- regardless of state, status of housing market, home type, and incentives available. New systems seem to have more value than old systems, but this appears to be due to perception rather than actual degradation of the system’s production. From a realtor’s perspective, the house will be easier to sell because of its lower utility bill and “green energy cache”.
For a 5000W system, the value of the home would increase by $20,000. The average cost for a 5000W system (after the 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit) is $14,000. This means that upon selling your home, you have recouped a net gain of $6000 or a 143% improvement to your home. Let’s compare this to some typical home improvements done prior to selling a home:
Considering that most of us do not stay in the same home more than 7 years, not only will a solar installation save utility costs in the meantime, it is also a great investment as a home improvement!