What are the benefits of solar panels?

Learn the five main benefits of going solar

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father and daughters holding a solar panel

With the rise in popularity of green energy, it’s hard to find homeowners who haven’t at least heard of solar panels. These powerful devices can provide numerous benefits for the environmentally conscious, and tax incentives have made them much more affordable than in decades past. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy use is increasing and will likely be the primary source of energy by 2050.

So, why is everyone jumping on the solar bandwagon? We’ll address the main perks of going solar, including benefits to the environment, your finances and your home’s resale value.

Key insights

  • Converting to solar energy reduces your carbon emissions and conserves limited water supplies.
  • Going solar can help you save money long-term, since it reduces your electric bills or gets rid of them entirely.
  • Research shows homes with solar systems have higher market values.
  • Installing solar panels has a positive impact on your community, too.

5 benefits of installing solar panels

Embracing solar energy systems can unlock numerous advantages for homeowners. If you’re considering installing solar panels on your home, here are some key benefits to consider.

1. Solar panels help the environment

Unlike fossil fuels, solar energy doesn’t rely on a scarce, nonrenewable commodity, so many people are drawn to solar panels as a means of protecting the planet.

» MORE: Solar energy vs. fossil fuels

How solar panels improve air quality

Most electric companies burn fossil fuels in order to supply homes with energy. These fuels, made from oil and gas, produce carbon emissions and pollute the air with greenhouse gasses. These byproducts are largely responsible for climate change, heating the earth and throwing entire ecosystems out of balance.

When you install a solar panel system, you’re choosing a greener option. The main environmental impacts of solar panel manufacturing are relatively minor in comparison to fossil fuel generation, and the long-term benefits of solar panels outweigh the harm that comes from making them.

Using solar energy helps protect people and the environment while mitigating the risk of extreme weather events.

How solar panels conserve water

Unlike power plants that burn fossil fuels, which often rely on steam turbines to generate electricity and cool machines, solar panels don’t need water to generate electricity. With the number of droughts increasing, making a move that helps conserve the water supply is a huge environmental advantage.

2. Solar panels help you save money

The cost of solar system installation can be hefty, but you should earn back what you initially paid. Your exact solar savings will depend on how much energy you consume and how much you produce, but you’ll likely see a positive impact on your bank account over time — most homeowners report saving more than $1,000 a year.

» MORE: Are solar panels worth it?

How solar panels reduce electric bills

You generally don’t have to pay for the energy your solar panels produce, which means your electricity bill should be significantly reduced, if not eliminated.

Additionally, when your solar panels are connected to the electric grid, net metering programs can provide credits for any excess energy your system sends out to the grid.

Utility companies let you spend these credits whenever you need more energy than your solar panels are providing, such as during evening hours or winter. Most people have a net zero charge for the year. (Solar energy systems that are off-grid eliminate utility bills entirely.)

» MORE: Types of solar grid systems

Solar panels are also reliable and long-lasting, with most functioning successfully for 25 years. They also require very little upkeep, so you shouldn’t have to deal with significant maintenance fees. (Even if something does break, most solar companies offer 20- to 25-year warranties.)

These factors combine to create a situation where solar panels provide incremental savings that add up to a significant return on investment.

How solar panels earn you tax breaks

The price tag for solar panels can seem intimidating, but the government offers a federal solar investment tax credit that helps mitigate the upfront cost of purchasing a solar energy system. By claiming this credit, you can get back 30% of your project’s overall bill when you file your taxes.

Certain areas offer extra incentives to encourage the spread of solar, so you may qualify for additional savings. For example, California residents have access to rebates, tax benefits and other programs not available elsewhere.

3. Solar panels increase your property value

If you want to increase your home’s value, solar panels can help with that. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), home values increase by $20 for every $1 your solar panels save you on energy bills. So, if your solar panels save you $1,000 per year, your home’s value increases by $20,000.

It’s also increasingly common for homebuyers to consider a house’s energy efficiency before they buy it, and reports show many people are willing to pay extra for solar-powered properties. This may vary by region, so be sure to research the potential increase in property value before you install if this is an important factor for you.

» MORE: Do solar panels increase home value?

4. Solar panels help your community

Although many people install solar panels for personal gain, it impacts more than just you and your family. In fact, you’re often doing a solid for your neighbors, too.

How solar panels help your neighbors

If your solar energy system, like most, is tied to the electrical grid, you’re part of a community of people who also rely on that conventional energy source. However, people with solar panels can also send excess energy from their panels out to the grid through net metering, which credits solar panel owners for unused power generated by their solar energy system.

This process not only reduces your utility bills — it helps lower the price for everyone else. The more residences that rely on solar power in one area, the less pressure the grid has to produce enough energy for everyone.

How solar panels provide local stimulus

When you invest in solar, you support everyone in the solar community, including local solar installers and companies who work hard to provide alternative and renewable energy options. By investing in solar equipment, you help fund these important jobs and ongoing research to make energy more sustainable. At the end of the day, the economic benefits of your purchase have ripple effects far beyond your property.

5. Solar panels promote energy independence

Like any product, energy is susceptible to the law of supply and demand — which means the more energy people need, the higher the price jumps. If you don’t want to deal with the ups and downs of the energy market, solar panels may be a worthwhile investment.

As of publishing, energy rates across the United States remain on a steep upward trend.

People who prefer to be completely autonomous often install off-grid solar panel systems. These systems are more common in rural areas and are entirely self-sustaining. That means when sunlight isn’t available, they pull energy from a backup battery rather than taking electricity from the grid.

However, many local governments require you to connect to the electrical grid so that your excess energy benefits the communal system instead of being stored in your personal battery. While having a grid-tied solar energy system doesn’t qualify as total independence, you’re not subject to as much pricing volatility because your panels are still offsetting some of your energy needs.

Whether your property is better off with a grid-tied or off-grid system is one of several decisions you can make during the design stage of going solar.

Do you own or rent?

Bottom line

Solar panels can help you save money and the environment while benefitting your community and helping you live independently. If you’re interested in going solar, check out our top picks for the best solar companies to get started.

Though outfitting your home with solar energy-producing equipment is a large undertaking, the benefits of solar power can make the process rewarding.

» MORE: Solar energy pros and cons

Article sources
ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
  1. U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), “ INTERNATIONAL ENERGY OUTLOOK 2021 .” Accessed June 19, 2023.
  2. Constellation, “ The Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy .” Accessed June 19, 2023.
  3. Environmental Protection, “ Environment Benefits of Solar Panels .” Accessed June 19, 2023.
  4. REenergizeCo, “ How Solar Power Can Benefit Your Community .” Accessed June 19, 2023.
  5. Unbound Solar, “ Solar Incentives by State .” Accessed June 19, 2023.
  6. Inspire Clean Energy, “ Do Solar Panels Really Save Money? ” Accessed June 19, 2023.
  7. Architectural Digest, “ Do Solar Panels Increase Home Value? ” Accessed June 19, 2023.
  8. EcoWatch, “ Can You Achieve Energy Independence With Solar? Here’s What To Know .” Accessed June 19, 2023.
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