Why Not Solar? 3 Reasons


OK, who doesn’t want to make our air quality a little cleaner?  And who doesn’t want to put their money to work with a great rate of return? And who doesn’t want to increase their home value?

No one, right.  Yet – many a roof that could host a solar array, and get the above benefits — doesn’t.

Why is that?  Well, here are the three points I hear a lot.

  1. I’m not going to be in this house long enough to see the payback.
  2. I don’t feel like writing a five figure check.
  3. I don’t want to deal with the hassle of a big home project right now.

Am I missing any?  (seriously, drop me an email if you’ve got another one I should address!)

So — these are totally worth discussing. Let’s start in reverse order.

The hassle of adding one more thing to your home that can go wrong.

I write this as I wait for the Viking refrigerator repairman.  Now, I live in a beautiful house, built just 10 years ago. Yet, I know first hand how as a homeowner, things just don’t always just work.  So adding solar could just be…. One…. more…. Thing… to maintain.

However.    When doing my research on getting solar,  was one of the questions I asked my friends, and noted in Yelp reviews was “did you need repairs, updates, etc.) and for the local, trusted vendors, it has been nearly a universal no.  Solar panels aren’t something that your kids will be able to misuse or abuse (my poor Viking water dispenser….) or that has a lot of moving parts. If installed by an experienced, conscientious expert, it seems to be set and forget.  The panels are made to be outside in the elements/weather for 25 years with no problems; they are very durable and have no moving parts. Further, solar panels require no maintenance, rain will clean them.

And as to the hassle of the big project – DO choose an installer where you know who you will be dealing with at all times and will make it easy and painless for you.  (That was part of our motivation for starting GBS – you have the right to expect an efficient, transparent process.)

Writing the check

You likely know the joy of writing the bi-annual property tax check.  No matter the fact that you have the money, it just doesn’t feel great to write a check that big (unless it means you are going home with a shiny new car or some other toy!)

Maybe it does make sense – even if you could pay cash – to see if financing might just be easier.   It’s highly likely that whatever company you are looking to work with has a financing option ready to roll for you.  (80% of new installations are financed.  Stay tuned for our next post where I explain just what that would look like for my situation.)

And… another way to get over this out-of-pocket (and body) experience is to think of it as an investment – which it is.  If you were told the government was offering a bond investment, that will pay you an 18-32% return, year after year, guaranteed – would you invest?  I’m not sure about you, but my stock portfolio doesn’t (and has never) returned anything close to those returns, so this is objectively a very sound investment.  That being said, there are no guarantees in life, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to keep paying for power one way or another. (Read more here about the factors that go into this ROI figure.)

Not going to be in the house long enough to get the payback

Just 10 years ago, the average breakeven point for residential solar was 7 years.  Today, a conservative estimate is 5 years. (By conservative, we mean that PG&E will abide by its projected 3.7% annual rate increases and *not* hit us with special wildfire-related surcharge, even though the state said they can.) 

And will you get additional home value out of your investment when the time comes to sell? Local realtor Anita Hunter with Alain Pinel Realtors weighs in frankly “If two homes were otherwise equal, the home with solar, would help it get picked, but I don’t see it raise the selling price, unless appraisers decides to include the value”.  (authors note… given how fast houses sell in this area, are there ever 2 houses to decide between?)

However, noted local real estate developer Rod Wilson (and full disclosure, part of the all local management team at GBS) offers a different view. “ It’s like buying a car that has much less maintenance cost than another car…would you pay more for the same car if it was going to cost you less to maintain??  Or, liken it to buying a house with a rental unit in back…the rental income offsets your mortgage payment (just like the lower energy payment) which offsets the overall cost to operate your home.  Whether your ‘making money’ (like owning a separate rental unit) or saving money (like owning a Solar system), the ‘Net’ is the same, therefore increasing the value.”

So, yes, emotionally, can be hard to invest into something where you may miss out on part of the benefit.  However… this brings us back to the point above; letting financing take the brunt of the upfront investment whilst still getting lower bills with a hedge against price hikes … stay tuned for next blog with more on that.  

And, another upcoming post will also talk about the potential of adding to your families peace of mind with a battery – which could be truly useful should wildfires/utility issues lead to power outages and brownouts.  (I had one just this week, and lost half a workday.)

While you’re here…

If you’ve already made these little commitments to reading our blog posts – take one tiny step more and get a quote from us. Just so you know what it might look like for you and your home.