Solar panels are a very “hot” topic in Dallas as well as elsewhere in the world. The ability to collect, store, and use unlimited energy from our sun without the need to pay utility bills is a strong selling point. Add the fact that solar energy is clean energy and that there are federal, state, and local incentives for solar panel installation, you have many people very seriously looking into this alternative source of power for their homes or offices.
But does it REALLY make sense to install solar panels on your Dallas home or business? The answer, of course, depends on many different factors. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at both the costs of installing them as well as the savings related to Dallas solar panel use and help you make steps towards this important decision.
Dallas, Texas: Lots of Sun, Heavy Usage, High Bills
Dallas, Texas in many ways is a great city for solar panel homes. It is the 3rd sunniest state in the US with around 240 days of sunshine; it also gets very hot in the summer and cold in the winter so there is an above-average use of utilities (around 1180 kWh per month is typical), withan average Dallas monthly utility bill of over $125. This means there is a potential to save a lot of money on power costs.
On the other hand, storms and freezing rain can cause problems and possibly damage to your solar panels in the winter months. Additionally, many Dallas houses are shrouded in trees, helping to keep them naturally shady and cool but reducing the available amount of direct sunlight on the roof. This could mean you have to get more creative with your solar panel installation and have them mounted somewhere on the ground.
Dallas Solar Panel Installation Cost
The first basic question most people ask is “how much will it cost to install solar panels in Dallas, Texas?” According to the Equinox Project, a typical 5 kW PV solar panel installation can cost somewhere between $15,000 – $25,0000.
One of the biggest cost factors is the labor involved, often affected by the type of roof you are installing solar panels on (e.g. tilt or slate) as well as the roof material itself (e.g. metal or adobe). Also, if your roof is older than 10 years, you’ll likely want to replace it first, adding to the time and cost of the job. This is because most solar panels last 25 years and make roof maintenance or repair difficult during this period of time.
If your roof isn’t viable and you have a large property, you may also need or want to consider installing ground mounted solar panels. This is typically more expensive as it involves digging and building a foundation and structure. Then you’ll need to decide between fixed panels and ones that track the sun, thereby potentially collecting more energy during the day. However, these moving panels are more expensive and also have more potential to break down.
Dallas Solar Panel Tax Incentives, Rebates, and Home Values
Is your head spinning yet? Don’t worry, countering these hard costs are some serious savings toconsider that may offset the financial burden. First of all, the Federal Government is offering a 30% tax credit on solar panel installations. While this provision technically expires in 2019 and iseventually reduced to zero by 2021, the credit has been extended before.
Additionally, MP2Energy is offering Texas residential customers a way to sell their excess solar power to the utility in a simple, predictable way. This is intended to make it easy for consumers to know how much they are saving by giving energy back to the grid.
DFWresidents that have an Oncor Energy meter can take advantage of a special solar installation program. For qualifying projects done by an authorized service provider, Oncor will send an “incentive check” to the provider once the job is completed satisfactorily. (The amount of this “incentive” varies as does the terms of the installation itself and there is a limited annual budget, which is quickly depleted.)
Another factor to consider in evaluating a Dallas solar panel installation is how it can increase your home’s worth. A recent analysis conducted by Zillow found that solar panels added an average 4.1% of value to a home. While the benefits were more significant in the larger coastal cities, no state saw a decrease in a home’s value. And to offset the potential additional tax burden, the state of Texas allows for 100% of the increase of a home’s value due to solar panel installations to be exempt. Many realtors will tell you their clients looking for homes in the DFW area see solar as an advantage.
But if you plan to stay in your home for a long time another way to assess if it’s worth installing solar panels is by how many years will it take for the savings in electricity to compensate for the total cost. This of course will vary not only due to the final bill for your solar panels but the monthly amount of your utility bill and whether you paid cash for the installation or took out a loan.
Generally speaking, both cash and credit solar purchases (if done correctly) should end up paying for themselves around the 12 year mark of a 25-year lifespan of the average solar panel system. If you have equity in your home, some financial advisors advocate taking a HELOC loan at a low rate. This may make it take a little bit longer to get out of the red, but you still receive the huge tax savings up front and don’t have to spend any of your hard-earned cash. Fannie Mae, the Federal lending agency, has the HomeStyle Energy Loan as well.
Solar Panels Now… Or Later?
The solar panel industry continues to mature rapidly, with the capabilities increasing and costs decreasing. According to a 2017 report from the US Non-Renewable Energy Laboratory, solar panel installation costs fell 6% since 2010, and there is reason to believe these savings are growing; a GreenTech Media study predicted a 25% drop in costs by 2022.
So that means if you wait you’re potentially going to save money on the upfront costs; however, with the 30% Federal rebate set to expire you could end up spending roughly the same and loseout in the interim on utility bill savings. Newer solar PV technology will always be superior than last year’s model, but at some point, you’re going to have to take the plunge.
Leasing Vs. Buying Solar Panels and Other Cost Factors in Dallas
Yet another wrinkle to the Dallas solar panel installation conundrum is the possibility of leasing them from a solar company instead of owning outright. Leasing can have some tempting incentives. You will likely have to put no money down and pay a set flat fee for power at a lower rate. Usually, the installation, maintenance, and warranty are handled by the company, not you. Another option is a power purchase agreement or PPA, whereby a solar company installs (and owns) the panels on your roof, selling you solar power as you use it, presumably at a lower rate.
And, finally – for this article at least – let’s consider the units themselves. Which company makes the best solar panels? Here again we have different factors to consider: the efficiency of each solar panel in converting the sun’s energy to electricity; the “temperature coefficient,” which is the amount production is reduced during the hottest times of the day; and the warranty offered by the solar company.
Dallas Solar Panels: Is It Worth It?
As you can see, there are so many variables when it comes to installing solar panels in Dallas. The good news is that if done correctly, for the majority of homeowners, the answer is yes.
The key, of course, is having your solar panel installation done correctly! And that’s where [company] comes in. We are experts in all aspects of Dallas solar panel installation. From choosing the right materials to offering savings and rebates on installations, we are here for you.
You’ve already taken the first step by reading this article. The next step is even easier – contact us for a free estimate today. We’ll give you a detailed breakdown of the costs and even show you how much you will save using solar power in the long run.