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Would You Consider Installing Home Solar-Electric Panels?

By Jennifer Kongs 

Tags: solar-electric panels, question to readers, residential solar panels,

solar panel installationPresident Obama recently announced the White House Plans to Install Rooftop Solar Panels as part of the country’s mission to cut carbon emissions. As solar technology has become a more popular form of reliable and renewable energy production in recent years, the number of home solar-electric panels has increased. Solar energy grew at a record pace in 2009, increasing U.S. solar capacity by 37 percent, doubling the size of the residential photovoltaic market. There are now state and federal incentives and tax breaks for home solar installations.

We’d like to know more about what you think about solar energy as part of a renewable energy future. Would you consider installing solar-electric panels on your home? What factors have influenced — or would influence — your decision? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below! 

Photo from Flickr/Bread for the World 

10/30/2013 9:11:19 AM

Panels do not have to be installed on roof.

10/30/2013 9:08:13 AM

Absolutely, I just want to know who is legitimate to buy parts from. I need to know good, fair price of solar cells, If anyone has any good advice I would appreciate it. On SSI and I have to cut some costs somewhere. $469. moth won't cut it, trying to homestead. Thanks, Sharon

john fitz55
10/31/2010 10:01:16 AM

I would like to install solar hot water to run radiant heat system. It would also heat my domestic hot water.Two major bills would be slashed dramaticly. and in the summer it also helps cool the house by running cool water underneath my floors in my one story ranch with a crawl space. I have read about companys that lease systems, where you pay off the price of the installation and equipment in monthly installments. I would rather be able to purchase system thru monthly installments and install myself so as to make it more economical to do on a fixed income. This would reduce my carbon footprint and make it a better world for those that follow me. John Fitz55

durham, nc_2
10/25/2010 10:27:17 AM

We built a detached garage a few years back and researched the roof shingle-version of solar panels. At the time, there was a 6-8 MONTH delay in getting the shingles on-site. That timing coupled with price made it impractical. Maybe in 20 years when we need to replace the roof...

rodney robinson
10/25/2010 8:03:38 AM

I would like a home with a roof made out of solar panels. It would have to be leak proof and be able to withstand high winds and hail. Could be I would have to design such a home with a solar roof myself. I already make my own solar panels, nothing fancy, but they work well enough to charge the batteries in my electric motorcycle. I now have solar transportation for 7 to 8 months a year. Just put superkue1 in the youtube search engine and follow his instructions. Not that difficult and his system involves free frames and glass. Not that difficult and a perfect winter project. I am looking at buying a Think City, made in Elkhart Indiana starting this December. It costs about $19,000 without tax credits. An electric car has so few moving parts and with care could last 20 years. That's about $85 a month without interest. Since the world has hit peak oil, I estimate that gasoline will be as much a $10 a gallon, 10 years from now. That's $100 for a fill up. Solar is free. Car is paid for with what you don't spend at the pump with money left over to keep in your pocket. Rodney7777

rodney robinson
10/25/2010 7:19:54 AM

I just completed two solar panels that are producing 26 volts and 160 watts, that I made myself to charge a battery bank that has a 900 watt inverter that I plug the charger for my electric motorcycle into. I now have solar powered transportation for 7 to 8 months a year. Really wasn't that difficult. I got a lot of the frames and some of the plexi-glass ($160 a sheet if I bought it) off of craigslist for free or very low cost. Most of the rest I got from ebay. I followed superkue1 on youtube, with some variations. Just put his name in the search engine at youtube. I am going to keep on making solar panels so as to have enough poser to charge the batteries on an electric car that I plan on aquiring soon. For the car, I like the Think City best so far. I would love to have a home where the whole roof was a solar panel array. It would have to be leak proof and able to withstand high winds and hail. Seems to me such a roof could be designed to last a very long time.

mary mcavinchey
10/22/2010 1:16:31 PM

I would love to install solar panels as well as have a wind turbine on my roof. Money is the #1 reason I don't. This technology has been around since the 70's so why is it so expensive to do? I've been thinking it might be possible to install a couple large fans on top of my roof and hook it to my electricity somehow. Where I work they throw these away periodically, they might just let me have them instead to the scrap man. And, it just might work.

ray faber_2
10/21/2010 7:36:41 PM

I live in Indiana and would add solar if the net-metering rate was better. Right now it is an insult to alternative energy advocates in our state. A much better net-metering policy would make the difference for me to add pv panels.All people interested in this should also read home power magazine as they have many suppliers and product articles. solar is forever.

tom in pv
10/19/2010 7:22:58 AM

ABBEY'S COMMENT FROM 10/15/2010 says it very well. "If people want to put PV panels up, then it should be at their own expense! It is not the government's responsibility to subsidize private parties in this country and the stupidity surrounding this entitlement mentality needs to stop!" There is no such thing as a Government Subsidy. It ALL lands on the backs of overstressed middle class tax payers. There is one low cost energy efficiency test that everyone should have done. A BLOWER DOOR TEST to find air leakage. I had it done in preparation to install Geo-thermal heating & cooling. It was a real eye opener even in my relatively new home constructed to be energy efficient. The Geo-thermal heating, cooling & domestic hot water has been operational from Zero degrees in January to consecutive 100 degree days in July. The house is uniformly comfortable and my energy bills are down between 30 and 40%. The system uses three 400 foot deep wells. Sizing the wells properly seems to be the number one requirement to a successful installation.

tom in pv
10/19/2010 7:02:18 AM

From JMG on 10/15/2010 "Money is tight for us right now but I can't pass up the opportunity to have others pay 74% of the cost for such a great upgrade:" JMG, did you ever stop to think who those "others" are that you want to pay for your system? They are the hard working middle class tax payers who are being crushed by our government and politicians who love to spend "OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY". From Glen Barnes_6 "There are programs out there that will install free windows for you" Glen your "free" is some else's added tax burden. I find these comments very sad and very selfish. All of these government run programs are hugely inefficient. Like the weatherization program in Texas, I believe, that was costing on average $57,000 per house because of the huge bureaucracy they first created to administer the program. Wasteful and inefficient the exact opposite of what we need.

10/18/2010 6:16:50 PM

I will definitely install a system soon. It is the right thing to do for our country. As a matter of fact it should be a requirement for new residential developments. Solar assist should be required at a minimum. The additional cost to the new homes would be easily absorbed and that is also the best time for installation. To help in my research , it would be helpful if Mother Earth would publish a study of the different manufacturers of solar panels , comparing cost with efficiencies.

10/18/2010 5:11:56 PM

Yes! I would probably want to combine Wind, Solar a even mini hydro with the right property. The places we're looking to buy would nearly be the same cost as bringing power to the property or installing alternative means. that makes it nearly a no brainer.

10/18/2010 12:44:30 PM

it's like most of us the ones that care are the ones that are on fixed incomed would realdy loved to do it, for the earth,future,us,kids and grandkids. how do we DO IT???

10/18/2010 10:20:35 AM

I would love to install solar panels on my roof, but like many of the comments already made here, I cannot afford to. I used to be an engineer, but I cannot find work in my field anymore and have a greatly reduced income doing general office work. If the government or the utility companies would install the panels and associated equipment for a minimal fee and then allow us to pay it back in reduced electricity costs that would work. Otherwise, I'll never be able to install any kind of renewable energy device.

jeff otte
10/17/2010 3:56:36 AM

The best way to push this forward is for the government to order millions of panels for its own buildings. This creates the certainty that would allow the producers to scale up which would drive the cost of the panels down which would make them more affordable for the rest of us. This would be far less complicated than trying to figure out tax credits, government subsidies, and different programs in different states, etc. We need to use the purchasing power of our taxes to kick the market forces into high gear...

10/16/2010 5:10:24 PM

Count me amoung those who would if they could. In addition to income/expenditure limits, I'm a renter and need to get through the landlord obstacle. I'd love more information from those who've self-installed, including sourcing, expenses, procedures, etc. Aside from the purely practical financial issues of available $$ and the question about the carbon footprint of manufacturing, we need to look at this from a value system, rather than fall into the trap that says economics trumps all else. The externalities are more costly than the usual dollar-only cost-benefit analysis shows. And for those who are considering philanthropy, how about scholarship programs for solar installation, or programs like Solar For Humanity, patterned after Habitat?

b knight
10/16/2010 8:54:13 AM

Here's a picture of my 3.6kW solar PV system. Cost was $23,000 and payback is just under 7 years. The feed-in tariff is for 20 years. Add up all the small solar systems and eventually you produce enough power to permanently shut down a coal fired plant that kills thousands of people PER YEAR via smog.

eedward e smith
10/16/2010 8:33:32 AM

For myself, I will wait till the technology catches up with the hype. These figures for "payback" in 4-5 years is using a system of math I am not familiar with and I have a degree in the subject. Its just like ethanol being touted as cost-effective. Why is it then that it too must have considerable subsidies to even be marketed at all? I truly believe we need to use whatever is available to us (coal, nuclear, etc) and work on developing alternatives. Another question is, if its so cheap and cost-effective, why doesnt the big companies do the research to get the patents? Why is it the govt has to use tax money to do the R&D? Heres a homework assignment! Figure the size of a solar farm needed to replace one large coal-fired generating facility. This should cause you to pause!

10/15/2010 11:47:24 PM

Please correct me if I am wrong. Carbon credits used to manufacture Solar panels will be much more than what it saves during the life of solar panels.

10/15/2010 11:04:27 PM

I have been seriously contemplating solar. For me, the cost is excessive. But, if there was an emergency, and no power available, the current cost would not seem excessive when you consider the consequences of no power for weeks. I live in a tract home, in a city and if there was no power, I would be quite miserable and possible quite hungry, too. I have also heard that soon batteries may be available for energy storage. I will probably wait for a couple years, but when I do have the money to go solar, I will look at the value of having power in an emergency as the reason to purchase, instead of the cost/benefit (which will not pan out for me)

ross fogwell
10/15/2010 10:46:53 PM

i am participating in the Ontario govt FIT program I buy the panels and the govt buys the hydro from me through a reverse meter, and i still buy my hydro through local supplier. It is a 20 year contract with a 6 year payback. So it enables the grid to set up small power scattered around saving a the building of transmission lines and large power plants.

wayne sulecki
10/15/2010 7:14:16 PM

I had a 6kw system installed on the east side of my roof in August. My first electric bill was for $42. This is an all-electric house in central florida. With cooler weather, and the a/c off, I'm looking to put about 2kws into the energy bank.

lloyd mcdaniel
10/15/2010 6:05:35 PM

Would/will I??? Yes, in fact I am attempting to get into the local Solar certification program to do it myself! However I find it amusing that the article fails to note that the administration REFUSED the gift of one of the original Carter era panels, then about the time for contract negotiation to go thru 'announced' it was going solar... "unprecedented"... The more things "change" the more the stay the same. Watch closely for rebate cuts just before the next presidential election.

10/15/2010 3:49:39 PM

I have and did. My 4K system makes more than we need. I also plug in my plugin prius with a system from and we can go 40 miles with zero gas. It cfost about 7K and the solar was 8K but pays off in 4-5 years while helping the economy and environment. The federal incentive of 30% is super, the net-metering makes the power company owe me. That's better than gold or silver

rich kissel
10/15/2010 2:38:10 PM

Like most of the others who are posting on this subject, I'd love to go solar - both for electricity and direct heat. Unfortunately, like others, I am waiting for the cost to go down and the incentives to go up. Otherwise, I can wait a long time.

10/15/2010 2:20:04 PM

I have a 15x40 ft roof that needs to be replaced. Using low cost low efficiency thin film solar or solar shingles would make sense. I am waiting for a reasonably priced product to become available.

10/15/2010 2:19:39 PM

I'm near completion on my 1.6 KW system on my remote cabin here in tn. and have to say it feels good and has been a pretty easy straight forward process and for those of you that think they can't afford solar, if you make the changes that you need to make to make solar work ie efficient refrigeration and other appliances,insulation, load shifting etc. you will end up saving enough that you will be able to afford to go solar so research it and start making the changes and eventually your pocket book will start to fill.

rl greenwood
10/15/2010 1:48:16 PM

would love to add a solar electric or wind system to my present hot water system. But times are tight , panels are expensive, even though i live in the cheapest power state, they tell me jan. 1st my cost will rise 10%. And they in turn do there best to discourage people from doing it. As i have a ALL electric home i have no delusions about running it all on solar or wind, but it would be nice to cut off some of the monthly cost. Its just at present costs I don't see any payback, and from past experience have seen solar removed from homes that were on the market because the buyers didn't want the hassles of maintaining it. That is how i got my solar water panels, they were removed when the home was reroofed. Personally i think we all should do what we can, when we can to leave this country for our kids if better shape then we found it. But it will never happen, the irrigation pivot became king in Texas, till they dropped the aquifer and the ground cracked. Now we are working on it in NEbraska. The water table is dropping, but since we claim the largest aquifer in the world who's gonna worry. So for those that can DO IT, everything that can be gleaned from the FREE solar power will benefit us all.

10/15/2010 1:24:32 PM

Living in Florida, I am trying to use solar by installing simple water heaters and such. Raising a family on a limited budget, there is no way I can purchase the expensive panels and do not know if I would even get a tax break. The payback would take much too long. This is the same problem as getting a more fuel efficient car. I can not afford a new car, especially a hybrid. When the government was taking good cars and crushing them, I could have used one of them because they likely were newer and got better gas mileage than my current vehicle. Again, great ideas, but not the solution for all, or even most around here.

peggy in indiana
10/15/2010 12:27:13 PM

About 2 years ago I designed and built our Energy Star rated home. All along my goal has been to add solar panels on the large south-facing roof. The problem is that because we are already so energy efficient with the geothermal heating/cooling, flourescent bulbs, and super-tight insulation, that the payback on this is VERY lengthy (our average utility bill is less than $100). Plus the expense of installation is very significant even with the tax breaks. Maybe some day.....

pj johnson
10/15/2010 12:21:33 PM

I like off grid in a solr powered wood heated home, and yes I installed the small pv solar system, including the panels myself. Its not rocket science.

david madigan
10/15/2010 12:11:52 PM

I would love to commit to solar power but the cost of the panels and installation keeps me from doing it. My wife and I both are on fixed budgets and are like a lot of other people that would like to save money the solar power way. I even like the solar heating. Since the sun is always there the heat and electricity is the most cheap thing on the market. But the cost of solar panels are keeping a lot of us from doing it. Thank you for listening

old timer
10/15/2010 11:36:47 AM

For the Vast Majority of Americans, until we get some jobs, and find ways to stimulate the economy, talking about installing Solar Panels is just a pipedream for most of us. With no jobs, I can't afford to buy anything but the bare essentials. And those bare essentials don't include solar panels. Envious of those with legitimate employment.

terry penman
10/15/2010 11:25:09 AM

Just Think of how further along we would have been as a country if then President Reagan would have kept in place the incentives back in the 80's? it set the industry back for years. enough of the past! moving forward with the incentives is great!Here in Nevada I'm contracted to install a 5K system next spring! the federal tax break is 30%, the NV Energy program for renewables here in our state has been overwhelmed by demand with a 1st phase $2.30 per watt payback upon completion. so a $30K investment upfront is cut by 50% with total out of pocket cost of $15K when tied to the grid and it will keep producing year in and year out! it will produce 100% of all the energy my family consumes and should pay for itself in just over 4 short years! after that it's money in the bank!

10/15/2010 11:11:29 AM

I just signed up to put 4.33kW of solar pv panels on my roof (next to my hot water system). The Energy Trust of Oregon, the state of Oregon tax credits, and the federal tax credits paid 56% of my hot water system cost, taking my net bill for that from $8100 to $3700. It has worked beautifully. Projected payback 7 years and free money after that. We're two years here now and it's on track. Oddly, even though solar hot water has a faster payback, there are even more generous subsidies for PV; our gross cost will be $24,000 but the net after ETO, Oregon, and US tax credits will be $6200, with a projected production of about 85% of our annual electric usage. Money is tight for us right now but I can't pass up the opportunity to have others pay 74% of the cost for such a great upgrade. I'm also using the opportunity to add an emergency generator tie-in so that, if we suffer a long outage, we'll be able to use a generator to keep our freezer and furnace fan going and some lights on. Everyone should know about DSIRE -- Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy, You'd be amazed at how generous these can be, and this is a great time to jump on these, as there are a LOT of good contractors and workers hungry for business, and money is really, really cheap. You can go to a credit union, borrow your share at very low cost, and let the incentives pay the rest, and pay off the loan over time with the money you save on your electric bill.

ronald lafountain
10/15/2010 10:48:13 AM

Yes i am trying to move out of MI,trying to move to NC,live off grid in a Indian Tipi house.

daniel green
10/15/2010 10:02:56 AM

I am very interested in solar and wind power but I do not fully understand the wattage requirements necessary for me to justified the cost of the currant systems. The infomation that I have found is either out of date are not comprehensive enought for me, also I've been reading about the thin film solar sheets but cannot find any dealers except for one company that leases the equiptment for what seems vry expensive to me.

abbey bend
10/15/2010 10:00:19 AM

When you look at the entire overall manufacture and disposal, involved with solar panels, they are a real loser! Environmentally they are unfriendly, because of the metals involved in their production and the manner of production in China. They are toxic waste when they die and there is no plan in place for either a sensible safe recycling of them or their safe disposal. Why would someone want to be such a contributor to toxic waste? If you look at the economy, you quickly see they are just a way of using taxes to make a few have lower power bills at the expense of the overall economy and the many. They are not socially responsible, when you expect others to make your life easier at their own expense. If people want to decrease the value of their home, because of the potentials for leaks, and other kinds of wind damage to both the panels and house structure. Many insurance companies will boost your premiums or not cover them at all. The chance of recovery of the cost when selling a home is very low. Does it really make sense to further devalue housing values? Leases are one-step removed from buying snake oil, no way to know if the company is going to be there tomorrow, of if, the warranties will be honored. Look at all of the solar hot water heaters molding on rooftops across the country, if there is a doubt about the possibilities. They went out of business right and left, after they fleeced people out of their money and there is nothing to indicate the same would not happen again to several people with leases. If people want to put PV panels up, then it should be at their own expense! It is not the government's responsibility to subsidize private parties in this country and the stupidity surrounding this entitlement mentality needs to stop!

10/15/2010 8:33:38 AM

I would love to install a complete system with wind generation as well. The cost is very reasonable for a system now. It would need to be financed but when paid down it's free (other than battery maint./replacement but batteries are not expensive)power. Even if it's not completely free you are in control not the utility company. My situation is different in that I could not convince my neighbors in this condo complex to put out the money...way to short sighted in my opinion. There also needs to be far more incentive from Provincial/State agencies for this sort of thing....blabbermouth politicians talk about reducing our need for foreign oil but do bugger all about it.

jolyn rebecca snider
10/15/2010 8:13:25 AM

The only problem with the new "tax deductions" are that you have to spend $250 to get a window that the Government will approve as efficient instead of a window that costs $125 that is still efficient just to save $15 tax deduction. It doesn't make any sense but I'm eating the difference by saving on my electric bill. Thank goodness something is working... for now. Becca

laurie in ohio
10/15/2010 8:05:03 AM

I would LOVE to use solar. Right now it is too expensive even with tax breaks for our mortgaged home. Ohio doesn't have many good installers or other pros who can guarantee no long-term damage to the roof over time if we were to add it to our roof now. If our energy company starts offering a leasing program we will look. BUT if I were buying a home and had the choice of two similar homes, I would buy the one with solar even if it cost more (within our means). ESPECIALLY if the solar was part of the design plan when the home was built so there were no engineering challenges. We need development standards that insist on solar and other sensible home requirements for new homes and other buildings - make it "code". I do have a concern about environmental damage from the manufacture of solar panels - all energy endeavors cause some pollution or ecological damage. We need to monitor growth in the solar industry and provide reasonable (not profit-killing) oversight of manufacturing processes and origins of raw materials to ensure this important trend can continue and hopefully become the norm. More solar, please!

m fowler
10/13/2010 12:15:41 PM

I would love to install these panels. However, in FL there are limitations due to the wind constraints. Special connectors &/or rapid removal is the order of the day. Homesteading in FL is quite a challenge because of the legality of everything. You've got to love the extended growing season though...

glen barnes_6
10/11/2010 9:09:53 AM

Tax incentives are fine if you can afford to pay taxes. I am disabled and do not make enough to be taxed. If I want to install solar panels,upgrade windows, etc I get to enjoy NO breaks and must pay full price.There are programs out there that will install free windows for you but the quality of the windows and workmanship usually is not the best.