Thanks to falling costs and advances in equipment, residential solar energy systems have become increasingly popular in recent years. More than one million homes in America now have a solar power system, allowing more homeowners than ever before to reap the many benefits that come along with utilizing renewable energy. But when these homeowners relocate, the door opens for homebuyers to move in and generate clean power without the paperwork, installation, and interconnection process.
If you’re thinking about buying a home with a solar energy system, be sure to ask the seller the following questions before making your decision:
1. Is the solar energy system owned or leased?
Typically, it’s better for buyers if the system is owned, because it means that they, in turn, will own it outright after purchasing the home without having to pay anything extra for it. Even if the solar energy system was acquired with a loan, the seller will be responsible for paying it off, meaning that the buyer will receive ownership of the panels without having to fork out any additional cash.
Purchasing a home with a leased system, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated. Solar leases typically last up to 20 years and can be expensive to buy out of. Some solar leases have escalating payments and may raise the buyer’s debt-to-income ratio, so take care to review the contract thoroughly before purchasing a house with a leased solar power system. It is still very possible to benefit from buying a house with a leased solar power system, but it’s always a good idea to cover your bases.
2. Which company manufactured the panels?
In addition to providing you with information about quality, asking the seller who manufactured the solar panels will shed light on available warranties and give you important insights as to how long the equipment will be covered for.
3. Who installed the system?
On top of the equipment warranties offered by manufacturers, many solar installers offer their own workmanship warranties to cover labor. It’s not a bad idea to talk to the seller and find out which company installed the solar array so that you have a full understanding of all warranties available to you, as well as know who to contact in the event that something goes awry with the system.
4. How big is the solar energy system?
Knowing the size of the solar array is essential — this information will help you to determine how much electricity use the system has the ability to offset, as well as how much you will save on your energy bill. You may even consider asking the seller to provide you with past electricity bills to give you a better point of reference.
5. Is net metering available?
Depending on home location and utility company, some solar owners are eligible for net metering, which allows you to sell excess electricity produced by your solar panels back to the grid. This is another factor that should be discussed with the seller, as it will help you to figure out how much you have the potential to save on your monthly energy bill.
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Sarah Hancock educates consumers about the workings of the solar industry to help people make decisions that benefit both their own interests and the environment. Connect with her on the Best Company Solar Blog and on Twitter.