Solar homes are worth more money: here's the proof

Matthew Grocoff

January 19, 2016

By: Matthew Grocoff, Green Renovation Expert

In: Green Living

solar panels on Victorian home

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory say that homes with rooftop solar have increased value when they are sold. Their report, "Appraising the Sun," showed that photovoltaics (PV) add real value to homes in multiple markets.

This is good news for anyone who has invested in solar for their home. My wife and I have had two home appraisals since we installed our solar array in 2010. Each time the appraisers gave us $0 value, claiming that there were no "comparable homes" in the area to show that solar added value. This was particularly strange considering we could prove that we have not had to pay a utility bill since March of 2011. In fact, we have received over $3,000 in payments from our utility company.

Consider that the average annual utility bill in my neighborhood is $2800 per year, then multiply that by 5 years. That's $14,000 in energy savings and avoided cost. Now add the $3,000 in renewable energy credits and you have a total of $17,000 of cash in our pockets in just the first five years. So, the real value of the solar panels for first 5 years is somewhere between $0 and $17,000. Next consider that these solar panels will continue to provide free energy for decades to come. Does it make any sense to think that the value added to our home is $0?

In the "Appraising the Sun" report, independent appraisers evaluated recent home sales pairs in six states: California, Oregon, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. They found that buyers were indeed willing to pay much more for homes with solar panels. The study's lead author, Sandra Adomatis, said that "many appraisers and lenders prefer the paired-sales valuation techniques that are standard in the real estate community, but comparable pairs of PV and non-PV homes are not always available, which can result in PV systems on some homes receiving no appraised value."

homes with solar panels worth more

The combined six-state average for added value for homes with solar was almost $15,000. One home in North Carolina with a larger than average solar array sold for $38,100 more than comparable homes in the area.

solar panels ROI

The authors of the study concluded that "price per watt is the appropriate metric for valuing PV systems, not the premium as a percentage of the home sale price, which is an inconsistent metric that varies widely by the size of PV systems and the price range of homes."

The mean sales price premium in the study was $3.78 per installed watt.

If appraisers were to use this metric on our 8.1kW solar array, our system should return a premium $30,618. This is an impressive number considering that the net cost of our system after incentives was just over $15,000 (I should note that in 2010 we received extraordinary credits from our utility company as well as a 30% federal tax credit which drastically reduced our out of pocket expenses).

Not bad.

My wife would want me to give this closing note to any realtors our there who frequently pass by our home and drool: Unless you can find us another 115 year old Victorian home with zero dollar energy bills . . . our home is not for sale.

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