Thinking of buying a home with solar panels? Here are a few things to consider.

By Anna Mannello //

It’s easy to understand why the number of homes with PV systems has been increasing over the years- it’s economical, environmentally friendly, and a smart investment. If you’re currently in the market for a new home, chances are you’ll encounter one with a solar PV system already on it. If so, there are some details you’ll want to know about the system, so we’ve provided you with a few questions to ask during the buying process.

  1. Who installed the solar system? If the system was installed by PV Squared, then you’re in good hands! We select the highest quality equipment to design each and every solar system and we back that up with warranties you can trust. In addition, PV Squared offers free system evaluations for new homeowners after they move into a house with solar panels that were installed by us!
  2. Was the system leased or purchased? When a PV system is installed, some homeowners opt for leasing options with monthly payments to the third party system owner for energy produced by the system. Leasing payment terms typically last for a period of 20 to 25 years. If the lease term remains in effect at the time of re-sale, the homeowner is responsible for a lump sum payment to the third party system owner or they must transfer the lease to the next homeowner in conjunction with the real estate transaction. Transferring a lease and agreeing to the terms can be tricky. Here at PV Squared, we believe that purchasing the system outright at time of installation is generally in the financial best interest of the homeowner. There are a number of incentives and financing options to help with the upfront investment. Additionally, a system purchased by the homeowner tends to increase the re-sale value of the property.
  3. What product warranties are in place, and will they transfer to the new homeowner? Every company (and product manufacturer) offers a different warranty so it is important to understand the warranties associated with each system. You’ll also want to ensure the warranties will transfer to you, as the new homeowner. If the system was installed by PV Squared, you can rest assured because we offer two types of warranties- installation workmanship and manufacturer product. The installation workmanship warranty protects you from any defects that arise from installation labor. Manufacturer product warranties protect you from equipment failures and performance issues. Both warranties for a PV Squared installed system transfer to the new homeowner.
  4. How has the solar system been performing? Generally speaking, the larger the solar system, the more electricity produced. However, there are several other factors to consider that have an impact on system output. This includes the equipment that was used (in particular, the efficiency of solar panels), shading, and panel orientation, to name a few. To get more precise information about the solar system on your potential new home, ask the Realtor or Seller for past energy bills and the amount of kilowatts produced by the solar system.
  5. How do the financial incentives work? If you produce more electricity than you consume, the extra electricity is sent back to the grid. If in a month, you net export electricity to the grid, the utility company gives you a $ credit on your bill that you can later use in a future month when you consume more energy than you produce. This is a process known as Net-metering and results in a substantially smaller electric bill over the course of a year! Also, solar electric systems connect to the grid in Massachusetts and typically generate Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) that are created and sold as energy is produced by the system. RECs, like Net Metering, represent on-going compensation from the solar system and title to RECs can be transferred from one Owner to the next. We would be more than happy to talk with you about any question you may have on this topic as the REC compensation details vary based on when the system was installed.

It’s really exciting that you’re considering the purchase of a home with a solar system! A well-designed and installed system can provide incredible benefits for any homeowner for decades to come. We hope this cleared up any confusion you may have had on purchasing a home with solar panels. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call us at 413-772-8788 or email us at info@pvsquared.coop.