Buying a Home with a Solar System: What to Ask and What to Know

Buying a Home with a Solar System: What to Ask and What to Know

What You Should Ask Before Buying a Home with a Solar System

Every year, the number of people switching to solar to power their homes increases, especially in California, where we receive an optimal amount of sunshine year-round. As solar technology advances and more homeowners are looking for ways to reduce their dependence on the electrical grid and fossil fuels, more solar systems are being installed. Similarly, more homebuyers are looking for homes with solar systems already installed.

In many cases, solar is a feature that attracts buyers. But, if you've never had a solar system before or you aren't familiar with how they work, you may be nervous about jumping into a home with a solar system already installed.

Keep reading for three important questions you should ask about the solar system before buying the home.

Is the System Leased or Owned?

When a solar system is installed, there are two options: buy the solar system outright or lease it. Because the average solar system can cost between $15,000 and $20,000, many elect to lease their system instead of taking a loan or paying upfront. According to Consumer Reports, 72% of those who installed solar systems in 2014 leased their systems instead of buying them. While leasing may pose a viable option for some homeowners, it comes with several drawbacks, including the potential to turn away potential buyers.

If you are looking at purchasing a home with a solar system, it is important that you ask whether the system was purchased outright or if it was leased. When a house with a leased solar system is sold, the seller and buyer are put in a difficult position. Either the buyer has to agree to take over the lease or the seller has to buy out the lease from the solar company. Depending on how much time is left on the lease, this can be expensive for the seller.

Typically, it is better to purchase a home without a solar system and install one rather than buying a home with a leased solar system. This is because the money savings on a leased solar system are minimal compared to the savings associated with a system that you own outright or secured with a loan.

Is the System Grid-Tied or Off-Grid?

Most residential homes in the San Jose area have grid-tied solar systems. However, there are also completely off-grid homes. Most prefer grid-tied systems because they allow selling excess energy back to the energy provider. Additionally, in an emergency or when the solar system isn't producing as much power as is needed, there is still access to the power grid. Before purchasing a home with a solar system, buyers should clarify the type of system installed and not assume it is a grid-tied system.

How Old Is the System?

When looking at a home with a solar system, it is important to know how old the system is. The average solar system lasts for around 20 years. Knowing where the system is in its lifespan will help prepare for a future replacement if necessary.

To keep a solar system well-maintained, it is recommended that the system be inspected and serviced, annually. Failure to do so can result in a less efficient system that is more prone to problems. When purchasing a home, it’s important to ask the current homeowners who installed the system and its repair and maintenance history.

If you are considering buying a home with a solar system, you can reach out to Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar to schedule an inspection. The more you know about your new system, the more empowered you will be to get the most out of it.

What's Happening at Valley This August

Not only is August one of the hottest months of the year temperature-wise, but it is also a hot month for the real estate market. So, this month on the blog, we look at how important insulation is for keeping homes cool and comfortable and tackle some important topics for those looking to buy a new home.

Insulation can make or break an HVAC system. Without adequate insulation, all of conditioned air will escape outside and the heat of summer will start seeping in. This not only causes the HVAC system to work harder than it should, but it can also cause the system to age prematurely. Not to mention compromised comfort.

Anyone who is in the market for a new home, should take some time to ask important questions about the property's electrical and solar systems. We suggest several questions to ask and explain why they are so important. For example, it's always worthwhile to know the type of wiring system, especially if the property is older. Similarly, a few pertinent questions about the solar system can help determine if the home is a good investment. Check out the blog to learn more.