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A New Data Point for Homeowners Considering Installation of Solar Photovoltaic Panels

by April 25, 2011

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As discussed by a number of media outlets, including the NY Times’ Green blog, a report just released by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (link to download page here) provides one more data point for homeowners weighing the costs and benefits of installing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on their home.

Making decisions about installing solar systems is very complex, and this type of information is sure to be helpful to the decision making of homeowners. As we tackle issues like solar energy as part of our forthcoming Media Challenge, we will work with a broad network of experts to distill information such as this study. We will then work with great storytellers to bring these points to life, like in our recently-released videos that discuss energy in general terms.

Typically, the cost of an installation such as PV panels is weighed against the payback time, which is measured in years. In this study, researchers evaluated selling prices of about 2000 homes in California with PV systems compared to about 70,000 homes that lacked such systems. They “explore[d] whether the effects of PV systems on home prices are impacted by whether the home is new or existing, by the size of either the PV system or the home itself, and finally by how old the PV system is when the home sells.”

One of the key points that the report highlighted was that typically the return on investment when converting to pv may take quite a while. Many homeowners find this concerning since they may not own the home long enough to see the monetary benefits. Thus, understanding if some or all of the additional up-front costs can be recouped at the time of a sale could be a very important input to a homeowner considering such an expense.

The results of the study suggest that, at least in California, a homeowner could recoup a significant amount of their investment in a solar PV system thanks to higher selling prices.

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