For many who install them on their homes or commercial buildings, solar panels and their systems are a legitimate form of investment. They come with up front costs, yes, but proper optimization of your system will bring you value for years into the future, both through energy savings and through sustainable themes that will make your structure more efficient.
At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we're here to provide a comprehensive range of residential and commercial solar panel services throughout Utah, from basic setup and installation to tips on how to maximize your investment and get the most possible value out of your solar panels. What are some of the most important areas we generally tell clients about when they're looking to improve ROI? Here's a primer.
Like with many other products that sit exposed to weather elements 24 hours a day, solar panels -- even our best and most durable modern options -- are not invincible. They will slowly lose production capabilities over a very long period of time, and this process is known as degradation.
For any solar panel installation, it's important to know how your panels will fare over the course of their life. To determine this, you'll need to know a few things about your local climate and how it will affect your panels' output capability.
For instance, if you live in a desert area with high temperatures, then there is likely more degradation on your panels than someone who lives in a cooler, wetter area. Additionally, if you have a roof that is flat or even slightly slanted but facing south, then your panels are more likely to face the sun for extended periods of time, which will also affect their degradation rate.
As we touched on above, however, modern solar panels experience degradation at much lower levels than older options. Most panels manufactured after 2010 can degrade at about .5% per year, and even those made prior to 2010 will only produce at around 80-85% of their original output capacity by 20 years out. However, taking all the steps you can to maximize their lifespan -- including proper care and cleaning -- will optimize the value you get from them.
For any new solar panel system, warranty should be the first thing you consider. Many companies offer different levels of protection based on the components included with your order, so it's important to think about exactly what you need for maximum savings and minimum hassle in the long term.
Think about where you live when considering warranty options. For instance, if you live in an area that experiences hail quite often, then you might want to consider a tempered glass warranty. This will protect your panels from the most common form of impact damage, whereas standard or "float" warranties generally do not cover your panels if hail impacts them.
It's also important to evaluate the length of a given warranty, whether it covers routine cleaning and maintenance, and whether they offer an upgrade warranty in case you want to replace them with more efficient options at a later date. Most solar warranties are at least 20 years, but some are as high as 25 or even 30 years. If you're thinking about purchasing aftermarket solar panels in the future, then it might be best to go with a company that offers an upgrade warranty program.
One of the more obvious factors in your long-term investment returns within the solar realm -- and yet another area where modern technology has allowed for major improvements -- is efficiency of the panels themselves. Panels today produce many more watts than they did even a decade ago, and this directly affects your overall output and therefore ROI.
It's important to know how well your panels stack up against older options, as well as their industry-standard rates of efficiency, in order to get the most out of them. For instance, if you're investing in a solar panel system for the first time and live in a location with high temperatures, then newer panels make more sense than older models because the latter might not perform as well under extreme heat.
Different components of your panel will affect efficiency to varying degrees, including substrate material, anti-reflective technologies and your panel's layout itself. While substrate is generally not a major factor in efficiency, your anti-reflective and panel layout choices will be. As such, you might want to look for panels with enhanced anti-reflective coatings and a layout of amorphous silicon solar cells on top of a metal sheet backing.
You'll also need to consider the number of panels in your system. If you end up with fewer panels than you originally planned, then the whole system's output will decrease accordingly -- and that can affect your ROI.
All homeowners considering solar panel installation should be well aware of the ITC, or federal solar investment tax credit. The ITC provides homeowners with a tax credit up to 30% of the total cost of purchasing and installing a solar panel system.
The ITC has expired at different points in the past for residential window installations, but it's always been renewed retroactively -- it was renewed for 2021, though the maximum percentages are decreasing, and are now back down to 26% for this year (and expected to drop to 22% in 2023). However, even at these lower percentages, the ITC offers fantastic ROI improvements for solar panel owners.
For more on how to optimize your solar panel system for maximum return on investment, or to learn about any of our solar power services in Utah, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.
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