In a world of finite resources and worsening climate change, reducing the amount of non-renewable energy your home consumes is more important than ever, and it's easy to see why solar panels have become a common addition to homes both large and small. Consequently, many individuals and families looking for a new home find themselves considering properties that have already had solar panels fitted by their previous owners.
Purchasing a home fitted with solar panels can have a number of advantages, providing you with lower energy bills without having to go to the time and expense of fitting solar panels to your new home yourself. However, purchasing a home with pre-fitted solar panels can also create a few complications, so you should keep the following questions in mind if you are looking into buying homes.
How old are the fitted solar panels, and what condition are they in?
Determining the age and condition of the solar panels fitted to your potential new home is vitally important -- nobody wants to move into a home fitted with damaged, aged panels that can no longer provide significant power. You should therefore ask the current owners of the property for full documentation regarding the type of panels used, when they were fitted, and any and all maintenance and repair work that has been carried out on them since they were installed.
What type of solar panels are fitted to the property?
Determining what type of panels are fitted to the property will tell you a lot about how easy or difficult they are to live with. Most residential properties fitted with solar panels use one of three panel types:
- Monocrystalline (Mono-SI) panels are widely considered to be the gold standard of solar panels, and are both efficient and durable. They are expensive to repair if damaged, however.
- Polycrystalline (P-SI) panels are more delicate and create less power, and are considered outdated by many solar panel experts. Polycrystalline panels fitted to homes tend to be older than other varieties and may be somewhat outdated. They are, however, cheap to repair and replace.
- Amorphous silicon (A-SI) panels are the newest type of panel in widespread use, and are much thinner, lighter and more flexible than crystalline panels. This makes them relatively fragile, but also allows them to be readjusted easily. Repairs and replacements are generally reasonably priced.
Does the property feed solar power to the grid?
Many homeowners who make extensive use of solar panels produce more energy than they can use, and make money by feeding their surplus energy back into local power grids. Depending on the power feeding arrangement and the local laws in your area, these feed-in contracts may be transferable to you if you purchase the property before the contract expires.
Inheriting one of these contracts can be a money-making boon, but only if the agreement suits your needs. You may find that you require more of the power you generate than the previous owners of the property, and the terms of the contract may automatically change due to the change in ownership. Ask to see any relevant power feeding contracts before purchasing a property to avoid hidden pitfalls.