Solar arrays are an investment. Those who choose to invest make their money back. Those lucky enough to live in areas with high solar rebates and incentives will make back that money quicker and maybe even come out with a profit.
The value of solar panels go beyond rebates and tax cuts though. Homeowners who installed solar panels sold their homes for an extra $15,000 dollars because of photovoltaics on their roof. Berkeley Lab ran the study about the sale of homes with photovoltaics because realtors will have to able to price solar arrays accurately as the become more common.
Not only do houses with solar panels sell for more, but they sell faster. Low energy bills and positive environmental impact are a big plus for many potential buyers.
But Keep in Mind…
Different aspects may affect the amount of money solar panels add to the home. The age of the system and the roof can lower the benefit. The surrounding area may make a positive or negative impact. If the homes around are middle-class or lower, many of those buyers will not want to shell out extra for solar. The appearance of the home may also limit the amount of money the panels are worth to a potential buyer. If panels are on the front of the house, it may be considered ugly (though we certainly do not think so!).
The extra $15,000 applies to owned solar arrays. Homeowners should keep leases, loans, and warranties in mind while trying to sell. Leases can be transferred, but the buyer must agree to take on those payments. Loans have to be paid, and warranties may or may not be transferable to a second homeowner.
Other than reducing carbon footprints and helping society make steps to a cleaner world, solar panels can give homeowners a little kickback for their investment even when they need to leave it behind for opportunities else where.