Recently, one of our appraisers was visiting a house in a suburb of Philadelphia. The homeowner was very proud of the fact that the house was entirely "off the grid" in terms of electrical power due to the installation of solar panels. In fact, the property owner was receiving money from the electric company for energy he generated and sold back to them. Money back from the electric company...not a bad deal!
The initial investment to install the solar panels was roughly $40,000, less State and Federals rebates credits, the net outlay was around $15,000. Weigh that against the monthly savings and the money received for selling power back to the electric company for as long as you own the house.
One issue that came up during the appraisal was how to value the panels. There is very little market data that would indicate that solar panels add any measurable value to a property. Another issue was whether or not the market recognizes this feature as a positive or a negative. Some would argue that the aesthetic appeal of the house is adversely impacted by the panels to such a degree that any value the panels may add would be offset. That being said, would panels be more acceptable if they were installed in the yard rather than on the roof?
As more and more homes with this technology are built, sold and resold in the Philadelphia region, we will have a better understanding of the value, if any, that solar panels have on a house. Until then it's really a matter of personal preference.
What's your opinion? Are solar panels a Plus or a Negative?