In addition to providing your home with clean energy, solar power systems offer a reliable return on investment and require little maintenance. A solar power system generating 100 percent of a home’s electricity will pay for itself in 2 years; however, it may take a bit longer in cloudy regions. Most warranties last 10 to 25 years, providing ample time to recoup the investment, though.
The federal government and states offer several incentive programs to those using solar power systems. If a system produces less energy than your home needs, electricity is pulled from the grid to make up the difference. Net Metering (NM) occurs when a system produces a surplus. The extra electricity feeds back into the electrical grid, and the utility company buys back the energy generated by the system. Energy utilities claim Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) for producing clean energy through solar panels, and in most states, homeowners earn one SREC per 1,000 kilowatt hours produced by a system. Federal income tax credits are in place for residential systems through 2023, and many states offer property tax exemptions, sales tax waivers, and use tax waivers. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency provides a list of incentives by state.