What to Know When Buying or Selling a Home with Solar
Chief Sales Officer
Whether buying or selling a home with solar, you'll want the process to be as smooth as possible. Here are some tips to keep the savings flowing smoothly.
Buying or selling a home with solar? If it’s your first time with a solar home, it can be confusing. Here’s some information to keep handy that should answer some questions and get you started on an easy transfer.
System Size - The system size of a solar system is the equivalent to knowing the square footage of a home. To find out the system size you can look on the main electrical panel as there is often a plate that indicates the system size or the wattage of the panels. If you know the wattage of the panels, you can simply multiply the # of panels at the home by the wattage. For example, if a home has 25 SunPower 360Watt panels, the system size would be 25x 360 = 9000 watts or 9.0 kW DC
Actual or estimated production - Knowing how much the solar system produces in real world conditions is very important. With today’s technology, nearly all solar systems come with web-based monitoring. Taking a look at the past 365 days’ worth of production will allow you to let potential buyers know just how well your system works. If you’re looking at a home with solar, finding this out can help determine how much the system can save you. Because each site is unique and roofs face different directions, it’s important to look at monitoring and not just system size.
Manufacturer of the panels - Like all things, solar panels are made by many different companies and it’s important to know who made them. Knowing the manufacturer will help determine important items like who to contact in the event of an issue, especially if the original installer is not available.
Warranty - Find out how many years the panels have been installed and how many more years the system is warrantied for. Most manufacturers’ warranties can be found online.
Original Contractor – Did you use a reputable contractor that monitors and keeps records of your system or was the system installed by a fly-by-night company? Sometime the “best” deal up front can turn into the worst deal overall. If you’re unsure about any details about the system, RenovaPLUS offers an inspection service that can help answer any questions.
Lease or Loan terms – Make sure to find out if the system is leased or loaned. If so, find out what the remaining term is and if the monthly payment is fixed or increases each year.
Production guarantees – Most financed products on the market protect consumers with production guarantees. Ask for or share a copy of the remaining guarantees on the system. The guarantee should list the minimum amount of production in any given year and the reimbursement amount per kWh should it fall short.
The Original sales Rep - Keeping the contact information from the original sales consultant can be very useful when selling a home with solar. The rep will be familiar with the system and can let your potential buyer know about the benefits and performance of the system. Dealing with a company like Renova really helps because the energy consultant is always engaged with the client. Other companies use appointment setters and then a sales rep to close the deal, and you may have issues trying to get hold of them again. All you may be left with is an 800 number.
Maintenance Contracts - Is the system covered under any maintenance contract? If you are a Renova customer good chances you are. Just call RenovaPLUS and give them the address of the home and they will be able to pull a full report on the system. This is another benefit of working with the only local company with a full-fledged OM division.
Environmental benefits – People care about a healthier environment. Most monitoring sites have some fun facts about how much CO2 the system has offset or the equivalent number of trees planted. This information speaks to more than just monetary benefits and the “numbers”.
After you take ownership of a home with solar make sure to call the utility and make sure you are on the right rate for solar. When the system was originally installed will determine which rate schedule options you have. Ask what Net Metering program the home is grandfathered into.
If you’re the one purchasing the home, you should also alert the company that installed the system and the panel manufacturer to ensure they have your contact information if there’s any need to communicate with you, and to reconnect the Wifi app so your system can be monitored.
If you’re leasing, it’s an easy transfer to the new owner. You don’t need to add anything to the cost of your home, and you can remind them that the value of the solar system doesn’t add anything to the value of the home for property tax purposes, whether you own or lease the system. If they prefer, you also have the opportunity to purchase the system at the remaining value amount and then can simply add that on to the cost of the home.
Most home inspection professionals aren’t qualified to inspect and evaluate a solar system, so if that’s something that’s needed, RenovaPLUS can provide that service for $299. They will analyze the system and let you know how much energy it’s producing. If you’re purchasing a home and the current owner doesn’t have the paperwork, you’ll need to have someone like RenovaPLUS help you find out all you can about the system in case there are issues in the future that would be covered by a warranty and connect the system to your WiFi system and help you set up the monitoring app.
As far as maintenance, the system needs to be rinsed off every three months or so, and you can do that, hire a window washer, or have a company like RenovaPLUS do it. Whatever you choose, it’s a good idea to have a professional company like Renova handle the cleaning along with an inspection (no extra charge) at least once a year to make sure there is no hard water buildup, loose wires, birds underneath the system or other issues. If you clean it yourself, don’t use chemicals or anything that would leave a film on the panels.
If you’re a new owner, ask the former owner for their utility bills and ask them how they lived in the home – were they year-round? What temperature did they keep the thermostat? Were they home during the day? The system will have been customized for their habits and yours may differ. If you use more electricity than they did in a year, you will have a bill with your utility after 12 months, in addition to the small monthly payment you will need to make. However, rest assured it will still be less than what you would have been paying without solar. If they purchased the system, and you find you are using a lot more energy or decide to get an electric car, then you may also be able to have panels added to cover the extra electricity you need. Once you’re comfortable with your solar system, then you can decide if adding a battery for emergency backup is a good idea. Either way – after everything is settled you can just sit back and enjoy the savings!
And remember, if you need any help in evaluating a system, please feel free to call RenovaPLUS at (760) 610-1034 for an inspection.
Related Renova Energy Insights:
Understanding the Four Different Aspects of Solar Panels
Renova Energy is a full service solar power company providing solar panel installation, solar battery storage, and maintenance for new and existing solar power system. Learn more about how Renova can help you achieve clean sustainable energy independence.
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