Solar panels can cost tens of thousands of dollars upfront, though the money they save you over a period of years may mean they eventually pay for themselves.
However, if you’re trying to decide if solar panels are a smart money move, you need to consider more than just upfront costs.
Here are some ongoing, hidden costs of solar panels you need to be aware of.
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More frequent yard maintenance
Some parts of your property might require more time and attention once you’ve added solar panels. For instance, adding solar panels could require you to remove tall trees from your yard or trim branches.
Either way, once your panels are installed, you’ll probably have to do more, or at least more frequent, tree trimming than you did before.
If you’re already paying too much for home insurance, don’t expect that to change once you add solar. Solar panels usually bump up your homeowner's insurance premiums.
Your state could also require you to get solar panel-specific insurance on top of your current insurance coverage.
Landscaping for ground panels
Most homes aren’t landscaped with ground solar panels in mind. Along with installing the panels, then, you’ll need to rearrange the rest of your yard and garden to accommodate them.
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Utility company charges
Solar panels should trim your utility bill, but, oddly enough, those savings can come with a price.
Keeping your home connected to the electrical grid costs money, so you should expect to receive a utility bill every month even while using solar. Hopefully, that bill is around $80 less than what you were paying before going solar.
You could also encounter solar-specific charges from utility companies, like a charge for any instances when your solar panels drew electricity from the power grid instead of contributing to it.
One of the most important things to consider before you go solar is how much time and money you can devote to keeping your panels up and running.
While solar panel maintenance isn’t too complicated, you’ll still need to clean the panels frequently and make repairs as needed.
And since solar panels can last decades, your maintenance costs will be ongoing for however long you use the panels.
Most solar panel systems shouldn’t require frequent repairs. But you’ll have your solar panels in place for up to 30 years, so expect to pay for at least a few repairs.
Repairing or replacing your roof
Just as with panels installed in the ground, panels installed on the roof may require you to remodel the surrounding area. Depending on your roof’s age and condition, you could need to install an entirely new roof before adding solar panels.
Finally, if a panel breaks in the future, you might need to cover roof repairs as well as the cost of repairing the panel.
Difficulty selling your house
If you already need to make extra money to pay for solar panels, imagine the hit your wallet could take in the future if you can’t sell a house at the price you’d counted on.
In some parts of the country, solar panels could actually slow down the sale of a house instead of speeding it up.
Depending on your area, adding solar panels could add value to your house, which may mean you’ll be able to sell at a higher price.
However, it’s hard to know for sure if your home’s solar panels will be seen as an asset or not.
To maximize your panels’ energy production, you need to keep them as clean as possible.
You might be able to clean the panels yourself, or you could pay a roofer to clean them instead. In both cases, add cleaning your solar panels as a constant recurring cost.
The amount of money you’ll save on solar panels depends on a few factors, including where you live.
A solar calculator can help you figure out your exact savings over time. But don’t forget to consider your solar panels’ potential hidden costs as well.