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Are Rooftop Solar Panels Worth the Money?

Updated: Aug 5, 2023

Living in a new Tampa Bay subdivision, we receive an almost weekly visit from a variety of rooftop solar panel salesmen. While we have had many talks on how solar photovoltaic panels can offer homeowners a reduced electric bill as well as it is an environmentally-friendly option to power your home, it is considerably pricey and leads me to ask whether the return on investment is worth it.

Solar Panels on a Tampa Bay Home

Home Innovation Research Labs recently analyzed the cost-effectiveness of rooftop solar panels in five markets:

  • Phoenix, AZ

  • Tampa, FL

  • Kansas City, MO

  • Boston, MA

  • Seattle, WA

Please note that the analysis did not include any financial incentives available in many markets to help offset the costs of installing solar panels.

In markets where electricity prices are higher, the use of solar panels is a huge draw. For example, Home Innovation Research Labs found that it is more cost-effective to install rooftop solar panels in Boston than in Phoenix or Tampa as Boston's electricity pricing is considerably high.

Solar availability varies greatly in any given area. Of the five markets tracked, Phoenix had the highest solar resource averaging 5.79 kWh/square meter (m2) per day compared to Seattle with the lowest solar output a 3.47 kWh/m2 per day.

Researchers found that solar panel systems facing the south, southwest, or southeast tend to have shorter paybacks.

"The cost-effectiveness of roof-mounted solar PV panels depends on a range of factors that are location specific (utility tariff, solar resource) and project-specific (system cost, panel orientation)," the National Association of Home Builders reports on the study.

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