Eco-Friendly Home Trends in 2019: Solar Panels Top List
Many homes today sport solar panels and other amenities for the environmentally conscious homeowner. Here's what real estate agents should know.
When real estate professionals look at home components, they try to identify those items that have a certain and definitive lifespan. In Texas, air conditioner condensing units have a 10-year life expectancy, and prospective buyers need to be informed that if they are considering the purchase of a home with an air conditioning unit that is reaching its upper serviceability range, that replacement may be on the horizon. Shingle roofs have similar issues; while they typically last longer than 10 years, some may need replacement after 20. With the cost of energy rising, many homeowners have installed solar panels.
Not only can adding solar panels to a home save energy costs and help the environment, it also can potentially increase a home’s value. According to a Zillow Group analysis, homes with solar-energy systems sold for 4.1% more on average than comparable homes without solar power in the last year. For the median-valued home, that translates to an additional $9,274.
The Evolution of Solar Panels
The potential for solar power was realized as early as 1876, when two scientists found that electricity was produced when light reacted with selenium. These researchers created selenium cells, and proved that light could be converted into electricity without the use of additional heat or moving mechanical parts. Fast forward a century, when President Jimmy Carter had solar panels installed in the White House. The technology has come a long way since then.
Generally, solar panels lose about 1 percent of efficiency per year, and this is called the degradation rate. Engineering.com tells us that most solar panels come with a 20-year warranty that also states that solar panels will produce at least 80 percent of their original energy amount after 20 years.
While 30-year-old solar panels may be 30 percent less efficient than brand new ones, they still should supply a reasonable amount of electricity. The industry is rapidly evolving, with improvements in efficiency seen with new chip architecture and maxim cell optimization.
In a recent article in SolarReview, industry expert Andrew Sendy examined upcoming trends:
Clear solar panels are coming; mounting hardware or grids won't be visible since clear films are being developed that will allow the generation of power by the absorption of ultraviolet light.
Solar panels that are able to absorb light from both sides are called bifacial panels, and these are on the way.
Tesla has developed solar roof tiles or shingles that provide solar energy and alleviate the concern over esthetics.
For guidelines on assessing the potential for solar panels on a residential property, go to the U.S. Department of Energy site.
Eco-friendly is a popular buzz-word in today’s real estate world, and while smart systems are in vogue, investing in solar panels can cut carbon footprints while saving energy dollars. There are also many government and utility company rebates and financing programs that can help jumpstart a solar project, so be sure to research these when advising a buyer or seller.
Note: Sam Radbil is the lead writer for ABODO Apartments, an online real estate and apartments marketplace with available apartments in all shapes and sizes. ABODO listings span far across the country, from major cities like Chicago and New York City to college housing in cities from Madison, Wis., to Eugene, Ore. ABODO's research and writing has been featured nationally in hopes to educate the public on real estate topics for renters, buyers and agents.