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  • 1.  What keeps homeowners from going solar?

    Posted 01-29-2023 12:17 PM
    Hi All,

    I'm new to ASES and this forum, but I wanted to pose a question to the community: What keeps people who own their own homes from going solar in this day and age? I know that location and sun availability will affect the payback period, but what else gets in the way?

    Thank you for your thoughts!

    Kyle Combes
    Software Engineer & Technical Product Manager
    Oceanworks, Inc

  • 2.  RE: What keeps homeowners from going solar?

    ASES Life Member
    Posted 01-30-2023 12:58 PM
    As a lifetime member of ASES I have always wanted to go solar.  The simple fact is that the cost is still prohibitive unless you have enough discretionary income to do it for altruistic reasons.

    Fred Kreiner

  • 3.  RE: What keeps homeowners from going solar?

    ASES Life Member
    Posted 02-06-2023 05:56 PM
    I have to say I disagree with this now.  There are many many new and creative options for loans to pay for a solar energy system. It depends on where you live, but in most states a homeowner can replace immediately reduce their monthly utility bill by the same amount as the monthly loan payment or more.  Therefore in a lot of places you can own a system (not lease), and pay for it with a loan, and not increase your monthly out-of-pocket at all (and likely decrease it).  It's not the case in every state - but in many, it is.  You do have to have a decent credit score to get the loan, but other than that you don't need extra income than you normally use and, in fact, it makes sense to do it for financial reasons and not altruism at all.

    Dara Bortman
    Sustainable Solar Systems
    Philadelphia PA

  • 4.  RE: What keeps homeowners from going solar?

    Posted 01-30-2023 02:36 PM
    I am a Registered Professional Engineer in Florida and I have heard a few concerns from homeowners.
    1. PV panels are not attractive and detract from the beauty of the home, especially if installed on the front roof that becomes visible from the street.
    2. The expense of a PV system is costly and not a high priority for many homeowners. They seemed to doubt that such a system would really save them money.
    3. Several homeowners indicated that they have had roof leaks during rainstorms.
    4. It was difficult for homeowners to assess the competence, reliability, and honesty of the proposed contractor who will be installing the PV system. Some had difficulty in understanding the nuances of the system and if all components were indeed necessary and required for adequate system performance.
    There may be additional concerns that I can't recall at this time.

    Stephen Vadas, Ph.D., P.E.
    Consulting Engineer
    Paradigm Drift LLC
    Saint James City FL

  • 5.  RE: What keeps homeowners from going solar?

    Posted 01-30-2023 11:21 PM
    Hi Stephen,

    My responses:
    1. I disagree, especially for composition shingle roofed homes that most often are a shade of gray to black.   Modern arrays blend right in.  I know Florida can have tile roofs so yes, the array would stand out on a clay tile background, but the all-black sleek looks of modern arrays is not ugly.
    2. Electric bills are costly, and they will need to be paid forever unless you do something about it.  Properly designed and installed solar will always pay for itself in my experience, and usually, many times over. It truly is one of the safest investments you can make with your money.
    3. Properly installed solar uses flashed mounts that will not leak. As always, you get what you pay for and should always look for an experienced contractor that will stand behind their work with a workmanship warranty.
    4. Bingo, it pays to do your homework. It is a large investment and you need to be comfortable with the contractor.  Skip the fast talking salesman with the hard sell, and get quotes from local, experienced solar contractors, that will sit down with you and explain how solar works, what each component does, what brands they use and why, who in their organization do you call if you need support, and any other questions you may have.  And when they do, try to verify their answers by doing independent research or comparing to info from others, to weed out the BSr's.  If they cannot get answers to all your questions to your satisfaction, get a quote from another contractor.

    Ken Nadsady
    AviSun Renewable Energy
    Hudson OH

  • 6.  RE: What keeps homeowners from going solar?

    Posted 01-30-2023 11:05 PM
    Hello Kyle,

    Some homes have significant shading issues due to lots of trees, or they have roofs that are broken up into many small facets and that face non-ideal directions so that solar makes less sense.  Outside of that, I honestly think it is just ignorance of the value that solar brings.  Many people have misconceptions about solar. Installed properly and with the right components, it is most often sleek and attractive, especially when compared to the ugly sights we live with every day when driving past utility poles with transformers mounted on them, wires running down the street, traffic lights and streetlights at intersections, substations, etc.  And the amount of insolation is just one part of the equation, ... it also depends on what your utility rate is per kWh, and where that rate will go in the future.  And now, if you have enough roof space, besides reducing your electric bill to near zero, you can buy an electric car, charge it with your new solar, and get rid of your gasoline and oil change bills, all while feeling really good about becoming a soldier in the battle against climate change.

    Ken Nadsady
    AviSun Renewable Energy
    Hudson OH

  • 7.  RE: What keeps homeowners from going solar?

    Posted 05-14-2023 02:11 PM

    For some good general information on why people do not (or do) engage in environmentally friendly behaviors, I recommend looking at the Community-Based Social Marketing website. It discusses some of the psychology and marketing factors involved and provides recommendations. 

    Kat Friedrich
    Editor in Chief
    American Solar Energy Society
    Monona WI

  • 8.  RE: What keeps homeowners from going solar?

    Posted 05-15-2023 09:22 AM

    Thank you for sharing this resource, Kat!

    Ella Nielsen
    Membership & Engagement Manager
    American Solar Energy Society
    Boulder CO

  • 9.  RE: What keeps homeowners from going solar?

    Posted 08-13-2023 07:13 AM

    I started with 12 panels + inverter (3.42 kW), then added 3.3 kW and finally added 2.56 kW. So I have a mix of 250, 300 and 320 W panels. The first set of panels had the aluminum colored frames, but subsequent panels have black borders and look good on my southish facing roof. My return on investment is over 10%. and I got a 30% reduction (tax credit) for all of the costs. I live in a retirement village in a single family home. Our section of the village is under an HOA. Virginia law states that unless solar is banned in the original charter of the HOA, all HOA's must allow solar. I was the first to put solar on my home and now 30% of the homes have solar and solar is growing. Unfortunately, shared/community solar is not available in our area (Appalachian Power), but some of us are working at the local level to get a bill passed that allows  shared solar. It will be boom-town when that happens! I hope that I answered some of your questions! I have details on my system should anyone be interested. We will be on the ASES National Tour in October.

    Bill Baker

    Warm Heart Village

    Blacksburg, VA 24060

    Bill Baker
    Volunteer with Citizens Climate Lobby
    Blacksburg, VA

  • 10.  RE: What keeps homeowners from going solar?

    Posted 08-14-2023 07:33 AM
    Edited by Timothy Mcbride 08-24-2023 06:41 PM

    Mr Baker thank you for your response, 

    Human Beings, as the species all have a natural birthright to have access to the SUN!  * No matter the culture, nationality, or otherwise. Any organisation, company, or governmental agency, or persons that pretends otherwise or tries to create a barrier against this fundamental universal right, against, - any individual, or groups should be notified of this right and protested against to the upmost vigour and exposed. 


    With that being said okay, - 

        " What keeps homeowners, or anyone else for that matter,  from going solar? " 

    Well there are many factors involved here but the only real answer is to ask each and every homeowner/person  why? 

    But mostly in my opinion these are the reasons,

    1- Status Quo - People are usually satisflied with their current arrangment as it has served them and their parents for decades and see no reason to change partly for fear of an unknown technology and also the very convenience of just paying an electric bill, and letting the utility handle the repairs, maintenance, and electrical generation. 

    2- Neighborhood, acceptence, aesthetics, and of course orientation.  Many existing sub-divisions and homes,  were designed to face the street, a lake, a pond, or another view, some sacred as well,  but not the sun, and the culture of automobiles that is still a love affair amongst most Americans. 

    3- Cost the initial cost of installation, available land for ground mounts, permits, and availability of maintenance over time, as few communities have reliable solar installation companies in the immediate area, also many go  bankrupt later and become unavailable.

    4-  Yes the HOA's or some other restriction such as utilities, city, or local regulations, or landlords  otherwise.

    5 -  Education - People in general just do not understand the technology so really dont want to have anything to do with it or the bright( LIGHT) path that might incur. 

    " There are many other reasons for sure but these 5 are top on our list but as time progresses solar will become more commonplace, as schools, and universities, and communities all over, on all grades and levels will begin to teach this wonderful technology to an ever growing enlightened generation that will demand more solar implementation everywhere under the light of our star "  OUR  " Collective Sun. " 

    Timothy Mcbride
    Sol-Era R & D