Buying a house with a solar system? Read this.
On this page:
Ready to take the leap and buy a house with a pre-installed solar system? Hold your horses, there's a lot to consider before signing on that dotted line! But don't worry, we've got you covered.
From the age of the system, to maintenance costs and warranty coverage, we'll break down all the key factors you need to know to ensure the home of your dreams is also energy efficient and you’re on your way to energy freedom.
What do we mean by energy freedom? Its’ the freedom of having zero electricity bills with zero hassle. And you’ll be protected from electricity price uncertainties. And as a bonus you can have a net carbon neutral home.
So whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned pro, join us on a journey of discovery as we uncover all the nitty-gritty details of buying a house with a solar system. Buckle up and let's get started!
Age is not just a number
When buying a house with an existing solar system, it is important to consider the age of the system. Older systems may come with potential issues such as higher maintenance costs and decreased efficiency.
Knowing how to determine the age of a solar system can help you make an informed decision when purchasing a home with an existing solar setup. Keep in mind that although the industry standard for a solar panel warranty is 25 years¹, the solar inverter only has a 5 to 10 year warranty. A good quality solar system will last you 25 years with appropriate (and minimal) monitoring and maintenance, while a low quality system will struggle to give you 5 years of good energy production.
Potential issues on older systems
Going for an older solar system may seem like a great deal at first, but hold on to your hardhats! Finding replacement parts for an older system can be like searching for a needle in a haystack, and you might have to wait longer for repairs or replacements since some components might need special ordering from manufacturers who no longer produce them.
Even worse, if the replacement is not a simple like for like, and it involves a significant upgrade to you electricity meter board, then the whole solar system may have to be brought up to the more stringent current day standards.
Lastly, maintenance costs on older systems tend to be higher due to the increased wear-and-tear associated with aging equipment which means that keeping up regular maintenance schedules will become increasingly important over time to keep your system running at its optimal performance level.
Determining the age of a solar system
First things first, ask the current homeowner or real estate agent when the solar system was installed. This should give you a good idea of how long the panels, inverters, and batteries (if installed) have been in use. If you're not getting a clear answer, don't worry! There are other ways to determine the age of the system.
Since the average solar system size (and panel size) has been increasing steadily over the past decade, as a rough rule of thumb, if the system is less than 5 kW (or each solar panel on the roof is below 200W), it is probably more than 5 years old. However, that doesn't mean it is a dud. Solar Analytics CEO Stefan Jarnason has a 3.3kW system from 2011 that is still powering strong at 95% of its original output, and still delivering near zero electricity bills.
Another cheeky way to check is have a look at Google maps. Is the solar system visible? If not, it is surely fairly recent.
The key factor is the quality of the solar system. While you may not be able to track down the original solar retailer/installer, you can very easily check out the brand of the solar inverter that will be attached to the side of the house. Solar Analytics has analysed the fleet of 35,000 solar system across Australia, and can confidently state that good quality brands include SMA, Sungrow, Fronius, Selectronic, Goodwe, GE, and Enphase. There are many other reliable brands (and many more that have a poor track record), so look out for our future article comparing them.
It is also worthwhile having a general gander at the solar system. While most of us don't have an experienced solar eye, we can all recognised something that is clean, tidy and well cared for. This holds true for rooftop solar, so check for any obvious signs of cracking, leaf accumulation or other signs of poor maintenance. Speaking of maintenance, check out 5 things you shouldn’t do when cleaning your solar system!
Finally, ask the owner or real estate agent if there are any records of the original system installation, or maintenance performed on the system. These records could include the original system invoice or manuals, a download of information from the solar monitoring (such as Solar Analytics).
How much maintenance does it need?
Solar systems are robust. They generally don’t need a lot of maintenance in order to keep them running efficiently and safely. However, it’s important to stay on top of your system to ensure they’re working at their capacity.
The most important and cheapest maintenance is monitoring. Monitoring software like Solar Analytics provide you with all the information you need to know about your solar system. If something goes wrong, you’ll be alerted immediately. Read how tracking energy usage can help you save.
How do I keep maintenance costs low?
To help keep your solar system’s maintenance costs low, the one key thing you should do is monitoring. Even if you think your solar panels are dusty and is impacting performance, the monitoring software might say otherwise. Before you spend your time and money on something as simple as cleaning, check it’s performance first. In fact, check out this article on whether you should clean your solar panels.
Maintenance is essential for a solar system to remain in top condition, but with monitoring you can keep your costs low. Now let's look at what to expect from a solar system and how it can benefit you.
Here’s what you can expect
When it comes to solar systems, understanding what kind of output and efficiency ratings you should expect is key. The average output rating for a solar system in Australia is currently 8.8kW² and this number is going up.
Finally, understanding your own electricity consumption habits can help you get the most out of your solar system. By keeping tabs on how much energy you're using on a daily basis, you can make sure to use it at the perfect time. This way, you'll be taking advantage of the best climate conditions and sunlight hours to save big in the long run.
Think of it like a treasure hunt for savings! And the best part, you don't have to do it alone. With Solar Analytics monitoring software, you'll have a trusty sidekick to guide you on your savings journey.
When buying a house with a solar system, it's important to understand the average output and efficiency ratings of your system, as well as factors that can affect them. Now let's take a look at warranty and insurance coverage for solar systems.
What’s the warranty on one of those?
When it comes to buying a solar system, warranties and insurance are like a security blanket for your investment.
Most solar systems come with a manufacturer's warranty that covers defects in materials or workmanship for a certain period of time (usually 25 years). This type of warranty usually only applies to the actual panels themselves and not other components such as solar inverters which typically have a 5 or 10 year warranty.
FAQs on buying a house with a solar system
Is it worth buying a house with solar system?
Yes, it is worth buying a house with solar system. In fact, research from RealEstate.com shows that houses with a rooftop solar sell for $5-10k more than similar houses without solar. This is because rooftop solar provides significant savings on electricity bills over time and are an environmentally friendly way to power your home. With advanced monitoring software, you can track your solar production and consumption in real-time to maximise efficiency and cost savings.
Can I expand the solar system?
Absolutely….in most cases. However there are some important factors to consider. Firstly, for most people the right size solar system is as much a you can squeeze onto the roof - this is because the more solar you have, the lower your energy bill, and the more energy freedom. However, there are some caveats so read this first: What size solar system should I get?
Most houses that already have solar can add more solar and get great financial returns from the extra solar. Ideally, you’ll want a large roof with lots of space that faces North. However, even if you can only install the panels facing south, it’s still a worthwhile investment. See our article on solar panels orientation for more details. You should also assess how much energy you use so you can calculate how many panels you need for optimal savings. With these factors in mind, you can make an informed decision about whether or not investing in more solar is right for you.
Another consideration is whether to expand the existing system, replace it with a larger one, or add a second system. This will vary depending on the age of the existing solar system, available roof space, and your energy usage (are you thinking of buying an Electric Vehicle?).
What happens when it comes to selling?
Let’s put it this way, having a house with a solar system is like having a secret weapon in your real estate arsenal. Potential buyers will love the idea of reducing their energy costs in the long run and solar systems are quickly becoming a must-have amenity. Plus, it can also boost your property's value when it's time to put it on the market. Think of it like adding a cherry on top of a sundae, it's the extra sweet touch that makes all the difference.
When shopping for your new solar-powered abode, it's important to consider the size, age and quality of the solar system to decide how much value it adds to the home.
Don't worry, we know it sounds like a lot to think about. But with all the information in hand, you'll be able to make a confident decision on whether a solar-powered home is the right fit for you. And the best part? You'll be well on your way to energy freedom. How exciting is that? If you’re ready for energy freedom and are looking to install a solar system for your current house or expand your current solar system, check out SolarQuotes and make sure to include Solar Analytics!
- Understand the key points such as size and age of the solar system and how it will help with your electricity consumption.
- Set aside budget if you’re buying a house with an older solar system for maintenance.
- Sign-up for Solar Analytics’ 30-days free trial to ensure you’re always on top of your new solar system.