The benefits of adding a photovoltaic solar system to your home are innumerable, but one that you always hear is that it adds value to your home. That should be obvious, as the systems are expensive and save tons of money, but the question of just how much value they add to your home has mostly remained unanswered, up until recently.
In conjunction with Sandia National Laboratories, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory have recently completed the largest study on the effect of solar photovoltaic systems on home values in history. Researchers more than doubled the amount of solar homes evaluated from previous studies, looking at around 22,000 home sales, 4,000 of which had PV systems. In order to open up the scope of the research, researchers also looked at eight states outside of California where solar is not as prevalent. Considering all these factors, the study is the most extensive of its kind.
The research determined that home buyers will pay about $4 per watt of installed PV, which averages out to about a $20,000 premium per home. This value is averaged based on information gathered from housing busts, booms, and recoveries, so if projections are accurate, it should remain consistent.
The next step towards achieving this standard of value for solar San Diego PV systems is for appraisers to be able to more accurately appraise homes with systems installed. Right now, there is no official way for real estate appraisers to know the value of a solar system. There is generally no record of the system on the property or assessors record, and communication between installers and assesors is limited. This leaves the assessors to guesswork, which can highly under, or overvalue the solar system.
Florida Real Estate assessor Sandra Adomatis realized this disconnect between assessors and solar installers 9 years ago, and hopes to close that gap in coming years. Adomatis has proposed several ideas for installers to be able to communicate value to home owners and assessors, including a sticker on the electrical box with relevant system information including system size, panel brand, monitoring equipment, etc. Solar installers who have seen the prototype of the sticker have agreed that the label would be helpful.
Adomatis has also been working with the SEIA to make these labels standard practice in the industry. According to one of SEIA's senior directors, they are already assembling a group of installers and financiers to work on this labeling issue. They had their first meeting in late 2016, and plan to continue to work on this initiative throughout 2017.
Ultimately, the responsibility of creating labels and making system information readily available falls on the installer. It makes sense for companies who are truly looking out for their customers; as if the company goes out of business, the customer will still have relevant system information moving forward. Hopefully, there will be a standard label that all companies will have to use in the future. What remains evidently clear is that solar will always raise the value of your home: but the question remains as to how much.