New research into California home sales says that houses with installed solar panels are selling for a hefty premium over those that simply rely on the grid. There’s been hesitation among homeowners to install solar panels over worry that they might not make their initial investment back before they sell their house. This research says you don’t need to stay in one place to reap the benefits, you could actually make more money if you move. On average, homeowners invest about $5,000 in a new 3,100 watt system, while their homes sell for, on average, $17,000 more than their counterparts on the market.

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The research was conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and showed that on average homeowners are receiving $3.90 to $6.40 per watt of installed solar over their unsustainable counterparts with homes in the study averaging 3,100 watts of installed solar. “This is a sizeable effect,” noted Ryan Wiser, a scientist at Berkeley Lab and a co-author of this research. “This research might influence the decisions of homeowners considering installing a PV system and of home buyers considering buying a home with PV already installed. Even new home builders that are contemplating PV as a component of their homes can benefit from this research.”

California alone has about 1,000 megawatts (MW) of installed and grid connected solar panels and is about to reach 100,000 individual systems — 90% of those are residential. This study is the first to be completed on how solar panel installation affects the sale price of a home. The lab explored the sale prices of about 72,000 homes which went on the market from 2000 to 2009. The group at the Berkeley lab controlled for different issues that might affect the price — like market fluctuations — and found the solar effect was not small. They also discovered that brand new homes with solar arrays didn’t pull as large of a price as existing homes with similarly sized solar arrays. It was also shown that as your PV system ages, your premium goes down, but we’d think by that time you will have already made your cash back from all that free energy anyway.

Via Science Daily