Updated 4 weeks ago

10 facts about solar energy you may not know

Written by Jamie Smith , Edited by Catherine Lane

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The solar industry has grown and changed quite a bit over the last decade. Solar panel systems are currently the cheapest they’ve ever been, and solar panel installations are increasing on both the residential and utility scales. 

Despite this, there are some solar energy facts that people don’t typically know. We’ve compiled a list of these lesser-known facts about solar energy so you can learn a little more about the most abundant energy source on the planet! 

1. Solar is a clean, renewable energy source

Solar energy is a renewable resource, meaning that using it doesn't deplete the source. Think about it – when the sun doesn't get weaker every day it rises.

Not only is it renewable, but solar energy is also clean energy. Generating solar energy doesn't emit harmful greenhouse gases like energy derived from fossil fuels.

2. The price of solar has dropped over 60% in the last decade

You heard that right – the price of solar has dropped significantly over the last ten years. 

In 2010, the average solar system would have cost about $7.53 per watt! That means a 6 kilowatt (kW) system back then would have run you about $45,180 before any incentives. 

Now in 2024, the national average cost of solar is about $3.00 per watt installed. A typical solar installation costs between $16,500 and $21,000 before incentives – less than half of what it was over a decade ago. 

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3. The U.S. solar market grew by 51% in 2023

In terms of the amount installed, 2023 was the solar industry’s biggest year by far. 

According to data from the 2023 U.S. Solar Market Insight report, there were 32.4 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity installed across all sectors, a 51% increase in capacity from 2022. For home solar installations specifically, solar grew by 12%. 

A large portion of this growth was due to a surge of installations in California. Residents were installing to take advantage of the state’s net metering rules before NEM 3.0 took over in April of that year.

4. Solar panels work in cold, snowy states

The common misconception about rooftop solar is that they provide the best results in hot, sunny states. This isn’t entirely true.

While solar panels do need sun for the best results, they can still generate electricity on cloudy days. Believe it or not, the ideal conditions for solar panels are cold sunny days. So, states with cold winters can still utilize solar panels and still see significant savings.

In fact, some of the best states for home solar are ones that don’t get the most sunshine! The payback period in a colder state like Massachusetts can be as short as five years - while a warmer state like Florida could take 10 years or more!  

5. Solar increases the value of a home

Solar panels have the potential to increase your home’s property value. In a 2019 study conducted by Zillow, it was revealed that homes with solar panels sold for 4.1% more on average than similar homes without them.

Solar panels can reduce your electricity bills, among many other benefits – making for a desirable investment for prospective homebuyers.

Disclaimer! Solar panels purchased through a solar lease or power-purchase agreement (PPA) might actually make the selling process harder due to buyers being less likely to want to take on a solar contract.

6. Solar battery storage makes solar panels more reliable

One of the biggest disadvantages of solar energy is that it's an intermittent resource. The sun isn't always shining, so solar panels can't generate electricity at all times. But, solar batteries solve that problem by storing solar energy for use later!

Solar battery storage is more popular than ever! According to data from our 2022 Solar Industry Survey, 21% of solar jobs were paired with energy storage in 2022, and 5% of jobs consisted of adding batteries to existing solar installations. 

The popularity of battery storage is expected to rise in the near future due to more restrictions on net metering, increasing utility costs, and more frequent grid outages.

7. Installing solar panels can save you money on your taxes

The federal solar tax credit is currently the best incentive for homeowners to go solar in the U.S. If you are a homeowner with taxable income, you can be eligible to receive a tax credit equal to 30% of your total solar installation. 

But – this incentive won’t last forever. As stated in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the tax credit will be worth 30% until 2032. Through 2033, it will drop down in value to 26%, then 22% through 2034, and will expire completely in 2035. 

8. Residential installers are offering more than just solar panels

With the growing popularity of battery storage and electric vehicles, the solar industry isn’t just about solar anymore. 

A key statistic in our 2022 Solar Industry Survey found that 81% of residential installers reported offering energy storage installations, 67% offered EV charger installation, and 63% provided both battery and EV charger installation. 

9. Solar is a great investment

With the savings accumulated on your monthly electricity bills, residential solar systems can pay for themselves in just a few years. In some cases, solar provides a better return on investment than something like an index fund. 

The average payback period for a home solar installation is about 10 years. Solar is built to have a lifespan of 25 years or more – once you see a full return on your investment, you’re in the green for years to come.

10. Getting multiple solar quotes gets you the best price

Going solar is a huge decision that requires a lot of careful thought and planning. To get the best quality solar installation and the best price possible, you should get multiple solar quotes to compare. By getting at least three solar quotes, you can get a better idea of what solar company is right for you and what solar system makes the most sense for your home.

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Written by Jamie Smith Content Specialist

Jamie is a Content Writer and researcher at SolarReviews. A recent graduate of La Salle University in Philadelphia, Jamie earned her B.S. in communications with a concentration in journalism, mass media, and public relations. Jamie has previously worked at a marketing company where she had the opportunity to highlight and promote small business owners through long-form stories and interviews. With a deep-rooted passion for creativity, Jamie stri...

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