Solar energy is showing some truly inspirational signs in Austin Texas. In the Mueller Development, an Austin sustainable community built at the old municipal airport, 277 homeowners have installed solar panels on their home. This is the highest concentration of solar panel systems, by homeowners, in the entire U.S.
In fact, Google Sunroof, a project designed to calculate the current and future use of solar power all over the world, estimates that 85% of Austin rooftops are capable of holding solar panels. If all of those homes were to install solar panels, they could produce over 5.5 million kWh of energy. That’s one heck of a lot of light bulbs and cell phone charges.
If you have considered outfitting your home with a solar panel system, we have put together the Ultimate guide in going solar and what it entails.
Location and its Relationship to Energy
Austin is a well-suited location for solar panel installation given its nearly 230 days of sunshine per year. It is a drier climate and receives and an average of “0” inches of snowfall per year. You will need plenty of sunshine to make solar energy a reality for your home but with stats like those, you are already situated well.
Austin has also been named a Solar America City by the Department of Energy since 2007. The city has a comprehensive and long-term commitment to solar energy that has been growing since the 1980s. The city has been on this path to becoming solar friendly, both for homeowners and businesses, with the goal of adding 100 MW by the year 2020.
Standard energy in Austin (August of 2018) was 11.44¢ per kWh. In that same month, an average household was using 1,620 kWh. This made the average energy bill come in around $185. Austin has fairly cheap energy by comparison to the rest of the US. Energy Analysts estimate that an Austin home with solar power averages 2.35-2.725¢/kWh.
Quick Facts About Going Solar in Austin Texas
- One Block Off the Grid estimates that solar panels can bring you thousands of dollars in energy savings over the lifetime (or longer) of your solar panels.
- You will begin saving money from the first month you install your solar panels, meaning you will not have to wait for a return to “kick in.”
- Installation of solar panels, especially in Austin, is seen as a true home value add. A home with solar panel systems
havenow been proven in various studies to reveal they get a premium sale price
- Going solar is proven to be a good environmental choice with lasting sustainable impact. Not only will you personally save money, but you will be helping to lower your overall carbon footprint.
- Energy independence is the main goal for many people who chose to go solar. You will have peace of mind of being able to produce energy but that decision also impacts the greater energy industry. Your decision for solar also contributes to demanding less foreign oil.
- Solar energy is easy at its foundation. While the process can sound overwhelming, considering all the information you can find about solar energy, solar installation is not complicated.
- Stay on the grid and sell your energy back. When you install solar panels you will still be connected to your city power. You will want this option as you can sell the energy back to the power company and even see a rollover in how much energy you make.
How to Go Solar in Austin Texas
There is a straightforward process for installing a solar panel system into your home. We do not suggest that you tackle installation yourself unless you have a family member who is a professional solar panel installer. The process usually takes a few weeks, depending on your time frame, and the actual installation will likely only take a day. Here is a breakdown of the solar panel installation process.
- Contact Encōr Solar and schedule a site visit. During this site visiting your professional installer will be measuring your home, evaluating your roof, learning about your energy use and much more. These steps will ensure you get the right kind of system for your home.
- Choose the right solar panel system. After your installer has evaluated your home and what you will need, you will sit down together to determine the right systems for your home and energy use. You will learn more about the installation and equipment needed to go solar and get a first look at how many panels you’ll be installing and where they will be going.
- Regulatory approvals and paperwork. We will be able to help you through the regulatory paperwork required to get your home approved for a solar panel system. This isn’t hard per se but does require details that you will not want to miss in the process.
- Wait for approvals and order materials. As you await the approvals of a solar panel system from the city and regulatory agencies, you will be working with us to order the right equipment (more on that below.)
- Installation day. Your installation day will be exciting and your home will be a flood of busy work. We will be installing your solar panels on your roof (or designated space) along with all the wiring and equipment.
Solar panels in Austin – Installation Costs
Solar panel installation costs in Austin have been dropping over the past years. Combine this with the tax incentives offered to the homeowner for installing solar, and it all adds up to a great value. In 2017, the average cost of solar panels in Austin was $3.22 per watt.
An average home will have a 5000 kW system installed which equates to a $16,100 solar panel system. Now before you let that number scare you away from living a solar-powered lifestyle, you should know that the tax incentives of installing solar power energy can significantly impact that price point. Solar panel installation is considered an investment, and therefore, subject to an investment tax credit. This tax credit is available to both residential and commercial property owners. In 2017 the average homeowner saved almost $5,000 on their solar panel system due to these tax incentives. This tax incentive won’t last forever however as Congress has placed a time limit on this as follows:
2016 – 2019: The Tax Incentive will be 30% of the total cost of the system.
2020: Those who install in the year 2020 will receive at 26% tax credit.
2021: Installation of a solar panel system in 2021 will see a 22% tax credit.
2022 – onwards: There will be no residential tax credit available and commercial business can take a 10% tax credit.
As you can see, for homeowners, the clock is ticking to see an Investment Tax Credit for their solar panel systems.
Solar Power in Austin Texas – Cash, Solar Loans
With an increase in popularity of going solar, the industry is seeing an emergence of financial options to help those who want to take the solar leap. There are a number of ways to pay for a solar panel system, here are a few financial options broken down to help you.
- Pay in Cash – Just as in most investments, what you can pay for in cash means a faster return on your investment.
- Pay with a Solar Loan – There are a number of financial institutions making solar a reality by offering solar panel specific loans. We are happy to direct you if you need help with this
Solar in Austin Texas – The Equipment
Installing a solar panel system is actually a pretty basic setup. In fact, there are only four major pieces of equipment to make the project come to life. We have broken this down below so you can get familiar with the equipment.
- Solar Panels. No big surprise there but the number of panels will be totally determined based on your rooftop and energy requirements. Solar panels are made of six different types of materials and technologies. Silicone cells, a metal frame, glass, common 12-volt wiring, bus wire, and plexiglass.
- Solar Batteries. Solar batteries are
differentkind of deep cell battery designed to be charged, depleted, and recharged over and over again. Yes, you need batteries to use the energy you made at the times the sun isn’t shining like evening and heavy overcast days.
- Charge Controller. The charge controller is designed for the protection of your batteries. Solar energy is powerful stuff, and without the charge controller, you risk damaging your batteries.
- Inverter. You might know the basics of inverters as they have a place in larger RVs and Motor
yachts. An inverter will help you turn lower volt DC power into higher volt AC power that you are likely most familiar with at home.
Here at Encōr Solar, we know that making a solar panel purchase will require plenty of research and assurance. If you have any questions about the information we have provided in this guide, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would be happy to walk you through the process and help you go solar in Austin Texas.