The future of solar in San Antonio is looking brighter according to the latest report by the Environment Texas Research and Policy Center. The city ranks 6th in the nation in energy capacity and output according to the report. San Antonio solar panel systems produced 37% more energy in 2017 than they did the year prior.
In January of 2019, Google Sunroof (a solar panel research and development program) calculated there are about 1.2k solar installations in San Antonio, on both residential and commercial buildings. The project estimates an additional 95% of rooftops in San Antonio are primed for solar panel installations.
There are more reasons as to why San Antonio is an excellent location for solar energy. On average, the city sees almost 225 days of sunshine per year making it perfectly suited for solar power. San Antonio is also committed to the future of solar power with a designated sustainability office that produces regular reporting on the impact of solar energy within the city. Furthermore, the solar industry in San Antonio is also providing jobs to local residents and attracting solar companies to the area. In Texas alone, the 2017 census estimated there were over 8,800 solar-related jobs in Texas, with many of those in San Antonio.
Now that you understand why solar in San Antonio is gaining in popularity, let’s investigate what it’s like to live in a home powered by the sun.
Grid Power vs. Solar Panel Power in San Antonio
Chances are, you’re not just looking to go solar to do your part in saving the planet. If you’re like many people, you want to decrease your monthly energy bills and maybe even earn credits for the energy your solar panel system makes. Yes?
Once you get a solar panel system, you can sell back the energy you’re not using in your home to CPS (San Antonio’s energy provider.) CPS has made massive investments to renewable energies with their New Energy Economy (NEE) initiative and partners. In fact, the company has committed to adding at least 900 jobs by the end of 2019 and has already produced more than $1-billion in annual economic impact.
CPS’s net metering program will allow you to get credit for each kWh you don’t use. An average homeowner in San Antonio pays $70-80/month (Winter) and $120-155/month (Summer.) The average energy bill runs about $1245.00 annually.
This compares with a solar panel system where homeowners pay $8.75/month on average, which is the minimum payment to be hooked to the grid (so you can sell your energy back to CPS.) So in effect, you can wipe out your electricity cost and save over $1000 a year after just the first year of using solar panels.
The Cost of Solar Panels in San Antonio
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that a San Antonio home will need a 7.7 kW solar panel system to provide home energy on an average day. A fully installed solar panel system costs between $19,000 to $22,000 in San Antonio after a CPS rebate program.
Other factors can bring that cost down. CPS offers various equipment rebates if you decide to use their equipment for install. Also, let’s not forget about the federal tax credit. While this is not a rebate, the 30% tax credit can significantly lower your solar system cost, and installation, to closer to $15,000.
On another note, lawmakers in Texas decided that homeowners can get a tax exemption for property tax appraisals, so you’re not paying more money on your property taxes. Solar panels can increase the value of your property.
Options to Purchase a Solar Panel System in San Antonio
There are a few different ways to purchase solar panels in San Antonio. We have broken these down below to help you choose the right option for your financial situation.
- Cash – As with most things, cash is almost always the best choice when making this kind of investment. We estimate (in using the price-points above) you could have your solar panel system break even at year 13.
- Solar Loan – With the rise in popularity in going solar, lending companies have come to the financial table with solar panel system loans. This option is almost as good as paying with cash since most of these loans are no money down and still allow you to qualify for the federal tax credit. In this financial structure, you could break even at year 15 (or sooner) depending on your overall solar price-point.
- Power Purchase Agreements – Some San Antonio builders, companies, and even CPS offer what are called PPA’s. These kinds of agreements allow you to go solar and reap the benefits of a low to no electricity bill, but you will not own your solar panel system. Think of this as more of a lease or rent type of arrangement.
Installing Solar in San Antonio Homes
The process of installing solar may seem a bit overwhelming but here is what you need to know about how the process works and what to expect. This entire process typically takes between 4-6 weeks
- Hire Your Solar Installer – After you connect with your ideal solar panel partner, they will schedule a time to come to your home for an evaluation. This appointment will help the installer understand what will be needed to install solar for your home and to better understand your energy usage.
- Receive your Solar Quote – After your evaluation, you will receive a quote for your solar panel system so you can choose which kind of financial option you’d like to go with.
- Order your Solar Panel Equipment – You and your installer will then move forward with ordering the equipment needed to install your system.
- Permitting and Regulations – Your installer will help you navigate any paperwork you will need to be in compliance with city/state regulations and laws.
- Installation Day – Finally the day will arrive for your solar panel installation. This typically only requires one day of labor, depending on your home’s footprint and energy needs.
Equipment Needed to go Solar in San Antonio
Technology for renewable energy might lead you into thinking that a lot of equipment is necessary. The truth is, going solar doesn’t require a lot of materials or complex elements. Below you will find an outline of the standard equipment used in a typical solar panel system installation.
- Solar Panels – This might be the most familiar component of a solar panel system. These panels are a silicone based product filled with small cells that will capture the sun’s energy. They have a life expectancy of approximately 25-30 years. Even better, most solar panels come with a 20-25 year warranty.
- Solar Batteries – This might be one of the more complex decisions to make when going solar. There are a variety of options in solar batteries that depend on capacity, depth of discharge, their efficiency, and warranty. These batteries are designed to be charged and discharge regularly. Your installer will be able to help you sort out which type will be best for you and your home.
- Solar Inverter – A solar inverter will be needed to ensure you can take the sun’s energy and convert it into a “wave” format that can be used in your home. For example, AC power for your TV or DC power which is used by many appliances.
- Charge Controller – This might be the least familiar of the equipment you’ll come to know about in a solar power installation. A charge controller is a smaller, but critical piece of equipment, that is designed to protect your solar equipment (batteries mostly) from the sun’s intense power.
Your Environmental Impact When Going Solar in San Antonio
Are you curious about how going solar can impact your life and the lives of others? Take a look at how your decision to go solar can make (and inspire) change around you.
- Property Value – A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab revealed that homes with solar panels are priced higher and sell higher. Not only will you save money by going solar, but you’ll also be rewarded if you decide to sell your home.
- Energy Rate Hikes – By taking the leap into solar, you will no longer be at the mercy of rising energy costs. These rates fluctuate all the time, often without much warning, so going solar will completely eliminate that issue.
- Energy Bills – Solar panels are designed to massively decrease (if not eliminate altogether) your electric bills. From day one, you will start to save on your electric cost and those savings will increase year after year.
- Fuels Dependency – Your decision to go solar will help the U.S. to be less dependent on foreign oil. You will also inspire others to make the same choices (or similar ones) which will have an even more significant impact. Sustainable living is contagious.
- Environment – Solar energy is clean and just plain better for the environment. Your small home with solar power can eliminate three-to-four tons of carbon emissions from the air on an annual basis.
We hope you found this ultimate guide to going solar in San Antonio helpful and informative. With over 250k people working in solar energy nationwide, and a $17 billion U.S. solar industry, it is safe to say that solar power will continue to grow and see new innovation for decades to come.