Solar Panels Boost Home Values

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"Study shows solar panels pay for themselves in resale value; some homeowners even see profits."

Shell out the money to install solar panels on your home, and you'll probably recoup that investment when it comes time to sell the house.

You may even make a little profit.

A study to be released today by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that solar boosts the resale value of homes, both new and old.

The researchers analyzed the sales of about 2,000 solar homes in California from 2000 through mid-2009 and compared the prices to those of 70,000 comparable houses without solar. On average, a solar system added about $5.50 per watt to a home's resale value. For a home with a typical 3.1-kilowatt solar system, that represents an extra $17,000 above the cost of a comparable, nonsolar home.

During the same period, the study found that a typical residential solar system cost about $5 per watt.

"On average, folks have effectively got out of the home sale the same value or the comparable value that they put in," said Ryan Wiser, one of the report's authors. That's in addition to saving on their electricity bills.

Many homeowners did better than break even. People who installed panels on pre-existing homes increased the resale price by more than $6 per watt, on average. In contrast, solar systems only added $2.30 to $2.60 per watt to the sale price of new homes built with solar included.

The study's authors did not try to find the reason for that difference. But Wiser, a staff scientist at the lab, said it could be a matter of motivation. Homeowners who pay to install solar on an pre-existing house are keenly aware of the cost and don't want to lose their investment.

The study will be welcome news to solar installation companies.

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