A new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that houses with rooftop solar panels fetch higher prices than comparable homes without them.
The extra home value, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, more than covers the cost of installing the panels, with bigger arrays bringing higher premiums. Buyers also prefer newer systems; the amount an array adds to a home’s value decreases in older photovoltaic (PV) panels.
“The take-away here is the market is showing that PV is valued by home buyers,” Ben Hoen, the study’s lead author and staff research associate at the laboratory, told the Chronicle. “There could be a green cachet for the PV system that would be over and above the expected price.”
The study found that a home’s value increased about $5,900 for each kilowatt a system can generate — most home systems generate between two and five.
Regarding the effect of a system’s age on home value, the study found that while electricity production from silicon solar panels declines by less than 1 percent each year, premiums dropped about 9 percent annually.
“They might be perceived as older technology, even if they’re still producing electricity at the expected rate,” Hoen told the Chronicle.
The study, called “Exploring California PV Home Premiums,” looked at sales data from 1,894 solar-equipped homes and 70,425 comparable non-solar homes sold in California from 2000 through 2009. According to the Chronicle, it builds on a study released by the lab in 2011 that noted the premium from solar panels but didn’t explore it in as much depth.
Hoen said that that the premium found by the study is not absolute; some homeowners may get more while others get less.
“We do not have that level of precision down to a single dollar,” he told the newspaper. “An individual home is going to have its own, individual premium for PV.”
Hoen said he and his fellow researchers plan to release further updates from multiple states, using more recent sales figures.
The solar market has changed quite a bit since 2009. For example, the cost of installing a home solar system, as indicated by statistics from the state, has gone down from $10.73 per watt in 2009 to $5.71 per watt this year, the newspaper said. And most homeowners are now choosing to lease panels rather than buy them outright—a phenomenon Hoen told the Chronicle that researchers will include in the study’s next update.
Real estate appraisers have had trouble assessing the value of home solar systems. But Hoen said the study’s results mostly conformed to an appraisal tool called PV Value, developed by Sandia National Laboratories and the Energy Sense Finance consulting firm.
“Valuing homes with green technologies of various kinds is becoming more common,” he told the Chronicle. “It’s not a process that happens overnight, but it is happening.”