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Community and Q&A

Buying a house with solar panels?

sammyb123 | Posted in General Questions on

One of the three houses we are looking at purchasing has solar panels installed.
We are told the panels we’re installed 3 years ago and will save us a significant whack on our energy bills. The agent seems pretty clueless so I thought id ask on here for some independant advise. Is there anything I need to know before proceeding with this purchase?

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  1. MartinHolladay | | #1

    Q. "Is there anything I need to know before proceeding with this purchase?"

    A. My first question would be, "What is the rating of the PV array in watts or kilowatts?"

    My second question would be, "Does the local utility offer a net metering contract?"

    My third question would be, "Are there any signs that foliage (trees or bushes) partially shade the PV array, or threaten to shade the array with further growth?"

    My fourth question would be, "Is the PV array facing south (or nearly south)?"

  2. StuSid | | #2

    Many panels come with very long warranties (25yrs) that get passed along over the course of homeownership. Make sure you have access to that information if you were to ever have an issue.

    Understanding your utilities net metering procedures is helpful as well.

    Lastly, the condition of the roof underneath your panels is important. If that roof were to need to be replaced, all of the panels would need to be removed by a solar company and reinstalled afrerwards. On the flip side, those panels protect your roof and extend there life.

    Lastly, most solar systems have a monitoring app so make sure that information is passed on to you as well if you purchase this home. You will want access to that account so you can monitor production and operating status. With smart homes sellers should be passing on the account information of any app based appliances or monitors.

  3. nynick | | #3

    Get a copy of the utility bill for the last 12-24 months.
    You absolutely need to understand the net metering situation.
    Get a copy of the installation invoice and contract. There could be any number of contractural arrangements, financing involved with the system, who owns the panels, who gets the actual generating benefits and how, etc. The solar industry is chock full of a dizzying array (lol) of arrangements for buyers. You need to see that contract.

  4. matty_bram | | #4

    Buying a house with solar already saves you the bother of having them fitted – most of the cost is labour.

    Just make sure the system is MCS certified and has all the necessary paperwork including a G98 or G99 DNO.

    You’ll need the manufactures guarantees as the inverter and battery will be covered for 10 years and the panels 25.

    As it’s 3 years old it won’t have an FiT attached – but if it’s older it may, so check that too.

    See here for more info:

  5. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #5

    I would add a fifth question to the first four Martin posited:
    Do you OWN those solar panels?

    There are solar companies out there that lease the panels, in which case you don't own them. These leases usually tie in with net metering with the utilities in some way. Make sure you get the details so that you know what you're getting if you buy the house.

    I don't think there is much in the way of downside though if the house has solar panels already installed. The only potential negative I can think of is the increased difficulty of doing work on the roof if anything needs to be done. It's probably worth looking more closely at the roof under those solar panels just to be sure you know what you're getting into if the roof needs any work.


  6. Longstory | | #6

    We have just listed own home and we have had solar since 2016 with a behind the meter and battery addition in 2019. Here is what I prepared for our agent:

    1. Copy of the interconnection agreement with our regional utility (TVA). This provided a net metering agreement for 20 years and is transferrable to a new owner. The new owner has to sign the agreement to continue the contract and then set up a new contract with the local utility (we have a coop rural local utility)
    2. Commissioning agreement with our installer that has copies of the warranty documents for panels and inverters.
    3. Independent appraisal of property including the solar addendum, which in our case shows the value the solar adds to the property value.
    4. We have records and apps that show system performance available for several years.
    5. We own the system

    We have a ground mount system so no roof issues in our case, but so far we have had no issues with the solar creating any issues for the sale. Only added value.

  7. walta100 | | #7

    It is important to ask your questions via email so you have both the question and answers in writing. If find the answer incomplete or obfuscating ask aging without rephasing. The last thing you want is to find a lien on the house at closing or you are expected to take over the lease payments.

    1 “Do you own the solar system out right at this point in time or is the system leased or financed in any way” There are thousands of different lease, rental schemes. If they can’t give you a one word answer of yes the you need to get a copy if what ever agreement you are buying into.

    2 “Is there a net metering agreement in place and is it transferable”

    3 “Was an electrical permit issued when the system was install and will you provide a copy”


    1. Expert Member
      BILL WICHERS | | #8

      "3 “Was an electrical permit issued when the system was install and will you provide a copy”"

      I doubt anyone keeps a copy of the permit onhand. You might have a green tag somewhere though. It's easy to call the local municipality to ask about this kind of thing though, and they should be able to give a yes/no answer without too much trouble.


  8. Expert Member
    DCcontrarian | | #9

    Here in DC we have solar renewable energy credits -- SREC's -- that are worth about four times what the power is worth. They are often sold or traded away as part of the financing of a system.

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