Is Solar Worth It In Texas? Texas Solar Panels

Is solar worth it in Texas 2021?

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Are solar panels worth it in Texas 2021?

Is solar worth it in Texas?

As a general rule, solar is worth it in Texas. Incentives for solar panels such as the Texas State renewable energy property tax exemption, generous electricity buy-back rates and the Federal Solar Tax Rebate all help to make solar worth it in Texas. The average solar system pay-back time is 12.6 years.

Solar panel installations in Texas have skyrocketed over the past few years, but is it worth-while financially?

This post will present you with enough information to give you a shrewd idea if solar panels are worth your time and money.

Scroll on and we’ll answer these questions:

  • How much solar power will a Texas home need?
  • How does it work – installation detail?
  • What is the cost of solar panels in Texas?
  • What are the maintenance costs of a solar installation in Texas?
  • How much electricity can solar panels produce in Texas?
  • How many solar panels does an average Texas home require?

A solar panel installation is an innovative way to harness the power of Mother Nature and use it for your energy needs.

Page Contents

Are solar panels worth it in Texas?

This system will save you money on electricity, but also helps make a greener planet by reducing pollution because there’s no need to burn coal or natural gas as fuel sources anymore. First of all, let’s run through some basics:

Note: If you know all about solar panel installations, simply check out the Page Menu below and check out the solar statistics for Texas. 

What are the components of a solar electric PV system?

Is solar panels worth it for a Texas solar system?

How do grid-tie solar panels in Texas work?

A grid-tie system is the most common form of solar installation for a home. These installations need local permits to mount and also connect to the power grid, but your installer normally takes care of this bureaucracy by helping you obtain these necessary licenses as well as their cost will be included in the total price.

Equipment needed for a grid-tie solar panels in Texas

  1. Solar panels and roof mounting rails
  2. One or more solar string inverters (converts DC to AC)
  3. Cables and junction boxes
  4. Circuit breakers and junction boxes
  5. Net-metering equipment (measure power in and out of grid for consumer credits)
  6. Battery bank (if required for home energy storage)
How are wsolar panels mounted on a house roof?

Solar panels being mounted on aluminum rails – roof mount.

The article provides a quick, but concise overview of solar power systems for those who are in the market to install one.

The author gives you just enough information so that you can make informed decisions about what components work best with your home and take into account all factors such as climate and space availability.

The video below follows a fairly typical solar system installation over the course of 12 minutes. It documents everything from start to finish, which is helpful for those who want to know what lies ahead before having their own solar panels system installed.

 

The solar panels installed on our home have micro-inverters fitted rather than a central, or string inverters, which is a growing topology. An inverter converts the DC voltage generated by these panels into AC power needed for appliances in your house – every system needs them!

Micro-inverters do the power conversion at individual panels and are fixed to each one’s back plate. The majority of domestic installations use string inverters, which carry out DC/AC power conversion for several panels connected together, normally up to 10.

This arrangement is called a “string”, hence the name String Converter

Go to this page – inverters to learn more about how inverters work. This page goes into great detail about how a grid-tie residential solar system is designed, posted by our resident expert – designing a solar system.

Even if you leave it all to professional installers, it’s a great idea to understand what’s going on!

How long do home solar systems last on average?

The solar panels are the most durable part of a solar installation and typically have a manufacturer’s guarantee of 25 to 30 years. However, they will go on generating electricity long after that time period has ended-50 years or so, if you’re lucky!

The amount of power generated per year does gradually decrease at about 0.8% each year.

Solar panels are sold with a product warranty, which will guarantee the output of your system over a specified time. For instance, 90% production capacity after 10 years and 80% production capacity after 20 years.

Solar panel manufacturers also include an associated equipment warranty that protects you against solar equipment failures. For example, if an inverter becomes faulty within 5 years or completely going out in service.

The inverter is often the weakest link in any solar system. They typically come with a 10-15 year warranty, while panel-based microinverters and power optimizers have much longer life spans of up to 25 years – making them more reliable long term investments.

Micro-inverters are also more efficient at producing power in partially shady conditions.

Grid-tie solar system connection diagram

The image below gives an idea of the basic layout of the average solar panel installation:

Grid-tie solar system connection diagram

What components are need for a residential solar system?

The black arrows indicate the flow of DC voltage before AC conversion in the inverter, while the red arrows show how AC power flows. The green arrows represents the opposite current flow from the utility grid.

Special Note: The Net Meter in the top right hand corner shows current flow in both directions. This is one of the major selling points if grid-tie solar system – electricity produced at peak times gets fed back into the grid!

Home appliances takes power from the panels before drawing on grid power, but if there is cloud cover or underproduction due to a lack of sun light for example, it will automatically draw electricity from the electric company.

How does the solar federal tax credit work 2021?

What is a tax credit?

A tax credit is rebate system operated by the government whereby a certain percentage of your solar system cost can be offset against your IRS taxes the year after. It’s ‘dollar-for-dollar’, so if you have a rebate of $1000 and owe $5000, you only pay $4000.

Example: In 2021 the rebate is 26%. If a residential solar electric PV system costs $20000 the the tax rebate would be:

20000 x 26% = $5200 rebate against federal taxes

A solar PV system must be installed before December 31, 2019, to claim a 30% credit in force at that time. It decreased to 26% for systems installed in 2020 through 2021, and to 22% for systems installed in beginning 2022.

The tax credit expires starting in 2024 unless Congress renews it, which is likely given President Biden‘s commitment to renewables in the long term. There is no maximum amount that can be claimed.

Source: Federal Solar Tax Credits

The sunny state of Texas is the perfect place to make a solar investment. With no statewide programs, it might seem like you’re out of luck, but there are plenty of incentives available for those who want them.

For example, Austin Energy offers up to $2,500 in cash back as an incentive if you go green with your electricity needs and install solar panels on your home.

Austin Energy residential energy consumers can get a Value of Solar (VOS) credit at 9.7 cents/kWh if they generate their own electricity with solar panels on their roof!

CPS Energy is now offering one of the most generous solar incentive programs in Texas to its customers. For a limited time, CPS energy will pay $1.20 per watt for installing photovoltaic panels on your roof.

If you’re interested but not sure about which program best suits you or how much it’ll cost, just call their customer service line and they can walk through all of this with you step by step!

What are solar buy-back rates in Texas?

There are many electricity providers in Texas and since deregulation, homeowners are free to choose. Solar buy-back rates vary from the same as the retail price per unit to wholesale rates, which are obviously much less.

It’s important to check the detail of any solar buy-back plan, as there are also other constraints, such seasonal limitations.

Out of the companies with the better plans ATG, Chariot, Green Mountain and Reliant all have buy-back rates at retail rates.

MP2 buys back at wholesale prices and TXU offer less than the retail price, with restriction between May and January.

What is the average payback period for solar panels in Texas?

Texas homeowners can save hundreds of dollars a month on their electricity bills through the use of solar power.

By investing in your own system, it only takes an average payback period between 9.3 and 12.6 years for you to see all those savings back with interest!

How do you calculate payback period for solar panels in Texas?

A basic calculation can be done by dividing solar system installation costs (without tax credit and rebates) by the savings per year.

The first thing we need to know if how much sunshine falls on solar panels (irradiance) and we’ll use a website called Global Solar Atlas to find this information by specific location.

Are solar panels worth it in Houston, Texas?

Solar Payback Calculation For A 5kW Solar System In Houston, Texas (2021)

Time to payback solar panels in Houston, Tx

What is the average solar payback period Houston, Texas?

  • City: Houston, Texas
  • How big is the solar system?: 5kW
  • Solar installation capital cost = $13700 – 26% federal tax credit = $10138
  • Irradiance at Houston, Tx = 1552 Peak Sun Hours
  • Power produced by solar panels = 1552 x 5kw = 7760 kWhrs (kilowatt-hours)
  • Houston residential electricity cost per unit = 10.98 cents/kWh
  • Annual savings = solar production x elec cost = 7760 x 10.98 = $852
  • Solar payback period Houston, Texas = solar cost/yearly savings = 10138/852 = 11.9 years

The payback period could be less than this, as low as 9 to 10 years. Professional installers can give really accurate assessments based on historical data, the irradiance in your location and the combination of panel array orientation and tilt angle.

Does adding solar panels increase home value in Texas?

In recent years, homeowners have been able to get a pretty good return on their investment by installing solar panels.

A study from Zillow found that homes with solar had an $8,000 premium over other properties in Texas for example – which is not too shabby considering the average home price of just $200k!

There are many benefits to making the switch. The utility bills become cheaper, and there is an opportunity for future profit as well.

At a time when rates have been steadily increasing by 2.9% year-after-year on average, this can be seen as win-win situation.

Is solar power worth it in Texas – solar panel efficiency

There are many factors that affect how much electricity a solar panel can produce.

Some we know about and can control, such as the tilt angle at which it is facing or whether there’s shade from an obstacle like a tree; others will just happen naturally, for example if rain might occur on cloudy days.

  1. Irradiance (AKA peak-sun-hours). How much of the sun’s energy is available?
  2. Shading. Solar panel arrays should be installed in open locations, with no shading.
  3. Maintenance. Up to 10% output losses can be avoided with a regular cleaning program.
  4. Always install the best quality solar panels with a high efficiency.
  5. Orientation. Solar panel orientation should be directly South in the Northern Hemisphere.
  6. Tilt angle. An optimum angle of 60 degrees for fixed panels optimizes output.
  7. Heat. Ensure space between panels and mounts for air circulation.

What orientation is best for solar panels in the Texas area?

Orientation is an important factor when choosing where to place solar panels.

The best orientation in the Northern hemisphere would be pointing South, but don’t worry if your roof doesn’t have a slope facing that direction – installers are used to working with various orientations and can find ways around it.

Solar panels are often pointed in a South East or Southwest direction, but they can also be angled to point West or even East.

The only direction that should not have solar arrays towards is North, because the panels will never receive direct sunlight for the entire day.

When considering solar energy, it’s useful to know the different types of sunlight. Direct sunshine is best for generating electricity but diffuse sun rays also contribute a lot and can also be harnessed with other methods like mirrors or reflectors.

The direction doesn’t matter too much as long as there are enough hours in between sunrise and sunset when when direct and diffuse sunlight is present.

What is the best tilt angle for solar panels in Tx?

Correct title angle for Texas solar panels?

What angle is best for solar panels in Texas?

A solar panel that is fixed in place (i.e., cannot be adjusted to face the sun) should have its panels tilted at a 60 degree angle so as to maximize electricity production throughout all seasons of the year.

The tilt angle adjustment is an amazing feature that not all installations have. In the summer, you want to set it at latitude minus 15 degrees with a winter setting of latitude plus 15 degrees in order for your panels to be as efficient and productive during these seasons.

The following table illustrates the difference in output over 12 months for Houston, Texas when a tilt angle of 60 degrees is applied. The value is compared with the production when panels are mounted ‘flat’.

Irradiance values over 12 months for Houston, Tx – output Vs Tilt Angle

Insolation by month for Houston, Texas by month (kWh/m2/day - also are known as Peak-Sun-Hours)

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Flat

2.70

3.23

4.25

4.98

5.61

5.79

5.94

5.44

4.88

4

3.03

2.56

60 °

3.53

3.87

4.65

4.98

5.20

5.20

5.40

5.24

5.19

4.75

3.93

3.51

Solar panels, fixed according to roof orientation and tilt are generally more cost-effective than sun-tracking. The price per watt is lower by just adding more solar panels if more power is required, rather than using a system that tracks with the Sun’s movement throughout the day.

With the heat problem addressed by air gaps between panels and roofs, panel cleaning will maintain optimum energy production levels.

The amount of solar power generated in various locations varies depending on the level of insolation, or peak-sun-hours. This is a key consideration when sizing a system for your home’s energy needs because it dictates how large you should make your panels to produce enough electricity.

How to measure your home energy use in Texas

You might think you need to assess your energy consumption by assessing individual appliance consumption, but thankfully, that isn’t necessary because there are more effective ways of doing it!

Keeping track of your energy consumption can be difficult, as appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioning systems use motors that make it hard to assess individual usage due to their inherent surge current when cycling.

You have a choice when it comes to assessing your consumption. You can either look at last year’s utility bills, or request records from the provider yourself and analyze them.

The installer can calculate the size of solar system your need based on the peak sun hours of where you live and how many kilowatts per hour (kWh) are used.

Try the calculator to estimate the size of a possible solar system for your exact location in Texas below:

How many solar panels do I need for my home in Texas? Is solar worth it? Calculator

Typical sizes of solar panels for present-day installations tends to be between 225 and 375 watts. In the calculator below enter the panel size in kW, so 275 watts would be entered as 0.275 watts.

All solar systems have losses-PV losses. The calculator will allow for the losses that occur in solar electric PV systems due to heat, inverter losses and cable losses, etc.

How to calculate if solar panels are worth it

Using the solar data website Global Solar Atlas, enter the value of irradiance (insolation), AKA peak sun hours for your location and the calculator will determine the solar power and number of panels needed for your home’s energy consumption.

Note: This is a quick assessment only, and is no substitute for an estimate from a professional installer.

Major elements of cost for a solar panel installation project in Texas

Solar Panels

34%

Mounting

5%

Inverter(s)

10%

Labor

15%

Overheads/profit

33%

Permits & Inspections

3%

The cost of installing solar panels is expensive, but it’s possible to save a significant amount if you do the installation yourself.

According to our calculations, over half of the cost of an average install can be saved by doing the work solo with some help from friends and family for larger installations.

Some homeowners have gone down this path, and posted the results are on Youtube. It’s quite easy with careful planning, once you’ve set up your grid connections, and permits can be handled by a professional – it’s probably worth paying for someone else to navigate the bureaucracy.

What happens to my solar power in a blackout?

Grid-tie systems are disconnected automatically from the power grid when utility service is interrupted. This helps to avoid dangerous situations because of outages and repair teams working on sections of the system. If one or more solar panels remain connected, then these workers could be in danger during an outage – this condition has been coined ‘islanding’.

Is it worth getting solar batteries?

An off-grid solar system can’t use the grid (by definition) so must either rely on the solar panel output when the sun shines, or a bank of home energy storage batteries at night or on cloudy days.

A grid-tie system solar system can also battery back-up such as the Tesla Powerwall. Such an installation gives very good protection against power outages.

You don’t need to have a solar electric PV system installed in Texas or anywhere else to enjoy the security afford by a Powerwall – they can be connected into an ordinary home electrical system.

How do powerwalls work?

 

A Powerwall is a revolutionary invention that will transform the way we think about energy. It’s an innovative solar battery system for storing excess electricity generated during peak hours and using it to light up homes in off-peak times.

They have a 10 year warranty and up to 10 can be connected in tandem to give days of electrical power.

The Tesla Powerwall is an innovative way for homeowners to generate and store electricity. The device can detect when it needs charging, where the charge will come from (grid or solar), as well as switch into supply mode if needed.

Additionally, a person in control at a computer or with their mobile phone remotely connected via Wifi may choose whether they want to manually change system operating parameters without actually having physical access to it.

The Tesla Powerwall has generated a lot of interest in the days following Hurricane Harvey in Texas. The power outages were long lasting, and many residents have been looking into alternative sources of energy.

With its solar panels that are capable of storing up to 10 kilowatt-hours (kWh) worth or stored energy per day, it would only suffice basic needs over 12 hours, but combined with more batteries could keep your home going for several days at a reduced level of energy consumption.

With a big enough solar electric PV system and the right number of Powerwalls, it’s absolutely possible to do away with the power grid connection, if necessary, and go off-grid. (Off-grid solar system.)

What does residential solar cost in Texas?

The table following presents solar system cost per watt for Texas (correct at the time of writing, March  2021.) In Houston, Tx a typical installation costs $2.74 per watt when using a professional installer.

Typical Energy Consumption & Solar Electric PV Statistics For Texas

State

Average kWh used per month

Ave kWh used per day

Peak-sun-hours

Solar required for 100% energy used (kW)

Installation price Per Watt ($) 2021

Texas

1174

39

4.75

13.90

2.74

Is solar tracking worth it for Texas?

Electric PV production is a complex and challenging process, with the sun as its key component. The sun is constantly moving from East to West in the Northern hemisphere, changing the extent of it’s movements slightly each day and across the seasons.

A solar tracker detects and follows the sun’s movement, turning the solar array so that it’s surface is always perpendicular to the sun’s rays – this maximizes output watts.

The cost-effectiveness of a tracking system depends on individual installation parameters, but it often offers little benefit compared to the capital cost. The capital costs are high compared to the production gains that can easily be matched by adding just a few more panels..

How does solar tracking work?

The sun’s seasonal arc is like a pendulum. Every day it swings higher and lower, varying in height by tens of degrees across the seasons because its angle changes throughout Earth’s annual orbit around the Sun. These movements can be separated into two axes: horizontal and vertical.

An automatic sun-tracker keeps the solar panel array perpendicular to the sun’s rays. This way, an optimal angle of incidence is maintained at all times.

A solar power system that tracks the sun vertically is called a single axis tracker and one which tracks both axes is called a dual-axis tracker.

In general, the more expensive dual-axis tracking will recover more energy than its cheaper counterpart over time but an experienced installer can help you find out what’s best for your needs.

 

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Related Questions

When is solar worth it?

Solar power is worth it when the cost of installation can be paid off quickly by savings in energy. In Texas, average payback period is about 10 years and depends on local insolation values as well as buy-back costs for electricity.

How to work out if solar is worth it

It’s esy to work out if solar panels are worth it for your home. Kilowatt-hours of solar energy produced each year can be found by multiplying the power rating of your installation with annual peak sun hours.

Multiply the solar energy generated in kWh by the electricity kWh cost. Divide the capital cost the solar electric PV system by the cost of the annual electricity generation to find the payback time in years.

Are solar batteries worth it in Texas?

Solar batteries are a great investment if you want to live off-grid with no utility connection, or in an area that suffers frequent power outages.

Solar batteries charge up during daylight hours and provide electricity at night or when the grid is down.

Is solar worth it in Texas without net metering?

Grid-tie solar systems may not be worth it unless net metering is being used, unless home energy storage batteries are installed.

Net metering equipment sends over-production of power into the electricity grid and the account gets credits for it, typically at retail rates but in Texas some companies offer enhanced incentive buyback rates.

It’s very interesting because the credits can be redeemed in times of under-production of solar output, which obviously reduces how much needs to be drawn from the grid and hence reduce utility bills.

Resources:

Texas Power Companies With Solar Buyback Plans:

ATG
Chariot
Green Mountain
MP2
Reliant
TXU

Government Guide – Solar Tax Rebate:

Guide To Federal Solar Tax Rebate

Other resources of interest:

Houston Chronicle

Texas Gov.

PV Magazine.com

Texas Residential Solar Forum Facebook

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