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Solar panels: Worth the investment?

By John Kirchner September 19, 2011

Considering adding solar panels to your home? To be sure, it can be a great way to reduce or perhaps even eliminate your household electricity costs, while also making a small dent in the amount of energy generated by less environmentally friendly methods. But that addition comes with a cost.

The question is whether that cost is a worthwhile investment. So how long might it take to recoup that investment? Well, our friends at Building Moxie dove into that very issue, with help from guest writer Brittany Mauriss. She explains that, for an “average-sized home,” a typical solar panel system could cost anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000, which could take anywhere from three to 10 years (or more) to recoup.

Of course, that’s simply an estimate. Factors such as the direction the panels face and the region in which your home is located will affect how much energy they generate and how much money you’ll save — or even make, if your panels generate more electricity than you use. has an interesting map that shows approximately how much energy you can generate depending on where in the United States you live.

Mauriss also points out the many tax credits that are available to homeowners to install solar panels. You can find information about federal tax credits on ENERGY STAR’s website, and don’t forget to check for additional credits from your state and local government.

[photo courtesy of CoCreatr via Flickr]