Solar panels are a long-term investment. When homeowners consider investing in a solar energy system, they often focus on the substantial savings they’ll enjoy on their electricity bills.
But another important benefit to consider is the effect of solar on their home’s resale value.
The good news: Study after study has found that solar increases home resale prices and makes homes easier to sell. So even if you move a few years after having solar installed, you will likely recoup your investment when you sell your home.
Studies on Solar’s Resale Value
Below, we’ll examine four large-scale studies that evaluated solar’s impact on home sales:
- A 2015 study by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories found that residential solar energy systems increase home values by $3.50-$4.00 per watt (That’s $20,000 for an average 5,000-watt system).
- A 2022 study by Zillow revealed that sustainable and energy-efficient homes sell faster.
- A 2019 study by Zillow found that solar increases residential property values by 3-4%.
- A 2013 study by the Appraisal Institute found that homes with solar panels “almost always” sell faster than those without.
The California Impact
Here in California, our electricity rates are some of the highest in the nation. Unfortunately, these rates continue to rise due to shareholder-driven utility decisions. Solar energy helps homeowners stabilize their energy costs, driving solar’s popularity.
Plus, solar installation is mandated for new homes built in the state. So if you’re looking to buy a newly-built home in California, know that you can expect to benefit from a solar energy system.
The increase in the number of homes with solar has allowed more institutions to study solar’s impact. Let’s dive into the four major studies regarding solar’s impact on home value in California.
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab: Solar Increases Home Value by $12,000+
The largest-scale study on solar’s impact on home values to date was performed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s esteemed Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. In this 2015 study, researchers analyzed home resale prices for nearly 23,000 properties.
They concluded that buyers pay a premium for homes with solar electricity systems. Specifically, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems increased home values by $3.50-$4.00 per watt.
The range represented the variance in different states’ markets. California was at the high end, with solar increasing property values on average by $4.00 per watt. Below you’ll find the expected home value increase for typical solar system sizes:
The study found that this increase in home sale prices was consistent across different housing markets and home types.
Zillow: Solar Increases Home Values by 4.1%—And Sells Homes Faster
In 2022, online real estate marketplace Zillow released its data-backed list of the top 7 home trends for 2022. Among these was sustainability.
In fact, Zillow revealed that home listings with descriptions mentioning “eco,” “energy efficient,” or similar terms sell more than two days sooner than those without.
This comes after the 2019 Zillow analysis which found that solar increased home values by 3-4%. Zillow compared similar homes, some with solar panels and some without, across the country.
The percentage of increase varies by market, with 4.1% representing the national average. Los Angeles came in at a 3.6% increase, and San Francisco at 4.4%. No market studied saw a decrease in home values due to solar.
This study confirmed the reason why solar panels increase home values: “More than 80% of home buyers say energy-efficient features are important, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report.”
Buyers are increasingly willing to pay more for a home with energy-efficient equipment and systems. This is for two primary reasons:
- Buyers know solar will help them save on their energy bills in the long run.
- Buyers (especially younger buyers, Zillow notes) want home features that reflect their values.
Appraisal Institutes: Homes with Solar Sell Faster
There’s more good news for solar panel owners and prospective owners. The Appraisal Institute’s 2013 study concluded that most homes with solar sell faster than those without.
“The nation’s largest professional association of real estate appraisers today announced that solar photovoltaic systems . . . almost always decrease marketing time of single-family homes,” stated the Appraisal Institute (AI) in a press release.
A California Solar Installer’s Perspective
Based on our team’s discussions with our customers, the trend of solar reducing sell time has only strengthened in recent years.
Not long ago, homebuyers were cautious about buying a home with solar because it was unfamiliar.
Today, they look for homes with solar. Zillow’s findings on the importance of energy-efficiency features to homebuyers partially explain this trend.
Buy, Don't Lease
Note that all of these studies examined homes where the owners had owned their solar energy systems. The systems were bought, with or without a loan, and thus would be owned free and clear by the homebuyers.
On the other hand, leased solar energy systems, are often considered less desirable by homebuyers. The original owners do not own the solar—the leasing company does. And often, the new owner is expected to assume the remainder of what is usually a 20-year lease.
For a faster home sale and higher selling price, buy your solar panels instead of leasing them.
Does Solar Increase Home Value in California?
In short: Yes, solar absolutely increases home values in California. It also helps homes sell more quickly.
So if you’re selling your house with solar, or are considering solar but were concerned about recouping your investment, rest easy. Solar provides:
- Lower electricity costs
- More energy independence
- Better sustainability
And now you can add “a higher home resale value” to that list.
For answers to your 7 most pressing questions about solar, download our free ebook now: