Investment. Savings. These words and more are what draw people into the idea of installing solar panels. It’s hard to turn down the idea of leaving your old way of paying unreliable, astronomical bills. In addition to helping the environment, the low price tag of solar panels is alluring and sometimes too good to pass up.

So, is it really everything it is advertised to be? Can solar panels eliminate electric bills?

The short answer: Yes.

While they are an expensive investment up front, solar panels can convert 100% of your energy use into solar energy, which will save you a lot of money over the course of the 25-30 years that they will be guaranteed to work.

However, the fact that solar panels can eliminate your electric bill doesn’t mean that you have a complete reprieve from a financial commitment. There are different factors and considerations you should take into account before you start calling solar companies and (possibly) taking out loans.

Energy Sage reports that the average household has the possibility to save between $10,000 and $30,000 over the lifetime of a solar panel system. That, of course, depends on how you pay for the system and if you own it.

How Do You Pay For Your Solar Panel System?

You can get a loan for just about anything and solar panel systems are no different. Most people don’t have $10,000-25,000, the cost of a solar panel system according to the Center for Sustainable Energy, on hand, or even in savings, which means that you need to buy your solar panels on credit, through a loan, from a lease or a PPA.

If you own your solar panels, you have the option to eliminate your electric bills or supplement them. This would be your choice but it would also depend on your budget. If you have the upfront investment, you can eliminate your electric bills. If you pay for your solar panel system outright, you can save a lot more money a lot faster, without having to pay any interest and taking advantage of solar tax credits.

If you lease your solar panels or get a PPA loan, you will likely be eliminating your electric bills but you will also have a lease payment to make, in addition to your energy bill. (Remember, solar is cheap but it isn’t free. There are still energy costs associated with it.)

Counting the Cost

To eliminate your electric bill, you need to make an investment; whether it is one lump sum or loan payments broken down between 5 and 20 years you are still spending that money. So, before you sign up for solar make sure your overall cost is actually going to save you money, not just the cost that is on your bill every month. Solar energy is a business transaction, so you have to think about your overhead (the cost of your solar panels) as well as the savings in energy to get an accurate reading of your savings.

Why You Might Not Be Absolutely Eliminating Your Electric Bills

Even though you might want to eliminate your electric bills, you might not be clearing all your electric bills with your current system. After all, you are still connected to the grid and thus, you still have the possibility of receiving a traditional electric bill if you use the company’s power. 

If you are intending to eliminate your electric bill, but you are still receiving a balance every month, here are the most common reasons:

  • Your home is using too much power and your system cannot handle it: Most people are trained to just pay our bills; so we rarely look at the amount of energy we use. However, when you are looking to eliminate your electric bills, the amount of energy consumed is the main factor in deciding how powerful your solar panel system needs to be. If your system is already installed, the easiest solution is to cut down on your energy use. 
  • There is something wrong with your system: Your system could be dirty or it could be installed incorrectly. 
  • You are reading the meter wrong: This is nothing to be ashamed of; again, many of us are not used to reading a meter. This seems small but it is an important difference between having solar power and relying on the grid. When you have solar, you become more self-sufficient and that includes understanding how your system works. The good news is that this is an easy fix and there is nothing wrong with your system (or your energy use). If this is the issue, all you need to do is to call the installation company and ask for a lesson on how to read your meter.

In summation, it is possible for solar panels to eliminate electric bills. However, there are other factors at play that can sometimes have you trading one bill for another. Granted, there are still  savings associated with the overall cost of the solar panels especially once your solar panels are paid off. Therefore, it is crucial for you to weigh your options and conduct thorough research to find out if solar panels are the right solution for your lifestyle and needs.