Solar Panels

I am trying to get in the habit of posting early in the week, and I was just reading an article that got me thinking.

The author was discussing the recent trend of solar panels becoming customary on new home builds around the country. My first thought was, "Of course, if around the country means "California." 

All skepticism aside, this got the gears rolling in my head. I have been looking at properties to rehab over the last couple of months, and I have poured over different kitchen designs, landscape architecture, and the conversion of half baths to full. One thing that I haven't given much thought to: solar panels.  

There are certainly benefits to installing panels. New designs allow them to be integrated seamlessly into the roof of a home, the costs of installation are going down each year, and they can certainly help lower energy costs. However, I think the biggest benefit is that they add a certain amount of sex appeal to a home. In an age of green "this" and hybrid "that", it would be enjoyable to tell your friends and family, "Oh yeah, we actually produce about $150 a month of our own electricity." 

However, despite the price gradually decreasing, panels are still very expensive. With installation costs factored in, an average setup would take 5 years or so to earn back what you spent. If you don't plan on staying in the home at least 7-10 years, it really would not be worth it. Plus, if you are rehabbing a home, are you really going to recoup the money spent on panels at the sale of the home. Of course not. You might be able to recoup 40-50% of what you spent, but not much more.

I will put it to you. Would you install solar panels, if so under what conditions? Let's hear it folks!