There’s no shortage of sunshine in Phoenix, so why not take advantage of it? For many homeowners in Arizona, switching to solar energy is both a sound investment and an easy way to reduce the environmental impact of your day-to-day life. What’s more, the state government recognizes the net positives in encouraging residents to install solar panels, so they’ve incentivized the switch to solar energy with tax credits and rebates.
In fact, you may notice that solar panels seem more prevalent here than in other states. That’s because they are comparatively cheaper in Arizona, with residents earning a return on investment within seven years for installing solar panels in Arizona. Pair that with the fact that Arizona was recently recognized as the U.S. state with the highest solar capacity per capita by the The Environmental Arizona Research Policy Center newly, and it’s no wonder residents are taking advantage of the benefits of renewable energy.
All in all, solar panel systems can be a lucrative and environmentally conscious alternative to traditional utility services. Bonus: they increase the value of your home, set you up with a fixed energy cost, and grant you eligibility for a variety of tax breaks. Before you rush off to the nearest Phoenix solar panel installer, however, you’ll need to consider a few factors, such as size of your roof, the amount of shaded area atop said roof, and the best solar panels to suit your needs.
Finding the best solar panels in Phoenix can be a daunting task, so we at Freshome spent hours evaluating the vendors, installers, and local incentives to help you make an informed decision. This guide gives you a crash course in what you need to know to install solar panels in Phoenix.
Freshome’s Top Solar Panel Installers in Phoenix
Given Arizona’s commitment to solar energy, it makes sense that the Phoenix solar panel installers are a cut above the national average. We called each of the top companies in Phoenix up and evaluated them based on customer service, website usability, solar panel brands offered, and overall experience. What we found? There are a lot of good solar panel installers in Phoenix. Keep reading to discover what makes each of these installers a company to consider.
SolarCity is your one-stop shop for all things solar. No matter your financial situation, they offer a plan to meet your needs. They’ll stop by your home for a free consultation, design your system, install it for free (something not everyone does) and monitor it for you. You can forget about your solar system and simply reap its benefits.
They use top-notch panel brands such as Solar World and LG, which typically offer at least a 25-year warranty (and sometimes beyond). When we talked to them on the phone, they quickly answered all our questions and told us that they have relationships with the major utility companies in Phoenix, meaning you can connect to the grid hassle-free.
Sun Valley Solar Solutions
The people at Sun Valley Solar Solutions were extremely helpful both over the phone and through email. Clearly passionate about the potential of solar energy, they’re committed to helping all homeowners figure out a financing option for them. If you opt for a loan, they’ll even go so far as to recommend the proper financing ratio of loan to outright payment so you get the most bang for your buck in the long term and with regards to tax incentives.
They’ve been in business over 10 years and have installed hundreds of residential solar panel systems in Phoenix during that time. They offer solar panel brands such as Solar World and Kyocera.
Solar Solution AZ
Solar Solutions AZ offers a unique method for purchasing solar panels dubbed the Residential Solar Program, in which you put no money down but pay a fixed rate each month that will be 10-15 percent lower than your normal utility bill. The most advantageous aspect is that the rate is locked in for a period of between 18 months to 20 years (you decide) so as electricity rates rise you’ll save even more money. The catch? To qualify for the program you must be a single family homeowner with a FICO score of 640.
The proof is in the pudding for Solar Solution AZ. They’ve got a Better Business Bureau rating of A+ and are a Solar Rating and Operation Corporation.
Finding the best solar panels in Phoenix
When it comes to solar panels, it’s best to spend a little more money for quality panels than go for whatever brand is cheapest. A lower price tag can mean a higher likelihood of breaking, and the warranties offered on the cheapest panels are often not sufficient enough to cover those breaks. Better to spend a little more upfront and rest easy, knowing your solar power system will provide you with energy for years to come. We recommend you invest in a panel that meets these three requirements: minimum max wattage of 230 watts, minimum efficiency of 16.5, and a 25-year warranty.
Of course, your installer will be able to help you select the best solar panel for your home’s unique needs and dimensions. The brands listed below are a good place to get started, as they unequivocally meet the standards mentioned above.
Solar Power in Phoenix
Arizona’s Solar Policies and Incentives
As we mentioned earlier, Arizona legislators do not underestimate the potential of solar energy. They offer a State Tax Credit of 25 percent of your entire system cost up to $1,000 to be used for State income taxes. This is in addition to a 30 percent Federal Solar Tax Credit which has no cap on costs. To put this in perspective: say your solar system clocks in at about $25,000 for parts and installation, then you would receive $7,5000 in savings — and that’s just the Federal Solar Tax Credit.
Purchasing your system in full will always reap you the greatest savings in the long-term, but we understand not everyone has thousands of dollars lying around to spend on solar energy. Luckily, there are several financing options for the Phoenix resident. Third party leases and power purchase agreements (commonly referred to as PPAs) allow you to sign a contract on solar panels (or buy the power they produce, in the case of PPAs). The installation company then maintains the system for you. You’ll still be saving money on your electricity bill, but the installation company will receive all the tax rebates and benefits.
The reason solar panels are so popular in Arizona? It’s at least partly due to Arizona’s aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), which requires the state to source a growing percentage of its energy from renewable energy reserves. This includes solar panels, as well as other things like turbines and water energy. In Arizona, the RPS is officially called the Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST). Under REST, utilities must generate 15 percent of their total energy from renewable resources by the year 2025. If this number isn’t met, the state and utility companies endure penalties — something they want to avoid — hence the appealing options for Arizona residents.
What to Expect
Phoenix receives 2,373 harvestable kWh per year and the average residential price per kW is 12 cents. Considering that Arizona ranks 12th in the nation for priciest electricity bills, homeowners can save big if they make to switch the solar. On average, they’ll save about $339 every year. Pair that with state and federal financial incentives, and that makes a residential solar panel system as investment you can bet on.
Also be warned: While Arizona is a leading state in solar leasing right now, state utility companies are lobbying to implement future fees for homes with solar systems. Now might be the best time to invest in a solar energy system.
To get an idea of the dollar amounts you’d be saving with solar panels, check out the chart below:
How do solar panels work?
Transforming the sun’s energy into the electrical current that powers your blow dryer is actually fairly straightforward. The basics: your solar panels are made of tiny photovoltaic cells, which capture the sun’s rays. The energy from the sun causes the electrons in the photovoltaic cell to become excited, move around, and ultimately generate a current. Photovoltaic cells are typically made from either monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon.
If your home is located in a remote area of outer Phoenix, your system may include a battery. For most solar panel systems, however, you’ll be tapped into the “grid,” which is the cool slang for your municipality’s power source. This is a good thing, because you can often sell back the excess energy your system generates to the utility company you are tapped into, a process that’s often referred to as “net-metering.”
Installing a residential solar system typically takes one to seven days, and systems need about one to two weeks to start harvesting energy (pending the size and complexity of your system). And don’t forget — if you’re not ready to commit to a full-on solar energy system, you can partially outfit your home with solar panels and still rake in the savings.
The last thing we want to mention is a type of panel made of “thin film” — this option is cheaper than monocrystalline and polycrystalline options but may involve toxic chemicals. Manufacturers address this hazard by offering free recycling services at the end of panel’s life. The reason people like thin film panels? The aesthetic —it mimics the appearance of roofing shingles and is available in a “peel and stick” or spray-on application.
Should I be on or off the grid?
So long as you are not located in a remote area (in which case you have no other option), it behooves you to stay on the grid. We previously mentioned “net metering” (aka staying on the grid), which is essentially an agreement that allows you to sell the excess energy produced by your solar system back to the the utility company. The only potential downfall? You’ll be susceptible to power outages (just like you are now).
If you opt for a “battery” system you don’t have to worry about storm outages, which is great, but be warned that you’ll still be susceptible to bad weather. A prolonged period of cloudy weather could run out your energy supply and leave you powerless.
Does color matter?
Historically, solar panels were only available in navy blue. Recent advances have allowed for a plethora of color options, so you can now find the color that speaks to your special snoweflakiness. It’s important to note, however, that colored panels are less efficient than their more traditional counterparts.
Generally, our recommendation is navy panels — they’re made from polycrystalline which is less expensive than monocrystalline (black) panels and has relatively low energy loss. That being said, consider how the color of panels might alter the aesthetic appeal of your home.
How long does the install take?
They usually only take one day to install and another day to wire everything up. However, the real time suck comes with getting approval from your local authorities. Permits can hold up your installation for anywhere from two weeks to a couple months. Luckily, your solar contractor will usually take care of the legal stuff for you.
How do solar panel systems benefit the environment?
So what exactly do solar panels do to save our one and precious earth? It’s more about what they allow you not to do, which is rely on fossil fuels that emit toxic gas (known as greenhouse gasses). Greenhouse gasses are the leading cause of pollution and climate change, so any effort to lessen your dependence on them is a big win for the environment. The electric industry is currently responsible for 33 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, which means that any increase in solar panel usage could make a major impact on our atmosphere’s overall health.
Our team spent hundreds of hours researching solar panel systems in more than 25 U.S cities. We’ve taken into consideration a lot of factors to determine if the investment of a solar panel system is worth it in each city. For some, it wasn’t, but the sun shines kindly on the Grand Canyon State making solar panel systems a worthy investment for homeowners.
In Arizona, solar panel system owners save an average of $339 a year. Having an extra 300 bucks in your pocket probably wouldn’t hurt. Increasing the value of your home can also earn you a bit more money in the long run. Don’t forget the tremendous environmental impact you’ll have on our planet.
We’ve done most of the fact digging for you, but every home has a different roof receiving different shade amongst other distinguishing factors. We strongly encourage you to make a few calls to our recommended installers in the greater Phoenix area to receive quotes and compare system prior to installation. Check out Freshome’s solar panel guide to further your knowledge of solar panel systems before pulling the trigger.