Solar panels and your HVAC system: Everything You Need to Know

Each year we try and do three home shows in the greater Kansas City area. These shows attract thousands of people within a 100-mile radius of Kansas City. We love the shows, because they allow us to interact directly with past, present, and hopefully future customers. We field questions from customers about their home improvement projects, the services we offer, our pricing, and everything and anything in-between. One of the more common questions we’re asked, and a question that attendees typically are very intrigued about but not very knowledgeable of, concerns solar energy, particularly the installation of solar panels to power their home HVAC systems. Solar energy has become much more popular in recent years in homes around the country, as the myth has been dispelled that only homes located in year-round sunny climates could benefit from the addition of solar panels. However, there is still a lot of confusion regarding solar energy, so in this blog we will answer and explain some of the more common questions regarding solar energy, solar panels, and how they co-exist with your HVAC system.
When a customer asks us about the possibility of solar energy for their home we always start the conversation by making two definitive points, and then seeing if the conversation should proceed from there.
1. You have to have solar-compatible and ready equipment.
2. Solar energy can run your whole house. However, we just hook the panels up to your HVAC equipment, not your whole home.
Without solar-compatible equipment, installing the solar panels will be for naught. Many of the newer HVAC units are solar-ready though. At Lennox, they have several different units that are solar-ready upon install, including the XC25 and the XP25. Using solar energy may not require a whole new HVAC system however, as some systems can simply be modified to have the solar panels attached. This distinction is made on a home-by-home basis though.
We also often have to make the distinction that we just connect your solar panels to the HVAC units, and not your entire home. Solar energy can power your entire home if you buy enough panels; however, a minimum of three is required for power HVAC system, and we recommend more to enjoy the full benefits of solar energy.
Benefits of solar-powered HVAC systems:
Those two points aside, there are several benefits solar provides for your HVAC system.
• Lowering of monthly heating and cooling bills
• Generous tax credits and rebates available upon purchase
• Longevity and low maintenance
• Environmental impact
Installing solar panels will reduce the amount of electricity and gas your current system uses, reducing your monthly heating and cooling bills in the process. The amount of savings generated will depend on the number of solar panels installed, but even if you still need some traditional electricity, solar power will enable you to significantly reduce your electric costs. If your system creates excess energy, some utility companies allow you to sell the energy back to them when your system is tied into the grid, potentially earning a profit in the process.
The federal solar tax credit allows you to deduct 30 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system from your federal taxes – allowing those who install solar panels to benefit from a huge savings, often resulting in the thousands of dollars. This tax credit was set to expire at the end of 2016, but has been extended to 2021, as energy experts say this allow the solar industry to fully mature. Also, there are several different states that offer rebates for installing solar panels, upwards of $1,500. You can find out more in in the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.
Most solar panels are expected to last 25 years or longer. With proper maintenance, this makes it extremely unlikely they will need to be replaced. The maintenance required for the panels is very simple, as they just require a yearly cleaning, a task that can be done by the homeowner.
Installing solar panels provides a clean alternative to the ever-rising costs of fossil fuels. Many systems allow you to monitor the performance of your system and see how much you’re saving each month – some systems can even tell you the amount of trees you’ve saved!
Lastly, we will address the question of cost, as this is also one of the more common questions we receive regarding solar panels and energy. Installing one solar panel will do nothing for the energy distribution in your home – because of this, we have to install a minimum of THREE panels. Three panels is the barebones minimum you have to install to receive any benefit from the panels. The cost of the panels + installation is roughly $3,000 – apiece. Yes, this is expensive initially, but if you commit to solar energy you can get a ROI quickly.
We hope this post answers some common question on solar panels, and sheds some light on some of the benefits and starting points associated with the panels. If interested, or have additional questions, please give us a call at (913) 432-3342 and we’d be glad to continue the conversation with you.
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