Episode 137: Is it cost-effective to put solar panels on my roof?

Stephen Lee
, professor in Carnegie Mellon’s School of Architecture, explains how to determine if installing solar panels on the roof of your home makes economic sense.



Learn more

Pricing PV Systems and Financing Ideas from the State of California

Installing and Maintaining Home Solar Electric Systems from the U.S. Department of Energy

Get Your Power from the Sun from the U.S. Department of Energy

Planning a Home Solar Electric System from the U.S. Department of Energy


HOST: Should you put solar photovoltaic panels on your home’s roof? On this week’s Energy Bite, Stephen Lee, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

LEE: The answer to this question is a rather complicated one and depends on the amount of sun in your region as well as the insulation already present in your home. For older homes, insulation is the most important first step.

If you have a newer home built in the last two decades, however, you probably have a higher level of insulation in your home, so adding solar power to your home will provide you a higher annual percentage of energy from the sun compared to an under-insulated home.

HOST: But does it make economic sense?

LEE: The answer to that question depends on the region in which you live. In an area like Pittsburgh, that has a relatively low solar resource, the simple payback time can be high – as much as 40 years. But with lower panel prices recently and Federal tax credits and state grants that encourage investments in solar power that payback time can be dramatically reduced, and if you live in a geographic region with abundant solar energy, the payback time will also decrease. So the economics can change a great deal depending on where you live.

HOST: Would you install solar photovoltaic panels on your home’s roof? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

ANNOUNCER: Energy Bite is a co-production between 90.5 WESA and Carnegie Mellon’s’ Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.


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