Energy Facts: Under the right conditions, a solar photovoltaic (PV) system can easily provide 50% (or more) of the energy required to power a home. Taking steps to first increase the overall energy efficiency of the home, thereby decreasing energy needs, will make renewable energy features more cost-effective.
Scout It Out: If you're considering buying a house with solar panels, ask the seller whether the system has battery storage and if the utility offers net metering. PV systems must have special safety features to protect line workers during power outages; most jurisdictions require that a PV system be checked for safety and performance by a licensed electrician. If the system was installed by a NABCEP certified installer, that's a plus for quality. Ask for any safety verification documents, manufacturer information, receipts, installation documentation, warranties, or other documents. Also, have an inspector check the integrity of the roof.
Tips: Solar PV panels on the roof (generally facing south) can supplement the electric power supply, and reduce the overall cost of powering the home. Many utilities credit the homeowner's account (net metering) for PV-produced power that is fed back to the grid.