Home Solar Energy

Written by Frank Eakin

Solar energy use in Texas has skyrocketed in recent years as more people begin to transition to renewable energy sources. In addition to helping the planet, solar energy offers homeowner benefits and savings, and many states even provide incentives for those choosing to go solar. 

According to Forbes, as of the beginning of 2023, Texas is 2nd among states with the most megawatts of solar installed. Below you’ll find information on solar energy, benefits and drawbacks, community solar, and solar incentives for reducing overall costs. You can also compare renewable solar energy plans offered by energy providers on the Home Energy Club site

What is Home Solar Energy?

Solar energy is energy captured from sunlight and converted into power to generate electricity by photovoltaic cells in panels. This is done by using solar panels installed on the roof of a home or nearby structure, or implemented into a solar farm, which uses them to mass produce solar energy. According to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Association (EIA) in 2020, solar will be the fastest-growing non-hydroelectric renewable energy source for the next few years. 

Solar electricity is considered a renewable energy source since it isn’t depleted when it is used. Texas has plenty of sunlight and the energy can be captured for home use with panels.

If you’re interested in using solar energy, selecting, investing, and installing solar can be a large project. If you are concerned about the ROI of that project, you can opt to purchase an electric solar energy plan, which means your energy will be sourced from a solar farm and then sent to your home through the electricity grid. Texas electricity companies have several plans available, and you can compare renewable energy plans with Home Energy Club.

Solar panel benefits

A benefit to using solar energy is that it offers clean energy, meaning your electricity usage won’t contribute to pollutants released into the atmosphere. This is an essential step in helping to fight climate change and reducing your overall carbon emissions.

In addition to helping the environment, installing solar panels could help you save money on your utility bills in the long run. How much one can save with solar panels depends on many factors, including the following:

  • Local grid energy rates: Energy prices from different companies vary. The average electricity rate in Texas is 14.26 cents per kWh as of December 2022, according to the EIA. 
  • Number/efficiency/type of panels: When installing solar panels, there are price differences depending on the type of panel and the amount you wish to install. The number of solar panels and their efficiency will affect the amount of money you can save with more efficient panels, resulting in more money saved. For instance, a 5kW solar system may save around $500 a quarter, and a 10kW solar system could save you upwards of $1,000 per year.
  • Sun exposure and climate: A system receiving ample sunlight during the day will be more efficient than one in a shady environment. Solar panel energy production is best when the weather is sunny and can decrease in rainy and overcast weather.
  • Energy usage: The size of your home and your energy usage habits will affect the amount of electricity needed from your solar panel system. The more energy you use, the more your panels will have to produce to avoid using energy from the grid.
  • Net Metering: If you choose to use net metering, you can sell any extra energy you don’t use back to the grid, which can help decrease your monthly energy bill.

Though there are costs for solar panels, such as installation fees and potential maintenance costs, one could expect to easily save between about $25,000 to $33,000 on energy throughout your solar panels’ lifetime (about 25 years).

Potential Home solar costs:

The main solar panel cost is installation. Installation fees can vary dramatically depending on the type of panel you choose and the amount you wish to install. For instance, the average 5 kW solar system cost is about $10,500 after tax credits, and the average 10 kW solar system cost is about $20,000 after tax credits. However, high-end and large installations could cost upwards of $40,000. 

In addition to the panels, optional solar batteries can be installed to store excess energy during the day. The batteries can then be used to power your home overnight, during rainstorms, cloudy weather, or other natural disasters. Solar battery system costs can range anywhere from $200 for a single emergency battery to $14,000 for a full lithium-ion system.

While solar panels do not usually need maintenance before 25-30 years of use, they can require repairs if they are damaged due to weather or other circumstances. Replacing or repairing panels could add to lifetime costs, but may be offset by replacing them with more efficient panels in the future. 

Installing solar panels

Before installing solar panels, you should consider the various types of solar panel options, the number of solar panels you want, and the cost.

There are three main types of solar panels:

  • Monocrystalline: These are the most efficient solar panels with 15-22% efficiency, but they typically cost more.
  • Polycrystalline (multi-crystalline): These panels are more cost-effective, but they only have a 15-17% efficiency.
  • Thin-film: These solar panels are best for unorthodox roofs as they are flexible and portable. However, they are less efficient than either type of crystalline solar panel.

You can consult with your solar panel installer to help decide which panel type is best for you. 

The number of solar panels you want to install will correlate to the amount of energy usage habits and the size of your home. You should also factor in the specific wattage of the solar panels you are installing. Consult with your solar panel installers to help decide how many panels you should install. 

According to Forbes, these are the top nine Texas solar panel installers in 2023: 

  • SunPower: Offers free online estimates and virtual consultation.
  • Sunpro Solar: 25-year guarantees and various warranty coverages, and offers an in-house roofing division to handle any concerns regarding roof damage.
  • Blue Raven Solar: Offers $0 down financing with an 18-month deferred payment and two-year power production guarantee with replacement at no charge.
  • Momentum: Free online quotes with a wide variety of solar panel brands and options.
  • Palmetto Solar: Uses top-efficiency monocrystalline solar panels and offers a 25-year output warranty.
  • Tesla: Great warranties with strong customer ratings and reviews.
  • Elevation Solar: Offers free consultation and an extended warranty program. 
  • PowerHome Solar: Offers $0 down payment financing for qualified customers and discounts for military personnel and veterans.
  • Vivint Solar: Free consultation and custom-designed system.

Home Solar Panel Incentives:

Multiple federal and state rebate programs can help reduce the cost of solar panels. The Federal Tax Credit offers up to a 30% rebate on the price of a new solar installation. When you purchase solar panels and have a tax liability, you can generally claim a solar tax credit to help lower your tax bill. 

The Residential Clean Energy Credit is non-refundable, so it can offset your income tax liability dollar-for-dollar, but any excess credit won’t be refunded. If the credit exceeds your tax liability for the year, you can “roll over” the excess to future years as long as the credit remains in effect.

There are no income limits on the solar tax credit, meaning all individual taxpayers can claim the credit on qualifying solar energy equipment investments made in their homes. However, if you purchase power generated by solar equipment through a lease agreement or power purchase agreement, you aren’t considered the system owner and won’t be able to claim the credit on your taxes.

To find state-specific solar panel incentives, you can look at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE).

Community solar

If you don’t feel that purchasing solar panels is right for you, community solar projects allow residents to enjoy using solar power without worrying about purchasing solar panels. In this model, two or more households share electricity generated by off-site solar plants. Multiple community subscribers can share energy coming from local solar facilities, and some can also earn additional credit on their electricity bills for the amount of power they produce.

Some homeowners may choose to participate in ownership-based projects, which allow them to purchase a set number of panels or a certain amount of energy from a community solar project. Subscription-based projects are typically the most popular types of community solar participation models. 

To participate in a project, you must live within a certain distance from the solar project you’re participating in and ensure it’s within your utility’s coverage area. Check with your utility provider to make sure you live close enough to receive the proper coverage.

For more information on current Texas community solar projects, you can look at the Texas Solar Energy Society.


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