Photo of Dan Hofmann in front of a Louisville home with solar panels on the roof.
Dan Hofmann, President of RegenEn Solar, stands in front of a great home in The Highlands showing off the new thin film solar solution.

Despite powerful incentives like historically low mortgage interest rates, a surplus of home inventory and bargain home prices, the Louisville real estate market remains sluggish.

Without a great push in these final three months, there will be fewer homes sold 2011 than there were in 2010.

A by-product of this is that more and more homeowners are spending their money with Louisville home improvement companies. Everything from updating bathroom faucets on the low end, all the way up to newer, more energy-efficient HVAC systems. Even high-tech products like geo-thermal and solar that have been a previously rare sight to behold are now catching on with Louisville homeowners.

Installing a Solar Solution in Your Louisville Home

I sat down with Dan Hofmann, president of RegenEn Solar to learn more about today’s solar systems.

There’s a great deal of specific information about today’s solar products, far too much to cover in this piece. I’ll outline a few of factors involved in today’s solar solutions below.

  • Panel Types: Many homeowners may reject solar solutions outright simply because of aesthetics. The most powerful solar products are bulkier and less attractive but there are also slimmer products available that are less powerful but more visually appealing. You have options!
  • Energy Management Systems: Today’s solar systems include monitoring software systems that are more user-friendly that those in the past. They communicate a great deal of information on the status of the system, as well as, how much energy the solar system has generated today, last week or last month.
  • Property Attributes: When dealing with complicated systems, it pays to have someone like Mr. Hofmann explain the variables in a way that you can make an informed and strategic decision. Solar solutions require you to consider the home’s direction placement, size of the roof, current and expected energy use and many more factors. There’s definitely no “one size fits all” when it comes to solar; each installation is truly custom.
  • Green Considerations: For some, the reason for choosing solar is a desire to Go Green. This is completely valid! For others, it’s simply a return on investment decision. In my opinion, both should be considered when evaluating whether solar makes sense for your Louisville home.
  • Predicting the Future: Of course, it’s impossible to accurately predict the future but certain guesses are fairly safe. Even though the cost of energy here in Louisville is very low compared to other cities in our nation, we can assume energy costs will continue to rise over time. Once the solar installation is complete, maintenance costs are very low, so the benefit over time increases.

Test Case Data for Solar

I asked Mr. Hofmann if he could quote my home as a test case for this article. After simply sending him my address an easily obtained report of my energy usage downloaded from the LG&E website, he quickly sent me a very detailed quote.

In this quote, he calculated how the style and number of panels that would be the best for my homes size, setting and energy usage. Here is a portion of that quote:

Contract Price                                        $29,981
Federal Tax Credit (30%)                               $8,994
Net Cost                                              $20,987

System Size in watts                                    8,640
Number of solar panels                                     36
Wattage of each solar panel (DC)                          240

Estimated Payback in years with Home Value Increase*,     **1
Estimated Payback in years with SRECs** (w/o Home Value)   11
Estimated Payback in years w/o SRECs** and w/o Home Value  15

Annual kWh Production                                  11,605
kWh Usage Offset                                          50%
Life Expectancy of Product                             40 yrs
Solar Cost per kWh                                     $0.072
Current Utility Cost per kWh                           $0.079
Total $ ROI (after 25 yrs)*,                       ** $81,907
Total % ROI (after 25 yrs)*,                        ** 390.3%
Annualized Rate of Return (over 25 yrs)*,            ** 15.6%

Conclusion

It’s a given that installing a solar system will improve your homes value. It’s also easily calculated that solar will reduce energy bills and eventually pay for the system. This quote shows that with Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SREC) the system will be paid off in 11 years.

In an understandably simplified equation, homeowners planning to remain in their current home for only a few years should likely pass on solar, in my opinion. Five to ten years is a tougher call. A stay ten years or longer translates into solar making strong financial sense.

If you’d like more information or a free customized quote, call Dan Hofmann at (502) 298-8160 or email him at [email protected].

Tre Pryor is an Internet-veteran turned tech-savvy Louisville Realtor with ReMax Champions. Mr. Pryor is the recognized Louisville real estate expert writing for both InsiderLouisville.com and the #1 real estate blog in the city--LouisvilleHomesBlog.com. Most of all, Tre is a trustworthy professional who wants you to see your dreams fulfilled!


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