Final Answer To: How Long Does It Take For Solar Panels To Pay For Themselves?

Hey there, if you’re reading this, I think you’ve noticed most of your neighbors have solar panels. I’m sure by now, you understand the immense benefits of solar panels to our environment, but you also know solar panels can be quite expensive.

So I’m guessing these questions are running through your mind:

  • Can my roof comfortably support solar panels? 
  • What is the return associated with solar panels? 

This short but powerful article will guide you on how to make your solar panels pay for themselves the fastest way.

Approx How Long Will It Takes for Solar Panels to Pay for Themselves?

How Long Does It Take For Solar Panels To Pay For Themselves?
How Long Does It Take For Solar Panels To Pay For Themselves?

This can be anywhere from 5 to 25 years. This period is impacted by the roof’s exposure to sunlight, roof positioning, electricity price, and local subsidies.

When considering whether a solar panel is a good investment for you, the first step to take is to look at your roof.

Take out your phone, go to the Compass app (if there isn’t one, please download it; it’s free on google play).

Use the app to determine the direction the most massive part of your roof faces. Not all directions are the same.

In order of worst to best, the directions can be classified as follows; North, East, West, and South.

Meaning your house’s south side will experience a maximum amount of sunlight every day.

The next step is to observe your house surroundings. If your house is surrounded by trees taller than (approx) 70 ft or trees branches overhanging on your roof, I suggest you cut down the trees/branches before fitting a solar panel.

If you don’t have any trees beyond the roofline, this isn’t a problem for you. From my experience, most southern and western state residents need not worry about tree shading.

These areas are primarily desert landscapes or developed urban areas. Unless tall trees shade your roof, please go ahead and acquire a quote from solar vendors.

I’d advise you to try and fit the most number of solar panels facing the best sunlight. This will enable you to recoup your investment within the shortest time possible.


For instance, if your house uses 10,000Kwhs per year, it doesn’t experience tree shading, and the roof faces north to south.

For instance, if your house uses 10,000Kwhs per year. Your home doesn’t experience tree shading, and the roof faces north to south.

I’m sure your goal is to reduce or stop altogether buying power from the utility company. Your house’s Southside can provide you with this. By adding 20 panels, you’ll deduce that the recouping period will be approx eight years.

If you decide to install similar 20 panels on the Northside instead of the Southside, I assure you, the power production will drop drastically. Northside panels produce 50% or less power than Southside, even if they have the same hardware.

Thus, you’ll be forced to add more panels to have 100% offset; this costs more money resulting in a long time to recoup your investment.

The amount you cough out for power influences how fast you can recoup your solar system investment.

If all factors ( sun exposure, subsidies, and shading) remained the same. The only remaining variable would be the Kilowatt per hour( per unit cost of power).

If you cough out 10,000 for the solar system and the electric company charges you 0.20/KWh, then the solar system will only pay for itself after it has produced 50,000kwh.

 $10,000 / $0.20 = 50,000

If your solar system produces 10,000 kWh a year, it’ll take you five years to recoup the investment you made into that system. 

 5 years X 10,000 kwhs = 50,000 kwhs 

For instance, if your average kWh rate is $0.10, it will take about a decade to recoup your investment from the solar system. 

 $10,000/ $.0.10 = 100,000(kwhs) produced so as to get even with your solar system. 

10 year X 10,000kwhs = 100,000 kwhs

When looking at the states with the most demand for solar energy, the states have the highest cost of living; these include; (Hawaii, CA, MA, NY, NJ, MA).

Due to their high cost of living, we can assume that they also have high utility bills, making solar more desirable. If your Kwh is high, Then the recoup period will be shorter, and vice versa.

The other variable factor to consider when determining the recoup period is local/state subsidies.

At present, the US government has placed a 30% federal tax rebate on any US resident. However, this hasn’t made a significant difference in sparking interest in installing solar systems.

The state has been forced to institute subsidies to convince more Americans to use cleaner energy-solar. 

Were you wondering what a state subsidy is? A state subsidy is an incentive the state gov gives to a business/individual(s) to promote an economic or social policy. State subsidies can be of different types.

Most states issue out state tax credit to use for state income tax. However, not all states have an income tax, so they must think outside the box.

Another way the government might encourage you to install a solar system is by allowing you to charge local utilities for the power you produce for a specified amount of time.

For instance, The Net Metering program isn’t used in Rhode Island.

Instead, they utilize the feed-in tariff. This program requires that the utility company should pay a customer who produces solar power every month.

Because you are getting paid by the utility company, the payment will help you cover your electricity bill and enable you to recoup your investment much faster.

Solar Renewable Energy Credit(SREC) can also be a usual way to acquire funds from the state for producing renewable energy- solar power at your home. This credit may and will fluctuate; thus, please ensure always to be informed of the current SREC credit.

Depending on the state you live in, the credit can be paid yearly or in a lump sum.


When figuring out how long it’ll take the solar panel to pay it, you have to know the duration/period you’ll be in that house. If you’re unsure of being in that house for a decade or longer, it’s highly likely that solar panels are not worth the cost. You could alternatively opt for a lease or loan option. Regardless of which path you decide, you’ll only be stepping up from your previous financial energy situation.

In most cases, homeowners recoup the financial investment made into solar systems much faster than previously predicted. If tall trees don’t surround your house or you aren’t living in a forest, then please do visit the nearest and best solar system vendor(s) and ensure you’ve discussed all the above points with the vendor, therefore knowing how you’ll recoup your investment and after how long.

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