As a general guideline, solar power is usually worthwhile in Texas. Incentive programs like the Texas Renewable Energy Program (REPs), generous electricity buy-backs, and the federal solar tax rebate contribute to making solar power worthwhile in Texas.
The average pay-off period for a solar system is 12.6 years, which means that most people who install solar systems will see their investment paid off in approx. 12 years.
Solar panels are becoming increasingly popular in Texas, especially for homeowners who want to create their energy source. However, is it worth the investment?
If you're considering installing solar power in your house, this article will help determine whether that investment makes sense.
Let's go through some questions and answers.
- How much solar energy would a house in Texas require?
- How does it function? Installation details.
- How much does it cost for solar panels to be installed in Texas?
- What are the maintenance costs associated with installing solar panels in Texas?
- How much power can solar panels generate in Texas?
- What is the number of solar panels required by an average Texas house?
An installation of solar panels is an efficient way to harness the power from nature and use it for your energy requirements.
In Texas, is Installing Solar Panels Worthwhile?
It saves you money on energy bills but also makes a better, greener environment for us because we don't need to burn any fossil fuels anymore. Let's start by going over some basic terms:
Note: If you already understand solar panels well enough, click on the page menu at the bottom of the page and see the solar statistics for Texas.
What are the Main Parts of a Solar Panel System?
Grid-tied systems are usually the most common type of solar installation for homes. They require local permits and may include connecting them to the power grid.
Still, your installer usually handles these issues, so you don't have to worry about any additional paperwork and permits. Your installation fee will include everything, including the costs associated with obtaining the necessary licenses.
Types of equipment required for a grid-tied solar panel system in Texas
- Solar paneling and roofing systems
- solar string inverter or microinverters (converts direct current into alternating current)
- Cable/junction boxes
- Circuit breakers and junction boxes
- Net Metering device (measure both incoming and outgoing electricity from utilities' grids)
- Batteries (If required for energy storage)
Aluminum rails are being used for mounting solar panels – rooftop mount.
The article offers a brief yet concise summary of solar power systems for those looking to install them.
The article provides the necessary details for making informed decisions about which components would be most suitable for your home and considering all relevant factors, such as climate and space availability.
The video below shows a fairly typical solar panel installation. It documents everything from beginning to end, which is helpful for anyone wanting to learn what lies ahead before installing their solar panel system.
Our solar panels have microinverters instead of central or string inverters, which are becoming increasingly popular. An inverter turns DC voltage from photovoltaic systems into AC electricity, which runs most home electrical devices.
Micro-inverter systems convert DC electricity from solar panels into AC electricity for appliance use. They're connected to each panel's backplate. Domestic applications predominantly utilize string inverter technology, which carries out DC/AC power conversions for multiple panels connected, usually up to ten, hence called string inverter.
If you want to know more about inverters, go here.
This page explains how a grid-tie residential system works. It was written by our resident expert, who has been working with solar systems for years.
Even if you hire professionals to handle everything for you, it’s still a good idea to know what they’re doing!
What’s the Lifespan of a Typical Home Solar System?
Solar panels are the most durable component of a solar system and usually come with a guarantee of up to 25 to 30 years. However, if you're lucky, they will continue producing energy for 50 years or so!
The energy produced annually by solar panels decreases by about 0.8 percent each year.
A solar panel comes with a guarantee, which guarantees its performance for a certain period. For example, 90 percent of production capability after ten years and 80 percent of production capability after 20 years.
Manufacturers of solar panels also offer an additional protection called an equipment warranty. For example, if a power inverter fails within five years or completely goes out of service.
The inverter is usually the weak point in a solar panel setup. Typically they offer a 10-15 year guarantee, while panel-mounted inverters and energy management products offer a lifetime warranty that lasts up to 25 years.
They're also more efficient at generating electricity when there's partial shade.
Diagram Showing Grid-Tie Solar System Connections
The diagram below shows the general arrangement of a typical solar power system.
Before converting DC into AC, the black arrow indicates the flow of DC voltage, while the red arrow shows how AC power flows. The green arrow indicates the opposite direction of the current flow from the utility grid.
Note: The net meter in the right-hand corner indicates the current flow in both directions. A net metering system is one of the main advantages of a grid-tied solar system. Electricity generated during high-demand periods is fed back into the grid.
A home appliance draws its energy from the panel before using the grid. However, if there is cloud cover or because of insufficient sunlight, the appliance will automatically use the grid.
What Does the Solar Federal Tax Incentive Program Look like for 2021?
What is a federal tax credit program?
A tax credit is a program run by the federal or state governments where a certain percent of your solar installation costs can be deducted from your income taxes for the following year.
You get a dollar for each dollar you spend, so, If you owe $5000 and get a $1000 rebate, you end up paying only $4000.
In 2021 the tax credit was 26%.
If a residential solar power system costs $18,000, then the tax credit is equal to as following:
18000 x 26% = $4680 credit against federal taxes
If you've already set up your solar panels by 31st December 2019, you can get a 30 percent tax credit. For installations between 1 January 2020 and 31 March 2021, you'll receive a 26 percent tax credit, and from 2022 onwards, you'll be eligible for a 22 percent tax credit.
The tax credit for renewable energy expires in 2024 unless Congress extends it. Given President Biden’s commitment to clean energy in the long run, there is a good chance that Congress will extend the tax credit. There is no limit to the amount claimed for tax credits.
Solar energy investments are best made in sunny states like Texas. There aren't any state-wide programs, so it may seem like you're out of options, but many incentives are available if you want them.
Austin Energy encourages Texans to become energy independent by offering $2,500 in cash rebates for installing rooftop photovoltaic systems (PV) on their homes.
Suppose you're an Austin Energy residential customer who generates your power using solar panels on your rooftop. In that case, you can receive a value of solar (VOS) discount of 9.7 cents per kilowatt hour.
CPS Energy has recently launched a great incentive program for solar installation for homeowners. It will pay $1.20 per watt to install solar panels on their roofs for a limited time.
If you’d like to learn more about which program is right for you or how much it might cost, give them a call, and they can walk you through everything step by step.
What are the Prices for Solar Buy-Back in Texas?
Since deregulation, Texans are free to choose their electricity provider.
Solar energy buy-backs vary from retail prices per kilowatt hour to wholesale prices, which are much lower than retail prices.
Checking any solar buy-back plan details is important because there are other factors, including seasonal limitations.
Of the companies with the better plans, ATG, Chariot, Green Mountain, and Relient have buy-backs at retail prices.
MP2 purchases energy back at bulk prices, whereas TXU provides less than retail price with a time restriction of May to January.
How Long Does it Take to Get Paid Back for Installing Solar Panels in Texas?
Solar energy can help Texans cut their monthly electric bill by hundreds of dollars annually.
If you invest in your solar power system, it only takes an average return time between 9.3 and 12.7 years to see all that money back with interest!
The Calculation to Determine Payback Time for the Solar Power Systems in Texas?
A simple calculation can be done by dividing solar panel costs (not including tax credits and rebates) by annual savings.
We first want to understand how much sunlight falls on solar cells (irradiance). To do so, we'll use a Global Solar Atlas website to determine this information for any given location.
Is Solar Energy Worth Investing in Houston, Tx?
Solar Payback Calculation For A 5kW Solar System In Houston, Texas (2021)
What is the average payback time for solar energy systems in Houston, TX?
- City Name: Houston, TX
- What is the size of our solar system?: 5 Kilo-watts
- Cost of solar installations = $14600 – 26% federal tax credit = $10804
- Irradiance at Houston, Tx = 1552 Peak Sun Hours
- Solar power generated from solar system = 1552 x 5kw = 7760 Kilo-Watt Hours
- Houston residential electricity cost per unit=10.98 cents/kWh
- Annual savings = solar production x elec cost = 7760 x 10.98 = $852
- Solar payback period Houston, Texas = solar cost/yearly savings = 10138/852 = 11.9 years
The payback period for solar panels may be shorter than this, as short as nine to ten years. Professional installers can provide accurate estimates using historical performance, the irradiance in your location, and the combination of orientation and angle of the panels.
Are Solar Power Systems Good for Property Values in Texas?
Over the past few years, people who installed solar panels have been able to get an excellent return on their investment.
Zillow’s research showed that homes with solar power systems sold at an $8,000 premium over other houses in Texas. Considering the average home price was $200K, that’s pretty good.
You're going to benefit from switching! The electricity bill becomes cheaper, and there is potential for future profits.
As long as rates continue to increase at an annual rate of 2.9%, this can be considered a good thing.
Does Solar Power Pay Off in Texas? Are They Efficient Enough?
Several different aspects determine the output power of a solar panel.
You can't control everything, but we can control some things, like the tilt angles at which it looks and whether there is any shading from an obstacle like a neighboring building or tree. Others will just come up naturally, for example, if there's going to rain on a cloudy day.
- Irradiance (AKA peak-sun-hours). What percentage of the Sun’s energy is available?
- Shading. Install solar panels where they won't get shaded by trees or buildings.
- Maintenance. You can avoid up to 10 percent of your losses by regularly cleaning your equipment.
- It would be best if you always got the highest quality solar panels with the highest efficiency rating.
- Orienting solar energy systems, so they face south in the northern hemisphere is best for maximizing their output.
- Tilt angle. You want an optimal angle of 60 degrees for your paneling, so you get maximum output.
- Make sure there is enough room between the panels and their mounting points so they can circulate air.
How Should We Orient Our Solar Panels to Maximize Output in Texas?
Orientation (or placement) is important when choosing where to position solar power systems.
If you live in the northern hemisphere, the best orientation for solar panels is southward. Don't worry if your roof doesn't face it that way - installers are accustomed to working with different orientations and can find solutions.
You usually install solar power systems facing South, but you can use them to face any direction, including westward or eastward.
The only direction where the solar panels shouldn't be installed in the north because they won't get direct sunlight throughout the day.
It's helpful to understand the different types of sunlight when considering solar power.
Direct sunlight is best for producing solar energy. However, diffuse sunlight contributes a lot too, and can also be captured using other methods like mirrors or reflective surfaces.
The direction doesn't matter; as long as there are plenty of hours between sunrise and sundown and when direct and diffused sunlight is present, then they're good.
What is the Ideal Solar Panel Angle in Texas?
Solar cells that are not adjustable should have their cells angled at 60 degrees to produce maximum energy during all seasons of the year.
Tilt angles are one of the most useful features for some installations, but they're unavailable on every installation.
During the winter months, you want to set your tilt angle at latitude minus 15 degrees with winter settings of latitude plus 15 degrees for your solar panels to be as efficient as possible during these weathers.
The table below shows the change in output of Houston, Texas, when applying a tilt angle of 60° and when they are mounted flat.
Irritation levels over one year for Houston, TX - Output vs. tilt angle
Monthly Insolation for Houston, Texas (kWh/m2/day – also called Peak-Sun-Hours)
Fixed solar panels, installed based on their roof’s tilt and position, are more affordable than sun-tracking systems.
The price per watt of electricity generated from solar energy is lower when more solar panels are added to require more power rather than tracking the sun’s movements throughout the day.
With the heat issue resolved by air gaps between panels and rooftops, cleaning the panels will keep them at peak performance levels.
The amount of solar energy produced in different locations depends on the level of insolation (or peak sun hours). This is one of the most important considerations when considering the size of your solar power systems. It determines how big your solar panel arrays must be to provide sufficient energy.
How Can You Measure Your Energy Usage in Texas?
You may be tempted to measure your electricity usage by looking at individual appliances, but luckily, that isn't necessary because there are better methods for measuring your energy usage.
It cannot be easy to track your energy consumption because some devices, such as refrigeration units and air conditioners, use motors that cause surges in current when they cycle.
When assessing your energy usage, you have two options: Look at last year's utility bills or ask for records directly from the power company and review them.
The installer can estimate the size of solar panel systems needed by considering the number of peak sun hours in your location and the required kWh.
To calculate the approximate size of a potential solar system for your exact location in Texas, use the calculator below.
What Does a Solar Panel System Cost in Texas? Are They Worth it? What's the Best Way to Calculate Them?
For most residential applications, the average panel size ranges from 225 to 375 watts.
Enter the panel size in kW into the calculator below - for example, an input of 275 watts should be entered as 0.275 kW.
Every solar system has some loss. The calculator allows for solar panels' energy loss due to heat, inverters' power consumption, and cables' resistance.
Solar Paneling Calculations: How to Calculate if Solar Power is Worth it for You
Enter the value of irradiance, aka “Peak Sun Hour,” for your location into the Global Solar Atlas website. The calculator will tell you the solar energy output and number of panels required for your house’s energy needs.
Note: This is just a rough estimate and isn't meant to be used as a replacement for a professional estimate.
Solar Panel Cost Calculator
The major costs associated with a solar power system installation project in Texas include the following:
Permits & Inspections
Installing solar panel systems is expensive, but it's possible to cut costs significantly if you install them yourself.
According to our estimates, over 50% of the total costs of installing solar panels can be cut down by working alone with some assistance from friends and family for large installations. This reduces the overall installation costs.
Some homeowners have tried this approach and posted their results online. It's pretty easy if you plan carefully; once you've set up your grid connections and a pro can deal with permits - it might be worth hiring a pro to handle the paperwork.
How will my Solar Energy be Affected if There’s an Outage?
A grid-tie system automatically disconnects itself from the power grid if the utility service is disrupted. It prevents dangerous situations by helping to avoid outages, as repair teams might be working on parts of the grid system.
If any solar panels remain connected, these workers may be at risk if there is an outage. This situation has been dubbed "islanding."
Is it Worthwhile Investing in Solar Batteries?
A completely off-grid solar system cannot use the power grid, so it has to either rely on its solar panels during daylight hours or store enough electricity for nighttime or cloudy days using some battery technology.
Grid-tied systems can also be backed by batteries such as the Tesla Powerwall. A backup battery system provides excellent protection against power failures.
For your convenience, you don't need a solar energy source to install a Powerwall. They can connect to any home electrical system.
How Does a Power Wall Work?
An innovation called a powerwall would completely change how we think about energy. It's an innovative solar battery system that stores excess energy during peak hours and uses it to illuminate homes during low-demand periods.
They have a ten-year warranty, and up to 10 can be linked together to provide days of electricity.
The Tesla Powerwall allows homeowners to store energy produced by solar panels or grids. It can detect when it needs recharging, where the charge will be coming from (solar panel or grid), and switch into power-supplying modes if necessary.
Moreover, a person who has a remote connection to a system may be able to manually change its operating parameters without actually physically accessing it.
Following Hurricane Harvey, there was a huge surge in demand for Tesla Powerwalls. Many people who lost electricity during the storm have been looking into alternatives.
A Tesla Powerwall can store up to 10 kWh of electricity daily, enough to power your house for 12 continuous hours. However, adding more Powerwalls together could provide enough electricity to power your house for several days.
With a large enough solar electric PV array and enough Powerwall batteries, it's possible to go completely off-the-power-grids. (Off-the-gridded solar systems)
Solar Power System for Your Home. What Does it Cost in Texas?
Following is a list of solar systems' prices for Houston, TX, in 2021. A typical installation costs $2.74 per watt when installing a solar power system in Texas by a professional installer.
Here are some typical energy consumption stats for solar electric panels in Texas.
Average kWh used per month
Ave kWh used per day
Solar required for 100% energy used (kW)
Installation price Per Watt ($) 2021
Does the Solar Tracker System in Texas Pay Off?
Solar power generation is a complicated and challenging process, with sunlight as its main source. The sun moves continuously from east to west across the northern hemisphere each day and seasonally changes its position by a few degrees.
A solar panel tracking system detects and tracks the sun’s position, rotating the solar panels so they face directly toward the sun at all times – maximizing power production.
Depending on individual installation parameters, a tracking device may offer little value when compared to its capital costs. The capital costs are relatively high compared to the productivity benefits that can be achieved by increasing the number of panels.
How Does Solar Tracking Work?
The sun’s seasonal cycle is like a pendulum; every day, it moves up and down, changing in height by some degrees from one season to another because its angle varies during Earth’s yearly journey around the sun. These cycles can be divided into two categories: horizontal and vertical.
A sun-tracking system automatically adjusts the angle of the solar panels so they always face directly toward the sun. By doing so, we maintain an optimal angle of incidence at all times.
Solar tracking systems that track the sun vertically are called single-axis trackers, and ones that track vertical and horizontal movements are known as dual-axis trackers.
Dual-axis trackers usually recover more energy than their single-axis counterparts,s but an experienced installer can advise you which is right for your specific situation.
What makes solar power worthwhile?
Solar power is worthwhile in Texas when the installation price can be covered within ten years by the energy saved from solar panels.
In Texas, the average payback time is about ten years and depends on local insolation values and the buyback rates of electricity.
How to figure out whether solar power is right for you
You can easily calculate whether solar power is worthwhile for your home using the following formula: kilowatt-hours per year = (panel wattage) x (annual average number of peak hours of sunshine).
Multiply the kilowatt hours (kWh) of solar power generated by the price per kWh for electric power. To calculate the payback period for a solar electric PV system, divide the total capital costs of solar installation by the annual energy production.
Are Solar Battery Systems Worth Investing in Texas?
Solar battery systems are a great choice if you want to go completely green by living off-grid. They're particularly useful for people who live in regions where power outages are common.
Solar batteries recharge during the daytime in sunlight and provide power at nighttime or when the grid is out.
Does Solar Power Pay off for Homeowners in Texas Without Net Metered Rates?
Grid-tie solar panels may not be worthwhile if net metering isn't being used unless home battery storage is installed.
Over-production of power from solar panels is sent to the electric utility company, where it is credited at retail electricity prices. However, some companies incentivize their customers to buy back excess energy produced by solar panels.
It’s really interesting because the credits can be redeemed. If we could produce less solar energy than we need, then obviously, we would need less electricity from the grid and thus, our power bill would go down.
Questions About Solar Panels' Cost
What are the costs associated with installing solar energy systems in a 2000-square-foot residence?
A 2,000 square-feet house is just below the average in the US, approximately 2400 feet. If we assume that an average home consumes 30 kWh/day, then we can calculate that a 2,000-square-foot house would use approximately:
30 kWh * 2,000 / 2,400 = 25 kWh
A 2,000 sq ft house should use approximately 25 kWh/day, or 750 kWh/month.
Around 42 solar panels of 300W each would be needed for a 2,000-square-foot roof.
With Renogy 200-watt solar panels, 42 panels will cost $12,600 at $200 per panel.
What is the Price of Just a Solar Panel?
The price of an individual solar panel depends on its wattage (which indicates its efficiency) and manufacturing quality.
It’ll be cheaper to buy a 100W panel than a 300W one, but there can also often be a big difference between two similar panels made by different manufacturers.
Recently, I bought 100W flexible panels from Alibaba without any brand name. It was a mistake. After examining all aspects of the product, it quickly became evident that the manufacturing quality was poor, and they would not hold up for as long as brands like Renogy.
Looking for products with good reviews before making any purchase decisions would be best. Here's a comparison between the costs of some well-known solar panel manufacturers:
Table: 200 watt solar panel prices compared
Price guide ($)
60 + shipping + import tax
46 + shipping + import tax
# of cells
Power at MPP
kWh/yr 4 peak-sun-hours
How Many Solar Cells are Required to Power an Entire House?
To run a house with an average daily energy consumption of 33 kWh, 34 solar panels rated at 250 Watts each would be needed, with a daily insolation rate of 4.5 kWh per square meter.
The total theoretical solar energy output of the required solar array would be 8400 Watts.
Considering that solar panels lose approximately 23 percent of their output due to various factors, the practical, real-world solar power required for a house would be 10,500 Watts.