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Investing in solar energy, whether through built-in solar panels on new construction or retrofitting your existing home, is a smart, long-term investment for your budget and the planet. It provides perks beyond just monthly savings, though. Solar panels boost the resale value of your home, reduce your environmental impact and contribute to achieving a net-zero rated home

Retrofitting for solar involves installing rooftop solar panels on your current home, which can increase energy efficiency, but can require costly home renovations. New home construction allows you to optimize energy efficiency from the start by integrating solar panels into the home during construction.

As you weigh each approach, it’s essential to understand the pros and cons of both solar panels on energy-efficient new construction homes and retrofitting an existing home for solar. This will help you make an informed decision that works for your budget, lifestyle and sustainability goals.

A close-up shot of a Brite Home with solar panels on it. Solar panels on new construction.

Built-In Solar Panels on New Construction vs. Retrofitting for Solar

Installing solar panels on new construction homes involves designing and building a home that prioritizes maximum energy efficiency. Investing in a new home with built-in solar panels makes sense if you want to achieve net-zero energy, but there are other factors to consider.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of choosing built-in solar panels:

Benefits of Built-In Solar Panels

  • Avoid retrofit challenges: Building a new solar-powered home spares you the potential challenges of retrofitting your existing home. For instance, your home’s existing roof structure and orientation might not be optimal for energy generation. Additionally, integrating panels and required wiring with current electrical systems might also require complex modifications, potentially leading to higher costs and technical challenges.
  • Greater flexibility and seamless integration: Solar panels on energy-efficient new construction homes allow seamless solar integration from the initial home design. This approach provides greater flexibility to customize your home’s energy-efficient features to meet your specific needs. For instance, the builder can help ensure your roof is oriented at the best angle and in a spot with ideal sun exposure. 
  • Financial incentives: Opting for a home with built-in solar panels can help avoid the extra costs of retrofitting. That’s because, when retrofitting, you’ll have higher expenses if the structure is older, outdated or needs significant renovations, like a roof replacement to accommodate solar panels.

     

Drawbacks of Built-In Solar Panels

  • Relocation: Uprooting yourself from your current living situation, finding a new property and adjusting to a new environment can come with their own set of unique challenges. However, the savings you gain from higher energy efficiency can far outweigh those temporary inconveniences.
  • Time investment: Opting for solar panels on a new construction home involves substantial time investment. From finding suitable land to build on to overseeing construction and handling various homeowner decisions, you’ll need to allocate considerable time. Choosing the right partner for building your energy-efficient home is key to ensuring everything progresses on schedule and without delay.

     

Retrofitting Your Home for Solar

Retrofitting your home for solar involves upgrading an existing structure to incorporate solar energy systems that generate renewable energy without building a new home. It may seem like the easier and cheaper option, but that’s not always the case.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of choosing to retrofit your home for solar:

Benefits of Retrofitting Solar Panels

  • Marginal savings: Retrofitting your home with solar panels can lead to modest reductions in energy bills, helping you save a bit on your monthly expenses. The costs for installing solar panels may seem lower than building a new net-zero home, but in reality, they are far higher. Not to mention, you’ll lose out on the significant utility savings that come along with living in a net-zero home that already comes complete with built-in solar panels.
  • Partially greener: Retrofitting contributes to a slight reduction in your home’s carbon footprint by utilizing solar power, thereby offering a basic level of environmental benefit. However, built-in solar panels on a new construction home achieve significantly higher reductions in your overall energy consumption.

     

Drawbacks of Retrofitting Solar Panels

  • Structural limitations: Older homes may need extensive repairs or renovations to accommodate solar energy. Limited space and structural issues can also pose challenges and limit design options. You may encounter unforeseen issues during a solar installation that can increase costs and extend timelines. 
  • Efficiency constraints: Retrofitting may not achieve the same energy-efficiency levels as a house designed with built-in solar features. Outdated components in your home can limit the ability to take full advantage of modern-day solar capabilities. If your roof is in a shady spot or facing a direction that doesn’t get the most sunlight, your energy efficiency capabilities will be limited. Without additional energy-efficient upgrades, existing homes will lose the impact of their solar power through inefficient components like old or single-pane windows, reducing the return on investment from adding panels. More than structural modifications and current home conditions, your return on investment comes from the current energy efficiency of your home.

     

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Questions To Ask When Deciding Between Solar Panels for a New Build vs. a Solar Retrofit

  1. What are my energy goals? Define your objectives. Whether it’s minimizing energy bills, reducing your environmental impact or achieving net-zero energy usage, you’ll want to consider these things when making your decision.
  2. What is my budget and timeline? Determining your financial capacity and how soon you want to install solar will help you assess the feasibility of your goals. 
  3. What is the condition of my roof? Consult with a professional to assess if your existing roof can structurally support added solar panels without needing repairs or replacement beforehand.
  4. What is the orientation and shading of my property? Work with a professional to analyze your home’s sun exposure levels and the best areas to capture sunlight. Whether you’re retrofitting for solar or installing solar panels on a new construction home, you’ll want to ensure you receive the full benefits of your panels. 
  5. How will it impact my warranty? Determine if installing panels will void any existing roof coverage you might currently have.
  6. How should I plan for solar power in a new construction home? Maximize energy efficiency by working with the builder to orient your roof for optimal sun exposure, ensuring uninterrupted panel space and preventing shading. Your builder will help you create the best design for your specific needs.
  7. How do I find the right professional to help me construct a new home with built-in solar? Look for a track record of successful solar projects, relevant certifications and a thorough understanding of energy-efficient design principles. Get aligned with them early on to ensure your vision aligns with their expertise.
  8. How energy efficient is my current home? Evaluating whether you’ll get the most out of a solar panel investment is essential. The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) is a helpful tool to help you measure your energy efficiency. It can tell you if your home meets basic standards. Checking your HERS score evaluates current energy performance and savings opportunities.

Build a Net-Zero Home in Florida With Integrated Solar Panels 

While retrofitting your current home has some benefits, a new construction net-zero home with integrated solar panels offers optimal energy efficiency for the best value. Retrofitting also incurs much higher costs than opting for built-in solar panels. Solar panels alone can cost almost twice as much as an energy-efficient new construction home. To that end, you’ll want to seek out a builder specializing in solar, or you may end up paying the same price as retrofitting solar. Brite Homes has an exclusive partnership with a solar panel company that gives us discounted pricing.

Are you ready to reduce energy costs and embrace an eco-friendly lifestyle? Florida’s abundant sunshine is an ideal climate to harness solar energy. We’re dedicated to making your dream of reduced energy bills and a smaller carbon footprint a reality. 

Get in touch with us to start building your net-zero dream home today!

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