1 in 4 Homeowners Plans to Install Solar Panels in the Next 5 Years, Survey Finds

aerial view of Two workers installing solar panels on a house roof
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Key Findings

  • 42% of survey respondents have or are currently installing a solar panel system
  • 36% of survey respondents are considering installing a solar panel system
  • 27% of those respondents are planning to go solar in the next five years 
  • 63% of survey respondents would pay more for a home with solar panels than a home without
  • Texas and Florida show the highest number of residents interested in solar 

It seems there’s hope for clean energy in America. A new study from EcoWatch of 1,000 homeowners found that solar panels are becoming an increasingly popular energy alternative in the U.S.

The majority of homeowners interested in solar say they are seeking to lower their energy bills. But a number of respondents also cited wanting to help the environment and wanting to take advantage of solar tax incentives and rebates as top reasons for going solar.

On the other hand, the majority of those uninterested in installing solar panels state that they are “too expensive,” even though the cost of solar has dropped more than 60% in the last decade.1

Still, we anticipate more solar panels will be installed on homes across the country in the near future. That rings especially true in the South and Midwest, as homeowners in these regions report being most interested in going solar, with Texas and Florida leading the way.

Homeowners With Solar Vs. Homeowners Without

There’s no doubt that solar is on the rise across the U.S. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the residential solar market experienced its fifth consecutive year of growth in 2021, up 30% compared to 2020.2 And the findings of the EcoWatch survey are consistent with this trend.

Homeowners With Solar Panel Systems

Of the 1,000 respondents, 42% of U.S. homeowners say they have installed or are currently installing solar panels on their homes. It’s a notable increase compared to a similar (albeit larger) survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2019, which found just 6% of over 2,500 homeowners surveyed had solar panels installed at home.3

Breaking it down by region, a higher percentage of homeowners in the West have already installed solar panels, followed by the Northeast, the South and the Midwest. However, more people in the Northeast are currently in the process of installing solar, followed by the South, the West and Midwest regions.

Homeowners who have already installed solar panels*:

  • Midwest: 25%
  • Northeast: 28%
  • South: 25%
  • West: 43%

Homeowners in the process of installing solar panels*:

  • Midwest: 10%
  • Northeast: 16%
  • South: 14%
  • West: 11%

*Rounded to the nearest whole number

Planning to Go Solar

Of those who aren’t actively using or installing solar energy systems, the majority are still interested in solar power. Our survey revealed that 36% of homeowners are planning to install solar panels in the future, 27% of which say they plan to install solar within the next five years.

This next part gets interesting. It seems solar is becoming more desirable in places where it hasn’t been historically, with the majority of Midwest homeowners reporting that they’re planning to go solar.

Homeowners planning to install solar panels*:

  • Midwest: 40%
  • Northeast: 34%
  • South: 37%
  • West: 29%

*Rounded to the nearest whole number

By number of respondents, Texas has the highest number of homeowners interested in getting solar panels, followed by Florida and Georgia. Interestingly enough, Texas, Florida and Georgia were also in the top seven states people moved to in 2021, which could mean a lot of new homeowners in those states are looking to install solar.4

Interested, But Hesitant to Install Solar Panels 

So, what’s the hold-up for homeowners who said they’re considering installing solar panels but not within the next five years?

The majority of respondents from that group say the high upfront cost of going solar is the biggest reason for their hesitancy. This is followed by a lack of knowledge about the benefits of going solar.

Top reasons for not being likely to install solar in the next five years:

  1. The upfront cost of solar is too high.
  2. The respondent wants to know more about the benefits of solar before making the switch.
  3. The respondent wants to know more about which companies install solar in their area.

Why Are Homeowners Interested in Solar?

Investing in a solar energy system has plenty of benefits, including reducing your carbon footprint, earning tax credits and becoming more energy independent, to name a few.

Here are the top three reasons for going solar, according to the EcoWatch survey:

Homeowners express many different reasons for wanting to go solar, but the benefit that is most appealing is reduced utility bills. 

More than half of the respondents who either have or are interested in going solar say lowering their energy bills is the main attraction to switching to solar energy. This motivation is followed by wanting to help the environment and wanting to take advantage of solar tax credits and rebates.

A handful of homeowners also cite wanting to increase the value of their home and having more control over their electricity usage as their reason for going solar.

Why Aren’t Homeowners Interested in Solar?

Going solar isn’t the best or most viable option for every homeowner. Even some homeowners who want to install solar panels find barriers to being able to do so, such as the price, lack of sunny days in their region or specifics of their roof.

The majority of respondents who wouldn’t consider installing solar panels on their homes say they’re put off by the high upfront costs of a solar photovoltaic system. This reason is followed by respondents thinking solar panels are ugly and not wanting to maintain the technology.

How Solar Panels Affect Perceived Home Value

It’s been debated whether or not solar panels increase a home’s property value, but according to the EcoWatch survey, the majority of homeowners agree that they do.

The survey revealed that 70% of homeowners agree that solar panels increase the resale value of a home, and 63% of homeowners report that they would pay more for a home with solar panels than a home without.

Shining a Light on Common Solar Panel Stigma

Although solar panels have been around since the 1950s, there are still many misunderstandings and stigmas surrounding them.

Are Solar Panels Too Expensive?

Of survey respondents, 60% of homeowners agree that solar panels are too expensive. This is the No. 1 reason homeowners say they would not consider installing them. While there’s no downplaying the costs associated with going solar, it has become significantly more affordable in recent years.

The average-sized residential solar panel system has dropped from $40,000 in 2010 to roughly $20,000 in 2021, and those prices are not factoring in solar incentives that can lower the total cost of your system.5 Meanwhile, the cost of retail electricity is rising, with the average electric bill increasing from roughly $110 in 2010 to $122 in 2021.6

When homeowners calculate energy savings — paired with solar incentives, tax credits and rebates and solar financing options — many realize going solar is much more affordable than previously thought.

Do Solar Panels Only Work When the Sun Is Shining?

 According to the EcoWatch survey, 40% of homeowners believe that solar only works when the sun is shining

While solar panels are most efficient when soaking up direct sunlight on sunny days, they still generate energy on cloudy days. This is because photovoltaic solar panels can work with both direct and indirect sunlight. 

Even on days with heavy cloud cover, solar panels typically generate 10 to 25% of their standard power output. Rain can also be beneficial for solar panels, as it washes away dirt and dust that can obstruct sunlight absorption.

That said, solar panels do not generate electricity when the sun goes down. Many homeowners install solar energy storage systems to use at night or during periods of severe weather when there may be power outages.

Are Solar Panels Too Ugly?

It’s hard to argue with this finding: 31% of homeowners think solar panels are ugly.

The majority of rooftop solar panel systems are bulky and non-discreet. But solar panel aesthetics have come a long way since they were first developed in 1954, and there’s more hope on the horizon.

Many have praised thin-film solar panels for their sleek design, but because they aren’t that efficient, they’re a less-than-ideal choice to power an entire household. Fortunately, companies like Tesla have been developing technologies such as solar shingles to make high-efficiency solar modules more aesthetically pleasing. 

As it currently stands, solar roof tiles aren’t as widely available and are much more expensive than standard rooftop solar panels. But as the technology becomes more popular and cheaper to produce, solar roofs will become more accessible to homeowners.

Methodology

EcoWatch surveyed 1,000 homeowners across the U.S. to gather findings about solar panel ownership. For the purpose of the survey, all respondents owned their homes even if they had outstanding debt on their mortgage loans.

The age of survey respondents ranged from 18 to 54, with the majority falling in the 25 to 44 age range. The sample size was about 52% female and 48% male. The majority of respondents had a household income between $25,000 and $49,999.

This survey was conducted between July 14–15, 2022, using Pollfish.

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