Year-end for tax credit OR Spring in time for the solar production season??? Both answers are good but the correct answer for the home owner depends on their immediate goals and if they finance their solar array.
If you are financing a solar array in Michigan, and you are trying to minimize your monthly bills immediately, Spring is the time to install!
As you may have read in our Frequently Asked Questions, solar arrays make more energy than a customer can use in the Spring, Summer and Fall. Spring in Michigan means the daylight hours are increasing but the temperatures are still cool. (Electronics work better in the cold: That’s why computers have cooling fans!) You typically start building up your energy credits in March. Therefore, you monthly expenses for electricity will only be the array payment and a small connection fee to the grid. You should be able to produce all the power you need, plus a bit more! No extra expenses for extra power.
In order to install by Spring, customers will want to start shopping in the Winter. Installation times can vary from three to eight weeks from the time an agreement is put in place.
If you want your 30% tax credit ASAP, end of the year is the best to install a solar array.
All solar arrays qualify for a 30% Federal Tax Credit. If receiving the tax credit is your primary reason for choosing when to go solar, then installing your array at the end of the year makes the most sense. It will provide you with the shortest wait time, since taxes are normally filed the first quarter of the following year. Just understand that if you are financing your array and you install it when solar production is dropping off for the year, you may end up with your monthly array payment plus energy fees to buy the remainder of the necessary power from the electric company to meet your power demands. This is only for the 1st year, as the 2nd year will have the excess credits building up in the Spring, Summer and Fall.
Make sure you plan for an end-of-year installation. In reality, you should start shopping in late September to early October, with an installation agreement in place by the end of October. Factors such as weather, hunting season, holidays and thinly manned permitting departments make guaranteeing installation before the new year, very difficult.
Long Term, Solar Saves You Thousands of Dollars
Regardless of when you install your solar array, the long term affect is that you will save thousands of dollar over the life of the array. Solar arrays usually come with a 25 year warranty and expectations are they will last close to 40 years. That means, you should be able to retire without an energy bill regardless of when you put in solar!
Written by Troy Bracke, December 2017
Troy is a solar professional with Michigan Solar Solutions. He has been in the industry since 2015.