When consumers interested in solar approach me, they often feel frustrated by HOA restrictions that were written years (sometimes decades) ago which severely restrict or ban solar panels. HOAs often fear that panels lower the property value of homes. The National Association of REALTORS® released a sustainability report in April 2019 which gives statistics about how sustainable features affect property values. (Scroll down for more data). As a general rule, sustainable features add value to the property much more often that it decreases value. The report’s bottom line: 69% said energy efficiency promotion in listings was very or somewhat valuable.
I’ve had HOA leaders ask me what suggestions I have for writing new policy. My philosophy is that money-conscious & ecology-conscious consumers should have the choice to own alternative energy- regardless of the neighborhood in which they live- because it saves consumers a significant amount of money, and mitigates carbon. However, I understand that some homeowners think that the aesthetics of solar panels may decrease property value. NAR research doesn’t support that viewpoint, but I understand and honor that concern. To strike a balance, I favor one of two policy models which allow solar panels, but provide location and aesthetic restrictions. Model #1 is the most restrictive, and has two very simple rules reflecting a good middle-ground compromise:
- No front-facing solar panels.
- Side-facing solar panels must be black-on-black (gridless). No restrictions on rear-facing panels, which could be the black-on-silver grid aesthetic.
This approach preserves the aesthetics of the front facade of all homes, minimizes aesthetic impact of side-facing panels, and still allows many (not all) homeowners in the neighborhood to own solar. This policy may disappoint people who own homes on the north side of a street, if their roof is north/south oriented: it clearly states they cannot have solar on their roof. However, if the backyard is large enough, this policy doesn’t prevent the homeowner from having a ground-mounted system behind the house, or perhaps on a detached garage, workshop, or patio pergola.
Model #2 is less restrictive, allows everyone to have solar, and has just one rule:
- Front- and side-facing solar panels must be black-on-black (gridless).
Which model is right for your HOA? The answer depends on the neighborhood. Multiple factors should be considered, including style of homes.
My opinion only: to restrict solar panels any further than the above suggested models would also be restricting potential property value increases. NAR data supports this conclusion.
Please call/text me if I can be of assistance in your neighborhood. 614-383-3879