What Happens to My Solar Panel If I Move

Solar panel systems, commonly known as photovoltaic (PV) systems, harness sunlight to produce electricity. At the heart of these systems are the solar panels themselves, made up of solar cells that convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. However, most homes and appliances use alternating current (AC) electricity, so inverters play a pivotal role by converting the DC electricity from the panels into AC electricity. 

Alongside these components are batteries, which store excess energy generated. This stored energy can be utilized during periods when the sun isn’t shining, ensuring a consistent power supply even during nighttime or cloudy days.

Installing a solar panel system is a meticulous process that integrates the system with a home’s electrical infrastructure. Panels are typically mounted on rooftops, though they can also be placed on the ground, depending on the property’s characteristics and homeowner preferences. 

Once installed, the system is connected to the home’s electrical circuit and, in many cases, to the local electricity grid. Connecting to the grid lets homeowners return excess electricity, often earning credits or compensation. This grid connection also serves as a backup, providing electricity when the solar system isn’t generating enough power, ensuring an uninterrupted power supply.

Home Ownership and Solar Panel Investment

Opting for solar panels is not merely an environmental decision but also a financial one. The initial investment cost for a solar panel system varies based on size, location, and installation intricacies. Typically, the larger the system’s capacity, the higher the upfront cost. However, the return on this investment can be substantial. 

Homeowners can expect reduced monthly electricity bills, and in regions with favorable solar buyback or net metering policies, they might even earn credits or monetary compensation for the excess power fed back into the grid. Over time, these savings and earnings can offset the initial investment, often leading to a break-even point followed by years of net positive returns.

Yet, not every homeowner pays for their solar system outright. Many opt for alternative financing methods, which come with their contractual obligations. Two popular options are Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and solar leasing. Under a PPA, a third party owns the solar system, and the homeowner agrees to purchase the power generated by the system at a predetermined rate. This rate is usually lower than standard electricity tariffs, offering savings without a large upfront investment. 

On the other hand, solar leasing functions much like leasing a car: homeowners pay a monthly fee to ‘rent’ the solar system and benefit from its electricity. In both scenarios, maintenance and repairs are often the responsibility of the third-party owner, reducing the hassle for the homeowner. However, such agreements usually have long-term commitments and specific terms that need careful consideration.


Options for Homeowners Moving to a New Property

Transfer the Solar Lease or PPA to the New Homeowner

When homeowners decide to move and have a solar system under a lease or Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), transferring the agreement to the new homeowner becomes an option. The process typically involves the following steps:

  • Notification: The solar provider must know the homeowner’s intent to sell the property and the desire to transfer the lease or PPA.
  • Credit Check: The prospective buyer often undergoes a credit check, as the solar provider will want to ensure the new party can fulfill the payment obligations.
  • Transfer Agreement: Once approved, both the original homeowner and the buyer sign a transfer agreement outlining the transfer terms and conditions.


  • Appeal to Buyers: A solar system can make a property more appealing to eco-conscious buyers or those looking to enjoy reduced electricity rates.
  • Financial Savings: Transferring the agreement eliminates the need for the original homeowner to bear the costs associated with deinstalling the solar system and potential penalties for breaking the lease or PPA.


  • Limited Pool of Buyers: While some buyers might find a solar agreement attractive, others might be deterred by the idea of taking over someone else’s contract. They may have concerns about the system’s age, performance, or the terms of the contract itself.
  • Contract Complications: There could be clauses within the original agreement that make the transfer process challenging. For instance, if the rates outlined in the original PPA are no longer competitive, the new homeowner might request renegotiation, adding complexity to the sale process.

Relocate the Solar Panels to the New Property


  • Site Assessment: Before removal, technicians evaluate the current setup to determine the safest method of de-installing the panels without causing damage.
  • Disconnection: The system is disconnected from the home’s electrical circuit and the grid.
  • Physical Removal: Panels, inverters, and sometimes mounting structures are carefully removed. Wiring and electrical components are also safely removed.


  • New Site Assessment: Before the panels are set up at the new location, a thorough assessment is done to determine the optimal placement for maximum sunlight exposure.
  • Installation: Based on the new site’s conditions, mounting structures are set up, followed by installing panels, inverters, and other necessary components. The system is then connected to the new home’s electrical circuit and possibly to the grid.


  • Consistent Benefits: By moving the solar system, homeowners continue to enjoy the benefits they’re accustomed to, such as reduced electricity bills and sustainable energy.
  • Contractual Integrity: For those bound by a lease or PPA, relocating the panels might prevent potential penalties or fees that could be incurred from prematurely ending the contract.


  • Cost and Time: The processes of de-installation and reinstallation are complex and require specialized skills. This often means incurring substantial labor costs. Additionally, the time taken for both processes might leave the homeowner without solar power for an extended period.
  • Risk of Damage: Handling solar panels and associated components carries the risk of damage. During de-installation, transportation, or reinstallation, any damage can result in additional replacement costs and might affect the system’s efficiency.


Sell the Solar System with the House

Incorporating a solar system into the sale of a house means that the new homeowner acquires both the property and the attached solar panels. This approach has implications for both the home’s value and the selling process:

Increasing Home Value with Solar Investment:

Homes equipped with solar panels often have a higher perceived value in the market. This perception is fueled by the understanding that solar systems contribute to decreased utility bills, increased energy independence, and environmental benefits. Several studies suggest that properties with solar installations often fetch higher prices than those without.


  • Enhanced Selling Price: With the added value of a solar system, homeowners can potentially list their property at a higher price, capitalizing on the initial solar investment.
  • Simplified Process: By selling the house with the solar system, homeowners sidestep the complexities and costs of de-installation. This can make the selling process smoother and more straightforward.


  • Forfeited Future Savings: One of the significant draws of solar systems is the long-term savings on electricity bills. By selling the system with the house, the original homeowner relinquishes these future savings to the new homeowner. Over time, these forgone savings can accumulate, especially if energy prices rise.


End the Solar Contract Early (If Applicable)

Choosing to terminate a solar contract prematurely, whether it’s a lease, Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), or another type of agreement, can have various financial implications:

Possible Penalties and Costs

Contracts are legally binding documents; early termination often comes with stipulated penalties. These penalties are set to compensate the solar provider for potential lost revenues and cover administrative costs. The exact amount or nature of these penalties can vary widely based on the contract’s terms. Some contracts may require homeowners to pay for the remaining months on the lease or PPA, while others might have a fixed early termination fee. Additionally, there could be costs associated with removing the solar system if the solar provider retains ownership.


  • Homeowner Flexibility: Ending the contract early gives the homeowner freedom from any future obligations related to the solar system. This can be especially beneficial if the homeowner is relocating to a place where they cannot or do not want to take the solar system with them.


  • Financial Implications: One of the most evident downsides to early termination is the potential financial burden. The fees and penalties can be substantial, depending on the remaining duration of the contract and its specific terms.
  • Loss of Solar Benefits: Terminating the contract might also mean removing the solar system. This results in the loss of future energy savings and forfeits any environmental benefits associated with producing clean energy.


Factors That Influence the Best Choice

Remaining Contract Length

The duration left on a solar contract can heavily influence decisions. A shorter remaining term might mean fewer penalties for early termination, making it more feasible to end the contract. Conversely, it might be more financially sound to transfer or move the system in the longer term.

Age and Condition of the Solar System

A newer solar installation that’s in prime condition can add more value to a home, making it a selling point. Older systems, especially those nearing the end of their typical lifespan, might be less appealing to potential buyers, affecting decisions on transfer or sale.

Moving Distance (local vs. out-of-state)

Local moves might make the logistics of relocating a solar system more manageable and cost-effective. In contrast, out-of-state moves could complicate reinstallation due to differing state regulations or make the process more expensive due to transportation costs.

Financial Situation of the Homeowner

Individual finances play a central role. Homeowners with ample resources might choose options that offer convenience, like relocating the system, even if it’s costlier. Those on tighter budgets might prioritize minimizing expenses, even if it means more legwork or compromises.

Market Demand for Homes with Solar Systems

In areas where eco-conscious living is highly valued, or electricity rates are high, homes with solar systems might be in greater demand. High demand can influence homeowners to sell the property with the system installed, leveraging it as a key selling point.


Key Steps to Follow When Moving with a Solar System

Notify the Solar Provider of the Impending Move

As soon as a decision to move is made, contacting the solar provider is paramount. This ensures that they’re in the loop, which can facilitate smoother transitions, whether it’s a contract transfer, system relocation, or termination.

Assess the New Property for Solar Compatibility

Before any relocation plans are solidified, the new property should be evaluated. Factors like roof condition, orientation, shading, and space will determine how suitable the new location is for the solar setup and if adjustments are needed.

Review Contract Terms for Any Restrictions or Penalties

A deep dive into the existing solar contract will reveal relocation, termination, or transfer terms. Being well-acquainted with these terms can prevent unforeseen costs and guide decision-making.

Coordinate with Real Estate Professionals Familiar with Solar Properties

Working with real estate agents or consultants who understand the intricacies of selling or buying properties with solar installations can be advantageous. Their expertise can help price the property appropriately or navigate negotiations with potential buyers.

Obtain Necessary Permits and Approvals

Relocating a solar system often requires specific permits, especially if connecting to the local grid. Engaging with local authorities or utilities early on can expedite the process and ensure all installations adhere to regional regulations and standards.


Potential Challenges and Solutions

Damages During De-installation or Reinstallation

Challenge: Solar systems are intricate, and handling them carries risks. Damages can occur when removing one property or setting up at another, which might affect the system’s efficiency or lead to additional costs.

Solution: Engaging professionals with a proven track record for de-installation and reinstallation is essential. Proper insurance can also safeguard against unforeseen damages, ensuring coverage in the event of mishaps.

Recontracting or Renegotiating Terms

Challenge: When transferring solar agreements to new homeowners or moving the system, there might be a need to amend contract terms. This can lead to complexities, especially if both parties don’t quickly reach a consensus.

Solution: It’s beneficial to involve legal counsel familiar with solar contracts during such negotiations. Being transparent and communicating clearly with the solar provider or the new homeowner can facilitate smoother renegotiations.

Addressing Property Tax Implications

Challenge: In some jurisdictions, adding a solar system can increase a property’s assessed value, leading to higher property taxes, which can concern potential buyers or the current homeowner.

Solution: It’s prudent to consult with local tax authorities or professionals to understand the potential tax implications. In some areas, there might be tax incentives or exemptions for renewable energy installations, offsetting the potential increase in property taxes. Making potential buyers aware of such benefits can also be a selling point.


Benefits of Keeping Your Solar Investment When Moving

Continuity of Clean Energy Production

Retaining a solar system ensures an ongoing supply of green energy. Even after relocating, homeowners can continue to harness the sun’s power, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and benefiting from consistent energy generation, especially in sun-rich regions.

Financial Savings in the Long Run

While the initial solar installation cost can be substantial, the cumulative savings on electricity bills over the years are often significant. By keeping the solar investment, homeowners can enjoy reduced or even eliminated electricity costs, achieving a return on investment and net positive savings as time progresses.

Contribution to Sustainability and Reducing Carbon Footprint

Beyond the tangible financial gains, there’s an invaluable environmental benefit. By persisting with a solar system, homeowners actively contribute to a decrease in carbon emissions. This commitment to sustainability mitigates climate change’s effects and promotes a healthier environment for future generations.


Alternative Energy Solutions for the New Property

Community Solar Options:

Community solar offers a collaborative way to tap into solar energy for those unable to install private solar systems. Participants can buy or lease a portion of a larger solar farm shared among multiple stakeholders. This allows them to enjoy solar benefits without having panels on their property, making it ideal for renters or homes with unsuitable rooftops.

Renewable Energy Credits:

These are market-based instruments certifying the bearer owns one megawatt-hour of electricity generated from a renewable source. By purchasing these credits, homeowners can offset their conventional energy use, effectively “greening” their consumption. It’s an indirect way to support renewable energy generation, even if the homeowner doesn’t produce it themselves.

Smaller Solar Installations or Portable Solar Solutions:

Not all properties can accommodate extensive solar setups. Smaller installations tailored to meet specific needs or portable solar solutions like solar generators or portable panels can be viable alternatives in such cases. They offer flexibility, scalability and can be particularly useful for those who move frequently or have limited energy needs.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Have to Move My Solar Panels When I Relocate?

No, you have multiple options, including transferring your contract, selling the system with the house, or terminating the contract, depending on its terms.

How Much Does It Cost to Relocate a Solar System?

The cost varies based on factors like system size, moving distance, and installation complexities. It’s best to get a quote from a professional solar installer for an accurate estimate.

Can I Transfer My Solar Lease or PPA to the New Homeowner?

Yes, many solar contracts have provisions for transfers, but they typically involve steps like notifying the provider, a credit check for the new homeowner, and signing a transfer agreement.

Are There Penalties for Terminating My Solar Contract Early?

Most solar contracts have penalties for early termination. The specifics can be found in your contract’s terms and conditions.

What if My New Property isn’t Suitable for Solar?

If your new property isn’t conducive to a solar installation, consider alternatives like community solar options, purchasing renewable energy credits, or opting for portable solar solutions.

Do I need to Inform my Utility Company When Moving my Solar System?

Yes, especially if you’re connected to the grid. This ensures a seamless transition and helps manage net metering or other solar credit programs.



U.S. Department of Energy

Solar Energy Industries Association

National Renewable Energy Laboratory