Can I remove my solar panels when I sell my house? Here’s what you need to know.

Posted February 2024

Increasing numbers of South African homeowners are seeing the benefits of a solar installation on their residential property, or upgrading to solar from an existing battery backup system. But what happens if you decide to sell your property after you’ve installed a home solar system? Can you remove your solar panels, or must they stay as part of the property you’ve sold? There are a few different routes you can take, and all of them have different pros and cons. To avoid problems with selling a house when it’s got solar panels installed, here are three scenarios to consider.

Scenario 1: You leave the entire solar PV system behind

If you decide to leave your residential solar system as is – including the panels, batteries and inverter – you could include the value of this system into the sale price. So what is its value? This is where it gets tricky, as the answer can be fairly subjective. For example, you may not be able to add on the entire cost of what you paid for the system to the sale price if the residential property market is performing poorly in your area and you need to sell quickly. The value also depends on how old your system is – for example, if it’s out of workmanship guarantee (ensure your service provider offers this) or the electrical certificate of compliance has lapsed (it is only valid for two years), you’ll need to factor this in.

If you do sell your residential solar system with the house and there is an SLA (Service Level Agreement) in place, you’ll need to inform your installer that there is a new buyer, so that they know who to contact regarding the system’s ongoing maintenance. Remember too that the certificate of compliance for a solar system only lasts two years. The new buyer has the right to ask for this, so you may need to pay for a renewal if it is about to or has already expired. 

  • Pros: Simple and straightforward – no need to remove equipment and pay for any possible roof damage.
  • Cons: You may not be able to recoup the full cost of your home solar installation. However you have made substantial savings with your energy costs. Typically the Solar system in SA with Eskom rates has recouped the capex within 5-6 years should the system have been optimally designed, meaning designed with your annual usage in mind.
Scenario 2: You take the solar system with you

Another option is to remove your solar panels, inverter and batteries and take them with you to your new premises. You may decide to do this if there is no solar on your new property, or if the buyer of your house doesn’t agree to a higher sale price with the solar system included. Either way, if every other house for sale in your area has solar and yours doesn’t, this could be a negative for potential buyers. 

If you are taking your system with you, make sure that you document in the sale agreement that the equipment will not be part of the sale. Remember that the removal of the solar system needs to be completed before the electrical inspection is done ahead of the transfer of the house to the new owner. 

There’s also a high risk of damaging the roof if you remove the panels, so you’ll need to cover the cost of any repairs that need to be done. Once the panels have been removed, a roofing company will inspect and issue a Guarantee Certificate if everything is in order. Once again, the seller will need to cover this cost. 

  • Pros: You have the solar equipment for a new installation at your new premises.
  • Cons: You may damage the roof or the actual panels in the process of removing panels; no solar in your house may be a perceived negative by a potential buyer. 
Scenario 3: You leave only the solar panels behind

In this hybrid scenario, you take the batteries and inverter with you but leave the solar panels behind as a fitting. As with option 1 above, you can factor the value of the panels into your sale price to recoup some or all of the cost of the panels.

Bear in mind that even if you leave behind the panels, the new buyer will need to get an entirely new system installed (i.e. a new inverter and batteries), with a new certificate of compliance for electrical work. 

  • Pros: You have batteries and inverters for a new installation at your new premises, so you only have to pay for panels (unless there are already panels at your new premises). However, we recommend you use the same installer, as new installers don’t necessarily want to give guarantees for equipment not installed by them.
  • Cons: Your buyer will need to install a new system which could reduce the perceived value of the panels. 

A residential solar system is a fairly significant financial investment, so it’s important to think carefully about what you’ll do with it if you sell your house with a system already installed. Every sale scenario is different, and every buyer and seller has different needs and priorities. Either way, make sure that the agreement you reach is documented in the sale agreement so that both parties are on board – and you can avoid problems with selling a house when solar panels have been installed. 

Moving or selling your home and want to know more about a solar installation? Contact us today.