Solar energy for HOA approval has long been a complex process. It’s for a good reason, too, since not everyone is a fan of the way HOA solar panels impact the look of properties in the neighborhood. On the other hand, solar energy in homeowners associations is becoming an increasingly viable way to offset energy costs. Is there a good middle ground for HOA and solar panels given the current state of the solar rights act? Find out more below as we go into solar panels and HOA rules that govern their installation and use.
The Major Benefits of Solar Energy for HOA Properties
Solar power is just about the only source of alternative energy that you can put on your HOA properties. Unlike wind power and other green energy sources, solar panels offer a whole lot more in terms of flexibility. Also, the improvement of solar power technology has now made it even more viable.
That means that, unlike in the past, smaller panels are now able to provide more power than previous versions. Modern solar panels are now also easier to install, maintain, and service. So as a whole, the cost of ownership for a solar power system has dramatically come down. At this point, it has come down far enough to be well within reach of typical homeowners.
Solar energy for HOA properties offers significant cost savings as well, especially in the long run. They also let homeowners reduce their carbon footprint with minimal recurring costs. Owners that have power-generating systems can also sell their excess power back to the grid, as well. Moreover, many states are now offering attractive economic incentives and tax credits to encourage homeowners to install solar panels on their homes.
That’s why more and more homeowners are looking to add solar energy collection and storage systems to their properties, and not just in residential homes, either. Solar panels for condo associations are also on the uptick, especially in regions that get plenty of sun to make it worthwhile.
Solar Panels and HOA Rules
As you are aware, the “big picture” goal of an HOA is to increase the property values in the community. If it’s already high, then their goal shifts to making sure the property values remain at maximum high pricing levels.
This is accomplished by maintaining the structure from a maintenance perspective and the grounds from an aesthetic perspective. It is the latter that can often cause friction among residents.
Some HOAs restrict hanging beach towels over balcony railings, while others limit the number of holiday lights that can be strung up. All of these measures were written into the CC&Rs or created by the vote of your board via the authority that is afforded to them.
Unfortunately, many HOA prohibitions mean that installing solar panels in HOA neighborhoods can be an exercise in frustration. That is, if the HOA even lets you attempt it at all.
If you move into one of these communities with these laws already established, you become an automatic member of the HOA. Thus, you have a duty to abide by these rules. In many cases, your only course of action is to change the law itself, if you cannot live with them.
What Makes Solar Energy An Issue Within HOA Communities?
Solar energy has long been considered the pinnacle of eco-friendly technologies. Today, more businesses and homes are going green by installing solar panels to convert the sun’s always beaming power into usable energy. In some cases, a solar system can allow a home to go completely off the grid and even sell back power to the electric company.
It stands to reason that homeowners living in an HOA governed community would want those types of benefits, but aesthetics play a major role in the (perceived) value to a community.
Frankly speaking, solar panels have a certain look that often clashes with classic home building materials. They can also cause unsightly glare. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to conceal a typical solar panel bank from view, either. For a viable solar energy system, you’ll need to install several large panels on a roof. That many panels make them hard to hide.
Real estate agents have traditionally looked at these “add-ons” as a detriment to holding property values, as well.
That’s why there has been a number of court cases involving HOAs, homeowners, and solar power. These conflicts have become widespread enough to make its way to the state legislature. Lawmakers have considered from time to time whether HOAs have the right to prevent residents from installing solar panels and similar systems.
As a result, there are many of these laws already on the books regarding the use of solar panels within an association, with the first one being instituted in California back in the 1970s. At this point, it’s likely that your HOA has had to deal with this issue. So if a homeowner ever decides to look into solar power, all they have to do is ask. It can be as easy as making a call on whether they should be permitted or prohibited in your community.
Getting Approved for Solar Energy for HOA Installation
It’s important for HOA homeowners to understand the process of getting HOA approval for the installation of solar power. This fact holds true not just for solar panels, either. Most, if not all HOA boards, will have an entire architectural committee that oversees these applications.
In most cases, the homeowner submits an application to their HOA, along with their detailed plans on where they plan to install their solar energy systems. Alternatively, many solar power contractors can also do the application process for the homeowner, too. So residents have the option to let their solar contractor handle the application process for them, as well.
In fact, many solar installers now offer to do all the HOA paperwork on behalf of the homeowner. Thus, the resident only gets involved if they need to.
Know Your Solar Rights
It’s also important for HOA residents to know their rights when it comes to access to sunlight. In some states, laws exist to provide homeowners with solar easements. These are additional legal rights that protect their home’s access to sunlight. Thus, HOA residents have to negotiate with their neighbors if any of their trees, buildings, or other items are preventing another homeowner from getting their due share of sunshine.
It’s an important consideration if you plan to install solar panels on your property.
Solar Energy for HOA Communities: A Community Effort
Can an HOA and its residents see eye to eye when it comes to solar energy for HOA? It depends on the governing documents for the association. But if the will is there, residents and the HOA board can cooperate to add this alternative energy source to their community. It’s possible to do this, as demonstrated by many HOAs that now use solar energy to supplement their needs. All it takes is a bit of community effort.