Solar Becomes the Standard in Another New Community


PetersenDean offers rooftop solar as a standard feature in D.R. Horton’s new community in Milpitas, California. With prices dropping, solar continues to become more mainstream and could become standard on over 50% of new construction by 2016.

PetersenDean Roofing & Solar is celebrating its new partnership with homebuilder D.R. Horton in its recently opened luxury community of Orchid in Milpitas, California. The new homes offer solar roofing as a standard feature, and as part of its commitment to using products made in America, all of the solar panels are made in the United States by SolarWorld.

When looking back over the years, it’s easy to see the progression of solar in new construction. While it originally fell to the individual homebuyer to decide if they wanted to put solar on their new home, it has become common for new communities to offer solar as an option. While the environmental benefits cannot be denied, the major driving force behind this is likely the continuously dropping price, as well as new financing options.

D.R. Horton has taken this a step further with the Orchid community, and is including solar on every new home being built. The community, which includes a variety of other eco-friendly attributes, features 80 single-family homes that each provide a 1.5 kW grid-tied solar electric system backed by a 25-year warranty. Buyers will have the option to upgrade to 3.0 kW, depending on plans, elevations, orientations, and available roof space. Homebuyers will not only save on energy costs, but most are also eligible for a 30% federal tax deduction based on the cost of the solar installation.

Orchid is not the first community to do this. Multiple new communities have recently made solar a standard feature of their new homes. In fact, in a recent report by McGraw Hill Construction and the National Association of Homebuilders, it is estimated that solar could be a standard feature on over 50% of new homes by 2016.

With costs continuing to drop, and installations working out to roughly $4 per watt, it simply makes sense to opt for solar. “For most of our customers that choose to go solar, it boils down to a simple financial play, just like better windows or better insulation,” said Meritage CEO C.R. Herro. A very efficient 3.5 KW solar array could reduce electricity costs by up to 75%.

All of this points to the fact that residential solar is continually becoming more mainstream. “As solar panel costs continue to fall, more and more builders like D.R. Horton are offering solar as a standard feature. Consumers are asking for it and building codes are requiring energy efficiency and renewable energy products for new construction,” said Jim Petersen, founder of PetersenDean. “Solar power is a logical technology and is becoming so affordable that paybacks can be as low as three years. After that the homeowner owns the power. As they say, ‘it’s the new granite countertop’ and people love their granite countertops. But a granite counter can’t pay your electricity bills; solar panels can.”