Solar Panels – Buying vs. Leasing

Solar Panels – Buying vs. Leasing

Once upon a time solar panels were considered an unaffordable way to save energy; however, today that is no longer the case. The cost for solar panels has dropped that the price for owning or at least leasing the environment-friendly electric-generator makes more sense for homeowners. Currently in the U.S., there are more than 600,000 homes with solar panels installed on the roof or somewhere within the home property. The Department of Energy also projects that another 300,000 homes will be using solar panels by 2020. When properly installed and sized, photovoltaic systems can save energy costs by up to 50%, and recent study by DOE says that homebuyers are willing to pay more for houses with solar panels installed.

Leasing is still the most popular way to get solar panel installed. According to GTM Research, about 66% of home solar setups are not owned by the actual homeowners, but by a third-party company. The strongest selling point of leases is the fact that homeowners can get the system installed at no cost at all. However, because they basically rent the panels, they still have to pay monthly solar bill, which is usually less than they typically pay for more conventional electricity. Furthermore, leasing companies often offer free maintenance and monitoring of electricity usage for as long as the leasing period, which generally lasts for about 20 years.

Another way to get the system installed is by purchasing the panels yourself, either as outright purchase or through financing. Now that banks are offering attractive financing program for solar panels, purchasing the system has become a viable method. The cost for solar panels varies between providers, but there are still rebates and solar energy tax benefits that help reduce the upfront cost by up to 30%. These incentives are still applicable until the end of 2016.

When the system is yours, there is no need to pay a monthly solar bill. Your panels will collect the natural energy from the sun rays, so as long as your panels are generating power, you have no need to “purchase” electricity from the power companies. A potential drawback is that owning means regular maintenance, but in contrast to popular belief, the sophisticated photovoltaic system requires little to maintenance. Let us not forget that most companies offer 30 years or more protection plan. Of course, you have to pay quite a lot up front, but there is no leasing renewal because it’s yours. Here is a simple table of comparison between purchasing and leasing solar panels.

Solar Purchase/Financing

Solar Leasing

Residential photovoltaic system average from $15,000 to $30,000 before 30% incentives and rebates You can get the system installed at your home for little to no money at all, but you will pay a monthly solar fee
Total amount of rebates can reduce the initial cost by up to 50%. Most providers are also willing to handle all the paperwork and adjust the price accordingly, so you pay only what you need to pay Because you don’t own the solar panel system, you are not eligible for tax credits, incentives, and rebates. Even when the provider is eligible for those benefits, they are not applicable to homeowner
Average saving can be about 40% to 70% on electricity cost over the lifetime of your photovoltaic system depending on the size of your property and incentives given by local government Average saving cost reaches only up to 30% until the leasing period is over
The average lifetime of solar panel system is about 25 to 30 years; these are the expected period you can enjoy free electricity When the leasing period is over, you have the option to renew, purchase, or remove the installation

Let us not forget that the leasing period is shorter than the expected lifetime of solar panels. If you are planning to install a new photovoltaic system, always try to get multiple quotes. Either financing or outright purchase is more likely to deliver more savings in the long run.

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