There are many ways to go about getting solar panels on your home. Most of them involve hiring a good contractor to design and install a system on your roof. And, unfortunately, it often involves spending a lot of money up front on the system and installation. Fortunately, there are alternatives that are rapidly evolving that can bring the initial cost of the system down to something much more affordable and sometimes can cost NOTHING up front.

What exactly is solar leasing?
Just like when you lease a car and are therefore entitled to drive and use the property without paying a large upfront cost, solar leasing lets you use solar panels to generate electricity. You may also hear it referred to as solar financing, solar power purchase agreements, or solar rental programs.

How does solar panel leasing work?
The programs vary slightly, but here are the basics:

You contact a solar leasing program provider (we’ll discuss them below)
The provider comes to your home and determines if your home qualifies for their program. They evaluate things like sun exposure, roof angle and access issues.
If your home is right for solar power, the company usually collects a deposit and you sign an agreement ranging from 10-20 years. In some cases, depending on local solar incentives, the provider may not require any money from you. That’s right, your system could be FREE! Some leasing programs also stipulate what happens if/when you choose to move, many times the program can be transitioned to the new owner.

The provider hires the installer and oversees the installation. They also manage all maintenance and warranty issues with the system for the life of the contract.
The provider collects any and all utility incentives and tax breaks.
You immediately start seeing benefits in lower monthly electricity bills. The solar leasing company is essentially selling you power at a reduced rate that they generate from the solar panels. Savings vary from 5% to 25% on monthly electric bills.

Here’s where it gets really good: your power rates from the leasing company are locked in for the life of the agreement. So when the utility rates start to rise (and they most definitely will) your rates will stay the same and your power savings will really take off.

You get the satisfaction of generating clean, renewable energy while helping the planet.

What’s the catch?

There are of course some qualifications for the program. People who qualify for solar leasing programs generally meet these guidelines:

  • Live in states with great solar incentives like Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Programs will be in place very soon for other places like Texas and Florida.
  • Serviced by a major utility that has a solar incentive program in place, not a local or municipal power cooperative.
  • Have a large space on the roof that is clear of obstructions and faces south.
  • Have a desire to save money and help the planet at the same time.

Leasing can be a great way to get solar power installed on your home and start seeing the benefits of renewable energy right away.

Source: Solar Power Authority.