There Are A Few Routes To Solar Panel Ownership

Ean GoodguyAugust 16, 20189530

There Are A Few Routes To Solar Panel Ownership

If you own your house, and you can swing it, buying your panels outright is the best opportunity. It’s the only way to get the advantage of the ITC and other incentives, and it’s the only way to obtain renewable energy credits (RECs) , which is substantive income from selling your excess energy back to your local utility company.

Solar Purchase

Although solar panels are costly up front, they pay off in the long-run. The most common solar payback time (or time required to recover expenses) is eight years. Panels, by contrast, last upward of 25 years, leaving you with a possible 17-plus years of savings.

A modern research by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reveals solar energy systems add value to hotels, in its comparison of California residences, each kilowatt of brand-new solar panel system added $5,911 to the selling value. (Granted that profit declined by $2,411 for every year the system had aged.)

Solar Opportunity

Many solar installers will also give you the opportunity to lease panels, and an increasing number are beginning to include PPAs as a choice. But buying is the simplest option, it just demands cash up front, or you can get a loan.

When you lease solar energy, the corporation you lease from will install panels on your roof at no cost. It’ll take care of any issue that comes up, and you’ll pay a set monthly charge (think of it as a subscription) for the term of your lease, which will likely be about 15–20 years. The company, not you, will get to utilize the ITC and other benefits. Just like with a car lease, at the expiration of your term, you’ll have the opportunity to buy your panels, but solar developer Tom Kacandes cautions against purchasing. “Unfortunately, the leased systems I see sometimes have used second-tier panels and old technology string inverters to make more profit for the leasing company,” he states, “which bothers me as an advocate for solar power.”

The PPA opportunity is very similar to leasing; rather than paying a subscription, you’ll pay per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of solar energy that you utilize. (If you require more than your panels generate, you can buy more electricity from the grid from the power company you used pre-panel.) 

Leasing, and its brother incentive the PPA, sound like lower responsibilities than purchasing. In a few of ways, that’s true: You have no up-front expense (or at least a comparatively low one, if you’re asked to make a declining payment), and maintenance is included, which can feel like a significant weight off. But solar leases have much longer terms than the ones we’re most accustomed with: vehicle leases.

If you want to find out what solar panels are right for you, go to and try our price checker tool. You can see how much you can save over the next 20 years by going solar, and we can help find local solar installers who can help. For more information relating to going solar, don't forget to visit our solar blog section for more handy guides and articles.

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