If you’ve been noticing, you may have seen more and more of your neighbors adding solar panels to their roof. Perhaps you’ve wondered if it’s worth it. That answer is different for everyone depending on your financial situation, your home ownership goals and your future goals. There are two ways to get solar panels, lease them or own them. Let’s dive into those two ways to get solar a little bit:
- Leasing. If you decide leasing is right for you, shop companies. Review their contracts before signing and read the fine print. How long is the lease for (many are 20 or more years)? Will the lease and panels convey if you decide to sell the property? Who is responsible for damages to the roof during and after installation? Do you get direct savings on your electric bill or do the savings come in a different form? Can the solar company demand the savings back at any time during your lease (yes this is actually fine print on a solar panel lease!)?
- Determine how these answers work for you. Do you plan on moving at some point in the future? If so, right now panels don’t increase the value of your home (but that changes with the market and demand for greener homes), but they do make your home more marketable (depending on your mirco-market).
- Do the savings work for the risk?
- Talk to your neighbors who have solar panels, ask questions and find out who gets a kickback from the solar company.
- Owning. Usually this is a large investment most homeowners don’t have readily handy. The benefits of owning your panels, are you don’t have to deal with a lengthy lease and once they are on your roof, they are yours. There are still questions to ask the company installing them like who is responsible for damage during installation. The panels may also void any warranty you have on your roof. Also, unless you plan on installing owned solar in your forever home, you may not get your full investment back.
If you are considering solar, here is a great article from Consumer Reports on the topic: The Real Cost of Leasing vs. Buying Solar Panels.
As always, do your research, and consult your financial adviser, attorney and broker before making any large purchases or signing a lease.