About the SA Blog Network

Solar at Home

Solar at Home

The trials, tribulations and rewards of going solar
Solar at Home Home

Can You Really Get Solar Panels Installed for Free?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Email   PrintPrint

It sounds too good to be true: you can go solar without paying a cent. I first mentioned this proposition, known formally as a power-purchase agreement, two years ago: a company such as SunRun or SolarCity installs panels on your roof at its expense and, in exchange, collects the government subsidies. But I never really grasped how it would work in detail, so I arranged for SunRun to send someone to my brother and sister-in-law’s house this past weekend as a kind of test run. The sales pitch was so persuasive that my brother and his wife, who are probably the less impulsive consumers I know (they never buy so much as a computer cable without doing months of research), are seriously thinking of going for it.

The first thing a smart shopper wants to know is: what’s the catch? In this case, it’s simple. Installing panels is so financially advantageous that SunRun can split the benefits with you and still turn a tidy profit. That profit would be all yours if you paid for the array yourself, as I did. The SunRun representative, Kelcy Pegler, Jr., of Roof Diagnostics (a local installer that SunRun contracts with), was very upfront about this: “Your return will always be better off buying it.” But then you’d need to float the cost and take the risks. The question becomes: do you want to?

Pegler started off by walking around the exterior of the house to inspect the roof exposure and tree shading, confirming an earlier analysis he had done using aerial images. SunRun won’t even offer you a free array unless your roof faces approximately south and has minimal shading. They run the numbers for your site and see whether they can recoup their costs—it’s all very hardheaded. As it happens, my brother and his wife’s house qualified. For fun, we asked Pegler what would happen if they wanted to put the panels on the northwest side of the house rather than the southeast. Then SunRun would have politely declined.

We went inside, had some lemonade, and Pegler looked over the household electric bills. Government subsidies will only pay for an array that covers a family’s annual electric usage—if you want to become a net producer, you’ll have to fork out for that yourself. In my brother and sister-in-law’s case, it didn’t matter: the array size was limited by their roof area, anyway. A system of that size would cost about $30,000, before subsidies.

When Pegler explained the zero-dollar option, we Mussers looked at one another in surprise. It sounded like a real letdown. In return for letting SunRun install and maintain the array, my brother and sister-in-law would save 10% on their electric bill. Ten percent? That’s it? To be more precise, they’d commit to buying all the expected array production at a rate of 16.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, versus the utility rate of about 18.5 cents. As my brother later confessed to me, “It’s not really that exciting.”

This is the tradeoff of a free system. Basically, you get to have only one zero. You can pay zero, or you can zero out your electric bill, but not both.

But as Pegler continued his pitch, the deal started to sound sweeter. SunRun limits its annual rate increases to 2.9%. By comparison, our utility rate has gone up about 40% since 2005, an average of 6% per year. The way it’s going, it’ll top 60 cents in 20 years, versus 30 cents for SunRun. So the 10% savings would grow steadily to 50% or even more if the government introduced carbon pricing.

The same logic applies to a self-financed system, but you need to factor in the maintenance costs. When SunRun pays, it has every incentive to watch the panels like a hawk. I talked to SunRun co-founder and president Lynn Jurich about this in April, after I wrote a post about problems with the quality of solar installations. She said SunRun contracts with Burnham Energy, a solar consultancy, to conduct quality-control checks. SunRun also monitors the output of each array for signs of trouble. Inverters tend to conk out after 10 years, and the company budgets for that. Jurich estimated that diligent monitoring can squeeze 30% more energy out of a system over its lifetime. Once, she recalled, the company noticed that all the arrays in one area were producing less power than expected. It turned out that ash from a forest fire had coated them, and the company sent out cleanup crews.

Pegler said the SunRun contract runs for 20 years, at the end of which my brother and sister-in-law would have the option of buying the system at its depreciated value. If they sell their house before then, the contract gets transferred to the buyers, unless they for some reason would rather not have cheap electricity, in which case the company would unbolt the panels from the roof and truck them away. SunRun sets up an escrow account to pay for continued maintenance in the case the company ever goes bankrupt.

So it really comes down to personal preference. On balance, I’m happy I bought my system. (Besides, SunRun didn’t operate in N.J. at the time I got my array.) But dealing with all the bureaucracy and upfront costs was really a hassle, and I suspect that most people would rather put their time and money elsewhere. I’d love to hear about your experiences. Please comment below or email me directly.

P.S. Whenever I mention government subsidies for solar power, people write in to complain about wasting taxpayer and ratepayer money. Living in a state (N.J.) that consistently subsidizes the rest of the country by paying more in taxes than we receive in Federal spending, I have some sympathy for this grievance. So, yes, let’s eliminate subsidies—starting with those that make electricity from oil, gas, and coal artificially cheap. But until the playing field is level, it’s inconsistent to complain about solar subsidies. Besides, the solar industry is already weaning itself. State rebates are much less favorable than they used to be. Jurich she said she looks forward to the day when solar can stand on its own: “The best thing we can do is to get off subsidies.” So please, don’t hijack the thread to complain about solar subsidies.

Photos by Bret Musser

George Musser About the Author: is a contributing editor at Scientific American. He focuses on space science and fundamental physics, ranging from particles to planets to parallel universes. He is the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to String Theory. Musser has won numerous awards in his career, including the 2011 American Institute of Physics's Science Writing Award. Follow on Twitter @gmusser.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Rights & Permissions

Comments 53 Comments

Add Comment
  1. 1. MIckey23 7:27 pm 08/22/2011

    Schemes like these have been deemed successful in Germany, not the sunniest place on Earth ;-) . In most cases the solar panels are installed, and the building stays connected to the grid. The original device is replaced with a version with two-way capability. Should your capacity be big enough and your production exceeds your consumption, the excess electricity is `delivered` to the grid to be used elsewhere. You’re no longer just the consumer, you’ve turned into a producer, selling electricity at some (seemingly) acceptable price.

    Not sure if SunRun creates the technical capability to deliver excess electricity to the grid (would you be able to distinguish?). Suppose they do generate a little extra cash-flow, well then SunRun has the sunniest deal of them all. Unless you buy yourself ofcourse.

    Link to this
  2. 2. Bilsko 9:54 pm 08/22/2011

    @Mickey23 – you’re describing “net metering” – it is available in most states, and is typically just an accounting transaction. Any net surplus is just credited to your next month’s bill. That said, there are technical configurations where the system can energize the grid – but utility limitations on that approach are pretty strict.

    @George Musser – this is a really good ‘frame’ for the “could I actually install PV panels on *my* roof?” question. Please don’t take the following as a hijack to complain about subsidies. They are what they are – and way too many good projects would never get off the drawing board without them. I’m just providing a bit more detail to your post.

    A couple of observations:

    - Its important to keep in mind that just as with real estate, location matters most for these systems. And its not just on the technical side (south facing roof, minimal shade). I’d say that location is just as important for the project financials as it is for the technical viability. New Jersey is (currently) among the states with the richest solar incentives both in the form of high SREC prices and capital incentives. Head one state over into neighboring Pennsylvania and those same Solar Renewable Energy Credits are valued at one-third of the market rate in NJ.
    Within New Jersey, the capital incentives that a solar developer or homeowner can reap vary from one Utility to another (and often only apply to Investor Owned Utilities, leaving customers in Coops and Munis out-of-luck).
    And it doesn’t hurt that utility rates in NJ (and generally speaking in the Mid-Atlantic and New England) are among the highest in the country. So all of that PV output is replacing expensive retail electricity to begin with.

    So it all comes down to location, location, location.

    - In addition to the various state-level incentives, you also have a variety of Federal Incentives that boost project financials significantly. Both the Federal Income Tax Credit (or the Stimulus funded Sec. 1603 Grant-in-lieu-of-tax-creidt), and a 5-yr accelerated depreciation schedule for equipment make it much easier for a solar developer (with the tax appetite/liabilities) to cover the high upfront costs. Don’t forget that replacing the inverters 10 years down the road also qualifies for an accelerated depreciation schedule.

    It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that for certain customers, in particular locations, these types of projects make financial sense.

    I’m in DC – where recent legislation by one of our forward-thinking council members may help improve the SREC picture for local PV projects. But with cheaper power to begin with, it can be tough to make the financials hang together.

    I’ve given thought to a PV system on my own roof, but I suspect the condo association won’t go for that type of addition. Solar thermal for hot water would be a cheaper alternative, but we don’t consume enough hot water (despite it being electric water heating – no nat. gas) to have the financials work.

    Link to this
  3. 3. setheeee 1:11 am 08/23/2011

    I just had Solar City out to my house in Colorado for the same reason.

    The deal here is not as sweet, as XCEL no longer pays a premium for Solar Power. I think they only pay $0.06 per kwh.

    Basically, the way the deal works out for me:

    20 year lease, 4.7 kw system = about $4,000
    -This will generate about 95% of the power I use, so the offset should pay itself off in about 10 years.

    Full Ownership, 4.7 kw system = about $7,500.
    -This should pay itself off in about 15 years. And I own the system, but they don’t maintain it, so it is hard to guess the extra costs over 15 years that may be incurred.

    I think the lease is a pretty good deal. Also, I wonder if other power companies will follow Xcel’s lead. That would be bad, but big Coal has deep pockets out here.

    The only other major issue to consider, is if you sell your house, the panels are going to stay put if they are leased. The new owners will have the option to take over the lease, but they won’t move the system to a new residence.

    Hope this helps, I think overall it is a good deal, and it will be great to use the sun for all of our power.

    ***As far as Mickey23′s question, Solar City does install a system to pump the power back into the grid. The amount generated to the grid is deducted from your power bill each month.

    Link to this
  4. 4. Johngoraj 1:57 am 08/23/2011

    do you now you have to be on grid to get the rebates?
    I am not and it still fits the bill…

    Link to this
  5. 5. SciGuy31 5:02 am 08/23/2011

    We should eliminate all subsidies, not try to justify existing ones. One of the biggest issues with them is that they are a double-whammy for slowing down innovation. There is less incentive for companies to develop more efficient solar panels if the existing ones are already profitable from government subsidies. They also shrink our economy by taking more in taxes and reducing the amount of free money the nation has for R&D. At $30k per array, if everyone in America wanted one, that would increase the national debt by $9T. That is no small number…

    Link to this
  6. 6. da bahstid 8:43 am 08/23/2011

    Lucky for me I’ve got enough background in all the electricals that I’ll just install myself. That is when I’m finally willing to commit to a house. I imagine I’d need to get it all checked out by an inspector, but that should be a relatively trivial expense.

    Link to this
  7. 7. Foot01 11:49 am 08/23/2011

    I am just going thru this process almost exactly as outlined. I listened was surprised, then did a few days of research to find what the catch was, and frankly, there doesn’t appear to be one, save the normal risks of having workers on your roof. In fact, the company I am looking at has an option to buy every year after 6 at depreciated levels. Just seems a really good deal, as in my case I will save about $50 a month for the first year, and then more each year. I could have gotten a loan to recoup the credits, but then I have teh interest to account for. In 6 years, the price of the system will be about 1/3 of the initial outlay. All I had to do was look at my bill and make an assumption that costs with the electric company were going up over time and that made a constatn pay rate really lucrative, even if I never bought the system. Using their standard increase in electricity costs, the 20 year savings could be as high as $90K …. and I will have paid the same monthly payment over those 20 years. Now there is a reconciliation annually that could make me pay some more to the electric company, but alos could provide more credits if I am under usage. All in all, I will give them $250.00 and then 250 a month. As with all big decisions, be cautious, but this one appears to me to benfit both the consumer and the companies.

    Link to this
  8. 8. Foot01 11:58 am 08/23/2011


    I just re-read your post on subsidies: imagine if the government mandated the use of solar in areas it mmade the most sense, and made it affordable, low cost loans perhaps, for everyone to use it. That 9 Trillion in cost would reduce our dependence on foreign oil exponentially. Its a complex model, but it seems reptty intuitive to me that we should reduce our need rather than do things that increase it. I will have a net increase in my energy usage, however, 99% of it will be generated by my own array.

    Link to this
  9. 9. gmusser 12:07 pm 08/23/2011

    @Bilsko: Great points, and nicely put. The SunRun representative also mentioned accelerated depreciation as a benefit the company can obtain that individual homeowners buying solar arrays on their own can’t.

    @setheeee: Thanks for the details at your location — it’s interesting to see that it works out even though the incentives aren’t as favorable.

    @SciGuy31: I see your point, but I do think subsidies can promote innovation when they’re applied at a certain stage in the development of an industry. They help to overcome the market failures that can hinder the takeup of new technologies. The solar rebates and tax credits are being phased out, so there is every incentive to continue innovating. Subsidies become a problem when a mature industry comes to depend on them.

    @Foot01: Please let me know your experiences as they unfold.

    Link to this
  10. 10. electric38 6:31 pm 08/23/2011

    Of course – nothing is free. even the transformation of our own sunlight. With electric cars coming to market, it sounds as if all the solar systems currently being installed are not going to be able to handle the additional load of the car battery. Why would consumers want that? Having a “close to zero” fuel bill for an electric car) should be included in the installation calculations.
    This sounds like one monopoly, protecting their brother monopolies. (Utility, Auto, Bank, Oil). How silly and time consuming. Stupid billionaires doing all they can to control society via paid politicians. When will they ever let Americans get ahead of the curve? Why are they letting the US be the last to embrace the technologies that move the economy forward.

    Link to this
  11. 11. 9:51 pm 08/23/2011

    My church is currently looking at a solar deal for the parsonage. They (the installer) put in the system and get all the credits and do all the paperwork. We get the electricity. In CT, it’s net billing, currently about 15.4 cents/kWH for usage where we are. System is sized to match our annual usage; excess power back to the grid is paid by the electric co. at 5-6 cents/kWH, once a year.
    Our upfront costs are trenching (it will be ground mount) and permits, maybe $2k total to get $75/month of electricity reduction. Our contract is for 5 years, after which we own it. Financially, pretty much a no-brainer. However, if we had to pay property tax on it, it would be much less attractive.

    Link to this
  12. 12. yfoam 9:11 pm 12/19/2011

    Solar Panels must be very common in our life. But Of course – nothing is free. even the transformation of our own sunlight.I used the solar panels just like the Solar Traffic Warning Light, it must be so common in our traffic life.

    Link to this
  13. 13. dulcimoo 11:04 am 01/5/2012

    I don’t understand why everyone is mad about Solar subsidies. Oil, Gas, Coal, and Nuclear all receive huge subsidies and/or tax breaks. Solar is getting a tax break too – big deal. Solar is a relatively new technology that is finally starting to make an impact. If electric cars become popular then we will probably need the generating capability. Solar has a short term (< 18 Months or less) manufacturing:CO2 offset time. Solar is as reliable as the Sun, and even panels installed 20+ years ago are producing at +80%.

    The DOD sees the continued use of Mid East oil as a conflict of interest and are trying to us solar in the field as much as possible. It’s saving lives because fuel to run the generators aren’t needed as much and about one American life is lost in about ever 30 fuel convoys needed.

    The prices for solar are falling so that sooner or later Subsidies will not be needed … but that time is not today. In California, where we pay some of the highest electrical rates, the ROI is still a very long time. The prices for panels are coming down so that the wholesale price is close to about $1.50/Watt, however, remainder of the system is still expensive.

    The future for solar eventually will be to install it everywhere. You replace your roof -install solar shingles. The top of your Electric car – Solar Panels. Even Solar paint and solar windows may be in the future.

    However the time for solar is NOW! One of my work buddies and I were talking about this. He is a big car buff and works on his own cars. He was saying that CNG was the way to go because there is a 100 year supply. This is the Gas Industry estimate and is somewhat speculative – it could be as little as a 50 year supply. But even if it is 250 years burning all that gas will increase the CO2 load in the atmosphere. No matter how much gas there is it will eventually run out. It is possible that the solar you install today will still be producing electricity when the gas runs out.

    You can see Solar in Action on my webpage

    Link to this
  14. 14. dustindegregorio 12:24 am 01/7/2012

    it sounds like a great idea to get the solar panels. but i really dont understand how the goverment is pushing this but i have not seen any of the big citys here in fla start to make a change and it really sounds like a bunch of ways to get people to spend there money. dont get me wrong i do like the idea of not paying a elct. bill. but somehow i do not think it will work out like that. just think about it for a min. ok they are lookin for way to make the money start to flow again and what better way then to scare people with globle warming. if u dont change this and this and this then u are helping globle warming. so people dont want to be the one who helped destroy earth. so they buy the new cars the are envro friendly and they upgrade all the old stuff in there houses. now if just 1/2 of the US did that, thats a lot of money being spent and the wheel starts to turn again.

    yes i beleave in globle warming but not like it has been told to us over and over. ive done my own studys that are quite easy. for one co2 is not the big deal here like they say it is. cuz for fact every person in the world breaths out co2 thats a lot of people and co2 emissions right there. trees and plants breath in co2 and put out oxagen but yet we still take out every tree we see to build new houses and expand our cities. here is where the real globle warming comes in at. take a ride one day on a hot summer day, go out to the country somewhere and sit for a bit and look at the temp there. then drive to a city dont have to be real big just some kind of city and take a temp there. the temp in all the citys will be a few if not more degrees higher depending on the size of the city. cuz now u have black topped road which we all know how hot a road can be but if that road was not there then the ground would not have a temp even half of the road temp. now lets add all the hot buildings every where and the heat from ur cars exaust and the temp of the body of the car, side walks reflecting heat back out and the lack of trees and plants to suck up the sun rays and get rid of the co2 build up over the cities and all that goes unchecked to our when u look at it as a world outlook and think about all the big cities around the world and think about the increase in the temp all around the world at every city. now that sounds like globle warming to me but u dont hear this part and its all fact.

    if our goverment is so worried about globle warming and helping people do this to save the world, where are the solar panels for the white house? when is all the goverment buildings goin to change and update like they want everyone else to do. i have not seen one change for our planet from any of the big cities in here miami, orlando, tampa, jacksonville, tellahassie. but we are soon goin to be forced to do it and it has already started. you have to get ur house inspected before u can sell it so they can make sure u updated everything to what they say it should be but yet they have changed nothing.

    all im trying to say here is dont be fooled. do u really think that our goverment would really take money out of thier own pockets? no they would not. the goverment does not pay a elct. bill and they make money off ur elct bill. the money they say they give u in taxes to help u out changeing over is just a little blind fold cuz for one tax money which is where it all comes from is from us not out govement. they are just giveing u some of ur money back. our govement is ran on our body of people being ignorent because if u dont know then what can u do about it?

    just sayin, take it how u want.

    Link to this
  15. 15. Micheal78 2:57 am 03/6/2012

    An gripping word is worth observe. I cogitate that you should make statesman on this theme, it might not be a sacred someone but mostly fill are not sufficiency to talk on specified topics.

    Link to this
  16. 16. solarMD 1:21 am 04/8/2012

    Sorry I’m late in my response. With the module price trend now below $2/Watt, it has become more attractive to go solar; not even taking into account one’s contribution to mitigate global warming.
    By the way, my startup Wattminder has just rolled out our 2nd generation analytics for solar array performance on demand, free. It can help the solar owner to check up on their PV investment, especially if they don’t include web monitoring option on their system, see pvwizard(dot)com.

    Link to this
  17. 17. solar energy man 7:04 pm 08/26/2012

    My concern is that, especially in Arizona, the energy providers are beginning to grid solar electricity. I’m wondering if this will prevent homeowners from being able to provide solar energy for themselves with the giants moving in (i.e. APS)

    Link to this
  18. 18. solar energy man 7:05 pm 08/26/2012

    Not to mention there are plenty of plenty of solar leasing options available right now. But by 2013, APS is slated to launch their solar grid to over 70,000 households in the metro-phoenix area.

    So while I believe the industry is going to expand rapidly, as it has over the last 5 years, I also wonder where the cielings will start to develop.

    Link to this
  19. 19. thermodynamic enthusiast 1:57 pm 11/6/2012

    Companies advertising FREE solar panels are not really free are they. Let’s face it people are only installing for one reason and the is the financial gain through subsidies. It’s called rent a roof, because the company is really renting your roof so you use the electric produced from it, but its the company who makes the big bucks. What happens after 20 years.

    I have found one company offering smart finance that allows the consumer to pay for the system using the FIT payments. The PSP Scheme gives the consumer FREE Solar Panels at no upfront cost and only pays a small percentage of the FIT payments over 15 years. But in this time the consumer is making profits on having the solar panels installed each year, and are always in credit. After 15 years the 5 years left all goes to the consumer so could you say this is FREE Solar Panels. Anyone in the UK and are looking for a real alternative to RENT A ROOF scheme then go with this one at

    Also I am a thermodynamics Enthusiast and I have a blog

    Link to this
  20. 20. solarelectricsupply 2:26 am 12/17/2012

    Although, solar power systems are a bit expensive initially, but if properly chosen and installed, this system can give you more than what you invested. There are many types of solar panel systems that could be installed in your home or offices based on the requirements. Among all, the Grid Tie Solar Systems is the best system that provides you an opportunity to earn money back from the connected grid.

    Link to this
  21. 21. sullivan90 5:45 am 01/9/2013

    Solar panel is very necessary and useful now a days.

    Link to this
  22. 22. permitplace 12:06 am 01/24/2013

    The permitting process is a nightmare for solar permits as every city permits solar panels. If you are getting solar permits in Los Angeles try a permit expediter like permit place.

    Link to this
  23. 23. mariense 2:48 pm 01/28/2013

    If you live in Massachusetts, solar power is a great choice due to all the state and federal incentives. As it is now, Mass is one of the best states to install solar panels in the U.S.

    Link to this
  24. 24. stopoilwars 5:43 pm 02/26/2013

    Solar Panels (Pay No $)

    Link to this
  25. 25. jedediah.reisner 12:44 pm 03/12/2013

    Well explained article and all true. I recently installed PV panels with the $0 up-front option and am enjoying clean energy and lower bills.

    Furthermore you can earn an extra $500 back with certain referral deals. Check this one out –

    Link to this
  26. 26. Dolores1 4:21 pm 03/19/2013

    Dustin-Jimmy Carter had solar panels installed on the roof of the White House and Ronald Reagan had them taken down. Supposedly, they were replaced with the Obama Administration. But, wouldn’t it be great for once to have a peace maritime economy without having the looming debt of war and young men getting killed and maimed for oil. I’ m opting for solar panels.

    Link to this
  27. 27. pbm2000 10:34 pm 04/1/2013

    We had a solar panel company at our house today to talk to us about the benefits, pricing, options, etc of installing solar panels. Interestingly, not one mention was made of the benefits to the environment. The salesman actually skipped over those pages in his glossy binder. When I asked about whether or not solar panels would change our lifestyle, his comment was that we could now become heavy consumers of electricity and not pay much for it. We could keep our thermostat set at 68 degrees in the hottest months of southern California summer, we could run all our appliances at peak hours and leave our lights burning all night if we wanted, and our electric bill would reflect it. In other words, we could be electricity hogs. This was supposed to make us happy and anxious to get those panels up on the roof. Something’s not right here. I thought solar panels on the roof were a reflection of one’s concern for conserving the environment, living simply, leaving a smaller footprint, etc. Guess not.

    Link to this
  28. 28. pbm2000 10:37 pm 04/1/2013

    ^^Our electric bill would NOT reflect it.

    Link to this
  29. 29. UM... 11:32 am 05/3/2013

    I wouldnt mind paying for installation, I have always been unsure as to how solar energy works. But Im disappointed that it doesn’t assist as significantly financially as i thought it would…
    Why am I paying for sun light again??
    I feel like we’re constantly being charged for things that should be ours anyway, just for the benefit of human life.
    What happened to that ‘this land is your land, this land is my land’ song?
    Why are we (anything/one below the elite) the only ones slaving to be paying to be in it?

    Link to this
  30. 30. LA Solar Power 8:32 pm 05/23/2013

    The rebates are great. If you’ve ever thought about going solar, you should do it now before the California solar rebates go away forever.

    Link to this
  31. 31. LA Solar Power 8:38 pm 05/23/2013

    There’s rebates for solar and financing.
    Some people have found that they can save money per month with the financing as well. If you’re paying a lot for your electricity every month, your monthly payments for solar panels could be much lower and save you money in the short term AND long term.

    Link to this
  32. 32. greeenergy 10:07 am 05/28/2013

    Unless such a tactic is not supported by the government, it won’t work. When speaking about massive solar panels instalation it is important to think about oil magnates and lobbied state bodies.

    Link to this
  33. 33. novelremodeling 7:54 pm 06/5/2013

    I dont think that you can get it for free, but there are many government related programs and benefits that help reduce the costs as tax breaks for homeowners. Consider this, you have a big house that consumes plenty of electricity. What can you do? You pay roughly 9k in taxes each year. The government offers up to 40% of the costs back to you in tax break. So in essence you get roughly 9k back at the end of the year and if my facts are straight, you can roll that on to next year as well.

    Consider the advantages and call us if you are in California. Licensed Contractor ready to help!

    Jim Griffen
    Novel Remodeling

    Link to this
  34. 34. FreeSolarPanels 12:36 pm 06/13/2013

    While this article provides some great points it does not take in to account the latest federal government incentives, state incentives, and local incentives.

    In California you can now get free solar panels, and systems. We have clients who actually get PAID to generate electricity on their home!

    If you are interested in finding out more check us out at

    Link to this
  35. 35. sfgiants3 6:28 pm 06/18/2013

    One thing any solar leasee person should beware of. A few of us have experienced this. We have been told that all the paperwork was completed and it will take 2-9 weeks for the utility to approve turning it on. In most cases this is a bold-faced lie by the solar company, when in fact they have not turned in their paper work to the utility in a reasonable time period. Instead they are bundling their various incentives to sell to a third company, or their own paperwork is backlogged. Demand a definite time frame in writing by which your solar will be turned on. If they can’t do this then they need to be willing to cover 3/4 of your electric bill until they meet their commitment. We and others were lied to by 2 different employees about them having turned in the paperwork.

    Link to this
  36. 36. solarpro 3:54 pm 06/27/2013

    There’s absolutely no such thing as a $0 down solar lease or PPA and here’s why. A requirement of either of these financing programs is that you agree up front to give the leasing or PPA company your 30% federal tax credit worth thousands of dollars as well as any other financial incentives. The CEC currently reports an average system price of $6.19 a watt. Even if you subtract a gracious 50 cents per Watt rebate, that’s $5.69 per Watt. At that price a 6 kW solar system would yield a federal tax credit of $10,242! Don’t be fooled by the solar lease/PPA companies. With 0 down loans for solar power, you’ll get to keep the 30% federal tax credit as well as all other applicable financial incentives for yourself and you’ll own your solar system for a much greater return on investment. And good luck ever selling your home with solar lease attached to it. What homebuyer will want to purchase your home and assume your solar leasing payments when they can buy a brand new solar system for tens of thousands less. Today you can purchase a complete, name brand, grid tie solar system for only $1.66 a watt before incentives. Don’t get fleeced by the solar leasing companies.

    Link to this
  37. 37. californiafreesolar 9:35 pm 07/3/2013

    Very good article. Yes, the cost and environmental benefits of solar power are phenomenal. You are invited to learn more and to become fully informed about the many aspects of going solar. We are solar advocates – but we work for you !

    Link to this
  38. 38. sdenergy 4:16 pm 08/27/2013

    Some great points made here about subsidizing the switch to solar power with a purchase agreement. In sunny California climates such as San Diego – solar panels make even more sense because of the expected electric company rate hikes that we will soon see, even if a homeowner is essentially leasing their panels

    Link to this
  39. 39. Bernardo Stevens 10:47 am 09/10/2013

    The only thing that makes this “work” is the govt subsidies. Without the Federal and state govts using force to confiscate money from your neighbors to pay for YOUR solar panels, it would never work.

    Germany, and other places, have tried forcing the power company to buy back the wattage at an inflated rate. As if the govt required the gas station to buy gas from you at $7/gallon. That ends up costing so much that it has to be abandoned and/or scaled way way back.

    And finally, there’s no reason for any of this. Arctic ice is forming earlier this year than ever before. And there has been zero net temp increase worldwide sincde 1998. This is even reported in SciAmerican.

    Link to this
  40. 40. George Musser in reply to George Musser 8:13 pm 09/12/2013

    @Bernardo: Two responses. First, from a homeowner’s point of view, if a subsidy is on offer, why not take it? Second, fairness demands that you also complain about the considerable subsidies that fossil power receives, not least the fact the price of oil and coal does not capture their environmental damage.

    Link to this
  41. 41. maralora 12:11 am 11/2/2013

    Installing solar panels requires a big initial investment. Before you make this investment you should check to see if the money you will save by installing solar panels will pay for this investment. This website provides you an opportunity to examine how much money you will actually save if you install solar panels.

    Link to this
  42. 42. kristahiles 10:59 pm 03/2/2014

    The article is amazing. People are getting solar panels for their home and these are few of the queries they generally want to clear it out. Solar panels really help a lot to save money and cutting cost.

    Link to this
  43. 43. Greenpete 1:50 pm 03/4/2014

    I got a free quote from My Solar Installer. They cover the entire US of A and their prices are specific for each cities. Great company!

    Link to this
  44. 44. JemesPolo 1:13 pm 03/28/2014

    Thanks for taking the time to talk about this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If feasible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more selective information? It is exceedingly helpful for me. Orlando Roof repair

    Link to this
  45. 45. DustineShelley 8:12 am 05/8/2014

    Me & my boyfriend was planning to get married last month, just last week we had some argument that made him get angry on me just because of the argument, he said we will not be married again and the next day he left me and we broke up. I still loved him and I wanted him to marry me, for me to get him back i had no choice than to contacted dr.marnish@ yahoo. com to help me and he helped me to bring my lover back to me so we can continue our plan to be married. he came back after 3 days

    Link to this
  46. 46. prettyboy 11:19 pm 11/4/2014

    Thank you for sharing your experience. Actually me and my boyfriend submit a request for a quotes of solar panel cost. We’ll we are planning to used solar panels in order to save more energy and lessen our expenses on the regular electric bill we are paying monthly. A friend suggested to us it will be a good idea if we installed solar panels. They have been using the panels for 1 year and 6 months and they really appreciate the help of the solar panels.

    Link to this
  47. 47. Jackwilliam1 12:23 pm 11/12/2014

    We have proved the commercial profit of sun power in the tropics and have more particularly proved that after our stores of oil and coal are exhausted the human race can receive unlimited power from the rays of the sun.

    To know more about this visit-

    Link to this
  48. 48. luxuryremodeling 3:48 pm 11/16/2014

    Now days there many options for solar panels, including leasing. And some companies do offer a free, or almost free options. Certainly a good idea for those looking to get connected to the grid without shelling out a lot of initial dollars.

    Link to this
  49. 49. solarhome 3:00 pm 01/4/2015

    The solar leasing and PPA companies are still installing the same high priced, old fashion, boxy looking, single sided, lower efficiency solar technology that’s been around since the 1950s

    The key problem with this is the fact that the solar panels that they install today will be the same solar panels that will be on your roof for the next 25 to 30 years. There are no upgrades with a leased system.

    Installing solar panels that already have an outdated look or that offer poorer performance today, can have a negative impact on your home’s curb appeal and value in just a few short years after they’ve been installed.

    Today, new, lower cost, Gen 2, frameless, 1/4 inch thin, see through, glass on glass, higher performance designs are available that can make all the difference in the world when attempting to sell your home. These bifacial (double sided) solar panels actually produce extra power from their backside, from light that is reflected off the roof’s surface without taking up anymore space on your roof.

    The new 300 Watt, 60 cell solar panels that are used in Hyper X 2 solar systems offers a better PTC to STC ratio “Real World” performance according to the California Energy Commission’s performance rating listings than over 119 of SunPower’s solar panel models.

    And they offer a very high 94.3% PTC to STC performance ratio. They also offer a heat resistant -0.28%/degree C temperature coefficient for better performance in warm/hot climates. And a minus 60 degree C extreme cold temperature rating. And when it comes to aesthetics, nothing even comes close to Hyper X 2′s panel’s glass on glass, see through, frameless construction.

    With N-type mono-crystalline bifacial cells for double sided power production, up to a 22% efficiency rating, superior aesthetics, and a price that outcompetes the solar lease and PPA company’s offerings, very few products on the market compares to Hyper X 2 Solar. You wouldn’t pay more money for and outdated cellphone and be forced to use it for the next 20 to 30 years, so why would you do the same with an overpriced, outdated, leased solar system?

    Link to this
  50. 50. mikekelleycrump 5:47 am 01/28/2015

    I find that very possible to have. Updating certain supply in your house today can be quite easy.

    Link to this
  51. 51. sammyelisha1 10:21 am 02/16/2015

    Am Sammy Elisha from USA This was How i got my lover back, All thanks goes to Dr ALABI for saving my marriage from toning apart.i feel so grateful and only have good words about a powerful spell caster named Dr ALABI who helped me bring back my wife. We had been apart for 4 months, at first I was thinking if I was doing the right thing by contacting a spell caster, but I so much love my wife and won’t give her up for anything in this world. I decided to contact Dr ALABI.Trust through his mail address {} I found on several testifiers messages online,and I told him about my situation, he laughed and told me my lover will be back to me in the next 48 hours. I felt it wasn’t going to happen at first until my lover called me and was so eager to have me back more than anything on earth.. Now we are together and she cant do without me,and both of us are happy. I feel so happy sharing this testimony because there was no negative act attached to his work. His work was smooth and fast. Thanks to Dr ALABI for bringing back happiness to my life. I swear with my life that Dr ALABI is a man to trust and take your problems to. You can contact him on his e-mail if you really truly want your love back.{}

    Link to this
  52. 52. rabakomaba 2:28 pm 03/12/2015

    w w w . i n p l i x . c o m

    Link to this
  53. 53. solarpowersavemoney 2:21 pm 03/28/2015

    Going solar really is feasible in New Jersey, and this article backs that up. There is a good program in New Jersey available if you are interested in owning as opposed to renting a system.

    Link to this

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Email this Article