Leasing solar power has become less popular over the past three years with the introduction of shorter-term loans with low interest rates. Most of the national “big box” solar companies rely heavily on 20-year contracts such as solar leases or Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). These finance contracts are fairly simple to understand and easy for these companies to sell to customers who don’t know about better, less costly alternatives. If a homeowner is not able to take advantage of the 30% federal income tax credit for solar, a lease or PPA may be beneficial, but that’s about the only time this is true. In most cases, it is wise for solar customers to consider an alternative solar panel financing method.
At Stellar Solar, we believe that owning a solar system is better for most people than leasing one. So, we offer various loans, which (like the lease) require no money down, but also allow you to take advantage of the federal tax credit.
First, your solar income tax credit (30% of the total price) is financed for 12-18 months at 0% interest, allowing you time to collect your tax credit from the IRS and then pay off this loan in full.
Next, the remainder of your solar energy investment (70%) is financed for 10-15 years at very low financing rates with a fixed payment amount that is much less than your payments to SDG&E now. Even better, there are no pre-payment penalties, so this loan can be paid off at any time.
Most leases lock you in for 20 years of payments; the only exception is if you actually sell your home. With a loan, you own your solar panels from day 1 and just make payments for 10-15 years rather than leasing them for 20 years. Most financing companies do not require a lien on your property (as with a lease), so you won’t have any hassles if you decide to sell your home.
With a lease, there are no guarantees that the next owner will want to take over your payments, but who wouldn’t want to own a free-and-clear solar energy system that drastically reduces or even eliminates their electric bill?
One seeming benefit of a lease is that the leasing company guarantees the solar equipment during the lease. We agree that long-term protection against system problems is important, so we have contracted with SunPower to protect customers with a 25-year equipment warranty.
If you still want a solar lease, we can offer that to you, too. But as the company voted the “Best San Diego Solar Panel Company ” by U-T readers for the past 3 out of 4 years, we believe our low interest rate loan is the best solar financing program available. You can be the judge: Give us a call and we would be happy to put a custom solar proposal together for you.