By Sarah Lozanova, Solar Marketing Writer
If something seems too good to be true, it usually is. If you’ve been shopping for solar panels, you may have seen advertisements for free solar panels. This seems like an amazing offer because the upfront cost of a solar system can be more than $20,000 before incentives. Are these scams or are they the real deal? We’ll discuss whether these offers are too good to be true and explore some alternatives that might provide you better value in the long run.
Are Free Solar Panels Really Free?
Offers for free solar actually involve leasing a solar system or entering into a power purchase agreement (PPA) with a solar provider. If you read the fine print, you need to make ongoing payments, often for around twenty years.
A solar lease involves renting the equipment and making monthly payments for its use. However, having solar panels will typically significantly reduce the home electric bills so the savings might cover the rent for the panels. Although solar leases might be a good opportunity for some households, the panels really aren’t free.
Other times, free solar offers involve entering into a power purchase agreement (PPA) with a company. This means that you agree to pay for the solar electricity produced by the system. Often, the rate for the power is less than the price of grid power, so it can result in energy savings.
Although the solar panels aren’t free because the household doesn’t own them, these arrangements typically involve no upfront investment. That means that homeowners can go solar for no money down.
Are Solar Leases And PPAs A Good Way To Get Free Solar Panels?
Just like there are advantages and disadvantages of leasing a car vs. owning one, the same is true for solar leases and PPAs. Typically, it is more advantageous to own a solar system over the long run, but this does depend a bit on your situation.
Free Solar Panel Pros
Free Solar Panel Cons