Hello everyone, 

   I am doing some research into Solar panel leasing and I wanted to reach out to all of you for information.  There is a great deal of rumors about some hidden facts regarding this practice that can be detrimental to the homeowners, and that is the information that I am trying to collect for my research.

   I like to thank you in advance for your help!

Luis

Tags: energy, leasing, panels, solar, sustainable

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The article skips over the detail that a lot of the details vary by company.  Some companies have provisions for when a lease ends.  A homeowner might end up paying a final fee and then the panels become their responsibility versus removing the panels.  So advising a prospective solar leasing homeowner means reading EVERY detail of leasing panels.  

There have been numerous companies that have gone out of business during the housing recession.  This can also be a real headache during the sale of a home.  

I urged my client to consider purchasing solar versus leasing on a new construction home.  Builder discourage purchase. Told client they will have to finance or pay of out pocket if the appraisal didn't come in at the loan amount.  Client of forwarded to request read his 50 page lease agreement for solar.  I got lost after page 5. 

The builder doesn't understand the various scenarios of solar panels.  Options should consider how long someone will live in a home when considering solar panel lease or ownership.

 A 3rd option is to finance solar panels; however, check to make sure who gets the incentives and rebates. If the homeowner gets those, then they own the panels.  If not, then the panels are still leased even though the solar company may say you own them. Financing might be a good consideration if a homeowner lives in the home at least 7 years.  

Typical ROI for an owned solar system can be 7 - 10 years.  

Same issue applies in Arizona.  95% of residential solar is leased so we are running into this during the sale process.  Solar leasing companies don't know the details of home sales with leased panels so they don't discuss.  I've encountered some very irritated homeowners! 

I received a call a while back from a homeowner who was interested in selling his home. He had added owned solar panels  as he thought that might help the sale of his home.  When I explained that the value was about 30% (ball park) of what he had paid for the panels, he had no choice but to keep his home.  He was upside down on the house.

The variables in buying a solar panel installation:

Equipment -  Length of all Guarantees, Warrantees.  Hail Damage, parts, workmanship etc.  Get them all.

Efficiency Rating of each piece of equipment:   Look at REM or another modeling program to determine what you need.

Contract  sample   AND Sales Contract sample.  Get all blanks except signatures filled in.  If the company does not want to do this cross them off you list and look elsewhere. If you get sales pitch about buy now or no lawyers needed, or some such walk away.  Don't get caught up in this argument.

Get cost items the homeowner is responsible for, from each company.  They may vary.   Electrical Panels, House main panel, etc.  Utility charges for meter change out, sign up fess etc etc  Then get the actual costs.

Insurance:  Ck your HO policy to see what is covered and how much for what is not covered.  Then ask each of the companies (esp lease) what coverage they carry.  Ask the lease company what coverage they carry for damage to your property when they are on your property maintaining their equipment.  What about their Work Comp coverage?  Don't accept our equp doesn't break.

Finally get the cost to buy the system at the end of the lease.  $1 or another figure?  Can you buy the system at some point(s) during the lease?  What are those costs?

Ask the sales company 1) Why they think you should lease?  2) Why they think you should not lease? 3) Why you should buy?

Ask the lease company 2)  Why they think you should buy? 2) Why they think you should not buy?  3 Why you should lease?

Hi Luis 

here is a quick video about the Pros and Cons of solar leasing 

https://youtu.be/P7JomYXtkxQ 

or read the text below 

In recent year Solar Panels became very common view of our roofs, since not everyone can afford to purchase the Solar Panel so leasing became alternative option.

Pro
Little or no upfront costs

Con
Interest, fees will be included in your monthly payment over 20 years

Pro
Predictable monthly payment that you could budget on every month

Con
Leasing company would enjoy a 30% Federal tax credit or any other rebate available

Pro
Solar company maintain the PV system during the lease duration

Con
If you buy it …..You have to maintain the PV system against hail damage, lighting, unless you have a written warranty that may specify that

Pro
Most Leases are assumable when selling your house

Con
Buyer may not qualify or may not meet the credit requirement to assume the lease. In fact it will increase buyer debt.

Pro
Most leases have a buyout clause, in another word the owner can pay it off

Con

Leases often written in favor of the leasing company, one lease I read it has an automatic renewal at the end of the lease duration or the homeowner can get new lease with new panel.

Pro
Clean Energy, you are doing the right thing the environment.

Con

Not everyone share the same passion.

Pro
Your system may produces more than what you could use , so you feed the excess power back to the grid

Con

Utility company may purchase your electric at whole sale price. Also storing electricity is not
widely available at this time

This was my quick 7 pros and cons of leasing solal.
can you think of any other pros and cons of leasing solar? Please share it in the comment bellow

I think it is safe to assume the Solar company will do what is in its best interest, so if they are offering leases there is a reason.

Thanks - Mike Pagozalski

Certified Home Inspector # HI9518

Yes, solar companies aren't necessarily trained in energy efficiency AND/OR they will most likely never tell you that leasing a solar system could be  detriment to the sale of your home.  

Mike,

I agree, most leases written in favor of the leasing company, it up to the consumer to get educated about the terms and condition. 

The dangers of assumption. Solar industry is the wild west in Southern Calif.  Every electrical contractor, HVAC contractor are now solar installers  hammering the phones and door to door. Tax credits, Pace loans and we're in one of the highest energy utilities costs in the country making it an cost effective with a fast ROI.  I made a concerted effort to work with solar industry preaching REDUCE before you Produce encouraging energy assessments.  I just got in their way of their monthly sales quota. 

Argh!  That's the problem with the solar industry.  They don't take into account the low hanging fruit with energy efficiency.  As realtors, Ali and I specialize in this arena.  It's critically important to be a client advocate, which what we are trained to do as agents with green designations.  If you EVER want to advance your industry and advocacy, seek out realtors with green designations in your area at EcoBroker.com and GreenResourceCouncil.org - the 2 nationally recognized green designations in the US.

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