Cheap solar panels are everywhere now. At Home Depot. On Amazon. Even at Best Buy.
You no longer have to be an eco-warrior or millionaire to embrace clean, renewable electricity. Anyone can go solar.
But as discussed over the previous several articles, many of the “cheapest” solar paneloptions aren’t actually all that cheap:
- With DIY solar panels, you save on labor costs, but you miss out on lots of great incentives. And you also have a longer payback period.
- With solar power leases, you get a new installation for free. But you’re locked into 20-year contracts that require regular monthly payments. So you’ll never enjoy truly free electricity.
So is there a more affordable way to go solar?
Yes. Yes there is. Let’s review.
Using Cash or Loans to Install Solar Panels
On the surface, paying money out of pocket doesn’t seem like it would be the cheapest option. Worse still is the idea of going into debt to install solar panels on your rooftop.
But in fact, true solar PV ownership is the cheapest route by far.
Let’s review how solar ownership typically works:
- Using cash or a solar loan, you pay for the installation and own your system outright.
- Your electricity bills go down immediately. Within 4 to 6 years (on average), your monthly utility bill savings will exceed the upfront cost of your installation. This is the breakeven point or payback period (i.e. you’ve recouped all expenses).
- From that breakeven point onwards, you enjoy free electricity for decades. The minimum lifetime of a well-installed system is 25 years. But many installations last 40+ years. So we’re literally talking about decades of free energy.
How Is Solar Ownership Cheaper Than DIY or Leasing?
True solar ownership is vastly superior to solar leasing and DIY panels in many ways. Let’s take a look:
1. Free Electricity
First and foremost, your electricity is free after the payback period. The same is true with DIY solar panels, but it takes much longer to reach the breakeven point since you can’t take advantage of net metering.
With a solar lease, however, only the installation is free. You’ll still have monthly payments for the next 20 years.
2. All Solar Incentives Come to You
When you own your system and have it installed by a licensed professional, all incentives, benefits, tax credits, and rebates come to you. This not only lowers your upfront costs, but it also speeds up the payback period.
DIY solar panels usually don’t qualify for incentives. Solar leases qualify – but all benefits go to someone else.
3. You Enjoy a Much Higher ROI on Your Investment
When you own your system, solar becomes an investment – one that delivers better returns than Wall Street does.
Not only do you enjoy free electricity, but it’s also possible to receive negative electricity bills from the utility company (i.e. they owe you credits).
When that happens, your biggest problem becomes how to use up all those credits:
- Do you buy an EV?
- Do you switch out all your gas appliances?
- Do you make money on the SREC market?
4. Increase Property Value
When you lease solar panels, you create a debt liability on your rooftop. Future homebuyers will have to take over the contract before you can move out.
But when you own your system, you create an asset on your rooftop. Future homebuyers will pay top dollar for your property. Click here to learn more.
Reduce Costs, Increase ROIs, and Go Solar the Right Way
Outright ownership may seem like the most expensive option. But when you factor in lifetime costs and savings, it is the cheapest way to go solar. And it’s not just cheap – it’s profitable. Many system owners throughout San Diego actually make money from their installations.
If you’re going to add a solar energy system, make sure you do it the right way.
At Sunline Energy, we specialize in helping our clients enjoy:
- the highest ROIs possible
- with the shortest payback periods possible
- at the lowest costs possible