If you think that switching to solar is way too expensive, you aren’t alone.
There are tons of people out there who pass on the idea of solar simply because they think that it’s too expensive. They look at the solar panels on a neighbor’s roof and think, “It might be nice to have my panels, but those panels probably cost a fortune. I can’t afford it right now”.
After that, they write off the idea and continue on their merry way, all without knowing the truth. The truth is that anyone can take advantage of solar, even people who have light wallets and tight budgets.
Solar power is 100% worth it because it’s a fantastic way to save money, help the environment, and achieve energy independence from costly power companies. We will cover each of these points in more detail so that you completely understand why making the switch to solar is a smart move.
Without further delay, let’s jump right in!
You Can Own Solar Panels For $0 Down
Yes, it’s true! It is completely possible to purchase and install solar panels without putting any money down.
There are three main financing options for $0 down:
- Solar Lease
- Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)
- Solar Loan
Each one has its pros and cons that you should be aware of. By examining the benefits and drawbacks of each one, you’ll be able to make an informed decision that best fits your financial situation.
Little to $0 Down Solar Lease
A solar lease is an agreement between you and the solar panel provider. This agreement states that you will essentially “rent” solar panels from the company for a certain number of years, usually 20 to 25 years.
You can expect to save 10% to 30% on your power bill every month, depending on how much power you use.
At the end of your lease, you can usually purchase the panels at market value or renew your lease.
Solar leases are the best option for people who are very cash-strapped and have lower credit scores. Some companies will even waive payments for a bit, usually 3 to 6 months. This allows you to start benefitting from your solar panels immediately before you are required to make payments.
In addition, you do not have to pay to maintain your solar panels. Since you are renting the panels, your solar company is responsible for the maintenance of the solar panels. This can save you a ton of time and money, as it can become a financial headache to fix broken panels on your own.
Unfortunately, solar leases do come with a few downsides.
These leases tend to come with escalators, which means that the cost of renting solar panels will increase by a percentage every year. This is to keep up with electricity prices, as they also tend to increase every year. This increase is usually 1 – 2.9% per year.
Even if electricity prices do not increase, you are still expected to pay the increased yearly amount as per your solar lease. It’s very common, but it is possible to end up paying more for your lease than it would’ve cost to not have the panels at all.
Solar leases are also quite binding – you are expected to pay the amount agreed on for a very long time. This might make it difficult to sell your home, as you will have to transfer your lease to the new homeowner. This might limit your pool of prospective buyers as not everyone wants to be tied to a solar lease.
And if you try to sell your home without transferring your lease, you will still have to pay for them while someone else lives in your house and benefits from them. Not a very good deal if you ask us.
Finally, you do not get to benefit from solar tax credits because you did not directly purchase the panels. Since you are only renting them, the solar panel company is the one that reaps the rewards.
While there are significant drawbacks to consider, solar leases can still be a good option for people who live in strong real estate markets and want to benefit from immediate solar savings.
Little to $0 Down Purchase Power Agreements (PPA)
A PPA is an agreement to purchase power generated by solar panels from your solar panel company. The solar panel company installs solar panels on your roof, and you purchase the power generated by these panels.
You can expect to save 10% to 20% on your power bill, depending on how much power you use.
This is very similar to the solar lease but differs in what you purchase. A solar lease allows you to rent solar panels, while a PPA allows you to purchase power generated for a fixed price per kWh. The more you generate and use, the more you will pay.
Like with solar leases, the solar panel company will take ownership of your panels. This includes maintenance and ensuring that the panels operate efficiently for their entire lifespan. You can also get PPAs for little to no money down, which can be an attractive benefit for people with thinner wallets.
Unfortunately, the same downsides that come with solar leases also come with PPAs.
The solar panel company gets all of the tax benefits and you will be stuck with an escalator clause.
You will also have to find someone to take over your PPA if you want to sell your house.
PPAs can be easier to qualify for than solar leases, but you should be cautious before signing on the dotted line. While it’s a great option for lower credit, cash-strapped people, it’s important to make sure that the decision aligns with your long-term financial goals.
Little to $0 Down Solar Loan
A solar loan is the best way to finance solar panels if you want to save the most money. It’s also the most popular way to finance solar panels and for good reason.
You can expect to save 40% to 70% over the lifetime of your solar panels, which is a big increase from the other two options.
With a solar loan, you are effectively buying the panels for yourself. This means that you can take advantage of the federal tax credit to get a steep discount on your panels.
Throughout the year 2022, this credit will be at 26%. You’ll get over a quarter off the purchase price of your solar panels just by using a solar loan. Of course, this also applies if you purchase the panels outright with cash.
Since you own solar panels, you won’t have to pay yearly price increases from solar panel companies. The terms of your loan will be fixed, so you’ll be able to avoid any price increases from power companies too.
You also have complete control of your panels – you decide where they go and how you want them to work. If you want to sell your home, prospective buyers won’t have to take anything over. Even if you are still paying off the loan, the cost of the loan can be factored into the sale of the home and paid off completely.
This is a painless way to sell a home, making it more attractive for buyers. You also earn more since the addition of solar panels usually increases the value of a house. Studies have shown that, on average, the increase is around 4.1%. This can add tens of thousands of dollars to the value of your home.
That said, there are a couple of downsides.
Solar loans are harder to qualify for than the other two, especially $0 down.
You should expect to have good credit for little money down and excellent credit for $0 down. But if you have to shell out a bit more money at the beginning, solar loans are by far the best option for saving money.
You also own the panels, so the solar panel companies do not have to maintain them if they don’t want to. Most of them do offer some sort of warranty period, but general wear and tear are likely going to fall on you.
If your credit isn’t good, then you could be saddled with higher interest rates. If the rates are too high, you can seriously cut into your savings. Some of the more unsavory solar companies will even lie about their panels’ effectiveness and charge sky-high rates.
That’s why we recommend you check out SunPower, the solar panel company that provides some of the best solar panels on the market. They offer $0 down for qualified customers and are quick to cut you a deal even if your credit isn’t the best. Best of all, they operate in every state and have a high customer satisfaction rating.
If you are serious about saving money and have the financial profile to do so, you should consider a solar loan. You greatly benefit from owning the panels and having complete control over them.
That said, be careful when getting a solar loan from shady companies. These loans can become nightmares if they catch you unaware.
Other Solar Products Can Be Easier On The Wallet
When people traditionally think of solar panels, they usually picture the roof of a house that’s covered with dark panels.
However, this is not the only way to use solar panels. Standalone solar products are a viable alternative to the classic rooftop solar panel system.
Off-Grid Solar Kits
If you want the benefits of a solar panel system without the hassle of putting it on a roof, you can use an off-grid solar kit instead. This type of solar product is very similar to the classic solar panel system, but the big difference is that these panels can be placed anywhere.
Whether it’s on the ground or on top of an RV, off-grid solar kits can provide electricity anywhere.
These kits are usually cheaper compared to residential systems in terms of the total cost. Unfortunately, you usually have to pay this price upfront, which isn’t great for people without much money.
Thankfully, some companies offer in-house financing for their kits. You can qualify for low to 0% APR for up to a year with Renogy, which can be a better option for people that prefer payments. Just know that your payments may be high depending on how big of a kit you want to get.
Don’t be afraid to do some research on this. You’d be surprised with what kind of stellar deals are out there.
Standalone Solar Products
If you aren’t interested in residential solar panel systems or off-grid solar kits, then individual solar products are a fun, easy way to save some money while utilizing solar. These can be products like solar lights, solar security systems, and even solar battery chargers.
These are products that can save you a surprising amount of money depending on how many of them you use and how you use them.
For example, using solar walkway lights and a solar motion light lets you navigate the front year easily at night without needing to leave your porch light on. If you come home late or have a habit of forgetting to turn your porch light off, this switch can shave a good chunk off your electric bill.
The best part about these products? They are relatively cheap, especially compared to residential solar panel systems or off-grid solar kits. Here are some average costs associated with the products we mentioned:
- Solar lights will cost around $20 to $50 for a pack of them.
- Solar security cameras will cost around $60 to $100+ depending on the model.
- Solar battery chargers will cost around $30 to $50 if you are looking to charge a phone.
These mini-solar products are a godsend for any tight budget. They are a quick and easy way to benefit from solar power at a low cost.
You Won’t Need To Rely On Power Companies For Your Energy Needs
With residential solar power systems or large off-grid solar kits, you can achieve a strong degree of independence from your local power company.
What does this mean, exactly? Well, you have more options when you can generate your power.
You Can Avoid Blackouts
If you’ve ever experienced a blackout, you know just how inconvenient it can be. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), US customers experience roughly 2 hours of blackout per year.
Keep in mind that this number is just the average – blackouts can range from a few minutes to days or even weeks. You never know when a devastating blackout will strike.
Here are some nasty issues that blackouts can cause:
- No A/C. If you live in a cold or hot/humid environment, you are at the mercy of the outside weather.
- No Fridge or Freezer. Depending on how long the blackout lasts, you could lose a ton of food due to spoilage.
- Problems with medical equipment. Most home-based medical devices should be able to operate for a time even without direct power. But depending on the length of the blackout, this equipment might fail.
- No lights. If the blackout happens at night, your vision is impaired until the issue is resolved. This can lead to injuries.
- No water heater if the pump is electric. Your water will remain cold, which can be an issue in very cold places where water can freeze in the pipes – this can create even more costly issues.
- No electronics. Your computer and other devices will be out of commission.
Blackouts suck, plain and simple. And it sucks to be at the mercy of power companies when it happens.
But when you use solar, you don’t have to worry about that. You can continue to have power during blackouts.
Most solar panel systems come with a battery that stores excess energy made by the panels during the day. This energy can be used to power the house at night when sunlight is no longer around. You can also use this excess energy during blackouts.
The battery life can last anywhere from a few hours to multiple days depending on several factors, which is usually more than enough time for the power company to repair the issue causing the blackout.
You Can Avoid Paying More For Power Over Time
We briefly touched on this already, but here is the truth in more detail.
According to the EIA, electricity costs increase by an average rate of 1.8% per year. That means that if you use the same amount of electricity year over year, it will cost 1.8% more every year.
In terms of math, a $100 bill this year will become $101.80 next year.
This may not seem like a lot, but the costs add up over time. This issue is compounded if your bill is higher, as the cost will increase even more so.
But with solar panels, you are effectively paying the same rate for the energy generated: $0.
If you use a lot of power, you will probably use both solar energy and energy provided by power companies. But using solar panels ensures that your payments to the power company are as low as can be, assuming that this is the case.
You Can Save Money By Selling Your Excess Energy
Now, let us preface this by saying that not every power company will allow you to do this. You will have to contact them and ask to confirm for sure.
With that said, it is entirely possible to “sell” your excess solar energy to your power company. This will be reflected as a credit to your utility account, which can then be used for future power bills. Unfortunately, they aren’t going to mail you a check. But hey, it’s still free money!
This process needs to be set up at the time of installation and can only be done through systems called grid-tied solar energy systems. This is typically what residential solar panel systems hook up to.
By attaching your solar panel system to the power grid, you can supplement your home energy needs when needed and sell energy when your home doesn’t need it. This usually happens during the day when your battery is full or when you don’t use a battery.
This way, you are always maximizing your energy usage to save the most amount of money. So even if you aren’t someone who consumes a ton of power, you can still benefit from the power that solar panels provide.
You Are Helping Save Our Great Planet
Even if you don’t have much money to your name, using solar power is still a great way to help our planet.
You don’t have to be wealthy to benefit from solar energy systems. Hopefully, you now see that solar is available to anyone who wants to make the switch.
Here is even better news – alternative energy continues to become cheaper and cheaper. As we recognize the impact that fossil fuels have on the environment and strive to accelerate renewable technology, solar products continue to become more efficient at increasingly cheaper costs.
By utilizing solar, you make a direct impact on climate change for the better. The quicker we adopt renewables like this one, the sooner we can fix a ton of environmental issues plaguing the planet.
And hey, it doesn’t hurt to save some money in the process.
If we all continue to make the switch to solar, we can encourage others to make the same leap. It only takes a few people acting in unison to inspire everyone to make great change. We hope that you’ll join us on this mission.
Hopefully, you can now see the strong benefits of solar and see why it’s completely worth it. You can benefit from solar without ruining your financial life. It’s not a trend that’s gatekept by pompous rich people.
It’s a real, genuine way to do so some good in the world while saving money in the process.
If you are interested in learning more about solar, we highly suggest that you check out our guide on solar panels.
Thank you for reading and, as always, continue to strive towards a greener, better world.