Is it better to own or lease solar panels?

Personally, I am the kind of person who wants to own my stuff and encourages others to do so, too.  However, in the case of solar I will make an exception to the rule because of the large upfront costs to put in a solar array.  Furthermore, not only is there a large upfront fee, but there is a lot to know all at once because you are installing a system of equipment that will generate a significant amount of electricity – from your rooftop.  Yes indeed, you are placing this system on your roof which is one of the most costly items in your home to repair.  Eghads!  What if you had to repair your solar array and your roof, too.


Plus, with leasing you do not have to pay to maintain the system.  Thus, with a lease you are not responsible for repairing the system if a flock of geese fly into your system or if anything else breaks or just wears out.  This is especially true when it comes to the solar inverter because it will be necessary to replace it somewhere between Year Ten and Year Fifteen and will cost upwards to $4000.00 or more.


What adds additional benefits to leasing is that if you not are limited by location and roof space, you can produce a significant amount of your own electrical usage – maybe all!  So you can get the “no fuss” version of solar while going green virtually painlessly.   There is one downside to leasing in that it appears that a solar lease is actually a negative on the sale of a home because potential buyers may not want to sign on with a particular solar lease company.


Buying is a better choice from a purely financial standpoint.  Let’s be realistic, solar leasing companies have to make money just like all other companies.  When you lease you are likely to pay less when buying your electricity from a solar leasing company as opposed to buying from a utility; but, the leasing company is still making a profit from your purchase.  One of the realities is that the solar leasing company receives all of solar incentives that you would have received if you were the actual purchaser of a solar energy generation system.  Let me make this clear:  When you buy, you get to receive all of the incentives, as well as all of the long-term savings on the purchase of electricity after your system is paid for.


In the final analysis, I still think that you will find ownership more satisfying.  All of the electricity you produce is yours and it may be permissible to sell your excess electricity to your local utility and you will become an “energy entrepreneur.”  Buying your own system becomes especially satisfying if add to this scenario the fact that you can also power up any electric vehicles that you own.  The bottomline:  Buying offers you many more alternatives regarding the size and location of your system, in addition to the financial subsidies that go along with ownership.  And when you get ready to sell your home, you can go ahead and add tens of thousands of dollars to its value because of your wise addition.


See You Next Time!  Dr. Stripling