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Published on April 21st, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan

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Solar = Money for You

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April 21st, 2012 by Zachary Shahan
 
solar panels money investment

I was scanning through my shares on Facebook lately and thinking about what a ‘normal’ (non-cleantech-obsessed) person might get out of them just from scanning the titles (not opening them) —  I like to do this from time to time, since I know a lot more people will simply see the title of the posts than open and read them. While doing this, something crossed my mind — people are basically aware that solar is good for the environment and good for our health, and that solar technology is advancing, and perhaps even that a ton more people are going solar these days, but I bet a lot of people still don’t realize that going solar = money for them.

I’m actually not going to throw numbers into this post, because details of going solar are so dependent on your home or office and the state you live in, but the bottom line that I wanted to bring a little attention to is that outside of all of its other good points, going solar is an investment that earns you money in the long term. It is one of the safest investments you can make, and in some places, it is one of the most lucrative investments you can make.

Of course, you can invest in a solar power system all on your own (and perhaps even get a discount on solar, depending on your location), but you can also lease a solar power system these days in many places. I know there are lovers of the solar leasing system and those who don’t like it, but I think it’s common sense for an individual to look into both options before deciding how they want to go solar.

There’s also PACE financing and solar hosting if you happen to be in an area that is pioneering one of those options — I think they’re my two favorites. The sweet thing about solar hosting is that it allows renters to go solar! And PACE is just plain awesome.

And, of course, for the DIY types, you can always try putting your solar system together yourself.

No matter which route you go, though, the bottom line (one more time) is that going solar is often good for your bank account.

And, of course, that will only make you love a good solar energy spill that much more!

Image: solar panels & money via Shutterstock

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



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  • http://twitter.com/Solar_Amy Amy Bowman

    So true – solar isn’t just for hippies or environmentalists. It is also for people looking to tighten up their budgets and save. I think more consumers are starting to realize this, but we have a way to go.

  • http://solarmosaic.com/ Lisa Curtis

    Another way to invest in solar is through Solar Mosaic. We’ll be launching solar investments this summer that offer 5-10% returns. Sign up to get early access to our investments at http://www.solarmosaic.com

  • Kirkton007

    On the subject of solar leasing;
    The Federal, State and utility incentives were meant to be for the home owners NOT the large companies that are sucking them dry. These companies are taking all of the incentives targeted for homeowners, to essentially have for themselves a zero tax liability and a zero cost to the company to do the installation. Essentially they are becoming a non regulated utility company.
    Something needs to be done about this disruptive issue to get the incentives back into the hands of the intended recipients. A Solar Lease only reduces your electric bill by a small fraction, you still have to pay the leasing company for the electricity you consume for twenty years. Would you lease your home for twenty years and then buy it? Would you lease your car for twenty years and then buy it? Then why are we allowing this to continue in the solar industry?
    A knowledgeable Solar Company can show a homeowner how to do the financing right, the homeowner can get 100% of their electric bill eliminated and have it paid off in a few short years. It is so clear to me that a purchase is a far better deal, I am appalled that the leasing companies have pulled the wool over so many peoples eyes. Once a homeowner does the math after they are tied to a lease and realized what a scam it is; this will have the effect of harming additional solar installations.

    A simplified example of leasing vs purchasing:
    A 6000 Watt solar system designed to negate a $100.00 electric bill in a “nothing down 20 year lease” will cost a homeowner $90.00 a month. Multiply this cost by twenty years = $21,600.00 total cost.
    A 6000 Watt solar system of the under a purchase agreement with the all of the present Federal, Arizona State and utility incentives going to the homeowner will cost about $14,300. A savings of $7,300. or about 33%, one third less cost to the homeowner.
    This is simple math that the leasing companies are NOT showing anyone. We need to make this clear to as many people as possible so that the scam will be exposed. Do the math for yourself.

    The above example does not take into consideration the complications the homeowner will encounter when the home is put on the market for sale and the solar lease becomes an obstacle to close the deal. Nor does the example reflect the fact that after 20 years leasing you still do not own the solar system on your home.
    Solar leasing is popular because people can not do simple math! All they hear is the falsely presented “Free” and are easily fooled!

    On the subject of PACE;
    PACE is really a permanent tax increase to the property. Taxes never go down, they only go up. Once a city has a tax increase on a property, they will never reduce it, the tax will become permanent. Once they get their hands on the money, they will never release it.
    All of the tax happy governments only know how to spend the money they collect, they have no clue how to spend it economically. The end result will be the home will have a much diminished resale value due to very high property taxes. A simple bank loan for the solar installation is always the best choice. The present Arizona law states that “a solar installation must be counted as a zero dollar home improvement” to the tax assessor, let’s keep it that way. PACE is simply a way to subvert the existing ruling and collect higher R.E. taxes for perpetuity. I have more thoughts on this subject but I think this sums it up in a shortened version.

    • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

      On the solar leasing segment, i’ll just note: how many people have gone solar through a lease who wouldn’t have gone solar anyway?

      yes, people might be (i mean, are) bad at doing simple math.

      yes, solar leasing companies are making a profit on their work.

      but i’m certainly not convinced solar leasing is worse than not going solar at all. and if they can convince people to go solar who wouldn’t otherwise, i’m all for it. in some ways, i think it’s a testament to the failure of other solar companies to get people going solar. business isn’t just about what you offer, it’s about ‘selling’ that product.

      • Kirkton007

        Zach,
        Normally, I love your postings, always look forward to them. In this case, I see you still don’t get it! Let me ask you this; How many people would have bought their solar system instead of leasing it if they were capable of doing the simple math and knew the truth? YES, solar leasing is better than no solar but again the point is the lease is nothing less than a scam. I am 100% convinced after doing the research and being in this business for over five and a half years that the leasing companies are scamming their customers into thinking they are getting something for nothing when the truth is they could have had a much better outcome if they purchased instead of leasing.
        Zach, why don’t you do an article exposing the truth about leasing vs purchasing? You would be doing a great justice to those that are looking into solar for the first time!
        Thankx for listening.

        • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

          Hey, simply put:

          1) i don’t think the leasing companies are scamming people — i think they are making money while also providing a useful service to society and their customers. in most situations, i do think solar leasing is smarter than not going solar at all.

          2) i do think that, in most situations, going solar yourself has a better payback.

          3) that said, logically or not (& i would say not), many people would prefer to earn less in the long run but pay less up front. i wouldn’t, but i’m well aware that many people would. i’ve actually taught English for years on the side, and a question i asked countless times was if people would rather have $1,000 today or $10,000 in 10 years, nearly everyone said the former. is that logical? not for most of them. do they care? apparently not. do i understand it? only theoretically.

          4) i do think solar leasing companies have done a lot better marketing their options than most other solar companies. of course, the tantalizing $0 down certainly helps.

          I’d love to feature a piece comparing going solar on one’s own vs solar leasing for a specific property or more. Unfort., i don’t have any property
          in the U.S. do run such a comparison with. You happen to? Possibly even
          into supplying a guest post?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mahesh-Rathi/100001756860857 Mahesh Rathi

    Very nicely described article in term of commercial aspects.

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