Add up the solar lease payments that you've been quoted and when compared to an outright solar system purchase, you'll typically find that you'll easily be paying up to 3 times more on a $0 down solar lease versus a purchase. Today, pricing for an average sized 4.75 kW purchased system that can produce up to 600 kilowatt hours of electricity with 5 hours of peak sunshine has dropped below $1.95 per watt after applying the 30% federal tax credit or less than $9,500.
You'll typically pay so much more for a leased system than a purchased system that it's actually you who will be over-paying for your own maintenance, monitoring and insurance not the leasing company. Why do you think so many solar leasing companies are BUYING solar systems while leasing them to you?
A few more reason why you may want to avoid a solar lease or PPA
1. You may have trouble selling your home because what home buyer in his right mind will want to assume your lease payments on a used, outdated system when they can buy a brand new system with the latest technology and keep the 30% federal tax credit for thousands less. Don't believe it ? Well then simply type the keywords "solar lease scaring buyers" into Google and you can read many accounts of homeowners and real estate professionals reporting difficulty when trying to sell a home with a 20 year solar lease or PPA attached to it.
2. After making 20 years worth of leasing payments, you won't even own the system. It will still belong to the leasing company. If you want to own their system after making all those payment, then you'll have to buy it from the leasing company at the end of your lease at fair market value.
3. Check that quote from the solar leasing company and you'll find that most of the time they won't even tell you what brand of equipment they're installing on your home. I wonder why?
4. Most if not all $0 down solar leases include an annual payment escalator that will increase your monthly payment by up to 2.9% per year for 20 years. Imagine what would happen if your utility company decides to, or is ever mandated to lower their rates or flatten out their rate tier structure, like is happening in California. You could end up being forced to pay more for your electricity than if you never had signed that air tight, escalating solar lease contract in the first place.
5. You'll have to forfeit the 30% federal tax credit and any applicable cash rebate to the leasing company and you won't get tax deductible interest on your lease payments. Only a $0 down FHA solar loan or second mortgage can give you tax deductible interest and let you apply all of your incentives to a lower priced system for a much better return on your investment.
And now that leased systems are losing their popularity in the U.S., the leasing companies are now trying to convince homeowners to sign a 30 year (Yes, 30 year !) balloon payment loan that requires you to pay a 30% balloon payment that's due on June 1st the year after installation, regardless of the amount claimed in the tax credit. And incredibly, this 30 year loan has a 2.9% annual payment increase that will raise your monthly payment amount by 2.9% every year for 30 years.The federal governments just released a report that says that It's far better to pay cash for a system or save about 29% by getting a standard loan instead of an expensive solar lease or PPA. Don't get blindsided by the solar leasing company's balloon payment or their 2.9% annual payment increases. Visit nrel .gov. Read the report, know the truth.