Are ‘Free Solar Panels’ Really Free? (2023 Guide)

Free Solar Panels

If you’ve been considering installing solar panels, you may have seen advertisements claiming “free solar panels.” However, staying well-informed is crucial because the concept of ‘free’ in this context needs to be clarified. Solar panels come with high upfront costs, and companies that advertise “free solar panels” often have alternative methods of covering those expenses.

According to ForbesHome, if you are in the market for solar panels, you might be concerned about the high price tag. Residential solar panels can cost homeowners around $16,000 when paid outright. However, it’s crucial to note that the full cost of installing solar panels can go up to $35,000. Various rebates and generous federal tax incentives can bring down the overall expense. Nevertheless, it’s essential to understand that no solar panel system is entirely free in reality.

In this post, we will provide you with the proper idea about “free solar panels,” explore different financing options and discuss potential savings and downsides of this. We will also shed light on the available government incentives in 2023.

The Truth Behind “Free” Solar Panels

While the idea of receiving solar panels for free might sound enticing, it’s important to be cautious and mindful of such claims. Some solar panel companies exaggerate claims to advertise solar leases or PPAs & provide solar panels with minimal upfront costs but lock you into paying for years to come. Here, we compare the upfront costs, potential savings, and eligibility for rebates and incentives for each option.

Solar Leases

Utilizing a solar lease presents an excellent opportunity to embrace solar electricity without the burden of expensive initial expenses. The concept is simple: you can install solar panels on your home at no upfront cost, opting to lease a solar power system for a specified period, usually 10 to 15 years.

The key to ensuring a sound financial decision with the solar lease lies in having a monthly payment lower than your current electric bill. By doing so, you save money on energy expenses and contribute to environmentally friendly initiatives without imposing significant financial strains.

As per the solar review, solar lease agreements typically incorporate a price escalator that accounts for the anticipated rise in electricity costs. Consequently, this results in an annual increase in your lease payment. The escalator percentage commonly falls within the range of 1% to 5%.

However, exercising caution regarding the lease price is crucial. If the lease payment is within your regular electricity costs, it’s possible to save money overall. Therefore, before committing to a solar lease, it is essential to assess the terms and costs involved carefully.

Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs)

A power purchase agreement (PPA) serves as a contractual arrangement between a solar company that generates electricity and its customers. Under this agreement, the company takes responsibility for owning and installing solar panels on the owner’s residential or commercial property. In return, the owner agrees to purchase the electrical energy generated by these panels at a flexible rate. Initially, this rate is typically lower than standard utility rates, providing an attractive incentive. However, it’s important to note that the rates may increase over time.

To put the increasing popularity of PPAs into perspective, Statista revealed that an impressive 36.7 gigawatts of renewable power worldwide, including the USA, were contracted through corporate power purchase agreements. This highlights the growing interest in sustainable energy solutions and emphasizes the relevance of exploring different energy procurement options to meet our evolving energy needs.

On the other hand, if you purchase solar panels outright, you become the solar system owner. This ownership allows you to harness the electricity generated by the panels without needing ongoing payments to a third-party company.

Understanding $0-Down Solar Loans

These loans offer the benefits of system ownership while requiring little to no upfront cost. With a solar loan, you can enjoy the financial advantages of going solar, including incentives and tax credits, while making monthly loan payments. This financing option combines the affordability of a solar lease with the benefits of owning the system.

Lowering the Cost of Solar with Federal and Local Incentives

There currently needs to be an official channel to obtain free solar panels from the government. While solar panel funds are available for some non-profit organizations, these often are only available to some homeowners. Farmers and small rural companies may be eligible for a U.S. Department of Agriculture subsidy, but most homeowners will not.

However, the Federal Solar Tax Credit through the Internal Revenue Service may be an option for many homeowners. A tax credit, which reduces federal income taxes by the same amount as its value to the taxpayer, is preferable to a write-off in most cases.

According to Energy.Gov, taxpayers can claim a 30% credit against the cost of installing a solar power system between 2022 and 2032 that meets certain energy requirements. For example, installing a solar panel system worth $25000 to your home or business will credit you around $7500. 

The Downsides of “Free” Solar Panels

While low-cost solar programs seem appealing, there are downsides of free solar panels to consider:

Low-Quality Equipment: Some low-cost solar energy systems may have lower-quality parts and installations. This could lead to a high cost of installation and maintenance later on.

Built-In Rate Escalators: Many PPAs & solar leases include scheduled rate escalators, which can result in higher costs over time.

Reduced Home Values: By getting a solar lease, you can have solar panel service including installation, at no upfront cost, but it also makes it harder to sell your property, potentially reducing its market value.

Poor Customer Service: Some solar leases and agreements come with multi-year service contracts for maintenance and repairs but also bring poor customer service.

Beware of Solar Panel Scams

In addition to legitimate offers with minimal upfront costs, some scams use the language of “free solar panels” to deceive customers. To protect yourself, be cautious of:

Unverified Government Incentives: Be wary of companies claiming to offer free solar panels through government subsidies or grants. Verify incentives with reliable sources.

Unsolicited Door-to-Door Sales: Research companies before signing up for anything, especially if a salesperson shows up unexpectedly.

High Upfront Costs & Hidden Fees: Avoid signing contracts for “free” solar panel systems that involve high upfront costs or hidden fees.

Pressurized Sales Tactics: Beware of companies or organizations using high-pressure tactics to skip providing essential information.


In conclusion, while “free solar panels” seems an attractive option for switching solar, they often come with strings attached and may not offer the best long-term savings. Researching and understanding the financing options available is crucial to make an informed decision. 

With Infinity Energy’s comprehensive consultation & customized solar solutions, you can experience substantial savings on your electricity bills while reducing your carbon footprint. Our professionals’ transparent & honest approach sets us apart from other companies in the industry, as we prioritize our customers’ commercial and residential energy needs.