As the cost of electricity continues to climb, you may feel helpless to stop it. Even with efforts to conserve energy at home, there’s only so much you can do to lower your bills. Is there no way to escape the whims of electricity rates?
Fortunately, there is. The answer is to have solar panels installed on your home. As with buying a car or other investment, you have several options for residential solar financing in Orange County, NY. Take a look at the pros and cons of each to help you decide which is best for your situation.
Purchasing Solar Panels
The most straightforward way to invest in solar panels is to purchase them outright.
- No fees or interest: Purchasing solar panels is the most economic option and results in the greatest return on investment. This is largely possible because you avoid any fees or interest associated with leases and loans. Therefore, the money you save once your solar panels start working goes straight in your pocket. Think about all the ways you can put that extra money to good use!
- Full access to tax credits and rebates: If you’re afraid the upfront cost of solar panels is too restrictive, consider that you can cut it in half with a 30% tax credit from the federal government, 25% tax credit from the state, and cash incentives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. These incentives make purchasing solar panels much more affordable.
- Full access to refunds: As if the upfront savings weren’t enough, you also have the chance to receive refunds from your utility company if your solar panels ever overproduce. You can also sell excess energy in the form of renewable energy certificates, or RECs. These benefits lower the lifetime cost of owning solar panels.
- More satisfying: The panels are entirely yours from the very beginning. Knowing you are the sole owner of your solar array can bring great satisfaction.
- Greater flexibility: Leases and loans come with far more restrictions regarding what type of system you can install and where. Ultimately, when you buy, you’re in charge.
- Upfront investment required: As opposed to other options for residential solar financing in Orange County, NY, an upfront purchase requires you to have a few thousand dollars set aside to make the investment. If you don’t have savings in place, this option may be cost prohibitive, despite the tax credits, rebates and refunds available.
- Greater risk: Even though solar panels come with product and power warranties, it still feels like a bigger risk to put down money to buy solar panels than it does to take out a loan or lease.
- Ownership responsibilities: When you’re the owner, it’s your job to maintain and repair your solar panels as needed. Fortunately, with few moving parts a durable construction, solar panels don’t break down often. They also require very little maintenance.
Leasing Solar Panels
A solar panel lease is when you pay a fixed monthly rate to “rent” panels from a solar company. Agreements typically last 15 to 20 years.
- $0 down: This option for residential solar financing in Orange County, NY is a great way to switch to solar without spending anything upfront. Simply sign the lease, have the solar panels installed and start saving from day one.
- Monthly rates are lower than your old utility bills: In order to use the energy your rented solar panels produce, you are required to pay the solar company a fixed monthly rate. These rates are typically far below what you once paid for electricity. Plus, they stay the same regardless of current electricity rates and fluctuating energy production from your solar panels.
- No ownership responsibilities: Owning your panels may be a matter of pride for some, but if you want a hassle-free way to utilize solar panels, leasing is a great choice. All maintenance and repair needs are handled by the solar installer free of charge.
- Performance guarantee: If something goes wrong, the solar panel company will set it straight, guaranteed.
- You relinquish tax credits and other incentives: With a solar panel lease, you don’t own the hardware, so you aren’t entitled to the financial incentives associated with purchasing solar panels. This may greatly impact your return on investment in the coming years.
- Less flexible: Once you sign the agreement, you have to retain your solar panels for the duration of the lease. This could create complications if you end up moving. You may have the option to take your solar panels with you or you can transfer the lease to the new homeowner, but the installation complicates matters.
This is a form of residential solar financing in Orange County, NY that gives you the option to own your solar array without paying anything upfront. It’s a compromise between an outright purchase and a solar lease. Loans are flexible and usually last five to 20 years.
- $0 down: As with a solar lease, this form of residential solar financing in Orange County, NY gives you the option to get started with no money down.
- Monthly costs are lower: You must repay your loan with monthly payments. At the same time, you have access to the electricity your solar panels generate, which could nearly negate your electric bill, depending on the size of the array you install. Usually, the combination of monthly loan costs and your residual utility bill is lower than what you once paid for electricity alone.
- Pay off the loan faster with no penalty: If you get a hefty Christmas bonus or inherit money from a relative, you can put that money toward paying off your loan faster. Since there’s no penalty, this is a cost effective way to achieve ownership more quickly.
- Full access to all financial incentives: As with purchasing solar panels, taking out a loan gives you access to all tax credits, rebates and refunds. This lowers the initial loan amount and decreases monthly expenditures so you can realize a faster return on investment.
- The loan takes time to pay off: Similar to purchasing a car with a loan, you must get used to monthly loan payments, which may take five to 20 years to pay off. Fortunately, once you do, your electricity is essentially free for another few decades until the solar panels wear out.
- Ownership responsibilities: Owning your panels is rewarding, but as with purchasing them outright, you must take responsibility for repairs and maintenance if you take out a loan to buy your panels.
The Bottom Line
With these pros and cons of residential solar financing in Orange County, NY, you can draw your own conclusions about which option is right for you. Here’s the bottom line:
- A solar panel purchase is best if you want the biggest return and have the finances available to make the upfront investment.
- A solar panel lease is best if you want a no-money-down, hassle-free way to switch to solar and benefit the environment.
- A solar panel loan is best if you want a no-money-down way to work toward full solar panel ownership and enjoy a reasonable return on investment.