How does “Going Solar Work"?
Just Like a Car…
- Pay outright for the system at some point between when the system is fully installed and when it is turned on
- Purchase the system by financing via a number of alternatives; private financing, PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy, a government approved program), home equity line of credit, etc.
Lease for Equipment
- Monthly payments ($) or payments based on solar PV system production (¢/kWh)
- These can be fixed or escalating
- Term is usually 20 years with two 5-year extensions
- Leases are typically for single family residences, Power Purchase Agreements are for larger entities
Pay-Per-Access (Power Purchase Agreement)
- Buy electricity just like you currently do, but at a lower rate than your electric utility
- Standard for larger solar PV systems
Steps in the Process
Shouldn’t I wait for technology to improve?
The short answer is… No.
The long answer is…
- Gen 2 solar panels have been around since the 70’s on satellites in space. Those panels are often 2 or 3 times more efficient than the solar panels used on earth, but at 200 times the cost.
- Terrestrial solar panels have seen a 3% increase in efficiency every year, and about the same decrease in costs
- Even though return on investment for solar energy will improve in the future, it never makes sense to wait because:
- A system bought today starts paying itself off tomorrow and the system bought tomorrow will never pay itself off before the system bought today
- Policies are very much in the favor of solar systems right now, who knows what the future holds.
What about storage?
The cost of batteries has been going down for years, but it’s still hard to justify their cost in the Southwest region where the electric grid goes down infrequently. In the Northeast, where power loss is more common, it may be more practical to add batteries to a solar system. Nonetheless we do not currently advocate for most homeowners to add storage to their solar system given the cost. As costs decrease, we will keep our clients abreast of when we change our recommendation.
Is financing available?
Financing is available for your home or business! The most common form of financing is PACE financing, although taking out a home equity line of credit may provide you with more savings. PACE financing can be summarized by the following bullet points:
- Finance payments go on your property tax bill
- Stays with the house, not you
- Assessments do not start immediately, but on your next tax assessment, so you often get 1 free year of power!
- Since you own the system you still get the 30% Federal Tax Credit
- HERO is the most well-known bank that offers PACE
To learn the best ways to finance solar, you should seek advice from a licensed accountant.
How does leasing work?
Leasing solar for your home or business can typically save you more money than financing. When you lease, we provide all the maintenance for the lifetime of the solar system. Leases typically last for twenty years with an option to extend at the end of the twenty year period.
What about warranties and maintenance?
- The solar panels are warrantied by the manufacturer for 20 years
- GWP will replace any broken panels within 72 hours once notified during the course of the 20-year period
- The inverter is warrantied by the manufacturer for 10 years with an optional 10 year additional warranty, which we will option for
- GWP has an interest in keeping the system up and running and performing well
- To date, GWP has had no reported leaks from any of our clients as a result of our work
- We leave the roof in better condition than we found it
- If a leak does happen, you can call one of our employees cell phones directly, not a 1-800 number like at a large solar firm. We start the repairs within 48 hours once notified.