Solar Lease VS. Buy

Solar Arrays: Why Lease when you Can Own?

Renting and leasing-so common in so many industries. We sometimes rent or lease apartments, cars, electronics, and furniture, and some may even say we have a lease on life. In certain cases, a lease can offer the short-term, affordable commitment you seek. So it makes sense you might be asking yourself- “is it better to lease vs. buy my solar array?”

In the solar market, some companies will offer what seems to be a shiny alternative to purchasing solar outright. These companies go door-to-door targeting homeowners with an offer that, at first glance, might seem desirable. They will describe a solar lease as a financially sound alternative to owning that will lower your electric bill and allow you to take part in a sustainable lifestyle.

If you are thinking about going solar or have been offered this kind of lease by a solar company, which is usually a large national business, we are here to warn you of some of the flaws that come along with this kind of “investment”.

When it comes to solar panels, here’s why buying is best:

Is it better to lease or buy solar panels? Buying is better.

Return on Investment:

When a consumer leases solar panels, they pay for service fees, any consumption charges not covered by the solar panels, and a payment to the leasing company. Thus, you will continue to have a monthly bill ranging from $150 to $250 per month on average. The leasing company will say you are getting a discount on your electricity charges but for some homeowners, the payment might end up being the same, if not more than their current electric bill! If you choose to buy out of your leasing agreement, many companies charge more than the remainder owed.

Although purchasing solar requires more of an upfront investment, it will remain just that—an investment. With top-quality equipment, you can expect your solar panels to last typically around 30 years. 30 years with a very low monthly electric bill and a guaranteed return on investment long before then. If upfront cost is an issue, there are many solar loans that use the equipment itself as collateral, and not home equity.  This means you are left with years of free electricity once the loan is paid off.

Tax Credits and Incentives:

The federal government offers great incentives when it comes to solar energy. There is a 30% tax credit that is given when you purchase solar. At the end of the day, you will still own your panels and receive a 30% payment for your project. With a solar lease, you own nothing, and it is the leasing company that gets the tax credit, not you. In addition the leasing company receives state tax credits and depreciation value. A hoped for 5 – 10% savings to you means thousands of dollars of profit for them.

Owning Solar can Increase the Value and Desirability of Your Home:

If you read our previous blog post, you’ll be fully up to speed as to how there is clear evidence that solar panels increase the value of your home. Solar energy is becoming more popular each year as consumers look to cut down on energy costs and be part of the solution to the current climate crisis. So, if you choose to sell your home, you have an asset.

If you choose to lease, this will inherently have the opposite effect. Consumers may hesitate to buy your property because they don’t want to take over the current lease. On top of the already many stressors of moving- you’ll also end up dealing with the hassle of an additional lien on your home.

Warranty and Service:

Locally owned companies like Same Sun of Vermont will ensure you have the best warranty and service promise for your investment. Same Sun uses only premium products with industry-leading warranties of up to 25 years when we install your solar panels, and we also offer a workmanship guarantee to provide free service for five years if you run into any issues!

When you lease vs. buy your solar, you may find that your service plan won’t cover any equipment problems. Damaged solar panels may fall on your homeowner’s insurance and your leasing company won’t be responsible.

When deciding between a solar lease or purchase, one option clearly outweighs the benefits of the other. Corporately owned solar businesses are often just looking for their next contract, be wary. Do your due diligence by researching a locally owned solar company in your area. Often, these are the people that want to ensure you get quality equipment and a good ROI.

As a company, we strive to provide unbiased information to fully educate consumers in their decision-making process. If you do choose to lease your solar, that’s not our business. (Pun intended)

Before signing a lease, contact us today.

More information on going solar:

Buying or Selling with Solar:

Does solar increase the value of your home?

Does Solar Add Value to Your Home?

The Vermont housing market has seen unprecedented activity in the last few years, and rising prices.  Anecdotally, we’ve spoken to a number of customers that have sold their homes with solar installed, and ones that have bought them, and we always ask whether the solar factored into the sale.  This question has gotten mixed answers; they’ve reported that the buyers are often happy to have the solar but they don’t know how it impacted the sale.

The Jury is In – Solar Increases a Home’s Value

For many years we were stymied by realtors insisting that the solar was at best, not a factor and at worst, a negative.  We were even asked to remove arrays so that people could move with the equipment, despite the fact that the installation was custom-designed for the home. 

It makes sense that, all other things being equal, that a home with solar would sell for more because of the lower utility cost but that did not seem to be the conventional wisdom.  Thankfully, that has changed and the value added by solar is now widely understood.  You can easily find info on Zillow, Architectural Digest and any number of other sources that will tell you that solar not only results in lower carrying costs, but in higher desirability and a quicker sale.

How You Can Make Sure Your Solar is Considered?

The Appraisal Institute, the nationwide organization that governs real estate appraisers, is now officially on board and has published a form called The Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum.  You can fill this out to document efficiency and renewable upgrades and make sure it is considered in your appraisal.

What Energy Features Raise Value?

The following are among questions asked on the Green Addendum.  They will help the appraiser to quantify the added value.

Type of equipment/warranties:

Not all solar arrays are equal. At Same Sun, we only use Tier One solar equipment made in the USA like the Silfab Elite modules and Enphase micro-inverters. The better performing the equipment, the more worth it will have for your home!

Type of installation/orientation:

With in person site-evaluations, you can ensure your solar array has been placed in the optimal spot for maximum solar generation. The more energy produced- the greater the savings!


Although leasing may sound like a good idea in theory, when it comes to solar, owning is best. Not only are there great tax incentives for purchasing solar, but also a return of investment that doesn’t always come along with leasing.  Leases can typically last 20-25 years, meaning if you choose to sell before the lease expires, you may find buyers hesitant to want to take over said lease. On the contrary, when you own your solar panels, it will actually add value to your home and could potentially draw in buyers as an included feature.

Utility Costs (that are being replaced):

With every solar proposal, we provide our best estimate on how much you’ll save in electricity bills and overall costs. If you’re looking to purchase a home with low monthly utility bills, a solarized one is a great option!

Energy Efficiency Measures:

If your home has, for example, good insulation or EnergyStar appliances, this can contribute to your overall utility savings thus raising your home’s value even more.

EV Readiness:

Electric Vehicles are becoming more and more popular amongst consumers. In Vermont, there are over 5,000 EV owners. That being said, when your home has EV charging capabilities, you open up opportunities for greater buyer interest. Adding a level 2 EV charger to your home gives a vehicle owner the power to charge their car right from their own house, and this feature will become more desirable to buyers as the industry continues to grow.

If you are in contract, selling or refinancing a home that already has solar, understanding and making use of the The Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum is important.  Make sure you, your lender or your appraiser have completed the form so that the array’s value can be quantified and correctly added.  

If you’re in the market for a new home, and considering one that already has solar, you should also make use of the Addendum to know what you are buying.  If you are considering a home without solar, it might be the time to embrace it and even roll the cost into your purchase money mortgage.   With additional energy features comes additional value, and solar is worth looking into before missing out on the benefits. If you have any questions on how solar energy can affect your real estate decisions, Same Sun can help: