If the First Quality Roofing & Insulation team has heard the sales pitches from companies hoping to lease solar panels to Las Vegas residents, we assume you have, too. Before you do anything rash, be sure to gather all the facts. In most cases, leasing isn't the smarter choice. As Consumer Reports puts it, “Buying solar panels requires an investment and more decision-making than leasing, but over the long term the benefits of owning your system are hard to beat.”
Leasing companies find their “wedge issue”
Who could blame you for being attracted to the idea of equipping your home with solar panels? Also known as rooftop photovoltaics, they absorb the sun's rays to power a home with electricity. They're particularly well suited to homes in Nevada, which is one of the sunniest states in the country. And they can help reduce your monthly electric bill by as much as 40 percent while steadily reducing your dependency on an external energy source.
The initial investment in solar panels doesn't come cheap – usually in the range of between $15,000 and $30,000, according to Energy Sage, an environmental advocacy group.
This is precisely where some companies hope to sway homeowners with a lease. Pay a small amount or next to nothing upfront for a solar energy installation, they say, and spare the high cost of ownership. This rallying cry should be your cue to look hard at both sides of the equation.
Leasing isn't a “bright” choice: Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports doesn't mince words when it says that leasing “isn't a bright idea” because:
- Many leases contain escalator clauses that can drain projected energy savings. This is why “people who lease their solar systems save far less than those who buy them outright or with a loan.”
- Homeowners lose out on federal tax breaks that are designed to make solar panels more affordable in the first place. The IRS continues to offer a 30 percent tax credit on solar equipment and installation.
- Homeowners “lose control” of their roof and could find themselves with a solar energy installation that fails to look aesthetically appealing. Why? Because “leasing companies want to maximize their profit, so there’s a chance you could wind up with more panels than you want and that they could be installed in highly visible places—such as facing the street—without any regard to appearance,” Consumer Reports says.
- It could make selling a house more difficult if the sale takes place before the lease expires. Under the terms of many solar leases, the homeowner with the solar energy installation has to purchase the remaining time on the lease or the home buyer has to assume the lease. Although studies have shown – and First Quality Roofing & Insulation has reported – that homes with solar panels sell for more money and sell faster than homes without them, not everyone is as enlightened about solar energy as Las Vegas residents.