Should I Lease a Solar Panel System?

It depends. Let me start with the question that should precede this:

Should I Get a Solar Panel System?

Definitely Yes, if:

Your PG&E electrical bill has $100 or more of tier 3 or higher (expensive) electricity on it

AND youíve got the cash to buy a system outright.

AND you've got a roof with great southern / south-eastern / south-western exposure.

AND your roof has decades of useful life left, and includes large areas without penetrations.

AND youíre planning to own the house for another decade or more.

Definitely No, if:

Your PG&E electrical bill is mostly tier 1 and 2 (cheap) electricity.

You can't afford to purchase it outright, and your credit score is below excellent.

Your roof is shaded by neighbors' trees, other buildings, etc.

Your roof will need to be replaced in a few years, and/or is chopped-up into small areas by design, or because of vents, etc.

You expect to sell the house in the next few years

The information above is a bit unusual, as it is a list of absolutes.Note that my "definately yes" list is a set of "ANDs" - so having just one of the circumstances doesn't make solar a no-brainer. But if a homeowner has all five of them, he/she is throwing away tens of thousands of dollars by not getting solar TODAY.

Now jump to the second column: deal-killers. The second one down, no money/less-than-excellent credit, is, by itself, a deal-killer. The third one down, significant shade is also, by itself, a deal-killer. But the other circumstances, are not, by themselves, deal-killers

Now letís revisit the first question:

Should I Lease a Solar Panel System?

If youíve got all the circumstances in the first column except a wad of cash, of course you should lease solar. (And if you have a wad of cash, I strongly recommend getting solar by doing a pre-paid lease, rather than simply purchasing outright.

But life is often not so black and white. Maybe only half your kilowatt-hours fall in the expensive tiers. Maybe youíve got a shade problem just in the afternoons.In these circumstances, you need to look at the numbers, and decide if solar makes sense. Read through the rest of this site, to better understand leases. Read PGEandSolar.com, for an introduction to tiered rates, time-of-use, and other important utility rate considerations. Visit IsMyRoofRight.com, to learn about orientation, slope and other physical considerations. Finally, click on SolarAsInvestment.com, to familiarize yourself with the financial calculation.

Buying versus leasing is only one aspect of the calculation.

next page: Who Should I Lease From?

Should I Lease a Solar Panel System?
 
Who Should I Lease From?
 
Are Some Leasing Companies Better than Others?
 
Leasing Versus Buying
 
How Much Can I Save if I Lease Solar?
 
Explain the Different Variables in a Lease
 
The Escalator Trap
 
Can I Sell my House, if I have a Solar Lease?
 
So... Should I Get Solar, Using a Lease?
 
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Quiz: Can you explain this solar lease promotion?
 
Understanding a Solar Proposal
 
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Assorted Lease Companies' Web Pages:
 
- BrightGrid
 
- Solar City
 
- Solar Universe
 
- SunCap Financial
 
- Sungevity
 
- SunPower
 
- SunRun
 
- Vivint Solar
 
 

©2014 by Bill Fridl. All rights reserved.
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