Free Solar Panels. Is It A Scam?

If you’ve spent any time researching or shopping around for solar panels, you’ve probably heard the offer of “free solar panels” or “no-cost solar panels and installation.”

Are these offers for free solar panels and installation a scam? A great deal?

Before you decide free solar panels are the right decision for you, read about how these offers could be misleading.

WHAT DOES “FREE SOLAR PANELS” MEAN?

When a solar company offers you “free” solar panels, they are often offering to set up a solar lease or power purchasing agreement (PPA). 

As we have described in a previous article, solar leases and PPAs are very different from purchasing your solar panels through cash or loans. 

Solar leases and PPAs are similar to renting your solar panel system. These solar financing options provide many of the benefits of solar panels, but without the need to own or maintain the entire solar panel system.

One of the benefits of solar leases and PPAs is that there are no upfront costs. Technically, you are not purchasing the solar panels, hence “free” solar panels. Instead, you are agreeing to allow the solar company to install solar panels on your roof.

In exchange for allowing the solar company to install the solar panels on your roof at no cost, the solar company will charge you a reduced rate for your electricity over the term of the agreement.

ARE SOLAR LEASES & PPAS WORTH IT?

While solar companies might sell solar leases and PPAs as “free” or “no-cost” solar, are these financing options a good idea?

A major factor to keep in mind when agreeing to a solar lease or PPA is that you do not own the solar panels. This can be beneficial for the homeowner because they do not have to make a large initial investment. The homeowner is also not responsible for maintenance and repairs on the solar panels.

However, homeowners who agree to a solar lease or PPA are not eligible to take advantage of solar incentives. Those solar incentives are claimed by the solar company.

Additionally, once the terms of the solar lease or PPA are up, the solar panels will either be taken down, or the homeowner will have an option to purchase the solar panel installation (often at an elevated cost). This not only reduces the extent of your lifetime cost savings, it also prevents the solar panels from increasing your home value when you go to sell your house.

ARE FREE SOLAR PANELS A SCAM?

In most cases, the offer of “free” or “no-cost” solar panels isn’t a scam. The marketing of these offers relies upon the fact that you are not actually buying the solar panels or paying for the installation.

However, nothing comes free. You will still have to pay for the energy you receive from those panels, though you will often be paying overtime than if you paid for your solar panels through cash or a loan. Plus, you will be missing out potential solar incentives and increased property value that comes from owning your solar panels.

But each individual household’s situation is different. Some homeowners will benefit more from a solar lease or PPA than they would by owning their solar panels. The decision comes down to the individual.

To learn more about your solar options, contact Green Ridge Solar today.