Solar loan & solar lease are two widespread financing choices for owners trying to make the swap to solar.

Every of them enable you to set up solar panels with out worrying about the massive upfront prices that come with solar PV programs. In reality, there is typically a zero-down fee required for each solar loans and leases.

However what precisely is the distinction between these two financing choices when it comes to a solar funding? And which is the proper one for you?

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What is a solar mortgage?

A solar mortgage is a mortgage that is taken out for the buy and set up of solar panels. Often, mortgage suppliers will supply zero-down solar loans with many totally different fee constructions, rates of interest, and time period lengths.

Most often, the month-to-month funds on the mortgage will be much less than what your electrical invoice fee was prior to your solar set up.

The profit of solar loans is that they enable owners to purchase a solar system even if they don’t have the cash upfront for a money buy. This implies that as soon as the mortgage is paid off, the owners personal the solar panels on their roof. 

Nevertheless, it is essential to preserve in thoughts that lenders often require you to have a good credit score rating in order to take out a solar mortgage.

What is a solar lease?

A solar lease type of works like a automotive lease. The house owner does not personal the solar panels – as an alternative, they make a month-to-month lease fee to a solar installer. 

In return for the lease funds, the house owner will get to use the vitality that the solar panels produce to power their residence. Finally, they will see decrease electrical payments, as they will be paying much less for power than what they’d sometimes be paying at the utility fee.

They often have lease phrases between 20 and 25 years, and the lease fee will sometimes be much less than what the house owner’s electrical invoice was earlier than putting in solar.

It will typically embrace a worth escalator, which outlines how a lot the month-to-month funds will go up each yr. When the lease is up, owners have the choice to have the solar panels eliminated, buy the solar panels at a discounted worth, or lengthen the lease.

Related to solar leases are solar power buy agreements (PPAs), which additionally require no upfront fee for the set up of solar panels. Learn more about the variations between solar leases and solar PPAs right here.

Photo voltaic loans vs solar leases

Photo voltaic loans and solar leases are each widespread financing choices for owners trying to set up a solar vitality system. Every of them comes with their benefits and disadvantages.

Evaluating solar loans vs solar leases
Photo voltaic mortgage Photo voltaic lease
No upfront prices No Sure
Higher long-term financial savings Sure No
Personal the system Sure No
Qualifies for the federal tax credit score Sure No
Qualifies for SRECs Sure No
Simple to promote your residence Sure No
Mounted month-to-month funds Sure No
No upkeep No Sure

Let’s take a look at the following to see how the two stack up:

  • Lengthy-term financial savings
  • Month-to-month funds
  • Tax credit and incentives
  • Upkeep
  • When it comes to promoting your residence

Lengthy-term financial savings

When it comes to utility invoice financial savings, owners will save more with a solar mortgage than they would with a solar lease.

Usually, solar leases will have phrases between 5 and 15 years. After that, you have no more month-to-month lease funds, and you personal the solar panels! As soon as your mortgage is paid off, your panels will proceed to present you with free electrical energy that offsets your utility payments.

With a lease, on the other hand, you are locked into month-to-month funds for a full 20 or 25 years of the settlement. The cash you pay on a lease does not go in the direction of buying the system, so as soon as the contract is up, you cease saving on your utility payments.

So, whereas a solar lease will get monetary savings on your electrical payments, your financial savings will be considerably much less than if you had bought the system with a solar mortgage.

Month-to-month funds

Photo voltaic loans and solar leases each scale back – or in many circumstances remove – your electrical energy invoice.

Nevertheless, you will nonetheless have to pay both a month-to-month lease or a month-to-month mortgage fee. The funds on solar loans are often mounted, so they will stay the similar all through the time period of the mortgage.

Photo voltaic leases often embrace worth escalators, which means that the price of your month-to-month funds will improve each yr. So, if the price of electrical energy doesn’t improve in a sure yr, you could really finish up paying more than you would have for your electrical energy invoice with out solar.

Tax credit and incentives

With each solar loans and solar leases you get to take benefit of web metering, which is the key issue in eliminating your utility payments.

Nevertheless, if you enter a solar lease, you received’t get to take benefit of other solar incentives and rebates, like Photo voltaic Renewable Energy Credit (SRECs), the federal funding tax credit score (ITC), or other utility incentives. As a substitute, the solar leasing firm receives all of these incentives, due to the reality that they are the system homeowners.

If you determine to finance your solar system with a solar mortgage, you are in a position to get the federal tax credit score, SRECs, and any native and utility incentives out there in your space. This is as a result of with a solar mortgage, you are the proprietor of the solar panel system.


When you buy solar panels, you are accountable for monitoring and sustaining the system. Though solar panels are comparatively low upkeep, there’s at all times the chance that you’ll have to pay for some repairs and repairs over the lifetime of the system.

When you enter a solar lease, you are not accountable for any upkeep or monitoring of the solar system as a result of you do not personal the panels. So, if one thing goes flawed, the solar firm will be obligated to cowl the fee for any repairs.

Promoting your residence

For owners who lease solar panels, promoting their residence can be a bit of a problem.

The house owner has to both purchase out the lease, which can be costly, or the lease can be transferred over to the new house owner. It can be troublesome to find owners who are keen to enter a solar lease settlement.

Nevertheless, for owners who took out a solar mortgage, promoting their solar residence can be worthwhile and straightforward. As a result of solar panels improve residence worth, these that have solar put in have a tendency to sell faster than non-solar properties, and sometimes promote for more money.

Hold in thoughts, if a house owner takes out a secured residence fairness line of credit score (HELOC) mortgage, the mortgage should be paid off earlier than the home can be bought, since the property is used as collateral. If an unsecured mortgage is used, the home can be bought and the earlier house owner will proceed to be accountable for the mortgage.

As a result of solar panels add worth to the residence, unsecured solar loans can be simply paid off with the extra cash from the home sale. The brand new owners then get to take pleasure in the advantages of solar, with out having to enter into any kind of long-term contract or take on further funds.

Since owners with a solar mortgage personal the system, the potential residence consumers received’t have to fear about getting into a long-term lease contract, and they get to profit from the solar panels.

Is a solar mortgage or a solar lease proper for you?

Most often, taking out a solar mortgage is a better option than getting into a solar lease.

The principle profit of solar loans is that the house owner will see considerably better financial savings over the lifetime of the solar system. Plus, owners get to take benefit of solar incentives that they in any other case wouldn’t qualify for with a solar lease.

Regardless of the benefits of loans over leases, there are some circumstances in which a solar lease could be the most suitable choice for going solar.

A solar lease may be proper for you if:

  • You are not eligible for the federal solar tax credit score
  • You are not eligible for SRECs
  • You do not qualify for a solar mortgage

So as to find the finest solar financing choice for you, you ought to get solar quotes from a number of installers.

Key takeaways

  • A solar mortgage is a mortgage that is used to cowl the prices of buying and putting in solar panels.
  • With a solar lease, the house owner does not personal the solar panels on their roof – as an alternative, they make month-to-month funds to a solar leasing firm in order to use the solar vitality the panels produce.
  • Photo voltaic loans have mounted month-to-month funds and enable you to take benefit of solar incentives, all whereas giving you a lot greater long-term financial savings than a solar lease.
  • Photo voltaic leases consequence in decrease long-term financial savings and can make it troublesome to promote a residence. Nevertheless, they don’t require any further upkeep prices over the lifetime of the system.
  • Until you are not eligible for the federal tax credit score or you don’t qualify for a solar mortgage, it is often higher to take out a solar mortgage to set up solar panels than it is to enter a solar lease.

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