Going for Solar Another Way – Solar Leasing

While we purchased our solar installation outright, there are other effective ways to get solar on your home.  Here is a guest post by our friend and fellow solar enthusiast Bob Paine.

Achieving green energy, one homeowner at a time

by Bob Paine

4.14 kW solar array on roof of house in New England
Bob Paine’s Leased Solar Array
in Medford, MA

I have long been interested in offsetting my use of electrical grid power with solar panels on my roof, but the high cost of installation and ownership has been a roadblock until recently.  In February 2011, I became aware of solar lease programs being offered by at least one company that would achieve my goal with either no or modest financial outlays on my part.  I learned that with a solar lease (rather than owning the panels on my roof), I as a consumer would have solar electric panels installed, and would pay a monthly fee for the electricity the panels generate to power my home.  I stood to reduce my electricity bills by about 10 percent, with no down payment. This was a win-win situation!

I found out that my roof could support (even though it faces east-southeast—not optimal) a 4.14 KW system, which could supply about half of my annual electrical power needs.  The nice thing about the lease arrangement was that the solar company would take all of the risks in installing, maintaining, and insuring the operation of the system through the 20-year period of its operation.  In fact, I would receive a guaranteed amount of solar energy per year, with makeup payments provided to me if the system did not perform as advertised!  I would not have to deal with energy credits, tax issues, or anything like that.

I was offered a choice of three payment options:  (1) a no-money-down lease, which was the most entry-level friendly, (2) an initial partial payment option which would cost a little money up front, but would reduce the monthly payment, or (3) a total 20-year pre-pay option where I would pay the entire lease off up front.  I decided on the third option because it reduced my cost of electricity from about 15 cents per kilowatt hour from the grid power company—to only about 7.2 cents per kilowatt hour, averaged and fixed over 20 years. 

display of solar power acquisition tracking via web
Display of Solar Power Acquisition via the web

After I signed the agreement, there was a period of a few months for engineering and permitting, and then the solar system was installed.  The installers also strengthened my roof before installing the solar panels, at no cost to me.

For about half of what it would cost from the electric utility , and I can view the system’s performance anytime via the Internet (see Figure 2).   I am also pleased to have achieved my goal of “green power” for much less financial outlay than I would have imagined.

Would you consider solar leasing as a way to get solar on your home? Answer below in the comments.

solar PV awning
Going for Solar Series

To learn more about residential solar installations, check out our series Going for Solar, which details every step from dreaming about installing solar, through picking a contractor and the steps in construction.  We provide information and advice for every step of the way, as well as different approaches such as paying for it yourself versus leasing a system.  Don’t miss the steps on how much money we saved during our first year of usage!


  1. I didn’t know that this was an option. I really assumed that if I could not pay the upfront cost (which I know I can’t afford right now) that solar was not an option for me, but I would be willing to try if I could avoid that upfront cost!

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