Free Solar Panels?
If you're doing your solar research, you've undoubtedly encountered a company or two who will claim to offer free panels. Are these claims legit?
Solar PPAs or Leases
"No-cost solar" is almost always marketed by companies who offer solar leases or power purchase agreements (PPAs). If you decide to lease panels, there is a possibility you could get them installed on your home with no money down. You do lose most solar incentives, however, along with the ownership of the array itself. If you can't afford an upfront payment, financing with $0 down solar loan is a better option.
If you were to go with one of these agreements, you wouldn't actually own the solar system. Instead, the installer will hold the ownership, and you pay for the electricity the system produces. You are essentially trading your electric utility bill for a solar utility bill. Most offers will save money on your bills, but this amount will be far less than if you were to own your system. Be wary of these companies, as many times homeowners end up paying more than they do currently for the same amount of electricity.
Other Ways to Get Solar For $0 Down
Other ways to get a system installed with $0 down include a $0 down solar loan. The market is full of companies that specialize in solar loans or there is always the route of a personal loan through traditional lenders. Some of these can come with high interest rates, but in the long run, they have greater savings potential than a lease.
There are also community solar farms around that can offer $0 down. Subscribing to a community farm typically guarantees between 5%-10% savings on electric bills. They are also usually free to sign up and free to cancel. The idea is that you pay for your share of the costs, and it's usually cheaper than paying for electricity through your utility company. This is a great option for renters or homeowners who don't plan to stay in their homes too long.
It is easy to be tempted by those ads that claim "free panels," because who wouldn't want to get an array for free! But common sense rules the day here, and when something seems too good to be true, it usually is. When you are doing your research, keep these things in mind, read the fine print of the agreements and be wary of any company that claims they can get you an array for $0.