If you immediately think about homeowners when it comes to solar panels, you’re certainly not alone. But, did you know that about two-thirds of Americans are unable to install solar panels on their properties? Community solar is a great alternative to rooftop solar, making clean solar energy more accessible and available to a wider range of people, including renters and condominium (condo) owners.
However, as a condo owner, there are circumstances in which you won’t be able to sign up for community solar and situations in which you’ll be able to install solar directly on your property! In this article, we’ll help you determine if home solar or community solar will work for your condo.
- Community solar farms are making clean energy more accessible and available to renters, apartment owners and condo owners.
- Many condo owners can subscribe to community solar farms but it depends on their electric metering system and HOA rules.
- As a condo owner, you’ll save more by installing solar on your property, but signing up for community solar is typically easier.
- Visit the EnergySage Community Solar Marketplace to compare projects near you.
What’s in this article?
What is community solar and how can you sign up?
Community solar refers to any solar project that serves multiple customers, families, or businesses. Typically, community solar subscribers buy or lease a portion of the project and receive credit on their electric bills for the electricity produced from their share of the project through a process called virtual net metering. By signing up for a community solar project you’ll likely save anywhere from 5-15 percent annually on your electric bills, making it a no-brainer for most people who can’t install solar on their properties! To compare community solar projects near you, check out the EnergySage Community Solar Marketplace.
Going solar as a condo owner
Condos are privately owned units or apartments in a larger building or set of buildings. Typically, condo owners have several common amenities and shared expenses such as fitness centers, green spaces, and roofs. As a condo owner, you’ll likely pay a monthly fee to the homeowners association (HOA) for the upkeep of these common spaces and the HOA will decide certain aesthetic features and rules of the condominium.
If you live in a single-family home, your electric bill is tied to your own electric meter that monitors how much electricity you use. However, if you’re in a condo, this can be a bit more complicated. Sometimes, one electric meter is tied to multiple condo units, which typically means your electric bills are covered under your HOA fees. This can result in restrictions for going solar, whether that’s on your property or through an off-site community solar project.
Home solar for condo owners
Because the structure of HOAs can be complicated, many condo owners opt not to install solar on the property. Roof ownership in a condo is usually on a case by case basis, and most often it’s considered a common space. However, in some cases, you may own roof rights to all or a portion of your condo’s roof – if your condo is also connected to its own electric meter, you might be able to install a solar system and directly reap the benefits!
Sometimes, condo owners in an HOA opt to install a system on the property (or, newer condo buildings may already have one installed) – in this case, the electricity generated by the system is often shared by all condo owners in the HOA. If units all share one electric meter, this might apply to your collective electric bill. Or, if you all have separate electric meters, you may choose to power common areas like a gym or hallway with a solar system. Either way, with the cost of electricity constantly rising, your building will save on electric bills by going solar.
Community solar for condo owners
If your condo is connected to its own electric meter, you should easily be able to sign up for a community solar project without needing to consult your HOA. But, if your electric meter is connected to multiple condo units, you won’t be able to sign up for community solar without the approval of your HOA. In most cases, you’ll receive two monthly bills if you sign up for a community solar project: one from your utility company and one from your community solar provider. If all members of your HOA collectively decide to sign up for community solar, the bill from your community solar provider will likely be paid as part of your HOA fees – the electric bill from your utility company will also still fall under HOA fees but will be significantly lower.
Home solar vs. community solar: which is right for you?
In many cases, the decision to install solar on your condo’s property or sign up for community solar will require input from all condo owners in your HOA. However, there are some cases in which you can easily make the decision to go solar all on your own as a condo owner. Here’s a breakdown of some key considerations if you’re a condo owner looking to go solar:
|How you go solar||Shared roof?||Shared electric meter?||HOA-input required?||Upfront investment?||Savings||Ease of going solar|
|Home solar||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||$$$||Not easy|
|Home solar||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||$$$||Not easy|
|Home solar||No||No||Possibly no||Yes||$$$$||Fairly easy|
|Community solar||N/A||Yes||Yes||No||$||Fairly easy|
|Community solar||N/A||No||Likely no||No||$||Easy|
Go solar with EnergySage!
Whether you’re looking to sign up for community solar or install solar on your own property, you’ll want to compare your options. EnergySage is the nation’s leading online solar marketplace; using our Community Solar Marketplace, you can compare local options, get a quick community solar savings estimate, and seamlessly subscribe to an open project in your area.
Or, if you decide home solar is the best option for you, you can compare multiple quotes from our network of pre-vetted installers – all for free! Over 10 million people come to EnergySage each year to learn about, shop for, and invest in solar. Get started today to see how much you could save!