solar panels for apartments

Solar panels for apartments: how renters can go solar

Can you go solar if you rent your home or live in an apartment? The simple answer for renters who want solar panels for their apartment or home is that it is possible! While you may be able to pitch your landlord to install a rooftop solar panel system, community solar is more likely to be your best bet to enjoy the benefits of solar without owning your roof space. Through policies like virtual net metering, community solar participants can earn credits back on their electricity bill, saving money every month.

Key takeaways about solar power for apartments

  • If you’re a renter, subscribing to a community solar project is your best option for going solar.
  • Community solar projects are large, off-site solar farms that you can subscribe to.
  • Interested in joining a community solar farm? Browse our community solar marketplace for local projects to help you save on electricity.

What’s in this article?

  • How to go solar as a renter: try community solar!
  • How do you get billed for community solar?
  • Benefits of community solar for renters
  • Other ways renters can go solar
  • Frequently asked questions about solar for renters

How to go solar as a renter: try community solar!

When looking for alternative ways to go solar, other than giving your landlord a call and talking through an installation on your apartment complex or home, community solar (also known as roofless solar, solar gardens, or shared solar) is a great option for you to consider.

A community solar project is a large, central solar power plant, whose electricity is shared by more than one property. While the size of a residential solar installation is measured in kilowatts, community solar projects are measured in megawatts, meaning that a single community solar project can power hundreds (or even thousands!) of properties – both rented and owned. Since you don’t need to have a suitable rooftop for solar to participate in a community solar project, it’s a great option for renters and people who live in shared housing. When you purchase a share of, or subscribe to, a community solar project, you can benefit from solar and pay less for electricity, even without solar panels on your own roof.

How do you get billed for community solar?

It’s counterintuitive, but in the vast majority of community solar setups, you’ll actually receive two separate electric bills each month once you subscribe to a community solar project – one from your utility (your standard bill) and one from your community solar provider. Your utility bill will, for the most part, look pretty normal. On the other hand, your community solar bill will summarize your earned credits and what you owe for the credits. These charges not only depend on how much your share of the solar farm generated over the billing period, but also your subscription structure. Read more about community solar billing to understand the intricacies of this product.

Benefits of solar for renters 

While you may not be able to save nearly as much money with community solar as you would with a rooftop solar system over several decades, there are many compelling reasons to consider joining a community solar farm as a renter. Namely, you’ll still save money on electric bills, you’ll have flexible contract options, and you can support the local development of clean energy.

Save money on your electricity bills

One of the biggest advantages of community solar is the electric bill savings. The amount you can save with community solar varies depending on several factors, including but not limited to:

  • The pricing model of the program you participate in
  • Your current electricity rates
  • The cost of your community solar purchase or subscription
  • How much electricity you receive from the community solar farm.

Many community solar subscribers and portion owners save anywhere from 5 to 15 percent off of their typical electricity bills. However, some community solar programs may be more expensive than your current electricity bill, so it’s important to evaluate both expected monthly bills and long-term savings as you’re deciding whether or not to join a community solar farm.

Community solar options are flexible

One of the historic roadblocks to widespread community solar adoption has been the program and contract structure. Many community solar programs used to include long-term contracts with high cancellation fees, making it difficult for customers to commit by making the cancellation process difficult. These days, community solar companies are constantly opening new programs that remove these barriers. These newer programs often allow customers to opt into shorter-term contracts and simplify the overall process of canceling or transferring a contract. 

Support local clean energy development

Community solar programs help support local renewable energy jobs and project development in your area by connecting you directly to clean energy projects in your community. The more projects around you that fill up and go live, the more clean energy gets connected to your local grid, and the more electric customers who can keep relying on solar power.

Other ways renters can go solar

If you rent your home and find that you aren’t the right fit for community solar, there are some other unorthodox ways you can still go solar. The most straightforward option may be to simply ask your landlord or the company who owns your building to install panels. While not guaranteed, this may save them money in the long run, transferring the savings to you and others who live in the building.

There are also options for you to install small diy solar panels. While not as reliable or efficient as professionally installed panels, this technology can allow you to use solar energy to power and charge small devices. 

Compare your apartment solar options today

If you’re a renter looking to benefit from solar, the best way to start is to compare community solar projects available to you on the EnergySage Community Solar Marketplace. You can filter by all sorts of project details, read about individual developers and panel locations, and compare your estimated yearly savings by subscribing. Get started today to start saving money on electric bills, even as a renter.

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This entry was posted in Solar 101 on by .

About Jacob Marsh

Jacob is a researcher and content writer at EnergySage, where he's an expert on current issues–and new technology!–in the solar industry. With a background in environmental and geological science, Jacob brings an analytical perspective and passion for conservation to help solar shoppers make the right energy choices for their wallet and the environment. Outside of EnergySage, you can find him playing Ultimate Frisbee or learning a new, obscure board game.

12 thoughts on “Solar panels for apartments: how renters can go solar

  1. Gloria Thomas

    I live in a high rise apartment building in NE DC, we have solar power panels on our building for the last two years but since installed my electric bill has gotten higher, I live in a two bedroom that is total electric and for the pass two months my bill has been over two hundred dollars. I need to know if having solar energy suppose to be beneficial to me.

    1. Susan Treitler

      I live in a high rise apartment in Northbrook,Illinois but pay for my own electric bill from ComEd. My electric bill is always close to $200 every month. It’s a 1 bedroom apartment with 1 bathroom.

    2. RENEE

      I was gonna do solar panels until I saw your comment. My bill is 70 a month with national grid but was hoping it could be cheaper and better for the environment but I’m now im very weary

      1. Tala Kemaiva

        Trust me, new tech is out there now. you can Totally go solar and save money – especially with all the different financing available right now

  2. Susan Price

    Can the landlord who rents a solar paneled home get all the pay back and have electric company charge renters regular monthly rates without the discounted rates? We rent a home with a large array of standard solar panels 6 panels wide by 3 rows going up. Our large family home gets charged 300,plus dollar monthly by our utility company. Something is fishy in Denmark…dontcha think. The landlord says it is hooked up to the dryer…??? Omg please! That’s like hooking my toothbrush to a 220 outlet and worse…help explain this to me. Please. We live in a sunny part of Texas.

  3. Ron Green

    I am a landlord in Illinois. Here’s my question: If I install a solar system on my rental properties, am I entitled to the same incentives and rebates that I am as a home owner?

  4. varite

    Recognizing that solar power systems add value to a property, the real estate industry is working to create more sophisticated methods for accurately determining the market value of solar, as well as the financial value of properties equipped with solar power systems.

  5. Michele Glemser

    I am a rental property owner of a single family property.
    I would like to instal solar for my rental. Currently, my renters pay all utilities. Do I need to be responsible for the utility payment to qualify for solar?
    I do not want to purchase outright.


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