Solar is no longer the uncommon renewable energy it once was. Today, trusted review organization Consumer reports is offering its insight about the best solar companies and best ways for consumers to install solar panels.This year, the millionth home solar panel system was installed in the United States. If you had any doubts about whether solar is now in the mainstream, Consumer Reports’ recent guide around the best way to go solar should erase them. In its August 2016 issue, the industry-leading nonprofit magazine declares, “There has probably never been a better time to switch to solar” – and suggests that U.S. homeowners use EnergySage’s Solar Calculator to determine whether solar makes sense for their homes.
The research team at Consumer Reports took on the entire solar shopping process, covering topics from equipment to financing to evaluating the installer you choose to build your solar energy system.
In the past, solar was out of reach for most homeowners. Loans were difficult to access, and upfront equipment and installation costs were too high for most people to pay in cash. By bringing the third-party lease to the solar market, SolarCity made solar accessible to the masses and enabled homeowners to go solar with no money down. In October 2014, SolarCity launched its first solar loan option: the MyPower loan product.
With endless reasons to go solar in New York, many homeowners are enjoying the luxury that is the New York State Solar Tax Credit and you should too. In this article, we break down everything you need to know about tax incentives in NY.
For property owners who want to maximize their solar savings, solar loans make it possible to buy a solar energy system even if you don’t have the cash on hand to make a purchase. Solar loans come in many different forms, including home equity loans and home equity lines of credit, unsecured loans from specialty lenders, and Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans. Thanks to Fannie Mae, there’s a new solar financing option available to many homeowners – and it could be a game changer. If you’ve explored solar loans in the past and haven’t found what you’re looking for, it’s time to take a look at the new Fannie Mae HomeStyle Energy Program.
Still think solar panels are an expensive way to generate electricity? Think again. Solar energy system costs have fallen significantly in recent years, becoming increasingly competitive with power from electric utilities across the US. And as the global solar industry grows, prices look set to fall even further.
According to Deutsche Bank’s 2015 Solar Outlook report, solar energy system costs are likely to drop 40% in the next 4-5 years, in keeping with the steep downwards trend of the past decade. Given that utility electricity rates are only going to continue to rise, this means solar is set to become an increasingly attractive financial option for homes and businesses around the US – and the world.
Another report titled “Renewable Energy Generation Costs in 2014” released in January by the International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA) backs up Deutsche Bank’s conclusions. Like the Deutsche Bank report, IRENA also concludes that falling costs have made solar financially competitive with grid electricity in many parts of the world – including much of the US. The report also shows that there have been dramatic declines in the cost of solar energy systems in the past few years (including a 3/4 drop in the cost of solar panels) – and says that there is still substantial room for further cost reductions as the solar industry expands. Continue reading →
If you’re shopping around for a solar energy system, you undoubtedly have questions that you want to ask your solar company. But what questions are the most important ones to ask an installer?
The decision-making process is a bit easier if you divide the questions into two ‘stages’: First, you can ask the key questions which allow you to understand the value that their product offers. This will help you to rule out the options which are definitely not for you. After you’ve answered these questions, you can ask the questions that will help you make the final choice between this narrowed-down range of options. We discuss some of these questions below. Continue reading →
What should you look at to determine if you’re getting a good deal on solar? There are lots of things to pay attention to when deciding on a solar energy system; but two of the most useful metrics for evaluating the cost and value of a solar power offer are price per watt, measured in dollars per watt of energy ($/W), and ‘levelized cost of energy’ (LCOE).
If you’ve been shopping around for a solar panel system, you’ve probably heard at least one company advertise ‘free solar panels’ – that they will install a solar system on your roof for free. But, much as with anything, remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch (or a free solar panel).
Examples of companies advertising ‘free solar panels’
Decoding the sales pitch: The term ‘free solar panels’ is sometimes used to advertise solar lease or solar power purchase agreements (PPAs).
Under both types of arrangements, a company will put solar panels on your roof for no money up-front, but will charge you for the electricity that they produce.
Most offers will save you money but not all of them, so make sure you’ve thoroughly compared all your options. Also consider buying the solar panels or financing them with a zero-down solar loan.