How to best finance solar energy

Consumer Reports compares buying versus leasing solar energy

SAN ANTONIO – The cost of solar energy, and the instillation that comes with it, has been lowering over the years.

For Mike Moore, there are few regrets to leasing solar panels on his roof.

Moore saves nearly $200 a month on his electric bill. It was all going great until he hit a snag.

His roof sprung a leak and in order to fix it, the panels needed to be taken down, stored and reinstalled. While the repair might sound simple, Moore quickly learned that would not be the case.

“No one wants to work on panels that are leased by someone else,” he said.

While leasing solar systems might sound easy, Consumer Reports says what customers save in costs might cause bigger headaches down the road.

“By leasing, you miss out on any federal tax benefits and local incentives. Plus people who lease save far less than those who buy their systems outright,” Dan DiClerico said.

Consumer Reports said one analysis showed buying a solar system can save homeowners nearly $60,000 over 20 years, while leasing drops those savings to $20,000 over the same time frame.

Customers also need to be on the lookout for escalator clauses in contracts where the payment goes up every year.

For those who are looking to buy, they can expect to spend $15,000-$20,000 up front after all tax credits are applied. And most systems will pay for themselves in 5 to 7 years.