Leasing solar panels: what you need to know

September 3, 2023

If you’ve taken a drive around your neighborhood lately, you may have noticed that more and more homes have solar arrays installed on their roof. Solar energy is more popular than ever, due to both the environmental benefits and the money-saving effect solar can have. 

Despite the undeniable financial benefits of solar energy, solar has developed a reputation of being expensive. While the average cost of a system is roughly $20,000 to $40,000, the fact is that solar is more affordable than ever, especially with a lease. 

Leasing solar panels

More and more homeowners across the country are leasing solar panels. A solar lease provides the greatest upfront savings, allowing homeowners to save immediately and save more over time (as electric rates rise), as well as benefit from predictable payments.

What is a solar lease?

Leases allow homeowners to benefit from predictable low monthly payments and immediate savings. When you lease solar panels, however, they are owned by a third party. For example, panels leased through SunPower are owned by SunPower. Some companies may require a down payment, while others, like EmPower Solar, allow you to lease for $0 down. The solar lease cost will vary, but monthly payments are usually between $0 and $250. The SunPower lease, offered by EmPower, is for 25 years.

Benefits of leasing solar panels

There’s been a longstanding perception that solar panel leases are not worth it. Offered by EmPower Solar, SunPower’s industry-leading lease offer stands above the rest.

  1. Greater immediate savings.
    A solar lease will allow you to save more money up front than any other financing option, and at $0 down! 
  2. Guaranteed performance.
    Under SunPower’s lease your energy production is guaranteed. If your system does not perform as expected, SunPower will cover the difference. If you’re curious, you can also monitor your energy production and panel performance through SunPower’s app at any time.
  3. Greatest peace of mind.
    SunPower owns, maintains, and protects your solar system against damage, allowing you to sit back and relax. Plus, your equipment, installation, financing, and warranty are all under one roof!

Solar panel lease incentives

While leasing solar panels does not allow you to claim federal tax incentives, homeowners are still eligible for the New York State solar tax credit of up to $5,000. That amount could cover your lease payments for a few years, in addition to the electric bill savings you’ll benefit from! Plus, New York City residents are also eligible for an additional credit of 20% over 4 years.

A solar panel lease is also a good solution for homeowners who may not have a large enough tax appetite to qualify, like some fixed-income households and retirees.

Potential savings with solar lease costs

In 2023, the average electric bill is $255/month. If energy rises at an estimated conservative 2.66% each year, the average electric bill would cost ~$261/month in 2023 and $378/month in 2043. Let’s examine the savings of a homeowner in Island Park. This customer decided to lease solar panels and had them installed in January 2023. 

Frequently asked questions about solar leasing

Q: What happens if the system doesn’t produce what you say it will?

A: Through our lease offering, system production is guaranteed by SunPower. If the system produces below your estimated range, SunPower will reimburse you.

Q: Does leasing solar panels affect my warranty?

Not at all! Your leased system will be covered through SunPower’s industry leading 25-year warranty. Any replacement or repairs that your system may need are covered at no cost to you through SunPower, no matter which financing option you choose. You are also able to access any service or maintenance needs through EmPower Solar. 

Q: What if I don’t want to be locked into a lease for 25 years?

A: The lease is the most flexible financing option because you have the option to purchase your system starting at year five. If you move, you have the option to purchase the system or transfer the lease to the new homeowner. As long as the new homeowner wants to benefit from lower electricity costs, it’s a simple process. There is also no credit requirement when transferring the lease. 

Q: What if the buyer of my home doesn’t want to assume the lease or keep the system? 

A: Solar doesn’t necessarily detract buyers, but rather attracts a different type of buyer. Similar to other home upgrades, like kitchen remodels, solar can increase the appraisal value of your home. Younger generations/newer home buyers are more eco-minded (and cost-conscious), and there is a growing trend toward the adoption of green living. If a purchaser is adamant about buying your home but does not want the system, then you have the option to buy out the system and remove it.

Q: What happens at the end of my lease term?

A: You can extend the lease term or request the removal of the system. If you do not take either of these actions, the lease automatically renews on a month-to-month basis.

Other ways to buy solar panels

Solar loans and solar financing 

Investing in home solar through a solar loan is the most popular financing option. Similar to leasing, this option allows homeowners to pay for their system over time while lowering the electric bill from day one with $0 down. A solar loan provides homeowners with the opportunity to own their system through fixed low payments and fixed interest rates. These payments are low and predictable, unlike ever-changing energy prices. You can also take advantage of all available rebates with this option.


Purchasing a system outright offers the most savings from day one. This option is recommended for homeowners who have enough capital to pay for a system in full at time of signing, knowing that the price tag may run as high as $40,000 before incentives and rebates. Purchasing allows you to take advantage of all tax offers, granted you have the required tax appetite. 

Your next steps

If you are interested in learning more about solar leases, you can schedule a free consultation to find out what going solar looks like for you and your family. 

Can’t go solar? You can still help your friends and family embrace the power of the sun through our referral program. Everytime someone you refer competes an in-home solar assessment, you’ll receive a $50 gift card, and a $1000 reward after their solar installation if you refer before 09/04/23. 

Start your solar journey and discover your potential savings today.

The post Leasing solar panels: what you need to know appeared first on EmPower Solar.

This content was originally published here.

Leasing solar panels: what you need to know