Your Resource For Understanding What Is Meant By Free Solar Panels
Are you thinking about powering your home with solar panels?
Do you want to know if what you keep hearing is true, can you really get free solar panels?
Yes, it is true you can get solar panels installed, setup and maintained for free.
The plan that makes this possible is referred to as a solar lease agreement, power purchase agreement or PPA.
Under a PPA, if your home qualifies you can get solar panels installed, monitored and maintained free of charge for 20 to 25 years and you immediately start saving money with a lowered electric bill. The main reason it is possible for companies to offer to setup solar panels for free are a number of federal incentives as well as growing state mandates for clean energy production.
Another way to get solar panels for free is through a Solar Loan program. This is simply where you finance your own solar panels, which at first my not seem like it’s free at all. However you can get a loan. Increase the value of you home typically equal to what the cost of the solar panels were. Your payments for your solar loan are designed to be about the same as your electric bill. So there is no upfront cost and no increase on your monthly bills. Your payments are now going into your home and when paid off you start saving that amount all together. All this and you have a locked in monthly expense where your current electric bill is likely to just keep rising.
To Learn about specific incentives that are available click Federal and State Incentives
Check Out The Pros And Cons Of Solar Energy In Your Region
Find Out How To Get Cheap Or Even Free Solar Panels In Your State
FREE SOLAR PANELS
THE SOLAR POWER PURCHASE AGREEMENT (PPA)
The idea of free solar panels typically refers to what is called a power purchase agreement between you and a solar power company. The company is agreeing to install and setup a solar panel array on you home, then monitor, maintain, and even upgrade if it becomes prudent to do so at no cost to you for the life of the agreement, usually 20 to 25 years. In return you are agreeing to purchase power from the company who set them up. The result is a lower monthly bill and a guarantee on what your bill will be in the future.
The idea of companies offering and maintaining home solar panels for free has been evolving for a few years now and the incentives that make it possible are growing. More and more Federal, State and Local governments are taking steps to push clean renewable energy, especially solar power. So it’s a great time to start looking into getting your own free solar panels.
The program to get free solar panels that some companies offer is a great way to start producing your own power, help the environment, and feel good about how your power your home. Your home being in a good location, size of your home, type of roof you have and what kind of incentive programs you have available in your area are all part of what a company will look at to determine if your home is right for a Power Purchase agreement. Check your state to see specific conditions and incentives that may be available in your area.
Companies That Offer Free Solar Panels
There are two main companies that offer to install and maintain home solar panels for free. SunRun and SolarCity are the two largest.
SolarCity now operates in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and Washington D.C
This doesn’t mean that these are the only companies, they just happen to be the largest. They work with local installers to have the panels installed so even when you go with SunRun or SolarCity it is a good idea to review your local companies before hand just so you have an idea of who they might hire to do the installation.
When your home qualifies with one of these companies or a similar company with the same program will install solar panels on the roof of your home, maintain them monitor them, and if needed upgrade them at no cost to you. The panels however are still the property of the solar power company. In return for offering the free set up the company that you have the Power Purchase Agreement with will be able to take advantage of all of the Federal government and local government incentives that are available for setting up solar power systems. This is what makes it worth it for them to offer to setup a solar array for free.
Qualifying for Free Solar Panels
When your home is being assessed for installation of solar panels the main things that a company is looking for are:
- Is there enough roof space for the amount of solar panels that will be needed to power the home completely?
- Does the roof sit facing the south?
- Does the roof have a 30 degree angle? The ideal angle for solar panels.
- Is there enough sun exposure through the year?
- Is the home structure strong enough to support the weight of solar panels?
If you decide to go with a power purchase agreement then you will get a reduced electric bill and a guarantee on how much your electric bill will go up in the future. Current rate increases are considerably lower than estimates for getting power from the grid. Traditional power companies are estimating a 6% increase every year. With a solar power company they are saying that there rates won’t go up any more than 2.9% annually. So as time goes on your savings will continue to grow. In addition the agreement is generally transferable to a new home owner so this will also increase your value of your home as well.
SunRun and SolarCity operate in almost twenty different states but they are not the only companies to offer Power purchase agreements. So even if you can’t work with SunRun or SolarCity check your local area for solar power companies and see what offers they have available. Incentives for going with a renewable energy and companies that are available vary from state to state. So check out what your local area has to offer and see what plans and options are available for you.
WILL MY HOUSE QUALIFY FOR FREE SOLAR PANELS?
I can’t answer that. Every state is different and every town is different. Incentives vary greatly and even if you are in the most advantageous location your home may simply not be a good configuration for traditional solar panels. Until you have a professional come out and survey your property you will not know for sure.
If you have enough land you may be able to go with a freestanding solar panel, one that does not sit on your roof but sits in your yard. These panels have greater flexibility because they can move to always be facing the sun directly.
HOW TO GET FREE SOLAR PANELS
Getting started is simple, first click on your state above and see if SunRun or SolarCity offer service in your area. If they do go to their website and fill out the initial assessment form or call them. They can do an initial assessment remotely to see if you might be a good candidate for solar power. The general criteria is a southward facing roof that has enough flat space to place solar panels and should be angled at about 30 degrees.
After doing an initial assessment if your location is promising they will send someone to your home to do an onsite evaluation. At this point they will sit down with you and explain all the details of the agreement.
- How long is the contract for – Length of your contract usually 20 years
- How much you will save every month – Initial savings will be about 10%
- What your bill will look like in the future – Your saving will grow with time up to more than 50% as electricity prices rise
- Maintenance of the solar panels – As long as your contract is active your maintenance is covered
- Monitoring of the solar panels – Monitoring is done for you, but you will be able track this yourself if you wish
- Future upgrades – If technology improves and it is prudent to upgrade the panels the company will do this for you
- What will happen if you sell your home – At the time you sell your home the panels may be removed or the contract transferred to the new owners
- Purchase options after your contract expires – After the contract expires you will be able to purchase your setup at a depreciated cost
WHAT IF I CAN’T GET FREE SOLAR PANELS FROM SUNRUN OR SOLARCITY?
Every day more and more companies are starting to offer solar programs themselves. At the moment I don’t have a complete list all all the programs that are being offered. But Check with local installers and see what they have for you. Also remember that depending on where you live and the financing you might get you might not need to get panels through a PPA. Your pay back period might make it more sense finance them yourself and get all the direct benefits. The best thing is to start talking to an expert who can help you decide what is right for you.
A Brief History of Solar Power
Solar power is the best renewable energy resource we have. Its real potential is hardly imaginable and it directly powers almost every other form of renewable energy there is. Everything from wind power to hydro power, wave power, to wood we burn. So figuring out the best way to utilize this power has been a reoccurring topic for some time. There are many ways to use solar energy but one of the most common ways is with photovoltaic cells, plates that when exposed to solar energy produce an electric current. These cells strung together are what make up a solar panel.
Like a lot of innovations, initially the cost is high and generally met with skepticism and criticism. But if the potential is real and viable it will generally be pushed along by those who can see the true value in the technology. Eventually as it gets accepted, implemented, used and demonstrated the public opinion will change. Costs will come down, production will increase and the technology will be refined and improved.
As the public has become more aware of the potential, as well as the need to switch to renewable energy there is a growing push to provide renewable energy solutions. Solar is clean abundant, constant, predictable and free. The only real cost of solar is buying the panels needed to turn solar power into usable energy.
Solar panels have been around since before the 1980’s but initial costs were high and solar panels were large. In the beginning the cost of solar was over $75.00 per watt but over the years costs have continued to fall with the current price being as low as $0.75 per watt. This is 1/100th of what the cost used to be.
More companies are signing up to install and maintain them and with more and more people being concerned about the environment and rising costs of gas and oil there is a growing push for alternative energy. In response many governments large and small have enacted incentives to bring down the cost of going with solar power even further.
State Standards and State Goals
State Renewable Portfolio Standards – Currently there are 30 states that have enacted renewable energy standards for energy production. Renewable Portfolio Standards or RPS are certain requirements that must be met each year regarding how much power is produced by renewable energy. These standards vary from state to state and clearly show a growing push to cleaner energy production. Ultimately it is these standards that are driving the incentives especially the SCREC Market.
State Renewable Energy Goals – There are 7 states that have set forth goals regarding renewable energy. These are ideals that they would like to meet by certain dates. Unlike requirements like the Renewable Portfolio Standards states that are setting forth goals are trying to get people to invest in renewable energy through rewards, tax credits, rebates and tax exceptions rather than outright demands on the power companies.
To date however there are still 13 states that do not have any real push towards renewable energy.
Why are companies offering to setup solar panels for free?
This is a good question. They say nothing is really free right so what’s the catch?
The simple answer is this, companies that offer to install free solar panels are using your home and your location to produce solar power. As a reward for producing green energy they are able to get the following benefits.
In addition to collecting money from you directly they are able to collect all the Federal and Local Government incentives for producing green energy, get to sell excess energy back to the electric company and if they are operating in a state that is part of the SREC market place, they collect money by producing and selling SCRECS.
As time goes on more and more people are pushing for a cleaner greener more renewable source of energy. Governments around the world are responding by enacting incentives for people and businesses to go with renewable forms of energy. One of the most popular incentives in the U.K. is the FIT or Feed-In Tariff. A Feed-In Tariff is an amount that the local power company must pay a person or business that produces power with solar energy. To be clear this is not the producer selling power back to the power company. That is referred to as Net-Metering. With a FIT the producer of energy is paid extra money as a reward for having produced clean renewable energy.
Unfortunately in the U.S. there is no Federal Feed-In Tariff but there are a number of other incentives that companies are taking advantage of.
Government incentives that make free solar panels possible
What makes it possible for companies to setup solar panels for free?
Fits or Feed-In Tariffs – An amount paid do individuals who produce energy from solar power or other renewable energy sources. This is a direct payment to the producer simply for generating clean renewable energy. This payment is above and beyond any other use of the electricity that was produced. It is simply a monetary reward for the amount of energy produced.
Tax Credits – This is a direct reduction against the taxes that are owed. Currently the US is offering a 30% tax credit. This means that you can apply 30% of the total cost of solar powered systems directly as reduction of your tax liability.
Tax Deductions – In some areas there are State tax deductions that can be applied to reduce your taxable income. Incentives vary from state to state.
Net Metering – This is the ability to sell power you generate back to the power company that you are connected to. The rate can be set by local law or simply a service that that the power company has agreed to, generally the price is equal to the price the company is currently selling electricity for. Although there are cases in which the price in which companies have to buy back the power is at an inflated rate.
SCRECS or Solar Renewable Energy Certificate – This is a program that has been initiated by states who have decided to adopt a clean energy initiative where companies that produce power are required to provide a certain amount of energy from clean energy sources. However instead of requiring power companies to setup clean energy facilities to meet this demand they can purchase SCRECS from individuals in order to meet their clean energy requirement. SRECS are traded on an open market format where the price fluctuates based on supply and demand. In addition some states can trade SRECS into other states based on the SCREC market place.
Should I get free solar panels?
This is more of a personal question. There really is no question that the program being offered is a great option. You have someone install some hardware on your house at no cost to you and after that you save money. This is pretty simple and straight forward. Install free solar panels – Save Money. Makes sense to me.
However some people do not like the idea of someone else profiting from solar panels on their home. They feel that if they are going to install solar panels they want to get all the benefits. If you are more of this mind set then you are probably better off setting up your own solar panels and getting all the benefits that are available yourself.
If you are thinking about setting your home up with solar power yourself just consider the following.
- Will you actually follow though and get them setup?
- Will you monitor them to make sure they are working at 100%?
- Are you going to follow through with all the paper work to get the incentives?
- Are you OK with the extra risks involved?
Risks of Installing Solar Panels
If you browse the internet you are likely to find some horror stories about having solar panels installed. I do not believe that a bad contractor experience should truly reflect poorly on solar panels as a whole. With any upgrade, modification, or substantial repair in any field there is an element of risk.
BEFORE YOU LET ANYONE WORK ON YOUR HOME
- Check out the company who will do the work
- Get references
- Go and inspect previous work that has been done
- Check with the better business burro
- Supervise the work as it is being done
SHOULD I JUST INSTALL MY OWN SOLAR PANELS?
Again this is a personal decision. If you are someone who is OK with more leg work, more responsibility and more risk in order to get more reward then yes. It would be in your best interest to get it done yourself. You will be able to get all the benefits and rewards of having your own solar power system. Things that you will have to do though are:
- Pay for the solar panels and installation yourself
- Monitor your power output constantly
- Perform ongoing maintenance
- Get all the permits for your location
- Find a company to install them
- Make sure to file all paper work correctly for all Tax Credit, Tax Deductions, Sales Rebates and SRECS
- Work with your power company to sell excess power to them.
If you are OK with all this than absolutely you should keep all the benefits yourself.
However some people will not do the work, will not install them themselves and still don’t like the idea of letting someone else profit from installing them for free. For those who are like this all I can say is this:
Right now a company has some hardware attached to your home and they are profiting from this. Why not support a company that will have different hardware attached to your home that is cleaner, and saves you money?
Allow a new type of power company to make the money. A company that promotes clean, green, renewable energy and be able to say that your home is part of a better cleaner future. Support the solar industry and give it the business it needs to keep moving forward and save money to.
A long time ago the gas industry got a major push from private companies that invested heavily into the technology. They actually were able to simply buy up the competition and almost overnight shut it down. In today’s world I don’t think that same type of push is going to happen with solar. It is up to the consumer to realize what possibilities there are and push for the technology to make it happen. No matter how powerful a company may be they still ultimately answer to the consumer.
Other Sources of Free Solar Panels
The Power Purchase Agreement is one way to get free solar panels however it’s not the only way.
Free Solar Panels through creative thinking
One common comment about the PPA is that you don’t actually own the solar panels, so to some peoples thinking you didn’t really get them for free. Other people just don’t like the idea of someone having solar panels on the roof of their home and let someone else make money off of it. So saying that these panels are free does take a certain type of thinking.
But lets face it if you get power from the regular power company they have some hardware attached to your home and they make money off it. Why not switch this out with a new type of power company that is going to have a new type of hardware attached to your home and give you a better rate on your electric bill. And the more and more people start signing up for this the more it’s going to be evident that solar power is a viable solution.
How do I get my own solar panels for free?
If you really do want your own solar panels that you own outright and want to get them for free that is a little harder to come by but again if you are a little creative with your thinking it still can be done in some areas.
Right now the Federal government offers a 30% tax credit for anyone setting up a solar power system that powers their entire home. A tax credit is a direct reduction of how much tax you have to pay in. If your tax liability is high enough you could wipe out almost 1/3 of the total cost of setting up solar panels right at the start. Some states further offer a tax credit or a rebate / refund so another amount would be taken right off the top.
Now comes in play SRECS, Net Metering, and your zero electric bill.
Zero out your electric bill. Right now the average U.S. electric bill is about $125.00 so with a full system to power your whole house your electric bill should average out to be zero freeing up around $125.00 a month. This saving alone will be enough in many areas after applying all incentives to pay for a solar power setup based on a 20 year home improvement loan. So without spending any more money per month you now have solar panels on your roof. Some people would say you got this for free. But if you are not saving any money what’s the point right?
The point is you aren’t paying any more per month, you immediately increase your homes resale value, you have now swapped an adjustable, ever increasing electric bill with a static monthly loan payment that will eventually be paid off, In some areas in as little as 5 years.
SCRECS and Net Metering
Net Metering – If by chance you produce more power than you need, in most areas you can sell this excess power back to the power company at the same rate they charge. In effect you are now a power company yourself selling power you don’t use, lowering your monthly payments that much lower.
SCRECS – With SCRECS or Solar Renewable Energy Certificates you can sell the value of having produced power with solar energy. As the push gets higher to move towards renewable energy system power companies are being required to produce power with renewable energy. However instead of setting up their own solar plants and wind farms they are meeting this requirement through the purchase of SCRECS.
If you live in an area that has a SCREC market you can make extra money just for having produced energy with solar power even though you used all the energy yourself.
Taking all these factors into account it is quite possible to get your own solar panels setup on your roof, not increase your monthly bills and at the same time reduce your electric bill to zero and possibly start making some extra money each month to boot. So is it the same as just having someone give you full set of solar panels no, but all things figured out it really didn’t cost you anything other than time. And of course you increased the value of your home as well.
Getting Damaged Solar Panels for free
Various people sometimes end up with solar panels they no longer want. They are either upgrading old solar panels or replacing damaged ones. Companies that manufacture them as well as companies that use solar panels commercially will sometimes end up with solar panels they are need to get rid of. In these cases some companies are actually willing to give these solar panels away for free rather than pay money to dispose of them.
One you tube video show a guy who got a couple full solar panels that has been completely smashed, sounds like they are junk right? Wrong, the main part of the solar panel is the material under the glass coating. So as he explains he plans to remove the broken front that is obscuring the light from getting to the panels and maybe replace it with cheap Plexiglas or just use them as is. Once the damaged part is removed they should work pretty close to perfect.
One place that seems to be a good source is the road side equipment that you sometimes see being powered by solar panels. These panels get damaged frequently so the companies that run them will often end up with a number of small panels that are damaged but still work to some degree. You can contact them and see what they do with these panels.
Other Types of Solar Panels and Solar Power
There is a company called Infinia that manufactures a solar power dish. This dish while being marketed mainly to companies and not individuals is an absolute power house when it comes to producing electricity. It is a dish that focuses light on to a stirling engine to produce electricity. Now while not as convenient as a flat solar panel that lay on your roof, the power dish has some distinct advantages.
- One dish produces enough power to power an average American home.
- It produces direct AC power not DC like a solar panel
- The power dish is simpler technology, no mysterious parts and pieces.
- It produces more power per square foot than solar panels.
- You could build one yourself. www.youtube.com is full of people who have done this.
Other Green Energy Solutions
Although this site is primarily dedicated to solar panels, and specifically getting solar panels for free there are a number of other green energy options to think about.
- Hydrogen Power – A clean burning fuel that can be produced on demand almost anywhere.
- Hydro Power – Even a small stream or a spring on your property could be used to produce power.
- Geothermal – Geothermal systems vary greatly and like most, after the initial setup the saving are huge.
- Solar Power Dish – This is a similar device to a solar panel just, cheaper, simpler and more powerful.
- The Bloom Box – A new type of power cell that works with almost any type of fuel with no combustion.
- Wind Power – Setting up a windmill in the back yard is also becoming more popular, a new type is being developed that is 90% smaller and produces the same power.
- Kite Power – New system that use kites to generate electricity.
This site is growing and we are trying to get good information out there so spread the word and help us get noticed.
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