The Great Solar Panel Debate: To Lease Or To Buy?

Solar lease or own?

Elizabeth Ebinger in Maplewood, N.J., bought her solar panels, while neighbor Tim Roebuck signed a 20-year lease. Both are happy with the approach they took, and both are saving money on energy bills.

More than 600,000 homes in the U.S. have solar panels today — up dramatically from just a few years ago, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Leasing programs that require little or no money up-front have played a key role in that growth.

But here’s a question for homeowners: Is it better to lease or buy?

In Maplewood, in northern New Jersey, two next-door neighbors with similar houses arrived at different answers. Elizabeth Ebinger bought her panels — while Tim Roebuck signed a 20-year lease.

Ebinger says she enjoys the nitty-gritty of owning solar panels, from figuring out her eligibility for government incentives to crunching the numbers. “I have to confess that I do maintain a spreadsheet that analyzes the details of our expenses and our payback,” Ebinger says.




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