Is solar panels actually free?

Free solar panels aren't actually free; you'll pay for the electricity they produce, usually under a solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA) for 20 to 25 years. Yes, there are (legitimate) installers who will provide free solar panels for your home. But the problem is that they require you to enter into a solar energy lease or power purchase agreement (PPA). No, free solar panels are not a scam.

Once the solar panels are installed on your roof at no cost to you, you can use the clean energy produced by the system to power your home and lower your electricity bill. Truly free solar panels don't really exist. While verified installers may offer the panels themselves at no cost, you, as the buyer, will have to pay for the installation. While buying a solar system costs more upfront, it will save you much more money in the long run.

Renting solar panels may be free, but as long as you rent them, you will be charged for the electricity produced by the panels. NY-Sun brings together and expands existing programs managed by NYSERDA, the Long Island Energy Authority (LIPA), PSEG Long Island and the New York Energy Authority (NYPA), to ensure a coordinated and well-supported solar energy expansion plan and a transition to a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. In both cases, a company installs photovoltaic (PV) solar panels in your home, often with no upfront costs or down payments. The other advantage is that you can apply the 26% discount on your solar system costs after also receiving any state-level rebate or incentive, meaning you can benefit from federal and state incentives to help offset solar energy costs.

Not qualifying for these incentives can end up making your long-term savings with free solar panels even lower. These solar parks, called community solar energy, are harnessing energy from the Sun to provide energy to nearby communities. In both types of agreements, a company will place solar panels on your roof with no upfront money, but will charge you for the electricity they produce. New York State funds solar parks to benefit homeowners and tenants who may not be able to access solar energy (clean energy).

Now, however, the cost of solar energy is cheaper than ever, so making purchases with cash or applying for a solar loan is a realistic option for homeowners. Most solar energy loan or lease agreements include a price ladder to account for the rising value of electricity. Yes, they'll put free solar panels on the roof, but they'll also take advantage of most of the long-term value of owning the system. If you're in the residential solar energy market, you may have found offers for “free” solar panels.

By the end of the warranty period, leases and PPAs have absorbed more than half of the potential energy savings as benefits for the solar installer. But when contracts are examined, they greatly favor the solar installer during the 25-year life of the system.