Much of the expense associated with solar panel installations has to do with the installation process, associated permits, and some maintenance and operational costs as well.

In fact, only 47% of the overall cost of solar panels are due to the actual hardware. This is because permissions from your state have a price tag, and the installation process can be time consuming.

The good news? Overall costs are going down–rapidly.

As the market for residential solar panels continues to grow, demand is rising with it. This means that many installers are offering special deals, promotions, or affordable leasing options that make solar panels a viable solution for many families who might have viewed it as an expensive option just a few years ago.

Costs of electricity are on the rise.

Despite a temporary drop in the overall cost of fossil fuels, electrical companies have been steadily raising electric rates for the past few years at a clip of nearly 3% in some areas. As this hidden expense continues to grow, it adds another layer of savings for those who have switched to solar power.

Buying versus leasing

Both buying and leasing solar panels have their advantages – primarily that leasing requires less expense upfront, while buying offers greater savings in the long run. Either way, the best choice depends on your financial priorities.

Buying – buyers can often access low-interest loans that allow them to pay off the system throughout its lifetime – often up to 30 years. Solar panel owners enjoy the immediate 30% federal tax credit, plus state credits. They also enjoy a significant decrease in the electric bill, and they receive Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs), which they can sell back to the grid.

Leasing – Many installers offer great deals, like $0 down plus maintenance and monitoring for the duration of the lease. While you won’t enjoy the government kickbacks, you will enjoy a significant reduction in electric bills and the knowledge that you a reducing your carbon footprint.  If you ever elect to purchase your system, you can normally find it at a discounted price as well.