The great solar panel debate: To lease or to buy?

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 10.31.04 AMBy Jeff Brady | NPR

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. A key reason for that growth are leasing programs that require little or no money up-front.

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.

Mark Bortman of Exact Solar in Yardley, Pa., says having leased solar panels on a roof can add an extra step when selling a house. He says typically a buyer will assume the remainder of the lease, but that requires a credit check and some paperwork

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.

Continued:

Related: World’s largest solar plant opens in California desert

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