Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs

Can I go "off the grid" completely?

Yes, but you might not want to. There are incentives for going solar, but those benefits are offered by your utility provider. No electric company = No grant money or feed-in tariff.

Does a solar system work during power outages?

You can purchase battery storage to go with your system, which can hold a few days’ worth of power. These batteries are pricey, but if you purchase them along with the main system you can receive the federal tax credit for 30% of the battery cost.

Will my taxes be higher if I install a solar system?

Most states have exemptions that protect solar homeowners from increased property taxes. Currently, Rhode Island and Massachusetts have some type of exemption in place.  Keep in mind, the homeowner gets a one-time Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit equal to 30% of their system cost.  Added components, such as battery storage or a new roof may be able to qualify for the tax credit as well.

Is it hard to sell a home with a leased system?

A leased system allows the homeowner to purchase their electricity at a lower rate than they what they would pay the utility company but the homeowner does not actually own the system that is mounted on their home. This can cause big challenges when selling the home.  The buyer’s credit must qualify them for the lease.  Certain home loans have lower credit requirements than solar leases.  The buyer might qualify to buy the house, but not to take on the solar lease!  Also, the solar lease will affect the buyer’s debt-to-income ratio, so taking on the solar lease might reduce their ability to qualify for the home loan.

Is there a lien put on the property?

When a solar system is financed, there is a Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filing. Simply put, that is a legal filing that states that a creditor may have an interest in the property of a debtor.  In order for filing to be removed, the system needs to be paid in full.

Is my home solar ready?

If the sun beats down on your roof and that roof is in good condition, you most likely are ready to go solar. A southern facing roof surface is ideal for a solar array, but there are many options. For example, my own roof line runs North-South but my Western facing roof surface gets plenty of sunlight, and my Western facing system produces enough to offset our household electric usage.  If your roof is at the end of its practical life, you might want to roll a new roof into the cost of the solar system.  Many solar loans will allow this and you may even be able to get the federal tax credit on the entire cost, including the roof.

Is there maintenance required on a solar system?

There is rarely a need for maintenance to be performed by the homeowner. Solar panels are cleaned by rain and snow.  In dry, dusty regions, periodic rinsing may be necessary but should be avoided during daylight.  Systems are not installed under trees, so there’s little chance of debris landing on your system.  As for other maintenance, there isn’t any.  If something goes wrong with your system, the repair will be covered by the system’s warranty.

How do I pay for a solar system?

Other than cash, some common solutions are:

1 – Solar loan. This is how most people purchase a system for their existing home.

2 – Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). These are offered by banks and allow you to use the equity in your home to finance your system. This can be one the most cost-effective ways of going solar, as they offer low rates and your solar system becomes a cash-purchase.

3 – 203K or other renovation loans. This is a home purchase loan (FHA product) that allocates additional funds to go toward home improvements.  This is not the easiest option for two reasons.  First, the lender needs to recognize the value of the solar system and be willing to add that to their risk portfolio, as they have no equity in the property yet.  Second, the person selling the home should understand that this loan will take two-four weeks longer to close.  If they are motivated to move quickly, they might not want to do business with someone who is getting a renovation loan.  This is a good option for a house that already needs renovations, such as a new roof.  If the lender is rolling in money for a roof or other big-ticket items, they might be able to include money for a solar system.

4 – Title One loan. This is not a well-known loan, but it’s a great option for Rhode Island homeowners who want to go solar!  Currently, only two lenders in Rhode Island offer this product and we have relationships with both.  Need to add a new heating system?  Why not install electric heat and solar panels to power that heating system?  The possibilities are endless.

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