Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Doing the Math on Home Solar

So we know it is impossible to build a large, commercial solar project in California, but how about installing solar at your house? The Desert Sun has a reality check on home solar today, and does a deep-dive analysis on the three primary options for getting it done.

The Sun looks at home solar from a return-on-investment perspective and concludes that it is definitely not for everyone.

Basically there are three basic options for financing the approximately $28,000 project: get a home equity loan, a zero interest loan, or enter into a lease agreement with a solar provider.

Critically important factors that most people fail to include in back of the envelope solar calculations are things like financing costs and eligiblity for tax breaks.

The take-away on the analysis was that home equity loans are nearly impossible to get right now because banks are not lending, zero interest loans are a ticking time bomb that can morph into credit-card-like interest rates after a year, and solar leases disqualify homeowners from federal tax credits because they don't "own" the solar array.

So I gues the net-net is, if you can write a $28,000 check, solar is a good investment for your house, but if you can't it could be a non-starter or-- worse-- an enormous problem down the road.