Solar too expensive for your household? Not anymore.

By Christie Young

Since the advent of solar energy, one factor in particular has fueled criticism and prevented even the most enthusiastic would-be solar customers from “going solar”: the upfront cost. Despite the fact that panels ultimately pay for themselves through electric bill savings, high initial costs have historically meant that only a few could afford to install panels on their roof.

History of solar panel technology

 Solar panels are used to power satellites, such as in this photo of the International Space Station solar array (2008).

Solar panels are used to power satellites, such as in this photo of the International Space Station solar array (2008).

The first usable solar panels were invented in the 1950’s, but they weren’t cheap by any standards: a system supplying the same energy as today's average home system would cost $14,000,000 in today's dollars. These first panels were only cost-effective multi-million dollar space programs, as this was virtually the only way to powering satellites and spacecraft.

By the 1970’s, technological advances had dropped the price enough for early adopters to begin installing panels on their rooftops. But solar arrays were still expensive enough to prevent widespread adoption, and it has only been in the last decade that economies of scale and innovations in automation and efficiency of manufacturing have caused prices to plummet within reach of many Americans.

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Still, a five-digit upfront cost doesn’t fit the balance sheet of the majority of Americans. And even if you have the credit score to qualify for financing options like leases and loans, you still have to own your home, have an optimal roof, and commit to paying down your panels over a period of years. Only one in five Americans can actually install rooftop panels.

Going solar for free

Community solar gardens are renewable energy for the rest of us, allowing households to sign up for a solar farm in their area. And it’s absolutely free! By doing away with upfront costs, the rooftop installation, and the long-term commitment, we’ve made it that much easier for everyday Americans to go solar. Better yet, families who sign up will see a 10% discount on their electric bill.

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RELATED: Are solar panels really as green as they say?

Sound too good to be true? We hear that a lot. Community solar is free because you’re not buying your panels, you’re subscribing to the electricity they generate. You don’t need to worry about maintaining, cleaning or recycling them, nor paying a steep cost. Our solar developer partners take care of all of that, and you get the credit for supporting local solar energy.

There’s never been a better time to go solar.

 

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