Solar power is becoming increasingly popular for homeowners who want to reduce their energy bills and decrease their carbon footprint. In fact, 30% of Australian homes have solar PV, making Australia one of the highest solar uptakers globally. While many people mistakenly believe solar power is only available to homeowners, truth is that renters can also benefit from solar energy, and many options are available.
This misconception stems from the belief that installing solar panels requires a permanent attachment to a property, which would not suit tenants who move frequently. However, many options are now available that allow renters to take advantage of solar power without needing permanent installation. By exploring these options, those in rental properties can enjoy the benefits of solar power just as much as homeowners.
Why Solar Power is Important for Renters
There are several reasons why solar power is important for renters. The first benefit is lower electricity bills. Solar panels generate electricity from the sun's rays, which means that rental properties with solar installed can reduce their reliance on traditional energy sources, such as coal or natural gas. Solar power allows renters to lower their electricity bills and significantly save money.
Another benefit of solar power for renters is a reduced carbon footprint. Traditional energy sources generate greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change. Solar power produces no emissions, which means that renters who use solar systems can significantly reduce their impact on the environment. By using solar power, renters can actively reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future.
In addition to the benefits of lower electricity bills and a reduced carbon footprint, renters who use solar power can also contribute to the shift towards renewable energy. The more people who use solar power, the more demand for renewable energy sources will be. This increased demand can lead to more investment in renewable energy technologies and infrastructure, ultimately accelerating the shift from fossil fuels to a more sustainable energy future.
Common Solar Power Options for Renters
Several solar power options are available for renters, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here are some common options for renters to consider:
Community solar is a program that allows renters to subscribe to a shared solar system installed in a central location, such as a nearby solar farm or a building rooftop. Renters participating in a community solar program receive credit on their electricity bill for the amount of energy produced by the shared system. The advantage of community solar is those renters do not need to install solar panels on their property, which means they can still use solar power even if they live in an apartment or rental home. The disadvantage of community solar is that the cost of the shared system is spread out among all participants, which means renters may not see as significant of cost savings as they would with other options.
Portable Solar Panels
Portable solar panels are a great option for renters who want to use solar power while on the go or who want a temporary installation. Portable solar panels are typically small and can be easily moved from one location to another, with a lower upfront cost. The advantage of portable solar panels is that they do not require any permanent installation, which means renters can use them even if they move frequently. The disadvantage of portable solar panels is that they may not produce less energy than a permanent solar installation and may require more maintenance.
Some companies offer solar leasing options for renters, allowing renters to lease solar panels and equipment for a fixed period. The advantage of solar leasing is that there are no full upfront installation costs. The disadvantage of solar leasing is that renters may end up paying more in the long run than they would with other options, and they may not own the solar panels at the end of the lease term.
Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs)
A PPA is a contract between a tenant and a solar provider. The provider agrees to install solar panels on the tenant's property, and the tenant agrees to purchase the electricity generated by the panels. The advantage of a PPA is that renters do not need to pay the full cost of a solar installation upfront, and they can often save money on their energy bill. The disadvantage of a PPA is that renters do not own the solar panels, and they may be required to sign a long-term contract.
How to Choose the Right Solar Power Option for Your Rental Property
Choosing the right solar power option for your rental property can be daunting, but with a few key factors in mind, it can be a straightforward process. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a solar power option for your rental property:
The location of your rental property plays a significant role in determining which solar power option is best for you. If your rental property is located in an area with abundant sunshine, solar panels may be an excellent option. If your rental property is in an area with limited sunlight, then a community solar or PPA may be a better fit.
2. Energy Usage
Assessing your rental property's energy usage is important to determine how much solar power you need. Consider the number of tenants, appliances, and electronics used in the property. If your rental property has high energy consumption, you may need more solar panels or a larger community solar program.
3. Available Resources
Consider the resources available to you when selecting a solar power option. For example, if you are leasing your rental property, portable solar panels may be better than installing permanent solar panels. If you have limited funds, then a solar leasing program may be the best fit.
4. Research and Compare
Once you have considered these factors, you can begin researching and comparing different solar power options. Many resources are available online to help you learn about solar power options for renters. Look for websites and blogs that specialise in solar power for tenants and read reviews from other renters who have used these services.
Compare the costs of different solar power options, including installation, maintenance, and monthly bills. Make sure to calculate the total cost over the entire lease or contract period to get a clear picture of the long-term costs. Moreover, make sure to choose a solar power provider that offers excellent customer service. You may need installation or maintenance support, so choosing a responsive and helpful provider is essential.
Financing Solar Power as a Renter
Financing solar power can be a challenge for renters, but a few options are available. Here are two standard financing options for renters who want to install solar power:
Lease options allow rental tenants to install solar panels on their rental property without purchasing them outright. With a lease option, the solar power provider owns the solar panels and charges the tenant a monthly fee. The benefits of a lease option include no upfront costs, and predictable monthly payments, and the provider typically covers maintenance and repairs. However, the downside is that the renter does not own the panels and may be locked into a long-term contract.
Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs)
PPAs are another option for renters who want to install solar power. With a PPA, the solar power provider installs the solar panels and sells the energy produced by the panels to the renter at a discounted rate. The renter pays for the energy produced by the panels, and the provider maintains and repairs the panels. The benefits of a PPA include no upfront costs, predictable energy bills, and no long-term contract. However, the downside is that the renter does not own the panels and may be locked into a long-term contract.
Costs and Benefits
When choosing between a lease option and a PPA, it's important to consider the costs and benefits of each option. Here are some things to consider:
Compare the monthly payments of each option to determine which is more cost-effective. Make sure to consider the total cost over the entire contract period, including any fees or penalties for early termination.
Consider whether you want to own the solar panels or not. With a lease option or a PPA, the solar power provider owns the panels, so you do not have ownership of them. If ownership is important to you, consider purchasing the solar panels outright.
- Long-term commitment
Consider the length of the contract and whether you are comfortable being locked into a long-term commitment. Make sure to read the contract carefully and understand any penalties or fees for early termination.
Finding a Solar Installer for Renters
If you are a renter interested in installing solar power, finding a solar installer that offers options for renters is essential. Here are some tips for finding a solar installer:
1. Do your research
Start by researching solar installers in your area. Look for companies specialising in solar installations for renters or offering lease options or PPAs. Read online reviews and check the Better Business Bureau to ensure that the company has a good reputation.
2. Check for licensing and certifications
Ensure the solar installer is licensed and certified to install solar panels. Check with your state's licensing board or local government to verify the company's credentials.
3. Get multiple quotes
Get quotes from at least three solar installers to compare prices and services. Be sure to ask about any additional fees or charges that may not be included in the initial quote.
4. Evaluate financing options
Ask each solar installer about their financing options for renters. Compare each option's costs and benefits to determine which is best for your needs.
5. Ask for references
Ask the solar installer for references from previous customers. Contact these references to ask about their experience with the company, the quality of the installation, and any issues they may have had.
6. Evaluate customer service
Evaluate the customer service of each solar installer. Are they responsive to your questions and concerns? Do they provide clear and detailed information about their services and pricing?
In conclusion, solar power offers numerous benefits for renters, including electricity bill savings and a reduced carbon footprint. While it is a common misconception that solar power is only for homeowners, many solar power options are available for renters, including community solar and portable solar panels.
Finding a reputable solar installer that offers options for renters is also important. By researching, getting multiple quotes, and evaluating financing options, you can find an installer that provides high-quality installation services and meets your needs.
If you’re looking for a finance option for your power, check out Driva's solar loans - allowing you to compare 30+ lenders in minutes to get your personalised rates.