Kermit the Frog was wrong. Not only is it easier than ever to be green, it's also more affordable and more popular than ever. Here are three reasons you should buy a solar panel kit in 2014.
1. It's easy
Keep the ladder in the garage -- putting a solar panel kit on your roof is easier than ever. From permitting through installation, solar panel providers have got the process down pat. SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ: SPWR ) describes five simple steps to snagging some solar.
SunPower Corporation has installed over 100,000 residential systems since 1985, and wants to make sure a solar panel kit is the right step for everyone. From the first free home solar evaluation to continual monitoring and maintenance, SunPower and its local dealers will be by your side.
Founded in 2006, SolarCity Corporation (NASDAQ: SCTY ) offers something SunPower doesn't. SolarCity Corporation is the only company that keeps every step of solar panel kit installation in-house. While that limits its geographic stretch to 14 states with 31 operation centers, its customers always know who to call. And with clients ranging from individual homeowners to Walmart and Stanford University, SolarCity Corporation seems to know the ropes.
2. It's cheap
While solar panels are making technological improvements, one of solar's greatest advancements is purely financial.
The advent of third-party solar leasing companies has put solar panel kits on the best roofs around -- without costing occupants a penny. Solar panel costs are dropping rapidly, allowing companies like SunPower Corporation and SolarCity Corporation to carry the burden of upfront costs.
Both companies offer $0 down options, and monthly solar lease payments can still end up saving you money after accounting for your lower-than-ever electricity bill.
Plus, some savings today could mean even more tomorrow. Utility rates hikes have historically averaged 5% per year, but your solar panel cost is clocked in from day one.
Not only does SolarCity install your solar panel kit for free, it also has a money-back system performance guarantee and offers you upgrade or free removal opportunities at the end of the lease. SunPower Corporation gives you the option to buy your system outright after six years, and has guarantees similar to those of SolarCity.
3. It'll last
Solar panel kit providers are now standing by their products longer than ever before.
SunPower covers performance and product for 25 years, while SolarCity offers 10-year warranties on some parts (e.g. inverters) and 25 for others (e.g. solar panels). Regardless of warranties, SolarCity offers 20 years of monitoring and repair services.
These sorts of warranties are important, because they cut out most risk of surprises down the line. While SunPower brags that its solar panels have consistently delivered 105% of their expected energy production and SolarCity notes that some of the earliest solar panel kits installed 30 years ago are "still going strong," there's nothing like a guaranteed warranty for peace of mind.
Solar: A Smart Investment
SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive expects his company to install one million solar panel kits over the next five years . With solar power easier, cheaper, and more consistent than ever before, it's a reasonable goal.
If you're interested in solar, then you already understand investing fundamentals: invest today to pull profits tomorrow. In our brand-new special report, "Your Essential Guide to Start Investing Today," The Motley Fool's personal finance experts show you what you need to get started, and even gives you access to some stocks to buy first. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.