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Here Are 3 Bright Reasons You Should Buy a Solar Panel Kit in 2014


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.

Source: SunPower Corporation 

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.

Source: SolarCity Corporation

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.

Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (15)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2014, at 10:51 AM, todamo13 wrote:

    I really want to do this...

    Another thing about SolarCity is that they are partnering with Tesla on batteries... So as costs go down and performance improves and all that, they should have one of the best battery options for your house as well.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2014, at 6:59 PM, pflegerin wrote:

    There's one major problem with this system.... I live in Texas, and have three words that make this idea absolutely silly: those words are "Baseball Sized Hail"

    If they want to totally replace my system two or three times per summer, and still only charge me the normal rate, I'll be happy to get a system. Somehow I really doubt they will honor their warranty.

  • Report this Comment On January 07, 2014, at 9:26 AM, drkozin25 wrote:

    For an investment site, you guys really missed the mark here. I'm an owner of a solar company, and "leasing" a solar panel kit (as you describe throughout your article) is different than "buying" one (which is the title of your article). To clarify, leasing solar is great and can end up saving you some money your bills. But buying solar is different, and actually allows you to utilize incentives and get a return on your investment. This is what people should be doing. Unfortunately, companies are making it so easy to lease, that homeowners are blindly signing up and missing out on the opportunity to buy. There are many new financing programs that making buying easier than ever. For some people, buying is not an option, such as those on fixed incomes or who rent or for one reason or another can't utilize the federal tax credit. But the majority of people should consider buying before they decide to lease, and should hire a local expert in their area when they do, as opposed to the "big box store" companies. SunPower has a dealer network of local installers, usually the best in the area, and most can offer leasing or buying options. Bottom line, do your homework before going solar, and consider BUYING before you sign a 15-20 year lease.

  • Report this Comment On January 08, 2014, at 1:03 AM, Solarexpert wrote:

    Complete name brand solar kits with SMA grid tie battery-less backup inverters can be purchased for $1.45 a watt before incentives. SolarCity sells their systems for about $4.77 a watt before incentives and they won't let you install them. So add in a $1.00 to the $1.45 per watt purchase price for labor and you're nearly at half the cost to own a system compared to a SolarCity. Or install the system yourself and save even more. And if you want SunPower level performance but don't want to pay their dealer network to perform the install then consider Hyper X. Hyper X solar modules offer a better PTC to STC ratio than over 100 of SunPower's modules at about half the cost. drkozin25 is right. There are many new $0 down financing options that don't require a 15-20 year lease.

  • Report this Comment On January 08, 2014, at 5:03 PM, soyouwantsolar wrote:

    I just finished up with a Solar City representative and I have been wanting solar for a few years now and I'm ready to pull the trigger and get solar for our home. The thing that really bothers me about Solar City is that you pay for how much energy you generate...What...are you kidding me. The more I generate the more I pay. What a crock. I want to pay for a system which is fine over many years, but I just want to pay for the system. I don't want to pay for 20 about i pay for a system just the cost of the panels, inverter, support structure, and labor, then after that i own it and could buy a service contract or something if i want it.

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