Free Solar Panels – How You Can Qualify for Free or Partially Covered Solar Equipment
While it may sound a little too good to be true, you might be surprised to learn that it is possible to get solar equipment for free, or at least heavily discounted.
The truth is, there are plenty of state and federal incentive programs that are designed to get people using solar power for some, or all of their electricity needs. Not only do these government entities want to incentivize individuals to embrace solar power, some state governments will even put pressure on utility companies, who then offer significant utility discounts and free solar equipment to customers that are willing to install solar panels on their own properties.
To help you figure out if you are eligible for free solar panels, we are going to go over everything you need to know about the federal solar tax credit, as well as state-level solar rebates. We will also explain how solar equipment leases and power purchase agreements work with utility companies.
Federal Solar Tax Credits
One of the first things you should take into consideration if you are thinking about installing a solar power system on your property is the Federal Solar Tax Credit. This program was designed to get as many Americans as possible using solar power, as this reduces the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels, improves air quality, and protects the environment.
From a financial perspective, the Federal Solar Tax Credit is designed to save you thousands of dollars on the upfront cost of installing a solar power system, which helps you accelerate your return on the investment. The tax credit is applied directly towards the total cost of your solar power system, which means you save money on solar panels, the power inverter, solar battery bank, charge controller, and even any fees relating to the installation of your system.
How Much Money Will You Actually Save?
The way the Federal Solar Tax Credit works is you are given a dollar-for-dollar reduction on your income taxes from the IRS the same year you install your solar power system.
The United States Energy Policy Act of 2005 introduced this particular tax credit. As you would expect, the goal of the credit was to incentivize American homeowners to meet at least some of their power needs with solar energy, which would result in both financial and environmental benefits for the entire nation.
For residential solar power systems that are installed by at least December 31, 2022, the IRS will offer a 26% tax credit on the total cost of the solar equipment and any associated costs with getting the system up and running.
Starting in 2023, the value of the credit will drop down 22%, as the federal government does not want people to hesitate and would like as many residential solar power systems running within the next year as possible. In the year 2024, the current Federal Solar Tax Credit for residential solar systems will end, which means you will not receive a tax credit for solar equipment purchased from that point onwards.
Will the Federal Solar Tax Credit Reduce Solar-Related State Tax Credits?
State tax credits for installing a solar power system will not reduce the federal tax credit you receive. The same goes for the opposite.
This is because both the federal government and state governments have the same goal in mind – having as many citizens embrace solar power as possible.
More Information on the Federal Solar Tax Credit:
For more information regarding the Federal Solar Tax Credit, read the US Department of Energy’s official Homeowner's Guide to the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics.
State Solar Rebates and Tax Credits
Some states also offer additional tax credits and rebate programs for homeowners that choose to install a solar power system on their property. These tax rebate systems work in a similar way to the federal system, but their availability and the amounts offered vary from state to state.
Essentially, these state-level tax credits work by allowing homeowners to deduct a certain percentage of the cost of buying and installing a solar power system from the state taxes they owe.
In some cases, certain states will even offer a direct cash rebate to incentivize residents to install a solar power system. Again, the availability of these solar rebates and the amount you will actually receive varies significantly by state.
How to Find Solar Rebates, Tax Credits, and Other Incentives by State:
One of the easiest ways to find out if your state offers some sort of solar incentive is to simply look it up. Since solar policies differ so much from state-to-state and they also change all the time, it is important to make sure you have current and accurate information.
Luckily, the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, which is a non-profit solar organization, offers an extensive and searchable database. This database allows users to find solar policies and incentives in their area by either selecting their home state, or by typing in their specific zip code. You can find this extensive list of state and territory tax incentives by clicking the following link:
What About Programs Offered by the Utility Companies?
If you are wondering how you can get a completely free solar power system, rather than just receiving tax credits for installing one, you may want to look into a solar lease or power purchase agreement from a local utility company.
Throughout the United States, certain states and counties mandate that power companies in the area must meet specific clean air policies. This means they need to source a certain percentage of the electricity they sell from renewable sources, such as solar and wind. If they fail to do so, the local government can charge steep fines and heavy taxes.
To help meet these requirements, certain utility companies will offer to install solar panels on a house at no cost to the homeowner. Essentially, the homeowner is leasing their roof or backyard to the utility company for a specific period of time in exchange for heavy discounts on their monthly utility bill. In some areas, allowing a power company to install solar panels on your property can reduce your utility bills by as much as 50%. While these arrangements work for some homeowners, it does mean you do not actually own the solar power system on your home.
Selling Solar Energy to the Utility Companies:
Another way to earn money from solar, is to simply install your own grid-tied solar power system and allow excess solar energy to flow into the utility company’s power grid. They then compensate you for the electricity, as purchasing this clean energy from you allows them to meet some of their renewable energy requirements. In most cases, they purchase this energy at a premium, or offer you steep discounts on your own utility bills.
Where Should You Start?
After you have researched local tax incentives and utility rebates, you can begin searching for solar power equipment that meets your specific needs.
Even if you are not quite ready to install a full roof-mounted solar power system, there are plenty of compact and portable solar panels and kits that will help you get started with solar energy.
Affordable Solar Panels:
We recommend taking a look at our extensive selection of Foldable Solar Panel Suitcases and Blankets. These compact and portable solar panels are designed to function just like any other type of solar panel, but they fold away to make storage and installation that much easier. If you are looking to build a more permanent solar panel array, these 100 Watt 12V Monocrystalline Solar Panels are a great place to start. They work exceptionally well, even in low light conditions, and they are available at an affordable price. They also feature a straightforward junction box, pre-drilled mounting holes, and MC4 plugs, so they are easy to install and connect to other solar panels to create a more powerful solar power system.
Solar Panel Kits:
If you are new to solar, one of the easiest ways to get started is choosing a complete solar power kit. These kits contain everything you need to get started, so you do not have to worry about forgetting or matching components. Best of all, the equipment is bundled, so the prices are almost always cheaper than if you were to purchase each piece of equipment individually. For beginners, we recommend the Lion Energy 400 Watt Beginner Solar Panel Kit. The kit comes with everything you need to start generating clean solar electricity right away. At one low price, you get a deep cycle solar battery, a power inverter, an efficient and foldable solar panel, a high-performance charge controller, and all of the necessary cables, connectors, and components you need to get the kit up and running.
Solar generators act as all-in-one solar power stations. They contain everything you need to capture and store solar electricity. With a built-in solar battery, charge controller, power inverter, and various power output ports, these convenient and portable devices work exceptionally well for all of your solar needs. Simply connect the device to a solar panel and you can begin storing and using solar electricity right away.
For more information about solar generators, we encourage you to read our Complete Solar Generator Buyer's Guide, which offers reviews of the top six solar generators on the market today.
Installing a solar power system should be seen as investment for both the long and short term. By researching relevant tax incentives and cash rebates, you can get started with solar right away for much less money than you might expect.
If you have any questions about financing solar equipment, or any other questions relating to solar power, please do not hesitate to reach out to us and ask!