ON THE ROOF

Going solar is probably the best thing an average homeowner can do to help fight climate change. After all, Switching to Electric is only beneficial if the source of that electricity is green energy.

There are lots of different ways to go solar, with the most popular programs offering to put panels on your roof for zero upfront cost. That’s known as a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and they’re popular, in large part, because they replicate the type of arrangement that homeowners have traditionally had with their local utility company.

Just as the utility company owns the infrastructure of poles, wires, transformers, and meters and only charges customers for the power they use, a PPA means that the solar company retains ownership of the panels, inverters, charge controllers and switches, and only charges customers for the power they generate.

That power is sold at a significantly lower rate than the “legacy” utility companies are charging, often with additional protection again future price increases, too. Over time, the savings don’t only add up but they compound, as well. I typical homeowner saving $40-$50 a month on their power bill can see those savings balloon to tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a PPA agreement.

But while popular, a PPA isn’t always the best way to go. Purchasing a solar system outright is also an option, and often a better one, depending on each homeowner’s individual circumstances. Purchasing allows the homeowner to take advantage of the various tax incentives and net metering credits that are offered, whereas with a PPA, the solar company, as the owner of the system, get those and pass them on to the customer in the form of a lower rate.

And then there's the option f going solar without using panels at all, either by signing up for a solar program with a third party or by installing solar shingles or some other kind of solar roofing materials.

Here we’ll explore all the various ways a homeowner can go solar. We'll rank and review the best solar companies out there so that you can choose the best partner and make the right decisions for your specific circumstances.

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Switching to Electric

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