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Community Solar vs Owning a Solar System

Community Solar vs Owning a Solar System

Everyone can benefit from solar, but it’s important to learn which is the right way for you to go solar: With your own solar system or community solar.

The solar energy industry is light-years ahead of what it was a few short years ago, and these days solar is available in a wide range of options and price points. With so many choices, it can be hard to figure out what makes the most sense for you. The first step is to decide between getting your own solar system or joining a community solar system. Both options seem to be a good way to save money and lower your carbon footprint, but there are several key differences between the two.

Community vs. Own Solar System: Which is Better?


For those who qualify, owning your own rooftop or ground-mounted solar system almost always makes more financial sense.
Community solar is a good alternative for people who rent their homes or who don’t have space for a solar system.

What is community solar?

Put simply, a community solar farm is a large solar system that is shared by the community. A cluster of ground-mounted solar panels connects directly to the local energy grid and provides enough energy to power a number of homes.

By joining one of these projects, you agree to contribute to the cost of the solar panels and in exchange receive credits towards your energy bill.

The main benefit of community solar is that you don’t need to have full ownership of your home in order to start saving money. This makes community solar the obvious choice for those who rent their homes or whose homes don’t qualify for rooftop solar.


But it’s not all sunshine and roses for users of community solar


While community solar only saves you around 5-10% on your energy bill, owning your own system can completely eliminate your electric bill.

Unlike those who own their solar system, those who participate in Community Solar projects do not receive tax benefits for doing so. Learn more about the Federal Solar Tax Credit. Additionally – depending on the state you live in – there are several more tax credit options and incentives.

Properties with rooftop solar installations can often gain up to $30,000 in value, while those who choose community solar see no change in the value of their property.

This makes community solar farms less of a long-term investment and more of an easy way to save some money while reducing your carbon footprint.


There are generally two types of community solar programs:

Ownership-based

Participants are able to buy their own share of the system and are entitled to either (a) a set amount of energy from the total system or (b) all the energy that their individual solar panels produce.

Ownership-based systems are similar to owning your own solar system. You own the solar panels as a part of the large shared solar array, managed by a third party company.

Out of the two options, you see will see better returns on the ownership-based systems.

However, you can only purchase enough shares in the system to meet your annual energy usage. This means that you aren’t able to sell the excess energy you produce back into the grid, like you can if you own the system.

Subscription-based

Participants pay a monthly fee in exchange for energy credits, and do not build equity in the community solar system.

Subscription-based services require far less commitment. There’s often no upfront fee and it easy to opt-in or opt-out. Participants often have short-term contracts of only a few months or a year and can leave or join with a phone call. This is the best option for people who want to start saving money on their electric bill with as little hassle as possible.

Additionally, the company that manages your panels can change your electricity rates at any time. Your energy bill will never equal zero, and you have little to no control over what your monthly rate will be. Also make sure to properly check the rates as it could end up being even more expensive for you than what you are currently paying for energy.

Privately-owned solar offers all of these benefits and much more.

Lara Biekowski Marketing Communications Solar Renewable Expert“With your own solar system, you will no longer or only minimally pay an electricity bill. With Community Solar this doesn’t work, you still have to pay the energy companies.

You will also increase your home equity value immediately – typically between 20 and 30K per home. More good news: You can’t be taxed on the added value.  Homes with solar sell faster than homes that don’t have solar, and if you sell your home you recoup the cost of your solar system in the sale price.” – Lara Biekowski, Marketing & Communications

Not only can you meet up to 100% of your own energy needs with rooftop solar, but you can actually sell the excess energy you make back to the utility company and use it to offset any grid energy you use. This means that if your panels aren’t producing electricity on an unusually cloudy day,  the electricity you use from the grid will essentially be free.

This is a huge plus for rooftop solar and means that for those who qualify, rooftop solar is a far more lucrative option than community solar. With rooftop solar, you can take control of your energy bill and free yourself from constantly rising electricity costs.

In summary, community solar is a great way to lower your energy bill if you rent your home or do not have an adequate space to host a solar system. Otherwise, rooftop solar is by far the most financially and environmentally worthwhile investment that you can make for your home and your future.

With financing options available for no money down, you can start saving money on your electric bill from day one. Reach out to us and we will help you doing so: Click here to learn how you can start saving money today on your energy bills.

Community Solar


Own System


Pros

Save 5-10% on Electric Bills

No need to own your home

No impact on the look of your home

Cons

Minimal long term savings

Your bill will continue to rise with the cost of electricity

Does not raise the value of your home

 No tax benefits

Pros

Save up to 100% on your electric bill

Value of home can increase $30,000+

Low fixed-rate bill

Tax benefits

No reliance on fossil fuels

Cons

Own your home (or talk to your landlord – very often it happens that the actual owner it open for the option of solar

Must have adequate space for solar system

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