Best Solar Lease and PPA – SolarCity, SunRun, Sungevity, SunPower or Real Goods Solar?

Third-party-owned solar has taken the residential market in the U.S. by storm. SunRun recently announced a growth of 80% in California in only one year.[1] Another study revealed that more than 70% of Californians who go solar prefer third-party ownership.[2] Similar numbers can be found in several other states as well.

Many companies have started offering “zero-down” payment schemes since SolarCity first introduced the ingenious financing model back in 2006. Homeowners no longer have to pay heavy upfront costs to reap the benefits of solar photovoltaic panels.

We`ll take a closer look at the five largest leasing companies in the solar industry (SolarCity, SunRun, Sungevity, SunPower and Real Goods Solar). What are their differences? The goal of this article is to help you figure out which solar provider is the best choice in your situation.


Let`s start with a quick overview over a few common terms:

Solar Lease

Leasing a solar system is pretty much the same as leasing a car or a TV. You pay your solar provider a monthly fee (fixed, escalating or de-escalating) to lease their solar panels.

Many companies will allow homeowners to prepay the entire lease, or part of it (down payment).


Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)

Power purchase agreements are almost identical to solar leases – the only difference is that you pay for the amount of power the solar panels produce, as opposed to just leasing the equipment.

What is common for both solar leases and PPAs is that most companies will take care of everything from installation to monitoring and maintenance. The duration of a solar lease/PPA is typically 10-20 years.

You might want to check out the following article for more information on the subject: Benefits of Owning (vs. Leasing) Solar Panels.



Protection from rising electricity prices. Leases and PPAs provide protection against volatile electricity prices. Top tier electricity prices have increased about 5% on average every year for the last 30 years.

Sit back and relax. The five solar companies that we discuss in this article take care of everything from start-to-finish – including installation, monitoring, maintenance and repairs. You will be provided with a performance guarantee, insurance and warranty.

Save from day 1. Solar leases and PPAs are comparable to, or in most cases, cheaper than their original utility bill. Solar has really become a no-brainer for many homeowners.


The five solar providers offer different services:

SolarCity SunRun Sungevity SunPower RGS
Contract structure Purchase
Duration of lease 20 years 20 years 10-20 years 10-20 years 20 years
Brand of solar panels Sanyo
Depends on installer Depends on installer SunPower SunPower
Canadian Solar


None of the companies are operating in all states. SolarCity offers their services in 12 different states. SunRun and Sungevity have recently expanded to Australia and the Netherlands.

SolarCity SunRun Sungevity SunPower RGS
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
Rhode Island


Whether or not you can finance your solar system through a lease or PPA is a function of applicable state laws and your solar provider. In New Jersey for example, SunRun only offers PPAs while SolarCity offers lease as well.


What are the differences between SolarCity, SunRun, Sungevity, SunPower and RGS?

SunRun and Sungevity are “financing only” companies. They have partnerships with local solar installers in the states where they operate in.

SunPower manufactures their own solar panels and also handel financing. Only authorized dealers can install SunPower solar panels.

SolarCity is the only company that takes care of both financing and installation. The company placed #10 on the World`s 50 Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company in 2012[3]:

“The key: Rather than just make panels, it is a full-service operation–designing, installing, financing, and maintaining every system. That’s how to ease new customers into an unfamiliar technology.”


What’s the Catch?

Solar leases and PPAs almost seem too good to be true. The solar provider is the owner of the solar system if you choose a lease or PPA, and have the right to all incentives, rebates, refunds and cash credits (including SRECs).

The bottom line is this: It is true that a cash purchase would be cheaper in the long run, but most homeowners simply can`t afford the heavy upfront costs. SolarCity, SunRun, Sungevity, SunPower and Real Goods Solar are making solar possible for more homeowners, which not only is great for the environment, but can also help you bring in a lot of savings.

3 Solar Quotes has helped thousands of homeowners spend less by going solar. Find out which leasing company is best for you. It’s 100% free:

//Retrieve session data
$country_code = $_SESSION['country_code'];
if($country_code == ‘US’ || $country_code == ‘CA’ || $country_code == false)
echo ‘Get a Free Solar Consultation‘;


References: [1] PVSolarReport, [2] PVSolarReport, [3] Fast Company.


  1. Donald belflower says

    We entered into an agreement with Sunrun,everything went fine until repairs were needed, then Sunrun started backtracking on doing the necessary repairs. We are currently experiencing problems with the monitoring system which again Sunrun refuses to repair. They claim to monitor your system but the fact is it only works part of the time.

    • Gart says

      The monitoring is a part of the system which you do not own, Sunrun does. They monitor it to insure it produces power so they can stay profitable. Your PV system can stop working tomorrow and it will not your monthly bill on a ppa or lease. Monitoring is for the leasing company not for the home/ businesses owner.

  2. Lauren says

    One thing this doesn’t mention is that the financing arrangements also make sense because they let the finance providers take advantage of tax savings that homeowners couldn’t capture themselves

  3. Peter says

    I went with SolarCity – living in MASS (which needs to be updated above) – 7 weeks into it – and very positive so far – I did a PPA – $0 is attractive – but went for the bigger bang for the buck. Wished I had looked at this sooner. I’d recommend SolarCity as they did take care of everything (design, permits, install, monitoring) – very happy so far.

  4. Ray Boggs says

    Why doesn’t this article mention $0 down FHA Title 1 solar loans. A $0 down solar loan is easier to qualify for than a lease, you don’t need any equity in your home and best of all you get to keep the 30% federal tax credit and any other applicable financial incentives, the interest on the payments is tax deductable (there’s no tax deduction with lease payments) and you’ll own your solar system for a much better return on your investment.

  5. Felipe says

    And if my solar system eventually generates more than my actual consumption?

    In a PPA, I should pay for all production?
    Could I sell the excess to the grid and get money/credits from that?
    or this power is owned by those companies? Asking also for lease

    • MIKE PURCELL says

      I live in Oregon, and we are set up to receive a credit for the extra power we create. I am working with Solar City in designing the system and my concern is that the system may generate more than we can use up. PGE has a use it or lose it arrangement each year, If you don’t use up the credit by March they donate it. I am just not sure how much power we are going to generate in the summer months and Solar City will charge me for all of it according to the PPA.

      • Lou says

        ask your consultant to pull up an existing monitoring production report from a solar system of comparable size,nearby your area.

      • Chris says

        SolarCity works with the home owner and PG&E to find out how many kilowatt hours the home owner used the previous 12 months and they design the system to produce up to 85% of the previous years usage. So the only way you would be generating energy that you wouldn’t use is if your habits change dramatically from the year before. If you think this is a likely scenario, such as you have teenagers moving who will be moving out etc, just ask them to design the system to a lower offset, like 65%. This will ensure that you won’t produce more than you use and still save great money off your bills.

  6. Butch says

    The company Verengo Solar is operating in California. They have their own installers and have a zero down PPA.

    How would you compare them to your list?

  7. Nicole says

    I received a quote from Sungevity recently and they offer only 20 year leases (with a 5 year extension, maximum). They also showed both lease and purchasing options. Their quote is very detailed: product brand, picture of prospective system, lease & purchase options, financing details, and environmental impact. All objective, although the advisor told me only the benefits of the lease, the quote showed me ALL my options with no pressure to even say yes right away.

  8. Steven Eisinger says

    I recently recieved a quote from sungevity and was told I would need to put 5,000.00 down on a 20yr. lease to lower my current monthly payment to the utilities. I could put 0 down but my monthly cost would be higher than what I am now paying. Where is the savings? They did say that I could claim the cost om my taxes, How does that work? Can it be claimed every year or just the initial cost? I don’t itemize my taxes because I do not have any med expenses at the time can it still be a tax write off filing the standard deductions?

    • Manny Ortiz says

      I am not sure I understand your question. You mentioned that you would put $5000 down on a lease but then you could claim the solar on your taxes. I had sungevity install a system in Dec 13 and as I understood it, I could not claim any tax rebates. The system is a lease and the only way to get the rebates is to own the system.

      Sungevity charges a lot more to purchase a system than to own it. My system was leased for about 9500 up front with no monthly payments. That same system was going to be about 16000 if I purchased. The reason sungevity can do this is they can take advantage of rebates and credits that homeowners can not. Also they can depreciate the items as assets over time.

      If you use the standard deduction you can not write off anything. You can still take credits but with the deductions it is either itemize everything or take the standard. On a side note … your morgage taxes should put you in good shape to itemize.

      Sometimes it does not provide savings to go solar. It all depends on your usage and the cost of power. My pay off is longer than most would accept, but I did it because I believe every house should have solar. This would offset power requirements on the power plants during peak hours and help keep costs down.

      I know tax season is over but I hope this helped.

  9. Christian says

    Check SolarCity, I just got a PPA, and I love it. They are super transparent, and customer focused. I think there is good reason for them doing so well

  10. Afi says

    I’ve had challenges from being denied the opportunity to have Solar panel for the mere fact that I am demi-detached to one other home.
    Also, turned down by Home Depot for new roofing for the same idiotic reason, but did find a local established roofer who did a magnificent job]. Homeowners exprience an unjustified bias when they are semi-detached. This is not row housing. Semi-detatched owners have their own roofs and separators from the neighboring home. Contractors seem to be greedy because they want the entire roof to install panels and/or are frightened of not having confidence in their installers to do quality work and not create problems for the neighboring home to complain about. Thus far, my new roof is 4yrs old and I’ve no complaints from the neighbors nor do they care if I get solar panel they are not interested in for their home. Is there any NYC installer who can do a semi-detatched home nr JFK airport without the owner being required to do an outright purchase? I’ve waited so long for green energy power.

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  13. Linda S says

    I am talking with Solar City about a PPA for solar. Will I receive a credit back from So. Calif Electric if I my solar panels produce more than I use. Have teenagers who will move out in less than 5 yrs so electricity us
    age should go down.

    • Tim says

      yes any overproduction that your solar panels produce you will be able to keep the overage from the public utility company.

  14. Brandon Lea says

    Hey ladies and gentlemen I currently work for Solar City. I was originally recruited by another company to do solar. I proceeded to spend 2 months visiting multiple companies in cities across the country. I sat down and spoke with all the companies listed above. None of them are bad in any way shape or form, with that being the case the reason I went with Solar City is for two main reasons.

    1. They have the most long term promise out of all the companies with billions of dollars in backing from powerhouses such as Google and Elon Musk himself, so when 2016 comes if and only if something bad happens Solar City will have a solid foundation.

    2. They doing everything themselves, meaning nothing is outsourced in regards to work. So if you were to have an issue with something on your panels in 10 years the third party warranty company that most of these companies contract out probably wont be there VS Solar City who does everything in house.

    Regardless of the company you choose to get your power from Solar is the wave of the future and I thank you all for doing your part to help reduce the carbon foot print.


    are interested in a PPA/Buying panels Email me at contact me at (239)-823-1726

  15. says


    I used to work for SolarCity as a sales rep in Inland Empire. I now work for a smaller local solar company. I went there because they have more options, and I get to control more of the process. If you want a competitive bid for purchase/lease/PPA, I would love to earn your business.

    SolarCity now offers a decent rate (they used to be much more expensive). If I were you, I would get the lease option merely because with the lease, any overproduction of power is your’s free. With the PPA, you have to pay more and the panels almost always over-produce. Their lease and PPA are very similar and your sales rep should be able to tell you the difference.

    You asked about the credit from the utility company. This will be the same for any solar company/system whether you own or lease; at least in CA. I know that SoCal Edison will cut you a check at the end of the year for $0.04 a kWh for what you overproduced. I recommend you call your utility provider and ask them so you get the most current information and you can ask them any of your other questions.

    If you think that your usage needs will be significantly reduced in the future, request a smaller system, you can’t re-size it if it’s a lease/PPA. Take into account though that you may get an electric car in the future and will want to charge it. You may also just set your thermostat lower because you can. Just take your best guess.

    Best of luck!

    • Matt N says

      Beware of what you sign up for with a PPA!!! The man is right that the system will not be reduced in size and you may be stuck with a system that is sized too large for your family needs for the remander of the contract. Ontop of sizing my system at the last and highest usage year ever, it overproduces power by 20 to 25 percent. Sunrun says they are not obligated to refund for the overproduction and they will not resize the system.

      Two of my three adult teenagers have moved out and the hot tub no longer works, so my usage has gone down 25% of what the system was sized. Sunrun tells me Congratulations for making a lifestyle choice to use less energy and you need to use more energy to take advantage of the savings they are offering.

      I agreed to a PPA with sunrun that has cost me hundreds of dollars extra each year buying power from Sunrun over what I would have from PG&E. As it turns out the initial price per kWh calculations were wrong so they are offering to change the price per kWh. It has taken almost 4 years of complaining to get any credit from Sunrun.

      Read your contract and understand what you are signing up for despite what the salesman promises. I was promised things that Sunrun will not honor because it’s not in the contract.

      If anything, undersized your system so your not overpaying for the power produced. I am not getting the benifit of buying lower tier price because I am overpaying for power from Sunrun.

      I am trying to renegotiate my contract, but it has not been the hassle free experience promised, and the power production gaurentee only works if the system doesn’t produce enough power.

      If you try to purchase the system to get out of your PPA, the tak benefits were given to Sunrun and the system will be prorated from the original price, eligible to purchase the system in the fifth year. Basically, your paying for the power that it would have produced and sold to you.

      If all possible, buy your solar system.

  16. Brian says


    Most likely you will not get any credits for not being the system owner. That is the usual case as a non-system owner. All credits and incentives go to SolarCity, thus part of the reason why they are able to bring such a lucrative offer to your door. Despite not being able to take advantage of the incentives, the fact that you have the ability to have the sun control how much electricity you have to pay for is great in and of itself.

    Further, bring your question up with your SolarCity rep and ask them to reduce the size of the system to accommodate the future reduction in consumption.

    As a solar consultant myself, I am excited that I can offer this great opportunity to others. SolarCity is a great company and you will be happy with your decision.

    Brian T. (Connecticut)

  17. Andrew says

    Don’t do it! Trust me I do this for a living it is a bad idea to have a PPA that makes too much power.

  18. Frank Collins says

    Hi, I have an Energy Efficiency firm, servicing small- to medium-size commercial & industrial clients in Massachusetts. We provide a variety of services including high efficiency lighting, HVAC, refrigeration, power factor correction, window films and more. We also offer commercial solar but are struggling to find financing for our commercial clients (Operating Leases are most preferred, then PPA, then Capital Leases) so the customers are forced to pay cash or forego solar.

    Any recommendations for finance companies who could help? Thanks!

  19. Ansie says

    I live in NJ and talked to a SunRun rep about letting them put panels on our roof. I’m not buying the system, just signing onto 20 years of them keeping it on our roof. Anyone have any experience with them? Our electric bill is about $150/month now with PSE&G. The rep estimated we’d save about $300-400/year. Any advice?

  20. Adam says

    Your statement is incorrect. If you ever have a surplus of electricity So Cal Edison will require you to buy that back and only pay’s wholesale rates. Every time you sell them credits you lose money.

  21. KKenji says

    If you have PPA, you better understand you will pay all production by solar system at end of the year. So, if you have bigger system than you need, it is wasting money.
    I recommend Lease rather than PPA.

  22. Lori says

    Im confused I thought the whole idea was to make extra power to sell back to the power company so they didn’t need to build additional power plants I have an appointment with RGS this week to see if I can get a lease on their solar panels I have friends that are going with solar city so I don’t know what I will do but I thought I would talk to both of them. Am I crazy.

  23. Earl Kapule says

    Yes, you do sell the extra back to the city/grid and you get credit for it or at the end of the year you will get a check. However our company designs systems at 85-90% so that you are not always going over. you would pay us that 85-90% of your average and the other 10-15% to the city provider but only in their low tier. We could always add panels, so we build it a little smaller a first to see if the home changes its usage. We are always willing to ad more panels, but not so much removing them.However we could make it even smaller or bigger depending on the customer, if they know they are going to make changes in the future.

  24. Earl Kapule says

    You would get credit or a check back from them for all your extra power. However they buy it from you at a much lower rate(wholesale price), so taking it as credit may be a better idea unless you are always producing more than you use. You may just want to design the system a little smaller(65-75%) instead of 85%, that’s if you know for sure you will be reducing your usage.

  25. johnny says

    Doesn’t Google fund a lot of solar companies? I also read that they just Gave Sunrun money as well. (150million)
    When the salesman came to my house from Solar city he was really pushy and bragged about all the money E. Musk has invested. I decided to go with Sunrun because of their 10 year roof warranty as apposed to Solar City’s 1 year and the fact that there is no cost for over production. Global warming caused my system to over produce by a good amount of KWH and it was all free. I would have paid for that if I would have gone with Solar City. I would tell everyone here to stay away from the lease program! Solar City has a hard time transferring those if you sell your home. I have done my homework and believe that you are right in the sense that it only matters that people go solar.


  26. mike says

    solar city quoted me a 18,500 kwh system for $96,000. I thought that was crazy. They all say that you are saving the planet by using them. My PPA would save me a whole 4 cents a kwh. WOW big savings to have 75 of their panels on my roof getting them rich. They still own it, they get $29,000 tax credit, in 20 years you pay them $60,000, they get srecs $59,000. they are really doing it to save the planet. All this for a system that probably cost less than $10,000 to make. I am all for solar, but it should be more affordable. I laughed so hard when they told me the purchase price.

  27. arthur says


    We live in NYC and NRG seems to be dominating Solar market here. Does anyone have any opinions about NRG?

    Thank you

  28. Ric DeVan says

    It’s my understanding that SDG&E in SoCal will NO LONGER buy back excess power. They do, however, allow credit for energy place on the grid. The “credit” can be used when you are not generating solar power, usually at night or during heavy overcast.

    Since I’ve signed up for a PPA, I’m not sure how the “credits” will work. The system is not installed you and I am thinking of cancelling and going with ownership.

  29. Joseph says

    I am leasing my solar panels from Sungevity. Very positive experience. It was $0 downpayment, they took care of all the paperwork and provide full maintenance. My panels are producing more electricity than we are consuming. They provide a “performance guarantee”,
    so if panels produce less than promised, they write a check for the difference. They provide a free quote without a site visit, they see your roof through Google Earth. If you move, they will move the panels for free or you can transfer the lease to the new owners. They panels are fully insured, free of charge. They also provide warranty for the roof against any leaks. They do everything, I just pay my lease.
    You can go to You can use referral code 94755 for a $1000 discount.

  30. Jeffrey says

    Doing a lease or PPA is idiotic. You are literally paying 3 to 4 times what you would pay for a purchase over the initial term for a purchase. Also, know why the salesman for PPA or lease will never tell you what brand the panels and inverter is? Because they use standard quality equipment that will not outlast the period covered by the lease. They will use a string inverter instead of the higher end micro inverters that are based on better technology. A representative for solar city tried to talk me out of higher end panels and Enphase micro inverters because he knew his company only has standard quality equipment and could not get a good deal on higher end solar goods. The main reason why a lease is simple: Why give all the tax credits and incentives to a 3rd party and rent your roof to them? In my specific case, that would have been giving them in the neighborhood of 15k!!! After incentives, it literally takes 5 years to break even on purchase and then it’s free power for life!!

  31. Brian says

    This has a great article and blog and comments thanks.
    1. be aware that the link for “One Block Off the Grid” is no longer an un-biased solar company selection service – it was bought by NRG which is a solar company named Pure Energy. So now it only sells NRG Solar (which unfortunetly isn’t on the article’s chart of 5 other solar companies).
    2. However, after talking with the Rep at NRG, I am convinced they are a better solar provider than Solar City. As a company, they are bigger (better financial backing) and cheaper. They don’t do PPAs but the do zero down lease – which she described as better.

  32. beene says

    It seems it depends on the state you live. In Ma. the more your system produces the sooner it pays back the investment. This is of course if you own the system.

  33. Todd says

    The goal is to use solar to knock down your high marginal power rate. I have CA e vehicle rate so I pay $.39 at peak and $.09 at night. Look at your bill and it will tell you exactly what you pay at each tier. We created a system that knocks out all of our $.39 and a small part of our $.22 tier at an average of $,.18 with our solar lease. I would lose money if my system was big enough to replace our overnight rate.

    By the way, solar city bait and switched us, tried to install a larger system and played with estimated vs actual price. Went with Sungevity. Got plans and permits in a month. Much better than I expected in my highly regulated town.

  34. da h says

    OBOTG is now pure energy but they “claim” to still be a unbiased broker and in my case is suggesting solarcity. shrug

  35. Jhon says

    Hi …., This is great guide on how to select the best 12v solar panel, I am currently doing some research and found exactly what I was looking for.

  36. Isiah Smith says

    If you have the money to purchase, then go right ahead. Some people would rather spend thousands of dollars on something a bit more life fulfilling than solar. Don’t believe me…? Take a survey in your neighborhood and see how many people make a car payment. By the way, it’s fun to drive a car. Where are you driving your proud solar system?

    If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone spout knowledge about microinverters … I could get a new pair of shoes. I’m a solar professional and let me tell you a little secret about microinverters. It ain’t new and cutting edge. It’s been around since the 80s. It’s not a good idea to install microinverters in your plan. You heard it here first folks!

    Think about it, micro-inverters are complicated electronic devices and they are mounted on the back of a solar module where temperatures exceed 150 degrees. Electronics and heat are not friends. Now, when a micro-inverter fails, it is not an easy fix. Technicians have to get on the roof, rip out the entire array to get to the failed inverter under the array, install the new micro-inverter (God help them) and re-install the system. Does this sound like a good idea?

    It is disconcerting to see that several of our competitors have gone to offering micro-inverters standard. In about 2 years they will spend the majority of their time doing service calls to failed systems. This will likely result in their demise as businesses and we will then have to service these orphaned systems. Fine by me, but definitely not good for the local industry as a whole.

    Funny thing is folks that are looking to purchase end of shopping the lowest price. Solar ain’t cheap, and for the most part all you have to go by is cheap marketing to know what’s good and what’s not. This ain’t the car industry. We’re not comparing Chevy’s and Toyota’s. The low-ballers love to throw in the microinverters to classy up the deal.. put on that extra shine.

    The last laugh is on the customer though, since that installer will be out of business come 2016 when those inverters are dropping like mud pies. Get your sun hat and a sturdy ladder!

    My name is Isiah Smith. I work for SolarCity. I can quote you in 10 minutes cuz I’m that fast. We now offer a Purchase that’s paid like a PPA with the guarantees of a Lease. It’s completely unique in the market. Nobody has it. And don’t worry, we ain’t puttin no inverters on your roof!

  37. Ali Danesh says

    I live in Orange County, CA and researched 5 companies including American First Solar (NRG financed), Sunrun, Solarcity, Verengo and Sunpower with a requirement of an approximate 10kW DC system.

    It took 3 months for me to get the final system that I felt comfortable with.

    First let me say that kWh prices varied from 18-24 cents with the higher rates coming from Sunrun and First American Solar. All the others were 18-19c on a fixed 20 year ppa although Verengo wanted a $3000 upfront fee for a fixed system while all others were 0 down.

    Most all recommended 250 watt panels except Sunpower which recommended their 327 watt panels (US Made). Panel numbers ranged from 20 to 40 but only Solar City (40 panels) and Sunpower (30 panels) were able to deliver the required power (although they all initially said no problem, they all cut back on the number once they did the site survey due to some excuse).

    To be fair Verengo came in very late and their $3000 upfront fee was a deal breaker right off the bat.

    Additionally only Solar City and Sunpower never deviated form their original estimate and cost.

    I was ready to go with Solar City due to total system cost and it was all good to go until the week before the permit stage that they sent in a second site surveyor that came back with an additional $9000 out of pocket due to the fact that my roof pitch was too steep and some bull that they need to remove my roof and re-roof to install their mounts. This fee was to a roofing contractor and not even for Solar City. Funny since my roof is 4 years old and I paid less than that to get it installed.

    So Sunpower was the choice with a 9.8 kW(DC), 8.7 kW (AC) (30 panels vs 40 panels from Solar City since panels generate more power) at 18c cents fixed for first year and 19c for years 2-20. They have been on the ball since I gave them to go ahead have updated me on a weekly basis and they are installing as we speak. I will update the production and service results once I have additional data.

    One last note:

    The price of the Sunpower system is higher but the monthly payments are near identical to that of Solar City (Sunpower is $6 more a month). However they produce more electricity to make up for it. End of lease though the Sunpower system will have a higher payoff (which I don’t care since I can either negotiate a new lease or go with someone else).

  38. Trent says

    Hello Mike,
    I too live in Oregon and am in the midst of contracting with Solarcity. I’m wondering how your experience has been. Trent

  39. Matt N says

    I forgot to mention that in the 42 months that my system has been active, it has overproduced a little more than 5000 kWh above the contrac. I was charged for the production which has Sunrun has not credited me for the over production of power because it is written in the contract that the can overproduce by 25%. This has cost me an additional $1500 in 42 months. You can see what will happen as the cost per kWh does up over the next 14.5 years. I will basically have to buy out of the PPA to avoid overpayment since Sunrun refuses to modify my plan.

  40. says

    Yes unfortunately sun run out sources it’s installations. We went with SolarCity for two reasons: is a one stop shop for all things solar, they cover installation, financing and customer service. The second reason is often overlooked by most homeowners…they offer a referrals program that allows you to make residual income. Check it out

  41. JMC says

    That’s not necessarily true. Sunrun merged with CA based REC Solar earlier this year and now offers direct installation services without subcontracting out any of the work. They still work with other partners who sell the Sunrun product, but if you sign up with Sunrun directly, they will do your installation in-house.

  42. Matt N says

    What can be done when Sunrun refuses to refund or modify a system overproduction of power. My PPA is overproducing 1000 kWh per year and Sunrun’s complain compliance department has refuses to resolve this issue for the 3 + years and many email correspondence. Although they have agreed to refund me for the overcharged price per kWh from .29 cents to .21 cents per kwh.

    I feel like I am getting screwed by Sunrun. It is a crime that once the system goes on that they will not correct for an overproducing system. I am not getting my tier 2 PG&E power. Besides that the system is too large for my family.


  43. OC solar newbie says

    Hi! Total solar newbie here… A salesman from SolarQuest came by- offered a PPA, .16 per kW with 2.9% annual escalation, free install / permits / maintenance…. 25 years.

    Does anyone have any feedback re SolarQuest?
    Quality of materials?
    Pricing offered?

    The guy said the 1st tier price of SCE will be going away, price per kW rises 5% annually. Also- CA and fed rebates to be reduced at end of 2015.
    Love to hear any thoughts, feedback… Thanks!!

  44. Bruce Wayne says

    I am about to have Solar City come and give me a quote, (10 hours from now…guess I should get to bed!?), but I have heard good things about Sun Valley Solar, and have friends who used them.
    Wonder why there is No mention of them in this article.

  45. Dee says

    Everyone keep saying that they get money back from the electric companies under a net metering type of deal. My question is if there is grid failure, does your solar still work? I know in a lot of states if there is grid failure and you are net metered, the power company will shut your solar system down. They say leaving solar up causes a danger to the employees fixing the grid failure due to power still being pumped through the electric lines. This is how it works in Georgia and Florida. Seems to me that still having power, if the grid is down, is one advantage to solar. Off grid systems seem to be the wave of the future and not solar that goes down when the grid does.

  46. Wayne says

    Solar systems are great for the stock holders, companies and salespeople. Remember, just like the windmill, they kill birds. And the panels will not help you when you’re power goes out. Buy a Generac.
    And for you green people, Al Gore put a $8 mil house on the ocean. So much for the rise in tide.

  47. Steve says

    That’s great to hear that you went with SolarCity! I’ve been working with the company for a year now, and I love helping and hearing from happy customers. I work out of New York, and would be glad to help you or anybody else who may need assistance or any additional information.


  48. Bobbi says

    Keep in mind when purchasing vs leasing a system that your property value will most likely increase the amount of the system’s value, which will mean higher taxes. In our case the 30,000/year increase in our property value and subsequent taxes was far greater than any federal rebate we would have recieved. During the leasing phase, the system does not technically belong to you thus not allowing your city or town to increase your property value and taxes. Food for thought!

  49. Dan Pritt says

    I live in Nevada. By law, property taxes can’t be raised because of solar. You get all the benefits without the increased property tax.

  50. Matt N says

    Cover the panels… That is a good one. after 3.8 years of complaining to Sunrun about them overcharging me for power because my system was overproducing. Since I kept complaining they did a new savings analysis. They discovered that I should have been charged 21/ kwh and recalculated the numbers for my system for the price per kwh. The gave me an .08 credit for the 26000 kwh produced, which equalled $2200 bucks, credit, of course.
    I am still overpaying for power since the system is too large for my family needs, but now the cost for power is less than Tier 3 power which is better than the screwing I have been getting.
    Over 42 months my system produce 27,000 kWh and I purchased 11,000 kwh from PG&E.
    The scary thing to all future customers that may sign up for a solar lease or PPA is that PG&E keeps modifying their pay structure to the middle price range so that the solar companies prices are less competitive.
    Just remember you are stuck in this contract for 18 to twenty years and are basically funding/financing the system at a higher price than you would have paid for it.
    Sunrun will let you buy the system after 5 years and they show you the minimum price the will sell it to you. There is a line in the contract that mentions fair market value assessed at time of purchase.
    I still think agreeing to this PPA was one of the Dumbest things I have done in my adult life.
    Hopefully, one of these days I will be saving money. Lol.

  51. Austin Powell says

    There are over 5,500 solar companies in the US. Solar City is the largest with a 38% market share. If you take companies 2-200 and add them together, they all don’t even have a 30% market share. With solar becoming so popular every mom and pop shop wants to do solar. The problem is where are those companies going to be in 10 years when you have a problem with your system.
    Solar City is backed by billions and is the smart choice for overall savings, warranty, quality, and production guarantee.

    Anyone can feel free to email me directly with any questions about Solar or Solar City –

  52. Austin Powell says

    I wouldn’t cover the panels with anything as that voids your warranty and production guarantee with most companies.
    I would maybe think about not washing them or feel free to be less conservative with your energy usage.

  53. Rich says

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the fact that Solar City now offers a purchase program with “in house” financing….But here is what I don’t understand…There is no actual interest rate.. Its still a PPA but instead of 10-20 years its for 30 years! They said I would be locked in at 17.40 a kilowatt. They also said I get to keep the tax rebate which in my case here in California would be right around $9,200. Now they said I can take that rebate and put it back in to the loan and drop my kilowatt rate down 12.53 per kilowatt. So without the rebate my payment would be $122 a month based on a usage system rated for 8,083KWH per year…Now if I take that rebate and put it all back in my rate goes down to 12.53KWH and a payment of $91 a month (average). I was also told that the most that system could ever produce in one month is $163 of electricity. Here is the thing, how can they call it a loan with no set interest rate and a variable payment??? Here is what bothers me, they say this system cost $30,498 yet im not paying that, im paying on average $122 according to the sales man, so lets do the math? That’s $1,464 a year, now times that by 30….$43,920 would be the total amount over the 30 years.. but lets say its like everyone is saying and worse case scenario im paying the high end of $163 a month produced. That’s $1,956 a year and $58,680!!!. Now im not good at math but lets say there was an interest rate?? What would it be and is this really better than a traditional 20 year PPA. They call it a loan but yet im not paying for the equipment?? Technically. Am I crazy to sign up?? I need some input, Thank you!

  54. Beat the System says

    If you are on a PPA and your system is over producing simply take a few panels out of service. The panels are “Plug & Play” No need to cover them up with anything, just get a qualified person to rearrange the panel circuitry taking several panels out of service.

  55. Ben Thurston says

    If the grid goes down, you system goes down–for the reasons you stated. It’s not the grid that shuts you down–your own equipment is designed to shut down when the grid goes down.

  56. Andrew says

    Rich, did you get your concerns addressed by any of the SolarCity guys who’ve left their e-mail address in this thread?

  57. Kelly says

    There definitely is an interest rate on that program- which they should have pointed out. It’s 5% (4.5% if you sign up for ACH) plus 2.9% escalation per year.

    A lot of the information on this site is now outdated as companies have changed the programs they offer. For instance, SunRun now has free overproduction on their PPA and a 100% production guarantee. That’s the best route to go if you don’t have 20k lying around to purchase a system.

  58. Robert says

    Global warming is not altering the suns production or the energy reaching earth…. Solar panels are not going to produce more power because its overall hotter globally by a few degrees Celsius.

  59. Gary Rankin says

    I live in a city, Poway, in San Diego County. My parents had adopted 16 kids over a period of 25+ years. With that came high utility bills. So when SDG&E did there rate increase for there failed nuke repairs, they based it on previous monthly bills . If you paid $100 or less, no increase, 1 to 200, 11% , 2 to 300, 23% , and 3 and above , 36%. Even though reducing our usage, led, new tv’s,Refrigeratore, washer, dryer, etc..the bill was $400+ a month. So he did a leased option to buy at the end, it is $199.00 a month for the entire lease, fully transferable and covered under warranty for the leased term. We Wil get a credit once a year for SDGE for extra power fed back in the grid. The down side is the company we went through, American Solar Direct. Worst contractor I have ever had to deal with in my life. Being in the construction industry for 30 years and my father retired Air Force, 25 years , and retired General Dynamics , 17 years , engineering dept. Did nothing to their attitude and gave no respect to our experience and knowledge of our past. They did their layout based on a 1dimensional photo from Google earth. Was not to scale, and had panels on 4 different roof areas of the house, I did my own layout using 1/4 scale and showed them how 26 panels will fit on 2 south facing roofs. They made every excuse, the project managers are in L A, They don’t come to your home, the layout we approved was turned down by the city, so they approved the next one, forged my father’s signature, we knew nothing about it until they showed up to do the work, which was a year after signing the lease. The first PM moved up and we were given to a new one, I asked him 3 questions, has he ever managed a install of a system with 26 panels, 6.5 kWh his answer, no, I asked if he had ever ran a job that included a main panel upgrade to 200 amps, with a new conduit run to the hand hole? His answer , no, so I asked if he had ever seen 3″ sch. 40 Pv electrical conduit? His answer , no. I said to take my file to someone with the right answers. Every crew that came out , I had to argue with about all the things I had argued about with from day 1. The crews are lazy, long breaks, sleep for longer lunch, if they had a couple hours to finish, they would still leave and have to drive back in the morning and strung it out for as long as possible. Never called to say we could turn it on, we have already earned credits, and neg informed me that we were not finished, no WiFi hooked up yet, which I knew, it is still not hooked up, I’ve tried to reach the owners, but blocked by customer service, happy with system, disgusted with company, Do not use American Solar Direct of southern California, 1yr 4 months and counting. Gary

    • Hannah Grissom says

      Hi Gary,

      Thanks so much for sharing your story. We are located in San Diego too and it’s troubling to hear about a neighbor’s solar story that didn’t work out. I wish you better luck with these types of relationships in the future. It is really a shame that you had that experience.

      Thank you,

  60. John C says

    NRG is the largest and fastest growing residential solar provider in NJ, hands down. As I read these posts, I keep asking myself why they did not include NRG in this article.
    Straight forward lease, net metering allows the homeowner to use all the Kw produced, no additional charges.
    I have been nothing but happy with the process from the rep to the installers to the customer service when I had a question.

  61. vin says

    would love to heear from real people. If someone has solor in MASSachusetts I was thinking maybe try it . Just 2 of us my wife and I . I work part of time home office. So prob bill on avcg will be 120-150 per month NSTAR electric. I do not conserve!!! Thanks

  62. Mark M says

    I’m seeing some crazy amounts that you guys are paying per KW. My contract with solar city for PPA is only 11.99 cents per KW. National Grid is currently 25 cents per KW in MA. I have been very happy so far with them and they install this month. I hope to God mine over produce. If they don’t I will put some in the yard next. I have an all electric house and we freeze in the winter because I keep the heat so low. Maybe I can finally turn the heat up. The best point I have seen so far on this forum is that if you buy them your property taxes are going to go up and maybe cancel out any of your savings.

  63. a3dcreator says

    why would you get into leasing or ppa. Don get a solar system unless you have the money to purchase one. you basically got scammed.

  64. Andy T says

    Johnny, not sure who you spoke to at SolarCity but they have a 20 or 30 year roof warranty up to 2 million.The 1 year is total roof, even if they didn’t touch that part of your roof and the remainder is for the portion where the system is mounted.Also not sure where you got the problems with transferring ownership, they have a 100% transfer. SolarCity has never not transferred an ownership. Also check to see if the solar company is placing a lien on your property for the system, SolarCity does not put a lien on your property. They file a FCC-1 (fixture filing) for their equipment.a

  65. Janet says

    Just had Solarcity come out and give me their pitch. Rep told me I could buy the whole system from them down the road, at a greatly depreciated price. I asked if I then would qualify for the tax breaks and rebates being offered.
    The rep replied YES.
    Sounds like double dipping.
    I’m sure it’s one rebate per property address.. Which means Solarcity benefited.
    Also I don’t understand why I still would have a power bill if my roof was large enough to house more panels than necessary.
    What if I want “out” of my panel lease in five years? Rep stated I could get out and at a “negotiable” rate. (LOL)
    Define “negotiable” and make sure it’s in writing.
    It’s not.
    What happens when a better Solar comes around in a few years?
    I’m sure their tactics will have to be comparable to that of the cell phone companies… Whereas they offer to buy out your existing contract.

    Seems like lowering my power bill $30-$40 per month on average is not worth the gamble to be stuck in a lease-contract for 20 years not knowing who the next ‘latest and greatest’ money-saving company will be in Nevada.
    Your thoughts?

  66. Craig says

    Peter, I live in Mass could you provide an update to your experience with Solar City to date. Do you still PPA is the way to go?


  67. Eric Gauthier says

    In Mass your property taxes “will not” go up because of the solar on the house. And that’s good for 20 years. Just go to and look around and you will see.

  68. Eric Gauthier says

    Hi Vin, I’m a solar consultant for SolarCity so if you have any questions please feel free to ask and I would love to help you out and maybe help you go solar so you can be a part of the movement to break away from using dirty harmful electricity that the Utililty companies use, and it even cost more than solar. And solar is a clean renewable electricity at a much cheaper price too.



  69. Eric Gauthier says

    Your property taxes will not go up because of solar on your roof in mass for 20 years.

    Just go to to see…..

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