Affordable Energy

Essence of Solar Financing

I have had a lot of conversations about how solar financing works and how it varies from traditional financing.  Solar financing can seem a bit strange and unfamiliar so I decided to jot down some facts and hopefully explain some of the basics.

No money out of pocket

Every single loan product we offer for solar system is NO MONEY DOWN.  This means no upfront costs or fees. Essentially you can transition from paying the utility to rent your energy to owning your energy without spending a penny!

Flexible to Meet your Needs

Solar financing is available in many terms making it easy to tailor the loan to the project and/ or the clients particular budget goal.  Our lenders offer 10, 12, 15, and 20 year terms. All solar loans are simple interest and have no pre-payment penalties.

Caters to Federal Solar Tax Credit

This is the meat and potatoes of solar financing and what makes it different from traditional loans. When you purchase a solar system, you can receive a 30% refund of the system’s cost on your next federal income tax return.  Solar financing takes this incentive into consideration in the payment schedule.

When you finance your system the loan is set up to give you up to 18 months to file your taxes and apply the 30% Solar Tax Incentive to the loan.  The finance contract will include 3 different payment amounts. The first payment is an interest-only payment for the period of time (up to 18 months) in between installation completion and when you file your taxes for that year. The second is the payment amount before the incentive is paid to the lender and the third reflects what the payment will be after the 30% has been paid.  This allows you to have enough time to file your taxes and forward the payment to the lender.

Payment of the 30% federal tax incentive is not required by the lender, nor is there any penalty if it is never paid.  You simply would have a higher payment based on the principal loan amount being 30% higher. It is worth mentioning that close to half of people who finance their solar systems never pay in the incentive.  Some use the 30% tax incentive to pay down other higher interest loans or credit cards. Others might take a well-earned vacation or make a larger purchase that may have otherwise been impossible. It is a good example of how solar has hidden benefits beyond the obvious energy cost savings.

To sum it up, there is a financing option for everyone and we cater to each client individually and offer options in a consultative manner.

-Erik Smith

Technical Sales


What Else Can Solar System Do?

Given the number of installations we are performing to meet customer demand, it is easy to forget some of the powerful opportunities solar has for many of our customers. Solar is inherently modular, which leads us to think that every system is a slight variation on the same technology, values and long term impacts.

It is refreshing and very exciting when we can demonstrate through effective collaborations and a listen first approach that the integration of solar systems into our built landscape has immediate and latent effects that far exceed the obvious and measurable benefits of clean power, on site power, emission free power and water free power.

A project example illustrates this point clearly.

Several years ago, LighthouseSolar won a commission and ultimately an IREC design award to design and install solar classrooms at 15 middle and high schools in Austin, TX. We collaborated with Austin Energy, Austin Independent School District, and a curriculum developer to deploy a solar classroom at each location for the student and teacher communities to use.

To inform our design approach, we asked the question: What would it look like to have Stonehenge meet the IPhone? We are guided by the fundamental principles that solar is also technology of mythic proportions and eternal time scales, yet we live in a world enabled and pressurized by technologies of instant and distributed connectivity.

For this, our solar classroom needed to serve both real design guidelines.

First, the solar classroom is monumental in aspect. Not that it is so big that is can’t intimately hold the attention of a small class of students, rather it is informed by systems scaled beyond our local experience. The movement of the sun is an experience shared by everyone on earth and while each location on earth has a slightly different experience it is worth remembering that a Greek geographer, Anaximander, calculated very closely the circumference of the globe by looking down a well in Egypt. The global is in the local. This sort of expansive curiosity is available upon casual but pointed interest in a solar system. Our classroom makes this more apparent due to the design elements. The structural supports align with the altitude of the sun at the summer solstice. The depth of the room is defined by the lowest sun angle at the winter solstice. Sun angles are also reflected within the tapered angle of the bench foundations that ring the classroom. The student can feel the shape of the solar ecliptic through their feet.

This brings us back to the power and breadth of the connectivity that the iPhone generation is growing into. The expansive question occurs to us: What will the generation look like and be capable of having experienced the sense of the sun coupled with the tools that hand held computers offer? It is more exciting in what is possible than what is quantifiable.

The solar classroom is also equipped with tools of the modern era. Electronic teaching tools, QR Codes, skype conferencing, weather data monitoring and solar production monitoring set up the ability to run experiments, track results and test hypotheses. These are also tools of sharing, global connectivity all in the context of primary education.

Solar energy is more than a commodity, more than an economic opportunity and more than a switch in the dominant energy paradigm. If culture is where science and imagination meet, then perhaps solar holds a deeper proposition to recast our culture in ways that we are yet to discover.

We continue to ask the simple question: What else can solar do? We invite you to inquire accordingly.