I started a part time job at SunGevity in 2013. We were not even trained in the knowledge about leasing vs. buying. Mostly 20 year old kids trying to “get a date” purveying the people at Lowe’s for SunGevity – a total exploitation of the people to only offer the average 5-7% savings for something the home owner never gets to own…or really benefit from.
SunGevity works on “emotion all the way”… Emotion in what they say in board meetings, emotion in training the young “kids” who find interested parties to “go solar”, everything is “smoke and mirrors.”
Now I work for a company that does 95% sales…not leasing. I feel leasing is bad for our weak economy. When people lease, they lose out on tax incentives; including the NYSERDA incentives, and the State and Federal tax benefits. People are being “suckered into” saving 5-7% when they could be saving 30-50%, based on system kWh produced.
This is how companies like SunGevity get rich….. “with smiles and pretty videos”. The home owner saves on average 5-7%…and has to “negotiate that savings” over the phone too!
What You Need to Know Before Signing a Solar Lease
I feel leasing can still be a way to go but as long as folks understand exactly what they are getting into. So what people need to do before signing a lease, is to understand the ‘time value’ of the remaining products (solar panels, hardware, etc) that ‘they’ would be charged in the future….in writing.
So for example, if one were to want to buy the leased system in 5, 10, 15 years…. ‘do they have in writing’ a new ‘tentative cost to buy’ depreciated product cost or not…otherwise they lost to an arbitrary high cost offering. No leasing company wants their leases to sign off on their leases. Their money is projected into future energy price increases.
Knowledge is Power
I’m always honest when I talk to prospective clients here, in upstate NY, where I mostly deal with solar power purchases as a professional now. If a “client” wants solar, but has no money…I advise them thoroughly before offering a lease…and even then, try and talk them out of it….for “their future advantages”. Buying is world’s ahead of leasing.
NOTE: George (name changed) had responded to me with this advice after reading the original article Secrets of Residential Solar Lease – Sweet Deal or Disastrous Rip-off?. His full name is not revealed here to respect his privacy but he had given his permission to publish his views.