Top 5 solar financing companies

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top 5 solar financing companies
Solar panels are a big investment. Solar financing options help with the burden of large upfront costs.

Solar is now cheaper than it’s ever been, but it’s still a significant upfront cost for the average homeowner. 

Luckily, there are many solar financing companies that offer loans, leases, and power purchase agreements so homeowners in the United States can easily make the switch to solar and start saving on their electricity bills. 

We put together this guide to help find the best financing company for you. 

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    What solar financing options are available?

    There are three main solar panel financing options if you don’t have the cash on hand for an upfront purchase: a solar loan, a solar lease, or a solar power purchase agreement (PPA). 

    A solar loan works like other personal home improvement loans - you take out a loan from a lender for the purchase of the system and make monthly loan payments to pay back the loan.

    With solar leases and PPAs, you don’t have to pay any upfront costs. Instead, a solar developer owns the system on your roof and you submit a monthly payment to them for using the energy the solar panels create. The monthly payment is usually lower than what your electric bill would be without solar. 

    Read more about the differences between solar leases and solar PPAs here

    Comparing solar leases, solar PPAs, and solar loans
      Solar lease Solar PPA Solar loan
    Benefits Zero upfront costs Zero upfront costs Purchase system with zero upfront costs
    System owner? No No Yes
    Receives tax credits/SRECs No No Yes
    Uses net metering Yes Yes Yes
    Responsible for maintenance? Solar company Solar company Homeowner
    Monthly payment Fixed with annual price escalator Varies depending on solar energy production Fixed

    5 popular solar financing companies

    SunRun

    Offers: Solar leases, solar PPAs, solar loans

    Available in: AZ,CA, CO, CT, FL, HI, IL, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, PA, RI, SC, TX, VT, WI, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico 

    How it works: SunRun is the largest residential solar company in the U.S., installing a new solar system every 2.3 minutes on average. When you take out a loan with SunRun, they take care of all paperwork, permits, design, and installation of your solar installation. 

    Solar lease/PPA: SunRun offers solar leases and PPAs with $0 down payment and 20-year terms. Their solar leasing payments are a flat payment, whereas the solar PPA payments are based on how much energy the solar panels produce. SunRun will install and maintain the panels - all you have to do is pay your monthly lease or PPA payment. 

    Solar loan: SunRun’s solar loan, called Bright Advantage, allows borrowers to purchase a home solar system even if they don’t have the money for an upfront payment. Bright Advantage is an unsecured loan, so you don’t have to use your house as collateral. If you qualify, SunRun will partner you with a lender that offers competitive interest rates. You will be responsible for maintaining the system. 

    SunPower

    Offers: Solar leases, solar loans

    Available in: AZ, CA, CT, FL, HI, IL, LA, MA, MD, NJ, NV, NY, OR, TX

    How it works: SunPower is one of the most popular solar energy companies in the U.S. SunPower serves as a one-stop-shop for solar solutions: they will assist you in finding an installer, designing a system, and finding financing options.

    Solar lease: SunPower solar lease contracts have terms of 20 years, during which SunPower is responsible for all maintenance and repairs. Monthly payments will either be fixed or include a yearly price escalator, which is determined on a case-by-case basis. Solar system performance is guaranteed for 20 years. SunPower owns the system and therefore receives any solar rebates, however, the homeowner can still take advantage of net metering. 

    Solar loan: SunPower’s zero-down loan has repayment terms ranging from 10 to 20 years, with interest rates as low as 3.99%. Because it is a loan, the homeowner will be the owner of the system, and therefore can take advantage of incentives like the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). 

    Find out how much you can save with solar

    Sungevity

    Offers: Solar leases, solar PPAs, solar loans

    Available in: CA, CO, CT, MA, NJ 

    How it works: Sungevity acts as the middleman between you and the company financing your system. They will connect you with a finance partner or loan lender that is within Sungevity’s network.

    Solar lease: Sungevity’s solar lease payments for a 6.5 kilowatt system would range between $65 to $155 per month, with a 20-year performance warranty. Lease payments will increase each year between 0-2.9%. If the panels produce less than Sungevity’s estimate, they will pay you the difference. The lease provider owns the system and is responsible for repairs and maintenance. 

    Solar PPA: With Sungevity’s PPA, referred to as their ‘Pay As You Go’ plan, they will connect you with a Sungevity finance partner that owns and maintains the system. The homeowner pays a fixed rate per kilowatt hour of solar power the panels produce. Although the homeowner does not directly get the federal solar tax credit, the savings get passed onto you through a lower per-kilowatt hour rate. 

    Solar loan: Because Sungevity itself is not a loan lender, there is no set estimate on what kind of terms or interest rates you can expect. However, they will connect you with loan lenders in your area to help you get a competitive rate. When you get a solar loan with the help of Sungevity, you will have 24/7 monitoring of your system through Sungevity, plus a 20-year warranty on the system. 

    LightStream Financial

    Offers: Solar loans 

    Available in: All 50 states and Washington D.C. 

    How it works: LightStream Financial is a division of SunTrust bank. Unlike companies like Sungevity and SunPower, LightStream Financial will not put you in contact with installers or offer you any sort of warranty on your system. They just provide you with a residential solar loan. 

    Solar loan: To qualify for Lightstream Financial’s home improvement solar loan, you must have a minimum credit score of 660. Loan terms range between 2 and 12 years, depending on the loan amount and what works best for you. Interest rates range from 4.99% to 16.99%. There are no fees, prepayment penalties, or home equity loan requirements. 

    Mosaic

    Offers: Solar loans

    Available in: All 50 states, and Washington D.C.

    How it works: Mosaic is one of the largest solar loan companies in the U.S, helping more than 100,000 homes make the switch to solar. Mosaic has a network of solar contractors and installers they work with, so your installer will put you in contact with them if you are interested in a loan. 

    Solar loan: Mosaic lends loans ranging from $10,000 to $100,000. Their loan terms are typically between 10 and 20 years. Mosaic interest rates vary, but in some cases you can qualify for an interest rate as low as 2.49%. The company has been known to approve loans to those with credit scores as low as 640. 

    In order to find the right financing company for your solar energy system, you first need to find the right solar installer. 

    How to choose the best solar financing company

    Get quotes from multiple local solar companies and check out their reviews on SolarReviews to see what solar installer is best for you. Many solar installers work directly with solar financing companies, so they will help you connect with loan, lease, and PPA providers. 

    Once you find the right financing option for you, you’ll be on your way to powering your home with renewable energy, all while seeing energy savings on your utility bill! 

    What is the right financing option for you?

    Key takeaways

    • You can finance a solar panel system with a solar loan, solar lease, or solar PPA.
    • LightStream Financial and Mosaic offer solar loans to help homeowners install solar systems on their roofs.
    • SunRun and Sungevity offer an array of solar financing options, including solar loans, leases, and PPAs.
    • SunPower only offers solar leases or PPA third-party financing options.
     - Author of Solar Reviews

    Catherine Lane

    SolarReviews Blog Author

    Catherine is a researcher and content specialist at SolarReviews. She has strong interests in issues related to climate and sustainability which led her to pursue a degree in environmental science at Ramapo College of New Jersey.

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