In short, no, you cannot get solar panels for free. However, you will sometimes see companies advertising free solar panels, so let’s get down to the bottom of what this really means. When you see this phrase, the solar company probably either means they will lease solar panels to you, or they will provide you with a solar power purchase agreement.
If you lease your solar panels from the installer, the solar company will still actually own those panels. All you’re doing is renting them, so in fact, you do still pay for the electricity produced by your solar system in the form of a monthly lease payment.
A solar power purchase agreement, or PPA, is a method in which the solar company designs, funds, and installs a solar panel system at your home. They then sell you the power generated by that system for a previously agreed-upon fixed rate. This rate is almost always cheaper than the rates available from your traditional utility company, but it’s definitely not free either.
In addition, a PPA is usually a long-term arrangement, as these agreements usually last for at least a decade. During that time, you’ll still likely save money compared to purchasing energy from your utility company. However, the solar company not only receives your monthly payment, but they also get to take advantage of any relevant solar incentives or tax credits.
Once the PPA expires, you can extend it, purchase the system from the solar company, or have them remove it. No matter which of these options you select, you are still not getting solar panels for free.