What happens when you move into a house with solar panels depends on whether the system was purchased or leased. If it was purchased, you should find out if the system’s warranty is transferable. If the system is leased, you can either take over that lease or buy out the system. Either way, you’ll want to request the solar contract so you can review it before purchasing the home. Another thing to find out is if the utility company the home is serviced by offers net-metering. That is the process of getting money back for using less power than what your system generates.
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If the solar system was purchased
You’ll be able to start generating solar electricity as soon as you move in. You don’t have to go through an inspection and permitting process like you do when you purchase a new solar system. Make sure you or your real estate agent review the contract the system was purchased with. You need to know:
- Can the warranty be transferred to you
- If yes, then you need to find out how to transfer it
- If no, then find out what your options are should you need to have the system serviced
Should the warranty be transferable, make sure you understand your responsibilities as the new system owner. You may need to supply a wireless internet connection so that the company that handles your warranty can monitor your system. Make sure you get the company’s contact information from the original owner so you can contact them.
Find out how the system was financed. If the original owner financed the system with a PACE loan, that type of loan is paid back through a tax assessment on the property. You should talk to the seller to find out if they are going to pay off the assessment or transfer it to you. You may want to negotiate paying off the PACE loan as a part of closing escrow.
If the system was leased
You have a decision to make. Do you want to take over the lease? If so, then you’ll be paying whatever the current house owner pays to lease the system. Find out how much the lease is and how long it is for. You could also buy out the lease. You won’t get any tax credits for buying out a leased system, those credits were consumed by the company that leased the system. Alternatively, the original owner may also decide to remove the system and take it with them.
Moving solar panels can be a tricky process
If the original owner decides to move the system, then you should make sure they agree to fix any holes in the roof that the system was mounted in. If you are thinking of trying to move a solar system, then you should find out if the utility company that serves the house you are moving to allows you to connect a used system. It can be done but moving a system is a tricky process! You’ll need to have a solar company do the removal and reinstallation.