How to Incorporate Solar Into a Rental Property

With solar power making weekly headlines, it’s easy to get excited about its potential—if you own a home, that is. For those who rent, solar panels don’t exactly hold the same promise of freedom and self-determination that they do for friends who live in their very own homes. After all, it’s not like you can just go up onto your the roof of your complex and throw up some panels of your own.


Well, don’t you worry. There are still ways to get in on solar even if you don’t hold the deed to a home. Meanwhile, the government is cooking up incentives to lure landlords over to photovoltaics, so a solar-powered apartment building may be just around the corner. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can invest in solar right from your rental.



Talk to Your Landlord

If your powers of persuasion are real, then why not prevail upon them to make the case for solar to your landlord? Most business owners aren’t aware of the full breadth of incentives available to them when they convert their properties to solar power—so you’ll be able to make a fairly convincing argument just by doing a little homework. To get started, read up on the Federal Business Energy Investment Tax Credit. This incentive returns property owners 30 percent of the purchase cost of a solar energy system and the installation fees on their taxes. Meanwhile, there may well be state rebates or incentives available from your local energy provider, as well. For instance, commercial building owners in San Francisco could earn back as much as $7,000 for making the switch, so it’s definitely worth looking into. And solar has been shown to raise property values, meaning landlords may be able to make up the costs on rent increases. If you tell yours that you’re willing to pay more for solar, they may just hear you out. To learn more about the costs and incentives associated with solar, try running your rental’s address through a solar calculator.


Share with Your Neighbors

We get it—not everyone feels comfortable pitching their landlord. Thankfully, connecting to a set of panels on your roof isn’t the only way to support solar power. For many renters, getting energy from a community solar farm or industrial-scale installation owned by a local energy provider is a much more elegant solution. For instance, in Denver, there are as many as six community-owned solar farms where investors can either rent solar panels or purchase clean energy to use back in their homes without ever having to install a single solar cell. To find out about the options in your area, start with your power company, and ask if they have a clean energy purchasing program available in your area.


Plug-and-Play and Portable Solar Panels

Solar technology has come a long way in recent years, and one of the more intriguing developments has been the invention of plug-and-play solar. These devices feature a large solar panel connected to a plug that can be parked in your apartment’s outlets to help offset your energy consumption. However, because these panels interrupt grid connections, you’ll need to consult with your energy provider first to get the full scoop on their regulations for these types of products. If you don’t feel like dealing with your power company, though, you can still get a similar effect from a portable solar panel. These can be used to power lights and small electronics or just to charge your cell phone—hey, any amount of energy you can offset with solar is a clean energy win.


Recharge with the Sun

Speaking of charging your cell phone, solar-powered chargers are a great way to invest in solar in a more modest way. They’re just what they sound like: you hook your phone up to a small solar panel and watch as it charges without you ever having to hunt for a spare outlet. Chargers exist for any number of phones, tablets, and laptops, and make it super easy to experience a small taste of the solar-powered future, where such devices may be much more commonplace. Plus they’re not even all that much more expensive than a quality AC charger.


So there are lots of ways to support solar without having to switch addresses. You’ll be just like your solar-powered home-owning friends, except you won’t have to mow the lawn!