Solar City is a photovoltaic system installer based in San Mateo, California. This company primarily services residential homeowners and small businesses, focusing mainly on designing and installing solar power systems. They also perform energy efficient audits and build charging stations for electric vehicles. This company has locations disbursed throughout the country—Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC. SolarCity was started in 2007, and within one year’s time, grew to be the number one installer of residential home alternative energy units.
In 2008, Solar City came out with a new marketing plan to reach a wider client base: they created the option for homeowners to lease their services. This proved to be convenient for many homeowners, as it allowed for them to avoid those seemingly high initial installation costs. For instance, they will install the energy unit free of charge. From then on, in place of paying a monthly electric bill, the client will simply pay the company a rental charge per month. This seems convenient from the beginning, as a large installation fee (usually ranging between $10,000 and $15,000) is avoided. However, it also offers a range of payment options.
On the other hand, Soluxe Solar, while understanding the instant financial gratification of leasing PV systems or leasing solar panels, encourages their customers to purchase the systems. They point out key factors which may have beneficial long-term effects on the homeowners, most of those being financial. For instance, initially when leasing an energy unit there will be an upfront cost running somewhere between $0 and $20,000, depending on the financing method chosen. Meanwhile, a rental unit has no upfront cost. However, the residual cost for that rental unit may run higher than 20% or at fair market value; the purchased system will have no residual cost. Likewise, a rental unit will have an average electricity cost 90% of the utility price, and that will escalate as the years increase.
It is interesting to note that some even predict that when the rental unit’s contract nears the 20-year mark, the costs may far exceed that of a conventional utility bill. A purchased system, though, has no cost of electricity. The electricity generated by the unit is free for the homeowner to utilize. Similarly, a rental unit does not give the homeowner any tax credit. Instead, the leasing company gets a federal credit of around $6,000. When purchased, the homeowner gets the federal credit of $6,000. Though there is a net cost of about $14,000 to purchase a PV system, a rental unit does not allow for much savings as a purchased unit. Aside from these few key factors, there are many other minute details Soluxe Solar exposes to the homeowner’s eyes which seem to make purchasing a unit more appealing.
Though the two companies—Solar City and Soluxe Solar—seem to service the same products, there are some piquant differences which allow for them to cater to two different client bases. SolarCity, as past clientele (i.e. U.S. Military and Wal Mart) prove, seems apt at providing service to larger businesses with different financing options. The latter, on the other hand, specializes on servicing the smaller businesses and residences with a more specific and flexible interest in different financing options, allowing for the client to control how money is spent on their energy. Regardless, these are two companies offering their services for a more environment-friendly way to produce energy.