Like most people in this down economy, I didn’t have the $17,000 initial investment lying around ($25,000 original cost minus $8,000 Commonwealth Rebate). Nor did I have any room to borrow against my house. Enter installer-organized financing. The reason I chose the installer I did was because they had a 1.25% payment plan, meaning I would pay 1.25% of the loan amount monthly. So I paid $1,000 down and borrowed the remaining $16,000 at 8% interest, paying only $200 a month. My SREC income and electricity savings amount to about $2,700 annually, so I will reman cash-flow positive throughout the life of the loan.
By taking the $6,100 tax credit when I file my taxes in the spring and putting it towards the loan, it will be paid off in 5 years. And if I take the $82 in electricity savings and apply it towards the loan as well, it will be paid off in 3.4 years. In either case, once it’s paid off, I’ll be able to pocket the $1,700 annual SREC income tax-free. Meanwhile, I’ll still be saving $1,000 annually off my electric bill.
The two main players in offering solar panel loans, aside from home-equity loans, are GE Capital and Admiral's Bank. GE Capital requires the installer to join one of their programs (for a fee) and financing can then be offered to any of the installer's customers. Admiral's Bank, on the other hand, would be contacted directly by the borrower.
You can also save up to an additional $500 by using the form on the solar company ratings page to request estimates from multiple installers simultaneously.