Solar Panels for Apartments
How to go solar even as a renter
Everyone knows solar is the way to power the future. It’s clean, renewable, and cheap energy you can use to power your home!
But what if you don’t have a house in the typical sense? For people who live in apartments and don’t have a roof or property of their own to install panels, solar might seem like it’s out of reach.
Luckily, there are a few ways you can get solar panels for apartments, even if you’re just renting! If you’re ready to jump into the world of clean, renewable energy, here’s how you can get solar for your apartment.
Can You Install Solar Panels in an Apartment?
Sure! But they have to be small enough to fit inside your apartment or on your balcony. Obviously, since you don’t own the roof (and it’s shared by the other tenants), you can’t install rooftop panels like you can on a single-family house.
And while you might be able to use portable solar panels in your apartment, they won’t provide too much power, usually around 0.3 and 1.5 kWh per day. It might not be enough to power your entire life, but it’ll make a dent in your everyday energy usage.
Best Options of Solar Panels for Apartments
If you really want to capitalize on the power of solar energy in an apartment, community solar is a great option. Community solar is when you pay for a piece of a solar farm that’s shared by people all over your state.
Instead of installing expensive solar arrays on the roof or buying portable systems that won’t really power much, you can subscribe to support a solar farm in your state. As the solar farm generates power, you’ll get a portion of the energy sent to your apartment based on your participation level or subscription you choose
Want to know the best part? On average community solar saves participants around 10% on their energy bills, and you don’t even need to own a property! Since the solar farm isn’t on premises, you don’t need to own your roof or land to install panels and enjoy the savings.
The only real disadvantage with community solar is that it’s not available everywhere. Currently, 41 states have at least one community solar project up and running. While that is most states, it’s not all of them. And, even if your state does have a community solar project, that doesn’t mean it’s close enough to your apartment to be feasible.
It is possible to start a community solar project from the ground up, but it’s not easy. Building a solar farm is a large undertaking that requires agreements and approvals from many different people, which makes it difficult to get up and running.
Most community solar projects have no minimum contract term, cost nothing to join, and nothing to cancel!
If you’re interested in community solar for your apartment, check if one is available nearby. It’s by far one of the most efficient ways to harness solar power for apartments.
Portable Solar Kits
Solar panels come in many different sizes. Some of which are even small enough to fit right in your apartment! There are tons of portable solar kits available that can power anything from your cell phone and computer to even some small appliances.
These portable solar systems range anywhere from 100 to 300 watts and can generate up to 1.5 kWh of power per day. While that might not be enough to power your entire apartment, it’s definitely enough to cut down on at least a percentage of your utility bills.
Portable solar kits are great for supplying solar power for apartments because they’re small, inexpensive, and you can take them with you when you move out. You don’t have to worry about some major investment that’s tied to your apartment. When you find your next apartment or buy a house, just grab your portable solar kit and take it with you!
Plus, you can buy them online or at almost any outdoor store. You can also find some larger solar panels that can attach to your apartment’s outdoor balcony. While these are a bit more expensive and require some know-how when it comes to installation, they can provide more power than their portable counterparts. Just make sure your balcony is facing the right direction (and is strong enough for the mount).
Buy Green Power
If you’re mostly interested in the environmental benefits of solar, purchasing green power is a solid alternative to solar panels for apartments.
According to the EPA, “green power” is any type of renewable energy that reduces greenhouse gasses and pollution in the atmosphere. This includes several types of clean energy:
- Wind power
- Geothermal energy
- Landfill gas
- Biomass power
- And yes, solar power
Your utility company is likely using some of these technologies to provide power to the grid. When you purchase green power—most of the time directly from your utility company—it guarantees that a portion of the energy you receive to your apartment comes from a renewable energy source.
Unfortunately, purchasing green power doesn’t reduce your energy costs. In fact, it often costs a bit more from the utility company. However, it does guarantee that the energy you use comes from a clean, renewable source, possibly even solar power. You can enjoy more peace of mind knowing that the energy you enjoy isn’t hurting the environment, and that’s worth something!
Ask Your Landlord
What if you could install standard solar panels on the roof of your building? Well, the only person with the authority to do it would be your landlord. So, why not ask!?
If your building’s roof is suitable for solar panels, asking your landlord to install an array can give you the benefits of going full solar without leaving your apartment. Of course, it’s going to take some convincing because solar panel installation can be quite expensive.
When discussing the idea with your landlord, be sure to bring up the following points:
- They can claim local and federal solar tax credits
- In some states, they can even get sales and property tax exemptions
- They can get money back from the utility company for surplus energy (net metering)
- There are tons of solar financing options available, so they don’t even need to pay for the installation upfront.
- Adding solar increases property resale value by 4.1% on average
If your landlord agrees, you and all the other tenants in your building can enjoy clean and inexpensive energy to power your everyday lives. Your landlord will get all the benefits of owning solar, while you and the other tenants can enjoy much cheaper utilities. Win, win!
Before you bring up the idea to your landlord, make sure you check out the potential cost and rate of return of solar installation in your area. The more prepared you are, the more convincing you can be!
Solar Power for Apartments Is Possible
Just because you don’t own your home doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of solar power. There are many ways for renters to bring solar power into their apartments.
While they might not be as efficient or powerful as a full-on rooftop array, they will help you reduce your energy bills and your impact on the environment. Don’t feel tied to expensive dirty energy just because you’re renting. It is possible to get solar panels for apartments, or if your state supports it, joining a local community solar farm just might be your answer!