Shopping for Solar

Solar is a great resource for homeowners looking to save money on energy while reducing their environmental impact. Thanks to technical innovation and consumer-friendly financing options, the benefits of solar don't need to be exaggerated or falsified to make it a great financial decision.
Misleading Ads

Recently, there has been a large uptick in the amount of solar ads boasting unrealistic claims, false deadlines, and more. Here's the deal.
  • False Claim: Solar is free - Solar can offset your electricity bill, and while it is very common to end up cash-flow positive from day one with savings every month, it is not free. Misleading ads often frame solar as entirely eliminating your energy costs while hiding the repayment of the system itself, or the cost of your ongoing utility bill to stay connected to the grid.

  • False Claim: New incentives have just made solar better than ever - Solar in Arizona is a great financial decision for many homeowners, but there are no new incentives. Some incentives are reduced from what they previously were, but solar equipment prices have also decreased, resulting in solar still being a viable option now. We always recommend going solar sooner than later to take advantage of current incentives, but ads suggesting that solar has only now become viable are misleading.

  • False Claim: Go solar before it's too late - There is no deadline to go solar. Technology continues to improve, and with payback periods under 10 years for systems with expected lifespans at or above 30 years, solar is not going away. While true that it's advantageous to go solar while existing incentives are active, don't fall for the "fear of missing out" ads that put a hard deadline on your chance to go solar.

  • Utility rates are going to go up X% in X years - Ads and estimates often use national averages to model utility rate increases, which can often be 4 or 5% per year. TEP's historic energy rate increases have been closer to 2%. Sales companies do this to inflate the long-term savings on a system. Ask for a estimate that includes savings with realistic projections that are actually based on what has happened in the past with TEP's rates. If the company cannot speak to TEP's rate history then that is telling in itself.

Knowing Your Options

One of the greatest perks of solar is introducing a freedom of choice in where you get your energy. We always recommend that potential customers exercise that same freedom in getting multiple bids from different solar companies.
  • Ask around: Solar is visible. If you are considering solar and see panels on a neighbors rooftop, ask them where they got it! Talk to folks in the community about their experiences with solar companies.

  • Research online: Check out your potential installer's website. Check out their reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp. Be sure to confirm they have an Arizona Registrar of Contractors license and look for any complaints. Consider how long the company has been in business (you can find this info on the ACC site) and whether they are likely to be around to honor their warranty.

  • Inform yourself and ask questions: We always recommend that customers ask as many questions as they need before making a commitment. If your potential installer is unwilling or has difficulty giving you clear answers to questions - simple or technical - we recommend getting a second opinion.
Solar Financing

Solar can help you lower your electric bill, save money, add value to your home, protect yourself from escalating electricity costs, and offers a switch to clean, renewable energy. By financing with a low interest solar loan, you can save money from day one. Review the information below and contact us to figure out which option works best for you and your family.
Solar Loans

TFS has partnered with Clean Energy Credit Union (CECU) and Tucson Old Pueblo Credit Union (TOPCU) to offer solar loans designed to help you start saving from day one.

These unique solar loan programs let you go solar with little or no money down, while benefiting from an immediate savings on your electric bill. These financing options give an overall better return on investment than a lease without the upfront cost of a cash purchase.

  • Multiple term options for repayment, with a +25 year lifespan of solar

  • Maintenance is covered under 10 year TFS workmanship warranty

  • Take advantage of tax credits to reduce price of system

  • No prepayment penalty

  • Ease of sale: solar is considered an asset to house, reflected at resale and property evaluation
Loan vs. Lease

Loans, in general, will provide a lower cost of financing than leases (unless the homeowner can't take advantage of tax credits, in which case a lease can offer some advantages). Unfortunately, because solar export rates (the price the utility pays for extra solar production sent back to the grid) are only guaranteed for 10 years, we don't recommend that customers get into fixed financing contracts that extend significantly beyond that 10 year period. With most leases having 20 year terms, we advise customers to look closely to ensure that they will still have savings in years 10 through 20.

An additional benefit of loans is that they offer customers an easier option for early pay off or transfer of ownership in the case of a home sale.

Cash Purchase

Purchase your solar energy system up front and reap the rewards of free energy generation for the lifetime of the installation.

Cash purchase is always available to customers interested in the option. For homeowners equipped to pay for their system up front, cash purchase has the highest return on investment.



Incentives available for residential solar energy systems can cover over 40% of system costs, significantly reducing the payback period.

The federal solar tax credit is a 30% credit off income taxes for solar energy systems installed before 12/31/2019, 26% for systems installed by 12/31/2020, and 22% for systems installed by 12/31/2021. For customers who lease their system, the federal tax credit is taken by the leasing company.

The Arizona state income tax credit is 25% and is capped at $1,000 per residence. This credit must be shared with other qualifying solar devices. There is also a sales tax waiver for solar energy systems, so you pay no state sales tax on your system.

Any remaining portion of your federal or state tax credits may be carried forward for up to five years if your liability is not high enough for full use in the first year.

Please scroll to the bottom of this page for supplemental links and information about incentives.


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Resources for Incentives
Federal Tax Credit:
IRS form 5695

Property Tax Increase Exemption:
AZ State Property Tax Law

State Tax Credit:
State Q&A
State Form

State HOA Law:
Arizona State law A.R.S. § 33-439 protects private property solar access by nullifying Home Owners Association covenants restricting solar energy systems. See DSIRE website.