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Tesla wants you to rent its solar panels – as hardly anyone's buying them

(Image credit: Zbynek Burival on Unsplash)
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Would you rent a solar panel? That's the new business strategy that Tesla – through its subsidiary SolarCity – is using to target consumers after some sweet, renewable energy, with a push in the US before a Europe launch planned for 2020 (opens in new tab).

While SolarCity was one of the largest providers of solar energy in the US only a few years ago, its seen its share of the market decline since Tesla's acquisition back in 2016. Other providers now lead the way, with Tesla installing only 29 megawatts worth of solar panel technology in the three months it took competitor SunRun to install 103 megawatts.

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Renting starts at $50 per month in the states of Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New Mexico – with an uptick to $65 in California.

Price-wise, it still makes sense to buy a solar panel outright rather than renting every year – especially given the $1,500 (around £1,230 / AU$2,210) cost of removing those panels if you do choose to stop renting. SolarCity's cheapest solar panel array costs upwards of $7,000 (around £5,700 / AU$10,300) with tax incentives, which you would reach after roughly 12 years of renting at the above rate.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk also took to Twitter (opens in new tab) to say that "it's like having a money printer on your roof" – if you're in an area or state with high electricity costs.

Too much i' the sun

Solar power has got more of the limelight (sunlight?) in recent years, as governments look to renewable energy sources to help run national power grids, and as individual home owners find ever more methods of reducing their carbon footprint.

Sure, installing a solar panel might seem like a large expense now, but given the amount of energy it generates for you, the purchase becomes more cost-effective the longer you use it – if your roof actually gets any sun, that is.

If you live in the shadow of a high-rise building, we probably don't recommend it – but for those of you in the UK, the E.ON (opens in new tab) website has a handy tool for sussing out whether your home is suitable.

Via TechCrunch (opens in new tab)

Henry is a freelance technology journalist. Before going freelance, he spent more than three years at TechRadar reporting on TVs, projectors and smart speakers as the website's Home Cinema Editor – and has been interviewed live on both BBC World News and Channel News Asia, discussing the future of transport and 4K resolution televisions respectively. As a graduate of English Literature and persistent theatre enthusiast, he'll usually be found forcing Shakespeare puns into his technology articles, which he thinks is what the Bard would have wanted. Bylines also include Edge, T3, and Little White Lies.