Interested in Free Solar Panels? Read the Fine Print | Ep. 92

Solar panels on two-story home
Nothing in life is truly free — and that includes solar panel systems. (©Slavun, Adobe Stock Photos)

A lot of people receive fliers in the mail for free solar panels and a deal that seems too good to be true.

That’s the situation for Ross in Maryland, who says, “In an effort to cut our electric bill, I’m thinking about getting solar-powered panels installed on our home’s roof.

“I’ve received fliers in the mail from companies offering free solar-powered systems, including parts and labor. I assume it’s not truly free, so what’s the catch?

You can obtain solar energy systems two ways. The first is solar leasing, where you do get the system at no charge, but through a power purchase agreement, you pay for the electricity that it produces.

While you’re using a clean energy source, you’re not getting free electricity, which is often the draw for people who purchase solar panels. The upside is that energy you purchase from the company usually costs less than dealing with an electric company.

The other way to receive a solar energy system is through outright ownership. You pay for the system — which usually costs thousands of dollars, depending on your home’s size — and you maintain. Here, you get the best of both worlds: you enjoy a clean energy source along with no monthly electric bill.

If you can afford outright ownership, that’s probably the best move. Because you’re getting clean energy and free energy after paying for the initial system.

And with zero-down loans and other payment arrangements, it’s easier than ever to afford solar panels, which used to be too expensive and out of reach for most homeowners.

So, consider your options, your household budget and choose the system that’s right for you.

Listen to the Today’s Homeowner Podcast for more home improvement tips!

  • [1:11] Revisiting a roof cleaning with oxalic acid
  • [06:53] What you should know about solar-powered panels
  • [8:17] Tips for chimneys with structural issues
  • [11:44] Tips for tiling a shower wall that has a window
  • [13:29] Can floor and shower tiles be painted?
  • [18:08] Best New Product: Daltile QuicTile
  • [20:05] What’s the best single-room air purifier on the market?
  • [24:20] Simple Solutions: The importance of exercising your valves
  • [27:20] Question of the Week: Following a bathroom remodel, there are leaks. Now what?

Simple Solutions

Exercising Plumbing Valves — Every home’s plumbing system has shut-off valves for stopping the flow of water for maintenance reasons or in case of an emergency.

And everyone in the house should know where these valves are located, including near the water meter, under sinks and behind toilets.

However, it’s important to “exercise” these valves by opening and closing them at least once a year to ensure they’re operating properly.

Neglected valves have a tendency to seize up and become inoperable, making it impossible to shut off the water in an emergency.

Treating Treated Lumber — Everyone knows that pressure-treated lumber is designed for building outdoor projects, particularly any wood parts that get buried in the ground or come in contact with the ground.

However, you might not realize that pressure-treating chemicals don’t soak all the way to the center of most boards or posts.

That’s why it important to always treat the cut ends with a wood preservative.

After every cut, brush on a liberal coating — or two — of wood preservative, such as Wood Life Copper Coat or AnchorSeal 2 End Grain Sealer. 

Watch ‘How to Treat Treated Wood’ for more information.

Question of the Week

Q: “Dear Danny, I am at the end of my rope. Four years ago, I hired [a company] to renovate my small bathroom. They charged me $17,500. The job was to take two weeks.

The first subcontractor was horrible, and the bathroom had to be ripped out again and redone. Two weeks turned into a five-month nightmare. Now I have a leak from the shower and cannot find the source of the leak. Each time we shower there is a puddle on the basement floor.

I dealt with [the company] and received a refund of some money but signed a release so I cannot go after them. Who should I contact to help me figure this out?”

A: Not waterproofing the shower pan can be a big problem. There’s really just one way to tile a shower floor and do it correctly — and there are at least 1,000 ways to do it wrong.

Remember: Water always penetrates tile, and drain systems designed to capture that excess water send it back to the drainpipe.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix and you will need to open that drain system.


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