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Community Solar vs. Rooftop Solar: A Side-by-Side Comparison

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There’s no question that solar power has become a much more common fixture in American neighborhoods. Nowadays, you probably don’t question it when you see a house with black panels on the roof. But solar is still evolving in new and exciting ways, and one of the more interesting developments of the past few years is community solar projects. What is community solar, and how does it compare to your own rooftop solar panels? Keep reading to find out.

What’s Community Solar?

Community solar projects allow homes in the area to connect to a solar-powered grid for renewable energy to power their homes. Your home subscribes to a particular portion of a community solar “garden.” In a way, it’s like plugging in to a different city grid—just one powered by the sun instead of traditional energy sources.

The way you pay for it can vary depending on your area, but in essence, your subscription pays for a portion of the solar farm’s energy production. In return for your solar subscription, you get a credit on your electric bill that’s proportionate to your share of the electricity the solar garden produces. If you exceed this credit, it’s essentially the same as exceeding a rooftop system’s production limits, and you’ll get charged for any amount you use over your subscribed energy level. If you use less than what you subscribed for, your subscription cost may be reduced for that month.

Comparing Accessibility

The primary reason community solar gardens have started popping up is due to the accessibility that they offer. Most people now recognize that people need to begin switching to renewable energy resources, but not everyone lives in a home that can accommodate a rooftop solar power system. Perhaps you live in an apartment, you’re renting your home, or the roof’s pitch isn’t right; any of these things can make it impossible for you to put solar panels up. Community solar projects make it possible for anyone who lives in the area to power their home with clean, renewable energy.

Comparing Costs

Solar power systems have a very high upfront cost of tens of thousands of dollars. This is another common barrier for those interested in solar, which might not afford that price tag. Community solar does not come with any upfront equipment costs and requires a monthly payment to the solar garden.

Of course, the benefit of a rooftop solar power system is that you’re not to have to worry about ongoing monthly costs. Once you pay for that equipment, it will continue to generate power for you for decades. On the other hand, community solar will continue to cost you every month and is very similar to just paying to use traditional energy sources.

If you want to switch to solar to go green, a community solar project might work for you. But if you genuinely want to become energy independent, you should search for a solar panel distributor near you to get your rooftop system.

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