Solar Panel Secrets for Renters

Published: 05th July 2010
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You know about the energy benefits that are possible from switching to solar energy from traditional power-plant energy. Maybe you would like to live off the grid because you care about the environment and want to reduce your carbon footprint. But there's a live in an apartment, so you're not about to invest several thousand dollars into solar panels for your home. What are your options?

Here are three ideas that can help you realize your dream of using solar power:

1) Invest in your own portable solar panels for your small appliances. If you have a window, patio, deck or balcony that gets enough sunlight during the day, you can get a portable solar charger that will collect the sunlight and store enough of it to recharge your laptop or power your TV. These portable systems will only provide an hour or two of use, though. And the cost of portable panels isn't yet cheaper than running your laptop and TV off the grid. But they're a good backup power source if you live in a place with frequent power outages. And they're a great way to keep your rechargeable batteries fully charged.

2) Talk your landlord into installing a solar panel system for the whole building. You might be able to get together with some neighbors and make a presentation to your landlord. This approach can be especially effective if your apartment building is located in a city or town where solar energy is popular and already being used. You'll have to gather some data from the local utility company to find out what their policy is on buying back energy from solar installations, and how much money your landlord might save from installing solar panels. Do some research on state and local tax credits for installing solar energy systems. Also, find out if there are any other apartment complexes in your town (or even nearby towns) that use solar energy, and ask them how they market that fact to their future renters. The plan is to show your landlord that he can save money on utilities, and decrease vacancies because renters would rather live in energy efficient apartments. With a little research, you can come up with a presentation showing your landlord that solar panels are a good business decision.

3) Make a point of seeking out apartment buildings and complexes that already have solar panels installed. You might be surprised to find out that there are apartment communities in your town that are ahead of the curve on solar energy. This is especially likely if you live in the "Sunbelt" area of the US, or if you live in a progressive-minded college town, or if your state or city offers attractive tax benefits for solar energy installations.

Even if you can't live your off-grid energy dream right now, take heart. Solar energy technology is under rapid development right now around the world. That means your dream of better solar technology for lower prices is not far away.

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