Beware of zero down, no out of pocket options. These are generally leases and can cost you a lot when you come to sell your house. Some leases are designed to make money for the lease companies when you have to buy it out to sell your home.
The options are:
1. Lease: Good if you are not paying enough tax to absorb the 30% federal tax credit. Often bad when you come to sell your property. Generally pricy money! Can give piece of mind as the leasing company is responsbile for the equipment but quite frankly the equipment is very reliable and generally comes with 25 year warranties.
2. Power purchase agreements. Similar to leases. Need to look to see if they guarantee production. Beware if you have to buy all the output produced at what appears to be a bargain rate. If they oversize the system (and how would you know?) you can end up having to buy electricty at a bargain rate of 11c but giving it back to the utility and getting only 5c. Not such a bargain.
3. Purchase. If you have savings then you will probably get a better return on your investment in solar than leaving the investment in a mutual fund. If you pay taxes then a PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) can be highly effective and if you pay the loan off in 5 years can have a negative APR...yes really! A program I really like is from Ygrene which is available in all the cities and covers all elements of home energy efficiency from windows through AC to Solar.
Contact Ian on (760) 880 1169 for advice on the optionsd. Ian is not a CPA and you are advised to check with your CPA before making any investment decisions.