Zero Down Solar: The Real Deal

Recently we added one of our customers electric bills featuring a $0.00 balance due on our Facebook page. This isn’t unusual for our customers, certainly during the spring, summer, and fall months. We got quite a lot of confusion regarding cost from our fans. They had some questions about Facebook ads they had been seeing. So, we wanted to take some time to address some of the concerns that we’ve heard.

The Truth About $0 Down Solar

A $0 down solar loan is a real thing, but it doesn’t mean that the solar system is free.

A zero down loan allows homeowners to finance the full cost of the solar system without making a down payment. While there isn’t an initial out of pocket cost, obviously there will be monthly payments on the loan. Just like a car loan, if you choose a $0 down loan, your monthly payments will be higher than if you put some money down upfront. As with any loan, the amount of interest paid goes up based on the amount you borrow and the length of the loan. All of our clients are different, and some are ready to pay for their solar upfront and some choose to finance all or part of the system.

We can help you choose the option that best works for you: cash purchase, conventional financing, or a special solar loan. Conventional financing (typically a home equity line of credit or refinancing your mortgage+ solar together) is the absolute best source of financing. This option often has the lowest rates and the added bonus of tax-deductible interest (consult your tax advisor to make sure this works for your personal circumstances). We also work with specialized solar loan providers such as the Clean Energy Credit Union and Mosaic. These lenders use just the solar equipment as collateral and do not secure the loan with your home equity. They are typically faster and easier to work with.

If you’re interested in learning more about loan offerings, just let us know! Learn more from Solar Consultant David Zelasko. In this video, he explains the different types of solar loans, what makes solar loans different, and various partners we work with.

Three factors determine the rate you get on your solar loan:

  1. Your Credit Score – as with any borrowing, the lender assesses risk based on your credit history.
  2. Loan Term – the longer your term the lower your monthly payment. You’ll find this is the same as most loans.
  3. Solar Contractor – this isn’t because certain solar installers get better rates. Solar installation companies typically “buy down” the interest rate by paying more to the financing company to be able to offer that rate. That cost comes back on the customer in the form of a higher project cost.

But What about “No Cost Solar” and “New Special Programs”?

You may have seen some advertisements on Facebook advertising “free solar” or “No Cost Solar”. Sound too good to be true? Yeah, it is.

Some other solar companies misleadingly use the word “free” but what they’re actually referring to is a long-term low-interest loan. Often they offer what appears to be a very low-interest rate, but they secretly add 15 – 25% to the cost of the system to buy down the rate from their loan partner. It’s important not to assume that a lower rate is a better deal, as the full turnkey cost of the system is likely to be higher plus the lifetime cost of interest payments. We believe that these advertising tactics are misleading and bad for solar buyers. We promise to work with our clients and provide accurate information so they can choose to harness the clean energy of the sun based on what works for them.

No Statewide Program

Many of these same solar companies and advertisements imply that $0 down solar is a statewide program or some special grant or subsidy. Again, this misleading advertising is purposefully deceptive and not the way we choose to do business. Loan options vary from solar company to solar company. The various finance partners have different programs and different rates (and different hidden fees baked into the price). Most solar installers in Ohio offer $0 down loans. Like them, we can offer you zero money down with any of our term loans – often a great option for those that want to go solar but don’t want to tap into home equity or savings.

‘Predatory and harmful’: Misleading solar ads touting 100% free panels and fake stimulus programs spread on Facebook as the coronavirus upends door-to-door sales

Check out this article by Business Insider for more specifics on misleading advertisements in the solar industry.

Choose a solar partner with integrity who you can trust. For a checklist of tips we recommend when choosing your solar installation partner, check out this How To Choose a Solar Installer webinar recording.

Our 20 Year Workmanship Warranty

Solar Warranties

Any home improvement such as a roof replacement or a remodel typically has a “workmanship warranty” covering the quality of the work done. This promise from the contractor that they will install things correctly is typically 2 years. In the solar installation business, warranties often range from 2-5 Years, sometimes up to 10.
Quality, safety, and performance are the focus of our clients. We understand that. They choose their solar installer carefully as most installations involve both high voltage electrical work that must be done right. Installed correctly, modules must be securely attached to the roof while maintaining a durable 100% water-tight seal.

Third Sun’s 20 Year Workmanship Warranty

Our mission is To Accelerate the Shift to Clean Energy. In order to give our clients the confidence to take control of their energy future by going solar, we are removing any concern about our workmanship with a 20-year workmanship warranty.
We are able to offer this and stand behind it. How? Only because we have already spent 20 years honing our craft. All of us at Third Sun Solar want your solar experience to be easy and worry-free. We have worked hard at selecting the best equipment and then sending the best technicians and licensed electricians to your home to install the best solar system possible.
Now in our twentieth year of business, we are rolling out our 20-year workmanship warranty to give you the confidence and peace of mind to go solar.

Tips for Choosing a Solar Installer

Watch the Webinar Recording here.

Birthday Month – 20 Years in Business

For Third Sun Solar… It’s birthday month!

How fitting that approaching the Summer Solstice, 20 years ago this week, founders Geoff and Michelle Greenfield took the ultimate plunge. Third Sun Solar, a budding dream of the Greenfields, was incorporated as an LLC in June of 2000. Inspired by long sunny summer days, the need for electricity at their rural off-grid home and neighbors who were interested in going solar themselves- Third Sun Solar was born. It is for that reason that we celebrate this month!

Since 2000, Third Sun has installed over 23 MW of total renewable power, mostly solar, which produces over 26.5 million kilowatt-hours of emission-free power every year. As a result of Third Sun Solar’s work, 39 million pounds of CO2 emissions are avoided as customers switch from using utility power to their own clean power systems.

The company is truly fulfilling its long-time mission to “Accelerate the Shift to Clean Energy”.

In addition to clean energy metrics, Third Sun fulfills another dream set out by the founders back in 2000: to use business as a force for good. As a Certified Benefit Corporation, Third Sun Solar is held accountable to people and the planet. Whether purchasing carbon offsets for our vehicle fleets or supporting the non-profits who are doing important work in our communities, we believe that to see the clean energy future of our dreams, businesses must do good in the world. Learn more about our B Corps status here.

Looking Forward: Announcement

To celebrate we are instating a 20-year workmanship warranty at no cost for customers, the longest workmanship warranty for solar in Ohio. Why 20 years? As Ohio’s longest standing solar installer, we’ve proven to the community that we’re in it for the long haul. We’ve seen a lot of progress in the past 20 years & we will be here until we see the clean energy future that we dream about.

Any home improvement such as a roof replacement or a remodel typically has a “workmanship warranty” covering the quality of the work done. This promise from the contractor that they will install things correctly is typically 2 years and in the solar installation business often ranges from 2-5 Years, sometimes up to 10.
We understand that our clients are focused on quality, safety, and performance, and they are choosing their solar installer carefully as most installations involve both high voltage electrical work that must be done right and securely attaching the modules to the roof while maintaining a durable 100% water-tight seal.

Check out our upcoming webinar: How to Choose a Solar Installer to learn additional elements to look out for when choosing an installer in addition to warranties and company longevity!

Looking Back: The History of Solar in Ohio

Since January, CEO Michelle Greenfield has been reflecting on cornerstone projects from the past 20 years. She’s woven together blogs, photos, newspaper clippings, and stories. These pieces of history reflect the changes in the solar market that paved the way for solar as we know it today. These items are listed below – check them out!

Our goal in sharing this history is to celebrate how far we have come and recognize how the current solar opportunity is built on a foundation laid in the past.


  • 2000 – The Founders Leap. Read More >
  • 2000 – Green Living Magazine- Greenfield home feature. Read More>
  • 2001 – The state of Ohio institutes net metering. Read More>
  • 2002 From 2001 to 2004 Third Sun Solar partnered with the Foundation for Environmental Education to install 35 systems on schools throughout the state. The school featured, Granville Elementary, and had a special ribbon cutting and solar celebration with then-Congressman Pat Tiberi. Read More>
  • 2002 – Michelle Greenfield appointed to Green Energy Ohio (GEO) Board of Directors where she floated the idea of GEO becoming a statewide organizer of the National Solar Tour, which was organized along with the American Solar Energy Society, on the first weekend in October every year. Read More>
  • 2002 – Third Sun used to install wind! Check out this 10kw Bergey wind generator that was installed on a 120-foot tower at Glacier Ridge Metro Park in Plain City, Ohio. Read More>
  • 2003 – Students participate in a solar installation at New Albany High School, on a path that connects the football stadium with practice fields. Read More>
  • 2003 Ohio Magazine highlights the Ohio Solar Tour, organized in the years prior to 2003 by Michelle Greenfield, and then adopted by Green Energy Ohio as an annual event. Read More>
  • 2003 – In 2003 Third Sun Solar moved to Ohio University’s Innovation Center, which provides office space and business assistance to emerging regional technology businesses. Read More >
  • 2005 – Third Sun Solar participated in an all Ohio collaborative effort to install a net-metered solar power system on the coach house of the Governor’s residence in Bexley. Read More>
  • 2006 -Third Sun Solar led a community effort to install 42 solar panels on the Athens Middle School. Read More>
  • 2006 –Third Sun used to install hot water systems. Read More>
  • 2006 – In 2006 when homeowner and science teacher David Carpenter hired Third Sun to install his 4.8 kW system, he was on the cutting edge for homeowners. The cost of that system would have been $44,200 ($9.20 per watt) Read More>
  • 2007 – Governor Strickland visits Greenfield Home. Read More>
  • 2008 – A group of 10 homes in Arbor Village, an affordable housing development in Washington Court House, Ohio, became the “largest collection of solar homes in the state”. Read More>
  • 2008 In 2008, Mathews had moved to their new building on Columbus Rd. and decided to install solar to help cut their energy costs as well as add clean energy to their business. The natural partner was Third Sun. “I still have a letter from Russ from 2000, confirming that our business was now insured. We are still with them 20 years later!” — Geoff Greenfield, Co-Founder and TSS President. Read More>
  • 2008 In Akron, Ohio, the METRO Rapid Transit Authority officials wanted to be leaders in both alternative transit and alternative energy. Read More>

Follow us on Facebook as we continue our 20-year look back for the rest of the year!

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