Installers Series #2: How Landlords Charge Money for Solar on Rental Properties

Itai Peri
January 15, 2024
5 min read

In our previous post, we explored the vast potential of the rental properties solar market, shedding light on its opportunities and challenges. Today, we will delve into the intricacies of how landlords monetize solar installations on rental properties, exploring the risks and rewards associated with various methods. We will examine common approaches such as fixed pricing for electricity inclusion, higher rent prices, and solar access fees, discussing their drawbacks and implications for both landlords and tenants. Furthermore, we will present one innovative approach, showcasing how it offers superior benefits for installers, landlords and tenants alike.

Current Monetization Methods

Solar installations on rental properties are typically monetized through one of these three methods:

Electricity-Included Pricing

This method is more commonly known as utilities-included, and involves landlords including the cost of all electricity consumed, both from the grid and generated by solar panels, in the overall rental agreement. Essentially, tenants pay a fixed monthly rent that includes all electricity usage, regardless of the source. Landlords may estimate the average monthly electricity consumption of the property and incorporate this into the rental price, providing tenants with the benefit of predictable energy costs.

Higher Rent Prices

Another approach is for landlords to adjust the rental price of the property to cover the costs associated with solar panel installation and maintenance. In this scenario, landlords may set higher rent prices compared to similar properties without solar panels, indirectly covering the solar energy costs. Tenants pay for the solar energy through increased rent prices, without having a direct say in their energy usage or costs.

Solar Access Fees

Some landlords opt for a more transparent approach by charging tenants a separate fee for access to solar panels and their benefits. This fee is typically added to the monthly rent and covers the costs associated with solar panel installation, maintenance, and any additional services provided. Tenants pay this fee in addition to their regular rent, allowing them to directly contribute to the cost of solar energy while enjoying its benefits.

Each of these current monetization methods offers landlords different ways to recoup the costs associated with solar installations on rental properties. However, they also come with their own set of drawbacks and implications for both landlords and tenants. These challenges will be explored further in the next section.

Current Methods are not Good Enough

While the current monetization methods for solar installations on rental properties offer potential benefits, they also present several drawbacks and challenges:

Lack of Tenant Control and Potential Financial Imbalance

Methods such as Electricity-Included Pricing and Solar Access Fees may lead to both electricity abuse, where tenants use excessive energy without considering costs, and overpayment for solar energy if actual consumption is lower than estimated.

Missed Revenue Opportunities and Underpayment

Conversely, underpayment may occur if tenants use more solar (or overall) energy than they're paying for in the Electricity-Included Pricing and Solar Access Fees model, resulting in missed revenue opportunities for landlords.

Tenant Turnover and Vacancy Risks

Higher Rent Prices or included solar costs may inadvertently deter potential tenants during property searches. Online apartment searches often filter results based on maximum rental prices, potentially causing properties with included solar costs to be overlooked by tenants who perceive them as unaffordable. This oversight can lead to longer vacancy periods and increased turnover rates for landlords.

Navigating these challenges requires careful consideration and strategic planning from landlords and solar installers alike. In the next section, we'll explore an innovative approach to monetizing solar installations on rental properties that addresses many of these drawbacks while maximizing benefits for all stakeholders.

Incompatibility with Time-of-Use Tariffs

Traditional monetization methods struggle to accommodate time-of-use tariffs, where energy prices vary based on peak and off-peak hours. This inability to adjust billing according to dynamic pricing structures increases the risk of under- and over-payments, posing financial challenges for both landlords and tenants.

Consumption-Based Solar Billing

In response to the limitations and challenges posed by traditional monetization methods, we propose a revolutionary approach: Consumption-Based Solar Billing. This innovative model offers a more equitable and transparent solution for both landlords and tenants, maximizing the benefits of solar energy while minimizing potential drawbacks. It allows landlords to become “micro-utilities” for their tenants, billing them for electricity just like a utility.

How It Works

Consumption-Based Solar Billing operates on the principle of fairness and accountability, ensuring that tenants only pay for the solar energy they actually use. Here's how it works:

Individualized Solar Energy Tracking

Each rental property equipped with solar panels is outfitted with advanced energy monitoring technology. This allows for precise tracking of solar energy generation and consumption, ensuring accurate billing and accountability. Notably, we also monitor the amount of excess electricity exported to the grid, ensuring fair compensation for landlords when tenants receive credits from the utilities.

Monthly Usage Reports

Tenants receive detailed monthly usage reports outlining their solar energy consumption, just like they get from the utility for electricity originating from the grid. These reports provide transparency and insight into energy usage patterns, empowering tenants to make informed decisions about their consumption habits.

Variable Billing Structure

Unlike fixed pricing models, Consumption-Based Solar Billing adjusts the monthly energy bill based on actual solar energy usage. Tenants are charged a competitive rate for solar energy consumption, with the option for a discounted rate reflecting the savings generated by solar panel installation. This flexible billing structure can accommodate time-of-use tariffs, where energy prices vary based on demand, ensuring that tenants benefit from the most cost-effective energy options available.

Efficient Payment Collection and Distribution

Landlords shy away from complexity regarding their investment, which is why an automated and seamless system for payment collection and distribution is key for success with consumption-based billing.

Benefits for Landlords

Maximized Revenue Potential

Consumption-Based Solar Billing ensures that landlords recoup the full value of solar energy generated by their properties, eliminating the risk of underpayment or missed revenue opportunities.

Tenant Satisfaction and Retention

Transparent billing and individualized usage reports, alongside the ability of landlords to opt-in to providing discounted electricity rates, foster trust and satisfaction among tenants, leading to higher retention rates, reduced turnover costs for landlords, and lower vacancy risk.

Benefits for Tenants

Fair and Transparent Billing

Tenants only pay for the energy they consume, eliminating the risk of overpayment or inflated energy costs associated with fixed pricing models.

Informed Decision Making

Detailed usage reports empower tenants to monitor and manage their energy consumption, helping them reduce costs and environmental impact.


In conclusion, Consumption-Based Solar Billing offers a promising solution to the challenges faced in the rental properties market, providing fairness, transparency, and convenience for both landlords and tenants. Unlike traditional sales methods targeting homeowners, this innovative approach opens up new opportunities for solar installers to tap into the untapped market of landlords seeking solar solutions.

In our next article, we'll explore how solar installers can gain a competitive edge by leveraging consumption-based solar billing and targeting the rental market. Join us as we delve into the unique needs and motivations of landlords, offering insights and strategies to navigate and succeed in this growing market.

Itai Peri
Co-Founder & CTO