Ways Renters Can Go Solar and Why It’s Important to Know

There are lots of things that affect our lives in the long run. However, going solar is one of those things that you can do now and truly appreciate it later. Since humanity tends to have a bad influence on our Mother Earth, we should take advantage of all the possible options to save it. Earth Hour is great, but what else is out there?

Nowadays going solar gets more and more popular. There are lots of companies that pop up and offer you to make your house more ‘green’ and energy efficient. Today we want to show you that going solar is possible even if you don’t have your house and only rent one!

How does solar power work?

Solar power is the best solution to our climate crisis that knocks on our doors louder and louder, but how does it really work?

Let’s imagine that you’ve already installed solar panels on your roof or somewhere around the yard of your house. It means that once the sunlight will hit your panels, they will convert the received energy to DC current and then it will be transferred to the inverter.

Basically, the inverter can be called ‘the brain’ of this operation. It converts the electricity from the DC to AC and makes it possible for you to use it.

There are two generic questions that people like to ask:

  • What happens on the cloudy days?
  • Where does the exceeding energy go?

The answer is actually right here on the surface. When your panels generate the exceeding amount of energy that you do not actually use, it can store it, so you could use this reserve later when the sun is not there anymore.

How much power can solar panels generate?

The answer will really depend on the size and type of your solar system/panel. However, we can give you some rough numbers, so you could have a general understanding.

An average 4kW solar panel can generate around 3,400 kWh annually. It will give you:

  • 4,857 hours of the washing machine
  • 97,143 hours of the fridge
  • 1,880 hours of boiling the kettle
  • 1,417 hours of the oven

Usually, when you have a family-sized home, you’ll need to use a 3kW or 4kW solar panels. In case you have a smaller house, you’ll need to take a look at the 2kW and 3kW ones.

What are your options?

Let’s admit, it’s easy to talk about going solar when you have your own house, but we are all tenants and our list of options is smaller than the house owners have in this situation. Here are the key options that you should consider when you decide to go solar and do not know what to start with.

Negotiate with a landlord

First of all, you should discuss your idea with your landlord. In some cases, you’ll be lucky to find out that your landlord is a huge fan of ‘green energy’ and you’ll definitely find the common ground on this issue.

However, most of the landlords will not really care about it and it can be understandable: installing the solar panels is a great way to save our Mother Earth, but it’s not that kind of investment that will pay off your landlord soon.

Negotiate with your landlord

That is why you need to ask him what are the possible options here and whether it’s possible to share the expenses of the solar panels installation or maybe cover it with a portion of your rent.

Unfortunately, some of them won’t even let you install big solar panels on the roof even at your own expanse, but it’s definitely worth asking.

Try out portable solar panels

Another option will be using the portable solar power systems. In this case, you won’t need to pay for a professional installation and won’t need to discuss this matter closely with your landlord. Portable ones won’t damage your property in any way.

However, portable systems will obligate you to invest more in additional devices. Yes, it’s great that you can fold them and store them conveniently, but you’ll still need to buy a charge controller or a solar power generator, a battery and the inverter to convert the power output.

Invest in shared solar

Thanks to the community solar business model, we can see the solar technology spreading wider and wider. This initiative allows multiple participants to invest in the solar panels deployment and benefit from the produced energy together. The participants of this initiative usually benefit from owning or leasing a part of the solar system.

Basically, it’s a budget way to get the solar energy and go green.

Make your electricity bill greener

US government tries to support the renewable energy initiatives and offers you to pay for the green energy without installing anything at home.

Green energy

The idea is simple: you pay extra dollars in your utility bill and cover up the costs of purchasing clean and green energy. It’s nice, but sounds a bit controversial, doesn’t it? This is a great option that may inspire lots of people to go green due to the fact that there are no actual solar system installations involved, but how can you check if your money was in fact used for that? That’s right, you’ll have to take someone’s word for it.

What kind of property do you rent?

We discussed in the beginning of our article that the amount of solar energy your panels will produce depend on the type of solar system you use. However, there is one more variable that you should note – what type of house you rent.

It’s fair to note that a single-family house has more options for the solar energy generation than a room in a small apartment, right? Let’s review, what are your options depending on the type of property you lease.

You rent a single-family house

Renting a house gives you the biggest number of advantages when we talk about renovations, re-designs, and smart home technologies implementation. However, you should do everything smart and understand where you can put your solar power system and how many you need.

The first spot to use will be the roof. Typically, roofs allow you to install large solar panels and get the most out of them by keeping your whole house on the ‘green’ energy.

Rent a house

However, if you still believe that you need more or, for example, you want to produce solar energy and sell it to your neighbors, you can install them around your household (in the yard and on the adjacent territory of your house).

In case you want ‘to go green’ on all levels, you can install the yard lights with the sun panels powering them. Usually, they also have the batteries that store the supplied solar energy and let your outdoor solar power lights work at night.

You rent a townhouse/rawhouse

The coolest thing about the townhouses is that you can share the solar power system with your neighbors. It means that you can invest in it together, share the expense and then share the power supplies.

If some of your neighbors don’t really need this energy, you can offer him to use it as an investment and benefit out of it by leasing his/her portion of the system. That, my friend, is the solar communities initiative that we discussed earlier today.

You rent a condominium

When you rent a place in a condo, you’ll have to face more issues while trying to go solar. Since there are different households that share the territory here, you’ll have too many people to discuss it with.

Rent a condo

Also, you’ll have to make sure that the condo board that usually runs all the utility-related questions, will support you and give you the permission to install anything on the roof or anywhere on the condo territory.

You rent an apartment

We believe that you have only one option when you rent an apartment and want to go solar. However, it’s fair to admit right away that this option will not really pay off.

We stumbled upon the experiment on Medium by the Hackernoon. They decided to check whether it’s a good idea to install a small windowsill-sized solar power panel. In this case, you won’t really need to ask your landlord for a permission to install something on the roof, but hear out the results of the experiment. Is it really worth it?

Turns out, this one panel could gather enough of the solar energy during the day to power the laptop, lights in the room and some other small devices. However, the financial payback of such solar power kit does not sound good.

The financial payback of the system is 9 years including battery, which is in line with many rooftop systems but doesn’t include servicing. This could be reduced to 6.5 years by adding a second 100W solar panel.

Niko Dunk, Author

You can still ask your landlord about the permission to install the solar panels on the roof, but chances to get his approval or even financial backing are around zero.

You rent a loft

We discussed the idea that Niko tried out in his apartment and decided that there is a chance that it may really work for those who rent a loft.

Rent a loft

Lofts usually have more windows, it means that you can install more panels outside the windows and multiply the energy amount Niko by a few times.

Additionally, many of the loft owners grant you the access to the roof, so you will be able to install the panels. However, you still should discuss it with your landlord prior to doing it.

You rent a room

When you only have a room, your options are really limited. You will not only have to discuss this idea with your landlord but also negotiate it with your roommates. Unfortunately, it’s very likely that this hassle will not be worth it.

Other ways to go solar in 2021

Solar Paper

This is the first solar panel charger in the world that is so thin that you can fit it into your notebook and take it with you anywhere. It’s not heavy, it doesn’t require a professional installation and is very convenient when you need to charge your phone being far away from the electricity.

Solar paper in use

Solar Paper can charge an iPhone 6 within 2,5 hours. While you charge your device, you’ll be able to see the exact power amount that the solar panel gives right there on the little screen. When you need to charge something bigger than a phone, you can simply add more panels since they can connect to each other with the magnets.

Solar paper outdoor

You won’t be able to run the whole house on these things, but you’ll definitely be able to charge your devices at home using the solar energy. It’s a great idea when you rent a room and do not have any chance to use bigger panels. At least, you’ll know that you charge your devices with the ‘green’ energy.

WakaWaka Power

WakaWaka offers a variety of portable solar products that allow you charge your devices anytime and anywhere. One of the key concepts of this company is their work on bringing the electricity to people that really need it and do not have the source to get it. They are a part of Clinton Global Initiative and they do a remarkable work.


This is gonna work great for you if you rent a house with a pool. In this case, you can not only install the solar panels on your roof, but you can also make your pool ‘green’ energy-efficient. Try out the Solar Breeze and your pool will be cleaned automatically. But the best thing is that Solar Breeze works on solar energy, so your pool will be always clean and you’ll know for sure that our environment is cleaner as well.

GoSun Go

This is a portable solar oven. Usually, people tend to use it outdoors while hiking or visiting the beach, but no one really said that you cannot use this oven when you rent a place and want to make your house more ‘green’. You can cook your meal in this oven in around 20 minutes by simply loading the food and making your oven face the sunlight.


This is one of the coolest projects we’ve seen so far. So let’s say you don’t have a permission from your landlord to install anything on the roof, right? How about installing the window blinds that are made of solar panels? This way you’ll be able to get the solar energy throughout the day and power your home. The more windows you have – the more energy you get. That would be an awesome idea for any kind of apartment, but of course, those who rent lofts and houses will benefit more.

Guys from SolarGaps also offer you to install a battery that will store the energy and let you use it later. That’s a great system to run your home on solar power!

Voltaic Solar Light Kits

Guys from Voltaic Systems offer you to install their light kits and power the lighting systems with the solar energy. The kits are easy to use and the cost is not scary at all. This is a great way to power the lights in the backyard of your house.

Summing things up

Going solar is a very smart and mature idea, but when it comes to rental properties, there are too many things that you should consider. First of all, make sure that your landlord approves placing any solar panels on your roof or anywhere else. Also, you should understand what type of property is more suitable for solar power systems.

Don’t be afraid to try and go ‘green’, cause this is a huge step towards future.


  1. Max The Stranger says:

    Hi, max here.

    Read your blog and it’s amazing.
    Was wondering, how much does it cost to setup the solar power system for one living in a 1 bedroom apartment — uses the power computers, hot water shower.

  2. Stephen Reid says:

    I am have presented my municipal landlord (in Sweden) with an idea for creating an energy cooperative with all the renters in my building to set up solar panels on the roof and possibly the sun-facing side of my building and having one electric bill for the building that the cooperative pays and takes dues from each person based on their energy usage and the other costs (loan payments and administrative costs). There may not be much of a profit, but it will allow us renters to use the most environmentally friendly electricity as well as negotiate a better electric agreement together and cut down on some administrative fees etc. If we succee3d we will be the first such energy cooperative in Sweden at least. By doing so we might be able to open the door for renters in many other places.

  3. Asha says:

    Solar panels can mean big bucks. These ‘photovoltaic’ panels generate electricity from the sun, and not only do they cut your energy bills, you can get paid for generating energy too. But the Government has recently announced a possible end to these payments from March 2019, so do the sums on solar …

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