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Solar Panel Loans: Compare Solar Financing Options

Solar loans fund the purchase and installation of solar panels. Compare unsecured personal loans, home equity financing and cash-out refinancing to find the best way to pay for solar panels.

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Solar panels can be a cost-effective way to shift your household to a sustainable energy source.

The average solar panel system, including installation, can cost $15,000 to $25,000, according to the Center for Sustainable Energy, but a system can last 25 to 30 years and save you thousands of dollars on electric bills over its lifetime.

Solar loans are unsecured personal loans with fixed interest rates and terms from two to seven years. Their short repayment terms allow you to clear the debt sooner.

Here are five lenders that offer unsecured solar loans, as well as details about other financing options.

Why trust NerdWallet? NerdWallet’s editorial team has reviewed over 35 personal loan providers and compared them to find the best solar loans. We’ve selected these lenders based on features like loan amounts, rates, credit score requirements, star ratings and payment flexibility.

Solar Panel Loans: Compare Solar Financing Options

Our pick for

Solar loans

SoFi
Get rate

on SoFi's website

SoFi

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
SoFi

Est. APR

7.99-23.43%

Loan amount

$5,000-$100,000

Min. credit score

None
Get rate

on SoFi's website


Min. credit score

None

Key facts

SoFi offers online personal loans with consumer-friendly features for good- and excellent-credit borrowers.

Pros

  • No fees.

  • Joint loan option.

  • Rate discount for autopay.

  • Hardship program for borrowers in need.

  • Mobile app to manage loan.

Cons

  • No option to choose initial payment date.

  • High minimum loan amount.

Qualifications

  • Must legally be an adult in your state.

  • Must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or visa holder.

  • Must be employed, have sufficient income or have an offer of employment to start within the next 90 days.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 7 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: None.

  • Late fee: None.

Disclaimer

Fixed rates from 7.99% APR to 23.43% APR reflect the 0.25% autopay discount and a 0.25% direct deposit discount. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 8/22/22 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, income, and other factors. See APR examples and terms. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

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Lightstream
Get rate

on LightStream's website

LightStream

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Lightstream

Est. APR

6.99-22.49%

Loan amount

$5,000-$100,000

Min. credit score

660
Get rate

on LightStream's website


Min. credit score

660

Key facts

LightStream targets strong-credit borrowers with no fees and low rates that vary based on loan purpose.

Pros

  • No fees.

  • Rate discount for autopay.

  • Long repayment terms on home improvement loans.

  • Rate Beat program and Experience Guarantee.

Cons

  • No option to pre-qualify on its website.

  • Requires several years of credit history.

  • No direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 660.

  • Several years of credit history.

  • Multiple account types within your credit history, like credit cards, a car loan or other installment loan and a mortgage.

  • Strong payment history with few or no delinquencies.

  • Investments, retirement savings or other evidence of an ability to save money.

  • Enough income to pay existing debts and a new LightStream loan.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 7 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: None.

  • Late fee: None.

Disclaimer

Rates quoted are with AutoPay. Your loan terms are not guaranteed and may vary based on loan purpose, length of loan, loan amount, credit history and payment method (AutoPay or Invoice). AutoPay discount is only available when selected prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay are 0.50% points higher. To obtain a loan, you must complete an application on LightStream.com which may affect your credit score. You may be required to verify income, identity and other stated application information. Payment example: Monthly payments for a $25,000 loan at 4.98% APR with a term of 20 years would result in 240 monthly payments of $164.71. Some additional conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Truist Bank is an Equal Housing Lender. © 2022 Truist Financial Corporation. Truist, LightStream, and the LightStream logo are service marks of Truist Financial Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Lending services provided by Truist Bank.

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BestEgg
Get rate

on Best Egg's website

Best Egg

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
BestEgg

Est. APR

8.99-35.99%

Loan amount

$2,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

600
Get rate

on Best Egg's website


Min. credit score

600

Key facts

Best Egg offers personal loans for borrowers who want to consolidate debt and need cash fast.

Pros

  • Offers wide range of loan amounts.

  • Provides secured loan option for homeowners.

  • Offers direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

Cons

  • Origination fee.

  • No rate discounts.

  • No option to choose initial payment date.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 600; borrower average is 700.

  • Minimum credit history: 3 years and 3 accounts.

  • Minimum income requirement is $3,500; borrower average is $80,000. Borrower must have enough cash flow to cover current financial obligations.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 40% or 65% including a mortgage; borrower average is 40%.

  • Employment: Must provide proof of income; part-time employees are eligible.

  • Must provide valid U.S. address and Social Security number.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 0.99% - 8.99%.

  • Return fee: $15 if payments are not processed.

Disclaimer

*Trustpilot TrustScore as of June 2020. Best Egg personal loans, including the Best Egg Secured Loan, are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender or Blue Ridge Bank, a Nationally Chartered Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. “Best Egg” is a trademark of Marlette Holdings, Inc., a Delaware corporation. All uses of “Best Egg” refer to “the Best Egg personal loan”, “the Best Egg Secured Loan”, and/or “Best Egg on behalf of Cross River Bank or Blue Ridge Bank, as originator of the Best Egg personal loan,” as applicable. The term, amount, and APR of any loan we offer to you will depend on your credit score, income, debt payment obligations, loan amount, credit history and other factors. Your loan agreement will contain specific terms and conditions. About half of our customers get their money the next day. After successful verification, your money can be deposited in your bank account within 1-3 business days. The timing of available funds upon loan approval may vary depending upon your bank’s policies. Loan amounts range from $2,000– $50,000. Residents of Massachusetts have a minimum loan amount of $6,500 ; New Mexico and Ohio, $5,000; and Georgia, $3,000. For a second Best Egg loan, your total existing Best Egg loan balances cannot exceed $100,000. Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) range from 8.99%–35.99%. The APR is the cost of credit as a yearly rate and reflects both your interest rate and an origination fee of 0.99%–8.99% of your loan amount, which will be deducted from any loan proceeds you receive. The origination fee on a loan term 4-years or longer will be at least 4.99%. Your loan term will impact your APR, which may be higher than our lowest advertised rate. You need a minimum 700 FICO® score and a minimum individual annual income of $100,000 to qualify for our lowest APR. For example: a 5‐year $10,000 loan with 9.99% APR has 60 scheduled monthly payments of $201.81, and a 3‐year $5,000 loan with 7.99% APR has 36 scheduled monthly payments of $155.12. To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, Federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account. What this means for you: When you open an account, we will ask for your name, address, date of birth, and other information that will allow us to identify you. We may also ask to see your driver’s license or other identifying documents. Best Egg products are not available if you live in Iowa, Vermont, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, or U.S. Territories.

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Upgrade
Get rate

on Upgrade's website

Upgrade

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Upgrade

Est. APR

7.96-35.97%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

560
Get rate

on Upgrade's website


Min. credit score

560

Key facts

Upgrade offers personal loans plus credit-building tools; you'll need strong cash flow to qualify.

Pros

  • Secured and joint loans.

  • Multiple rate discounts.

  • Mobile app to manage loan payments.

  • Direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • Long repayment terms on home improvement loans.

Cons

  • Origination fee.

  • No option to choose your payment date.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 560.

  • Minimum number of accounts on credit history: 1 account.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 75%, including the loan you're applying for.

  • Minimum length of credit history: 2 years.

  • Minimum income requirement: None. Lender accepts income from alimony, retirement, child support, Social Security and other sources.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 7 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 1.85% to 8.99%.

  • Late Fee: $10.

  • Failed payment fee: $10.

Disclaimer

Personal loans made through Upgrade feature Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) of 7.96%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 1.85% to 8.99% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. Loans feature repayment terms of 24 to 84 months. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.59% APR (which includes a 13.94% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $341.48. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,293.46. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Personal loans issued by Upgrade's bank partners. Information on Upgrade's bank partners can be found at https://www.upgrade.com/bank-partners/.

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PenFed Credit Union Personal Loan
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on NerdWallet's secure website

PenFed Credit Union Personal Loan

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
PenFed Credit Union Personal Loan

Est. APR

7.74-17.99%

Loan amount

$600-$50,000

Min. credit score

700
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Min. credit score

700

Key facts

PenFed’s personal loans are best for good- to excellent-credit borrowers looking for a wide range of loan amounts and terms to choose from.

Pros

  • Option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check.

  • Co-sign and joint loan options.

  • Can fund loans within one week.

  • Wide range of loan amounts.

Cons

  • No rate discount.

  • Reports payments to only one of the three major credit bureaus.

  • No direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 700.

  • Must provide name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and employer information.

  • Must show at least two years of credit history, two accounts and no bankruptcies.

  • Average borrower annual income: $55,000.

  • Average borrower debt-to-income ratio: 40%.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: None.

  • Late fee: $29.

  • Non-sufficient funds fee: $35.

Disclaimer

Personal Loan rates range from 7.74% to 17.99% APR.Rates and offers current as of October 2022 and are subject to change.* Your actual APR will be determined at the time of disbursement and will be based on your creditworthiness, which includes an evaluation of your credit history and the length of your PenFed membership. Not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Rates quoted assume excellent borrower credit history. Other eligibility requirements may apply. All loans are subject to a minimum monthly payment of $50.Insured by NCUA. To receive any advertised product, you must become a member of PenFed. Equal Housing Lender.

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Alliant Personal Loan
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on NerdWallet's secure website

Alliant Personal Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Alliant Personal Loan

Est. APR

6.24-27.24%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

620
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Min. credit score

620

Key facts

Alliant’s personal loans, with their wide range of amounts, fast funding and rate discount are a strong option for members with fair and good credit.

Pros

  • Fast funding.

  • Wide range of loan amounts.

  • Rate discount for autopay.

  • Option to choose initial payment date.

Cons

  • Exclusive to credit union members.

  • No option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check.

  • No co-sign or joint loan option.

  • No direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

Qualifications

  • You must be an Alliant Credit Union member for at least six months to apply for a personal loan.

  • Minimum credit score: 620.

  • Loan approval is based on payment method, creditworthiness and ability to repay.

Available Term Lengths

1 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: None.

  • Prepayment fee: None.

  • Late fee: Varies.

Read Full Review

What to look for in an unsecured solar loan

The best solar loan is usually the least expensive one. Compare these features to find a low-cost loan:

Annual percentage rate: The APR is the total cost of your loan, including interest and fees. Personal loan rates are typically from 6% to 36%, with the lowest rates reserved for good- and excellent-credit borrowers with little other debt. The APR can help you make an apples-to-apples comparison between personal loans and other financing options.

Fees: Some lenders charge an origination fee, which can be from 1% to 10% of the cost of the loan; the origination fee is usually taken off the loan amount.

Term: The loan’s repayment term helps determine the monthly payments. Loans with longer repayment terms have lower payments but cost more in overall interest.

Use a solar loan calculator to see how the loan's rate and term affect monthly payments and overall interest.

Pre-qualify for a solar loan

Take the steps to pre-qualify for a personal loan to see what rates and terms are available to you. This process requires a soft credit check, which doesn't impact your credit score.

Solar panel tax benefits

The federal government provides a 30% tax credit for those who purchase and install a solar panel system between 2022 and 2032. That credit will decrease to 26% in 2033 and 22% in 2034.

If you install solar panels in 2022, you could receive a $6,000 credit on a $20,000 system with the federal tax credit alone.

You can take advantage of tax benefits if you own your system, no matter how you finance it.

The federal tax credit is nonrefundable, meaning if you don’t owe taxes — or owe less money than the 30% credit will get you — you won’t get that money back in a refund. You can, however, carry the credit over to a future tax year.

Some states also offer tax benefits and other incentives for solar installation. You can look up your state’s offerings in the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

Other types of solar loans

In-house financing

Some solar companies offer financing through third-party lenders. These loans can be similar to home improvement loans — unsecured, with no down payment required. The payment plans could have lower rates and longer repayment terms than personal loans, making your monthly payment lower.

Compare a quote from a solar company with other options to find the least expensive one.

Home equity loan

If you already know how much your solar panels will cost, you can apply for a fixed-rate home equity loan. These loans have lower rates and longer repayment terms than unsecured loans because putting up your home as collateral lowers the risk for a lender.

Home equity line of credit

A HELOC is another low-rate option that is secured by your home. It’s more flexible than a home equity loan because you can draw on funds as you need them, and you often have the option to pay only interest during the initial portion of the loan. Unlike personal and home equity loans, HELOCs have variable rates.

Cash-out refinance

A cash-out refinance is a new mortgage that’s larger than your current mortgage. You use the new loan to pay the old loan and “cash out” the difference to purchase solar panels. It’s a good option if current mortgage rates are lower than what you’re paying and if you can keep closing costs low.

Closing costs can be from 2% to 5% of the mortgage’s cost. That means a $250,000 mortgage can cost $12,500 in closing costs — which is almost as expensive as some solar panels.

Leasing or getting a power purchase agreement

If you don’t want to make a large upfront payment or are ineligible for federal and state tax credits, consider a power purchase agreement or leasing solar panels.

In both cases, you pay little or no upfront costs to essentially rent the solar panels. The owner of the panels collects rent from you and receives any available tax incentives from the government. You’re also not responsible for maintenance.

The U.S. Department of Energy has more details about the difference between a lease and power purchase agreement.

Things to consider with solar panels

Calculate your sun exposure, costs and savings. Solar panels will help people in some parts of the country save more money than others. For example, someone in Seattle might not get the same value from solar panels as someone in Phoenix because of the disparity in sunshine.

To estimate your savings, you first need to know how many kilowatt-hours you use and how much you’re paying for them. In 2021, the average household used 886 kilowatt-hours each month, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In August 2022, homeowners paid an average of nearly 16 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Then, figure out what size system you’ll need. You can use a solar savings calculator to see how many panels your home would need and how much energy they would generate.

Expect to make your money back over years, not months. The Center for Sustainable Energy estimates it takes six to nine years to recoup the cost of adding solar panels to your home. So your utility bill savings won’t immediately put more money in your pocket.

The timeline to make the cost of the panels back depends on the system you choose, which government funding programs are available, where you live, and how you pay for your system.

Last updated on December 5, 2022

Methodology

NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 35 financial institutions. We collect over 45 data points from each lender, interview company representatives and compare the lender with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar personal loan product. NerdWallet writers and editors conduct a full fact check and update annually, but also make updates throughout the year as necessary.

Our star ratings award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks to pre-qualify, competitive interest rates and no fees, transparency of rates and terms, flexible payment options, fast funding times, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus and financial education. We also consider regulatory actions filed by agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We weigh these factors based on our assessment of which are the most important to consumers and how meaningfully they impact consumers’ experiences.

This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate most financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for our star ratings. Read more about our ratings methodologies for personal loans and our editorial guidelines.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Solar Panel Loans: Compare Solar Financing Options

Frequently asked questions