Consumer Reports tested solar water heaters in October 2010 and found none saved more than 32 percent over standard electric heaters.
3. Hanis said that consumers should request proposals from at least three contractors like for any home improvement project. They should also check references and read contracts.
4. If you lease a solar system instead of paying for permanent installation, Hanis said consumers can often breakeven on the first day if there are fewer upfront costs to the installation. However, consumers are often locked in for 10 years or more in the lease contract.
5. If you think you may sell your home, there may be components in the contract that allow you to transfer the lease to the new owners or to buy out the system that you were previously leasing.