Pros and Cons of Leasing Land for Solar Panels

a field of solar panels in a rural land with trees in the background

Leasing land for solar panels in Ireland presents a mix of enticing opportunities and considerations. On one hand, it offers landowners a chance to generate steady revenue without significant upfront investments.

Conversely, there are factors like long-term land commitment and potential land use restrictions to ponder. However, as with any venture, it comes with its own set of considerations.

Here, we’ll provide a balanced view, helping you navigate the intricacies of this choice without compromising your land’s potential or future opportunities.

What Is a Solar Panel Lease Agreement?

A solar panel lease agreement is a contractual arrangement between a homeowner or business owner and a solar provider or solar energy company, where the provider installs solar panels on the property, but retains ownership of the panels.

The homeowner or business does not pay for the solar panels upfront; instead, they lease the panels from the provider, typically for a set period of time (often 20-25 years).

Here are some key features and considerations of a solar panel lease agreement:

Monthly Lease Payments

Instead of bearing the upfront cost of the solar panel system, the property owner agrees to make monthly lease payments to the solar provider for the duration of the lease term.

Maintenance and Repairs

Since the solar company retains ownership of the panels, they are usually responsible for maintenance, monitoring, repairs, and installing solar panels, ensuring that the system functions properly.

Energy Savings

The homeowner or business typically benefits from the electricity generated by the solar panels, which can reduce their electricity bill. However, they are often still connected to the grid and might need to purchase additional electricity from the utility during times when the solar panels don’t produce enough.

No Upfront Cost

One of the major attractions of solar leases is that they often require no or minimal upfront costs. This makes solar energy accessible to more people who might not have the capital to invest in a solar system outright.

End of Lease Options

At the end of the lease term, there are generally a few options: renew the lease, purchase the system at a reduced price (as determined by the contract), or have the system removed.

Performance Guarantee

Many solar panel installation leases come with a performance guarantee, where the solar company guarantees that the panels will produce a certain amount of electricity.


If the homeowner decides to sell the property, the leased solar panels agreement usually has provisions for transferring the lease to the new homeowner. It’s important to understand these terms because some buyers may be hesitant to take on a solar lease.

Potential for Increased Home Value

While the leased equipment doesn’t add as much value as owned solar panels, the reduced electricity costs can be attractive to potential buyers.

Tax Credits and Incentives

Since the solar company owns the panels, they typically claim any available federal, state, or local tax credits and incentives, not the homeowner.

Buyout Options

Some leases might provide options for the property owner to buy the solar system before the end of the lease term, but the specifics would be outlined in the lease agreement.

aerial view of a vast of land with solar panels installed

Pros of Leasing Land for Solar Panels

1. Steady Income Stream

Leasing out land for solar farms can provide landowners with a consistent and predictable income over the term of the lease, which can be especially helpful for those in the agricultural sector where incomes might be more volatile.

2. Land Preservation

This is one of the leasing solar panels pros. Solar farms have a low impact on the land compared to some other uses. Once the lease is up, or the panels are decommissioned, the land can often be reverted back to its previous state relatively easily.

3. Supporting Green Initiatives

By leasing land for solar energy, landowners contribute to increasing the renewable energy supply in Ireland and promote sustainable farming practices which is aligned with the country’s goals to combat climate change and reduce dependency on fossil fuels.

4. Minimal Effort

Once the solar panels are installed, they require minimal oversight or intervention from the landowner. This means the landowner can earn from the lease without much-added effort or responsibility.

5. Diversification

For farmers or landowners, leasing a portion of their land for solar panels provides an opportunity to diversify their sources of income, reducing the risk associated with relying on a single source.

6. Increased Land Value

There’s potential for increased land value when the land is used for renewable energy purposes. This might be attractive for those thinking about selling their property in the future.

7. Tax Benefits

Depending on local regulations and incentives, there may be tax benefits or grants available for landowners who lease their land for renewable energy projects.

8. Community Benefits

Solar farms can generate local jobs and stimulate economic growth in an area. Plus, local communities benefit from the increased production of clean energy.

9. Safety and Low Nuisance

Compared to some other industrial uses, solar farms are quiet and don’t produce pollution, which might be more amenable to neighbouring properties and the broader community.

10. Support from the Government

The Irish government has shown support for renewable energy initiatives. This includes plans and policies in favour of expanding renewable energy sources, which can provide a level of assurance for those considering such investments.

Cons of Leasing Land for Solar Panels

While leasing land for solar panels in Ireland comes with a number of advantages, there are also potential drawbacks that landowners should consider:

1. Long-term Commitment

Solar leases often span 20 to 30 years. While this guarantees a stable income for the landowner, it also ties up the land for a long duration, limiting its use for other potential ventures or changes in land usage.

2. Difficulty in Terminating Agreements

If a landowner changes their mind or encounters unforeseen circumstances, it might be challenging to terminate the lease before its expiration without incurring penalties.

3. Land Use Restrictions

Once a solar panel system is installed, the use of that land is primarily restricted to solar energy production. This can limit the landowner’s ability to use the land for other purposes, such as agriculture or development.

4. Aesthetic Concerns

Large solar installations can alter the landscape and might not be aesthetically pleasing to everyone. This can be a concern if the land is in a scenic area or if neighbours object to the appearance.

5. Dependence on the Company’s Financial Stability

If the solar company goes bankrupt or faces financial difficulties, it might affect the maintenance of the solar panels or the landowner’s guaranteed income.

6. Property Value Impact

While some argue that solar farms can increase property value, others believe it could deter potential future buyers who might want to use the land for different purposes.

7. Potential Environmental Concerns

Even though solar panels are a clean energy source, large-scale installations can disrupt local ecosystems. The construction process might affect local wildlife, water runoff patterns, or other environmental aspects.

8. Land Degradation

Infrastructure associated with solar farms, like access roads or panel foundations, might lead to soil compaction or other forms of land degradation.

9. Loss of Agricultural Production

If the land was previously used for agriculture, there’s a loss of agricultural production and potential associated income.

10. Legal and Contractual Complexities

Leasing land for solar energy can involve complex contracts. Landowners must ensure they fully understand the terms and implications, and this often requires legal consultation, which is an additional cost.

11. Local Opposition

There might be local opposition to the installation of large-scale solar farms, especially in areas that have not seen such developments before. This could lead to tension in the community.

Can I Buy Solar Energy System at the End of the Lease

When you enter into a solar panel lease agreement, you’re essentially renting the solar system for a set period, often 20-25 years.

At the end of this lease term, many agreements offer several options, one of which is the opportunity to purchase the system.

The price might be predetermined in your contract, or it could be based on the system’s market value at that time.

However, terms can vary between providers. Some might require you to remove the panels if you don’t want to continue, while others might allow you to extend the lease. Before signing, it’s crucial to understand your end-of-lease options.

If owning the system eventually is important to you, ensure this provision is included in your contract. Always consult the specifics of your agreement and seek advice if needed.

What’s the Difference Between Leasing Land to a Solar Project Developer Versus a Broker or Land Agent?

Solar Project Developer

This is the entity directly planning, financing, and operating the solar energy project. They’re in it for the long haul, from the project’s inception to its operational life, often spanning decades. Their main interest lies in the project’s viability and profitability.

Broker or Land Agent

These are go-betweens. They connect landowners with developers or represent developers to find suitable land. Their role is short-term, primarily focused on sealing the deal, either through a lease or sale. They typically earn their keep from commissions or fees based on successful transactions.

In essence, while the developer is concerned with the long-term success of the solar installation on your land, the broker or agent’s focus is on facilitating the lease or purchase transaction.

There is a difference between long-term commitment versus transactional engagement. When leasing, knowing who you’re dealing with can shape the agreement’s terms and your experience.

How Long Does It Take to Lease Land for a Solar Farm?

Leasing land for a solar farm in Ireland involves multiple stages. Initially, a solar developer identifies and contacts potential landowners, taking a few weeks to several months for negotiations.

Following preliminary agreements, feasibility studies, including solar potential and environmental assessments, are conducted.

Securing necessary permits and approvals, especially from local councils, can be time-consuming, spanning several months to a couple of years.

Additionally, grid connection approval might extend the timeline. On average, from initial contact to final lease agreement and project initiation, the process in Ireland can take anywhere from 2 to 5 years, depending on specific challenges and complexities.

several rows of solar panels on rural land with trees and a mountain in the background

Is Leasing Solar Panels Worth It?

Leasing solar panels allows homeowners to benefit from solar energy without the high upfront cost. Including the following benefits:

  • potential electricity bill savings
  • supporting renewable energy

However, since the homeowner doesn’t own the system, they may not benefit from government incentives, and they might have complications when selling their home.

Whether it’s worth it largely depends on individual financial situations, energy costs, lease terms, and personal values.

Does Solar Farm Development Interfere With Farming Operations?

Solar farms do require significant land areas, which can preclude traditional farming on the leased portion. However, some farming activities like sheep grazing can coexist with solar farms.

Additionally, agrovoltaics, a method of integrating solar panels and agriculture, is being explored to ensure solar farms and agriculture can operate symbiotically.

What Are Lease Rates per Acre for a Solar Farm?

Lease rates for solar farms in Ireland can vary significantly based on various factors. These include the following:

  • Location of the land (proximity to electrical infrastructure, for instance)
  • Suitability for solar (how much sunlight it gets, the slope, and orientation)
  • Specifics of the lease agreement (length of lease, developer demands, etc.).

Generally, in Ireland, the lease rates for solar farms have been reported to range between €500 and €1,200 per acre annually.

However, these figures can vary, and there are instances where rates can go higher, especially if the land is particularly well-suited for solar development.

Do You Need to Qualify for Most Tax Credits and Incentives

Yes, in Ireland, there are tax incentives and grants for solar installations, primarily through schemes like the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland’s (SEAI) solar PV grant.

To avail of these incentives, specific criteria must be met, which may include:

  1. The system’s size
  2. Installation standards
  3. Homeowner Eligibility

Ensure you check the latest guidelines from the SEAI or other relevant bodies.

Can You Lease the Surface if You Already Leased the Minerals for Oil and Gas?

Ireland doesn’t have a significant oil and gas industry like countries such as the US.

However, in general, the right to lease surface land for purposes like solar farms is typically separate from subsurface mineral rights.

If minerals were previously leased, it’s essential to review that agreement to ensure there are no restrictions on surface usage. Legal counsel might be necessary to clarify rights and potential conflicts.

Do I Have to Pay Any Upfront Costs if I Lease My Land for a Solar Farm?

Typically, when a landowner leases their land to a solar developer in Ireland, the developer bears the costs associated with the solar project, including feasibility studies, planning, installation, and grid connection.

It’s rare for a landowner to pay any upfront costs. However, the specifics will be outlined in the lease agreement, so always review it thoroughly and consider seeking legal advice before finalizing any deal.


Leasing land for solar panels presents a unique opportunity for landowners to turn idle or underutilized parcels into a consistent revenue stream while also supporting the transition to renewable energy and we explored the pros and cons of leasing land for solar panels

On the upside, it offers potential long-term income, minimal involvement, and a chance to partake in environmental stewardship.

Conversely, potential challenges, including land use restrictions, long lease durations, and fluctuating lease rates, merit consideration. As with any significant venture, it’s crucial for landowners to weigh these pros and cons carefully.

Informed decisions, backed by thorough research and expert consultation, will ensure that the sun doesn’t just shine on the panels but also on the terms and outcomes of the lease agreement.

How Do I Disconnect My Solar Panels From the Grid?

man wearing green t-shirt using multimeter to check solar panels on the brown roof

The optimal period to charge your electric vehicle (EV) with solar panels is during peak sunlight hours. During these hours, it harnesses the maximum solar output ensuring efficient energy utilization and reducing grid dependence.

By aligning your EV’s charging routine with the sun’s peak performance, you can make the most of your renewable energy source.

This synergy not only optimizes power consumption but also maximizes your solar investment.

The Basics of Grid-Tied Solar Systems

A grid-tied solar system is a solar power solution that’s connected directly to the local utility grid. Here’s why that’s noteworthy: When your solar panels produce more power than your home or business needs, excess energy can be fed back into the grid.

Conversely, when your panels aren’t producing enough (like during nighttime or cloudy days), you can draw power from the grid to meet your needs.

Key Components

  1. Solar Panels

    These are the heart of any solar PV system. Made up of photovoltaic cells, they convert sunlight directly into electricity.

  2. Inverters

    Solar panels produce direct current (DC) electricity. But most homes and businesses use alternating current (AC) power. That’s where inverters come in – they convert that DC power from your panels into usable AC power for your home and the grid.

  3. Mounting Equipment

    This helps secure the solar panel systems either on your roof or on the ground. Proper mounting ensures your panels are angled to capture maximum sunlight.

  4. Monitoring Systems

    Many modern grid-tied systems include software or apps that allow you to monitor your system’s performance and electricity production in real-time.

  5. Electrical Safety Gear

    This includes disconnects, breakers, and other gear to ensure safety for both you and the utility workers.


  • Financial Incentives: Many areas offer incentives, rebates, or credits to homeowners who install grid-tied systems. A popular one is net metering, where homeowners are credited for the excess power they contribute to the grid.
  • No Batteries Needed: Since you’re connected to the grid, you don’t need expensive battery systems to store power. However, if you decide to add a battery in the future for backup power, that’s an option!
  • Reduced Energy Costs: Over time, you can enjoy energy savings that can offset and even surpass the initial investment, making the system cost-effective in the long run.


  • Dependence on the Grid: If there’s a power outage, grid-tied systems without batteries typically shut down. This is a safety measure to protect utility workers from electricity being fed into the grid while they might be working on it.
  • Installation and Upfront Costs: Even with falling prices, the initial investment can be considerable. However, many find that the long-term benefits outweigh these costs.

man wearing yellow green safety vest and blue grey gloves holding screw driver installing solar panels

How to Safely Disconnect Solar Panels

Turn Off the Solar System

First, switch off the solar inverter. Most inverters have both an AC and DC isolator – turn both to the “OFF” position.

Wait for the inverter to power down completely, which can be confirmed by checking its display or indicator lights.

Turn Off the Main Breaker

Go to your main electrical panel and turn off the main circuit breaker. This disconnects your house or facility from the grid and ensures that no power flows into your solar system from external sources.

Disconnect the Solar Panel Strings

If your setup has a combiner box – a box that combines the output of multiple strings of solar panels – you will need to open it.

Inside the combiner box, each string of solar panels will have its breaker or disconnect switch. Turn each of these to the “OFF” position.

Physically Disconnect the Panels

Only after ensuring no current is flowing through the solar power system, begin disconnecting the physical connections of the solar panels.

Start by unplugging the connectors that link each panel to its adjoining panel. These connectors usually require you to press or pull a locking mechanism to release them.

If your panels are hardwired (less common), you’ll need a suitable tool like a screwdriver to disconnect the wires.

Grounding Considerations

When working with the solar panel system, it’s important to ensure you’re not creating a path for the current to flow. Wearing rubber gloves and rubber-soled shoes is a good practice.

If you’re disconnecting the panels for a long time, consider connecting their terminals to the ground to prevent any potential build-up of electrical charge.

Storing the Panels

If you’re removing the panels for storage, ensure they’re kept in a dry and safe place, away from potential damage. Cover them to prevent dust and debris accumulation.

Reconnecting the System

If you intend to reconnect the panels, follow the process in reverse. Begin by physically connecting the panels, turning on the string breakers in the combiner box, turning on the main breaker, and lastly, turning on the inverter.

Safety Precautions

  • Always use insulated tools to avoid accidental electrical contact.
  • Avoid working under wet conditions as water is a good conductor of electricity and can lead to accidental shocks.
  • Never touch exposed wires or terminals. Even if the portable solar system is turned off, there might be residual currents.
  • Wear appropriate safety gear, including safety glasses, rubber gloves, and rubber-soled shoes.

What Benefits Do Grid-Tied and Off-Grid Have Respectively?

Grid-Tied Solar Systems (often referred to as hybrid solar systems)

  1. Net Metering with the Utility Company

    Homeowners can sell excess electricity back to the power company, leading to credits or reductions in electricity bills. Overproduction during sunny periods can offset costs during times when the solar panel is disconnected.

  2. Reliability during Power Outages

    If there’s an issue with the solar panels or during low solar production, the grid, managed by the utility company, ensures a consistent power supply.

  3. Lower Initial Costs

    Answering the question of “How many solar panels do I need?” becomes easier with grid-tied systems, as they’re generally less expensive initially since they might not require a solar battery or additional off-grid system equipment.

  4. Scalability

    Grid-tied or hybrid solar systems can be expanded with ease. Homeowners can start small and increase the number of solar panels based on their evolving needs.

  5. Less Maintenance

    The absence of batteries in many grid-tied systems means less upkeep, especially when considering issues like a solar panel disconnected from the system.

  6. Environmental Benefits

    Hybrid solar systems reduce dependence on fossil fuels by producing green energy, even when connected to the utility company’s grid.

Off-Grid Solar Systems

  1. Energy Independence

    Off-grid systems, utilizing a solar battery, provide a complete break from the local utility company. You’re in control of your power without any external dependencies.

  2. Ideal for Remote Locations

    For places where connecting to the grid is challenging or expensive, an off-grid system, despite the question of “how many solar panels are required?”, becomes a prime electricity solution.

  3. No Grid Vulnerabilities

    No worries about power outages from the main power company. Off-grid means immunity from grid-associated blackouts or brownouts.

  4. Battery Storage

    Using a solar battery, off-grid systems store surplus electricity produced during sunlit hours for usage during the night or when solar production is low.

  5. No Unexpected Disconnections

    With an off-grid system, there’s no risk of the solar panel getting disconnected from the main grid, ensuring consistent power.

  6. Long-Term Cost Savings

    The initial investment might be substantial, but considering the rising costs of grid electricity and the independence from the utility company, off-grid living can be economically beneficial in the long run.

technician man wearing orange hard hat orange gloves yellow green utility safety vest installing solar panels

What Are AC and DC Disconnects and Why Are They Important?

AC Disconnect

An AC disconnect is a switch that breaks the connection of an AC circuit. In solar panel installations, it’s typically used to disconnect the inverter (which converts DC from the panels into AC for home use) from the AC grid.


Safety: It provides a way to safely disconnect the solar system from the grid, ensuring that workers or technicians can safely perform maintenance or repairs.

Protection: During electrical faults or surges from the grid, disconnecting can prevent potential damage to the solar equipment.

Regulation: In many regions, having an easily accessible AC disconnect is a regulatory requirement for grid-tied solar systems.

DC Disconnect

A DC disconnect is a switch that breaks a DC circuit. In the context of solar systems, it’s used to disconnect the solar panels from the inverter.


Safety: It allows for a safe way to cut off the DC power coming from the PV system, which is vital during maintenance, troubleshooting, or emergencies. Given that sunlight can continuously generate DC power, having a method to break the circuit is crucial.

Protection: In the event of faults or issues with the inverter, the DC disconnect can protect the solar panels by isolating them from the rest of the system.

Efficiency: If the inverter has issues and needs to be serviced or replaced, the DC disconnect allows the rest of the system to remain intact, which can speed up the repair process.

Why Are They Important?

Safety: Both AC and DC disconnects are primary safety devices. They ensure that power can be safely cut off, preventing electric shocks or equipment damage during maintenance, emergencies, or system faults.

System Longevity: By isolating parts of a system during faults or surges, disconnects can prevent damage, prolonging the lifespan of the equipment.

Regulatory Compliance: Many electrical and safety codes require the presence of accessible disconnects in solar and electrical installations.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know if My System Is Connected to the Grid?

To determine whether your system is connected to the grid, you can check a few indicators. First, look at your inverter display or monitoring system.

If it’s displaying power output values and you can see electricity being fed into the grid or your home drawing power from the grid, then your system is likely connected.

Also, most grid-tied systems have bi-directional meters that show power both consumed from and fed back to the grid.

If your meter displays this kind of information, it’s a clear sign of a grid connection. Lastly, if you’re receiving electricity bills with net metering credits, it’s another confirmation that you’re grid-tied.

Reasons for Disconnecting Solar Panels From the Grid

  1. Maintenance and Repairs: Sometimes, for the safety of workers, it’s necessary to disconnect solar panels from the grid during maintenance or repairs.
  2. Blackouts: In some grid-tied systems without battery backup, solar panels may automatically disconnect during a grid blackout to ensure the safety of repair crews working on the grid.
  3. System Upgrades: If you’re adding more panels or updating system components, a temporary disconnection may be needed.
  4. Safety Concerns: Electrical issues, fire hazards, or faulty equipment might necessitate a system disconnection until problems are resolved.
  5. Regulatory or Utility Policies: Some local utilities may require periodic disconnections or checks to ensure system compliance with evolving grid codes.

Do Solar Panels Need a Disconnect Breaker?

Yes, solar panels generally need a disconnect breaker. It serves several vital roles:

  1. Safety: The disconnect breaker allows homeowners and emergency personnel to safely disconnect the solar panels from the grid, especially during emergencies or maintenance.
  2. Regulatory Compliance: Many local electrical codes and utility companies require a visible and accessible disconnect breaker for grid-tied solar systems.
  3. System Management: A disconnect breaker can be useful if you need to shut down the system for troubleshooting or adjustments.

Can Solar Panels Be Removed and Reinstalled?

Absolutely. You can remove solar panels and then reinstall them, whether it’s because of roof repairs, relocating to a new home, or other reasons.

However, you must carefully ensure that the panels, mounts, and associated wiring are removed and reinstalled correctly and safely.

We recommend engaging professionals to manage the removal and reinstallation to guarantee the system’s integrity and functionality.

Can I Install Solar and Not Connect to the Grid?

Yes, you can. Such systems are known as off-grid solar systems. They operate independently from the grid and often come with battery storage to store excess energy produced during the day, to be used at night or during periods of low solar production.

Off-grid systems are popular in remote locations without easy grid access, but they can also be used by those who simply prefer complete energy independence.

Do note, however, that off-grid systems typically require a more significant upfront investment due to the need for storage solutions and may require more regular maintenance.


Understanding how to disconnect your solar panels from the grid is an essential skill for every solar system owner.

Whether it’s for maintenance, safety, or regulatory compliance, there will likely come a time when you’ll need to perform this task.

While the specifics can vary based on your system and local regulations, it typically involves utilizing a disconnect breaker or switch.

Always prioritize safety and, if uncertain, consult with professionals or your utility company. Being prepared ensures the longevity of your solar investment and maintains the seamless integration of renewable energy into our daily lives.