Category Archives: EnergySage

Articles & advice from EnergySage about solar power and other clean energy systems for your home, business or non-profit.

Tesla Energy: Has Elon Musk invented the first clean power utility?

tesla energy

Tesla Motors was once a company that sold solely luxury electric cars, but its founder has set his sights on the creation of a full-throttle home energy solution. The company’s expansion into energy storage and solar power has been heralded by the unveiling of a new division: Tesla Energy.

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The cost of electricity by state: which state’s energy prices are rising the fastest?

Measuring_Cost_Of_Energy_BlogSizeDid you know that the electricity rates that your utility charges increase every year?

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), retail residential electricity rates (the amount you pay per kilowatt-hour, or ¢/kWh) have risen across the nation at a rate of about 4% on average over the last 10 years. This rate change can vary significantly based on which state you live.
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Hyundai solar panels: the complete review

hyundai solar panel review

Hyundai is one of the most recognizable names in the solar industry. The company started its solar business in 2005, and its solar panels are produced by a separate branch of the company that owns Hyundai Motors. Like some other leading solar brands (such as LG), their panels are manufactured in South Korea, but their products are generally considered to be an “economy” option for homeowners looking for a low-cost solar installation.

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How much do solar panels cost in Orlando in 2017?

solar panel cost orlando

The U.S. has seen remarkable solar growth in the past half decade, and Florida is certainly one of the states leading the way. The Sunshine State now ranks in the top 10 for installed solar capacity and number five in the country for solar jobs. It’s also home to one of the nation’s top cities for solar energy – Orlando. The theme park capital of the world is starting to garner a reputation for its record-low solar prices. In this article we’ll explain why Orlando has become a top spot for solar power and what Orlando homeowners can do to cash in on big solar savings.

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Why Consumers Should Get Multiple Quotes for Solar Panel Systems

When shopping for airline tickets or other big-ticket items, people generally shop around. For airline tickets you might compare: How much will it cost? When are the flights? What are the baggage charges? What’s the airline’s safety record? What’s their “on-time” percentage? How much leg-room will there be? Etc. People use a comparison shopping approach because it gives them all the information needed to make the right choice. The same is true when shopping for solar power systems for your home or business. If you take the first offer that comes your way, how will you ever know if you got the right system or the best price or terms for your property?  Continue reading

How much do solar panels cost in Chicago in 2017?

solar panels chicago

The United States has experienced dramatic solar growth over the past decade and it can be attributed to a number of factors. The state of Illinois has seen a 64% decline in the cost of an installed solar system over the past 5 years with price drops even more significant in populated areas like its famous windy city, Chicago. Chicago is seeing some of the most significant solar growth by any city in the nation and this article we’ll explain why and what you should expect to pay for a solar panel system in 2017.

How much do solar panels cost in Chicago?

As of the first half of 2017, the average price for a solar panel system in Chicago was $3.48 per watt. Thus, since the typical system size in the U.S. is 5 kilowatts (5,000 watts), the average cost of a solar panel system in Chicago is $17,421 before any rebates or incentives.

The cost of solar is dropping across the state of Illinois. See prices in your area and get free solar quotes on the EnergySage Marketplace.

Though this price may already look attractive, it’s missing a major incentive that bolsters the economics of solar in the U.S.: the federal tax credit for solar energy systems. The solar ITC signifies a huge price reduction thanks to a hefty 30% rebate offered to both residential and commercial markets. Check out this data table that shows the cost of solar at different system sizes with the ITC factored in:

Chicago solar pricing table: average system cost and net savings

System size Average solar system cost
3 kW $8,877
5 kW $12,195
7 kW $16,349
10 kW $23,386
12 kW $27,281

*Note – prices in this table have the 30% Federal solar subsidy already included

The above table shows the discounted price for a solar panel system in Chicago after the solar ITC is included. The data draws from real quotes submitted to homeowners on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace between the second half of 2016 and first half of 2017. Keeping in mind the typical system size for a U.S. homeowner is 5 kilowatts (5,000 watts), a solar panel system will cost just over $12,000 in 2017.

Chicago net metering and other solar power incentives

One major reason for the popularity of solar power in Chicago is centered around the great solar incentives in the state of Illinois. Every major state utility offers net metering – a “make or break” factor for the economics of solar.

Net metering is a major benefit for homeowners connected to the grid who have a solar system installed. These homeowners will receive credits on their utility bills whenever their solar panel system sends electricity back to the grid. In a sense, net metering allows you to use the grid to “store” your energy for free – when your solar panels are not producing enough electricity, you can use your net metering credits instead of buying electricity from the utility.

This is what makes solar a truly efficient and pragmatic option: with net metering, you can cover 100 percent of your energy needs even during nighttime when your system is not generating energy. Without net metering, most homeowners have to opt for another storage option like a solar battery.

Additionally, Chicago homeowners benefit from the incentive of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs). Illinois’ renewable portfolio standard (RPS) now requires the state to source 25 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2025. That’s an ambitious goal, and to make it happen, the state has a program that rewards homeowners that help Illinois reach that target. For each megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity your solar system produces, you will be granted one Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) that you can then sell on the market, putting cash in your pocket on top of the savings you’re already generating with solar.

How Chicago homeowners can save big with solar

Though Chicago residents will see some of the cheapest solar prices in the country with continued cost declines expected over the next five years, low prices aren’t necessarily the biggest selling point. When it comes to going solar, the long term ROI and savings from avoided bill payments is often the biggest deciding factor – and the figures can be staggering even in states where utility rates are reasonable. In 2016, solar quotes received by Chicago homeowners yielded 20-year savings estimates of over $15,000 on average. Checkout the breakdown of average net savings by solar system size:

Chicago net 20 year savings from solar

System size Average net solar savings over 20 years
3 kW $6,867
5 kW $13,946
7 kW $17,194
10 kW $26,767
12 kW $28,234

And even though these numbers may be enticing, what isn’t captured in a savings figure is the control you have as a solar shopper on the final quote you’ll receive for your solar energy system, bringing us to our…

Three tips for solar shoppers in Chicago

  1. Homeowners who get multiple quotes save 10% or more

    As with any big ticket purchase, shopping for a solar panel installation takes a lot of research and consideration, including a thorough review of the companies in your area. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recommended that consumers compare as many solar options as possible to avoid paying inflated prices offered by the large installers in the solar industry.

    To find the best solar contractors in Chicago that typically offer lower prices, you’ll need to use an installer network like EnergySage. You can receive free quotes from vetted installers local to you when you register your property on our Solar Marketplace – homeowners who get 3 or more quotes can expect to save $2,000 or more on their solar panel installation.

  2. The biggest installers typically don’t offer the best price

    The bigger isn’t always better mantra is one of the main reasons we strongly encourage homeowners to consider all of their solar options, not just the brands large enough to pay for the most advertising. A recent report by the U.S. government found that large installers are $2,000 to $5,000 more expensive than small solar companies. If you have offers from some of the big installers in solar, make sure you compare those bids with quotes from local installers to ensure you don’t overpay for solar.

  3. Comparing all your equipment options is just as important

    National-scale installers don’t just offer higher prices – they also tend to have fewer solar equipment options, which can have a significant impact on your system’s electricity production. By collecting a diverse array of solar bids, you can compare costs and savings based on the different equipment packages available to you.

    There are multiple variables to consider when seeking out the best solar panels on the market. While certain panels will have higher efficiency ratings than others, investing in top-of-the-line solar equipment doesn’t always result in higher savings. The only way to find the “sweet spot” for your property is to evaluate quotes with varying equipment and financing offers.

For any Chicago homeowner in the early stage of shopping for solar that would just like a ballpark estimate for an installation, try our Solar Calculator that offers up front cost and long term savings estimates based on your location and roof type. For those looking to get quotes from local contractors today, check out our quote comparison platform.





Don



Compare solar panel prices in Massachusetts: How to get the best deal

compare quotes in massachusetts with energysage graphic

Its a great time for consumers considering installing solar panel systems in Massachusetts.  Solar PV system prices fell over 64% in the past 5 years. It’s figures like this that have analysts from Deutsche Bank reporting that solar is well on its way to beating conventional generation technologies on cost.

In line with this trend, prices for solar panels in Massachusetts are also on the decline. But how can residents of the Bay State make sure that they’re not paying last year’s prices? We’ve identified three things shoppers can do to make sure they get a good deal based on some analysis of price figures from across the state (summarized in the Chart below). Continue reading

Comparing solar cost of solar panels in Dallas, Fort Worth and El Paso, Texas

cost of solar in Fort Worth, El Paso, Dallas

Until recently, Texas wasn’t among the top 10 for solar energy, leaving many surprised to discover that the Lone Star State was ranked #3 in the U.S. for solar jobs in 2016. Texas is adopting solar at one of the fastest rates in the country, and for good reason. Solar prices dropped by 20 percent in 2016, and a number of utilities across the state created or extended major incentive programs for solar PV systems.

If you’re considering solar in Texas, there are three cities that lead the way in terms of pricing and incentives. In this article we’ll analyze Fort Worth, El Paso and Dallas as top cities for solar in Texas and explain what you should expect to pay for a rooftop solar array.

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Solar energy vs. fossil fuels: how do they compare?

fossil fuels vs solar energy graphic

If you’ve been following the ongoing battle between solar energy vs. fossil fuels, it might seem like the predominant resources on which the global economy depends – oil, coal and natural gas – will be completely phased out of existence in 2017. In reality, these resources still power most of the planet,  while renewable resources like solar and wind only contribute some two to three percent of global energy capacity. This reality check begs the following question: how does solar really stack up against fossil fuels, and why is there so much excitement about the growth of solar?

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Solar news: Tesla starts pre-order for its solar roof, Minnesota announces record solar growth

tesla solar roof and car

It was an eventful week in the solar industry with Tesla releasing hotly anticipated pricing information for its new solar roof product. A number of major clean energy initiatives in Virginia, strong solar growth announced in Minnesota and the release of Tesla’s solar roof pricing are the headlines from this week’s Solar News Report.

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