Yesterday, EnergySage released its second Solar Marketplace Intel Report™, which looks at pricing trends, equipment offerings, financing products, and solar shopper preferences across the United States in 2015. Let’s take a look at some of the report’s top findings most relevant to today’s solar shoppers.
Marketplace Intel: Solar costs falling, but state & local incentives disappearing
The best way to compare solar costs across state lines and system sizes is to look at the cost per watt for an installed solar energy system. The good news: in 2015, costs went down. Gross costs (the amount before incentives like the 30 percent federal tax credit for solar are applied) dropped from $3.78/Watt in the first half of the year to $3.69/Watt in the back half. For an average 5-kilowatt solar energy system, that’s nearly a $500 price difference.
But as prices fall and more people decide to go solar, state and local financial incentives for solar are gradually being reduced. The nationwide average net cost of a solar panel installation – which is the cost after federal, state, and local incentives are deducted – slightly increased from the first half to the second half of 2015.
The takeaway: now is time to start thinking about solar. Prices have fallen, but are relatively stable, and state and local incentives are decreasing in almost every state that we examined. If you want to get the best deal for your solar panel system, start looking at your solar options today.
Marketplace Intel: Most solar shoppers prefer to buy solar
While just 37 percent of homeowners nationwide chose to buy their solar panel system (rather than enter into a third-party lease or power purchase agreement), EnergySage shoppers who compared their long-term savings in the Marketplace overwhelmingly chose direct system ownership. Both cash purchases and $0-down solar loans were popular options for EnergySage solar shoppers who chose to buy their systems outright.
This trend matches the initial preferences that solar shoppers indicate when they sign up on EnergySage. In fact, 11 percent of EnergySage shoppers indicated that they were interested in lease options when they registered on the Marketplace, but just seven percent chose to go with a third party owned system.
Marketplace Intel: Solar shoppers seek the online comparison-shopping experience
The EnergySage Solar Marketplace offers a 100 percent online solar shopping experience to homeowners – you can register without a phone number and compare multiple quotes from solar installers before you receive a site visit. EnergySage shoppers truly value this online experience: only four percent asked for a site visit from solar installers before they review their solar quotes, contrary to the site-visit-first model employed today by the country’s largest solar leasing companies (e.g. SolarCity).
Even if you’ve already started talking with a solar installer outside of EnergySage, you can still compare your options in the Marketplace. One third (33 percent) of solar shoppers on EnergySage signed up with a quote already in hand, often from one of the large solar leasing companies. They then used the Marketplace to gain a better understanding of what prices they should reasonably expect to pay, and to evaluate their savings with different installer and equipment packages.