Over the past decade the US has witnessed a remarkable growth in solar. Maryland has played a big part in that by aggressively pursued alternative energy projects with the goal of generating 1,250 megawatts of electricity through renewable fuels including solar power. The state’s generous solar rebates make it a great state for installing solar, and cities like Baltimore are ripe for solar development. In this article we’ll explain why Baltimore, Maryland is a great spot for solar power and how Baltimore homeowners can maximize their solar savings.
How much do solar panels cost in Baltimore?
As of mid-2017, the average price for solar panels in Baltimore was $3.49 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 Baltimore is $17,450 before any rebates or incentives.
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 percent 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:
Baltimore solar pricing table: average system cost and net savings
|System size||Baltimore Average solar system cost
The above table shows the discounted price for a solar panel system in Baltimore after the solar ITC is included. The data draws from real quotes submitted to homeowners on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace over the past year. 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 under $12,000 in 2017.
Maryland’s net metering and other incentives
Maryland’s net metering policy allows homeowners to receive full credit on their utility electric bills for the excess electricity their solar panels generate. During times a system makes more power than used, the credits are “banked” with the utility and can be drawn from later when a homeowner needs more electricity than their panels are generating.
The state also offers a solar rebate program in the form of the Residential Clean Energy Grant. If a homeowners installs a solar energy system, Maryland pays the homeowner $1,000. It is simple as that as long as the solar system is smaller than 20 kilowatts, is located at the primary residence, and the installer has the standard NABCEP certification.
Maryland has set a renewable portfolio standard goal to produce 20% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2022, and homeowners can get paid to help. Under this program, homeowners are granted one Maryland Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) for each megawatt-hour (MWh) of clean electricity the panels produce, which they then sell in the SREC market. In 2015 each SREC sold for about $150, meaning that a 5kW system that produces 5 MWh per year could earn $750 annually.
Other incentives include the Property Tax Exemption for Solar and Wind Energy Systems, which means homeowners will not have to pay any extra taxes on the increased home value of going solar in Maryland. The Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Renewable Energy Equipment also lowers costs by making the purchase of a new solar energy system tax-free.
How Baltimore homeowners can save big with solar
Though Baltimore residents will see solar prices in the country continue to decline 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 2017, solar quotes received by Baltimore homeowners yielded 20-year savings estimates of over $49,109 on average. Checkout the breakdown of average net savings by solar system size:
Baltimore net 20-year savings from solar
|System size||Average solar savings over 20 years|
Three tips for solar shoppers in Baltimore
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 smaller contractors 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 save thousands on their solar panel installation.
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.
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 Baltimore 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.