The U.S has witnessed remarkable solar growth over the past decade. Pennsylvania is home to 514 solar businesses, making it one of the largest solar employers in the nation. Coupled with supportive government policies and a Renewable Portfolio Standard goal of sourcing 18% of the state’s electricity from renewable resources by 2020, cities like Philadelphia can benefit from the solar opportunities available in the state. In this article we’ll explain why Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is a great spot for solar power and how Philadelphia homeowners can maximize their solar savings.
How much do solar panels cost in Philadelphia?
As of mid-2017, the average price for solar panels in Philadelphia was $3.44 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 Philadelphia is $17,200 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:
Philadelphia solar pricing table: average system cost and net savings
|System size||Philadelphia average solar
The above table shows the discounted price for a solar panel system in Philadelphia 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 over $12,000 in 2017.
Pennsylvania’s net metering and other incentives
Pennsylvania’s net metering program allows homeowners to sell excess solar power back to the utility at the same price it would cost to buy that same energy from the grid. The program also allows homeowners to “bank” their solar energy so when a homeowner uses more energy than their solar system produces, they can use their banked solar energy to offset the cost.
Pennsylvania’s other major program is Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs). This program enables Pennsylvanians to sell the SRECs on the SREC market where utilities can purchase the certificates in order to meet Pennsylvania’s Renewable Portfolio Standard goal of 18% electricity from renewable resources by 2020. The current rate is about $15 per megawatt hour (MWh) meaning that a homeowner with a 5 kilowatt system generating 5 MWh a year could make an extra $75 per year from selling these certificates.
How Philadelphia homeowners can save big with solar
Though Philadelphia 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 Philadelphia homeowners yielded 20-year savings estimates of over $45,611 on average. Checkout the breakdown of average net savings by solar system size:
Philadelphia net 20-year savings from solar
|System size||Average solar savings over 20 years|
|5 kW||$34, 496|
|7 kW||$45, 849|
Three tips for solar shoppers
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 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.