Over the past decade the US has witnessed a remarkable growth in solar with New York consistently in the top 10 solar markets. The state has a considerable amount of solar potential and the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) recently announced a 10-year $1 billion commitment to developing a self-sustaining solar market in New York State. Ithaca, like much of New York, has strong solar potential in addition to below state and national average prices for solar panel installation. In this article we’ll explain why Ithaca, New York is a great spot for solar power and how Ithaca homeowners can maximize their solar savings.
How much do solar panels cost in Ithaca?
As of mid-2017, the average price for solar panels in Ithaca was $2.98 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 Ithaca is $14,900 before any rebates or incentives.
While this price is low for the overall state of New York, it is also very competitive in terms of the national average. Prices for solar panel systems have dropped by over 55% in New York over the past 5 years and homeowners are taking notice. Check out this comparison table of Ithaca, the state, and U.S. average pricing for various system sizes:
Solar pricing table: Ithaca compared to New York and U.S. average costs
||National average cost
|State average cost
| ithaca average cost
The above table, which uses pricing data from solar quotes received by homeowners on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace over the last 12 months, offers a comparison of prices nationwide, in New York, and Ithaca for solar energy systems. As the data illustrates, typical solar prices in Ithaca, New York are significantly lower than the rest of the country.
When looking at the solar industry as a whole, New York is a pragmatic places to install solar. But when you zero in on Ithaca’s market and compare it to the rest of the country, the advantage for homeowners is even clearer. The good news for most New York homeowners is that these low costs do not even incorporate the added benefit of net metering, offered throughout the Empire State.
New York net metering and other incentives
Net metering policy in New York ensures homeowners get paid a fair price for the solar electricity their solar panel systems send to the grid. Any credits for excess solar power that homeowners accrue are stored in a “credit bank” and can be used in future months (usually winter) if a solar energy system produces less electricity than is used by the homeowner.
Other incentives in the state include the NY-Sun Initiative, an umbrella program for a number of solar industry support mechanisms in New York State, including the Megawatt Block Incentive Structure. This program provides an upfront dollars-per-watt ($/W) rebate for both commercial and residential solar panel systems. The subsidy size depends on how much solar energy is already being produced in a homeowner’s area and could be as high as $1/W.
New York also offers a tax credit which can reduce a homeowner’s state tax payments by up to $5,000 or 25 percent off total solar energy expenses (whichever is lower). The advantages of the Solar Equipment Tax Credit are twofold: first, homeowners don’t have to purchase the system to claim the credit (i.e. it applies even to solar with a lease or PPA), and second, if a homeowner’s tax liability isn’t large enough to claim the entire credit in the first year, it can roll over into the next year.
How Ithaca homeowners can save big with solar
Though Ithaca 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 2017, solar quotes received by Ithaca homeowners yielded 20-year savings estimates of over $39,915 on average. Checkout the breakdown of average net savings by solar system size:
Ithaca net 20-year savings from solar
||Average solar savings over 20 years
Three tips for solar shoppers in Ithaca, NY
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.