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 goal to source 18 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable resources by 2020, cities like Lancaster can benefit from the solar opportunities available in the state. In this article we’ll explain why Lancaster, Pennsylvania is a great spot for solar power and how Lancaster homeowners can maximize their solar savings.
How much do solar panels cost in Lancaster?
As of mid-2017, the average price for solar panels in Lancaster was $3.25 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 Lancaster is $16,250 before any rebates or incentives.
While this price is competitive for the overall state of Pennsylvania, it is also very competitive in terms of the national average. Prices for solar panel systems have dropped by over 55% in Pennsylvania over the past 5 years and homeowners are taking notice. Check out this comparison table of Lancaster and U.S. average pricing for various system sizes:
Solar pricing table: Lancaster compared to U.S. average costs
|System size||National average cost|
| lancaster 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 and in Lancaster for solar energy systems. As the data illustrates, typical solar prices in Lancaster, Pennsylvania are significantly lower than the rest of the country.
When looking at the solar industry as a whole, it’s well known that Pennsylvania is a pragmatic place to install solar. But when you zero in on Lancaster’s market and compare it to the rest of the country, the advantage for homeowners is even clearer. The good news for most Pennsylvania homeowners is that these low costs do not even incorporate the added benefit of net metering, offered throughout the Keystone State.
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 their SRECs, which utilities purchase in order to meet Pennsylvania’s Renewable Portfolio Standard goal of 18 percent electricity from renewable resources by 2020. The current rate is about $5 per megawatt hour (MWh) meaning that a homeowner with a 7 kilowatt system generating 10 MWh a year could bank an extra $50 per year from selling these certificates.
How Lancaster homeowners can save big with solar
Though Lancaster residents are already seeing low solar prices 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 Lancaster homeowners yielded 20-year savings estimates of over $65,238 on average. Checkout the breakdown of average net savings by solar system size:
Lancaster net 20-year savings from solar
|System size||Average solar savings over 20 years|
Three tips for solar shoppers in Lancaster, PA
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.