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As the United States has continued to witness remarkable solar growth over the past decade, Massachusetts has continued to rank consistently in the top ten for solar panel installation. In recent years, the Bay State has become known for its great solar incentives and programs which are considered some of the best in the country. Cities like Boston can benefit from these programs – in this article we’ll explain why Boston, Massachusetts is a great spot for solar power and how Boston homeowners can maximize their solar savings.
How much do solar panels cost in Boston?
As of early-2018, the average price for solar panels in Boston was $3.67 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 Boston is $18,350 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:
Boston solar pricing table: average system cost and net savings
||Boston Average solar system cost
The above table shows the discounted price for a solar panel system in Boston 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 $13,000 in 2018.
Massachusetts’s net metering and other incentives
Net metering has faced recent legislative battles in Massachusetts but remains one of the biggest incentives for going solar in the state. All MA solar homeowners are eligible to participate in the program, which means that they can receive bill credits from their utility for the excess solar energy that they send back to the grid.
In addition, Massachusetts offers a state tax credit for solar and other renewable energy systems worth 15% of the system cost up to $1,000. This tax credit is in addition to a sales tax and property tax break incentives which ensure 100% tax exemption from both sales and property tax payments for solar homeowners.
Another great solar incentive in Massachusetts is Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs), where homeowners can receive payments for their solar energy usage at a peak rate of $496 per megawatt-hour (MWh). In other words, with a typically sized 5 kW system that generates 5 MWh/year, homeowners could make as much as $2500 each year by selling each of those SRECs back to the utility so utilities can reach their Renewable Portfolio Standard goals. This program will end in early 2018, so if you’re a Massachusetts homeowner interested in solar now is the time to explore your options.
Finally, Massachusetts homeowners and businesses have access to low-cost solar financing through the Mass Solar Loan Program. This incentive allows Massachusetts residents to purchase a solar system by making fixed, low-interest loan payments. This financing program is a major reason for solar’s rising popularity in Massachusetts where legislators wanted to incentivize homeowners to get the best value out of their solar panel installation by owning it rather than getting into complex third-party ownership agreements.
How Boston homeowners can save big with solar
Though Boston 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 2018, solar quotes received by Boston homeowners yielded 20-year savings estimates of over $67,286 on average. Checkout the breakdown of average net savings by solar system size:
Boston net 20-year savings from solar
||Average solar savings over 20 years
Three tips for solar shoppers in Boston
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 Boston 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.