Cost of Solar Panels in NY

Solar panels are becoming increasingly popular in NYC, and for good reason. With the last decade of improvements to solar technology, it’s easy to power a home completely using solar panels and may even be possible to be compensated for any excess energy that’s products. Homeowners who haven’t gone solar yet have the opportunity to do so today. Learn more about going solar now so you have all of the information needed to take the next step and have a solar company do an assessment for your home.

The Average Cost of Solar Panels in NYC

The average cost for solar panels in NYC right now is $3.10/W. Solar panel systems can vary in cost based on their size, with the average solar panel system coming in at around 5kW or $15,000. A 3kW system costs on average $9,300 while the largest system, 10kW, comes in at an average of $31,000 for the system. Homeowners can take advantage of various incentives to reduce the cost of installing solar panels on their homes. With the incentives added in, homeowners can expect a payback period of around six and a half years and almost $40,000 in savings on electricity over 20 years.

When the home produces more energy than the homeowners use, net metering comes into effect. Net metering is the term for selling energy created from solar panels to the electric company in exchange for money or credits toward future electrical use. In NYC, recent changes have been made to this program that will go into effect in 2022. Homeowners who have a system installed after January 1, 2022, will be subject to these changes, so it’s important to understand what they are and the impact they will have. These changes were intended to go into effect earlier but were pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Starting in 2022, there will be two options for homeowners, net metering or the Value Stack Tariff. The Value Stack Tariff is simply a new and different way of crediting solar power owners for any energy sent to the electric company. Both will include a CBC (customer benefits charge), which is added to the monthly electric bill for solar customers. The CBC is a small fee that’s designed to help cover costs the electric company has that aren’t traditionally covered anymore when someone switches to solar, allowing them to keep prices low across the board. These funds are already being paid by non-solar customers, so their bills will not change. The CBC for solar customers will vary depending on whether homeowners use Value Stack Tariff rates or net metering, with the newer Value Stack Tariff rate being lower.

How to Get Solar Panels Installed in NYC

Homeowners have plenty of options available to them if they’d like to have solar panels installed. Below are some of the top companies in the area. Read more about each one before calling for an installation estimate on any solar power system.

Sunrun

The largest solar power company in the US is Sunrun, based in California. Launched in 2007 by Lynn Jurich, Edward Fester, and Robert Kreamer, the company has grown quickly and now offers services in 22 states plus DC and Puerto Rico. The company does sell solar panels directly but focuses on leases or power purchase agreements that give homeowners a more affordable way to have a solar power system installed. The average cost per watt for a Sunrun system is around $3.92.

Reviews of SunRun focus on their flexible payments, system monitoring, and warranty options. Reviewers have mentioned that the company is one of the best available and that they offer cost-effective pricing for the installation of their systems. Reviewers are overall positive about their experience, though some do worry about the limitations in pricing transparency.

Vivint Solar

Vivint Solar is another one of the largest solar power companies in the US. Vivint Solar was created in 2011 under the parent company Vivint that offers home security and automation systems. The company is based in Lehi, Utah but does offer solar power systems in 22 states. The company is run by David Bywater and is a publicly-traded company. It is partnered with companies like Mercedes-Benz for battery storage. The average cost for a Vivint Solar system is $4.51 per watt.

Reviews show that most customers are satisfied with the company, offering a four or five-star rating. Pros mentioned include the batteries included for storage, the warranties for the panels, and the installation that is done in-house. The main downside for customers is the lack of pricing available online. Customers state that customer service reps were very helpful and that the company was more than willing to answer questions for their clients.

Momentum Solar

Based in New Jersey, Momentum Solar offers the installation of solar systems in seven states. Cameron Christensen, the company’s president, created the company in 2009. This company focuses on turnkey solar solutions and does everything in-house. Each installation is custom-designed for the client and they provide additional services, as needed. The company is currently one of the fastest-growing companies and the average cost for installation is $3.36 per watt.

Momentum has fewer reviews available, but they are generally five stars. Customers like the warranty, the variety of options available, and the ease of getting a quote online. Customers are generally happy with the installation and the solar power system meeting all of their expectations. Reviews note that the products and services offered by Momentum Solar are excellent, though a few reviewers noted having trouble getting into contact with the company after the installation was complete.

SUNation Solar Systems

Based in New York, SUNation was created in 2003 by Scott Maskin and Mike Bailis as a way to offer high-quality solar systems to New York residents, while still keeping the options affordable. The company handles everything from inspection to make sure the roof can handle the solar power system to the installation and maintenance of the system. All panels purchased and used for installations are from trusted manufacturers, allowing them to offer amazing systems homeowners will enjoy. They are also certified to install Tesla Powerwalls. Interested customers can call for a customized quote.

SUNation reviews tend to be very high, with customers appreciating the prices, the sales process, the qualify of the installation, and the support available after the installation is complete. Reviewers note that the company was a pleasure to work with and that they were willing to take the time to work with clients. There are some complaints about delays, but those are few and far between.

EmPower Solar

Founded in 2003 by Davide Schieren, the company strives to offer the highest quality solar panel installations in the area. With a focus on providing clean energy for home and business customers, EmPower Solar offers home and commercial installations, EV charger installations, and the installation of battery backups. They have won numerous awards since their inception, including the LIPA aware for top installer and the IEEE PES outstanding engineer award. They do not offer an average cost for installation but do offer an estimate for anyone interested in their services.

EmPower Solar also has a high number of excellent reviews, with customers focusing on the installation and the support they received. Reviewers note that they had an excellent experience from start to finish and that the sales rep was knowledgeable about all of the options. A few reviews note delays, though this seems to be the exception and not something that most clients will experience.

Benefits of Installing Solar Panels

Solar panels are most well known for helping homeowners save money. It’s possible to reduce the home’s electric bills to just about nothing, depending on the amount of sun received throughout the day. The exact amount of money saved will depend on the size of the system, how much electricity is used during the day, how much sunlight there is during the day, and other details such as the local electricity rates.

Installing solar panels can also enable homeowners to increase the value of their homes. Like renovations to make the home more modern, installing solar panels is seen as an investment into the value of the home. Even if the homeowner doesn’t plan to sell for the next few years, when the home is sold, it can be sold for a higher value simply because there are already solar panels in place. The amount of increase will depend on several factors, including the type of system and its age when the home is sold.

When a solar panel system is used, homeowners can reduce their environmental impact and carbon footprint. As many people worry about climate change and the impact humans are having on the environment, even the tiniest changes can make a difference. Opting for solar power instead of electricity is something that can have a much larger impact than expected, as it is a cleaner fuel source and is unlimited as long as it’s at least partially sunny during the day.

Types of Solar Energy Systems

Homeowners in NYC most frequently opt for solar panels added to their existing roof instead of replacing the roof for one made with solar panels. As far as solar panel systems, there are three main options to consider: grid-tied, grid-tied with storage, or off-grid. The right choice for the homeowner depends on their budget, their expectations, and their preferences.

Grid-Tied Solar Power

Grid-tied solar power systems are the most commonly installed type. The solar panels are connected to both the home’s electricity and the electrical grid. With this type of system, some of the electricity comes from the solar panels and some comes from the electric company. When the sun is out, the solar panels will provide electricity. If it’s night, raining, too cloudy, or the panels otherwise aren’t getting sun, the power comes from the grid, instead. This is the least expensive type of system and allows homeowners to take advantage of net metering when excess solar power is produced. This type of system will not work when the power is out, as there is no energy stored inside the home.

Grid-Tied Solar Power With Storage

This type of solar system is the same as the grid-tied solar power system, but with the added benefit of energy storage in the home. The energy is typically stored in a battery, so the amount of stored energy depends on the capacity of the battery. When it’s nighttime, raining, or otherwise not sunny outside, the battery can provide power to the home instead of the solar panels. If the battery doesn’t have enough energy, the system switches over to the electrical grid. With this type of system, it’s possible to store energy and use it when there is a power outage, so the home will still have power. This type of system is a little bit more expensive because of the cost and installation of the battery, but it can be well worth it to cut down on electric costs further and have power in the event there is an outage in the area.

Off-Grid Solar Power

This type of solar power system is designed to be self-sufficient. With this, the solar panels are not tied to the electrical grid. There is a battery for the storage of excess energy and that is what is used when the sun is not out. Off-grid systems must have a significant amount of storage available for the energy produced during the day, as there is no backup option. If the solar panels don’t produce enough energy or the battery doesn’t have sufficient storage, it could lead to a power outage until it’s sunny again. This is the most expensive type of solar power system to install and it does have its downsides, but it could be an excellent option for those who are willing to pay the higher cost to avoid being tied into the electrical grid anymore.

Incentives for Going Solar

Incentives can make it a lot less expensive to purchase and install a solar power system for a home. Today, New York offers some incentives that homeowners can take advantage of when they go solar.

  • Megawatt Block Incentive Structure – This incentive provides a rebate for commercial and residential solar systems. The amount received could be as much as $1/W, depending on the amount of solar energy that’s currently being produced in the area.
  • Net Metering – This allows homeowners to sell back their excess energy to the electrical company. There are a few programs for homeowners to take advantage of, depending on their local electric company.
  • Solar Equipment Tax Credit – State taxes can be reduced by up to $5,000 or 25% of the total cost of the solar system, depending on which one is lower. This allows homeowners to receive a significant credit to help offset the cost of installing a solar system.

Paying for a New Solar Power System

When customers initially see the cost of a solar power system, they may be concerned with affording the full price upfront. Where this is possible, homeowners will see the biggest savings. Yet, not having $10,000 or more laying around to cover the installation doesn’t mean forgoing solar power. Instead, companies do offer financing as well as leases, ensuring more customers can have a system installed, regardless of how much they’ve saved up.

Financing is available from many companies and is often done in-house or through a contracted lender. Those who are qualified for financing can have the installation done with as little as 0% down. Financing options can range up to 20 or 25 years, giving consumers plenty of time to completely pay off the solar panels. With the amount of money saved on electrical costs, this could be a great option for budget-conscious customers.

Leasing is another option to consider. With a lease, the solar panels are installed and customers pay a set monthly amount for their use. The downside to leasing is that the homeowner doesn’t own their solar panels, which can make it more difficult to sell the home. This can be a positive, however, as the developer will monitor the performance and do repairs at no cost to the homeowner. For those planning on selling the home in the future, the lease can be transferred to the new owners. At the end of the lease, homeowners can have the panels removed, renew the lease to continue using them, or purchase the panels.

Another option for homeowners to consider is a solar power purchase agreement. This is similar to a lease, but the payment per month can vary. The payment under a PPA is based on how much energy is produced by the solar panels. This can still be less than the cost of the electric company, so it can offer some savings for consumers. Homeowners also don’t have to worry about paying for the solar panels out of pocket, so it can be a good option for those worried about the cost of purchasing a system. 

Going solar is an excellent option, but there are plenty of choices to make before a system is installed. Choices include the type of system, the company to work with, the size of the system to install, and more. Homeowners ready to go solar and start saving money should speak with a solar panel company today to get an estimate for the installation and to learn more about any discounts or savings that may be available.