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Solar panels in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania ranks 24th in the U.S. for solar energy generation — an increase from 26th in 2022, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). With prices falling 53% during the past decade, Pennsylvania is on track to grow its industry by 2,806 megawatts (MW) over the next five years, bumping its ranking up to 18th nationwide.
Learn everything you need to know about switching to solar in Pennsylvania, including financial incentives, potential electricity savings, choosing a credible installer, and environmental benefits.
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Cost of solar panels in Pennsylvania
The average U.S. residential solar system costs $3.67 per watt, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, with a total price tag of about $31,558. According to data from Find Energy, the average cost of installing solar panels in Pennsylvania is $3.55 per watt. The state’s typical 8-kilowatt (kW) system would cost around $28,400 before tax credits and incentives.
The total cost of solar panels depends on several factors, including the size and configuration of your system, its components, and labor and permitting costs. Your final cost will depend largely on your home’s location and how much energy you need to generate.
Every household or business requires a unique system size to meet energy needs. The following table highlights a range of prices and system sizes using the average price per watt for solar in Pennsylvania.
|System size||Total cost|
Solar incentives and rebates in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has several solar incentives in place to make your green energy investment more affordable.
First, the federal government offers a 30% solar tax credit, known as the Residential Clean Energy Credit, for purchasing a solar system on your primary or secondary residence. This credit can reduce your net installation cost by thousands of dollars. The credit stands until 2032, when it begins to phase out until it expires in 2035, unless Congress renews it.
Pennsylvania also offers net metering and solar alternative energy credits (SAECS) to solar panel owners. The following table provides more detail on these incentives.
|Residential Clean Energy Credit||The 30% federal solar tax credit helps homeowners recover some of the installation costs of their solar systems. The credit lasts through 2032 before it lowers to 26% in 2033, 22% in 2034, and expires in 2035.|
|Solar Alternative Energy Credits||Pennsylvania residents who own their solar panels can earn SAECs, a form of financial compensation for each megawatt-hour of solar energy a system generates.|
|Net Metering||Net metering allows you to sell your excess solar energy back to the power grid at the current electricity price. Pennsylvania utilities are not allowed to charge fees to net-metered customers that they would not charge to regular customers.|
Philadelphia solar incentives
Philadelphia residents switching to solar can take advantage of the city’s solar rebate program. Each residential project can receive $.20 per watt, with a cap of $100,000 per project. Ten percent of the program’s funding is funneled to low- and moderate-income households. This program helps make solar more affordable for homeowners and encourages more solar adoption throughout Philadelphia.
Solar panel setup
There are a variety of components to consider when planning to add solar panels to your roof. Here are some of the most common elements you’ll find on a residential solar setup in Pennsylvania:
- Solar panels: The panels capture energy from sunlight and are the heart of the solar panel assembly. Panels can be monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or thin film.
- Solar cell: Once you capture sunlight with your solar panels, the solar cell is what takes that energy and turns it into electricity.
- Inverter: Your solar panel inverter takes direct current (DC) power output and converts it into alternating current (AC) power, which is needed to power your home appliances.
- Battery: Once you convert your solar energy into electricity, you can store it with a backup battery to power your home and sell energy back to the grid.
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Solar energy in Pennsylvania may help lower your electric bills
Incentives like net metering and the federal solar tax credit can help make your solar panels more affordable. But it’s also important to consider how much you’ll save on your electricity bills.
You’ll want to examine your average monthly electricity bills to get an idea of how much you could save. The average Pennsylvania household currently spends $154.20 on electricity each month. If your electric bill is similar, and you purchase a solar array covering all of your energy consumption, you are on track to save more than $1,800 per year. After considering savings from the federal solar tax credit and your annual electric bills, it would take you about 10 years to recover the cost of the average Pennsylvania system and reach your return on investment (ROI).
Energy independence in Pennsylvania
You can achieve more energy independence with solar panels. When your home has energy independence, you no longer have to depend solely on the electricity grid to power your home.
Here are some other benefits of energy independence:
- You won’t have to worry about price hikes in the energy market. When electricity demand increases, energy rates tend to spike. When you power your home with solar energy, you won’t need to be as concerned about a rising electricity bill during extreme weather or other high-demand events.
- If you add a solar battery, you can continue to power your home with stored solar energy during a power outage.
- Pennsylvania’s net metering program allows homeowners to sell excess energy and turn a profit from their solar panels.
How to buy solar panels in Pennsylvania
The best solar panels in 2023 come with a significant price tag. Installing solar on your home is a large commitment. Weigh the pros and cons of solar power and do plenty of research before signing a contract. You can use Choose Energy’s solar resources to help make your decision easier.
First, consider whether your home is optimal for solar power. Solar panels are most effective on south-facing roofs with slopes of 15–40 degrees. It’s also best to put solar panels on newer roofs that will last many years rather than on an older roof that will need to be replaced soon.
Another important consideration is the amount of direct sunlight your home gets. Solar panels can power your home, but only if they receive enough sunlight to generate electricity. Consider whether there are any trees or other objects obstructing sunlight from your roof.
It’s also helpful to research any homeowner’s association (HOA) or community rules in your area. Some HOAs restrict the use of solar panels or require approval before installation. Your solar installer can help you figure out how to work through potential neighborhood rules.
How should I pay for my solar panels?
Purchasing your solar panels is the best way to reach a high return on investment. However, paying with cash up front is not accessible to everyone. There are a variety of other ways to access solar for your home in Pennsylvania, including loans, leases, and power purchase agreements (PPAs).
|Cash purchase||Full ownership of solar panels, more long-term savings, eligible for incentives, electricity bill savings||No upfront costs, power home with clean energy, electricity bill savings, more accessible for more Pennsylvania families|
|Solar loan||Full ownership of the solar system, eligible for incentives, electricity bill savings||Interest and fees|
|Solar lease||Full ownership of the solar system, eligible for incentives, electricity bill savings||Fixed monthly payment to a solar leasing company for up to 25 years, no ownership of panels, ineligible for incentives, annual price escalator|
|Power purchase agreement||Full ownership of the solar system, eligible for incentives, electricity bill savings||Payment to a solar developer for up to 25 years, no ownership of panels, ineligible for incentives, annual price escalator|
|Community solar||No upfront costs, power home with clean energy, electricity bill savings, more accessible for more Pennsylvania families||No ownership|
Solar panel companies
Pennsylvania has over 460 solar companies for residents to choose from when searching for top-tier installers. Here are some of the most popular installers on the market:
|Solar installer||Year founded||Financing options||Warranty terms|
|Palmetto Solar||2010||Cash purchase, solar loan, lease, or PPA||Minimum 12-year product warranty and 25-year performance guarantee|
|SunPower Solar||1985||Cash purchase, solar loan, or lease||25-year full system warranty|
|Primitive Power||2018||Cash purchase or solar loan||30-year performance warranty, 25-year panel warranty, and 25-year quality guarantee|
|Momentum Solar||2009||Cash purchase, solar loan, or lease||25-year quality of work and 25-year product warranties|
The future of energy is solar in Pennsylvania
Green or renewable energy comes from resources that cannot be depleted. Fossil fuels or nonrenewable resources, such as natural gas or coal, will eventually run out or slow in production. Solar energy, which comes from the sun, can be used an infinite number of times. In addition to providing a greener energy source, solar panels also help you save money on electricity bills. As the state continues to provide incentives and decrease installation costs, more and more residents can switch to solar.
Pennsylvania currently sits around the middle of the pack for solar energy generation. It gets just 0.46% of its electricity from solar energy, but that percentage continues to increase year over year. The state has seen considerable solar industry growth in residential, commercial, and utility sectors over the past decade and has invested $1.3 billion toward solar growth.
Solar energy FAQs
What is the life expectancy of solar panels in Pennsylvania?
Solar panels have a lifespan of 25–30 years. Since the break-even period tends to be about 10 years for Pennsylvania residents, you could have several decades of pure savings. Extreme weather, temperature changes, humidity, bad installation, manufacturing defects, and lack of proper maintenance can shorten the lives of solar panels. If properly installed and maintained, they can last for decades.
How does solar power help the environment?
Solar power is a form of green energy, meaning its generation doesn’t emit carbon dioxide and other harmful gasses into the air. It’s also fully renewable, as you’re not diminishing resources like fossil fuels to power your home. Relying on solar energy can reduce your home’s carbon footprint.
Is it better to buy or lease solar panels?
While both buying and leasing solar panels have advantages, buying is the most cost-effective option in the long run. You’ll have the most savings, increase the value of your home, and be able to take advantage of the federal solar tax credit. Leasing panels does not allow residents to qualify for tax incentives.
What percent of Pennsylvania energy production is solar?
As of 2023, Pennsylvania gets about 0.46% of its electricity from solar power, enough to power over 139,000 homes. There are 467 solar companies in the state. These numbers will likely increase as the solar industry grows in Pennsylvania over the next decade.