FAQs Solar Financials
Q: How much do solar panels cost?
A: There is no cookie-cutter direct answer to how much do solar panels cost. The price of residential solar electric systems varies based on system size, panel choice, and incentives in your state. Systems can cost anywhere between $10,000 and $50,000 before incentives. The good news is, a federal tax credit equal to 30% of the price, and additional incentives can lop a huge piece off the purchase price.
Q: How do I pay for my solar panels?
A: We can help you sign up for a solar loan to finance your solar. Or you can pay with good old cash. We’ll help you understand your options.
Q: Do you offer a solar lease?
A: Yes. Leases tend to work best for people who pay little to no income tax. For others, a purchase – with or without the help of a loan – offers the far greater financial benefit. (Leases are also great options for business customers.)
Q: Are there any other costs of going solar?
A: The price we quote you covers all aspects of designing and installing your solar system. However, if your main breaker panel is not large enough to accommodate the addition of solar or if the wiring is old, you may need to have your wiring updated. Additionally, if your roof has less than 10 years of life left, we recommend replacing it before you have the solar electric system installed. Because a solar system will be in place more than 25 years, it is best to start with a roof that has plenty of life left. The occasional roof needs reinforcements to support the weight of the solar panels, but this is rare.
Q: Why can’t you give me an instant quote for how much do solar panels cost like a lot of the other solar companies?
A: Well, technically, we can, but we generally don’t. Our solar systems are custom-designed, not cookie-cutter, based on your actual roof and rafters, not a grainy online image. We prefer to put together proposals that are as water-tight as possible, and based on accurate data (your electricity usage, roof size, roof azimuth and pitch, shade readings, etc.). Then you can have faith in the estimated savings, income and payback time frame outlined in your proposal.
Q: What are the “incentives” for going solar?
A: Residents in all states are eligible for a 30% federal tax credit. After that, programs that reward you for making green energy vary by state, but may include rebates, net metering, income (from SMART in Mass., RECs in New Hampshire, and REG payments in Rhode Island), and property tax exemptions. We will walk you through the list of incentives that apply to you, and include them in your personalized proposal, to give you an answer how much money do solar panels cost and clear picture of what solar can save and earn for you.
Q: How long does it take homeowners to pay off the investment in their solar electric system?
A: Most homeowners recover their entire solar investment in 8-15 years, compared to 20+ years just a few years ago. And keep in mind that few other home improvements pay for themselves at all. For example, central air conditioning costs you money to install and then costs you more money to run.
Q: How does my solar electric system pay for itself?
A: Solar pays for itself through (1) the money you save on electricity; (2) “performance-based income” you generate from SRECs in Mass., RECs in N.H., and REG payments in R.I.; (3) the credit you get on your federal income taxes, which knocks off 30% of your system price; and (4) in some cases in NH and RI, a state-sponsored rebate. This video explains.
Q: What can I expect as a return on investment (ROI) for my solar energy system?
A: The intangible returns are priceless – the satisfaction on your kids’ faces when they tell their friends you’re making clean power; the feel-good factor of opening your first negative-balance electric bill; or the giggles you get the first time you see your electric meter “spin backward”. But there is also a very real dollar and cents part of the equation. A typical 6-kW system provides a whopping 20-year Return On Investment (ROI) of more than 200% in most cases. Compare that to most other home improvements — a new heating system, central air — which provide…well, no quantifiable return on investment.
Q: How much money can I save on my electric bill by installing solar panels?
A: System size, your roof, and your electricity usage factor into how much you save, but it can easily be hundreds of dollars a year or even $1,000 or more. We will give you an estimate for your particular situation in your proposal. Remember, if your primary goal is to save money, be sure to also investigate ways to use less electricity in your home through energy efficiency measures.
Q: What are SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Certificates)?
A: SRECs (pronounced Ess-Reks) were available in Massachusetts only. Think of an SREC as a unit of value for the “green-ness” of the solar energy you produce. As part of its renewable energy development program, Massachusetts has set targets for solar and other green energy technologies. What this means to you is that you can sell the value of the solar energy you produce in a market created specifically for SRECs. So, in addition to reducing your electric bill, your solar electric system may generate hundreds or thousands of dollars in tax-free income each year for ten years. And this applies to all the electricity you produce — even if you use the energy in your home, you can also sell it as an SREC. (Note: New Hampshire has a similar program called RECs – Renewable Energy Certificates – but the payout is much less than the Mass. SREC program.) In 2018 Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program was launched to replace SREC.
Q: What is SMART (Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target)?
A: Like the programs that came before – the Commonwealth Solar rebate and SREC programs – the SMART program was designed to encourage the installation of more solar. The state’s goal for SMART is 1,600 megawatts of additional solar on top of the 2,200 MW we already have. We believe the SMART program is easier to understand and easier to participate in than the programs that came before it. It provides guaranteed money every month. While what you get is known and fixed once you’re in the program, there is no short answer to what you’ll get until you sign up. That’s because the payment rate varies by utility, system size, type of solar installation, and most importantly timing. You can see some of the complexity behind it on this page of the state SMART website, but you can also make it easy on yourself and call us. We’ll do the calculation for you! Read more on our blog article about SMART.
Q: What are REG payments?
A: In Rhode Island, solar owners can participate in the Renewable Energy Growth (REG) Program, launched in the summer of 2015. Basically, National Grid pays you for the solar you produce, at a much higher rate than the normal price of electricity. We will explain how this works in detail if we prepare a proposal for you, and help with the paperwork.
Q: What is the REF program?
A: Rhode Island offers another option to the REG: Customers can opt for the Renewable Energy Fund grant, or rebate, to lower the upfront cost of their solar energy systems. We will explain how this works in detail if we prepare a proposal for you, and help with the paperwork.
“I had New England Clean Energy install my solar panels. I found them to be excellent in informing me what was going on, what was about to go on and when I could expect things to happen. They were always friendly and professional. They cleaned every bit of debris off the lawn, my stairs and on my floors. They were all happy to meet my dogs. I highly recommend them.”