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Solar Panels in Pennsylvania: Cost and Savings

Like many states, Pennsylvania has seen a considerable increase in the use of residential solar systems. Why? Because PA residents can save money, help the environment, and achieve energy independence by installing solar panels.

Are you wondering if using solar energy is worth the investment in Pennsylvania? Keep reading to learn the pros and cons of solar in PA, including how much solar panels cost and how much you can save.

Cost of solar panels in Pennsylvania

Residential solar systems usually cost between $3 and $5 per watt, with an average price tag ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 before tax credits and rebates. There’s a wide price range because the total cost depends on factors like the size and configuration of your system, components included, and labor and permitting costs.

Solar panel setup

Here are some of the components you’ll find on the typical residential solar setup in Pennsylvania:

  • Solar panels: The panels capture the energy from the sunlight and are the heart of the solar panel assembly. Panels can be either 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 invert 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 in batteries to power your home and sell it back to the energy grid.

Solar incentives and rebates in Pennsylvania

Several solar panel financial incentives are in place to make your green energy investment more affordable.

First, the federal government offers a 26% solar tax credit (ITC) when purchasing a home solar system. This credit can reduce your out-of-pocket cost by thousands of dollars. But the credit is set to decrease in future years and expire by 2024, so be sure to take advantage of it soon.

Pennsylvania also allows net metering, which means you can sell your excess solar energy back to the power grid at the current electricity price. 

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 what about how much money you can save on your electricity bills?

First, take a look at your average monthly electricity bills to get an idea of how much you could save. Most households’ monthly electric costs hover around $100 a month. If your electric bill is similar, you are on track to save about $1,200 per year. 

Let’s take a look at the bigger picture. Suppose you bought a solar system for $15,000, which would be your initial investment. You could qualify for 26% federal solar tax credit to save $3,900. After that credit and your estimated $1,200 in electric bill savings, it would take you just 9.25 more years to reach your total return on investment (ROI).

The table below shows these sample figures in more detail:

Energy independence in Pennsylvania can help you

You achieve energy independence with solar panels. But what does that independence do for you? When your home has energy independence, you no longer depend on the electricity grid to power your home. 

Here are some other benefits of energy independence:

  • First, when you reach energy independence, you don’t have to worry about price hikes. When electricity demand increases, prices tend to spike. You don’t have to worry about a skyrocketing electricity bill when you power your home with solar power.
  • Another advantage of energy independence is that you don’t have to worry about power outages. If your neighbors lose power because of a downed power line or a storm, you can continue to power your home with your stored solar energy.
  • Finally, solar power doesn’t just save you money; it can even make you money. Pennsylvania’s net metering program means that homeowners can sell their excess energy and turn a profit from their solar panels.

How to buy solar panels in Pennsylvania 

Solar panels come with a significant price tag, so installing them on your home is a commitment. Weigh the pros and cons of solar power and do plenty of research at Choose Energy to help make your decision easier.

First, consider whether your home is indeed a good candidate for solar power. Solar panels are most effective on roofs with slopes of 15-40 degrees that are south-facing. It’s also best to put solar panels on newer roofs that will last many years rather than an older roof that will need to be replaced soon.

Another thing to consider is the amount of sunlight your home gets. Solar panels can power your home, but only if they get the sunlight to do so. What are the weather patterns in your area? Are there any obstructions blocking the sunlight from reaching your roof?

Be sure to investigate any HOA or community rules in your area. Some homeowners’ associations restrict the use of solar panels or require approval before installation.

Here at Choose Energy, we have plenty of resources to help you with your research and examine the pros and cons of solar power. And once you’re ready to take the next step, we can help.

The future of energy is solar in Pennsylvania 

Pennsylvania lawmakers implemented the first solar policy in 1996 when they passed the state’s electricity restructuring law. The state has since passed plenty of other initiatives to make solar power more attractive.

To date, Pennsylvania sits about in the middle of the pack for states generating solar power. It gets just 0.35% of its electricity from solar energy, but that number continues to increase year over year. The state has seen a considerable increase in solar industry growth in residential, commercial, and utility sectors over the past decade.

Solar energy FAQs

What is the life expectancy of solar panels in Pennsylvania?

Solar panels often last between 25-30 years. Since the break-even period tends to be less than ten years for Pennsylvania residents, the long lifespan means you’ll have several decades of pure savings.

How does solar power help the environment?

Solar power is a form of green energy, meaning that its generation doesn’t emit carbon dioxide and other harmful gasses into the air. Relying on solar energy to power your home reduces 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 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 (ITC).

What percent of Pennsylvania energy production is solar?

In 2021, Pennsylvania gets about 0.35% of its electricity from solar power, which is enough to power over 96,000 homes.

[Steve Cicero]/Getty Images