As a Rockland or Orange County resident, you may be interested in taking advantage of the environmental and economic benefits of solar panels. However, you may have heard rumors of high, potentially restrictive costs to get started. Fortunately, the solar panel installation cost in NY is largely up to you. The amount you pay now and later down the road depends on how you choose to finance the investment.
Purchasing Solar Panels
When you purchase your solar array outright, the panels and the energy they produce are entirely yours. You own the installation from day one and can choose how you use it. The most cost effective route is to be more conservative than ever so you can sell excess electricity back to the grid through a net metering program.
- Upfront costs: Purchasing solar panels has the highest upfront cost because there’s no financing involved. Still, the quoted price and what you actually pay could be far different if you qualify for solar incentives and tax credits.
- Lifetime costs: Avoid financing and you avoid paying interest and fees over the life of your solar panels. In this way, purchasing solar panels is the fastest way to achieve the greatest savings possible.
Leasing Solar Panels
If you decide to lease solar panels, you sign an agreement usually lasting 20 years. The solar panels are installed with no money down. The leasing option allows you to expand your solar array in the future at a discounted price. Rest assured your system is guaranteed for 25 years, making the decision to lease a low risk proposition.
- Upfront costs: Leasing is a way to get started with $0 down. This makes installing solar panels a viable option for people who don’t have a huge savings account built up.
- Lifetime costs: You pay a fixed monthly rate to lease the solar panels and cover any maintenance and monitoring costs along the way. This rate – plus any residual energy costs the solar panels don’t cover – is usually significantly less than what you paid on your monthly electric bills prior to going solar. Still, because you’re gradually paying off the full solar panel installation cost in NY, you end up saving only about half as much money in the long run as purchasing the panels outright.
Taking Out a Solar Loan
With this option, you finance your solar installation with a 5- to 20-year loan. You can finance the entire solar panel installation cost in NY, meaning you can get started with no money down. As with purchasing, you have full ownership of your panels; you’re simply paying them off gradually at a fixed monthly rate. If you have a good financial month and want to make a larger payment, you can do so without a prepayment penalty.
- Upfront costs: The same as leasing solar panels, a loan lets you get started with $0 down. But as with purchasing, you can also take advantage of solar incentives and tax credits, bringing the total solar installation cost down.
- Lifetime costs: Interest on the solar loan increases the amount you pay overall, but you still enjoy excellent savings compared to skipping solar completely.
Qualifying for Solar Incentives and Rebates
For outright purchases and loans, you have the opportunity to take advantage of solar incentives and rebates. Find out what you qualify for. If you can’t take full advantage of the savings, leasing solar panels could be a simpler option.
- Federal tax credits: Until December 31, 2016, the federal government is incentivizing solar energy systems by offering a 30% tax credit with no upper limit. Existing homes and new construction qualify, but you need to own your home. Both principal residences and second homes qualify.
- New York State tax incentives: As a NY resident, you may quality for an income tax credit for 25% of the total system cost (up to $5,000). You may also be exempt from state sales tax if you make an outright purchase. You could also be exempt for 15 years from paying higher property tax on the increased value of your home as a result of installing solar panels.
- Renewable Energy Certificates: RECs let you sell excess energy from your solar array to power companies that are required to obtain a portion of their electricity from renewable sources. This lowers the lifetime cost of owning solar panels.
- New York State Energy Research and Development Authority incentives: NYSERDA offers cash incentives on a first come, first served basis to homeowners and business owners with qualifying solar arrays.
Clearly, the solar panel installation cost in NY varies greatly depending on what upfront and lifetime costs you hope to achieve. Working with an installer is the best way to calculate the ideal purchasing route for you.