Welcome to your Guide to Solar Installation in New Jersey. We have consolidated the information that will allow you to ask the right questions and get quotes from the best solar installers in New Jersey.
- Investing in solar panels
- Solar panels in New Jersey
- Getting solar panels in New Jersey
- How cold temperatures impact solar panels
- How overcast and shade impact solar panel performance
- Cost for solar panel installation in New Jersey
- What is the 30% federal solar tax credit?
- Solar panel rebates
- Tax exemptions for homes with solar panels
- Choosing a solar panel installer
- Leasing solar panels vs. buying
- Subdivision bylaws for solar panel installation
- Frequently asked questions about solar panel installation
New Jersey Residents are Going Green
The sun, in an hour, will provide the earth with more energy than all of humanity uses in a year.
Yet, we as humans are capturing less than .0001% of the suns annual output of solar energy.
Solar panels are a great investment for your home or
business. Not only do solar panels help cut your energy costs they also are
great way for you to decrease your carbon footprint and improve the
environment. As solar panels become more advanced and common place, look for
many home and businesses owners to invest in a sustainable source of energy,
and you should too.
Other considerations before going solar in 2019
• Solar installation would be the equivalent of planting 70 trees over the life of the system.
• Owning a solar panel system would be the equivalent of eliminating the CO2 emissions of driving back in forth across the continental United States 75 times over the life of the system
• As of 2018, solar power is the fastest growing energy source in the world.
Not only are solar panels systems great for the environment but, they are also a tremendous investment opportunity.
With the rising costs of traditional fossil-fueled energy sources and the rapid decrease in costs of solar panel systems over the past couple of years, it has made buying a solar panel system a viable investment option for many home and business owners.
In addition to the decrease in solar installation costs, the United States government, as well as state, and local legislatures have made it easier and more affordable than ever.
Solar is not as expensive as you think
- In 2017, the residential sector alone has seen a 5% drop in solar panel installation costs.
- In New Jersey, the average payback period on your investment in a solar panel system is 5 years and 7 months.
- The average savings of a typical 5 kilowatt solar panel system over 25 years is $60,000.
Solar in New Jersey
New Jersey has been consistently in the top 15 for the highest average retail price of electricity in residential and commercial sectors. New Jersey also ranks #5 in the country for total solar energy output. With solar energy on the rise in NJ, it’s a no-brainer for New Jerseyans to invest in solar energy.
The problem though lies in lack of product familiarity and overall knowledge of a solar installation. Anything and everything from tax incentives to installation costs should be evaluated before making an investment in solar energy.
Over 500 different solar installation companies are currently operating in New Jersey, it isn’t too difficult to find someone to contract out and install your new solar panel system. The more difficult thing is being able to sift through all of the sales jargon that comes with a rather new and fast-growing industry
That is where we come in, we strive to provide our customers with the most unbiased and valuable information possible before making the investment into clean and renewable solar energy.
As you begin looking for solar options in the New Jersey area, there are a few questions you should ask to make sure you’re making the right choice, including:
Can I get solar power in New Jersey?
As a matter of fact, the Garden State has installed solar panel systems in over 250,000 homes.
As long as you have a residence or commercial building your looking to go green with, there are hundreds of companies looking to provide your home or business with a solar power system.
New Jersey has most recently been ranked #1 in Solar Power Rocks’ annual State Solar Power Rankings Report. The report takes things such as solar incentives, electricity prices, and renewable energy policies into account and then ranks the states accordingly.
How does cold temperature effect my solar panels efficiency?
As temperatures decrease in the winter, your solar panels are actually running at peak efficiency!
The colder it gets the more freely electricity can move due to less resistance in the solar panels conductors.
Of course, with colder weather often comes snow and snow buildup over your solar panels. This doesn’t allow for sunlight to reach the panels, but with the right contractor and installation
team you won’t have this problem. The contractors will position the panels at an angle allowing for the snow to slide
How does overcast and shade effect my solar panels efficiency?
Solar panels actually convert the photons that are found through natural daylight into usable electricity as opposed to direct sunlight.
So, direct sunlight to the solar panel system isn’t needed for the system to still produce electricity.
For example, on cloudy days the solar panels lenses and mirrors refract what little light does seep through the clouds and maximizes the photon conversion. On cloudy days in New Jersey, your solar panel system will work at roughly 40% output compared to a clear and sunny day.
How much does It cost to install solar panels in New Jersey?
The cost of a solar installation will depend on variables such as roof space, contractor, and how many kilowatts of energy you’re looking to generate.
The standard solar panel system is a 5 kW system that requires roughly 333sq/ft of roof space. It generates 5 kilowatts of energy and costs roughly $18,000 in New Jersey.
That is before you claim your 30% federal solar tax credit which reduces the cost to around $12,000. This price includes labor costs as well as materials.
What exactly is the 30% federal solar tax credit?
The Federal Solar Tax credit, which is also known as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) has been in place since 2016 when Congress extended the 30% Federal Solar Tax Credit.
The federal solar tax credit will deduct 30% from the cost of the solar panel installation from your federal taxes.
For example, on a medium sized solar panel system you can expect your claimable tax credit to be roughly $6,000. The federal solar tax credit is only available to individuals who own their solar panel system. Individuals who are looking to lease solar panel systems are not entitled to the 30% tax credit, the companies who are doing the leasing receive the tax credit.
Looking towards the immediate future, the solar tax credit will remain at 30% of the entire solar panel installation through the year 2019 and eventually being cut to 26% deduction in 2020, 22% deduction in 2021, and finally to 10% in 2022 where it will remain at 0% indefinitely. Commercial projects tax credit percentage will remain at 10% indefinitely.
The tax credit will play a large part in your overall return on investment, so it is important to act swiftly before the tax credit percentage inevitably decreases.
What rebates may be available for solar panels in NJ?
The NJ Clean Energy Residential New Construction Program
For individuals who are looking to build a new home and are planning on using renewable energy to power it in the form of a solar panel system you may be entitled to rebates!
In order to qualify for these rebates you must meet the New Jersey Energy Star standards which is detailed in “The NJ Clean Energy Residential New Construction Program,”. The program detailed in the link above should shed some light into how much money you may be entitled to if your home meets the Energy Star standards.
SREC’S (Solar Renewable Energy Credits)
New Jersey currently has the highest ranked solar incentive program in the United States, Solar Renewable Energy Credits, or SRECs for short.
Once applicants are accepted into the New Jersey SREC’s program they will expect to receive on average $200 for every 1,000 kilowatt-hours of energy produced by their solar panel system for the next 10 years.
Over the course of a year, your average 5 kw system is expected to produce anywhere from 5000 kilowatt hours (kWh) to 10,000 kilowatt hours of renewable energy. Factors that may affect your solar systems overall output may include thing such as location, climate, installation, and equipment.
According to electricityplans.com you can save a ton of energy using solar, below are some examples.
5,000 kilowatt hours is equivalent to:
- Powering a 50inch for 250,000 hours
- Powering an air conditioner for 1,700 hours
- Powering the oven for 2,200 hours
- Powering the refrigerator for 92 months
- Powering 1,700 loads of laundry
- Powering 2,500 loads of dishes
In their example, they cited kwh which doesn’t always make sense to everyone, so we wanted to convert those examples to something a bit easier.
Members of the SREC’S program can receive up to 6 payments of roughly $200 annually as long as they report to the Generation Attribute Tracking System (GATS).
From there money is placed in members electronic accounts.
Unfortunately, the Solar Renewable Energy Credits program is currently being phased out!
New legislature has the SREC’s program being closed to new applicants when the state’s energy hits 5.1% coming from solar.
This could happen sometime during 2019, but no later than 2021 when the program will be shut down to new applicants permanently regardless if the state hits its 5.1% goal or not.
So, what can you do now?
In the meantime, there is no better time to go green in New Jersey. The SREC’s program is closing sometime in the next 2 years, and all new applicants that get into the program will still be entitled to up to $1200 in SREC’s for the duration of the next 10 years.
That means you may be entitled up $12,000 if you become a member of the SREC’s program before it’s phased out!
Solar property tax exemption
By installing a solar panel system, it will significantly increase the property value of your home if you decide to sell.
Fortunately, when it comes time to pay your annual state property tax, it is illegal for the state government to charge any more property tax on the solar panel system installed on your roof.
Sales tax exemption
The state tax rate is currently at 6.625% in New Jersey.
Unlike re-carpeting your home or redoing the master bathroom, you aren’t subject to an almost 7% sales tax when you purchase a solar panel system.
In regard to improving the value of your home, a great place to start would be with the installation of a solar panel system where you can forget about an extra 7% sales tax being tacked onto your purchase price.
How to select a contractor for New Jersey solar installation
With over 500 different solar energy companies operating in the great state of New Jersey it could be very difficult sifting through all of the various contractors and finding the right one.
We suggest following this list of things you should do when deciding upon who you want to do your solar installation!
Always check online reviews for solar installation companies
Often times the best thing to do when going into any and every purchasing decision is to read online reviews and testimonials from previous buyers. By reading these customer reviews and testimonials it makes it easier to see past a contractor’s sales pitch and understand how they really perform on the job.
It allows you, the would-be buyer, to see all of the satisfactory experiences customers have had as well as the not so satisfactory experiences.
Request free solar installation quotes
Once you’ve vetted the installation companies to make sure that they have been providing quality installations to all of their clients, try cutting your list down to roughly 3-5 potential installers.
From there send out requests for free quotes for your potential solar installation.
More often than not the companies that respond in a timely manner are the companies you’d probably like to do business with.
Understand what the solar installation company offers
• Solar financing options
• Solar panel maintenance packages
• Scheduled solar panel cleaning packages
• Help track energy output/production
• 1 on 1 meetings to help sift through all of
the tax incentives and rebates
Comparing solar installation quotes
Depending on what is most important to you will ultimately determine which contractor you choose.
If you’re looking for lowest bottom line than you would pick accordingly.
If you are looking for the best overall contractor, then relying on reviews and testimonials to ultimately choose your contractor would be your best bet.
New Jersey solar installer reviews
Reviews are a great way to gauge a quality solar installer in your area. You can find reviews on google, bing, yahoo, yelp, etc.
What you want to look for is not just good star ratings.
Because they don’t tell you anything.
Look for solar installer reviews that provide a high star rating AND a strong explanation of why that specific company is the best solar installer in New Jersey.
Below are some great examples of reviews you should pay attention to when shopping solar installers.
According to energysage.com here are the ratings and various testimonials from previous customers:
Solar Installation Company Review 1
4.98 star average rating
“I Had a great experience with Company 1. The process took some time (not because of The Company) but John Doe and the Company was very helpful and professional throughout the whole time. I would some up my experience with great customer service”
Solar Installation Company Review 2
4.77 star average rating
“I am very disappointed in company 2. To begin with, the loan company: they use electronic documents (which are much quicker and simpler than dealing with papers) and continually had errors. You correspond with the solar company, not the loan company so it is not easy to fix errors. I had to escalate my concern several times because the solar company was not or could not SEE the exact contract (the loan company was using outdated template). This made it a very frustrating process that lengthened the beginning stages.”
As you can see above, both companies have great star average ratings, only a couple percentage points difference in the two. But If you hadn’t taken the time to really delve into the reviews section you might have missed the very disappointing review on company 2 and the same problems might’ve occurred again had you decided to go with Company 2.
Leasing solar panels as an alternative?
For some individuals who don’t want the large upfront cost of solar panels, but are still looking to go green and save some money on their electricity bill leasing may be the option for them.
The overall lifetime savings vary depending on your lease agreement as well as electrical bill but on average you save about half as much money as you would if you owned the solar panel system outright.
This option is great for cash strapped home or business owners with lease agreements ranging anywhere from $50-$250 a month depending on the size of your solar installation. Most companies in the New Jersey area may also offer free maintenance in the lease agreement.
Are there any subdivision by laws for solar installation?
It is actually illegal for a homeowners’ association to have any restrictions or not allow an individual to go solar in the state of New Jersey.
The New Jersey Statute 45-22A-48.2 prohibits homeowners’ associations from preventing members the ability to install a solar power system.
Unfortunately, homeowners’ associations do have the right to restrict
• Physical appearance
• Contractor qualifications
• System location
Only, if the restriction doesn’t increase your solar panel system expense by more than 10% of its original price. Or if the restriction decreases the maximum capacity of your solar panel system.
Frequently Asked Questions about Solar Installation in New Jersey
Do solar panels have to go on my roof?
It is a big misconception that a solar panel system is required to go on a person’s roof.
While this is the most common place that residential
and commercial solar panel owners choose it isn’t
always the best spot.
You want to position your solar panels facing south or west to receive the most daylight as possible. If the ground is the best location for someone to achieve the most daylight or it is your preference, contractors are more than willing to install the solar panel system on the ground.
Can I use solar panels to power my RV battery?
By using solar panels to provide energy to your recreational vehicle it allows you to go completely off the grid!
Not just off the grid in an energy saving sense, but no longer are your travel and camping destinations limited to a campsite with electrical hookups. No longer do you have to spend your money on hookup fees and no longer do you have to listen to that noisy generator!
Solar panels for recreational vehicles generally run anywhere from $3500 to $4500 and you will likely recoup your investment in 2-5 years depending on the frequency of your recreational vehicle use.
What is the average life of solar panels?
Generally speaking, solar panels are meant to last 25-35 years producing what the solar panel industry considers “adequate amounts” of energy.
Your solar panels will in theory produce energy for decades after you put them on your roof but the amount of energy it will be producing will be a fraction of what it originally produced. A rule of thumb generally used in the industry is every year your solar panel original output will fall roughly 0.8%.
How many solar panels are needed to power my house?
It all depends on your typical monthly energy usage as opposed to actual size of your home.
For example, a family of 6 living in 2000sq/ft home could very well need a much larger solar panel system than a couple living in a 3000sq/ft home based solely on monthly energy usage.
Solar panel installers will help you look over your previous monthly energy usage to help determine how large of a solar system you will need.
How do you clean solar panels on your roof?
When it comes to keeping your solar panels clean and making sure that your panels are operating at a maximum output you really have three options:
- Hire professionals who will come out and clean your solar panels off for you. Often times the contracting company who installed your panels will offer a monthly cleaning service in addition to the installation.
- Buy a robot that will clean your solar panels autonomously.
- Or do it the old-fashioned way, with a garden hose and a bucket of warm soapy water.
Can you use a pressure washer to clean solar panels?
It isn’t advised to you’re a pressure washer when cleaning off solar panels as the high-water pressure might damage the solar panels.