How much does it cost to install solar panels in Pennsylvania?
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Solar Panel Installation in Pennsylvania Cost Guide
Updated: August 19, 2022
Residents of Pennsylvania may find many benefits in installing solar panels. Pennsylvania has a variable climate with hot summers and cold, snowy winters. With higher-than-average energy costs, heating and cooling your home year-round can be expensive. Solar panels reduce your energy costs, and residents can still benefit from solar energy even with an average of 179 sunny days per year.
The state average to install solar panels in Pennsylvania is $14,640 to $19,560, with most homeowners paying $17,100 for a 6kW system using monocrystalline panels on a roof. This project’s low cost is $4,880 for a 2kW system using thin-film panels on a roof. The high cost is $53,000 for a 10kW system with monocrystalline panels using full battery backup on the ground.
Cost to Install Solar Panels in Pennsylvania
|Cost of Solar Panels in Pennsylvania|
|National average cost||$17,100|
Average Cost of Solar Panels in PA by Type
Solar panel systems can be installed in two ways. You can remain tied to the electrical grid, allowing you to use the grid’s energy at night or when your system is not operating at peak efficiency. You can also install your panels in an off-grid setup with a much larger system, battery backup, and an additional backup system, such as a generator or wind power.
Most residents are tied to the grid in Pennsylvania. You can go off-grid in Pennsylvania, but there are very strict rules. You must have a religious exception - the state has a large population of Amish - or your home must be a recreational cabin. Going off-grid is subject to strict regulations, even under these circumstances, and most residences do not meet the requirements.
If you meet the requirements, off-grid systems must be much larger than grid-tied systems. They are also more expensive due to the size and battery backup. Below are the average costs to install a solar panel system on your home in a grid-tied and off-grid scenario in Pennsylvania.
|Type||Average Cost (Installed)|
|Grid-Tied||$14,640 - $19,560|
|Off-Grid||$42,000 - $73,000|
Solar Panel Cost per Watt in Pennsylvania
Solar panels are typically priced and installed by the watt. Each panel may have between 250 and 400 watts, depending on its type and size. The number of panels you need is directly influenced by the system size. The average cost per watt for solar panels in Pennsylvania is $2.44 to $3.26. This translates to $14,640 to $19,560 for a 6kW system fully installed.
Solar panel systems come in a range of sizes to meet your needs or reduce your grid dependency and energy costs. Below are the average costs for grid-tied systems of various sizes and the average number of solar panels for that installation.
|System Size||Panels Needed||Average Cost (Installed)|
|2 kW||5 - 8||$4,880 - $6,520|
|3 kW||8 - 12||$7,320 - $9,780|
|4 kW||10 - 16||$9,760 - $13,040|
|5 kW||13 - 20||$12,200 - $16,300|
|6 kW||15 - 24||$14,640 - $19,560|
|7 kW||18 - 28||$17,080 - $22,820|
|8 kW||20 - 32||$19,520 - $26,080|
|10 kW||25 - 40||$24,400 - $32,600|
|12 kW||30 - 48||$29,280 - $39,120|
|15 kW||38 - 60||$36,600 - $48,900|
|18 kW||45 - 72||$43,920 - $58,680|
Solar Panels in PA Cost per Square Foot
While your home size does not directly influence your system size, they can be loosely correlated. While you may have a range of energy needs, the larger the home, the higher its energy needs. This means your solar panel system is likely larger.
You can install smaller systems to offset your energy costs. You can also install much larger systems that meet all your home’s energy needs with room for growth. While larger homes typically have larger systems, there can be an overlap. Below are the average costs to install a solar panel system on homes of varying sizes.
|House Size||Average Cost (Installed)|
|1,000 sq.ft.||$4,880 - $26,080|
|1,500 sq.ft.||$6,520 - $29,280|
|2,000 sq.ft.||$9,760 - $32,600|
|2,500 sq.ft.||$14,640 - $39,120|
Cost of Solar Panels in PA by Cell Type
Solar panels can be grouped into polycrystalline, monocrystalline, and thin film. Monocrystalline panels are the most common and expensive. Monocrystalline panels typically produce the best output and work in bright sunlight. They have a matte black finish for a sleek appearance.
Polycrystalline cells are made from fragments of silicon crystals, while monocrystalline panels are made from whole crystals. Polycrystalline panels are less expensive but less efficient than monocrystalline panels. They are also a brighter blue, which some people may not like.
Thin-film panels are the lowest profile. While they work best in overcast areas, they are less efficient than monocrystalline panels. They are also less expensive than monocrystalline panels. Below are the average costs for installing a 6kW system using the 3 solar panels.
|Cell Type||Average Cost (Installed)|
|Polycrystalline||$13,000 - $18,000|
|Thin-Film||$13,000 - $18,000|
|Monocrystalline||$14,000 - $20,000|
Labor Cost to Install Solar Panels in Pennsylvania
Labor costs to install solar panels in Pennsylvania range from $0.81 to $0.93 per watt. Costs vary depending on many factors, including region, panel and inverter type, and installation location. Labor costs are generally higher in urban areas than in less-populated spaces. For example, installing the panels in Pittsburg is more costly than installing them in more rural spaces. Also, the area you install the panels on can also influence the labor cost. Ground installations are more labor-intensive than roof installations, impacting your final costs. Below are Pennsylvania’s average labor costs to install grid-tied solar panel systems.
|System Size||Average Labor Costs|
|2 kW||$1,620 - $1,860|
|3 kW||$2,430 - $2,790|
|4 kW||$3,240 - $3,720|
|5 kW||$4,050 - $4,650|
|6 kW||$4,860 - $5,580|
|7 kW||$5,670 - $6,510|
|8 kW||$6,480 - $7,440|
|10 kW||$8,100 - $9,300|
Which Direction Should Solar Panels Face in Pennsylvania?
The best position for your solar panels in Pennsylvania is to the south. However, you can install them facing southwest or southeast without sacrificing much energy output. You can position them to the west for homes not aligned in these directions. Speak with your installer about the best position for your solar panels and what other things may be done to maximize output.
Cost of Solar Panels in Pennsylvania by Location
Most solar panels installed in Pennsylvania are on roofs. This is the most common and cost-effective method of installation. However, you can install the panels on a ground-mounted system to maximize light exposure if your roof cannot support the weight, you have an oversized system, or your home does not face south.
Ground-mounted systems are more expensive to install than roof-mounted systems. Ground system arrays tend to be more costly than roof arrays. Running wires from the ground system to the home often involves trenching to bury the wires. This can lead to higher labor costs. Below are the costs to install a 6kW solar panel system in Pennsylvania on the roof and ground.
|System Location||Average Costs (Installed)|
|Roof||$14,640 - $19,560|
|Ground||$17,850 - $23,600|
Pennsylvania Solar Tax Credit 2022
While Pennsylvania does not have specific tax credits for residents who install solar panels, the federal government offers a tax credit in 2022 to homeowners who install solar panels this year. This credit value is equal to about 30% of the cost to install your system and is claimed when you file your annual taxes. The credit you should receive on your taxes for a 6 kW system amounts to $4,392 to $5,868, depending on the system cost.
Pennsylvania Free Solar Program
Two programs in Pennsylvania may help you install solar panels at no upfront cost. These are the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and the PA Sunshine program.
In the PPA, eligible homes can have solar panels installed on their homes at no cost to them. You pay for the energy produced by the solar panels, purchasing solar power for your home rather than strictly purchasing grid energy. Residents using this program save money on energy in most cases.
The PA Sunshine program can provide low or no-cost solar panels to eligible residents who meet certain criteria. These include income caps and living in an area that the census has declared underserved by solar energy. If you fit these requirements, speak to your local municipality for more information.
Solar Inverter Cost by Type
Your system also needs solar inverters. Inverters take the energy produced by your solar panels and turn it into energy your home can use. They come in a few types.
String inverters are one of the most common. Several solar panels are grouped into a string, and several strings may tie to a single inverter. This inverter is generally located in the basement or another accessible area. While they are more costly per inverter, you do not need as many as other types. The downside is that the entire system may fail if one string fails.
Power optimizers can be used with string inverters. You need one optimizer for each solar panel. They even out energy output from the panels and are useful if you have a complex roof where some panels may go into the shade.
Microinverters are installed one per panel, usually near the panel like power optimizers. You need 20 microinverters with 20 panels, so while they are less expensive than string inverters, you often need more. Their benefit is that if one panel stops working, the rest of the system is unaffected.
If you have a battery for your solar panel system, you also need a battery inverter. These convert energy from the panels into energy the battery can store. You need one battery inverter for each battery. Below are the average costs for each inverter type.
|Type||Average Costs (Materials Only)|
|Power Optimizer||$125 - $150|
|Microinverter||$150 - $215|
|String Inverter||$1,000 - $2,000|
|Battery-Based||$2,000 - $2,300|
Cost to Run and Maintain Solar Panels in PA
Maintenance for solar panels in Pennsylvania is fairly easy. These panels should be inspected regularly for worn or damaged areas that may impact energy output to make timely repairs. They should also be cleaned regularly. Most people combine these services on twice-yearly visits. This has an average yearly cost of $300 to $700, depending on how many panels you need cleaned.
Tesla Solar Roof in Pennsylvania Price
If your roof is older and must be replaced before installing solar panels, you may want to consider a Tesla solar roof. Tesla solar roofs cover your entire home with inactive and photovoltaic tiles. This can produce the energy you need with a subtle and seamless appearance than installing solar panels on the roof. You can also use one or more of Tesla’s Powerwall batteries as a backup system. Depending on your home’s size and amount of inactive tiles, this system costs between $40,000 and $65,000 in Pennsylvania for the average 2,000 to 2,500 sq.ft. home.
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
Solar Water Heater
In addition to installing solar panels on your home, you may also want to install a solar water heater. Solar water heaters can heat the water you use in your home. They can use strictly solar energy or have electric resistance heating as a backup. The systems can be sized to provide your home with the water it needs each day. They typically cost between $8,000 and $10,000.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Permits. Permits are required for solar panel installations in Pennsylvania. Speak to your local municipality for more information.
- Licenses. Your solar installer should be licensed and insured in the state. Check with your local municipality for more information on licensing requirements.
- Warranties. Solar panels have warranties depending on the panel type and brand. Speak to your installer for more information.
- HOAs. Homeowners associations can limit the type and placement of solar panels in some areas. Speak to your HOA for more information.
- Environmental zoning. Some areas may be zoned as environmentally sensitive. In this case, you may need to follow stricter regulations for your installation. Speak to your local municipality for more information.
- Home value. Solar panels typically raise your home’s value by roughly 4.1%.
- SRECS. Pennsylvania takes part in the Solar Renewable Energy Certificates program, where you receive one SREC for each megawatt of energy you produce. You may sell these for between $24 and $41 a piece.
- Is it worth it to go solar in PA?
Yes, there are many benefits to using solar power in PA, including an energy bill reduction. The state also allows net metering and SRECs, providing further benefits to residents.
- Does PA have a solar tax credit?
The state does not have a solar tax credit. However, residents can take advantage of the federal tax credit of 30% in 2022.
- Do solar panels increase property taxes in Pennsylvania?
Yes, unfortunately, Pennsylvania does not offer a property tax exemption on solar panels, and you pay an increase in property taxes.
- Can you sell electricity back to the grid in Pennsylvania?
Yes, Pennsylvania allows net metering on all solar panel systems less than 50kW. You must work with the company that is your regular supplier for electricity.
- Can I install my own solar panels in PA?
While there are no restrictions in Pennsylvania against installing your own panels, it is not recommended. It can be difficult to connect the panels to the grid DIY, and you must connect to the grid in Pennsylvania in most installations.