If you’re like us, you’ve walked by that amazing brownstone with the solar panels on the roof and said, “We need to do that.” Solar panels can save money on your energy bill, and they’re becoming increasingly popular in New York City. But how much do solar panels actually cost?
The average cost for a 5 kilowatt (kW) solar installation in NYC is $25,000 and $18,500 after the federal tax credit. The average cost per watt for solar panels in NYC is $4.50-$6 per watt.
NY State and New York city solar rebates and incentives further reduce the cost. Solar panels in NYC pay back in approximately 7-9 years. Solar panels typically last for 20-25 years, so over the long run, we think it’s a pretty wise investment decision.
20 Year Savings:
Cost per Watt:
$4.50 – $6
Factors that Determine the Total Cost
- Size of the System (number of panels)
- Equipment Costs
- Solar Installation Company
- NYC Solar Incentives, Tax Credits, and Rebates
- Financing Options
- Payback Period
- Electricity Rates
- Your Roof
- Maintenance Costs
Offsetting these costs is the increase in the value of your home that comes with installing solar panels. For example, homes in Brooklyn with solar have a 4.1% higher resale value, according to a Zillow study.
Solar Installation by Borough
Going solar in Brooklyn is worth it, with some of the highest concentrations of viable rooftops in the country. However, roofs in Brooklyn such as brownstones are often flat roofs with obstructions like skylights, and are mid-sized (275-350 sq ft). So we recommend using an installer with experience on these roof types.
Lots of single-family homes on Staten Island make many locations good for typical solar panel roof installations. Furthermore, Staten Island is the cheapest borough for solar installation (based on cost per watt). Staten Island is also home to the largest solar farm in NYC.
Queens actually averages about 230 days of sunshine a year so this makes solar panel systems a viable source of electricity. Homeowners of Queens have an excellent opportunity to cash in on big savings by cutting their monthly energy bill by investing in a solar panel energy system.
Considering the number of buildings in Manhattan, it is probably not a surprise that Manhattan hosts the country’s largest array of solar panels on an apartment complex (StuyTown). We suggest contacting a solar installer who is familiar with flat roof solar panel installations.
The Bronx has a good mix of residential, commercial, and community solar. The benefits of using solar energy in the Bronx usually make it worth it to install. We suggest getting quotes from multiple city-based solar installers. Local solar companies are very familiar with local incentives and permits.
How We Researched the Best Solar Installers in NYC
We did a ton of research to find the right installer for our own home in Brooklyn. We also spent 50+ hours on a deep dive into all the solar companies in New York. We read reviews from multiple websites, dug up warranties, accreditations, financing options, product options, experience, employee satisfaction, and more.
Also, you’ve probably seen some other review sites that include installers in NJ and Upstate NY – our list is shorter and more focused, to save you time. 👍
We looked at the following factors:
- NABCEP and BBB accreditation
- What are the warranties
- Do they offer financing options
- Do they offer product options that are good for NYC flat roofs
- Do they use quality panels and inverters
- How long have they been installing solar in NYC
- How many customers have they serviced
- How many electricians and install teams do they have
- How is their employee satisfaction
- What has been customers’ feedback
PRO TIP: Pardon us for geeking out, but this will save you a lot of time, promise. 😀 You absolutely want to work with an installer that really understands the NYC Department of Buildings (DoB) solar inspection rules. Speeding through inspections can save you weeks of delays.
Best Solar Companies in New York City
Island Park, NY
Good service and informative documentation.
Flexible financing options, 25 year warranty.
Sea Bright Solar
Staten Island, NY
Installs SunPower and Tesla Powerwall. Nearly 20 years experience.
Surf Clean Energy
Long Beach, NY
Home base is Long Island homes, but has experience with Queens, Brooklyn flat roofs.
New York, NY
Installs panels and batteries. Flexible payment options.
Knowledgable sales people. Northeast region focus, does not have NYC office.
How to Choose a Solar Installer in NYC
- Read up on the solar installer’s reviews and client testimonials
- Find out about the warranties offered
- Check the solar installer’s credentials and accreditations
- Ask for the likely install and inspection time
- Look for customized solutions for NYC roofs
- Decide whether you want a national or local solar installation company
NYC Solar Incentives and Rebates
Good news NYC-ers: There are multiple rebates and incentives that will make your solar install cost less and pay itself back faster. 💵 💵 💵
There are six major solar incentives and rebates for NYC residents:
1. New York City Solar Property Tax Abatement
The NYC Solar Property Tax Abatement lowers your taxes and makes solar more affordable. According to the NYC Department of Buildings, the Solar Electric Generating Systems Tax Abatement provides a four-year tax abatement when you install solar. The program provides a four-year tax abatement of 5% of eligible expenditures for each year. The maximum is $62,500 per year for 4 years or your annual tax amount (whichever is less). If you pay your property taxes as part of your mortgage payment, that means your monthly mortgage check will be smaller!
2. Solar Federal Tax Credit
According to the Department of Energy, you can claim a credit on your federal taxes of 22% if you complete installation on your solar system before the end of 2022. For a solar system costing $20,000, that means you can deduct $4,400 from your federal taxes. To qualify, you need to own the system outright, and it needs to be for your primary or secondary residence in the US. Importantly, there is currently no maximum amount you can claim, so we advise homeowners to install the largest system that offsets their energy bill. Also, you can carry over any unused amount to following years.
3. New York State Tax Credit
According to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, homeowners can claim 25% of solar equipment costs, up to $5000. This credit reduces your New York State taxes. It has to be applied to your principal residence in New York.
4. New York State Solar Rebate (NY-Sun Program)
According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the NY-Sun Program reduces the cost of installing solar. The rebate is paid directly with solar installers, so you need to make sure to work with a NYSERDA-approved installer.
5. New York State Solar Sales Tax Exemption
More good news, people! Per the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, installation of residential solar energy systems are exempt from New York City sales tax.
6. NYS Historic Homeownership Rehabilitation tax credit
This credit for rehabilitating a historic home is worth 20% of the rehabilitation costs, up to $50,000 per taxpayer per year, and it can be carried over. According to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, you can find out if your home is within the boundary of a historic district by checking out these maps.
Is it worth it to install solar in NYC?
With valuable incentives and rebates, sufficient sun, and roof space, solar installation in NYC often pays for itself after around seven years, and can significantly reduce your utility bills right away. And installing solar has been found to increase the value of your home. Overall, we found NYC is one of the best cities to install solar.
Is my home suitable for solar in NYC?
If your NYC home meets the following four criteria, it’s likely your house is a good fit for installing solar:
- Roof rights: You own your home or have rights to build on the roof
- Electricity usage: We recommend your Coned bill should be at least $100 to fully take advantage of the solar benefits
- Sun coverage: Most solar panels in NYC will have some shade at some point in the day from trees or buildings, it’s just important to get enough sun to cover your energy needs
- Size: For an average sized single family home in NYC, we estimate approximately 16-24 panels are needed to offset 100% of your energy use, requiring 300 – 400 sq ft of roof space (rough estimate)
How much does it cost to install solar in NYC?
Homeowners in New York City on average pay between $25k-$40k for a moderate-sized solar power system. The exact price is largely determined by your electricity usage, roof, and how much of your energy bill you want to offset.
How does net metering work in NYC?
Net metering is a system that allows solar panel owners to get a credit on their utility bill for the amount of energy your system produces above the amount that you use, paid at the regular retail rate.
In New York City, net metering is available through net metering program. However, we expect this program to change soon, so we would recommend installing solar now so you get the full benefit.
Can renters install solar in NYC?
Renters can’t install solar roof panels without the owner’s consent. Renters can take advantage of community solar. Community solar lets renters use electricity powered by solar, and usually at a discount to your average electric bill.