Below you’ll find the top solar companies in Pennsylvania as ranked by us and reviewed by verified solar customers. To learn more about what goes into our “Best Rank” score for each company, visit our How We Rank page. For our full Pennsylvania Solar Overview, keep reading:
With significant investment across residential, commercial, and utility solar installation projects over the years, Pennsylvania is swiftly rising to become one of the highest solar-producing states in the nation. Above average utility rates, a number of statewide incentives, and a full slate of financing options make going solar in the Keystone State all the easier and more affordable.
Read on to learn more about the ins and outs of going solar in Pennsylvania.
Here's an at-a-glance description of the current benefits and drawbacks of switching to solar in Pennsylvania:
In Pennsylvania, the levelized cost of solar power is about 6 cents per kilowatt-hour. This figure represents the total upfront costs of a solar PV system divided by the lifetime output over 25 years. Compared to the levelized cost of traditional energy in the state, 35 cents per kWh, the savings could not be more obvious.
The upfront costs of solar in Pennsylvania are surprisingly affordable. For a typical 5 kW system, customers should expect to pay about $16,000 out of pocket. This cost gets reduced by 30 percent once the federal tax credit is applied, so after the first year, the true cost is close to the $11,000 – $12,500 range.
Both of these figures, the levelized and upfront costs, can be higher or lower depending on a number of factors like energy efficiency, installation costs, and system capacity.
Fortunately, Pennsylvanians have a number of financing options available to them if they want to go solar. Not only can they finance their systems out of pocket, or through a loan from a third-party lender, residents can also rent the system through either a solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA):
As mentioned above, a 5 kW system goes for just above $16,000 in Pennsylvania, less about $4,800 after the federal solar tax credit has been applied. Coupled with the first year’s energy savings, homeowners will have ultimately paid close to $10,000.
The estimated savings from investing in solar energy will have offset the total cost of the system after just 11 years of operation, leaving nearly 14 years of net profit for the remainder of the system’s lifespan. In that time, homeowners will have netted close to $20,000 — almost doubling their investment. When all is said and done, home value will increase by an average of $16,000 after 25 years.
The other alternative to obtaining full ownership of a solar panel system in Pennsylvania is through a solar loan. Though homeowners will end up paying more money toward their solar loan than through direct purchase, solar loans come with the inherent advantage of charging zero money upfront. That means savings begin from day one, and for a typical solar system, customers will have netted nearly $5,000 in savings after just the first year.
Those savings will decline year over year as loan payments remain pricier than utility payments. In fact, by year 15, borrowers will have amassed nearly $5,000 in year expenses in solar loan payments alone. Thankfully, once the loan is paid off after 15 years, customers will enjoy a decade of pure savings. After 25 years of system operation, customers can expect to see a net increase of roughly $14,000 — not as high as with cash purchase, but still a good deal of savings.
Solar leases and PPAs in the state represent low-risk, low-reward solar financing options for customers who lack the substantial capital required to own their system outright. Solar leases, on the one hand, essentially act as rental agreements, often for zero money down and 20-year terms. All installation and maintenance costs rest solely on the shoulders of the providing company. Meanwhile, a 20-year solar lease can save customers about $5,000 total, because lease payments tend to be lower than the monthly utility bill.
PPAs operate much in the same way, only customers pay monthly for the energy output of the system as opposed to the system itself. PPAs also come with a zero money down option, and the savings, between $4,000 and $5,000, are comparable to solar lease savings.
Pennsylvania, unfortunately, does not offer residents much in terms of solar incentives. Solar incentives are generally designed to make solar energy more affordable, and usually come in the form of tax credits, rebate programs, and programs for low-income individuals or families.
The only true solar incentive in the state is a rebate program, and this program is made all the more narrow by applying only to people living in Philadelphia. This rebate program awards $200 per kW to all solar panel systems in the city; however, as the program is only allotted $500,000 a year, its reach is severely hampered. Assuming all solar panels installations are 5 kW in capacity, that means only 500 systems will receive a rebate.
Pennsylvania’s solar policies, meanwhile, apply statewide. From the state’s renewable portfolio standard to its net metering policy, the barriers that normally limit solar adoption in other states are not as prominent in Pennsylvania.
A state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) is a goal, set at the state level, of attributing a set amount of total energy output to renewable sources like solar power, wind power, and natural gas, by a predetermined date. Often, the RPS will penalize utility companies that fail to meet the standard by the agreed-upon date.
In Pennsylvania, the RPS is 18.02 percent by 2021, with 0.5 being “carved out” for solar energy specifically. As of 2020, the state is very close to achieving its solar carve-out goal, coming in at 0.3 percent.
Pennsylvania has been requiring investor-owned solar projects to offer net metering since 2008. This policy applies to all solar installation projects 50 kW or less in size. Net metering requires utility providers to credit solar users (either on a monthly or yearly basis) for the surplus electricity their systems contribute to the utility grid.
Interconnection refers to the process of plugging a solar energy system into a city’s utility grid. Interconnection rules, meanwhile, outline the standards and requirements that must be met before interconnection can take place.
In Pennsylvania, a fee ranging from $100 to $261 applies to all systems, depending on size, before interconnection. An additional external disconnect switch, which can be costly, is also required of all systems. Thankfully, that’s about the extent of the hoops solar owners need to jump through; no additional home insurance policy is required.
As of 2020, Pennsylvania has installed more than 550 megawatts of solar energy in the past decade alone. That comes from the over 32,000 solar panel installations throughout the state, and directs clean energy to more than 67,000 Pennsylvania households. The state hosts nearly 400 solar installers and manufacturers employing over 4,000 people.
Interested in a solar quote? Check out the top-ranked solar companies in Pennsylvania and read reviews from verified solar customers.