Quantcast
EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
Night comes to oil and gas platforms near the Federal Ecological Reserve in the Santa Barbara Channel, February 15, 2001, near Santa Barbara, California. David McNew / Getty Images

The Biden administration came under fire last month for overseeing the largest offshore oil and gas leasing sale in U.S. history. Now, a new report suggests this wasn’t an isolated incident.

The analysis from Public Citizen reveals that the new administration has issued more permits for oil and gas drilling on public lands per month than the Trump administration did in its first three years, as Yahoo News reported.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
8 Wolves Poisoned in Oregon, Including an Entire Pack

Conservation groups are offering a $43,000 reward for information about the killings.

Animals
A gray wolf in Oregon. Bob Pool / Photographer's Choice RF / Getty Images

Oregon police are seeking assistance in the poisoning of eight wolves in the state since February.

Read More Show Less
CASEZY / iStock / Getty Images

From lighting up the night when you return home to boosting security, installing solar flood lights is a great way to invest in your home’s functionality and safety. Solar flood lights harness their energy from the sun and don’t require wiring or electrical work, making installation a breeze even for renters. And thanks to waterproof designs and efficient LEDs, they offer a fix-it-and-forget solution to myriad lighting predicaments.

In this article, we’ll recommend four of the best LED solar flood lights and motion-detector lights on the market today.

Read More Show Less
gorodenkoff / iStock / Getty Images

While many homeowners are switching to solar power to help reduce or even eliminate their month-to-month utility costs, there’s no arguing that startup costs of solar panels can be high. One way to save money upfront is with a DIY solar panel installation, but is the challenge of building your own system worth what you save on labor?

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the pros and cons of DIY solar panel installation, including safety factors, permitting and how much money it saves in the long run.

If you’re looking to compare DIY costs to the cost of hiring a professional, you can use this tool or fill out the form below to start getting quotes from solar companies in your area.

DIY Solar: Considering the Cost Savings

Let’s talk dollars and cents. The cost of solar you’ll find in most research reflects more than just the solar panels themselves. It also takes into account other costs, including wiring, inverters, racking, administrative fees (permits and inspections) and labor.

The average cost of solar, when installed by a top solar company, can range from $10,000 to $20,000 — and that’s after tax credits, incentives and rebates are applied. Homeowners trying to save money might consider eliminating the labor associated with system design and installation, which can make up 10-25% of total costs.

Here in Louisiana, our market research shows the cost of solar averages around $2.57 per watt. A 5-kW system would cost me around $12,000 before the tax credit, so a DIY solar installation could save me over $2,000.

On the flip side, professional installers buy solar panels, solar inverters and solar batteries from wholesale distributors in bulk, accessing a wider range of products for lower prices than what’s available to the general public. This price difference likely won’t offset the savings on labor, however.

Consider the longevity of your system as well. How much value can you expect in the long run? Do you trust your own installation to last 25 to 30 years, matching the lifespan of the best solar panels installed professionally? Solar is a long-term investment, so before you set off on your DIY project, make sure your handiwork can stand the test of time.

Pros and Cons of DIY Solar Panel Installation

Beyond price, there are a number of pros and cons to weigh before attempting to install your own solar panel system.

Advantages of DIY Solar Panels

Here are a few of the major benefits of DIY solar:

  • Cost savings: The most obvious advantage of installing your own solar panels is the cost savings. If you go for a DIY project, you’ll be racking up the savings — both on your electric bill and solar system installation. By eliminating the need for design and labor help, you can save a decent chunk of change on your residential solar energy system.
  • DIY system design: Installing your own system lets you keep complete control of your design and aesthetic. So, if you’re an amateur solar enthusiast, electrician or DIYer and have a very specific vision for how you want your solar array to be assembled, going the do-it-yourself route can give you free rein to do as you please.
  • Easing into solar: DIY solar panels can also be a smart option for those who are looking to start small, with a more modest home solar project. For example, maybe you’re not looking to offset 100% of your energy use but want to try out a couple of panels to see how much they offset your energy costs. The DIY route can be very cost-effective, especially if you have low energy needs.

Disadvantages of DIY Solar Panels

While there are notable perks to the DIY solar approach, there are also some drawbacks worth noting:

  • Product availability: Installing DIY solar panels limits the range of products available to you. As mentioned, professional installers have direct access to the most efficient solar panels from leading distributors, and at better prices. As a consumer, your options are going to be more restricted. Being able to purchase the best solar panels can increase system efficiency, reliability and durability significantly, providing more savings on the back end.
  • Potential safety hazards: DIY solar installations are complex. To do it right, you need to be pretty knowledgeable about electrical systems and how solar panels work. Without that know-how, you run the risk of loose connections and other wiring problems. These issues can be real fire hazards, jeopardizing the safety of yourself, your home and your family.
  • Efficiency issues: Professional solar installers have the knowledge needed to design a solar system that helps you maximize your energy use. An installer can recommend the exact types of solar panels, roof mounts, inverters and battery banks you need, as well as the proper placement of those components. Without their expertise, you may wind up with a solar system that isn’t as efficient as it could be.
  • Legality: In some municipalities, DIY solar panels may actually be illegal. You should always check with your local zoning board to ensure that you’re even permitted to do a DIY solar installation, especially if you’re planning a completely off-grid system. If you plan to feed excess energy back to the grid, you’ll need to apply for interconnection with your local utility.
  • Navigating savings opportunities: Professional installers have years of experience claiming all of the rebates and tax incentives in their operating areas. Identifying and securing these opportunities on your own is doable, but it will be time-consuming, and getting the details right will be important.

The bottom line: Installing your own residential solar system can yield some notable advantages, including cost savings, but that doesn’t always mean it’s the best option.

Without the proper expertise, the savings on the front end of your installation may not offset the long-term benefits of a well-designed, efficient and durable system. Due to the safety hazards, limited product options and lack of real solar expertise, many homeowners decide that a DIY solar system installation just isn’t worth it.

Starting A DIY Solar Project

If you do decide to go with DIY solar panels, make sure to check local zoning ordinances to be certain you can legally install your own system. Keep in mind you’ll have to apply for all permitting and interconnection, including fees and inspections. From there, start researching different solar panels, batteries and inverters, while also ensuring you have the right baseline knowledge regarding electrical work.

One thing to keep in mind is that many solar installers offer no-obligation estimates. Even if you’re leaning toward a DIY solar system, there’s no harm in considering your options and learning a bit more about the solar installation process. Many top companies will even complete a free home consultation and send you a proposal with their recommended system design.

If you’re interested in a little bit of free professional help, you can connect with a certified installer near you using this tool or by filling out the following form.

Installing Your Own Solar Panels

Once you’ve weighed the pros and cons of solar and feel you’re qualified to undertake a DIY solar project, here’s a brief outline of the steps to take:

  1. Size your system based on the energy use of your home and available roof space. Some zoning requirements require spacing of at least a foot between the solar panels and the edge of your roof. (Again, a free solar consultation can help with this.)
  2. Purchase your solar equipment (solar panels, inverters, wiring, racking, etc.)
  3. Install your racking or build a secure platform for the solar panels.
  4. Mount and secure the solar panels on the racking.
  5. Wire the solar panels.
  6. Connect your solar array to your home’s control panel.
  7. Obtain permission to operate from your local utility company (if applicable) before turning the system on.

FAQ: DIY Solar Panels

Can I install my own solar panels?

You can install your own solar panels to save on labor and design costs. However, there are a few disadvantages to consider: Professional solar companies have access to wholesale prices of a wider range of solar equipment, and improper installation can lead to severe safety concerns or inefficient systems.

Is it illegal to install your own solar panels?

It is not typically illegal to install your own solar panels, but this will depend on your area. You should always check with your local zoning board to ensure that you’re even permitted to do a DIY solar installation, especially if you’re planning a completely off-grid system. If you plan to feed excess energy back to the central power grid, you’ll need to apply for interconnection with your local utility company.

Is it cheaper to install your own solar panels?

It can be cheaper to install your own solar panels, as you’ll save money on upfront costs like labor, design, transportation and more. However, by purchasing your panels online or directly from a distributor, you may not have access to the best solar panels or as wide a product selection as you might like.

Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.
Trending
A Florida manatee at Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River, Florida on Dec. 2, 2021. John Brandauer / Flickr
After long debate, officials in Florida have decided to test feeding wild manatees near Cape Canaveral. The move is unprecedented, as feeding wildlife is considered illegal.
Read More Show Less
Snow at the Mauna Kea summit in Hawaii on Dec. 2, 2021. VOA News / YouTube screenshot

The Lower 48 states are set to see temperatures far above average for the next two weeks, and low snowpack levels in the Mountain West augur poorly for the region already experiencing widespread drought.

Read More Show Less
Mumbai City, India. India is now one of the most unequal countries in the world regarding income and wealth, a new report says. Adrian Catalin Lazar / iStock / Getty Images Plus
As another year of extreme weather disasters draws to a close, a new report from the World Inequality Lab shows how disproportionately culpable the world's richest people and nations are for climate pollution.
Read More Show Less
FG Trade / E+ / Getty Images

The primary source of methane gas released into the atmosphere from floodplains in the Amazon basin is vented through tree root systems, say researchers led by the University of Birmingham, with considerable emissions occurring when no flooding is present.

The researchers discovered evidence that these trees emit a much higher amount of methane than soil or surface water, and that this is the case in both wet and dry conditions, a study published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A showed.

Read More Show Less
Trending
A conceptual image of Earth’s Black Box in the Tasmanian desert. Earth’s Black Box

If greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced in time to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis and civilization as we know it collapses, the future wanderers of the apocalyptic wasteland will at least know how it all happened.

That’s the idea behind Earth Black Box, a bus-sized steel monolith being built in the Tasmanian desert to record every bit of data on the climate crisis and our collective response.

Read More Show Less
Cost of Solar Panels in Massachusetts: What to Expect (2022)

We break down how much it costs to go solar in the Bay State.

Renewable Energy

Massachusetts has quickly established itself as one of the most renewable energy-friendly states in the nation, and a large part of that is due to its growing solar energy industry. Surprisingly, however, the cost of solar panels in Massachusetts is actually over 10% higher than the national average.

Solar energy is beneficial for the climate and helps ensure reliability of power, but installing solar is also a major financial decision. How long will it take for solar panels to pay for themselves, and how much upfront capital is needed to get started? How much do solar panels cost in Massachusetts, exactly? In this article, we’ll explore the answers to these questions and more.

Keep in mind that financials aren’t always clear-cut, as many components factor into the final cost of solar panels. The only way to know for sure how much solar would cost for your home is to compare free quotes from solar companies near you. You can get started by using this tool or filling out the form below.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Massachusetts?

As noted, installing solar energy projects in Massachusetts is more expensive than the U.S. average. Based on market research and data from top solar brands, the average cost of solar panels in Massachusetts is about $2.94 per watt. Compared with the U.S. average of $2.66 per watt, residents of Massachusetts can expect to pay about 11% more.

Of course, the cost per watt is just a normalizing metric, but how much an individual project will cost depends on total system characteristics. For an average-sized solar power installation project of about 5 kilowatts (kW), someone in Massachusetts can expect to pay an all-in cost of $10,878 after the federal solar tax credit is applied.

Of course, this value changes based on the size of the project, and the following table of potential system capacities highlights how that can fluctuate:

Size of Solar Panel System

Massachusetts Solar Panel Cost

Cost After Federal Tax Credit

5kW

$14,700

$10,878

6kW

$17,640

$13,054

7kW

$20,580

$15,229

8kW

$23,520

$17,405

9kW

$26,460

$19,580

10kW

$29,400

$21,756

Take note that these values are simply averages. Some systems may cost notably more than indicated in the table if the installation environment is particularly challenging or a more expensive installation company is chosen. Other customers will find their total bill to be lower than indicated above if their projects are straightforward and easy to complete.

For an accurate estimate for your home, you should consult with an expert and/or solar installer who can fine-tune a quote to your specific needs.

What Determines the Cost of Solar Panels in Massachusetts?

One reason it’s helpful to engage with an expert or consultant is that there are many factors that can and do influence the final cost of a solar system in Massachusetts. Solar energy system installation is not simply an off-the-shelf purchase that comes with a single price point. Rather, it’s a personalized and customized project that can see costs fluctuate higher or lower based on any of the following factors:

Solar Equipment

To start off, not all solar installations are built the same, and a key driving factor influencing the cost of your solar panels is the solar equipment chosen. This can be as straightforward as whether the project uses top-of-the-line, highly resilient, highly efficient solar PV panels (which will be more expensive) or if it uses the most basic and affordable solar panels.

In addition to that, though, solar systems feature various other types of equipment that can come with a range of price points. These types of equipment include the racking and hardware used to secure the panels to the rooftop, the digital technologies and software tools utilized to maximize the productivity of the panels, and any advanced mechanisms like solar tracking technology that include added costs.

Solar Financing

How you choose to pay for your panels will also influence total costs. For most installations, paying in cash will give you the quickest (and highest) return on your investment. However, with system costs that readily exceed $10,000, not all homes or businesses will be able to pay upfront. In such cases, solar financing options come into play, often with added costs.

If taking out a solar loan, the terms of that loan agreement will influence the exact amount of money paid when all is said and done. The longer that is needed to pay back the loan, the greater the interest will be accrued and the more the total costs will end up being.

Another option for those who don’t want to take out a loan is leasing the solar panels or engaging in a power purchase agreement (PPA). With either of these options, the homeowner doesn’t actually own the solar panels, so they don’t have to pay to have them installed. Your solar company will handle installation costs, and you’ll simply pay for the power the system produces.

Solar leases and PPAs are not recommended for homeowners who are looking to save money by switching to solar. Although your monthly electric bills may be slightly lower, you won’t be able to claim the federal tax credit, and there’s no “break-even” point after which you no longer have to pay for the energy you use.

Installation Company

Lastly, solar projects are significant undertakings, and like any home construction project, the final cost will inevitably depend on the company chosen to perform the installation. Anyone seeking to price out what solar panels will cost them should do their homework to get quotes and terms from multiple solar installers, as each company will have its own rates (which may or may not directly vary based on the quality of the work done).

Further, solar installation companies may be local in footprint or they may be broader national installers. While the national companies can better compete based on scale, many local installers in Massachusetts will end up offering lower prices or special deals to help them compete with larger companies.

Massachusetts Solar Incentives

While the upfront cost for solar panels can be intimidating, those considering diving into the world of solar energy should be encouraged by the fact that there are a number of incentive programs that allow homeowners in Massachusetts to save on their solar panel installations.

We’ve summarized need-to-know details in the table below, but you can read more about each offering in our Massachusetts solar incentives guide.

Massachusetts Solar Incentives

Description

Residential Renewable Energy Income Tax Credit

Massachusetts homeowners are eligible for a 15% tax credit (up to $1,000) on their state income tax filing

Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program

This program allows Massachusetts residents to be compensated for every kilowatt-hour of energy generated by their solar systems.

Massachusetts Solar Tax Exemptions

Massachusetts does not collect sales tax on solar equipment and omits the added value of solar panels from property tax assessments.

Massachusetts Net Metering Program

Homeowners are paid per kilowatt-hour for all excess electricity their panels generate and push back into the central power grid.

Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

This solar incentive is available to all Americans. It allows solar adopters to claim 26% of their total equipment and installation costs as a tax credit on their next federal filing.

Any certified solar company in Massachusetts can ensure your system qualifies for the above incentives — and can help you apply for them. To connect with a top solar installer near you, you can use this tool or fill out the quick form below.

FAQ: Cost of Solar Panels in Massachusetts

Is it worth going solar in Massachusetts?

One reason solar energy has become so popular in Massachusetts is that it provides a great return on investment for homeowners. While the upfront cost of solar panels in Massachusetts can be a barrier to entry, virtually all projects (except solar leases or PPAs) have a payback period of less than a decade. If you can afford the installation costs, then yes, it is worth going solar in Massachusetts.

How much does it cost to install solar panels in Massachusetts?

The cost to install solar panels in Massachusetts will vary greatly based on many factors, including the size of the project, the solar incentives utilized, the financing method used to pay for them, the solar installation company chosen, the specific equipment used and more.

That said, the cost to install solar panels comes out to an average of $2.94 per watt, about 11% greater than the national average of $2.66 per watt. For a 5-kilowatt solar system, that would mean a cost for installation (after applying the federal solar tax credit) of about $10,878.

Are solar panels free in Massachusetts?

No, solar panels are not free in Massachusetts. That said, the costs are continuing to fall and many solar tax incentives exist at the local, state and federal levels, aiming to make them more affordable. Virtually all solar projects, when installed by experts, will end up paying for themselves well within their lifetime, creating a net profit for owners in the end.

Do solar panels increase home value in Massachusetts?

Yes, solar panels are a valuable asset for any home, and for a homeowner who takes the initiative to plan and install them, the resale value of their home will inevitably go up. Thanks to a key benefit offered by the state of Massachusetts, the increase in home value due to solar installations is omitted from property tax assessments.
Trending
Vegetables growing under plastic. Dotan Naveh / 500px / Getty Images

A lot of the talk surrounding plastic pollution focuses on its impact on marine ecosystems. But there may actually be more microplastic pollution in the soil than in the ocean, according to UN research.

Read More Show Less
Vegetarians are responsible for significantly less greenhouse gas emissions compared to their meat-eating counterparts, a new study finds. itakdalee / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Cutting out meat from one’s diet is a popular option when somebody wants to reduce their carbon footprint. Now, new research finds that vegetarians — who may still consume some animal products, such as cheese or milk — are responsible for significantly less greenhouse gas emissions compared to their meat-eating counterparts.
Read More Show Less
Kindel Media / Pexels

If you think electric cars are a new concept, you're not alone. Until recently, EV’s drew interest mainly from a niche group of enthusiasts.

Gasoline-powered cars and trucks are usually considered to be the ‘traditional’ types of those vehicles, but electric vehicles were being developed right around the same time, according to a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) post. Although Karl Benz is credited with inventing the first gasoline-powered automobile in Germany in the mid-1880s, the first crude electric vehicle — an electric carriage — was invented in Scotland around 1832. Other early forms of electric vehicles popped up in the ensuing decades.

Read More Show Less