Massachusetts Solar Panel Buyers Guide (Installation & Efficiency 2022)
Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide to Massachusetts solar panels:
- How much it costs to install solar panels in the Bay State
- How much energy the typical solar system produces in MA
- Solar tax incentives available in the Bay State and how they help save money
How to Get Solar Panels in Massachusetts
When you’re ready to begin the process of going solar in MA, you simply need to reach out to a local installer and have a copy of a recent electric bill on hand. The representative might require additional information or send technicians to your home for an inspection and measurements.
Your solar company will then design a system to meet your energy needs and fit your property. Once permits are pulled and approved, your solar panels, solar batteries and inverters will be installed according to the design plan. Finally, your system will be commissioned (turned on) and will begin producing energy.
Going solar in the State of Massachusetts is generally considered a great financial investment for a few reasons:
- The state receives around 197 sunny days per year, which is just below average for the U.S. but still plenty to provide electricity for most homeowners that convert to solar1.
- MA residents — and others in New England — pay well above average prices per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy.2 That means greater potential for energy savings by going solar.
- Residents use far less electricity than property owners in other states.3 That means smaller system size requirements and more affordable installations overall.
- Good statewide solar benefits, which we’ll discuss in greater depth later on.
What Is the Price of Solar Panel Installation in Massachusetts?
Solar panel systems are usually priced based on the watts you require. The average cost per watt in MA is around $2.94. The typical system size requirement in the area is 6.5 kilowatts (kW), which puts the usual price at just over $13,000 after the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC).
We should mention that this per-watt price is well above the national average. However, since the system size usually needs to be smaller than average, the total cost is lower than in most states.
Additionally, since energy rates are so high in MA, the typical solar customer pays off their system in just eight years, which is four years less than for most U.S. residents.
For more information on how we arrived at these numbers and where your total might fall, you can check out our solar panel cost guide for Massachusetts residents.
The Best Solar Panel Brands Available in Massachusetts
If you’re already doing research on installing solar panels, you’ve likely heard of quite a few panel brands available. Each brand brings a different level of efficiency to the table, which means the production capability of your system will vary based on the equipment you install.
Since MA residents use below-average amounts of electricity per month, most don’t need to aim for the highest efficiency panels. However, high-quality panels are often recommended, as they will need to stand up to the hurricanes, tropical storms and nor’easters that can pose a threat to infrastructure in the area.4
Below, we’ll include a brief list of some of the top brands installed in MA. This is not a complete list and only represents some of the most popular brand names in the area.
- Canadian Solar
- Trina Solar
Is Massachusetts a Good State for Solar Panels?
MA is considered an outstanding place to install solar panels, as is evidenced by its ranking ninth in the country for solar conversion.5 This is the case for a few key reasons:
- Plenty of sunlight: As mentioned above, MA residents enjoy nearly 200 days of sunlight per year. This is enough to offset electricity bills, provided your system is sized well for your home.
- Great benefits for converting to clean energy: We’ll get into the specific perks of adopting solar in MA later. For now, you can just note that the state provides rebates, tax credits and more to make solar more affordable and appealing to residents.
- High energy costs: According to the Energy Industries Association (EIA), Bay Staters pay an average of 21.97 per (kilowatt-hour) kWh of electricity produced via fossil fuels.6 This is nearly double the national average. The higher the cost of energy, the more valuable solar panels are.
- Low electricity demand: Coupled with high energy costs in MA is a low demand for electricity. MA residents have one of the lowest monthly consumption rates in the country, which means smaller and more affordable solar energy systems will suffice.
- Frequent power outages: MA residents are well acquainted with blackouts, in part due to the weather and the demand for air conditioning in the hot summers. Coupling panels with a solar energy storage solution can help maintain power even during outages.
- Access to community solar: Even if you aren’t ready to install solar panels on your roof, you can still reduce electricity costs by taking part in community solar.
How Much Energy Can I Get From Solar Panels in Massachusetts?
Solar panel energy production naturally fluctuates with changing weather conditions, and the maximum amount you can produce depends on several factors. As a result, it’s very difficult to say with certainty how much solar electricity your system will produce.
Some factors to consider include:
- Panel orientation: Whether your panels face the sun as it moves through the sky will be a determining factor in how much energy you can produce.
- How much sunlight naturally hits your roof throughout the day: You might need to take into consideration shading from trees or buildings to get an accurate estimate.
- How much sunlight is available overall: The intensity of the sun fluctuates throughout the day and year based on the season. Additionally, local weather conditions like clouds and rain can cripple panel production temporarily.
- How large your system is: Adding more individual panels to your system will boost the total kilowatts and the total energy generation. Just keep in mind that larger systems are not always better
- The brand of solar panels you install: Different panel brands have different levels of efficiency. For example, SunPower panels — with an industry-leading efficiency rating of around 22.7% — will always generate more energy than other brands, which have a lower rating.
We can estimate production based on system size if we use average metrics in MA for all other variables. The table below should provide an idea of what your panels will generate.
|Solar Power System Size||Expected Daily Energy Generation||Expected Monthly Energy Generation||Expected Annual Energy Generation|
|4 kW||13.3 kWh||400 kWh||4,800 kWh|
|5 kW||16.7 kWh||500 kWh||6,000 kWh|
|6 kW||20 kWh||600 kWh||7,200 kWh|
|7 kW||23.3 kWh||700 kWh||8,400 kWh|
|8 kW||26.7 kWh||800 kWh||9,600 kWh|
|9 kW||30 kWh||900 kWh||10,800 kWh|
|10 kW||33.3 kWh||1,000 kWh||12,000 kWh|
You can use these average numbers to compare to your energy bills to see what system size would suffice. Alternatively, you can use our solar calculator and enter your address to get an idea of how much electricity your rooftop solar system will generate.
Solar Panel Policy History in Massachusetts
MA is far from the best state in the U.S. for solar perks and benefits. However, the Bay State has come a long way in terms of incentivizing renewable energy, and the options available today make solar a great investment for most property owners in MA.
The pro-solar policies in the area began back in 1975 when the state implemented a solar property tax exemption. While not a credit or rebate, this policy did prevent property taxes from increasing due to the bump in property value that solar equipment produces. This was a great way to reduce the burden of converting to clean energy.
Decades later, in 2003, MA set its first Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and reliance on fossil fuels. The goal called for 1% of the state’s energy to come from renewable energy sources by the following year.
While this was hardly ambitious, the RPS goal also called for an increase of 1% per year for four years.
In 2009, the RPS goal was amended to increase by 1% every year without an end date. This change makes the future a bit brighter for solar in Massachusetts.
Around this same time — and in an effort to reach its RPS goals — MA initiated its Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) system.
This incentive program provided a credit to customers for all energy produced via solar panels and other renewables. This helps improve solar panel payback timelines — for financing options like cash purchases and solar loan programs and not on leases or power purchase agreements (PPAs) — and makes converting to solar more appealing.
In 2008, MA began offering net metering, which is considered one of the most important solar incentives in any state. It’s a billing policy that credits you for excess energy production. You can then use that “banked” energy to pay down future utility bills.
The net metering policy applies to all utility companies in the state, including larger ones like National Grid and Eversource.
Finally, in 2014, The Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program was initiated. This program offers compensation for every kWh produced by installed solar panel systems. This, too, helps improve solar panel payback and long-term energy savings.
What Are the Solar Panel Incentives in Massachusetts?
There are several solar panel incentives available in Massachusetts that make installing home solar systems more affordable and beneficial. We’ll include a list of the available perks below, along with brief explanations of how these help:
- Net metering (NEM): Net metering is mandated for all utility companies in MA. Each provider must allow solar customers to overproduce energy and then credit those customers’ future energy bills using that overproduction. This helps reduce electric bills all year long and makes all energy generated more valuable.
- Solar sales tax exemption: MA doesn’t collect sales tax on photovoltaic (PV) equipment, which reduces the up-front cost of converting to solar. With an average sales tax rate of 6.25% and a typical pre-credit system cost of around $19,000, this saves an average of over $1,200.
- Solar property tax exemption: Home improvements that increase your property value also bump up your assessed value and, by extension, your property taxes. While research shows that installing solar PV equipment will make your home more valuable, the property tax exemption prevents your taxes from going up as a result.7
- SMART Program: As mentioned above, the SMART Program provides a cash incentive for every kWh of electricity generated with your solar project. This is a great way to improve long-term savings associated with your solar system, and it can help pay off your panels more quickly.
- Federal tax credit: Finally, the income tax credit (ITC) is a solar tax credit for 30% of your total system cost, which is the most substantial incentive available in MA. This isn’t a state tax credit, specifically, but it’s available to all Bay Staters. With the average installation cost coming in at around $33,000 before all credits, the ITC for MA residents averages around $5,700.
You can read our guide to Massachusetts solar incentives for more detailed information on how local benefits, credits and solar rebate programs can help you save money on your clean energy system.
Find a Local Installer in Massachusetts
There are over 150 solar panel installation companies in MA, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).8 With so many choices, it’s important to do your research and choose a provider that suits your budget, offers high-quality equipment and includes valuable warranty coverage.
We’ll include links to some local guides for choosing solar providers in MA below.
Best Solar Providers in Springfield
For more general information on statewide solar installers, you can check out our guide to choosing a solar company in MA.