New Jersey Solar Panel Buyers Guide (Installation & Efficiency 2022)
Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide to New Jersey solar panels:
- How to get the process of going solar started in NJ
- How much energy your panels can be expected to produce in NJ
- The solar perks and benefits available that make solar equipment so valuable
How to Get Solar Panels in New Jersey
When you’re ready to begin the process of installing a solar energy system on your home, you’ll first need to reach out to a local solar installer. A representative from the company will discuss your energy needs — you’ll need to have a recent electric bill handy — and will come out to measure your roof and assess your property.
At this point, your solar installation company will help you secure a financing option, like a solar loan, a solar lease or a power purchase agreement (PPA) if you won’t be paying with cash.
The company will then design an adequately-sized solar power system for your home and pull permits for the installation. Once those are approved, an installation team will install your equipment — including panels, inverters and solar batteries, if applicable — and turn it on to begin production. A final inspection is required to close out the permits.
Going solar in NJ is often an excellent investment. Not only does a solar energy system reduce your carbon footprint and your dependence on fossil fuels, but it also tends to pay for itself in NJ. After the typical solar system payback period, your system is expected to save an additional $23,000-plus in NJ.
What Is the Price of Solar Panel Installation in New Jersey?
Most New Jerseyans pay an average of $2.77 per watt for their solar equipment. This is above the U.S. average of $2.66. However, since the energy needs are lower in NJ than in most states, the overall average up-front cost to install solar equipment — around $13,500 in NJ after the federal investment tax credit (ITC) — is below the national average.
Solar energy systems in NJ are expected to provide energy savings that pay back the system cost in around ten years, which is faster than the average in the U.S. That means panels are more valuable in NJ than in most other states.
For information on how we arrived at these numbers and factors that can affect your pricing, you can check out our article on average costs for going solar in NJ.
The Best Solar Panel Brands Available in New Jersey
The solar industry in NJ is booming, and residents now have access to a wide range of solar equipment brands. Most homeowners in the Garden State receive plenty of sunshine, so they don’t have to prioritize the energy efficiency of their panels.
However, it’s a wise idea to choose panels with a good warranty for panel damage and renewable energy system issues. This is partially because NJ is prone to some severe weather, including hurricanes, nor’easters and the remnants of tropical storms.
Below are some of the brands we see installed more often in NJ. This is not a complete list but does represent a large portion of the brands chosen in the area.
- LG (these panels will soon be no longer available)
- Mission Solar
- Canadian Solar
- Trina Solar
Is New Jersey a Good State for Solar Panels?
Generally speaking, NJ is an excellent place to convert to solar. Most residents see significant returns on investment for a few primary reasons, including:
- Plenty of sunlight: One of the first things most people consider when determining if solar is viable in a given area is the amount of sun received. The more sun your area sees each year, the more energy your panels will produce, and the more valuable they will be. New Jersey residents enjoy an average of 206 sunny days per year, which is just above average.2 This is plenty of sun for most residents to offset their energy bills
- Above-average electricity rates: New Jersey residents pay more for electricity — over 16 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) — than most U.S. homeowners.3 Higher energy costs mean that you have more savings opportunities when you convert to solar. This is largely the reason why panels save NJ residents an average of nearly $24,000 after they paying for themselves.
- Great solar incentives: NJ solar customers have several benefits and incentives offered to them by the state and federal governments. Among other perks, which we’ll discuss later, net metering is mandated in the state and helps customers offset electric bills and pay back their solar loans or solar investment more quickly.
- Power outages: Finally, New Jersey is prone to some severe weather that can easily knock out power lines and lead to blackouts.4 Many customers opt to install solar energy storage solutions — solar batteries — along with their panels to maintain electricity through outages.
How Much Energy Can I Get From Solar Panels in New Jersey?
The exact amount of energy your panels will produce will depend on several things. The only way to get an accurate production estimate is to have a reputable solar company assess your home and design a system to meet your energy needs.
Below are some of the factors that have an impact on solar electricity production:
- The brand of panels you install: Most of the top panel brands come with a guaranteed efficiency rating that determines the maximum amount of available sunlight your panels can utilize. Choosing high-efficiency panels — like SunPower panels, with an efficiency of 22.7% — will lead to greater energy production than you’d see with other brands.
- The amount of sun that hits your roof: Photovoltaic (PV) panels rely on available sunlight to generate electricity, so the more sun they receive, the more power they can produce. If you have shading on your roof from trees, utility poles, stoplights, nearby buildings or other obstructions — especially during peak sunlight hours — your energy generation levels will drop.
- The intensity of the sun that hits your roof: Sunlight intensity, sometimes called sun irradiance, is a measurement of the intensity of the sun that hits a given area. This is an important measure for PV panels, as more intense sun yields more electricity. For this reason, southern-facing roofs in North America — which will have rooftop panels pointing toward the sun for much of the day — will generate the most energy.1
- How large your system is: Installing more panels will, of course, increase the amount of energy your system can generate. Just keep in mind that larger systems aren’t always cost-effective, so it’s best to have a reliable solar company size your system for you.
- The weather: Finally, the weather will always have an effect on your panel production. Bright, sunny days will lead to the most production, while cloudy days can reduce your generation rate by between 10% and 90%.
The chart below provides a quick look at the typical generation rates of different system sizes. These numbers are just estimates and could vary from what you find with your solar project.
|Solar Power System Size (in kilowatts)||Expected Daily Energy Generation||Expected Monthly Energy Generation||Expected Annual Energy Generation|
|4 kW||13.3 kWh||400 kWh||4,800 kWh|
|5 kW||16.6 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||26.6 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 our solar estimates tool for more information on panel production and calculate what you might pay for solar panels in NJ.
Solar Panel Policy History in New Jersey
New Jersey is and always has been a relatively pro-solar state. Its policies regarding solar energy began in 1978 when the state passed solar rights and easement laws. These guaranteed that all residents — even those in homeowners associations (HOAs) — would have access to solar.
Two years later, in 1980, NJ implemented the solar sales tax exemption, which waived sales tax on all solar equipment. Panels, inverters and solar batteries instantly became more affordable for residents.
The state’s net metering program was started in 1999 and has since been one of the most crucial incentives for solar customers. This policy allows property owners to produce more energy than they need and use the excess energy to reduce future utility bills.
1999 was a big year for NJ, as the Public Benefits Fund (PBF) was started as well. Through NJ’s Societal Benefits Charge (SBC), which was an unavoidable charge to all electricity users, the state was able to invest in new solar technologies and renewable energy solutions.
The net metering program and the PBF were both initiated to help the state meet its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal. Set in 1999, the goal called for a minimum of 4% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2012.
The RPS in NJ has been amended several times since the late 90s:
- In 2004, it was bumped up to 22.5% by 2021
- In 2006, a solar carve-out of 2% was instituted to help push solar conversion within the Garden State
- Finally, in 2018, the RPS was amended again with a minimum of 35% of the state’s power from clean energy sources by 2025 and 50% by 2030. A 5% carve-out was added specifically for solar.
Also in 2004, NJ started its Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) program, which provided one energy credit for every 1,000 kilowatt-hours (1 megawatt-hour) produced by residential solar systems.
These energy credits can be sold on the local SREC market. In 2021, each credit was worth around $90, and most solar customers were banking close to $500 per year just from selling energy credits.
It’s important to note that once the 5% solar carve-out designated by the current RPS goal is met, the SREC market will be discontinued in New Jersey. Technically, this means the energy credits in NJ are designated as Transitional Solar Energy Certificates (TRECs).
A recent addition to NJ’s solar policy has been the solar property tax exemption, which was established in 2008. We’ll discuss this in greater detail further below.
Much later, in 2018, NJ created its own Successor Solar Incentive Program specifically to increase the volume of solar installations in the state. This also set forth plans for 100% renewable energy in NJ by 2050.
What Are the Solar Panel Incentives in New Jersey?
Part of the reason solar conversion is so popular and beneficial in NJ is that the state maintains several tax incentive programs to make going solar more affordable. These initiatives include:
- Net metering: As mentioned above, net metering is an outstanding incentive that helps customers pay off their solar panel systems more quickly and offset energy bills more effectively. This was offered by the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and makes the long-term cost of solar panels much more affordable. This policy is mandated for all utility companies and available to all residents.
- TRECs: We also mentioned previously that the TREC market is a great way for solar customers to earn some money from their systems and pay off their panels more quickly. TRECs will disappear in NJ when the RPS solar carve-out is met, but they could be reinstituted if the RPS is updated in the future.
- Sales tax exemption: NJ waives all sales tax for solar equipment. This provides immediate savings to all residents converting to solar.
- Property tax exemption: This tax exemption in NJ prevents your taxes from going up when you install solar. Your equipment will raise your home value, which would normally bump up your taxes, but the exemption prevents this from happening.
- Federal solar tax credit: One of the most appealing incentives available to all NJ residents is the federal tax credit. This credit gets applied to your income taxes owed in the amount of 30% of your total system cost. In NJ, this credit averages out to around $5,800.
For more information on available incentives and local rebates that might be available to you, you can read through our article on New Jersey solar incentives.
Find a Local Installer in New Jersey
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), there are over 200 solar installers in NJ.5 This gives you plenty of options to choose from.
One of the most important decisions you can make when going solar is the installer you pick. Your customer service experience, warranty coverage and overall price will all be determined in large part by this decision.
Below, we’ll include links to some reviews and rankings for top solar companies in different major cities in NJ. This should help get you on the right track.
For more general recommendations — especially for NJ residents that reside outside of these cities — you can check out our article on the top solar installers in the State of New Jersey.