Pennsylvania Solar Panel Buyers Guide [2022 Updated]
Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide to Pennsylvania solar panels:
- The different types of solar panels available in PA
- Is Pennsylvania a Good State for Solar Panels?
- The best solar panels to buy in Pennsylvannia
How to Get Solar Panels in Pennsylvania
Your solar conversion process in PA will begin when you choose a solar installer and reach out for a free quote. In most cases, a technician will need to measure your roof and assess your property as well as review your energy needs. You’ll then select a financing option — cash, loan, lease, or power purchase agreement (PPA).
Once payment is made and you’ve approved your solar power system design, your installer will file for building permits. Finally, your installation will take place, your system will be activated and the permits will be closed out.
Converting to solar energy is an outstanding investment for most PA residents. Not only will adopting renewable energy make your home more eco-friendly, but you’ll very likely save thousands in the process. Panels in Pennsylvania usually pay for themselves and then save an additional $23,500 or so on your utility bills.
Paradise Energy Solutions
What Is the Price of Solar Panel Installation in Pennsylvania?
Solar equipment in PA averages around $2.55 per watt, which is below the national average. Most residents need an 8.5 kilowatt (kW) system, which puts the total up-front cost at around $21,675. If you consider the federal Residential Clean Energy Credit (formerly the investment tax credit or ITC), that could drop to $15,173.
PA residents realize more value from solar panels than do homeowners in most other states. A good way to illustrate this is to look at the average panel payback period, which is the time it takes for your photovoltaic (PV) equipment to pay for itself. The timeline in PA is ten years, compared to the U.S. average of 12 years.
If you’d like to dive more into how solar panel systems are priced and what factors go into the total, you can read through our solar cost guide for Pennsylvanians.
The Best Solar Panel Brands Available in Pennsylvania
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), PA ranks 23rd in the nation for solar installations and has seen a steady increase in adoption rates over the past decade.1 With a strong local solar industry, most of the major panel manufacturers have flocked to the state and provided equipment throughout PA.
Since PA receives below-average sunlight — just 179 sunny days per year — most property owners in the area need to choose high-efficiency panels to get sufficient energy production.2 Below is a list of some of the most popular panel brands that deliver adequate efficiency ratings for PA conditions.
- SunPower (now operating under the name Maxeon)
- Trina Solar
- Canadian Solar
Is Pennsylvania a Good State for Solar Panels?
With a shorter-than-average panel payback period, PA is an outstanding and profitable place to go solar. Below are some of the most crucial reasons why installing solar equipment in the area is so beneficial.
- Slightly above-average electricity rates: First off, the savings potential for Pennsylvania residents is above average because they pay more for energy than most individuals in the U.S.3 Above-average energy costs mean you’ll have higher utility bills, which gives you more potential to save — so PA residents see more potential value in their PV systems.
- Below-average equipment costs: The average cost of solar panels in PA is $2.55 per watt — 11 cents lower than the national average. This difference might seem minor, but for an 8.5 kW system suitable for PA needs the savings amounts to nearly $1,000.
- Power outage frequency: PA experiences some extreme weather, including intense thunderstorms, snowstorms, and the remnants of tropical storms and hurricanes. These weather events — coupled with an aging and undersized infrastructure — leave the area open to a high risk of power outages. In fact, PA is ranked fifth in the nation for the prevalence of outages.4 Solar panels and inverters alone are not a solution for blackouts, but systems coupled with solar batteries can be — so the value of a PV system with a solar storage solution is relatively high in PA.
- Pennsylvania solar incentives: Finally, PA is home to some strong solar policies and legislation that make appealing perks available to solar customers. We’ll discuss these in greater depth later on in this article.
How Much Energy Can I Get From Solar Panels in Pennsylvania?
Most prospective solar customers want to know how many panels they need for their homes. This requires knowing how much energy panels on your roof can produce, which is challenging to estimate with certainty. This is because many factors affect production levels. These include:
- The efficiency of your panels: Each solar panel comes with an efficiency rating, and this metric varies among different brands and product lines. Higher efficiency ratings mean more of the sunlight that hits your panels will be absorbed and converted to electricity. The panel brand you choose won’t cause major swings in production levels, but it will definitely make a noticeable difference.
- The number of panels on your roof: One factor that does cause significant differences in total energy production is system size. Larger systems with more panels and solar cells collecting sunlight will naturally provide more energy. Other factors still come into play, especially when determining how cost-effective adding panels to your system is.
- Obstructions to sunlight: One of the reasons your panel installer will want to assess your property before designing a system is to check for roof shading. Trees, utility poles, and other buildings near your home can cast shadows on your roof during the day. Installing panels where they’ll receive even partial shade on your roof will always diminish your potential generate rate.
- The orientation of your home: The U.S. Department of Energy maintains that south-facing roofs in North America are the best candidates for solar installation.5 This is because they are angled toward the path of the sun, which means they receive the most direct and intense sunlight possible. More intense sunlight means more power production capacity.
- Weather conditions: The weather in your area can also cause big swings in production. Cloud coverage can cause a decrease in overall solar production of between 10% and 90%. Average conditions will be a consideration when sizing your system, but one-off cloudy days can cause changes to live-time generation rates.
The best way to get an accurate estimate of the potential of your system is to have a professional and reputable installer assess your property. However, you can use the chart below to get a general idea of what systems can produce in PA.
|Solar Power System Size||Expected Daily Energy Produced |
|Expected Monthly Energy Produced |
|Expected Annual Energy Produced |
|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|
|11 kW||36.6 kWh||1,100 kWh||13,200 kWh|
|12 kW||40 kWh||1,200 kWh||14,400 kWh|
You can also put your address into our solar calculator to get a better idea of how much electricity your rooftop solar energy system can produce. This tool uses your location and satellite imaging of roof shade to provide an accurate estimate of electricity generation.
Solar Panel Policy History in Pennsylvania
PA is a relatively solar-friendly state, and to show its support of solar and clean energy, it has enacted several pieces of pro-solar legislation over the past few decades.
The first policy put into place in PA was in 1996. That year, the state created the Public Benefits Programs, which created four different funds to promote green energy in the state.
These were funded by small charges added onto the electric bills of all customers. The funds have been used to provide solar rebates in the past, but the Sustainable Energy Fund — the largest of the four — is moving toward allocating funds to create affordable solar financing options.
In 2004, PA enacted its equivalent of a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal: the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS). This required a minimum of 18% of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2021.
The goal uses a tiered system to dictate minimums for energy sources. Only 8% of that must come from Tier 1 sources, which include, among others, solar power. The AEPS does have a 0.5% carve-out specifically for solar.
Also in 2004, PA initiated its Solar Alternative Energy Credit (SAEC) program. Similar to the Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) in other states, this program gives solar customers energy credits for their solar production. Those credits can then be sold for a profit, although the value fluctuates based on the market.
Two years later, in 2006, the Public Service Commission (PSC) in PA began offering net metering to homeowners. This policy lets you produce excess energy and use it to offset future energy consumption.
The policy in PA requires that credits are issued at the retail rate for electricity sent to the electric grid, which is ideal. It’s available for systems up to 50 kW, and your accrued credits will be bought by your utility company at close to the retail rate after a year of non-use.
Finally, in 2009, the Pennsylvania Sunshine Solar Rebate Program was initiated by the State Department of Environmental Protection. This program offered a solar rebate for up to $0.75 per watt installed. Unfortunately, the program’s funding was depleted in 2013 and hasn’t been available since.
What Are the Solar Panel Incentives in Pennsylvania?
Despite some of the policies from the past having expired, there are still several incentives and perks you can take advantage of when converting to solar in PA. We’ll briefly discuss them below.
- Federal solar tax credit: The federal tax credit is for a massive 30% of your entire system value — an average of around $6,500 in PA. That amount gets credited to your income tax liability for the year your system is commissioned.
- Net metering: This billing policy credits you for all energy you generate with your panels and don’t use. The credits are applied to future energy bills or cashed out to you if they go unused for a year.
- SAECs: These are credits you can accrue for all of the energy your panels produce, measured in megawatt-hours. Much like SRECs in other solar-friendly states, these credits can reduce your panel payback period and save you additional money over time.
- Local rebates: Finally, there are some local rebates available in certain municipalities — for example, the City of Philadelphia provides a rebate of up to $0.20 per watt installed plus solar permitting costs.
For more information on local incentives or statewide benefits that might apply to you, you can read through our guide to the solar incentives in PA.
Find a Local Installer in Pennsylvania
Now that you have an idea of how valuable solar equipment is in PA, your biggest decision will be the installer you choose for your solar project. Your warranty coverage, customer service, system durability, and more all depend heavily on this choice.
To help get you started off with reliable company recommendations, you can click the links below to see the top installers in different cities throughout The Keystone State.
For more information on choosing an installer in your area, you can read through our guide to hiring a reputable solar company in PA.