Is Solar Worth It in Connecticut? (2022 Homeowner's Guide)
Here’s a quick overview of solar viability in Connecticut:
- Connecticut ranks 22nd in the country for solar installations*
- The average electricity rate is 22.71 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh)**
- The average solar payback period in 8 years***
- Homeowners are eligible for net metering and the federal solar tax credit (ITC).
- The average homeowner saves $42,705 over the lifetime of their solar system***
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Connecticut ranks 22nd in terms of solar adoption by state in the country, but converting to solar is more valuable in the Constitution State than in most other areas. This is due in large part to the extremely high electricity rates in Connecticut, which rank as the third-highest, only falling behind Hawaii and Alaska. Most homeowners will find that converting to solar saves quite a lot of money on energy fees in the long run. Below, you’ll find a guide on how to determine if solar is worth the investment for your home. We’ll also discuss some of the benefits of converting to solar power and some things you’ll need to consider before you commit to this renewable energy source.
How to Figure Out if Solar Panels Are Worth It in Connecticut
The large majority of homeowners in Connecticut will find that solar is an excellent investment that provides a massive return over time. However, installing panels isn’t right for everyone, so you’ll need to calculate if your home would benefit before you convert. Below, we’ll discuss the most significant factors to consider to determine the value of solar for your home.
What’s Your Home Electricity Consumption?
One of the easiest ways to tell if solar will work for your home is to look at your average monthly energy consumption. The more power you consume, the more solar panels can potentially save you in energy fees and the more valuable they will be. Generally speaking, homes that consume at least 500 kWh in an average month will be well-suited for solar panels. The typical Connecticut home uses 711 kWh, so most residents will find that solar panels will be worth the investment. In fact, Connecticut homeowners pay so much for electricity — 22.71 cents per kWh compared to the national average of 13.15 cents — that even homes that consume below 500 kWh monthly will still likely benefit from solar panel installation. You can check your past energy bills for usage history to see where your home falls.
How Much Is It To Go Solar in Connecticut?
The price of solar in Connecticut is higher than average, sitting around $2.80 per watt compared to the national average of $2.66. However, most Connecticut residents only need a 7.5-kW system due to below-average energy needs, whereas the typical solar panel system size in the US is 11.5 kW. As such, the average total for solar in Connecticut is $21,000, or $14,700 after the 30% federal solar investment tax credit is considered. Solar panels provide the most value in areas with high energy needs or high electricity rates. Although Connecticut uses less power than the national average, the electricity price is nearly double the national average. Most homeowners in the area will find that solar panels are well worth the investment for this reason, even though solar equipment is a bit more expensive than it is elsewhere.
What’s the Payback Period for Solar in Connecticut?
A useful metric for calculating how valuable solar panels will be for your home is the solar panel payback period, which tells you how long it will take for your energy savings to offset the price of solar panels for your home. The average payback period in Connecticut is just 8 years, with most residents paying off their panels between 5 and 11 years. For comparison, the national average payback period is 12 years, with a normal range of 9 to 15 years. A reputable solar installer can estimate your payback period for you, or you can use a solar calculator for a slightly less accurate estimate. If your estimated payback period is higher than 11 years, your panels will take longer than average to pay for themselves, and your return on investment (ROI) will be a little lower than the norm in Connecticut. Still, given the high electricity rates in the area, chances are your ROI will still be substantial.
What Are Average Buy-Back Rates in Connecticut?
Most states have mandated a net metering policy or an energy buy-back program, both of which help homeowners reduce their expenses for incoming energy from the grid by overproducing power with their panels and selling it back to their utility providers. Connecticut does mandate net metering for all public utilities. Eversource, one of the largest public utilities in CT, has a great program that could see you getting paid rather than you having to pay your electric company! The net metering policy you have access to will depend on your electricity provider, so you’ll have to check with them to see what’s available. If you have a less-than-ideal policy that gives you a below-retail rate for excess energy, you might want to consider installing a solar battery to help reduce energy fees. This will bump up your installation expenses, but storage solutions almost always pay for themselves because of the high electricity rates in the state.
How Much Sun Does Your Roof Receive?
Solar panels only produce energy when they receive sunlight, so the more sun your roof receives, the more valuable panels will be for your home. On average, Connecticut residents experience 194 sunny days per year, which is just below the national average of 205 sunny days. This is often plenty of sun to justify installing panels, especially since each sunny day provides more value in terms of offsetting energy fees. There are some factors specific to your home that you need to consider as well. For example, the direction of your roof matters, as south- and west-facing roofs will get the most direct sunlight in the US. If you have shading on your roof from trees or nearby buildings, this will also make solar panels less valuable to you, especially if the shading occurs during peak sunlight hours.
What’s the Outlook on Solar in Connecticut?
Solar is more popular in Connecticut now than ever before, in part because of the recent launch of the Connecticut Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (C-PACE), which makes solar more accessible for commercial solar customers. However, residential solar panel installations have also steadily risen in prevalence over the past decade, as have utility-scale solar applications. The solar policies in Connecticut aren’t the best, but the state as a whole is generally solar-friendly, and the state legislature lowers the barrier to entry for homeowners looking to install solar panels. As a result, the solar market in the state is growing rapidly and is expected to continue to expand.
Benefits of Solar Energy in Connecticut
Going solar in Connecticut provides massive savings in most cases, but you might be wondering where those savings come from. Below, we’ll discuss the primary benefits of installing solar panels and how they can positively affect your home.
Electricity Bill Savings
The most significant benefit of Connecticut solar panels is the reduction on your electric bills you’ll experience. The average CT resident uses only 711 kWh per month but pays a massive $161.55 each month for energy. This is the second-highest electric bill in the country, second only to Hawaii. If you can eliminate your electric bills — which many homeowners who go solar do — you can save around $1,939 per year. At that rate, you’ll pay off your system in just 8 years and enjoy an incredible savings of $42,705 over the lifespan of your equipment after the panels have paid for themselves! In reality, these savings could be even higher. Electricity rates have historically increased, and that trend is expected to continue. By going solar, you can effectively lock in your electricity rate for the 25+ years your panels are expected to perform.
Lower Taxes & Access to Other Incentives
The state and federal governments incentivize solar conversion by offering solar incentives to homeowners. One of the most substantial incentives is the federal solar investment tax credit, also called the ITC. The ITC is a credit to your federal income tax liability for the year you install and turn on your panels. It’s for 30% of your total solar photovoltaic (PV) system expense, which, in Connecticut, averages out to $6,300. There are some additional solar incentives available in Connecticut:
- Net Metering: Connecticut mandates net metering for public utilities, which means most homeowners will have the opportunity to offset energy bills by overproducing with their panels.
- Solar Loan Programs: Connecticut aims to make solar more accessible and affordable by providing access to state-funded and state-backed solar loans with reasonable interest rates and loan terms.
- Property Tax Exemption for Renewable Energy Systems: The property tax exemption prevents your property taxes from spiking in response to the bump in home value your panels provide.
- Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Solar and Geothermal Systems: This sales tax exemption prevents you from having to pay the average 6.35% state sales tax on your solar equipment and installation.
Home Resale Value Increase
Solar panels bump up your property value, which is one of the most appealing upsides to installing panels for many homeowners. National data from Zillow suggests that the typical home will increase by around 4.1% in value with solar panel installation.3 The average home value in Connecticut is $340,415, meaning the typical jump in value will be around $13,957. Coupled with the property tax exemption in CT, this is an incredible incentive. Unfortunately, this value increase is only applicable if you acquire your panels with a cash purchase or solar financing. You won’t get the same benefit if you sign a solar lease or a power purchase agreement (PPA).
Clean, Renewable Energy
Some homeowners will go solar for the environmental benefits of converting to clean energy rather than the financial incentives. Regardless of your motivation, converting to solar power will reduce your carbon footprint and contribution to pollution. You’ll also increase your energy independence and limit your reliance on fossil fuels and on your power company.
What to Look Out For When Considering Solar in Connecticut
Even once you confirm that solar panels are a viable investment in Connecticut, there are still quite a few things you’ll need to consider before you dive into the conversion process. We’ll discuss some important factors below.
Every homeowner will need to consider the upfront fees of going solar, especially since the per-watt price for solar equipment in Connecticut is higher than the national average. You can keep your initial investment to a minimum by choosing affordable solar panel brands, avoiding add-on products like solar batteries and choosing a solar loan option that doesn’t require a significant — or any — down payment.
If you only use a single calculation to determine the value of solar panels on your property, the payback period is probably the best option. You can use a solar calculator to estimate your payback period, but having an experienced solar panel installation company do the math for you is your best option. If your payback period in Connecticut is longer than 11 years, just know that it will take you longer than average to pay off your system, and your ROI will be lower in the end. However, thanks to the high electricity rates in CT, even a longer payback period usually still leads to significant savings over time.
Net Metering Policies in Connecticut
Net metering is an excellent way to offset the price of energy you pull from the grid — like at night or on cloudy days — by sending excess power to the grid during periods of overproduction. Net metering is guaranteed in Connecticut to be offered by public utility companies, but the program specifics will depend on your provider. Sub-optimal policies usually don’t make converting not worth the money, but a battery storage option might be best if you’re looking for the most energy savings.
Pending Policies & Changes to Incentives
The solar market in Connecticut is rapidly expanding, and the solar industry as a whole is improving and changing regularly. As such, some incentives discussed above may improve over time or could become unavailable. You’ll be passing up significant savings if you wait for better incentives or rebates to come along, but you should check for any updates to policies or programs before installing solar panels.
Weather & Climate in Connecticut
The weather in New England is generally conducive to installing and benefiting from solar panels. Connecticut as a whole receives 194 sunny days per year, which is just below the average and means plenty of sunlight for most homeowners to enjoy massive savings on their utility bills. Some solar customers are concerned with the abundant cloudy days, heavy precipitation and the chance of extreme weather. While solar panels will be less efficient on cloudy days, there is plenty of opportunity for your panels to use the available sunlight to offset electric rates. With a positive net metering program, cloudy days shouldn’t be an issue. Similarly, rain will just serve to keep your panels clean and at peak production for better weather. Extreme weather — including tropical storms and hurricanes — isn’t too much of a problem, but choosing a solar panel installer that provides a nice warranty certainly can’t hurt.
Companies Pushing Solar Leases or PPAs
Finally, you need to be on the lookout for solar installers that don’t have your best interests at heart or try to push you into less beneficial arrangements. For example, some companies advertise “free panels.” The panels aren’t really free, and these companies are just trying to get you to sign a solar lease or power purchase agreement. Solar leases aren’t usually beneficial, as they come with a much lower return on investment, don’t increase your property value and don’t let you take the federal tax credit. Unfortunately, there are some solar scams occurring throughout Connecticut, which typically take the form of companies posing as representatives of electric companies or pushing less-than-ideal arrangements and over-promising savings or incentives. The CT Mirror published an article about scams where customers end up paying massive prices for their equipment only to find that the energy savings promised aren’t there.4 It’s crucial that you only work with vetted and reputable solar companies with a history of success in your area.
Wrap Up: Is Solar Worth it in Connecticut?
Installing solar panels is well worth the initial investment for most Connecticut homeowners, especially given that the state sees the second-highest energy bills in the country and the third-highest electricity rates that can be offset by solar power systems. However, solar isn’t right for everyone, so you’ll need to determine if panels will benefit you and your home before committing. You’ll want to consider several things to figure out if solar is a worthwhile investment, including your estimated panel payback period, the amount of sunlight your roof gets, your average monthly energy bill, the direction your roof faces, and more. We strongly recommend contacting a reliable solar company to help you decide if solar is a good option.
Frequently Asked Questions
The EcoWatch team gets lots of questions on a regular basis from Connecticut homeowners thinking about going solar and wondering if it’s right for their homes. Below are some of the questions we see most often, along with our responses. If you have specific questions that aren’t answered here, reach out to our team of solar experts at email@example.com.
The average homeowner in Connecticut will pay back the price of their PV equipment using energy savings within 8 years, while most payback periods fall between 5 and 11 years. If your payback period is longer than 11 years, you’ll probably still see significant savings but will have a lower ROI overall. There are many factors that can affect your payback time frame, so you’ll either need to use a solar calculator or have a solar installer estimate it for you. Some factors to consider include shading on your property, the direction your roof faces, and your average monthly energy bills.
In most cases, yes! Connecticut is one of the most beneficial places to go solar in the country because residents have the second-highest energy bills of any state. Many CT homeowners eliminate their electric bills with solar panels, which can save an average of nearly $2,000 per year on electricity. Over the lifespan of your solar PV equipment, the panels are expected to pay themselves off and provide an additional $42,705 in energy savings.
Yes! Installing solar panels will bump up your property value in Connecticut, provided you buy or finance them. Solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) will not have the same effect. Estimates from Zillow suggest that the typical home in CT will increase in value by around $13,957. The property tax exemption also prevents your property taxes from increasing as a result, making this jump in value even more beneficial.
Yes, permits are a requirement for solar panel installation and connection in Connecticut. The permitting process will add to your upfront fees, but it also ensures the installation is done safely and that your home can support the weight of the equipment. Your solar installer will typically handle the permitting for you.