The Dollars & Cents of Going Solar

For most people, deciding that they’d like to go solar isn’t difficult—but answering two important questions is:

  1. How Much Will It Cost?
  2. How Will I Pay for It?

There are a variety of ways to reduce the out-of-pocket contribution and finance the cash required. Below we explain available NY solar incentives and financing options, and apply each to a real-life example.

NY Solar Incentives & Financing

Credits & Incentives

There are three levels of federal and NY solar incentives and tax credits available for solar installation:


  1. NY-SUN Solar PV Rebate or Incentive ($0.40/W)
    Based on DC output of the arrayAs good as cash directly off the project costTime-sensitive: 30% credit through 2019, falling to 26% in 2020, 22% in 2021 and 10% in 2022
  2. Federal Tax Credit (30%)Direct bottom-line deduction from federal tax billAlso time-sensitive: unknown if credit will continue
  3. NYS Tax Credit (25% up to $5,000%)Direct bottom-line deduction from state tax billCredit will continue

What Will It Cost?

Here’s how the federal and NY solar incentives and tax credits play out using the example above:


System Cost $20,250
NY-SUN Solar PV Rebate ($0.40/W)
Like cash off; goes directly to system builder upon completion.
Contract Cost $17,802
30% Federal Tax Credit
Based on contract cost ($17,802 x .30); deduction from federal tax bill for year paid
25% NYS tax credit ($5,000 maximum)
Based on contract cost ($17,802 x .25); deduction from state tax bill for year paid
Effective Total Cost $8,011

Testimonial“We had solar panels attached to our roof. The crew did and awesome job. Our roof is wavy but the solar panels are all aligned! The job site was keep clean. We are very pleased with quality of work. We highly recommend them.”

Joann – Rochester, New York Hear from other Customers >

Financing Options

Installing a solar array is a smart investment—but it must make sense financially for your family. It’s possible to lease a system with no money down, but it’s not advised. These financing options are far more advantageous:


  1. Home Equity Line of Credit (3.49% – 4.49%)Most straightforward, lowest interest ratesCan cover full contract cost, include state and federal taxes: zero money out of pocket
  2. NYSERDA Smart Energy Loan (3.49% – 5.99%)Low interest loan that can cover up to $25,000 of total system costAmount loaned is tied to power generatedInterest rates vary based on income, etc.
  3. Sungage Financial Loan (0% on Tax Credit portion, 5.49% – 6.49% on remainder)Can help achieve zero out-of-pocketIncludes loan for tax credit portion at 0% for 12 monthsFinancing fees absorbed by Geotherm

Considering Leasing? Read this first »

How Will I Pay for It?

Here’s how these options break down using the example above:


Option #1: HELOC Option #2: NYSERDA Option #3: Sungage Financial
Contract cost: $17,802 Contract cost: $17,802 Contract cost: $17,802
HELOC loan: -$17,802 Application fee: +$500 Financing fee: +$1,453
Smart Energy loan: -$10,894 incl. fees Sungage Financial loan: -$19,225 incl. fees
Remaining cost, customer contribution: $7,058 Tax Credit Loan: -$9,792 at 0%
Loan processing overhead cost: +$500 Remaining Loan: -$9,463 at 5.49%
Total out of pocket: 0 Total out of pocket: $7,558 Total out of pocket: 0

What’s the ROI?

It’s a short payback period of 9.1 years and an excellent annual rate of return of 15.3%, based on the 25-year warranty period.

Going solar is a great way to fix your future energy costs to today’s rates, get a 15% return on your investment, and move toward greater levels of self-reliance—with an investment that will never go negative.

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