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“I would have to rate Geotherm "best in class" for their engineering, installation and service.... Jesse Cook, the owner, has an engineering background and is somewhat of a Geothermal/Solar geek (a good thing!) so he spends the time correctly engineering the system to your needs.”

Burch – Springwater, 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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