Do home solar panels make sense in Bellingham, Massachusetts?

Summary:

The median price of a 6 kilowatt home solar system in Bellingham is about  $12,130.
That 6 kW system would generate about  $1,661 worth of electricity every year.
In 2019, you can qualify for a  30% federal tax credit. In Massachusetts, there are additional solar rebates available.
There are at least  20,813 homes in Buffalo with solar panels.
Learn more

Table of Contents:



How much do solar panels cost in Bellingham, MA?

The average cost per watt of residential solar in Massachusetts is $4/watt. For comparison, the national average is $3.70/watt.

Cost per watt is the total installed cost of a system, including taxes, divided by the size of the system in watts (DC). It includes the cost of hardware plus installation costs. Cost per watt is always the gross cost, before incentives. This means, at a minimum, you can take 30% off the price of the system in 2019 because of federal tax incentives.

The cost of a solar panel system for your house in Bellingham will depend on how much electricity you want to generate, which affects the size of the system you’ll need. The following is an example price estimate for a home solar panel system in Bellingham, with an electricity generation estimate based on the local climate and the following assumptions:

• 583 kWh is the amount of electricity that the average Massachusetts home uses every month.
• 5.07 kilowatts is the size of the system you’ll need to generate 100% of this electricity from solar panels.
• 13 to 19 panels is what that translates to (depending on panel efficiency, which commonly ranges from 260 watts to 400 watts)
• Panels oriented due south and mounted on a shade-free roof at a 30° angle.

Gross system price$18,757This is the price of your system plus taxes but before incentives, based on an average cost of solar in your state of $4 per watt.
Federal tax credit of 30%$5,627The most important solar incentive in the nation, the federal solar tax credit, gives homeowners 30% off the cost of their system in 2019. It drops to 26% next year. Read more
Massachusetts state income tax credit: 15% off system costs up to $1,000$1,000The Massachusetts Department of Revenue offers a tax credit worth 15% off the cost of a renewable energy system (including solar panels) up to a maximum credit of $1,000. Learn more about this tax credit and other rebates in our article about Massachusetts solar incentives.
Net system price:$12,130

This estimate is based on averages but your home, of course, may be different. For a personalized estimate, grab a copy of your utility bill and use our calculator to plug in the numbers for your home.



Can you save money with solar panels in Bellingham, MA?

Every year, that hypothetical Bellingham home solar system described above would produce about $1,661 worth of electricity. This is based on the Massachusetts state average price of electricity of $0.20/kWh and the average local climate.

This estimate assumes that your home uses an average amount of electricity, but your needs may be different. In addition, if you have some shade on your panels during the day, that can drop your production by a lot and require more panels to make up the difference.



Houses in Bellingham with solar panels

In Bellingham, our data shows that there are at least 469 houses with solar photovoltaic panels installed. This means that a lot of neighbors in your city are interested in solar, and have already made the leap. Added up, the total generating capacity of all these home solar systems equals 3,528 kilowatts. That’s a lot of clean energy being generated by your neighbors.

If you’re on the fence about going solar and trying to research whether solar is viable in the Bellingham area, this is good news. It means many of your neighbors have made the calculation and decided that solar is a smart move for them in the long term. Next time you’re driving or walking around, take a look at the roofs in your neighborhood. You might find a surprising number of solar panels. Try talking to your neighbors with solar, and see how it’s worked out for them.



Solar panels work by converting sunlight into electricity. This means that the more sunlight, the better. However, one misconception is that solar panels only work in very sunny climates. While it’s true that you will generate more electricity in a sunny state like Arizona, you might be surprised to learn that solar can generate plenty of electricity in most places in the United States - even cloudier places like New England or the Northwest.



Bellingham solar energy potential

To make a fair comparison of how much sunlight different cities get, we use a measurement called Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI). It takes into account the position of the sun in the sky throughout the year, cloud cover, airborne particulates, precipitation, and other climate variables.

The DNI for Bellingham is 4.56, which means that it has a good amount of sunshine - about average for the United States.

4.56

Averaged over the full year, a Bellingham home solar panel system will be generate a lot of solar electricity, although expect diminished production in the winter.

In the continental United States, DNI ranges from about 3.0 to 8.5 kWh/m2/day. In the most northern parts of Alaska, the DNI reaches a low of 0.5.

A higher DNI is better, but even if your city is average or even below average for the US, it’s still possible for solar panels to generate plenty of power. For example, solar is very popular in Germany, where the DNI is only around 2.5.

This DNI data comes from GEOS geostationary satellite data and NREL climate models.

Bellingham
US low
US high

In some climates, you’ll see a big difference in sunlight and solar electricity generation from summer to winter. These charts show you what to expect in Bellingham.

Solar Energy by Month (DNI)


The graph below estimates how much a 6 kilowatt south-facing solar panel system would generate in Bellingham.

Power Generation by Month (kWh)


The seasonal variation in solar electricity production in Bellingham is quite small. In the peak month, a home photovoltaic system would produce 190% more electricity than in the lowest production month in winter. This is less of a variation than in many other climates in the US, and it means that even in the winter, you might not need to draw much electricity from the grid, and have less excess electricity to send into the grid in summer.



Bellingham, MA solar companies

This is a list of solar home installations we know about within the city limits of Bellingham, MA.

# of homes refers to the number of installations by the installer in the Bellingham area that we have a record of. It’s possible that the installer has done more installations in the local area.
Total kW installed is the cumulative solar generation capacity of all the residential installations by the installer in Bellingham.
Year of the most recent install is the most recent record of work done by the installer in Bellingham. This lets you know if the company is active in the area, or hasn’t done work in some time (or even gone out of business).
Installer# of homesTotal kW installedYear of most recent install
ALTERNATE ENERGY2102008
AMERGY SOLAR192016
AMERICAN SOLAR PARTNERS142011
ASLAN ELECTRIC1612014
BOSTON SOLAR152014
BRIGHT PLANET SOLAR2192016
CONRAD GEYSER122006
COTUIT SOLAR4232009
DIRECT ENERGY SOLAR3222016
ENDLESS MOUNTAINS SOLAR SERVICES3202014
EWING ELECTRICAL CO1202011
GARNER ENTERPRISES6362014
GREAT SKY SOLAR162015
GROSOLAR5232010
MASS RENEWABLES211322016
MASS SOLAR INDUSTRIES2132016
NEW ENGLAND CLEAN ENERGY2152015
NEXT STEP LIVING3142015
NRG HOME SOLAR292016
ONE ROOF ENERGY2122016
PARADISE ENERGY SOLUTIONS2692016
REVOLUSUN2112016
ROOF DIAGNOSTICS SOLAR & ELECTRIC191242016
ROOF DIAGNOSTICS SOLAR OF MASS, LLC3182013
SECOND GENERATION ENERGY111022016
SOLARCITY967252016
SOLARE AMERICA142015
SOLECT ENERGY DEVELOPMENT1202014
SUNEDISION1672009
SUNGEVITY161332016
SUNLIGHT SOLAR ENERGY142010
SUNRUN9742016
TESLA7482016
TRINITY SOLAR2182017
UNITED SOLAR ASSOCIATES132013
VIVINT2331,6532017

Solar panel lease companies in Bellingham

If you’re thinking about going with a solar lease or PPA, you should first read our guide to solar financing to make sure that you understand the pros and cons of a lease or PPA versus purchasing a system outright. In most cases, you will come out on top by buying your solar panels, even if that means taking out a loan.

That said, leases/PPAs continue to be popular, and they can be a good choice in some cases. There are several national solar installers that offer leases/PPAs, but not all of them operate in every state. Here’s a breakdown of some of the major solar installers that offer these types of contracts, and whether they operate in your state:

CompanyOperates in Massachusetts ?
SungevityYES
SunnovaYES
SunrunYES
Vivint SolarYES

Looking for solar panel cleaning companies in Bellingham?

Are you searching for a local solar panel cleaning company? Stop and reconsider. Solar panel cleaning services can cost more than $100 per visit, and in the vast majority of cases the temporary increase in power generation you get will never make up for that cost. What should most people do? Just let the rain keep your panels clean. If you live in a dry and dusty area or frequently find bird poop or leaves on your panels, invest in some inexpensive equipment to take care of cleaning yourself. Read our guide to solar panel maintenance, which includes tips on solar panel cleaning and a some recommended cleaning equipment.

Contact solar companies in Bellingham

Want to work with one of these companies? We screen companies to make sure that you work with qualified installers. Use our service to get multiple quotes from quality Bellingham solar contractors.

Get quotes from solar installers in Bellingham



Average Massachusetts electricity prices


Right now in Massachusetts, the average price of residential electricity is about 20.06 cents per kilowatt hour. In comparison, the average price of electricity in the United States is about 13.34 cents per kWh.

This means that your price of electricity is about 50% higher than the US average, which makes your electricity rates very high compared to the rest of the nation.

With high electricity prices like this, it makes a lot of sense to consider whether solar panels are a good choice for your home. With the cost of solar hardware dropping all the time, if you have a suitable roof or yard for solar, it’s very likely that solar electricity will be cheaper than the high utility rates in your state.

Regardless of what your electricity prices are, by adding solar panels to your house and generating your own electricity, you’re locking in your cost of electricity for as long as your system is working, which will protect you from future rate increases by your utility. Given that many panels come with 25 year warranties, this is an investment that can last a long time.

Keep in mind that the price of electricity varies by utility, sometimes by a lot. The table below lists the average price of electricity for utilities in Massachusetts state. For current rates, check with your utility.

Company# CustomersAvg Price (¢/kWh)
City of Hingham - (MA)8,38314.43
City of Taunton33,45015.47
City of Chicopee - (MA)22,97412.50
City of Marblehead - (MA)9,65315.05
City of Holyoke - (MA)14,75212.35
City of Peabody - (MA)21,90411.65
City of Norwood - (MA)13,60114.65
City of Westfield - (MA)15,89413.83
Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Company17,56822.93
Massachusetts Electric Co675,96120.88
NSTAR Electric Company618,19321.03
Nantucket Electric Co3,36224.27
Town of Braintree - (MA)13,90214.12
Town of Belmont - (MA)10,59421.03
Town of Concord - (MA)6,91815.77
Town of Danvers11,33415.22
Town of Hudson - (MA)11,24210.26
Town of Littleton - (MA)6,38011.29
Town of Ipswich - (MA)6,06813.99
Town of Mansfield - (MA)8,83912.22
Town of Middleborough - (MA)14,12212.91
Town of Middleton3,16213.66
Town of North Attleborough - (MA)12,05215.88
Town of Reading - (MA)26,39915.15
Town of Shrewsbury - (MA)14,38711.18
Town of South Hadley - (MA)7,07211.98
Town of Sterling - (MA)3,44913.12
Town of Wakefield - (MA)11,10615.04
Town of Wellesley - (MA)8,92114.48
Western Massachusetts Electric Company144,67718.98

Historical Massachusetts electricity prices, 2008 to 2017


The average price of residential electricity in Massachusetts, over the past ten years, is 17.07 cents per Kilowatt hour. This is 41% more than than the US average price of 12.07 cents per kWh. Because your state historically has had high electricity prices, there’s a good chance that prices will continue to be high in the future. This is a good argument for going solar.

Why is this important to know? Depending on the size of your system, owning home solar reduces or eliminates the effect of electricity price increases.


Historical Massachusetts electricity prices (cents per kilowatt hour)

MA prices
US prices
2008200920102011201220132014201520162017
MA prices17.56¢16.87¢14.59¢14.67¢14.91¢15.83¢17.39¢19.83¢19.00¢20.06¢
US prices11.26¢11.51¢11.54¢11.72¢11.88¢12.13¢12.52¢12.65¢12.55¢12.89¢


By looking at the trend in electricity prices over the past decade, you can get a better idea of whether high or low prices in your state are a recent change, or part of a long term trend. Because solar panels last a really long time (most come with 25 year power warranties), going solar protects you from future changes in electricity price. Basically, by paying for a system now, you can lock in your cost of electricity for two or even three decades.



Environmental report for Massachusetts electricity

Depending on the type of fuel they use, power plants produce differing amounts of air pollution. This is measured as units of pollution per megawatt hour (mWh) of electricity.

For every mWh of electricity generated, Massachusetts power plants produce on average:

  • 385 kilograms of CO2, which is 16% less than the US average of 459 kg.
  • 89 grams of SO2, which is 78% less than the US average of 411 g.
  • 278 grams of NOx, which is 25% less than the US average of 373 g.

In the power generation estimate listed above, The Solar Nerd calculator determined that an unshaded, south-facing 6 kilowatt PV system would generate about 8,280 kWh in an average year.

This means that putting a 6 kW solar panel system on your house would prevent 3,188 kilograms of CO2, 737 grams of SO2, and 2,302 grams of NOx from being emitted into the atmosphere.

The carbon offset of these solar panels would be about equivalent to planting 185 trees every year! (One deciduous tree left to grow for 10 years offsets 17.2 kg of CO2, according to the EPA.)

MA state average electricity emissions
MA
US
Glossary:
CO2 is carbon dioxide and is a primary greenhouse gas.
SO2 is sulphur dioxide. It damages the human respiratory system and contributes to acid rain.
NOx refers to nitrogen oxides, which contribute to smog, acid rain, and lung damage.


Calculate your home solar incentives for Bellingham

Use our calculator to determine the financial payback of a home solar systemand to get a solar performance estimate customized to your home, including federal, state, and local incentives.



Ready to go solar in Bellingham?

Use our free service to find qualified solar contractors and get multiple quotes on a solar panel installation in Buffalo.

Home solar quotes in Bellingham
Sources:
This report was prepared with data from the good people at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory Data, the US Energy Information Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency.