Do home solar panels make sense in Ithaca, New York?

Summary:

The median price of a 6 kilowatt home solar system in Ithaca is about  $7,847.
That 6 kW system would generate about  $1,376 worth of electricity every year.
In 2019, you can qualify for a  30% federal tax credit. In New York, 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 Ithaca, NY?

The average cost per watt of residential solar in New York 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 Ithaca 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 Ithaca, with an electricity generation estimate based on the local climate and the following assumptions:

• 572 kWh is the amount of electricity that the average New York home uses every month.
• 5.40 kilowatts is the size of the system you’ll need to generate 100% of this electricity from solar panels.
• 13 to 21 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$21,051This 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%$6,315The 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
New York state income tax credit: 25% off system costs up to $5,000$5,000The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance offers a significant tax credit worth 25% off your cost of a home solar system, up to a maximum credit of $5,000.
NYSERDA NY-Sun rebate ($0.35 per Watt; max 25 kW)$1,889The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) operates the NY-Sun program, which includes significant rebates for the home solar. These are on top of New York state and federal tax credits, so going solar in New York is a smart move. Read more about New York incentives.
Net system price:$7,847

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 Ithaca, NY?

Every year, that hypothetical Ithaca home solar system described above would produce about $1,376 worth of electricity. This is based on the New York state average price of electricity of $0.18/kWh and the average local climate.

But that’s just a home with average electricity usage. You might need more or fewer solar panels, depending on how much electricity you want to generate. Also, shade matters a lot. If you have trees or buildings throwing shadows on your roof, that could reduce your solar production by a lot.



Houses in Ithaca with solar panels

In Ithaca, our data shows that there are at least 681 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 4,483 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 Ithaca 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 photovoltaic panels turn sunlight into electricity, and the more sunlight you have, 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.



Ithaca solar energy potential

If you want to know how much sunlight is available in your city for solar electricity generation, you need to know the Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI). DNI not only takes into account the hours of sunlight, but other variables such as cloud cover, airborne particulates (which cause haze), and precipitation.

The DNI for Ithaca is 3.82, which means the solar potential is a just little less than in many other locations in the United States.

3.82

However, this is still a pretty good amount of year-round sunlight. If you have a good south-facing roof with little shade, a solar panel system in Ithaca will still be able to generate a surprising amount of solar electricity.

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 means more sunshine and more electricity generation by solar panels, but solar can be viable even with a lower DNI. For example, Germany has widespread solar PV, but a DNI of only about 2.5.

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

Ithaca
US low
US high

Different locations in the US will see a wider range of solar energy generation from winter to summer. These charts show you what to expect in Ithaca.

Solar Energy by Month (DNI)


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

Power Generation by Month (kWh)


In Ithaca, the electricity production from solar panels will vary by a fair amount seasonally. In an average year, your power generation will be 250% higher in the peak month compared to the lowest production month in winter. This is about average for the United States. It means that you should expect to use some grid electricity in the winter, and send excess solar electricity to the grid in the summer.



Ithaca, NY solar companies

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

# of homes refers to the number of installations by the installer in the Ithaca 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 Ithaca.
Year of the most recent install is the most recent record of work done by the installer in Ithaca. 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
DIRECT ENERGY SOLAR (FORMERLY ASTRUM)704892016
DOVETAIL BUILDERS132007
EARTHSPONSE, LLC3142011
ETM SOLAR WORKS, INC.291582016
FINGER LAKES RENEWABLE ENERGY, LLC501992016
FINLO7332013
GEOTHERM INC172015
HALCO PLUMBING AND HEATING142012
HALCO RENEWABLE ENERGY (DBA FOR HALCYON)241602017
NORTHEAST EMERGENCY POWER SYSTEMS (MICHAEL PARKS)162011
O'CONNELL ELECTRIC CO., INC.142010
PARADISE ENERGY SOLUTIONS, LLC182017
PERFORMANCE SYSTEMS CONTRACTING262010
PRIME ENERGY SOLUTIONS, INC.192007
RENEWABLE ROCHESTER (DBA FOR VIOLA HOMES)182012
RENOVUS ENERGY, INC2101,5312017
SCYLLA SOLAR LLC1892016
SOLAR LIBERTY ENERGY SYSTEMS, INC.956082016
SUNGEVITY DEVELOPMENT LLC281692015
SUNGEVITY INC272015
SUNPOWER CAPITAL LLC3252016
SUNPOWER SOLARPROGRAM I, LLC5472013
TAITEM ENGINEERING, PC1248252017
UPSTATE ENERGY SOLUTIONS10592014
YOU SAVE GREEN, INC3152013

Solar panel lease companies in Ithaca

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 New York ?
SungevityYES
SunnovaYES
SunrunYES
Vivint SolarYES

Looking for solar panel cleaning companies in Ithaca?

If you’re trying to find a local company that specializes in cleaning solar panels, you should know that it’s probably not worth the cost. 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. Instead, just let the rain keep your solar panels clean. Rain will do a good enough job for free. 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 Ithaca

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 Ithaca solar contractors.

Get quotes from solar installers in Ithaca



Average New York electricity prices


The average price of residential electricity in New York is 18.03 cents per kilowatt hour, while the average price across the nation is 13.34 cents per kWh.

In other words, you’re paying 35% more for electricity than the average American, making your cost of electricity fairly expensive compared to the nation.

You’re probably not happy about that, so it makes sense to consider going solar.

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 New York state. For current rates, check with your utility.

Company# CustomersAvg Price (¢/kWh)
Central Hudson Gas & Elec Corp222,18917.04
City of Salamanca - (NY)3,0674.83
City of Plattsburgh - (NY)8,7014.59
Consolidated Edison Co-NY Inc2,211,23525.34
Jamestown Board of Public Util16,2717.78
Lake Placid Village, Inc - (NY)4,0115.22
Fishers Island Utility Co Inc65340.12
Long Island Power Authority1,008,45219.77
Niagara Mohawk Power Corp.1,243,10012.61
North Shore Towers Apts Inc1,84028.64
New York State Elec & Gas Corp622,55811.93
Orange & Rockland Utils Inc132,67522.24
Pennsylvania Electric Co3,06610.76
Rochester Gas & Electric Corp279,18313.51
Steuben Rural Elec Coop, Inc6,08112.35
Village of Fairport - (NY)15,7735.19
Town of Massena - (NY)8,2096.46
Village of Arcade - (NY)3,6195.20
Village of Freeport - (NY)12,92812.49
Village of Rockville Centre - (NY)9,64912.02
Village of Solvay - (NY)4,6555.14
Village of Rouses Point - (NY)1,1243.31

Historical New York electricity prices, 2008 to 2017


The average price of residential electricity in New York, over the past ten years, is 18.34 cents per Kilowatt hour. This is 52% 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 New York electricity prices (cents per kilowatt hour)

NY prices
US prices
2008200920102011201220132014201520162017
NY prices18.31¢17.50¢18.74¢18.26¢17.62¢18.79¢20.07¢18.54¢17.58¢18.03¢
US prices11.26¢11.51¢11.54¢11.72¢11.88¢12.13¢12.52¢12.65¢12.55¢12.89¢


One of the big financial advantages of going solar is that you basically lock in your price of electricity for the next 20 to 30 years (because most solar panels come with 25 year power warranties). When you look at the graphs above and see the historical trend of electricity prices in the United States, you’ll notice that prices steadily increase over time. While prices from your utility may bounce up and down, the cost of electricity eventually increases over time. Going solar will protect you from those increases.



Environmental report for New York 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, New York power plants produce on average:

  • 200 kilograms of CO2, which is 56% less than the US average of 459 kg.
  • 118 grams of SO2, which is 71% less than the US average of 411 g.
  • 223 grams of NOx, which is 40% 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 7,630 kWh in an average year.

This means that putting a 6 kW solar panel system on your house would prevent 1,526 kilograms of CO2, 900 grams of SO2, and 1,701 grams of NOx from being emitted into the atmosphere.

The carbon offset of these solar panels would be about equivalent to planting 89 trees every year! (One deciduous tree left to grow for 10 years offsets 17.2 kg of CO2, according to the EPA.)

NY state average electricity emissions
NY
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 Ithaca

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 Ithaca?

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

Home solar quotes in Ithaca
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.