Frequently Asked Questions | Solarize Philly

How does solar work?

When sunlight hits the solar panels they produce clean, renewable electricity that powers your home or business. If your system produces more energy than you need on a given day, that energy flows out of your property and onto the electric grid.

How much will a solar installation cost?

The cost of solar varies widely based on your roof size and sun exposure. You may be eligible for a Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for 30% of the total cost of your installation, which is designed to lower the total cost of going solar. Your installer will provide you with a free quote specific to your property and will provide you with materials so you can apply for the ITC, if applicable. Solar panels typically pay for themselves in about 10 years through the savings on your electric bill.

What are the benefits of going solar through Solarize Philly?

Solarize Philly is a discount program to help Philadelphia’s home and business owners go solar. The Philadelphia Energy Authority negotiated discounted pricing with our pre-approved installation partners. Solarize Philly also features some consumer protections. PEA reviews and approves all solar modules, inverters, and other equipment that installers offer as part of Solarize Philly to ensure it is of the highest quality. PEA has performed a thorough review of our installers’ licenses, insurance coverage, and financials. PEA also requires that our Solarize Philly installers offer a minimum 5-year workmanship warranty for all installations.

How do I pay for my solar system?

Homeowners and businesses have a lot of different options to pay for solar.
Many homeowners consider a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit. Solarize Philly is also offering an option to lease your solar panels (the way you lease a car) so you don’t have to pay for it all upfront. Your installer will provide at least one financing option. You are also free to secure your own financing to pay for the solar installation. In most cases, we have found that the monthly loan payment is equal to or less than the monthly savings on your PECO bill.

Businesses may decide to pay for solar with cash on hand, by using C-PACE financing (click here to learn more), or by entering into a Power Purchase Agreement to buy the solar energy produced by panels installed at your building. Your installer will talk to you about financing options. Nonprofits and multifamily (5+ unit) properties might be eligible to apply for a Catalyst Term Loan – please contact info@phillygreencapital.org for more information.

What are the benefits of owning or leasing my solar system?

Ownership Leasing
  • Your purchase can be financed using cash, loan, or home equity line of credit.
  • You can redeem the 30% federal Investment Tax Credit (check with your tax professional if you qualify for this incentive)
  • You retain Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) generated by your solar PV system.
  • Go solar at $0 upfront cost.
  • Receive complementary energy efficiency upgrades for your home.
  • No minimum credit or income requirements.
  • Fixed lease pricing.
  • Your installer owns and maintains the system.
  • Your installer retains the 30% Investment Tax Credit and SRECs.

How long will it take for my property to be solar-powered?

Once you have signed the contract, your installer will apply for a permit from the City and interconnection permission from PECO. For residential installations, after receiving these permits, typically within 30-60 days, the company will install the solar array on your roof, which takes 1-3 days. A couple of weeks later, PECO will give the final go-ahead for you to flip the switch and turn on your solar array! Commercial installations may take longer, depending on the size and complexity of your project. Your installer will work with you on a timeline that works for you.

Is my roof a good fit for solar?

The ideal roof for a solar installation is one that is unshaded, and is ideally less than 10 years old and in good condition. Your installer will do a free assessment of your site to find out whether it has enough sun exposure to be a good fit for solar. It is possible to remove panels if roof repairs are needed, but it is best to have any needed work done before the solar is installed. Our commercial installers can also provide you with ground-mounted and carport options.

How will solar change my electric bill?

Your installer will provide a proposal that shows how much you can expect to save. The solar energy produced will flow into your home or business, and any extra electricity will flow out onto the electricity grid. PECO will credit your bill for this excess production, through a process known as “net metering.” When your solar array is not producing (e.g. at night), your house will consume electricity from the grid and your bill credits will be applied toward the cost of this grid-based power.

For information on how solar billing works if you switch to PECO’s Time of Use Pricing, please refer to PECO’s Solar Net Metering Time of Use Q&A.

What are Solar Renewable Energy Credits and what can I do with them?

Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) are performance-based incentives that create economic value from solar generation. Each megawatt-hour of electricity generated by your solar system equals 1 SREC from the state. A typical home in Philadelphia generates 3-5 SRECs annually.

To monetize your SRECs, you must register their solar systems in the Pennsylvania AEPS and GATS systems. Your Solarize Philly installer will assist you with this registration process.

You can also choose to donate your SRECs to support solar installations in low- and moderate-income communities across Philadelphia. The cost of installing solar can be prohibitive for low income families. Installing solar panels at home can lift a family’s assets & property value, as well as prevent them from having to pick between keeping the lights on or paying for other necessities like food and medicine.

To donate your SRECs to help another Philadelphia family go solar, sign up here or contact info@phillygreencapital.org to learn more.

Didn’t answer your question?

Feel free to reach out to us at the Philadelphia Energy Authority at 215-686-4483 or solarize@philaenergy.org with any other questions!