While looking for solar panel installation services, you must have heard or seen ads saying ‘free solar panels in New Jersey or NJ will pay you for the solar installation. But, Is it really true?
We have answers to all the queries hovering over your head right now. Give this post your precious read and clear all your doubts regarding free solar in NJ!
First, there is no such thing as a free solar panel in New Jersey. Secondly, when something is promoted as ‘free’ it has some conditions or hidden cords attached to it, so the solar installation is no exception.
Endless advertisements saying ‘free solar panels in New Jersey’ or no cost solar energy in NJ is the outcome of the IRA (Inflation Reduction Act) enactment in 2022. This act offered $269 billion in financial incentives to energy-efficient properties in New Jersey.
New Jersey’s free solar program is intended to spike interest among property owners and prompt them to provide their contact details. Once interested residents provide their contact information, solar companies (not affiliated with New Jersey government) who are not selling ‘free solar panels in NJ’ reach out to them.
Free might sound enticing but several things have to be considered before jumping to the conclusion. In the next section of the article, we will discuss what it means when companies offer solar panels for free.
- ‘Free solar panels in New Jersey are nothing but a marketing tactic.
- Advertising solar as ‘free’ has many conditional strings attached to it.
- Despite of several benefits, several myths about solar installation in NJ persist.
- Companies offer ‘solar panels for free to spike the interest of New Jersey residents.
Are solar panels free in New Jersey?
The answer is ‘No, the government doesn’t offer free solar panels in New Jersey. However, homeowners who opt for solar installation are eligible for a federal tax credit that covers a certain percentage of solar panel costs. Residential owners who are already utilizing solar power can claim this tax credit through our guide on solar energy incentives.
In 2020 and 2021, the eligibility for tax credits was 26% for solar-powered installed systems. Whereas it has increased to 30% for homeowners who will install solar between 2022 and 2032.
The key motive for providing federal tax credits is to encourage more and more people to adopt green energy. There is no solar company or government program that offers free solar panels in New Jersey.
The upfront NJ solar panel cost falls between $13,750–$22,000 which is quite high for many, so people prefer opting for solar financing to enjoy an energy-efficient home at their affordability.
Why solar panels are advertised as ‘free?
Companies that are advertising ‘free solar panels in New Jersey are typically offering solar panels on lease. This lease agreement states that the homeowner will pay a monthly electricity consumption fee to the contractor, in exchange they pay for the upfront installation cost.
Leasing is quite a popular choice in New Jersey as homeowners are not liable to take care of the maintenance and are free to end the contract according to their will. However, when you opt for leasing you lose the eligibility for solar incentives and federal tax credits. Plus, you don’t have ownership of the installed solar panels on your rooftop. It is totally up to you whether you want to pay for the entire solar project or go for leasing it.
Free solar panels in New Jersey are a misleading promoting tactic that many installers use to pique the curiosity of their prospects. When you see ads saying ‘solar panels for free’ it could mean any of the following:
Solar Lease Agreement
The solar lease agreement is a contract between the homeowner and the solar contractor. In this agreement, the homeowner pays the rent of the solar system which is installed on their rooftop and the contractor bears the cost of upfront installation cost. The lease period ranges between 10 to 15 years.
Therefore, if you want to avoid paying for the upfront cost of the solar installation, you can opt for the solar lease agreement. However, this agreement is only beneficial when your monthly lease is lower than the electricity bills.
Because if the amount of the lease is greater than your monthly electricity bills, instead of saving you can lose a lot of money.
Government Solar Program
Yes, government solar programs do exist. However, it is provided to only those whose income is low. Government agencies, non-profit organizations, and regulated utilities manage such solar programs for people who want to make their homes energy-efficient.
Private solar installation companies can participate in these programs. However, the guidelines are quite stringent to become a part of this program.
Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)
The power purchase agreement is a financial agreement where the contractor manages aspects like designing, financing, permitting, and installing a solar system on the homeowner’s rooftop. In exchange, the contractor gets the money in the form of a monthly lease (just like a solar lease agreement).
This type of agreement lets the homeowner save money on the upfront cost of the solar panel installation. They just need to pay for the monthly electricity bill based on the kilowatt-hour price.
Please note, if the ‘free solar’ offer doesn’t fit in any of the above classifications then it is probably a scam.
Some solar companies are transparent in their sales pitch. They will clearly state that buyers don’t have to pay the installation cost but need to make monthly payments for using green energy. However, a few contractors mislead buyers to access their contact information.
Solar Installation in New Jersey: Six Myths Busted
In 2021, New Jersey became the 9th largest producer of electricity using solar renewable energy. The average cost of solar panels in NJ is $2.94 per watt. However, even with proven potentiality, durability, value, and saving capabilities, some myths still persist.
In this section, we will bust all the common solar myths and make you understand the truth about solar panel installation.
Myth 1: Solar panel installation is expensive
Solar panel installation used to be expensive. From 1998 to 2009, the cost of solar systems dropped by 30%. If we talk about 2009 to 2018, the price even fell 70% further. The falling price of solar installation can be seen in New Jersey as well. More and more residents are adopting green energy to reduce their electricity bills as the price has become quite comfortable.
SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association) states New Jersey ranks eighth for total installed PV (photovoltaic) capacity. Up to 7% of the state’s electricity comes from solar energy. This percentage is expected to rise in the coming years.
Due to a 30% increase in federal tax credits on solar installations, many homeowners are switching to green energy. When you consider subsidies and tax incentives, the cost of solar panel installation drops even further. For instance, with a $15000 solar panel system, homeowners can qualify for a $4500 tax credit. So, installing solar is not all expensive now.
Myth 2: Solar technology is not that efficient
Many people believe that solar technology is not efficient or fails to utilize energy. However, solar panels utilize green energy adequately and power your house no matter what size. The Shockley-Queisser limit theory states that the efficiency of solar cells is a maximum of 20% which will eventually hit maximum capacity.
However, 15% efficiency is more than enough to power a property or resident. Plus, it keeps some power back into the grid as well. Therefore, if you are waiting for solar technology to reach 100%, you are already missing out on a huge opportunity to earn tax rebates and save money on electricity bills.
Myth 3: Solar panels are meant for large spaces
Solar panels did require a lot of land but it is gone past now. New technology has made solar installation easy, too without needing a massive space or land. Now you can enjoy minimal electricity bills and enjoy other benefits of green energy with a rooftop solar installation.
Even if you don’t have enough space on your property, you can get solar panels installed on your rooftop very easily. Whether you live in urban or suburban areas in New Jersey, technological advancement has made solar extremely feasible for everyone.
Myth 4: Solar panels work well only on sunny days
Many people have this misconception that solar panels work only during sunny days. However, this is not completely true. Although the solar system works productively on sunny days, it can generate electricity on cloudy, slightly snowy, or rainy days as well.
Please note, solar panels collect sunlight and certain sunlight still reaches the earth on different weather conditions. However, solar systems that exclude solar batteries do not store energy for later use. In this case, you can utilize net metering. It is a mechanism that helps homeowners transfer surplus energy back to the grid and receive credits for unused solar energy.
This means when your solar panel system produces excess energy during sunny days, it will go back to the utility grid and you get paid for it.
Myth 5: Solar panels require a lot of maintenance
This is another biggest false impression of the solar system among many people. However, this is not true. If you partner with a reliable solar provider, they make sure that the system is properly installed. A correctly installed solar system doesn’t have troubling moving parts, so it needs minimal maintenance.
Parts that are movable or detachable experience more breakdown, rust, and wear out as they are utilized and moved repeatedly. Such pesky parts need regular maintenance to make them work efficiently. This is not the case with solar panels like lead-acid batteries require very less upkeep from homeowners.
Also, lithium-ion batteries are durable and come with a longer lifespan, so they don’t need huge maintenance. However, the cost of lithium-ion batteries is on the higher side.
Myth 6: Solar panel installation damages the roof
Many people think that their roof will get damaged followed by a solar system installation. This is completely false. Most solar panels are designed to be installed on the rooftop. As solar panels are lightweight and installed on a rack system, any type of roof can easily accommodate it.
Additionally, before the solar purchase, your roof gets examined and undergoes structural evaluation. So, you don’t need to worry about the damages because it won’t happen in the first place. If you think your roof is not in the right shape, you can consider fixing it before going for the solar system installation. Also, a reliable solar system once installed gives you 25 years of service seamlessly.
Frequently asked questions
Can solar panels be installed for free?
Yes, technically you can install solar panels for free if you opt for a lease or third-party-owned solar system. However, you need to pay the monthly electricity bill.
Which state get free solar panels?
No state is eligible for getting free solar panels. But the government energy efficiency program provides benefits to low-income households.
How much does solar cost in NJ?
The cost to install solar panels in NJ highly depends on the choice of equipment brands, energy needs, home size, and installation price. However, you can expect to complete the entire project between $13750 to $22,000.
Is it worth installing solar in NJ?
Yes, it is worth installing a solar system on your home if you are a resident of NJ. As the state gets abundant sunshine, you can generate your electricity, earn federal tax credits, and save on solar panel costs in NJ.
How long do solar panels last in New Jersey?
The lifespan of an average solar system in NJ ranges between 25 years to 30 years.
Can I get free solar panels in New Jersey?
No, you cannot get free solar panels in New Jersey. But federal tax credits and other solar incentives can make the installation more affordable.
Do companies offer free roof replacement with solar panels in NJ?
No, solar companies don’t pay for re-roofing. However, if you opt for the third-party-owned residential solar system, the installation cost will be free as you would pay only for the monthly electricity used.
The Bottom Line: Free solar panels in NJ
By now you must have understood, free solar panels in New Jersey are not actually ‘free’. These advertisements are not necessarily scamming but quite misleading.
The average cost of solar in the US is $16000. This figure can go up or down based on the energy needs and choice of the solar system. However, you can skip paying the heavy installation cost and enjoy the green energy affordably. You can also explore solar financing options to make the installation wallet-friendly.
Solar isn’t free in NJ. Such ads normally refer to solar leases, government solar programs, or power purchase agreements. The actual meaning of free solar panels is paying for the lease, not for the upfront installation cost.
On a final note, we can say that solar is not free but if you opt for a lease then its installation can be!