How Much Does It Cost To Install Solar Panels In Maine?
To help you make the most informed decision about solar, we designed this free solar calculator. Input details like the exact location of the property, your current electrical usage, and information about your roof’s orientation, shade, and pitch to receive an estimated price and potential energy cost savings for your custom system.
What Type Of Solar Electric Systems Are Available?
The average system costs noted above are for a grid-tied, roof-mounted solar electric system. Grid-tied, rooftop solar systems are our most common type of solar electric system installed throughout Maine.
However, other solar system options are available, such as grid-tied, grid-tied battery backup, off-grid battery-based systems, and ground mounts. To ensure you get the information you need to make an informed decision about what type of solar system will work best for you, we have outlined the options available below.
These are the most common type of solar electric systems in Maine. With this system, your home can be powered by the sun when it is shining. You are still connected to your utility provider (often called the grid), so you still have power when sunlight is unavailable. Net Metering allows the electricity generated by your solar system to offset the electricity used from the grid during the night or on a cloudy day. This ensures that all of the electricity your system produces offsets your usage and ultimately your electric bill. However, if the grid goes down, your system will shut off, and you will lose power. Grid-tied systems are the less expensive option due to not needing batteries and other additional equipment.
Installing a grid-tied solar electric system is an excellent step towards energy independence. However, during a power outage, your system does not provide power. By pairing a grid-tied solar electric system with battery backup, you can bank the energy you produce for times when you need it, like when the grid goes down. Although whole-house backup is achievable, most grid-tied battery backup systems are designed only to power “critical” electrical loads. If you are thinking about going solar now but want to add batteries in the future, we can design your system to accommodate your future battery needs. These systems are more costly than grid-tied alone.
Many people like the idea of installing an off-grid solar system because of its independence. However, it could require a lifestyle change to reduce energy consumption as you cannot rely on the grid. These systems tend to be most popular in rural locations such as camps or where the nearest power line may be miles away. You will need batteries to store your energy, must monitor the battery health, and be aware that you have a finite amount of energy you can collect and store on a daily basis. These systems have special design and operation requirements making them more challenging to install and service than a more common grid-tied system. They also require more components and usually cost more. Maine Solar Solutions has a design and installation team experienced with off-grid solar systems if you would like to learn more.
Rooftop Solar Versus Ground Mounted Solar
There are two common types of solar panel installations for grid-tied solar systems: roof-mounted and ground-mounted.
Most of the solar electric systems installed in Maine feature rooftop solar arrays. But sometimes aesthetic concerns or heavily shaded roofs make consideration of a ground-mounted solar array advisable. Ground-mounted solar arrays typically cost between 15 – 25% more than rooftop solar arrays. The expense of ground anchors, racking, and trenching accounts for this higher cost. Although a ground-mounted solar array costs more than an equal-sized rooftop array, many of our customers have found that a ground-mounted array provides the best balance of cost, aesthetics, and value. Our experienced solar consultants can show you the relative costs of both options and help you determine what makes the most sense.
The Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar In Maine
This free resource is packed with answers to the most common questions we receive about solar energy installations in Maine.
What Factors Affect The Cost Of A Solar Electric System?
During your free solar site assessment, we gather information about your home that we use to design your system. We prepare a proposal based on your electricity usage and we show a couple of different solar panel options. Below is the information that we gather that helps us get you a fixed-cost system price.
- Electricity Usage:We review your electric bills and calculate the amount of electricity you use over the course of a year.
- Roof Information: People often ask, “Is my roof good for solar? Does my house face the right way for solar panels? What’s the ideal roof angle for solar?” To answer those questions our solar consultants will measure the angle or pitch of your roof and determine the orientation of your home towards the south. Roofs that face towards the southeast or southwest may require an additional panel or two to produce the same amount of power as a roof that faces directly south. People are often surprised to learn that even if their roof faces directly towards the east or west, annual solar production can still make installing a solar system an affordable investment.
- Shading Measurements: For electricity production, the more exposed your roof is to sunlight throughout the day, the better. Your roof does not need to have full sun all day to be a good candidate for solar, and a partially shaded roof may only require a few additional panels to match the production of an unshaded roof.
- Solar Panel Type:Solar panels account for the greatest equipment cost for a solar electric system. We offer several different solar panels to choose from. There are many solar panel manufacturers, and each manufacturer offers multiple solar panel models. Solar panels differ in size, wattage, efficiency, appearance, and warranty. Each of these specifications impacts the solar panel’s cost and factors into their relative value. Our customers find it helpful when we present a range of solar panel options and take the time to educate them about the differences in panel features, performance, cost, and value.
What Incentives Are Available For Installing Solar?
The primary incentive available to homeowners installing solar in Maine is the Federal Solar Tax Credit (ITC). Solar electric systems installed between 2022 and 2032 qualify for a 30% federal tax credit. This tax credit is scheduled to fall to 26% in 2033 and 22% in 2034. It is currently set to expire in 2035. There’s a lot of information about the ITC out there, so to help, we gathered answers to some commonly asked questions about the federal tax credit here.
What’s Included In My Solar Electric System Costs?
Once your system is designed, and you have chosen which solar panels and optional add-ons you would like to include in your system, we prepare a fixed-cost installation contract that includes all of the equipment and labor required to install a safe, code-compliant system. Your fixed-cost solar electric system includes the following:
- Solar Panels
- Inverter system
- Power Optimizers
- System monitoring so that you can watch the entire array and each panel’s output information on your desktop or your phone
- Racking and roof attachment equipment
- Roof-specific attachment points
- Electrical components required for a safe, code-compliant installation
- Installation labor by Maine Solar Solutions qualified electricians and installers
- Maine Solar Solutions 10-year Workmanship warranty
CUSTOMER SERVICE AND PAPERWORK
- Assistance with all required paperwork, utility, and permitting
- Utility interconnection application fee
- Electric and building permits and associated fees
What Are The Additional Costs Involved To Go Solar?
During our site evaluation, we may determine that your electric service or breaker panel will need to be upgraded to accommodate the solar installation. Your solar proposal will detail the cost of any additional electrical work, and the final system cost will include these costs.
What Add-ons Or Options Are Available When Installing A Solar Electric System?
Battery Backup Systems:A grid-tied solar electric system will not provide backup power during a power outage. We offer battery systems for customers seeking to add a backup power source to their grid-tied solar electric system. The most popular battery backup system is the Telsa Powerwall. Battery systems are eligible for the 30% federal tax credit. If you’re curious about batteries, your solar consultant will review options with you. Even if you aren’t ready for batteries during your initial solar installation, your solar electric system can be designed to allow for the easy addition of batteries later.
Electric Vehicle (EV) Chargers:With the growing popularity of electric cars, many of our solar customers are requesting the installation of an electric car charging station at their homes. Combining an electric vehicle with a solar electric system in your home allows you to fix the cost of operating your electric car and truly enables you to operate your EV as a carbon-free, renewable energy vehicle.
Is Going Solar A Good Return on Investment (ROI) In Maine?
Owning a solar electric system is one of the few investments that truly pays for itself in savings over time. A properly sized and designed solar electric system can eliminate nearly your entire annual electric bill. For most Maine homeowners, the solar electric system will pay for itself in as few as 7-10 years. Customers choosing to finance the purchase of their system may see longer payback times.
Once the system has paid for itself, a typical Maine solar system owner will only have to pay their fixed utility service charge – currently around 15 per month. Whether you pay for your solar system out of or choose to finance the purchase you have essentially fixed your cost of electricity and protected yourself from ever-increasing electricity price increases!
For someone in their 50’s, I looked at installing solar panels as saving for my 401K. Because when I am 70, who knows what the price of electricity will be. I am fixing the cost of most of my electricity for life!
– Cathy G., Gorham, ME
What Are The Ways To Pay For Solar Electric Systems?
Most customers choose between paying upfront for their solar electric system or financing the purchase and paying a monthly payment.
Direct Purchase: Choosing to pay for a solar electric system out of will give you the highest return on your investment. You’ll own your solar panels immediately and not have to pay any interest. Many of our customers have taken advantage of low-interest rates and increasing home values to pay for their solar systems with home equity loans or when refinancing their mortgages.
Solar Loans: Financing the purchase of a solar electric system allows you to fix your cost of electricity for the lifetime of your loan. Your fixed monthly payments may at first be higher than your monthly electric bill, but over time as electricity rates go up, your monthly payments will stay the same. Maine Solar Solutions offers solar financing through Mosaic. Mosaic offers no money down, low-interest rates, and a variety of term lengths with no prepayment penalties. Additional financing options may be available through your local bank or credit union.
Cost should not be the only factor when choosing a solar installation company. A solar electric system will last more than 25 years; it’s important to consider a qualified, experienced company that will provide guidance and support throughout the entire system life span. From initial consult, through installation, with ongoing support and consultation, choose a company with a proven track record. Keep in mind that solar electric systems are installed to meet the requirements of the National Electric Code and as such need to be installed by licensed electricians and qualified technicians under their supervision.
Free Solar Site Assessment
Curious to see what a solar electric system would cost for your home?
At Maine Solar Solutions, our goal is to give you the information you need to make an informed decision. Schedule an informative, free, no-obligation solar consultation with one of our knowledgeable solar consultants today and begin your path towards energy independence.
Energy from the sun is free. However, capturing and utilizing this free energy does have associated costs, such as installing and maintaining the equipment needed to harness the energy.
Residential System Pricing
Solar Thermal System Pricing
Solar water heating systems generally produce the biggest economic return on investment. A typical residential solar water heating system sized for a family of four costs about 6,000 to 8,000.
Solar Electric System Pricing
The initial investment required to purchase a residential solar electric system can be significant. A turnkey system equipped to produce enough power for the average home can be as much as 30,000. 36,000, which is why most homeowners choose a solar electric system that is designed to offset only a portion of the home’s electrical energy consumption.
An average home in Alabama consumes 1,200 kWh of electricity each month. A solar electric system rated at one kilowatt will produce approximately 100 kWh of electricity per month in Alabama, which means the average house would require an approximately 12-kilowatt (kW) system with battery back-up in order to meet 100% of the household electricity needs.
Installing a solar electric system without batteries averages between 2,500 to 3,000 per kW. Therefore, the average homeowner would have to make an initial equipment investment of 30,000 to 36,000 for a 12-kW system. In Alabama, with electric costs averaging 0.125/kWh, the annual electric utility cost for the average homeowner would be 1,800.
Without incentives, it would take over 20 years to get a return on the investment of a whole-house solar electric system.
Tax Credits and Incentives
For a typical household, the prospect of paying up to 100,000 for solar panels is prohibitive; however, incentives in the form of tax credits and low interest loans can help offset the cost. A 26% federal tax credit is currently available through December 2022 for installing a solar energy system.
Let us help you determine if installing a solar energy system is right for you. For more information about solar thermal and electric system opportunities at your home or business, contact our Products and Services Team Mon-Fri, 8:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m., at 1-800-990-2726.
What you need to know about converting your home to solar
If you live in an area with abundant sunlight—hello, fellow southern Californians—you’ve probably thought about installing solar panels on your roof to save on your electric bill. But with so much information, it can be hard to know where to start.
Look no further—start here
Between the different types of panels, financing, inverters, and other jargon, researching solar energy can feel overwhelming at first. That’s why I recommend starting at a solar quote comparison site like EnergySage, Solar-Estimate, or SolarReviews (the latter two are run by the same people).
Both EnergySage and Solar-Estimate act as educational resources and comparison shopping tools to help you field bids. I’ve been using EnergySage, which is chock-full of articles explaining the technology involved. You can also watch videos, look at their buyer’s guide, or start getting quotes. Their Solar 101 series of articles will help you understand the basics, and when you’re done, scroll through the site’s “Learn About Solar” sidebar to read even more articles that’ll give you a feel for the process.
To understand what your home requires, though, you’ll need to look up how much electricity you use. If your bill tells you the average amount of electricity you use each month, make a note of that, or calculate a quick and dirty average yourself. The more information you have on your usage, the more accurate an estimate you can get from installers.
Your energy usage will determine how many panels you’ll need on your roof. Too few, and you’ll still have to pay the electric company for whatever extra power you use. Too many, and you’ll waste money on panels you don’t need—though the electric company will give you credits for any energy you don’t use, should you one day need electricity from the grid.
Keep in mind your future use, too—EnergySage CEO Vikram Aggarwal says that if you plan on getting an electric car, for example, you may want to add a few more panels than you currently need. My neighbor did exactly that, and he’s glad he doesn’t have to rely on the grid for the increased energy usage his new car requires.
From there, you can call local installers directly or plug your information into EnergySage to streamline the process. “You tell us about your home, your bill, and we ask you if you have any preferences regarding equipment, quality, or type of financing. Based on that information, you’ll get quotes from half a dozen pre-screened solar companies,” explains Aggarwal.
Since these quotes contain a number of figures, including a “price per watt,” it’s a bit easier to compare each installer apples-to-apples—rather than just comparing the total cost of each installation that you might get from individual quotes. And, unlike some other solar comparison tools, you won’t have to share your phone number on EnergySage, which is a big plus if you don’t want unsolicited phone calls. (Both EnergySage and Solar-Estimate make money from installers, who pay a fee to list on the site.)
How to choose an installer
As with any big project, don’t just pick the first cheap quote that comes along. “Consumers should get three to five quotes from a mix of different kinds of solar companies to truly evaluate their options,” says Aggarwal. That way, you’ll get a feel for the average cost—pay special attention to the price per watt, which is your main point of price comparison—though it isn’t the only factor you should consider when selecting an installer.
When you find some you like, reach out to the companies and set up a visit to your home where they can create a more detailed plan. You may find that a slightly more expensive installer makes a better pitch for the project. My brother-in-law, for example, liked that his chosen company had a keen attention to detail and helped explain the process to him. Other companies he looked at were cheaper, but didn’t take as much care in helping him decide between products, or determining the most aesthetic way to run the conduit to the electrical panel. So don’t be afraid to get a few on-site visits under your belt before committing. (And make sure a company is licensed, insured, and certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners—you can search their database of companies here.)
Different installers may carry or recommend different panels and inverters, too. (Inverters convert the direct current from the panels to alternating current for your home.).efficient panels are naturally more expensive, but may be necessary if you can’t fit enough lower-efficiency panels on your roof to cover your home’s electricity usage. If you have a large roof or lower usage, you can go with less-expensive panels. You can also choose between more-affordable inverters mounted to the side of your house and pricier, more-efficient ones that sit on your roof. A good installer will walk you through all your options, so you can make an informed decision.
The installer should also draw up the plans, get the permits, and install the actual equipment. So while the installation may be fairly quick, the start-to-finish process may take a few weeks to a few months, depending on your situation. Your installer should also tell you if you need to upgrade your electrical panel, which may be required for certain homes.
Payment and financing
Paying for your system can feel like a minefield all on its own. There are a ton of options out there, but most of them boil down to two main flavors: you can own your system, or you can rent it from the solar company.
Owning the system
Buying everything outright is ideal, since you reap the biggest financial benefits. You can either pay cash, which requires a high upfront cost but nets you the largest long-term savings, or you can take out a loan, which costs a little more in the long run but doesn’t require as much immediate money. Considering a typical solar power system can cost upwards of 10,000, a loan may be attractive. Plus, with a loan, as long as your monthly payment is lower than your monthly electric bill, you start saving money on day one. Purchasing the system upfront means you won’t break even for a few years (though again, you spend less in the long run).
That loan can come from many places, too. You can go to your bank and get it rolled into your mortgage, open a new line of credit, or get a loan through the installer, Aggarwal tells me. Going through your bank may be cheaper, he notes, but may also require more paperwork than choosing the loan your installer offers. It depends on how much legwork you want to do.
Renting the system
Signing a lease, a power purchase agreement, or renting a system through other means is also common, but generally not as financially advantageous. You’ll pay less money, but you won’t get as many of the benefits. “Most of the savings are going to the leasing company,” says Aggarwal. “You may only get 20 to 30 percent.” It can also be a bit complex if you ever want to sell your home—the homebuyer also has to qualify for the solar lease and agree to take over the contract. If they don’t, you could lose that sale, be forced to buy out the solar panels, or deal with the headache some other way. You won’t have to worry about maintenance or repairs, though, like you would with a system you own. If you can’t afford to buy or finance your panels, leasing may be an option, but make sure you’re aware of the downsides before proceeding.
Crunch the numbers
You may be curious to know how long it takes before the solar panels pay for themselves (the moment your savings overtake the initial cost of the system), particularly if you’re buying them outright. This depends on the price of electricity in your area, the incentives available in your region, and how much sunlight you typically get, Aggarwal says. In California, where I live, electricity is 56 percent more expensive than the national average, and there aren’t any state incentives. But we get so much sunlight that Aggarwal tells me California’s average payback period is seven to eight years. Most solar markets, he says, typically see payback in less than 10 years.
That’s pretty good, because most systems are designed to last significantly longer than that. Most solar equipment is warrantied for about 25 years, but can last even longer before you need to replace them, Aggarwal says. The panels do, however, lose efficiency over time, so they may not produce as much energy once you get that far down the road. In addition, the installer’s labor warranty will likely be shorter, so you may have to do a little legwork if you encounter trouble between years 15 and 25, for example.
Finding tax credits and rebates
If you choose to buy your solar system, you may be eligible for a number of financial incentives. It can be hard to keep track of what’s available, though, especially considering the federal government has started to phase out tax credits for solar. For 2020, the current federal tax credit stands at 26 percent of the cost of your system. This isn’t a rebate, it’s a tax credit, which means it’s deducted from the taxes you owe next year. If you don’t owe any taxes, you won’t get a check in the mail. The credit goes down to 22 percent in 2021, then phases out for residential customers in 2022.
There are also state or local incentives, but these can vary by location. Aggarwal recommends checking out the Database of State Incentives for Renewables Efficiency, or DSIRE, to see what’s available in your area. Your accountant may also be able to help you make sense of all this for your specific tax situation—so give them a call as you’re running the numbers to see what your final cost and savings will be.
What’s the Cost of a Ground Mount Solar Panel System?
Ground-mounted solar systems are free-standing structures that support solar panels. Because they can be installed wherever conditions are best for solar power production, they’re a great alternative to the traditional roof-mount solar system.
In this blog, we’ll talk about how much it costs to install a ground-mounted solar panel system, as well as how much money a ground-mounted system could save you.
The Factors That Impact Ground Mount Solar Costs
There are a lot of factors that go into the cost of a ground-mounted solar system. Some of these factors are based on decisions you’ll make. Some are simply out of your hands, pre-determined by things like your location’s climate and the terrain of your property.
Your solar system will be custom-designed to meet your unique energy needs and your financial goals. Here are the factors that will impact your solar energy system’s price.
- How Much Electricity You’d Like to Produce. The more free electricity you want your solar system to produce, the larger it’ll be. This means more equipment and labor, leading to higher costs (but it also means greater savings).
- Added Technology. Ground-mounted solar systems can be installed as a static structure or as a tracking system. Tracking systems, or pole-mounted systems. utilize added technology to orient the solar panel to face the sun. They’ll change their direction as the sun moves across the sky during the day. While this does improve production, it is an additional cost and may require additional maintenance.
- Brand of Solar Panels. Top-of-the-line solar panels offer industry-leading warranties and oftentimes are more efficient. Mid-tier brands can deliver great value but may not be as efficient.
- Types of Solar Panels. Solar panels come in two main types —monocrystalline and polycrystalline. They also come in a variety of sizes and models. These factors can all impact the cost of your system.
- Brand of Inverters. Inverters convert the DC power generated by your solar system to usable AC electricity. What brand inverter you select will also impact the cost of your system.
- Type of Inverter(s). There are three main types of solar inverters that you’ll have to pick from. You’ll have a choice between string inverters, microinverters, and string inverters with power optimizers.
- Shading and Local Weather Patterns. The more sunlight your solar panels get, the more electricity they produce. If you’re located in a cloudy climate or your property is shady, you may need to increase the size of your system to compensate.
- Interconnection Costs. These are fees required to connect to your local electric grid. They vary from utility to utility. Additionally, the further your system is from the interconnection point, the longer your wire run will need to be. This will increase the installation cost.
- Available Incentives. While some cost-saving incentives are available on a federal level, others may be available to you depending on your state, local government, or utility. Here’s a look a the solar incentives in your state.
The Cost of Ground-Mounted Solar Systems by Size
Now that we’ve discussed the various factors that can impact the cost of your ground-mounted PV solar system, we can give you a rough idea of what one would cost.
It’s worthwhile to note that these are broad estimates. The cost of your custom-designed solar system could be more or less, depending on your energy production goals, the equipment you choose, and the location and terrain of your property.
Cost of Installing Ground-Mounted Solar Systems for Homes
The average homeowner can expect to pay between 27,000 and 60,000 for a ground-mounted solar system.
|Average Monthly Electric Bill
|System Size (kW)
|Cost Before Incentives
|Cost After 30% Federal Tax Credit
Cost of Installing Ground-Mounted Solar Systems for Businesses and Farms
Businesses can expect to pay 150,000 to 500,000 for a ground-mounted solar system.
|Average Monthly Electric Bill
|System Size (kW)
|Cost Before Incentives
|Cost After Tax Incentives
Note: Depreciation savings are based on a 24% federal tax rate and do not include any depreciation on state taxes.
For both residential and commercial/agricultural systems, there’s a significant difference between how much ground-mounted solar panels cost before and after incentives.
The after-incentive on the above charts reflect the widely available solar investment tax credit and accelerated depreciation. The tax credit is available to any tax-paying homes, businesses, and farms that own a solar system, and accelerated depreciation is available to any business or farm that pays federal taxes and owns their system. The savings from both incentives can be recovered the year the solar system is energized.
These may not be the only incentives available to you. State and local governments and some utility companies may offer additional incentives that further reduce the cost of your solar installation. The incentives your system qualifies for will vary depending on your location, the type of property on which you’re installing solar, and the size of your system.
Do Ground Mounts Cost Than Roof Mounts?
Generally, ground-mounted solar panels will cost more to install than an equally sized roof-mounted system. This is partly due to the structure on which the solar panels are installed.
A rooftop system is supported by the roof, and the building’s structure, meaning erecting a supporting structure is unnecessary. Instead, the panels are attached to a racking system which is then secured to the roof.
But with a ground-mounted system, an independent structure will need to be erected to support the panels. The structure will consist of posts pounded deep in the ground for stable support, then cross-beams are added in addition to the racking system and the solar panels themselves.
Is The Extra Cost of a Ground Mounted Solar Array Worth It?
In some situations, the additional installation cost is justified by the advantages ground-mounted systems offer.
A ground-mounted solar panel installation gives more freedom in terms of where it’s located. With rooftop solar panels, you’re confined to your roof.
Sometimes, your roof may not be large enough to hold a system that fully meets your electricity production goals. Or, your roof may not get enough sunlight to be an ideal location for solar. In a few cases, your roof may not be able to support the additional weight of the equipment.
With a ground-mounted system, you have more control over its location. As long as you have the available land, you might be able to install a larger system. You can also pick a sunny spot and orient it to maximize energy production.
If your building’s curb appeal is important, and if you don’t love the look of solar panels on your building’s roof, you can install a ground mount in a much less visible area.
Overall, installing a ground-mounted solar system can greatly reduce your monthly costs, save on taxes, and set your property up for long-term, sustainable savings. Many solar panels have 25- or 30-year warranties, guaranteeing they’ll produce a significant amount of free electricity for many years to come.
Get the exact cost for a solar panel system that fits your needs
The best way to determine the cost of your ground-mount solar system is to request a free custom quote. With a custom quote, you’ll see the complete installation cost, all available incentives, and the payback and ROI.
Not ready for a quote? Check out the cost of a roof mounted solar system or use our Solar Savings Calculator for an instant price and savings estimate for a solar system sized for you.
You can also view The Solar Energy Channel on YouTube for short, educational videos that cover all things solar. Don’t forget to subscribe while you’re there!
Last updated on February 16, 2023.