NJ Free Solar Panels What’s the Catch

It only takes one infomercial gone wrong for most people to come to terms with one simple and undeniable truth. Generally, if an idea, product or offer sounds too good to be true, it is.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean there are no benefits to trying the latest Beachbody workout program or the exciting new kitchen gadget that promises to shave hours of food prep time from your day.

An example of this finds its dwelling right here in New Jersey, where incentives abound for homeowners interested in installing solar panels. Many advertisements claim residents can get “free solar panels” or “get solar panels for free.”

Are solar panels really free?

Technically, no. Nothing is free.

Take, for example, when your local McDonald’s gives out free kiddie cones to children on Tuesdays during the summer. Sure, it’s possible to make it in and out of there without giving in to the toddler who has been demanding chicken nuggets over and over since he recognized the golden arches. But chances are—and McDonald’s is banking on it—you will end up leaving with, at the very least, a Happy Meal.

Free is a buzz word. It gets peoples’ attention and it is doing a disservice to the New Jersey solar power industry.

Yes, you can get solar panels installed on your roof for zero dollars out of pocket. And yes, there are a many benefits to doing so. Not only are you making an environmentally conscious decision to make your home a more comfortable, eco-friendly place to live, but you will also be saving money in the process.

If you choose this option, one of the many options of going solar, you are financing the solar panels, a process that allows you to start receiving the benefits of solar power immediately as you pay a fixed monthly lease or loan payment.

The good news is for the average homeowner, that amount is significantly less expensive than paying the your old electric bill.

Free solar panels from the government

“But I heard you can get free solar panels from the government,” you might be thinking.

Comic courtesy of Robb Mirsky

Again, nothing is free. The government has a vested interest backing their desire for you to go solar, but they don’t want it bad enough to actually give it away.

However, there are good reasons why New Jersey is considered one of the best states for solar power, including several incentives and tax credits that are state-specific.

In New Jersey, the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) combine with the 30% Federal Tax Credit to make flexible financing programs feasible.

The owner (lender) of the solar system collects the above financial incentives, plus monthly lease payments over a set period of time to offset the costs of installation.

All of those incentives do not equal zero dollars for the lifetime of the solar panels. What they do add up to, however, is a smart investment over the term of home and solar panel ownership.

Do I qualify for free solar panels?

As much as we’d like to say yes, the reality is no. In reality, no one qualifies for free solar panels.

Instead, you may qualify for a $0 down installation, which saves you on the out-of-pocket costs of solar while also helping save you money on energy costs immediately.

Qualifying criteria:

  • Average monthly electric bill > $100
  • Roof space, roof pitch
  • Sunlight exposure levels
  • Position of your home
  • Good credit

Find out

To see if your home qualifies for solar, call Delaware Valley Home Eco Tech at (856) 809-2744 or contact us online. The initial call will take approximately 15-minutes.

We will evaluate satellite images of your roof and sunlight exposure, determine if solar is a good match for your home, and set up a time for an in-home conversation. Call today to save money and build a better more sustainable future.

Just because that Beachbody program didn’t help you miraculously shed 15 pounds in two days doesn’t mean it isn’t without its fair share of benefits.

In the end, the free solar panel debate is akin to financing a car.

You don’t hear car dealerships advertising “free cars,” and for good reason. (It’s crazy enough at McDonald’s on free kiddie cone day!)

At Delaware Valley Home Eco Tech, we pride ourselves on being your solar and green energy savings advocate. We want to make sure that New Jersey homeowners understand the ins and outs of how solar power works, whether it makes sense for their home, and provide alternative solutions when solar does not make financial sense.

We don’t use buzzwords like “free solar panels” in our advertising, marketing, or sales process because we pride ourselves on doing things the right way.

We are local. We believe in giving back to the community in everything we do. And we are here to help you make an informed, educated financial decision not just for your home, but for your future.

The History of Solar Power

While it might seem like it, solar power isn’t new technology. The use of solar power has a long history, spanning from the 7th Century B.C. to today. The Greeks, Romans, and Chinese all started out harnessing the sun’s heat with glass and mirrors to light fires.

The history of photovoltaic energy (aka. solar cells) started back in 1876.

William Adams discovered that selenium, a chemical element, produced electricity when it was exposed to light. The selenium cells were not efficient, but they proved that light, without heat or moving parts, can be converted into electricity.

In 1953, the first silicon solar cell was discovered.

This cell actually produced enough electricity and was efficient enough to run small electrical devices! The New York Times stated that this discovery was “The beginning of a new era.”

The problem was that nobody in that era could afford solar – the cost of solar was too high.

The first solar cells were made available commercially in 1956, but were way too expensive! A one watt solar cell, was far beyond anyone’s means, and cost up to $300!

In the early 1970’s a way to lower the cost of solar cells was finally discovered.

This research was led by Exxon and helped bring the price down from $100 per watt to around $20 per watt. And the prices continued to drop…

A generation ago, the cost of solar panels was so great that it cost roughly 100 times more to produce one kilowatt of energy from solar power than it does today.

Question: If the cost of solar is dropping, shouldn’t we wait to install?

While equipment costs and soft costs (installation, permitting, operations, maintenance) will continue to fall, favorable rebates and tax incentives are set to expire soon. This means today may be your chance to get the best deal on solar panels for your home.

Other notable solar milestones…

  • 1977 – President Jimmy Carter installs solar panels on the White House.
  • 1983 – World PV production reaches 21.3 megawatts.
  • 1994 – The National Renewable Energy Laboratory creates a solar cell that was more than 30% efficient.
  • 1999 – World PV production reaches 1000 megawatts.
  • 2004 – New Jersey adopts a program promoting the use of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SREC).
  • 2005 – The Energy Policy Act is passed, including the 30% investment tax credit for installing new solar systems.
  • 2016 – The U.S. solar market is on pace to nearly double in size in 2016.

Update: August 29th, 2016

The U.S. installed 1,665 megawatts (MW) of solar PV in Q1 2016 to reach 29.3 gigawatts (GW) of total installed capacity, enough to power 5.7 million American homes.

There are now more than 1 million operating solar PV installations in the U.S. (90% of these projects came on-line during this decade alone). Source: SEIA

Stop searching for solar companies in NJ. Let us do the hard work for you.

We work as your solar and green energy advocate to determine if your home qualifies for solar and find the absolute best program and technology for MAXIMUM savings. To see if your home qualifies for solar, call 856-809-2744.