Free Solar Panels for Seniors: Register for State Solar Panel Rebates, Credits

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Solar Panels | March 29, 2024

Man driving a red truck wonders if there is free solar panels for seniors and a list of states where seniors can get solar energy systems free with solar panel incentives explained for subsidized residential solar.

If you’ve ever seen an offer for “free solar panels for seniors,” you’ve probably also wondered if it’s too good to be true.

While no one is going to come to your home and install solar panels without expecting any compensation, there are a variety of rebates, credits, and other solar programs for seniors in some states.

In addition, California offers income based free solar panel installation for people who qualify, including seniors.

This guide explains options for free solar panels for seniors, including the various ways anyone can save on solar energy systems for their home.

How To Get Free Solar Panels From the Government: Free Solar Panels for Seniors

The federal government does not offer any free solar panel programs. However, it does offer a tax credit that can significantly lower the cost of your system.

This federal tax credit is officially known as the Residential Clean Energy Credit.1 The Residential Clean Energy Credit allows you to subtract 30% of a new solar panel system’s cost from your taxes.

Graphic on how to get solar panels for seniors illustrating various methods for seniors to obtain solar panels, including tax credits, state incentives, net metering, community solar, and solar leases.

If your system costs $25,000, for example, you could subtract $7,500 when you file your taxes for the year the panels were installed.

Other Government Solar Panel Incentives

In addition to the federal government’s solar panel program, many state governments also offer additional incentives that can make solar panels more affordable.

The table below highlights some of the best programs that seniors can utilize to save on solar panels:

State Solar Incentive/Program Details
New York Solar Energy System Equipment Credit7 Equals 25% of the system’s value (maximum of $5,000)
Massachusetts Residential Renewable Energy Income Tax Credit8 Equals the lesser of 15% of your system costs or $1,000
Maryland Residential Clean Energy Rebate Program9 $1,000 cash-back for systems over 1 kW
Oregon Oregon Solar + Storage Rebate Program10 $ 5,000 panel rebate and $2,500 battery rebate
New Hampshire Residential Renewable Electric Generation Rebate Program11 $200 rebate per kW installed, up to $1,000
California Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP)12 $200 rebate per kW of batter storage installed
Idaho Idaho Residential Alternative Energy Tax Deduction13 Equals 40% of the cost of a solar panel system the year it’s installed. You can also deduct 20% per year for an additional three years.

Net Metering

Most states in the country also offer net metering or net billing to solar panel system customers.

Both programs involve paying you (either in the form of credits on your electric bill or in cash) for the extra energy your solar panel system generates that you send back to the power grid.

The primary difference is that under net metering, utility companies usually pay you back at the retail rate (the price they sell the energy for), whereas with net billing, you get paid at the wholesale rate (the price the company buys the energy for).

When Does the Federal Solar Credit Go Away?

The 30% federal solar credit will stay in place through 2032.2 In 2033, it will decrease to 26%, and in 2034, it will decrease to 22%.

It’s not going away anytime soon. Some solar salespeople use FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) to try and pressure customers (especially seniors and other vulnerable populations) into investing in solar panels right away.

Don’t let them trick you into thinking you need to sign a contract this minute.

Can You Get Free Solar Panels for Low-Income Families?

Many seniors are also eligible for solar stimulus programs that make solar panels more affordable for low-income families.

The table below lists some of the most significant solar discounts states offer low-income residents:

State Solar Incentive/Program Details
California Disadvantaged Communities Single Family Solar Homes Program14 Subsidizes solar panel installation at $3,000 for every installed kW, up to 5 kW.
Colorado Weatherization Assistance Program Low-Income Solar15 Subsidizes the cost of solar panel installations.
Hawaii Green Energy Market Securitization On-Bill Repayment Program16 Offers fixed-rate loans for solar panels that are repaid through your electric bill
Illinois Illinois Solar For All Program17 No upfront costs, ongoing costs, or fees that exceed 50% of the value of the energy the system produces
Minnesota Xcel Energy Solar Rewards Program18 Subsidizes the cost of solar panels up to $2,000 per installed kW and provides an incentive of $0.07 per kWh produced by the system
New York New York Solar For All Program19 Helps low-income residents benefit from community solar farms and offers bill credits of $5-$15 per month
Oregon EnergyTrust Solar Within Reach program20 Provides $1.10 per watt of solar installed to PGE customers and $1 per watt for Pacific Power customers; available for systems of up to 6 kilowatts
Washington, D.C. Solar for All Program21 Offers no-cost solar panel leases to low and moderate-income families

Other Ways To Get Free Solar Panels for Seniors

In addition to participating in programs like those shared above, there are other options for seniors who are interested in getting solar panels for free.

A suburban street featuring a house with solar panels on its roof, surrounded by neighboring homes and landscaped gardens.

(Image: Adrian Pingstone22)

The two popular choices discussed below are not entirely free, but they do make solar panels much more accessible, especially for seniors and low-income households.

Solar Leases

A solar lease is similar to any other leasing agreement (leasing a car, leasing an apartment, etc.).3

These agreements take place between you and a third-party developer. The developer handles the solar panel system’s installation and maintenance (often for no money down).

In exchange, you make monthly payments to the developer to use the solar panels. Some solar lease programs also give you an option to buy the system at the end of the lease term.

What happens if you don’t make your payments? As is the case with any other lease, if you default on your solar panel payments, the developer will repossess the panels.

Power Purchase Agreements

A Power Purchase Agreement or PPA is similar to a solar lease.4 This agreement also occurs between you and a third-party developer, who installs and maintains your system, typically without requiring any upfront payments from you.

After the system is installed, you make a flat monthly payment to the developer to purchase energy produced by the panels. The flat fee is usually lower than your average monthly energy bill, meaning you still save money even if you don’t own the panels outright.

Most PPAs last around 15-20 years, and some give you the option to purchase the system at the end of the agreement.

Is Solar a Scam?

Solar panels themselves are not a scam. They are a viable option for reducing energy usage, combating climate change, and lowering the cost of your electricity bills.

How does solar work?5 Solar panels consist of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which absorb energy from the sun.

From here, the panel system converts energy from the sun to usable energy that can power your home.

Free Solar Panels for Seniors: Warning Signs of Solar Scams

Although solar itself is not a scam, there are scammers out there looking to take advantage of others, including senior citizens.

Graphic illustrating warning signs for solar scams including pressuring to sign contracts, making unrealistic promises, and falsely claiming solar panels are free.

The following are some warning signs that indicate you’re dealing with a less-than-trustworthy solar salesperson:

  • They’re extra pushy and pressure you to sign a contract right away.
  • They make unrealistic promises and seem to be over-selling how much money you’ll save by switching to solar.
  • They tell you that your solar panels will be absolutely free.

What Is the Average Cost of Solar Panels for Home?

Although you can take advantage of federal and state government solar incentives that lower the cost of solar panels, it’s still helpful to know how much the average system costs.

The average price of solar panels is determined based on the following:

Solar Panel Type

Below are 3 types of solar panels:

  1. Monocrystalline: These panels are the most efficient and the most expensive, with the average cost ranging from $1-$1.50 per watt (making a 6-kilowatt system around $6,000-$9,000).6
  2. Polycrystalline: These panels cost less upfront ($0.90-$1 per watt), but they have a lower efficiency rating.
  3. Thin-film: These are the least popular panels for residential systems, but they’re also the least expensive at $0.70-$1 per watt.


Labor and installation costs usually account for around 25% of the panel system’s cost. For example, a $20,000 system would cost an additional $5,000 for labor, bringing the total to around $25,000.

System Size

The more panels your system requires, the more expensive it will be. On average, home systems typically range from 6-12 kilowatts.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Solar Energy?

All energy sources have their own advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a list of the pros and cons of solar energy.

The pros of solar energy include the following:

  • Save money on electricity bills
  • Reduce energy usage and carbon emissions
  • Store energy for future usage (such as when the power goes out)
  • Lower-than-average maintenance costs

Conversely, here are some potential cons to keep in mind:

  • High upfront costs (unless you participate in a leasing program, PPA, or government program)
  • Weather-dependent and not ideal for all locations
  • May not be worthwhile if you don’t plan to stay in your home for a long time
  • Potential for scams if you don’t know which warning signs to watch for

Why Are Solar Panels So Expensive?

The question of why are solar panels so expensive can be attributed to the costly materials like silicone and lithium used in their production. Panel development also requires advanced manufacturing techniques and skilled laborers.

Luckily, there are lots of incentives and credits available to offset the cost of solar panels.

These programs, coupled with the benefits solar energy provides, can make the upfront costs more worthwhile, especially in states that offer income based options, which could provide free solar panels for seniors.


1Internal Revenue Service. (2023, August 28). Residential Clean Energy Credit. IRS. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

2Solar Energy Technologies Office. (2023, March). Homeowner’s Guide to the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics. Department of Energy. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

3National Renewable Energy Laboratory. (2023). Solar Leasing for Residential Photovoltaic Systems. NREL. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

4United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2023, April 26). Customer Power Purchase Agreements. EPA. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

5Solar Energy Technologies Office. (2023). How Does Solar Work? Department of Energy. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

6Hawkins, A. (2023, August 15). Solar Panel Cost. Architect + Design. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

7State of New York. (2019, December 16). Solar Energy System Equipment Credit. Department of Taxation and Finance. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

8Commonwealth of Massachusetts. (2016, December 16). Regulation 830 CMR 62.6.1: Residential Energy Credit. Massachusetts Department of Revenue. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

9State of Maryland. (2023). Residential Clean Energy Rebate Program. Maryland Energy Administration. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

10State of Oregon. (2023, September 27). Oregon Solar + Storage Rebate Program. Incentives. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

11State of New Hampshire. (2023). Renewable Energy. New Hampshire Department of Energy. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

12State of California. (2021). Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). California Public Utilities Commission California Public Utilities Commission. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

13State of Idaho. (2023, June 28). Rebates & Incentives. Idaho Governor’s Office of Energy & Mineral Resources. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

14State of California. (2021). Solar in Disadvantaged Communities. California Public Utilities Commission California Public Utilities Commission. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

15State of Colorado. (2023). WAP Low-Income Solar. Colorado Energy Office. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

16State of Hawaii. (2023). GEMS (Green Energy Market Securitization) Program. GEMS. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

17Illinois Solar for All. (2023). What is Illinois Solar for All? Illinois Solar for All. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

18Xcel Energy Inc. (2023). Solar*Rewards®. Xcel Energy. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

19State of New York. (2023). Solar for All. Solar for All. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

20Energy Trust of Oregon, Inc. (2023). Solar Within Reach. Energy Trust of Oregon. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

21District of Columbia. (2023). Solar for All. Department of Energy and Environment. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

22Photo by Adrian Pingstone. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <>