On the surface, it may make sense that more sun will mean your solar panels will produce more electricity and you will save more money, but this isn’t quite how it works. When you install solar panels, your savings are the costs that you won’t have to pay to your utility moving forward. Because of this, there’s a strong correlation between the cost of electricity in your state and the savings you will receive. In general, the higher your electricity rates, the more money you will save.
The chart below illustrates how this works across the country. We used PV Watts — a tool that is the industry standard — to estimate the amount of energy a solar power system will generate anywhere in the United States. Then we gathered key information for each city to show the annual savings benefits possible.
from a 5kW
|New York, NY|
|$ 1,091.25||$ 0.18||4.49||6230||1.246|
|$ 955.58||$ 0.14||5.2||6895||1.379|
|Los Angeles, CA|
|$ 929.45||$ 0.12||5.84||7783||1.5566|
|San Francisco, CA|
|$ 916.12||$ 0.13||5.34||7356||1.4712|
|Las Vegas, NY|
|$ 730.64||$ 0.88||6.35||8298||1.6596|
|$ 701.70||$ 0.87||6.29||8035||1.607|
|$ 675.28||$ 0.11||4.7||6427||1.2854|
|$ 647.53||$ 0.10||5.03||6655||1.331|
|$ 646.41||$ 0.09||5.54||7555||1.511|
|$ 645.24||$ 0.09||5.28||6968||1.3936|
|$ 640.61||$ 0.11||4.16||5810||1.162|
|$ 608.57||$ 0.09||5.2||7137||1.4274|
|$ 542.54||$ 0.08||4.93||6821||1.3642|
|$ 518.14||$ 0.09||4.06||5697||1.1394|
|$ 517.94||$ 0.08||4.54||6366||1.2732|
|$ 517.86||$ 0.09||4.34||6030||1.206|
|$ 516.91||$ 0.08||4.94||6622||1.3244|
|$ 512.94||$ 0.08||4.61||6273||1.2546|
|$ 507.35||$ 0.08||4.96||6666||1.3332|
|New Orleans, LA|
|$ 483.70||$ 0.08||4.68||6172||1.2344|
|St. Louis, MO|
|$ 478.67||$ 0.07||4.8||6516||1.3032|
|$ 470.49||$ 0.09||4.04||5560||1.112|
|$ 448.95||$ 0.08||4.27||5848||1.1696|
|$ 433.48||$ 0.10||3.29||4507||0.9014|
|$ 327.26||$ 0.07||3.64||4867||0.9734|
*Annual electric bill savings (cost of electricity X electricity produced
**Assumes an 80% derate factor, 180 degree azimuth, and array tilt equal to the city’s latitude
***Production ratio (electricity produced/size of system).
The cities with the highest estimated annual savings are also the cities with the highest electricity costs. So, even if you don’t live in a sunny location, if your electric rates are higher, you can save large amounts of money by switching to solar.
The cities most of us would consider sunny are spread out in the rankings. Take a look at Las Vegas, for example. Solar panels in Las Vegas will produce the most electricity out of all of these cities, but only will save around $730 per year. That’s about $360 less than New York City, even though the panels in New York are expected to produce 2,000 fewer kWh per year. Again, this is a function of the electricity costs, which are twice as high in New York vs. Las Vegas.