Cost of solar panels in Delaware (2024)

Solar panels are relatively cheap in the First State

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Average solar panel installation costs range from $9,144 to $26,125 in Delaware. Your specific cost will vary based on the size of your system, what incentives you’re eligible for, your home’s sunlight exposure and other factors. Assuming an upfront purchase, it takes about 10 years to break even, which is when your savings with solar panels make up for the cost.

Based on feedback from thousands of solar customers nationwide, the general consensus is that solar panel investments pay off over time. In fact, Delaware is one of the best states for going solar, thanks to relatively cheap installation costs, historically solar-friendly policies and long term projected cost savings on electricity bills.


Key insights

  • The average solar panel installation costs $2.85 per watt in Delaware. “Cost per watt” is similar to the price per square foot when you buy a house. It helps you compare the value of solar energy systems in different sizes.
  • The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is usually the most significant financial incentive for homeowners buying solar panels.
  • In Delaware, you can lease a system or enter a power purchase agreement with low upfront costs. However, you won’t be eligible for the federal tax credit.

How much do solar panels cost in Delaware?

With professional installation, a typical 10-kilowatt residential solar panel system in Delaware costs $26,125. That price drops to $18,288 after the full federal solar investment tax credit (ITC).

The size of your system is a big factor in your overall solar costs. A typical Delaware household needs a system with a capacity of 10.15 kW to offset energy costs enough to make solar viable. Depending on your household energy usage, you might need a smaller or larger system.

Average solar panel cost by system size in Delaware

This doesn’t include the cost of a solar storage battery, which sometimes costs as much as the panels. Solar batteries are a must if you want real energy independence and essential if you go off-grid. Permitting, utility fees and maintenance also add to the cost of going solar.

Are solar panels worth it in Delaware?

We’ve talked to thousands of people who have already gone solar across the country. It’s generally worth it if you like the idea of lower monthly utility bills and more energy independence.

Unfortunately, there is a major obstacle: As of publishing, the Delaware Electric Cooperative, which serves 20% of the state’s residential customers, has blocked new rooftop solar installations from feeding power into the utility’s power lines. This means you can’t participate in net metering through DEC if you live in the red on this map.

Delaware averages 3 to 3.5 hours of peak sun hours per day.

The high upfront costs of installing solar panels are another major barrier to entry for a lot of homeowners wanting to go solar. In the best-case scenario, if you finance solar panels— and many in Delaware do — your monthly solar loan payments are much less than what you would for traditional utility bills. Over 25 years, Delaware homeowners with solar panels avoid $63,870 in utility costs on average.

Not everyone says they’re saving enough to justify the investment, though. Some experience delays in getting their solar projects online, partly due to grid connection issues and a backlog of project applications, according to the Delaware Business Times.

Others tell us about inadequate energy production and hidden fees, even if the contract looks great at first. One resident, Fuji in Middletown, Delaware, said the contract looked “great on paper” but advised others to look out for hidden fees and shoddy installation. Fuji’s system only generates about half of their energy needs, and they ended up paying more each month than before going solar.

It’s a common misconception that solar panels completely eliminate your monthly power bill — this is not always the case. Solar is still worth considering in Delaware. It’s just extra important to do your research so you get the most out of it. If you do it right, you can actually make money, like Christopher in Newark, Delaware. He said he makes “money every quarter” and has had “zero electricity bills” since going solar.

» STILL NOT SURE? Solar energy pros and cons

Solar panel installation cost factors in Delaware

The equipment — solar panels, inverters, mounting hardware and other electrical accessories — is typically the largest portion of your overall total costs (approximately 25% to 50%). Labor, which includes planning, preparing and connecting your system to the grid, accounts for 10% to 30%. Permits and other soft costs generally make up the rest of the total price tag.

Most installers set the price according to the system's wattage, with a typical cost between $2.50 and $5 per watt. In Delaware, the average cost per watt is $2.85.

Solar panels require minimal maintenance, but there’s still an associated cost. Potential repairs and periodic cleaning also add to the lifetime cost of your solar panel system.

Solar panel efficiency

Solar panels are usually the most expensive part of the array. Like most things, high-quality panels come with a more expensive price tag, but they often pay off in the long run with better performance and durability.

Average solar panel efficiency rates range from 15% to 20%.

Monocrystalline panels are considered the best bang for your buck. Cheaper solar panels are typically polycrystalline. The difference comes down to efficiency and materials: Monocrystalline panels are made from pure, single silicon crystals; various silicon fragments melted together are used to make polycrystalline panels.

Higher-efficiency panels are great if you have limited roof space — they generate more power per square foot, allowing you to produce the same energy with fewer panels. However, lower-efficiency panels may be more cost-effective if space isn't a concern.

Additional solar equipment costs

Systems also contain mounting equipment, wiring and other devices, such as inverters, batteries or a monitoring system.

  • Solar batteries: A battery stores energy for later use. It’s a must if you want real energy independence, and they sometimes cost as much as the panels. Prices often depend on the battery’s storage capacity, lifespan, brand and other factors. Expect to pay between $7,000 and $18,000, though some cost $30,000 or more.
  • Solar inverter: Inverters convert the electricity generated by your solar panels from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). Inverter costs usually range from $1,000 to $3,000.
  • Monitoring system: Some companies include a solar monitoring system to track how much energy your system produces and if there are any problems. If not, you can get one for $80 to $400.

Size of your system

The cost difference between a 5-kilowatt system and a 10-kilowatt system is thousands of dollars. To estimate what size system you need, first look up how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) you used last year on your electricity bill. Divide that number by 1,200. This will be roughly the system size you need. For example, if your home used 30,000 kWh last year, you would need a 25-kW system.

It’s smart to upgrade any old appliances before going solar. For instance, replacing an old refrigerator with a more eco-friendly one reduces your electric load, which also helps lower your utility bill. Getting your electricity usage down now will mean you need fewer solar panels to power your home as usual, making the system cheaper overall.

» WATT’S THE DIFFERENCE? Kilowatt vs. kilowatt-hour

Labor costs

Professional installers charge based on the size and complexity of your solar project. Labor costs are usually included in your system's initial price estimate, but be sure to confirm before committing to a contract.

Solar equipment costs are going down, but labor costs are higher than ever in some areas. Doing it yourself might initially seem cheaper because you'll save on labor costs. However, you should definitely consider some safety factors before going the DIY route. If not installed correctly, solar panels pose certain risks, causing roof leaks and electrical problems.

Condition of your roof

Quality solar panels should last 25 to 30 years, so you want your roof to last at least that long. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay to remove the panels, fix your roof and reinstall them again.

ConsumerAffairs has heard from plenty disgruntled solar customers who felt blindsided by expensive roof repairs needed after their solar panel installation was complete. It’s a frustrating and expensive process that you should avoid if you can.

All that to say, it's important for your roof to match the system’s longevity if you want to ensure a seamless and cost-effective solar journey. Get your roof inspected, fixed or replaced before you go solar.

How can I pay for solar panels in Delaware?

When it comes to paying for your solar system, you have options. You can pay cash upfront, take out a solar loan, lease your system or get a power purchase agreement (PPA). With leasing or a PPA, you get the benefits of solar, but you don’t own the system. Delaware also has a pilot program that gives free solar panels to low- and moderate-income households.

  • Solar loans: A solar loan works like any other type of home improvement loan — there’s an application and approval process, and you pay it back over time (with interest) each month. In an ideal financing scenario, your system generates enough extra power to pay off the loan. Solar loan terms typically last eight to 20 years.
  • Solar leases: Leasing solar panels is a great way to set up a system without the high upfront costs. A potential downside is that you are not eligible for the same tax incentives.
  • Power purchase agreements: A solar power purchase agreement (PPA) is similar to leasing. A solar developer buys, installs and maintains solar panels on your property. You buy the power generated by the system on a per kilowatt-hour (kWh) basis. It’s a fixed price, and the cents/kWh is usually cheaper than the utility’s rate for the same amount of electricity.
  • Home equity: Using a home equity line of credit or loan to finance a solar installation can be a financially beneficial option — home equity interest rates are relatively low, and homeowners can still take advantage of the federal solar investment tax credit.

» SOLAR PANELS: Lease vs. buy

How to save money on solar panels in Delaware

There’s no way around it — solar panel installations are expensive. Here are some tips to maximize your savings on solar panels in Delaware:

  • Compare quotes: Get quotes from at least three or four different solar installers in Delaware. This lets you compare different proposed equipment, pricing, financing terms and estimated energy production to find the best overall value. Don't just go with the cheapest option without vetting quality and services.
  • Explore payment options: Affordable financing makes the upfront costs of solar more manageable. For instance, leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) can let you start saving from day one with little or no money down.
  • Use incentives: Delaware has multiple incentives to reduce solar costs, such as tax breaks, grants and rebate programs.

» TIPS: Get the best solar quotes

Solar incentives, tax credits and rebates in Delaware

For a lot of homeowners, the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is the most significant solar incentive for most homeowners in Delaware. The ITC credits 30% of the system’s total cost — including equipment, labor and permits — toward what you owe on federal income taxes.

The ITC drops to 26% in 2033 and 22% in 2034.

Don’t get confused: The ITC is not a rebate or a refund. It is a credit that goes toward what you owe on federal income taxes the year your system becomes operational. Any unused portion of the credit rolls over into future tax years.

For example, if you spend $10,000 installing a solar panel system, the ITC is worth $3,000. If you owe $15,000 in taxes, the credit reduces your debt to $12,000. The ITC only offsets your tax liability; you can't take advantage of it if you don’t owe taxes in the first place. However, the credit rolls over if you don’t use the full amount in the year your system becomes operational.

Additional solar incentives in Delaware include the Green Energy programs through Delmarva Power, Delaware Electric Cooperative and DEMEC Member Utilities.

Compare solar installation companies in Delaware

We compared ratings and reviews, equipment options, warranties, availability and other factors to pick the top solar companies in Delaware.

Find a Solar Energy partner near you.

    FAQ

    Can I get free solar panels in Delaware?

    Delaware launched a two-year program to give free solar panels to low-income homeowners in 2022. The program is open to 50 households a year and covers 70% of the cost of a solar system for moderate-income applicants. Low-income homes can obtain a system of up to 4 kilowatts at no cost to the homeowner.

    You can also lease or enter a PPA with little to no upfront costs. Though, neither is totally free. Solar leases usually come with a flat monthly fee, and PPAs make you pay per unit of electricity. In general, beware of deals that sound too good to be true. Solar scams, unfortunately, often promises of free solar panels can end up costing people quite a bit of money.

    » FREE SOLAR PANELS: Are they really free?

    How does net metering work in Delaware?

    Net metering lets homeowners with solar panels sell any excess electricity they generate to their local power grid. In Delaware, residents with electrical systems producing up to 110% of their 12-month historical energy consumption are eligible for net metering. Excess energy is credited to the customer’s bill. Remember, some Delaware Electric Cooperative customers will be unable to connect their system to the grid.

    Will solar panels increase the value of my home?

    Installing solar panels can significantly increase a home's value. According to a Zillow study, homes with solar panels sell for 4.1% more on average. The exact increase in value varies by location, with homes in active solar markets seeing higher boosts.

    What’s the difference between a solar broker and a solar installer?

    A solar broker is a middleman or intermediary who helps connect homeowners with solar installation companies. A solar installer specializes in designing, procuring and installing solar panels and related components.

    Ultimately, deciding between a solar broker and a solar installer depends on how much you want to be involved in the process. A broker can be helpful if you value convenience. If you want more control and potentially lower costs, it’s best to work directly with a solar installer.

    How much can I save with solar panels in Delaware?

    On average, Delaware homeowners with solar panels avoid $63,870 in utility costs over 25 years.

    How are solar costs trending in Delaware?

    The cost to go solar in Delaware has fallen 47% over the last 10 years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

    Bottom line

    If you’ve been thinking about going solar, you’re not alone. More than 11,000 solar installations already exist in Delaware — enough to account for about nearly 7% of the state’s electricity.

    Overall, Delaware is a great state for going solar. The main drawback is the high cost of purchasing and installing the panels and equipment. Many residents we've talked to say the long-term savings outweigh the upfront expense.

    Solar costs and saving: Delaware vs. nearby states

    * To fully offset energy usage; ** Over 25 years

    Article sources

    ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:

    1. DSIRE "Delaware Solar Programs." Accessed March 2, 2024.
    2. EnergySage, “The cost of solar panels in Delaware.” Accessed March 2, 2024.
    3. SolarReviews, “How much do solar panels cost in Delaware, 2024?” Accessed March 2, 2024.
    4. Solar Energy Industries Association, "Delaware Solar." Accessed March 2, 2024.
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