Cost of solar panels in Hawaii (2024)

How much is it to go solar in the Aloha State?

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solar panels on top of the roof of a house with a pool and palm trees

Average solar panel installation costs range from $9,772 to $25,580 in Hawaii. How much you pay depends on the size of your system, what incentives you’re eligible for, sunlight exposure and other factors.

Assuming an upfront purchase, it takes about 6 years to break even (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. Thanks to plenty of sunlight, many solar-friendly policies and relatively cheap installation costs, our analysis found that Hawaii is the best state for solar in 2024.


Key insights

  • The average solar panel installation costs $2.67 per watt in Hawaii. “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 is usually the most significant financial incentive when buying solar panels. It is not a rebate or a refund but goes toward what you owe on federal income taxes.
  • In Hawaii, 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 Hawaii?

With professional installation, a typical 6-kilowatt residential solar panel system in Hawaii costs $15,996. That price drops to $11,197 after using the full federal solar investment tax credit (ITC). The size of your solar panel system is a big factor in your total cost.

On the high end, Nychelle in Waianae spent $87,000 on their system, and Douglas in Hanalei installed a $100,000 system in Kauai last year.

The average Hawaii household needs a system with a capacity of 7.96 kW to offset enough energy costs to make solar viable. Depending on your household energy usage, you might need a smaller or larger system.

Average solar panel installation cost by system size in Hawaii

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 Hawaii?

We’ve talked to many people who have already gone solar in Hawaii. It’s generally worth it if you like the idea of lowering your monthly utility bills and helping the environment.

“We have one of the highest electrical rates in the nation,” James in Haleiwa told us. “Besides saving $400 to $500 a month on our electricity bills, it feels so good to know my house is powered by the sun.” Similarly, Wendy in Kapolei told us her electric bills were averaging $700 per month before: “Since we switched to solar, it has gone down. We're averaging $200 a month now.

Over 25 years, Hawaii homeowners with solar panels avoid $64,565 in utility costs on average. Investing in solar now also protects you against future electricity rate increases.

Besides saving $400 to $500 a month on our electricity bills, it feels so good to know my house is powered by the sun.”
—  James in Haleiwa

Others say solar is worth it in Hawaii for more energy independence. “For my property in the jungle of Maui, we lose power often, and having the addition of the Tesla Powerwall is a bonus,” Jose in Haiku told us. “The flawless transition of power grid to Tesla battery is a relief to never worry about electricity again.”

If you plan on using batteries to draw as little power from the grid as possible, be sure to talk to your installer about your usage and how much power storage you need now and in the future. Going solar, especially with a battery, is a big upfront financial commitment, but Hawaii residents get one of the best returns on their solar investments in the country.

» STILL NOT SURE? Solar energy pros and cons

Solar panel installation cost factors in Hawaii

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 some recurring 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 Hawaii, the average cost per watt is $2.67.

Solar equipment costs

Systems contain solar panels, mounting equipment, wiring and other equipment, such as inverters, batteries and monitoring systems.

  • Solar batteries: Batteries store energy for later use. Prices often depend on the battery’s storage capacity, lifespan, brand and other factors. You can probably 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.
  • Solar panels: Monocrystalline panels are generally 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 in polycrystalline.

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. The more efficient your panels are, the more electricity they produce and the less space they take up on your roof.

» LEARN: What is a solar array?

Size of your system

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 example, replacing an old refrigerator with a more eco-friendly one reduces your electric load, which also helps lower your utility bill.

You need fewer solar panels if you use less electricity, making the whole system cheaper. If you add more solar power capacity for your home, each extra kilowatt you install is predicted to produce an extra 100 kWh of electricity every month.

The cost difference between a 5-kilowatt system and a 10-kilowatt system is thousands of dollars. You can easily determine what size system you need for your home. First, find the amount of electricity you used last year in kilowatt-hours (kWh). You can usually find this information through your electric account dashboard online. Then divide your annual kWh by 1,200 to calculate the necessary system size.

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

Condition of your roof

Your roof's condition is important, so make sure to get an inspection. Quality solar panels can last 25 to 30 years, so you want your roof to last just as long. If not, you'll end up paying extra to remove the panels, fix the roof and reinstall everything.

» SHOULD YOU: Replace your roof before going solar?

Other cost factors

Good solar installation companies will make sure your system is set up for optimal performance, but this expertise comes at a price.

  • Labor costs: Solar equipment costs are going down, but labor costs are higher than ever in some areas. Labor and installation costs are usually included in the initial cost estimate of your system, but be sure to confirm this before committing to working with a company.
  • Local permits: Local permits and fees should be considered, especially if you're installing a larger system that might require additional permits or inspections. The permitting process depends on your city.
  • Ongoing costs: Solar panels require minimal maintenance, but there’s still an associated cost. Think about potential repairs and periodic cleaning, too. These all add to the lifetime cost of your solar panel system.

How to save money on solar panels in Hawaii

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

  • Compare quotes: Get quotes from at least three or four different solar installers in your area. 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, solar loans and power purchase agreements (PPAs) let you start saving from day one with little or no money down.
  • Use incentives: In addition to the federal tax credit, Hawaii residents may take advantage of loan programs and rebates that can save a lot on solar.

» TIPS: Get the best solar quotes

How can I pay for solar panels in Hawaii?

You have options when it comes to paying for your solar system. You can pay the full cost 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. Each option has pros and cons, and your choice affects your overall cost to go solar.

  • 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 between eight and 20 years.
  • Solar leases: Leasing solar panels is a great way to set up a solar 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 PPA works a lot like a lease. It locks in your energy costs, which provides a lot of stability for homeowners. 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. The cents/kWh are 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

Solar incentives, tax credits and rebates in Hawaii

The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is the biggest factor in reducing the cost of going solar in Hawaii. 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.

The ITC is a credit, not a deduction, meaning it directly decreases the amount of federal taxes you owe instead of reducing your taxable income. For example, if you spend $10,000 installing a solar panel system, you receive a $3,000 federal tax credit. If you owe $15,000 in taxes in the year your system becomes operational, the ITC reduces what you owe to $12,000.

The ITC only offsets your tax liability; you can't take advantage of the ITC if you don’t owe taxes in the first place. However, the credit rolls over to future tax years if you don’t use the full amount.

Residents may also take advantage of additional solar incentives in Hawaii, such as tax credits and exemptions, loan programs and more. There’s also statewide net metering, which compensates people with solar panels for any electricity that they send to the local power grid.

Compare solar installation companies in Hawaii

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

Do you own or rent?

FAQ

Can I get free solar panels in Hawaii?

We’re not aware of a totally free solar option in Hawaii. Unfortunately, scams that promise free solar panels can end up costing people quite a bit of money. However, you can lease solar equipment to reduce your upfront costs.

How does net metering work in Hawaii?

Net metering lets homeowners with solar panels sell any excess electricity they generate to their local power grid. In January 2024, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission issued an order setting lower rates for homeowners who sell their extra power to the grid. The order also reduces upfront payments received by homeowners when they agree to sell their extra power to a maximum of $500.

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 are solar costs trending in Hawaii?

The cost to go solar in Hawaii 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 113,000 solar installations already exist in Hawaii — enough to power almost half a million homes and account for about 19% of the state’s electricity.

Hawaii’s climate makes it a great location 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 panel costs: Hawaii vs. other 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, "Hawaii Solar Programs." Accessed March 2, 2024.
  2. SolarReviews, “How much do solar panels cost in Hawaii, 2024?” Accessed March 2, 2024.
  3. Solar Energy Industries Association, "Hawaii Solar." Accessed March 2, 2024.
  4. Honolulu Civil Beat, “Will a New Order Shut the Door on Future Rooftop Solar Across Hawaii?” Accessed March 5, 2024.
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