Cost of solar panels in North Dakota (2024)

How much is it to go solar in the Peace Garden State?

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Average solar panel installation costs range from $8,890 to $23,240 in North Dakota. How much you actually pay depends on the size of your system, what incentives you’re eligible for and other factors.

Based on feedback from thousands of verified solar customers, the general consensus is that solar panel investments pay off over time. On average, North Dakota homeowners with solar panels avoid $58,265 in total utility costs over 25 years.

Key insights

The average solar panel installation costs $2.42 per watt in North Dakota. “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.

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The federal solar investment tax credit is usually the most significant financial incentive for North Dakota homeowners buying solar panels.

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In North Dakota, you can lease a system with lower upfront costs. However, you won’t be eligible for the federal tax credit if you do.

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How much do solar panels cost in North Dakota?

With professional installation, a typical 10-kilowatt residential solar panel system in North Dakota costs $23,240. That price drops to $16,268 after the full federal solar investment tax credit (ITC). The size of your solar panel system is a big factor in your overall solar costs.

Average solar panel installation cost by system size in North Dakota

Are solar panels worth it in North Dakota?

Dark winters and cheap coal power have long made North Dakotans skeptical of solar. But with cheaper, more efficient equipment on the market, plenty of households are seeing solar panels in a new light, both for cost savings and environmental benefits.

The lifetime return is what motivates many to make the switch. Backup power during outages and doing your part for the planet are tangible perks beyond dollars and cents that make solar worth it for many.

Electricity is relatively cheap in North Dakota, so going solar will save you less than the average homeowner in California or New York, where solar panels typically pay for themselves within six years. Assuming an upfront purchase, it takes about 12 years to break even (when your savings with solar panels make up for the cost).

Homeowners with solar panels typically save $20,000 to $90,000 over 25 years.

On average, you’ll spend $8,890 to $23,240 for panels that last about 25 years. Over that same time period, you’d avoid approximately $58,265 in total utility costs.

But it doesn't work out for everyone. We suggest using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's PVWatts Calculator to estimate how much electricity a solar panel can produce over a year on your house — just type in your address. Project Sunroof is a free solar savings estimator powered by Google Earth imagery.

If your house is a good candidate for solar, it’s worth considering in North Dakota if you like the idea of lower monthly utility bills and more energy independence. Particularly, many North Dakotans seem happy with solar. Over 25 years, homeowners with solar panels avoid $58,265 in utility costs on average.

» STILL NOT SURE? Solar energy pros and cons

Solar panel installation cost factors in North Dakota

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%. Local permits and fees are a small part of your overall costs.

» BEST STATES FOR SOLAR: North Dakota ranked 29th in 2024

Solar panels

Most of your solar equipment costs come down to how much you pay for solar panels. You’ll hear installers talk about how “efficient” their panels are.

Solar panel efficiency is a measure of how well a panel makes electricity. The more efficient the solar panels you buy are, the fewer panels you need. While more efficient panels cost a little more, you save by buying fewer panels.

In general, 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.

Additional solar equipment costs

Solar arrays 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, life span, brand and other factors. Expect to pay between $7,000 and $18,000, though some cost $30,000 or more. Solar batteries are a must if you want real energy independence, especially if you go off-grid. Permitting, utility fees and maintenance also add to the cost of going solar.
  • 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 buy a stand-alone system for $80 to $400.

Size of your system

The average size of solar systems in North Dakota is 13.75 kW (kilowatts). Depending on your household energy usage, you might need a smaller or larger system.

You can determine what size system you need with some quick math. First, find out the amount of electricity you used in the last year in kilowatt-hours (kWh). You’ll find this information through your electric bill’s online account dashboard. Then, divide your annual kWh by 1,200 to find the system size you need.

Condition of your roof

Quality solar panels should last 25 to 30 years, and your roof needs to last just as long. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay to remove the panels, fix your roof and reinstall them. This is a frustrating and expensive process you should avoid if you can.

ConsumerAffairs often hears from disgruntled solar customers who felt blindsided by expensive roof repairs needed after their solar panel installation was complete. If you want to ensure a seamless and cost-effective solar journey, your roof must match the system's longevity. Get your roof inspected, fixed or replaced before you go solar.

Labor costs

Solar equipment costs are going down, but labor costs are higher than ever in some areas. Installing solar panels yourself might initially seem cheaper because you'll save on labor costs. However, it's crucial to consider several factors for safety before going the do-it-yourself route. If not installed correctly, solar panels pose safety risks, causing roof leaks and other problems.

Local permits and fees

Permit fees can vary quite a bit. For example, in Bismarck, solar installations require a building permit that can be obtained through the Building Inspections Division. The cost of the permit depends on the project valuation.

Many solar companies manage the permit process for you. Don't forget to ask if a company you’re considering provides this service when you're finalizing your agreement. It can make your solar installation journey much smoother.

» GREENEST STATES: North Dakota ranked 43rd in 2024

How to save money on solar panels in North Dakota

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

  • Compare quotes: Get quotes from at least three or four different solar companies in North Dakota. 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.
  • Lower your electrical load: Before going solar, it’s smart to upgrade any old appliances. For example, replacing an old refrigerator with a more eco-friendly one reduces your electric load, which also helps lower your utility bill. If you use less electricity, you need fewer solar panels, making the whole system cheaper.
  • Use incentives: Some solar panel manufacturers offer rebates on their products. While these may not be specific to North Dakota, they can still provide additional savings. You can inquire with your installer about any available manufacturer rebates.

» MORE: Why are solar panels so expensive?

Solar incentives, tax credits and rebates in North Dakota

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

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.

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

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.

North Dakota has a renewable energy property tax exemption that exempts 100% of the value of solar energy systems from property tax assessments for a five-year period. This benefit applies to both residential and commercial installations.

» EXPLORE: North Dakota solar incentives, tax credits & rebates

How can I pay for solar panels in North Dakota?

Affordable financing makes the upfront costs of solar more manageable. For instance, most leases let you start saving from day one with little or no money down.

  • Loan: 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.
  • Lease: 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.
  • 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

Compare solar installation companies in North Dakota

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

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How are solar costs trending in North Dakota?

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

Can I get free solar panels in North Dakota?

We’re not aware of a totally free solar option in North Dakota. In general, beware of deals that sound too good to be true. Solar scams that promise free solar panels often, unfortunately, end up costing people quite a bit of money.

How does net metering work in North Dakota?

Net metering in North Dakota allows residential solar energy system owners to receive credits for excess electricity sent back to the grid. The program is regulated by the North Dakota Public Service Commission and applies to utilities like the Otter Tail Power Company. Credits are typically provided at the full retail rate, but not always. Contact your utility provider to best understand specific requirements and interconnection steps.

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?

It comes down to how much you want to be involved in the process. A broker is helpful if you value convenience. If you want more control and potentially lower costs, it’s best to work directly with 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.

Is it cheaper if I install solar panels myself?

Choosing to DIY-install your system could potentially save a lot of money, but it’s dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.

How much can I save with solar panels?

On average, North Dakota homeowners with solar panels avoid $58,265 in total utility costs over 25 years.

» EXPLORE: Where your solar savings go the furthest

Bottom line

Your solar system will cost whatever you put into it. Higher quality panels, optional equipment, permits and more will raise the price. Here are some of the main factors that determine solar energy system costs and what to expect.

The ConsumerAffairs Research Team has conducted extensive research to compare the costs of going solar in North Dakota and other states. North Dakota may not have the cheapest solar in the United States, but with the ITC and the local solar incentive, going solar may still be within your reach.

Solar costs vs. savings: North Dakota and nearby states

*For 100% usage offset; **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, "North Dakota Programs." Accessed March 29, 2024.
  2. Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), "North Dakota Solar." Accessed March 29, 2024.
  3. SolarReviews, "How much do solar panels cost in North Dakota, 2024?" Accessed March 29, 2024.
  4. North Dakota Legislative Branch, “North Dakota Administrative Code - Title 69 Article 9 Chapter 7.” Accessed July 2, 2024.
  5. North Dakota Office of State Tax Commissioner, “Property Tax Credits & Exemptions.” Accessed July 2, 2024.
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