Cost of solar panels in Rhode Island

How much is it to go solar in 2024?

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tech fixing solar panel on roof of home by the seaside

Before the full federal solar investment tax credit (ITC), installing solar panels costs an average of $17,040 in Rhode Island. The price drops to $11,928 after the full ITC.

Going solar in the Ocean State is about 29% cheaper than the national average. The out-of-pocket investment is lower than in other states, and you can take advantage of some great incentives to make going solar even more affordable.


Key insights

  • In Rhode Island, solar panels take about 8 years to pay for themselves.
  • The average cost per watt for solar energy systems is $3.61 in Rhode Island.
  • Rhode Island homeowners with solar panels save an estimated $34,519 over 25 years.

How much do solar panels cost in Rhode Island?

Installing residential solar panels can cost between $10,000 and $30,000 or more, though individual costs vary. On average, residents of Rhode Island pay $17,040 before tax credits for their system. The average size of a solar energy system in Rhode Island is 6 kW (kilowatts).

Average cost by system size in Rhode Island

Source: EcoWatch

Are solar panels worth it in Rhode Island?

Most solar customers we’ve talked to in Rhode Island are happy making the switch. Like many residents, Elliott in Providence “was trying to lower my electric bill and help out the environment at the same time.” Since the installation was completed, everything has been running smoothly so far.

Overall, going solar in Rhode Island is worth it for the savings on utility bills. The state has high electricity costs — 26.94 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) — so you can save a lot over time by installing solar panels. Estimated net savings average $34,519 over 25 years.

“We tried to be as earth-friendly as we can be, and we're just so sick of the ridiculous prices that National Grid charges,” Nancy in Jamestown told us. Another solar customer, Valerie in Newport, said she loves getting $0 power bills. However, not everyone can completely eliminate their power bills.

Your energy needs are also a big factor in whether solar panels are a worthwhile investment. For instance, Leslie in Tiverton went solar to decrease their electric costs. After the installation team arrived, however, Leslie realized they needed a second battery, and their septic system would not be on a generator backup. 

We tried to be as earth-friendly as we can be, and we're just so sick of the ridiculous prices that National Grid charges. ”
— Nancy in Jamestown

“So, right now, I'm not very happy with the process,” Leslie said, “because now it may cost us more because we may have to look at a second option for a generator so that our septic system and water well work if we have a power outage.”

Leslie’s experience is a good reminder to other residents — make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for and make sure you understand how all the different components work together. Otherwise, you might not get the deal you’re expecting.

» STILL NOT SURE? Solar energy pros and cons

Cost factors of going solar in Rhode Island

The price of solar panels isn't uniform and varies based on multiple factors. The total cost depends on the size of the system you choose, your roof and other components of the installation.

Solar equipment costs

Equipment costs can vary depending on what you get and the company you go with. Solar panels are typically priced per watt. In Rhode Island, the average cost per watt is $2.84.

The other big thing to consider is storage batteries. Here are some average costs you can expect for batteries and other equipment:

» COMPARE: Most efficient solar panels

Size of your system

The size of your system plays a big factor in how much you pay overall. Not surprisingly, the smaller your system, the less you pay.

You can easily determine what size system you need. First, find out the amount of electricity you used in the last year in kWh. You can 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. For example, the typical Rhode Island household uses 7,020 kWh per year. Using this formula, the typical household would need a 6-kW system.

» WATT’S THE DIFFERENCE? kW vs. kWh

Condition of your roof

High-quality solar panels last 25 to 30 years, so you need your roof to last just as long. Otherwise, you have to pay to remove the panels, fix your roof and reinstall them again. This is a frustrating and expensive process. Avoid it if you can.

» SHOULD YOU: Replace your roof before going solar?

Solar panels typically last 25 years.

Other cost factors

Solar panels require minimal maintenance, but potential repair or replacement of components, periodic cleaning and system monitoring can add to the lifetime cost.

Don’t forget permits. Most towns require them, and they can add hundreds of dollars to your overall solar costs.

» GUIDE: Solar panel installation

Solar incentives, tax credits and rebates in Rhode Island

The average ITC value in Rhode Island is $5,112 in 2023.

The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is the biggest factor in reducing the cost of going solar in Rhode Island. If you install a residential solar panel system by the end of 2032, you will receive a federal income tax credit equal to 30% of your system's total cost, including equipment, labor and permits. The credit drops to 26% in 2033 and 22% in 2034.

Rhode Island also offers local solar incentives. You can get solar tax breaks, grants and performance-based incentives to make paying for your solar easier.

» EXPLORE: Rhode Island solar incentives

Do you own or rent?

FAQ

Can I get free solar panels in Rhode Island?

There are no programs for free solar panels that we know of in Rhode Island. You can lease solar equipment or enter a power purchase agreement (PPA) with little to no upfront costs. Still, neither is totally free. Solar leases generally require a flat monthly fee; PPAs make you pay per unit of electricity.

» FREE SOLAR PANELS: Are they really free?

How are solar costs trending in Rhode Island?

The cost to go solar in Rhode Island has fallen 42% over the last 10 years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

How can I pay for solar panels?

You can pay cash, but most people finance solar panels. A solar loan works like any other type of loan — there’s an application and approval process, and you pay it back over time (with interest).

If you are considering a solar loan, lease or PPA, always ask:

  • Is there a down payment?
  • How much will I pay per month?
  • Will monthly payments increase, and by how much?
  • Will you put a lien on my house?

» SOLAR PANELS: Lease vs. buy

How much can I save with solar panels?

When you pay cash, the average 25-year savings with solar is $34,519 in Rhode Island. It’s a common misconception that solar panels always completely eliminate your monthly power bill — this is not always the case.

On the bright side, people who still have a bill after going solar typically pay less than before. You can expect to offset your electricity bill by 81% to 110%, according to EnergySage.

» EXPLORE: Where your solar savings go the furthest

How does net metering work in Rhode Island?

Occasionally, your solar system may generate more power than your home requires. You have the option to sell it to your local electricity provider through a program known as net metering. In Rhode Island, utility companies compensate for this excess energy by crediting your electric account or purchasing the additional power.

It's always a good idea to check with your utility company or regulatory agency in Rhode Island for the most up-to-date information on net metering regulations and requirements.

Bottom line

Going solar in Rhode Island is a great choice. Not only is the cost lower than in other states, but the ITC and local solar incentives make it even easier to add solar to your home. Plus, over 25 years, you could save a whopping $34,519 on average.

The ConsumerAffairs Research Team conducted an in-depth analysis to determine how much it costs to go solar in Rhode Island and the average solar costs in other states.

Solar costs: Rhode Island vs. nearby states

*Before the federal investment tax credit (ITC); **When you pay in full upfront

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. EcoWatch, “Solar Panel Cost in Rhode Island.” Accessed Nov. 17, 2023.
  2. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “Homeowner’s Guide to the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics.” Accessed Nov. 17, 2023.
  3. Solar Energy Industries Association, “Rhode Island Solar.” Accessed Nov. 17, 2023.
  4. DSIRE, “Rhode Island Solar Programs.” Accessed Nov. 17, 2023.
  5. EnergySage, “Road Island solar panels: local pricing and installation data,” Accessed Nov. 17, 2023.
  6. U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Average Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers by End-Use Sector.” Accessed Nov. 28, 2023.
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