South Carolina solar incentives, tax credits & rebates

Financial resources for going solar in 2024

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nice house in south carolina with solar panels installed on the roof

After the full federal solar investment tax credit, the average system is $20,944 in South Carolina, which is more expensive than in many other states. The national average is $16,715. The overall cost may be high, but there are some local incentives to help you go solar for less.


Key insights

  • The average federal tax credit value is $8,976 in South Carolina.
  • You can also use rebates and loan programs to make solar more affordable.
  • South Carolina residents who go solar receive an estimated average net savings of $24,561 over 25 years.

Solar incentives in South Carolina

The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) helps you save big when going solar in South Carolina. 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 the system's total cost, including equipment, labor and permits.

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

For example, the average system in South Carolina is $29,920. You can get a $8,976 credit if you take advantage of the ITC when you file your taxes.

The important part is that you must claim the ITC when you file federal taxes in the year that your solar panel system becomes operational. To do this, you have to complete Form 5695. The credit is also nonrefundable, which means it rolls over to the next tax year if your credit exceeds your federal tax liability.

Residential solar incentives in South Carolina

South Carolina offers its residents many money-saving incentives for solar. You can get tax credits, property tax exemptions, rebates and loans.

Tax breaks 

There are two money-saving tax breaks available statewide in South Carolina:

  • Personal tax credit: You can receive a state income tax credit equal to 25% of the costs of a new solar system. This includes equipment and installation, though the credit is capped at $3,500 or 50% of your tax liability for that taxable year. What’s left after the cap can be carried forward for the next 10 years.
  • Property tax exemption: You can also get a property tax exemption for the value your solar energy system adds to your home. Your system must be 20 kilowatts (kW) or less to qualify.

» MUST-KNOW: The tax benefits of owning a home: must-know deductions and secrets

Santee Cooper incentives 

Santee Cooper Electric has rebates and loans to make going solar more affordable for its customers.

  • Santee Cooper Electric solar rebates let you get up to $5,700 back on the cost of your home’s new solar system. The catch is the system must be installed by a qualified Santee Cooper Trade Ally or NABCEP-certified photovoltaic (PV) installation professional.
  • Santee Cooper solar loans are available in amounts ranging from $500 to $20,000. If you borrow more than $1,000, you have up to 60 months to pay it back. There's no down payment required.

More incentives in South Carolina

What to know about net metering in South Carolina

When your solar panels produce more energy than you can use and you don't have a solar battery to store it, that extra power goes back to the electrical grid. That's when net metering kicks in. This program gives you credits on your electric bill for the energy you send back to the grid.

How much each credit is worth varies depending on the time of year and your current electric rate. The compensation is added to your next month’s bill as a credit. If you don’t use all your credits, your utility company will pay you whatever is left over at the end of the year.

» GREENEST STATES: South Carolina ranks No. 21

Solar resources in South Carolina

Below are some additional resources to guide you through transitioning to solar in South Carolina.

» GUIDE: Solar panel installation

Find solar companies in South Carolina

Compare popular solar companies available in South Carolina below. Read our guide to the best solar companies for more information.

Do you own or rent?

FAQ

Can I get solar panels for free in South Carolina?

There are no programs for free solar panels in South Carolina. You can lease or enter a PPA with little to no upfront costs, though.

» FREE SOLAR PANELS: Are they really free?

How much can I save with solar panels in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, the average savings is $24,561 over 25 years. Even if you don’t generate 100% of your energy needs, you can still save a lot of money versus paying traditional utility bills.

Are there any commercial solar incentives in South Carolina?

You can get commercial property tax exemptions, tax credits, industry recruitment support, rebates and solar loans in South Carolina.

» MORE: Commercial solar panels

Is my HOA allowed to restrict solar panels?

In South Carolina, there are no laws that prevent a homeowners association from restricting solar panels.

How can I pay for solar panels?

If paying for a solar system in cash upfront isn't doable for you, there are other ways to finance it. You can take out a solar loan to cover the cost of the panels. You can also lease the equipment or go for a power purchase agreement (PPA), where you essentially rent the gear and pay for the electricity it generates.

» SOLAR PANELS: Lease vs. buy

Bottom line: How much are solar panels in South Carolina?

Solar panels in South Carolina are expensive when you compare the costs with those in other states. Thankfully, you can take advantage of the ITC and state incentives like property tax exemption, rebates and tax credits to make your future system more affordable.

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

Solar costs: South Carolina 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. DSIRE, “South Carolina Programs.” Accessed Oct. 21, 2023.
  2. EcoWatch, “Solar Panel Cost in South Carolina.” Accessed Oct. 21, 2023.
  3. United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Summary of Inflation Reduction Act provisions related to renewable energy.” Accessed Oct. 21, 2023.
  4. Solar Energy Industries Association, “South Carolina Solar.” Accessed Oct. 21, 2023.
  5. DSIRE, “South Carolina Solar Programs.” Accessed Oct. 21, 2023.
  6. EnergySage, “How does South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) net metering work?” Accessed Oct. 21, 2023.
  7. State of South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff Energy Office, “Tax Credits, Incentives, and Net Metering.” Accessed Oct. 21, 2023.
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