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Cost of solar panels in South Carolina

How much is it to go solar in 2023?

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Before factoring in any financial incentives, the average cost to install solar panels is $29,920 in South Carolina. The price drops to $20,944 after the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC).

It’s about 25% more expensive than the national average. Your out-of-pocket investment might be higher than in other states, but South Carolina has great incentives to lower the overall cost.

Key insights

  • The average cost per watt is $2.72  in South Carolina.
  • The average payback period in South Carolina is 12 years  if you pay for your system in full upfront.
  • South Carolina residents who go solar receive an estimated net savings average of  $24,561 over 25 years.

How much do solar panels cost in South Carolina?

Installing residential solar panels can cost $10,000 to $30,000 or more. On average, residents of South Carolina pay $29,920 before taking advantage of the federal solar investment tax credit.

Your system size is a big factor in how much you pay for your solar energy system. The typical solar energy system size in South Carolina is 11 kW.

How do you know if this size is right for you? A little math: First, find out how much electricity you used in the last year in kilowatt-hours (kWh). This information is almost always in your electric bill’s account dashboard online. Then, divide your annual kWh by 1,200 to find the system size you need.

In South Carolina, the average home uses 12,936 kWh a year, which works out to an 11-kW system.


Average cost by system size in South Carolina

8 kW9 kW10 kW11 kW12 kW13 kW14 kW
Before federal tax credit $21,760 $24,480 $27,200 $29,920 $32,640 $35,360 $38,080
After federal tax credit $15,232 $17,136 $19,040 $20,944 $22,848 $24,752 $26,656
Approximate house size 1,500 square feet 1,650 square feet 1,800 square feet 1,950 square feet 2,100 square feet 2,250 square feet 2,300 square feet
Source: EcoWatch

Are solar panels worth it in South Carolina?

We’ve talked to many South Carolina solar customers who chose to go solar to “reduce energy costs and become less dependent on fossil fuels,” like Gerald in McCormick.

It makes sense if your monthly payment for the panels is cheaper than your current electric bill. For example, Myron in Columbia said his monthly bill went from $560 to $88 after going solar — we’d say that makes going solar is worth it.

For some people, solar panels aren’t really worth it unless you also get a storage battery. A battery bank helps maximize the benefits of solar panels by reducing your reliance on the grid. They can be expensive but often lead to greater long-term savings.

Not everybody in South Carolina has been happy with their solar setup. In fact, one solar customer, Matt in Santee, told us it was “the worst decision ever.”

“I was sold on the ideas of owning my own energy, having tax incentives and adding value to my home,” he said. But he said sales reps misled him on the available incentives and overall costs. Matt found out the hard way that the investment is absolutely not worth it if your panels don’t generate enough power for your household.

Matt’s experience is a perfect example of why it’s important to work with a good solar energy company. With the right system, most homeowners significantly reduce their electric bills and carbon footprint.

» STILL NOT SURE? Solar energy pros and cons

Cost factors of going solar in South Carolina

A solar panel system’s final price tag depends on the quality of your panels, the size of your system, permit costs, the condition of your roof and other factors. Here are some things to consider.

Solar equipment costs 

Your major equipment costs come down to your panels. The cost of your panels will vary depending on the size of your system, the mounts used and the efficiency of the panels. Solar panel efficiency is how well panels convert sunlight into electricity. The better the efficiency, the fewer panels you need. This can lower your overall cost.

» COMPARE: Most efficient solar panels

Another equipment cost is solar batteries. While you don’t need solar batteries, they are good for storing extra energy that your system may produce. These typically run $7,000 to $18,000.

If you want to keep track of how much energy your system is producing, you can also include a monitoring system with your solar equipment. These often cost anywhere from $80 to $400, but many companies include one with their solar energy systems.

Condition of your roof

Quality solar panels should last 25 to 30 years. If your roof doesn’t last as long as your panels, you must pay to remove the panels, fix your roof and reinstall them again. It’s an expensive and frustrating process.

Make sure to get a roof inspection. Then, if needed, have your roof repaired or replaced before going solar.

» SHOULD YOU: Replace your roof before going solar?

How you pay

You can pay cash, but most people opt to finance solar panels through a solar loan. It works a lot like any other type of loan — there’s an application and approval process, and you pay the loan back over time with interest. A lease or PPA (power purchase agreement) is a good option if you don’t want to pay very much (or anything) upfront.

Paying for a solar panel installation upfront gets you a better return on your investment. But that’s not an option for many. It still makes sense as long as your loan payments are cheaper than your current electricity bill.

» SOLAR PANELS: Lease vs. buy

Other cost factors

When you’re going solar, there are some extra expenses to know about. Maintenance is usually pretty simple. You may have some additional costs for things like repairs, part replacements or even just a good cleaning now and then.

You’ll also pay for permit applications. Most towns require you to have a permit for solar installations, which adds to your total bill.

While most solar companies include installation and labor in the overall price, it’s a good idea to double-check.

» GUIDE: Solar panel installation

Solar incentives, tax credits and rebates in South Carolina

If you want to save money on your solar setup, the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is your best bet for 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 your system's total cost — including equipment, labor and permits. The credit drops to 26% in 2033 and 22% in 2034.

The average ITC value in South Carolina is $8,976 in 2023.

South Carolina also offers tax credits, property tax exemptions and rebates to make going solar more affordable. You can snag an affordable solar loan if you’re a customer of Santee Cooper, for instance.

» EXPLORE: South Carolina solar incentives

Compare solar installation companies in South Carolina

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


Choose what information you want to see across each brand. At least one option must be selected.

Find a Solar Energy partner near you.


    Can I get free solar panels 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?

    When you pay cash, the average 25-year savings with solar is $24,561 in South Carolina. You can expect to offset your electricity bill by 76% to 103%, according to EnergySage.

    How does net metering work in South Carolina?

    When your solar panels generate more power than you need, you can send surplus energy back to the power grid. This can earn you bill credits through a net metering program.

    » COMPARE: Best solar monitoring systems

    How are solar costs trending in South Carolina?

    The cost to go solar in South Carolina has fallen 43% over the last 10 years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

    How many solar panels do I need for my house?

    The number of solar panels you need depends on how much electricity your household uses. In South Carolina, the average monthly energy consumption is 1,078 kWh. The typical 2,000-square-foot home requires approximately 19 panels.

    What are the different kinds of solar inverters?

    String inverters and microinverters are the two main types of solar inverters. String inverters “string” together your panels and route the electricity to one point, where it is converted to the current your home uses. Microinverters, on the other hand, are small inverters that go on each solar panel and convert the energy at the panel, which is more efficient.

    » EXPLORE: What are grid-tied solar systems?

    Bottom line

    On average, setting up solar panels in South Carolina will cost you about $20,944 after you receive the full federal solar investment tax credit. The initial cost may be steeper than in other states, but South Carolina offers some solid incentives that can help bring down the overall expense.

    Start out by using the ITC to save some major cash, then save even more by taking advantage of the net metering program, property tax exemption, tax credits and rebates offered by the state and local utilities.

    Solar costs: South Carolina vs. nearby states

    Upfront cost*ITC value (30%)Typical system sizeAverage cost per wattPayback period**Estimated net savings
    South Carolina $29,920 $8,976 11 kW $2.72 12 years $24,561
    North Carolina $19,736 $5,921 6 kW $2.54 13 years $20,035
    Georgia $28,050 $8,415 11 kW $2.55 12 years $23,182
    Tennessee $29,880 $8,964 12 kW $2.49 13 years $19,688
    Alabama $28,176 $8,453 11.5 kW $2.45 11 years $28,590
    Florida $29,095 $8,728 11.5 kW $2.53 12 years $21,500
    *Before the federal solar investment tax credit(ITC); **When you pay in full upfront

    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 South Carolina.” Accessed Oct. 21, 2023.
    2. Solar Energy Industries Association, “South Carolina Solar.” Accessed Oct. 21, 2023.
    3. DSIRE, “South Carolina Solar Programs.” Accessed Oct. 21, 2023.
    4. EnergySage, “South Carolina solar panels: local pricing and installation data.” Accessed Oct. 21, 2023.
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