Cost of solar panels in Virginia
How much is it to go solar in 2023?
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The average cost to install solar panels is $21,175 in Virginia after the federal solar investment tax credit ($30,250 without considering the tax credit).
Going solar in the Old Dominion is about 27% more expensive than the national average. The out-of-pocket investment might be higher than in other states, but you may be able to get a loan for your solar or have it paid for through the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program if you can’t handle the upfront cost.
- The average cost per watt is $2.75.
- If you pay cash, the average payback period is 12 years.
- Over 25 years, estimated average net savings equal $21,692.
How much do solar panels cost in Virginia?
Installing residential solar panels can cost between $10,000 to $30,000 or more, although individual costs vary significantly. In Virginia, the typical cost of solar panels is $2.75 per watt, and the average system size is 11 kilowatts (kW). The cost per watt is calculated by taking the total cost of the solar system and dividing it by the system’s total wattage capacity.
» WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? Kilowatt vs. kilowatt-hour
Average cost by system size in Virginia
|8 kW||9 kW||10 kW||11 kW||12 kW||13 kW||14 kW|
|After federal tax credits||$15,400||$17,325||$19,250||$21,175||$23,100||$25,025||$26,950|
|Before federal tax credits||$22,000||$24,750||$27,500||$30,250||$33,000||$35,750||$38,500|
|Approximate roof size||1,750 sq. ft.||1,875 sq. ft.||2,000 sq. ft.||2,125 sq. ft.||2,250 sq. ft.||2,375 sq. ft.||2,500 sq. ft.|
Are solar panels worth it in Virginia?
Many Virginians we talk to are happy with their decision to go solar.
“I’m very satisfied and happy about my decision to go solar,” Chong in Arlington told us. Chong’s electric bill went down drastically, plus they got a good deal on a loan and took advantage of the 30% solar tax credit.
It also made sense financially for Dustin in Jarrell, who went solar this year. “So far, I only pay $200 a month for my solar loan versus paying over $300 a month for electricity,” Dustin said. “I'd tell my friends that if they're interested in it, they should do it.”
Patrick in Purcellville went solar for the battery backup and energy independence. “I've had $10 to $12 bills for the past few hot summer months,” he said. “I am happy I invested in it as I have seen the benefits firsthand. All while trying to do my part to help the planet.”
One solar customer we talked to, Deborah in Buchanan, told us they regretted the decision. Their solar batteries stopped working, making their panels effectively useless, and the company did not help find a solution. (This is why it’s so important to research equipment before you buy it.)
Deborah’s experience appears to be an outlier. Despite a couple of minor connection problems, Claudia in Hayes is “saving so much money with my system. I recommend solar to anyone,” she said. “With the ever-rising cost of power, it is a no-brainer.”
» COMPARE: Best solar batteries
Cost factors of going solar in Virginia
Determining the cost of your solar panels involves considering various factors, including system size, labor and inspection fees. Labor costs are often included in the system’s overall price.
Beyond the costs of the panels themselves, there is some extra equipment that can add to the price of your system. Inverters, for example, can cost $1,000 to $3,000. These are essential for turning the current from your panels into usable current for your home. You may also want the ability to store energy produced by your system, and residential solar batteries can cost $7,000 or more.
Virginia has an average of 3.5 to 4 peak sun hours a day.
How many panels you need is determined in part by solar panel efficiency. The efficiency is how well a panel can turn sunlight into energy. Most panels have an efficiency of 15% to 20%, while higher-quality panels have an efficiency of 20% to 22%. More efficient panels tend to have a higher price, but you may be able to buy fewer panels overall.
» COMPARE: Most efficient solar panels
Knowing the size and weight of your panels can help you make an informed decision about how large a system you need. The average panel size is 5 1/2 by 3 1/4 feet, and most people need 8 to 25 panels to power a home.
If your roof isn’t large enough or can’t handle the weight, you may also need to mount panels on the ground. This can add extra costs since it will add ground mounts to the system’s overall cost.
» POTENTIAL ENERGY PRODUCTION: How many kWh does a solar panel produce?
Condition of your roof
Your new solar panels should last 25 to 30 years, so you should make sure your roof will outlive your panels. If you don’t, the panels will need to be removed and reinstalled every time your roof needs to be repaired.
Solar panels typically last 25 years.
So, you’ll not only be paying for the roof repair but also the reinstallation of your solar panels. Your best bet is to have your roof inspected, repaired or replaced before going solar.
Local permits and fees
Before you can get solar installed, you’ll probably need to obtain a permit. The fees for these vary depending on your location, but they average around $300.
Other cost factors
Solar panels require maintenance that can add to the overall cost. For example, you may need to repair or replace components. You may also need to hire someone for periodic cleaning. Adding system monitoring to your panels may increase the cost as well.
Solar incentives, tax credits and rebates in Virginia
The biggest savings you can receive for your system is the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC). Virginians who take advantage of the ITC by installing solar before the end of 2032 can deduct 30% of the system's total cost from their federal taxes. This deduction includes equipment, labor and permits. In 2033 the deduction drops to 26% and then to 22% in 2034.
The average ITC value in Virginia is $9,075 in 2023.
Virginia also offers other ways to save on solar. For example, the state offers home and business owners property tax exemptions that can save you a substantial amount each year.
The state also has loan programs, including the PACE program. Through this program, your solar is 100% paid for. The loan is paid off through an addition to your property taxes. These loans are usually paid off in 10 to 20 years.
» EXPLORE: Virginia solar incentives
Compare solar installation companies in Virginia
Compare popular solar companies available in Virginia below. Read our guide about finding the best solar companies for more.
» TIPS: How to get the best solar quotes
|# of reviews||2,179||546||501||3||2,632|
|Payment options||Cash, lease, loan||Cash, lease, prepay or loan||Cash, lease, loan||Cash, lease, loan or PPA||Cash, lease, loan|
|Warranty||25 years (system)||25 years (product and performance)||25 years (system)||25 years (product and performance)||Varies by system|
|Read Reviews||Read Reviews||Read Reviews||Read Reviews||Read Reviews|
How are solar costs trending in Virginia?
The cost to go solar in Virginia has fallen 54% over the last 10 years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
How can I pay for solar panels?
You can pay cash, but if you don’t have the money saved up, you can finance solar panels through a loan. Getting a solar loan works like most other types of loans. You apply, get a credit check and pay back the loan plus interest. If financing or loans aren’t for you, you may be interested in a lease or PPA (power purchase agreement).
Whether you decide on a loan, PPA or a lease, ask yourself these questions before signing up:
- Is there a down payment?
- How much will I pay per month?
- When will monthly payments increase, and by how much?
» 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 $21,692 in Virginia. Remember, solar panels may not totally eliminate your monthly power bill, but you will pay less. In Virginia, you can expect to offset your electricity bill by 75% to 102%, according to EnergySage.
How does net metering work in Virginia?
You can sell any excess electricity your system produces back to the electric company, which will come as a credit on your electric bill. This is called net metering.
In Virginia, residential customers can only participate in net metering if their systems are up to 25 kilowatts (kW), while businesses can go as big as 3,000 kW. If you end up with a credit on your electric bill, you can carry it over to the next year as long as it doesn't exceed the amount you bought from the electric company.
» COMPARE: Best solar monitoring systems
How many solar panels do I need for my house?
The number of solar panels you need can vary by how much energy your home uses, how much sunlight your yard gets and the efficiency of the panels. For instance, Todd in Virginia Beach got 19 panels and Dwight in Arlington got 42.
In Virginia, the average monthly energy consumption is 1,094 kWh. It would take about 37 panels to generate this much energy in a month.
|Average cost per watt||Typical system size||Upfront cost*||ITC value (30%)||Payback period**||Estimated net savings|
|Virginia||$2.75||11 kW||$21,175||$9,075||12 years||$21,692|
|West Virginia||$2.64||11 kW||$20,328||$8,712||13 years||$19,893|
|Delaware||$2.58||9.5 kW||$17,157||$7,353||12 years||$29,016|
|Maryland||$2.77||10 kW||$19,390||$8,310||12 years||$21,395|
|North Carolina||$2.54||6 kW||$13,815||$5,921||13 years||$20,035|
|Kentucky||$2.34||11 kW||$18,018||$7,722||12 years||$20,247|
- 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:
- Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “Homeowner’s Guide to the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics.” Accessed August 21, 2023.
- Solar Energy Industries Association, “Solar State By State.” Accessed August 21, 2023.
- U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), “Average Monthly Electric Bill.” Accessed August 21, 2023.
- Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE), “Virginia Programs.” Accessed August 21, 2023.
- EcoWatch, “Solar Panel Cost in Virginia.” Accessed August 21, 2023.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Summary of Inflation Reduction Act provisions related to renewable energy.” Accessed August 21, 2023.
- Solar Energy Industries Association, “Virginia Solar.” Accessed August 21, 2023.
- Virginia Department of Energy, “PACE.” Accessed August 21, 2023.
- Solar United Neighbors, “Homeowners Associations and Solar Access in Virginia.” Accessed August 21, 2023.
- Virginia PACE Authority, “PACE Frequently Asked Questions.” Accessed August 21, 2023.
- Save on Energy, “What is Solar Permitting and How Long Does it Take?” Accessed August 21, 2023.
- U.S. Office of State and Community Energy Programs, “Property Assessed Clean Energy Programs.” Accessed August 21, 2023.
- EnergySage, “Virginia Solar Panel Installations.” August 19, 2023. Accessed August 21, 2023.
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