Cost of solar panels in West Virginia (2024)

How much is it to go solar in the Mountain State?

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Average solar panel installation costs range from $10,238 to $29,250 in West Virginia. How much you pay depends on the size of your system, what incentives you’re eligible for, your home’s sunlight exposure and other factors.

Based on feedback from hundreds of solar customers in West Virginia, the general consensus is that solar panel investments pay off over time. Assuming an upfront purchase, it takes about 10 years to break even (when your savings with solar panels make up for the cost).


Key insights

The average solar panel installation costs $2.85 per watt in West Virginia. “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 homeowners buying solar panels. It is not a rebate or a refund but goes toward what you owe on federal income taxes.

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In West Virginia, you can lease a system or enter a power purchase agreement 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 West Virginia?

With professional installation, a typical 6-kilowatt residential solar panel system in West Virginia costs $17,550. That price drops to $12,285 after the full federal solar investment tax credit (ITC). On the high end, we talked to a solar customer in Brandywine, West Virginia, who told us they spent $70,000 on a system.

The size of your solar panel system is a big factor in your overall solar costs. A typical West Virginia household needs a system with a capacity of 9.3 kW to offset enough energy costs to make solar viable. Depending on your household energy usage, you might need a smaller or larger system.

Average solar panel installation cost by system size in West Virginia

This doesn’t include the cost of a solar storage battery, which sometimes costs as much as the panels. Solar batteries are a must if you want real energy independence and essential if you go off-grid. Permitting, utility fees and maintenance also add to the cost of going solar.

Are solar panels worth it in West Virginia?

For some, solar panels are worth it for the environmental benefits. For others, it’s all about saving money and gaining more energy independence.

It’s relatively easy to get set up, especially if you hire a professional installation company. “The entire process only took a couple of hours, and it has worked like a dream since installation,” one solar customer, Stacy in Princeton, West Virginia, told us.

Dianna in Bluefield, West Virginia, went the do-it-yourself solar route. “The solar panels were set up to be a backup for the freezer, for the refrigerator and for some lights. Every single day, I (make) my coffee, use my appliance, any accessory appliances on it, etc. to save a little money here and there,” she said. “We loved it.”

In West Virginia, solar panels usually pay for themselves within 10 years years. However, the financial savings aren’t as substantial as in other states. West Virginia only gets 2.5 to 3.5 average peak sun hours daily. This means you may be unable to replace 100% of your energy needs with solar.

On average, you’ll spend $10,238 to $29,250 for panels that last about 25 years. Over that same time period, you’d avoid approximately $63,114 in total utility costs.

The entire process only took a couple of hours, and it has worked like a dream since installation. ”
— Stacy in Princeton, West Virginia

If your house is a good candidate for solar, it’s at least worth considering in West Virginia. 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.

» STILL NOT SURE? Solar energy pros and cons

Solar panel installation cost factors in West Virginia

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.

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 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 usually find a stand-alone system for $80 to $400.

Size of your system

The cost difference between a 6-kilowatt system and a 7-kilowatt system is thousands of dollars. To estimate what size system you need, first look up how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) you used last year on your electricity bill. Divide that number by 1,200. This will be roughly the system size you need. For example, if your home used 30,000 kWh last year, you would need a 25-kW system.

» WATT’S THE DIFFERENCE? kW vs. kWh

Condition of your roof

Quality solar panels should last 25 to 30 years, so you need your roof 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. If you’ve been thinking about replacing your roof, it’s a good idea to do that before getting solar panels.

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 get a solar energy system.

Labor costs

The cost of hiring professionals to install your solar system varies based on project size and complexity. Labor costs are usually included in your system's initial price estimate, but be sure to confirm before committing to a contract.

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 DIY route. If not installed correctly, solar panels pose safety risks, causing roof leaks and other problems.

Local permits and fees

Permits and interconnection fees, though relatively cheap, are worth mentioning. Reputable solar installers in the area can guide you through the permitting process and can often handle it on your behalf. You can also contact your municipality’s building department directly for accurate information.

For example, Charleston requires a permit for all construction work, including solar panels, if the total cost is more than $2,500. You have to submit it to the City of Charleston Building Department. Projects over $10,000 require a copy of an executed contract.

Solar incentives, tax credits and rebates in West Virginia

The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is the best financial incentive for going solar in West Virginia. 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.

» MORE: West Virginia solar incentives, tax credits & rebates

How to save money on solar panels in West Virginia

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

  • Compare quotes: Get quotes from at least three or four different solar companies in West Virginia. 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.
  • Explore payment options: Affordable financing makes the upfront costs of solar more manageable. For instance, leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) can let you start saving from day one with little or no money down.
  • Use incentives: Residents have few solar incentives besides the federal solar tax credit. Some solar panel manufacturers offer rebates on their products. While these may not be specific to West Virginia, they can still provide additional savings. You can inquire with your installer about any available manufacturer rebates.

» TIPS: Get the best solar quotes

How can I pay for solar panels in West Virginia?

You have options when it comes to paying for your solar system. You can pay cash upfront, take out a solar loan, lease your system or get a power purchase agreement (PPA).

  • 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.
  • Power purchase agreement: A solar power purchase agreement (PPA) is similar to leasing. A solar developer buys, installs and maintains solar panels on your property. You buy the power generated by the system on a per kilowatt-hour (kWh) basis. It’s a fixed price, and the cents/kWh is usually cheaper than the utility’s rate for the same amount of electricity.
  • 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 West Virginia

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

Do you own or rent?

FAQ

Can I get free solar panels in West Virginia?

We’re not aware of a totally free solar option in West Virginia. You can lease or enter a PPA with little to no upfront costs, though neither is totally free. Solar leases usually come with a flat monthly fee, and PPAs make you pay per unit of electricity. 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.

» FREE SOLAR PANELS: Are they really free?

How much can I save with solar panels?

On average, West Virginia homeowners with solar panels avoid $63,114 in total utility costs over 25 years. 

» EXPLORE: Where your solar savings go the furthest

How are solar costs trending in West Virginia?

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

Is it cheaper if I install solar panels myself?

It’s potentially cheaper to install your solar energy system yourself, but it’s difficult and dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing, especially for a large residential project.

» DIY SOLAR PANELS: Pros, cons and installation guide

How does net metering work in West Virginia?

Net metering lets you earn credits on your electric bill for any energy your solar panels contribute to the local power grid. In West Virginia, remaining credits can roll over to future months and apply to the energy portion of your bill. Contact your local utility for details and to participate in the program.

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?

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.

Ultimately, deciding between a solar broker and a solar installer depends on how much you want to be involved in the process. A broker can be helpful if you value convenience. If you want more control and potentially lower costs, it’s best to work directly with a solar installer.

Bottom line

Residential solar panel system costs typically fall between $10,000 and $30,000 or higher, depending on factors like the system's size, local labor rates and available incentives. West Virginia homeowners with solar panels can typically save more than that in total avoided energy costs over the lifetime of a system.

The ConsumerAffairs Research Team has conducted extensive research to compare the costs of going solar in West Virginia and other states.

Solar costs vs. savings: West Virginia 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, "West Virginia Programs." Accessed March 29, 2024.
  2. EnergySage, “The cost of solar panels in West Virginia.” Accessed March 29, 2024.
  3. Solar Energy Industries Association, "West Virginia Solar." Accessed March 29, 2024.
  4. SolarReviews, “How much do solar panels cost in West Virginia?” Accessed March 29, 2024.
  5. City of Charleston Building Department, “Schedule of Permit Fees.” Accessed May 23, 2024.
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