Solar Panels in North Carolina: Cost, Savings, and Rebates

Solar panels against a blue sky with a picture of the flag State of North Carolina

Solar Panels in North Carolina: Cost, Savings, and Rebates

Key Points

  • North Carolina has an average solar panel cost of $2.49 per watt, one of the lowest rates in the country
  • A 6kW solar panel system in North Carolina can save homeowners around $15,015 to $22,523 over its 20-25 year lifespan
  • The federal solar tax credit offers a 30% return on solar panel purchases, reducing the overall cost for homeowners

In 2022, North Carolina produced enough solar energy to power over one million homes. With the state’s major push for renewables in 2017, it’s becoming apparent that making the switch is a worthwhile decision. Homeowners can save thousands on electricity with solar panels in North Carolina.

However, you may not know where to start with your budget. No worries, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we break down the numbers. From average prices to potential savings, here’s everything you need to know about buying solar in the Tar Heel State.

Average Cost of Solar Panels in North Carolina

You’ll hardly find a better Southern state for solar panels than North Carolina. The Tar Heel State has an average cost of about $2.49 per watt, one of the lowest rates in the country. North Carolinians considering a 6kW system could expect to pay around $14,940 before incentives.

However, the low electricity rate could delay some from making the switch. Although residents in North Carolina typically use over 1,000kWh a month, they’re only paying $0.12/kWh. This results in a monthly utility bill that, while it could be much higher, sits just above the national average.

So if your electricity payment sits around the average and you’re looking to save some money, the federal solar tax credit could help sway you toward solar panels in North Carolina. This program offers a 30% return on all purchases made toward an array, including equipment, labor, and sales tax. Those purchasing that same 6kW system could see the overall cost go from $14,940 to $10,458.

How Much Solar Do North Carolinians Need?

Now, it’s important to know that a 6kW system might not match your power requirements. Although North Carolinians use a lot of power, the Tar Heel State also receives a lot of sun. To find out how much wattage your solar panel system needs to produce, we’ll divide these two factors. Here’s what that looks like using North Carolina’s averages.

Homeowners in the Tar Heel State use about 34.7kWh a day (or 1,041kWh a month). When we divide that by North Carolina’s average peak sun of 4.71 hours, we learn that the system needs to create 7.4kW an hour. This is much higher than the national average, costing North Carolinians around 18,426 ($3,500 more).

Now that you know how to find the size of your solar panel system, you can do the math for your home. Direct sunlight changes depending on location, so use this North Carolina sun chart to find the peak sun for your nearest city.

House with solar panels on roof in a mountain landscape at sunset. Wooden building with a background of mountainous forest at dusk. Heritage architecture and modern technology in Australia.
While solar panels in North Carolina are relatively inexpensive, residents tend to use more power than usual. This requires more wattage to cover their electricity needs.

©Jaaske M/Shutterstock.com

North Carolina Solar Cost Factors

As previously shown, sunlight affects the cost of solar panels in North Carolina. Depending on location, that number can fluctuate. For example, Wilmington receives as much as 5 hours of direct sun, more than 15 minutes extra a day.

To see how sunlight and geography can affect the price of solar even more, compare North Carolina to its surrounding states.

The cost of solar panels in North Carolina can also change depending on the type of equipment used. Generally, monocrystalline panels have more efficiency, but with a higher price tag than polycrystalline. In North Carolina, where the sunlight is excellent, homeowners can get away with poly equipment. However, if you have limited roof space, it’s worth investing in mono equipment.

Finally, you don’t want to overlook the installers working with your array. While installation costs can seem high, it’s worth paying a little extra for quality work and equipment. Those companies offering a lower price range may sacrifice critical aspects such as labor and warranties. In North Carolina, you have the option to choose from nearly 100 installers, meaning you can get the best one for your needs.

Can Solar Energy Save North Carolinians Money?

Although North Carolinians use a lot of power, requiring a larger solar array, they’re still in a position to earn thousands of dollars back on utilities. To determine the net return, we’ll first have to pay off the system and then calculate the total saving from that point forward. Here’s what that looks like in the Tar Heel State.

Homeowners in North Carolina typically spend around $1,501.56 a year on electricity. If this bill offsets the cost of a 6kW solar panel system, they can expect to pay it off in 10 years. While this is about average around the country, it’s important to remember that some North Carolinians may need more wattage than this.

After paying off the system, homeowners will start to see net gains. With the average lifespan of solar panels in North Carolina ranging from 20 to 25 years, residents could earn back around $15,015 to $22,523. This is a higher payout than in most states. And this number only goes up with incentives and state-level support.

Solar Panels in North Carolina: Rebates, Credits, and Incentives

In addition to low equipment rates and excellent sunlight, North Carolina has some of the strongest renewable standards in the country. Updated in 2017, the Tar Heel State builds nearly 1,000MW of solar a year. This is good news for homeowners, who can save even more on installation costs.

First and foremost, homeowners in North Carolina need to take advantage of the federal solar tax credit. With 30% off installation costs, those with a 6kW system could save nearly $4,500, and with new credits, net metering, and tax exemptions, there’s even more to save. For a detailed breakdown of the available benefits in the Tar Heel State, check out this North Carolina incentives guide.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does solar cost in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, homeowners can expect to spend about $2.49 per watt for solar energy. This equals about $14,940 for a 6kW system. Factors that can affect the price of an array include wattage, sunlight, location, equipment type, and installation quality.

How long does it take for solar panels to pay back in North Carolina?

With an average annual electricity bill of $1,501.56, North Carolinians can pay off a 6kW solar array in about 10 years. However, it’s important to know that homeowners in the Tar Heel State use more power than normal, which may require a larger system.

Can you get a federal tax credit for solar panels in North Carolina?

Homeowners in North Carolina can utilize the federal solar tax credit to lower their installation costs. This program returns 30% of all purchases made toward an array, including equipment, labor, and sales tax. Those that install a 6kW system could save over $4,500.

Is solar worth it in North Carolina?

North Carolina has low equipment costs and excellent sunlight, making it a great place for solar energy. However, it’s worth considering that homeowners use more power than normal, meaning they’ll have to invest in more wattage. Still, those that make the switch could save over $22,000 over 25 years.

Does North Carolina have a renewable portfolio standard (RPS)?

North Carolina has a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that pushes for 12.5% renewables by 2021. This RPS expired a couple of years ago, meaning that utility companies have no incentive to support new infrastructure.

What is net metering in North Carolina?

North Carolina has a net metering policy that allows residential and commercial customers with renewable energy systems, such as solar panels, to receive credit for excess electricity generated and exported to the grid. The excess credits can be carried forward for up to 12 months and used to offset future electricity consumption.

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