- West Virginia ranks 48th for solar energy across the country, with just enough infrastructure to support about 3,000 homes.
- A 6kW solar panel system in West Virginia can save homeowners as much as $24,000 on utilities.
- West Virginians use more electricity than most, which could require a larger solar panel system.
- Sunlight and location can cause the price of solar panels in West Virginia to fluctuate, with cities in the Northwest receiving more sunlight.
- Elysium Solar Energy and Solar Holler are recommended solar installers in West Virginia.
- Despite high equipment rates and poor sunlight, West Virginians can still save money with solar panels, with a payback period of 9.8 years and a potential return of $16,350 to $24,365 over the lifespan of the panels.
- West Virginia has one of the best net metering programs in the country and offers the federal solar tax credit.
West Virginia ranks 48th for solar energy across the country, with just enough infrastructure to support about 3,000 homes. And with such poor sunlight, it’s not a surprise. Still, this leads homeowners to question whether solar panels in West Virginia are worth it.
For those wanting to improve their carbon footprint, there’s good news. A 6kW system can save as much as $24,000 on utilities. This article shows you how. Let’s get started.
Average Cost of Solar Panels in West Virginia
The average price of solar panels in West Virginia ranges slightly higher than usual. Homeowners in the Mountain State can expect to pay about $2.64 per watt. For those who install the standard 6kW system, this equals around $15,840 before incentives.
However, when considering the average cost of electricity, that’s not as bad as it seems. West Virginians pay more for power than in other states, which results in a larger monthly utility bill. Homeowners who install a solar panel system can offset these bills, saving thousands over 25 years.
If you’re interested in going green while also lowering your electricity payments, the federal solar tax credit can help. This program offers 30% back on all solar purchases, including labor, equipment, and sales tax. West Virginians installing the same 6kW system could watch the initial investment effectively drop from $15,840 to $11,088.
How Much Solar Do West Virginians Need?
The above scenario explains the average price of solar panels as it relates to the average size array. However, Virginians use more electricity than most, which could require a larger system. To determine how much wattage you need, you’ll have to divide your average daily power usage by the amount of direct sunlight you typically receive.
Let’s use West Virginia’s average numbers to show you how this works.
Homeowners in the Mountain State use about 35kWh a day (or 1,051kWh a month). After dividing that by West Virginia’s peak sun of 3.65 hours, we discover that a solar panel system needs to output 9.6kW an hour. Significantly larger than usual, residents may expect to spend as much as $25,344 before incentives.
Now that you know how to do the math, you can find the appropriate wattage for your household’s power needs. Sunlight varies depending on location, so use this West Virginia sun chart to find the peak hours for your nearest cities.
West Virginia Solar Cost Factors
As we saw in the last example, sunlight can have a dramatic effect on the cost of solar panels in West Virginia. With its location in the Alleghenies resulting in constantly cloudy weather, most of the state receives poor sunlight. However, cities in the Northwest, such as Huntington, may receive as much as 4.3 hours. That’s an additional 45 minutes of sun a day.
To learn more about how sunlight and location can cause the price of solar panels to fluctuate, compare West Virginia to its surrounding states:
Another factor to consider when creating a budget is the type of solar panels used. Because most of the Mountain State features cloudy weather, most arrays should include monocrystalline equipment. While they may cost more per watt than polycrystalline, they’re highly efficient, ensuring you get the most output even when the sun is covered.
Finally, it’s worth your time to take a close look at the solar installer you hire for your system. You might try to save money on the cost of labor, but some companies offering value rates may skimp on install quality or warranty coverage. With only 10 installers in the Mountain State, you may have to look elsewhere to find the right one for your needs.
Best Solar Installers in West Virginia
When reviewing installers for solar panels in West Virginia, we base our decision off of EnergySage’s pre-screening recommendations. The company has endorsements from the SEIA and Department of Energy, making it highly reputable. While looking into each solar installer, we consider:
- Industry experience
- Contractor transparency
- Equipment quality
- Warranty length
- Certifications and licenses
Here are our recommendations for the Mountain State.
Located in McDonald, PA, Elysium Solar Energy is one of the most reputable installers for West Virginia. The company has over 10 years in the industry and holds the highest levels of certifications. Its in-house team works with quality solar panels and covers its workmanship with an excellent 25-year warranty.
However, if you’re looking for that local feel, Solar Holler serves only West Virginia’s residents. There are no companies with a better understanding of the state’s solar policies than this one. While it offers a limited selection of equipment and only a 5-year warranty, you can cut costs by trusting this installer.
Can Solar Energy Save West Virginians Money?
We’ll be frank; with high rates on equipment and poor sunlight, it’s hard to save as much on utilities as in some other states. And with few solar installers supporting the market, you’ll have to rely on regional companies with less knowledge of your area. However, despite all of this, you can still scrape out a net return.
To find out how much your solar panel system can save you in electricity, you’ll first need to know how long it takes to pay it off. If we use the average annual power bill in West Virginia of $1,602.96 to offset the cost, homeowners could pay off a 6kW system in 9.8 years. While this is slightly lower than usual, many West Virginians may need a significantly larger array than this.
After paying off your system, you’ll start to earn money back overall. When you consider the lifespan of solar panels in West Virginia of 20-25 years, this return can range from $16,350 to $24,365. And with federal and state solar incentives, this saving only increases.
Solar Panels in West Virginia: Rebates, Credits, and Incentives
Because of West Virginia’s location within the Appalachian Mountains, it’s hard to expect state officials to promote solar energy. However, it seems the debate for this type of renewable is open for discussion.
The Mountain State has one of the best net metering programs in the country. And in 2019, the state legislature extended the regulation. When paired with the federal solar tax credit, which can save homeowners nearly $5,000 or more in most cases, there’s a good argument for making the switch. To learn more about West Virginia’s solar incentives, read our in-depth guide.
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