- Homeowners using solar panels experience a significant decrease in utility bills and reduce dependence on non-renewable resources.
- Virginia residents can access incentives such as the federal solar investment tax credit and property tax exemptions for residential solar energy equipment.
- Solar panels empower homeowners to generate their own electricity, increase home value, and have favorable property tax treatment in Virginia.
- The initial cost of installing solar panels can be offset by financing options and incentives, and maintenance is generally low.
- Choosing a reputable solar company with certifications, licenses, and warranty coverage is crucial for a successful installation.
Most homeowners using solar panels to power their homes report a significant and immediate decrease in utility bills. However, the advantages of residential solar extend beyond financial gains! According to the US Energy Information Administration, solar power significantly reduces dependence on non-renewable resources.
Are you evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of hiring a solar company to install an energy system in your Virginia home? This article should serve as a valuable starting point for your decision-making process.
Pros and Cons of Solar Energy for Virginia Homeowners
Choosing a reputable, certified solar company ensures a successful journey into more sustainable power sources. With Virginia’s generous incentives and resources for solar-curious homeowners, transitioning to solar energy has never been more affordable. Furthermore, every state has slightly different rules, so ensure the information you review in your research is specific to your state.
Solar Power Pros
Financial & Tax Incentives: Homeowners in Virginia can access several incentives when transitioning to solar energy. One of the most notable incentives is the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC).
Let’s say you go out solar shopping and find a great company to install a new solar system in your home. With or without a battery storage system, you may qualify for the 26% federal tax credit. Legislators in the state have allowed counties, cities, and towns to vote on a case-by-case basis to exempt (or partially exempt) residential solar energy equipment from local property taxes.
Virginia residents interested in taking advantage of this incentive should plan to act quickly, as the state’s residential ITC drops to 22% in 2023 and ends in 2024. Homeowners in Virginia must fill out IRS Form 5695 to claim this residential energy credit. Seek guidance from a tax expert to ensure you follow the correct procedures when filing for credits or exemptions like these.
Beyond Tax Incentives…
Lower Electricity Bills: Solar panels empower homeowners to generate their own electricity. Installation of solar energy technology can lead to lower monthly utility bills.
Energy Independence: By producing their own electricity, homeowners become less reliant on conventional energy sources. This leaves residents more resilient for longer periods of time during power outages.
Moreover, if you’re unaware, solar panels generate electricity only during daylight hours. Homeowners might need to rely on the grid at night despite having gathered and stored excess power during the day.
Increased Property Value: Installing solar power can significantly increase a home’s value, making it a sound long-term investment. Further, property taxes in the state of Virginia are rather favorable to solar system installations. Installing a solar power system for $20,000 in your $350,000 home will not increase your taxable home value to $370,000. The taxable value of the home will remain at $350,000.
Other good news in this area: Recently, Governor Glenn Youngkin signed Virginia S.B. 686 into law. The bill states that less than 25 kW solar systems are considered a “separate class of property.”
This law holds residential solar installations to different and more favorable standards of personal property tax than other “home improvement” investments.
Solar Power Cons
Upfront Costs: The initial cost of installing solar energy technology, such as solar panels, might deter some homeowners. However, financing options and incentives can help offset the expense.
Energy companies like Dominion Energy in Virginia offer income and age-qualifying solar programs for eligible customers. Dominion’s program is an excellent option for lower-income Virginians. Further, the program features incentives and a 25-year maintenance and repair warranty that limit customer costs.
Dependence on Square Footage and Sunlight: Solar panels’ energy production relies on sunlight. Depending on weather conditions and time of year, sufficient sunlight to power a solar system may or not be available. In addition, installing solar systems requires adequate roof space or ground area, which is not feasible for all homeowners.
Maintenance and Repairs: Solar panels are generally low-maintenance. Like much outdoor technology, the panels require occasional cleaning and repairs throughout their lifespan.
It’s not all bad! Proper maintenance can help solar panels perform more efficiently and last longer. Maintenance required for solar energy technology installed on your property may vary depending on a few factors, including location, weather, and installation design.
The distinction between a good home improvement investment involving solar energy and a proverbial “money pit” is usually in the quality of homeowner research into operators. Equally important is the quality of actual work done during the first installation attempt. Certification checks and a thorough review of vendor qualifications can help homeowners avoid the worst possible installation experiences.
North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification
The exam offered by the NABCEP, if passed, entitles the successful test-taker to a widely recognized certification for solar power operators and installers. Referred to as PVIP Certification in addition to the label NABCEP, the required exam takes a lot of work to pass. Most representatives of solar companies who take the certification exam fail.
Licenses and permits to operate in Virginia
Homeowners must verify that the solar energy operator they select to install their solar panels holds the necessary licenses to operate in Virginia. Further, check your county website for information about permits, inspections, or approvals required to install solar panels on your land.
Solar panel installation warranty coverage
Finally, homeowners should consider warranty coverage to protect your investment. Not all vendors in the solar space offer warranty coverage, but it’s worth asking about! It is hard to overstate the value of protecting your investment (and your home) with installation coverage like this.
The 5 Best Solar Companies in Virginia
We analyzed several criteria to identify Virginia’s best solar power providers, including customer ratings, feedback, and company reputation.
We also considered the following factors: insurance coverage, customer satisfaction, pricing and affordability, and leasing and financing options.
Read on to see what we found!
SunPower Corporation is a solar company known for its high-quality solar panels and 25-year Power and Product Warranty for home-use solar systems. Paired with the company’s extensive experience in the industry (Sunpower has been in solar energy for 30 years!), this warranty is one of the most generous available in Virginia.
SunPower offers flexible payment options for its customers. These options extend beyond outright purchase! This company is one of only a few players in the solar energy space that offers a leasing option to Virginia homeowners interested in trying solar power on for size.
(Please note: Leased solar panels are not eligible for most tax credits or other state and federal incentives.)
Nova Solar has 15 years of experience in solar technologies and installations. The company strives to create sustainable, affordable solar energy solutions that minimize financial burden and overall reliance on non-renewable resources for homeowners in Virginia, DC, and Maryland.
Nova Solar offers competitive pricing and comprehensive warranty coverage and is known to slightly reduce prices on a case-by-case basis to “beat out” competing solar operators.
Blue Raven Solar
Blue Raven Solar is a full-service, top-rated solar company owned by SunPower Corporation. The company offers a “$0 upfront cost” option and a “BluePower Plus +” financing plan, which allows customers to finance their solar system with no money down for the first 18 months.
Many customers report a reduction or elimination of their monthly utility bill following the installation of Blue Raven Solar systems and an increase in overall property value.
Blue Raven operates in 22 states, including Virginia, and is well-versed in solar system design and installation, permitting processes, financing options, and single-day installation in each of those states.
Freedom Solar is another experienced solar energy installer that services the state of Virginia. They’re proud to offer $0 down financing options and interest rates as low as 0% for Virginia-based buyers. In addition, Freedom’s 25-year product, performance, and workmanship warranty are among the best offered in the solar power industry.
Freedom Solar is known in the solar power market for its expertise in “off-grid” solar energy systems. The company is just as well known for its easy 7-step installation process. The process ranges from financing and warranty to planning, permitting, installation, and follow-up.
Sunrun is the country’s largest SunPower dealer and offers a comprehensive solar installation process. The company also provides installation and replacement of inverters, backup batteries, home energy monitoring, and ongoing maintenance of solar panels.
All that said, Sunrun’s warranty and general customer satisfaction could be better than the competitors we list here. Customers should ensure that they fully understand the terms and conditions. This includes specific terms, such as how and what customers are charged before, during, and after leasing. Depreciation is an important concept to be familiar with when exploring lease or lease-to-own options.
On the positive side of Sunrun’s customer service record, the company is known for its easy enrollment process. Another positive about the way customers view Sunrun: a turnkey installation product! Once installation is complete, it’s ready to use. Finally, Sunrun’s customers appreciate the company’s ongoing updates about customer savings on utility bills since system installation.
Solar energy technology has emerged as a potent and accessible solution in a world that’s over-reliant on fossil fuels. Embracing solar offers Virginia homeowners significant financial returns, lower utility bills, and a low-risk investment in their homes.
Virginia residents must be cautious and avoid cutting corners at the beginning of their solar journey. Some good examples include buying cheaper panels or allowing unlicensed solar energy technology vendors to perform an installation. Choices like these can lead to costly long-term consequences.
Remember, solar energy is not just about saving money—it’s a step towards a cleaner and more sustainable future for our planet.
|SunPower||Known for its high-quality solar panels and 25-year Power and Product Warranty for home-use solar systems. Offers flexible payment options including leasing.|
|Nova Solar||Has 15 years of experience in solar technologies and installations. Offers competitive pricing and comprehensive warranty coverage.|
|Blue Raven Solar||Offers a â$0 upfront costâ option and a âBluePower Plus +â financing plan. Many customers report a reduction or elimination of their monthly utility bill following the installation.|
|Freedom Solar||Offers $0 down financing options and interest rates as low as 0% for Virginia-based buyers. Known for its expertise in âoff-gridâ solar energy systems.|
|Sunrun||Offers a comprehensive solar installation process. Provides installation and replacement of inverters, backup batteries, home energy monitoring, and ongoing maintenance of solar panels.|
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