How much do solar panels cost in Washington D.C.?

solar panel cost d.c.

The U.S. has witnessed remarkable solar growth over the past decade, and Washington D.C.’s solar industry has always been a major contributor. In fact, President Jimmy Carter had solar panels installed on the roof of the White House. Luckily for D.C. residents, the price of solar panels in Washington D.C. is cheaper than the national average and lower than surrounding states, as well. In this article we’ll explain why Washington D.C. can be a top spot for solar power and how Washington D.C. homeowners can maximize their solar savings.

How much do solar panels cost in Washington D.C.?

As of mid-2017, the average price for solar panels in Washington D.C. was $3.33 per watt. Thus, since the typical system size in the U.S. is 5 kilowatts (5,000 watts), the average cost of a solar panel system in Washington D.C. is $16,650 before any rebates or incentives.

While this price is low for the overall DC area, it is also very competitive in terms of the national average. Prices for solar panel systems have dropped by over 64% in Washington D.C. over the past 5 years and homeowners are taking notice. Check out this comparison table of Washington D.C., the surrounding state averages, and U.S. average pricing for various system sizes:

Solar pricing table: Washington D.C. compared to state and U.S. average costs

System size National average cost
(after ITC)
State average cost
(after ITC)
 average cost
(after ITC)
3 kW $7,119  $7,056  $6,993
6 kW $14,238  $14,112  $13,986
10 kW $23,730  $23,520  $23,310
12 kW $28,476 $28,224 $27,972 

The above table, which uses pricing data from solar quotes received by homeowners on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace over the last 12 months, offers a comparison of prices nationwide, surrounding states, and in Washington D.C. for solar energy systems. As the data illustrates, typical solar prices in Washington D.C. are significantly lower than the rest of the country and the state.


When looking at the solar industry as a whole, it’s well known that the DC area is one of the most affordable and pragmatic places to install solar. But when you zero in on Washington D.C.’s market and compare it to the rest of the country, the advantage for homeowners is even clearer. The good news for most Washington D.C. homeowners is that these low costs do not even incorporate the added benefit of net metering, offered throughout the nation’s capitol.

Washington D.C.’s net metering and other incentives

Like most of the nation, Washington D.C. has a net metering program. Net metering programs allow solar homeowners to receive utility bill credits for any excess solar electricity their panels generate. With net metering, you can “bank” your extra solar credit in times when you don’t need it, and “withdraw” it from the grid later down the line when your panels aren’t producing enough electricity for your needs.

Washington D.C. also offers Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) that DC residents can sell for up to $500 for each megawatt-hour their solar panels generate. What that means is if a homeowner installs a 5 kilowatt (kW) system that generates 5 MWh per year, they could earn as much as $2,500 annually by selling the certificates in the SREC market. Utilities will purchase SRECs to meet D.C.’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal of sourcing 2.5 percent of its electricity needs from solar sources by 2023.

D.C. homeowners can also avoid paying additional property taxes on the added home value installing a solar panel system generates thanks to the Solar Energy System and Cogeneration System Personal Property Tax Credit.

How Washington D.C. homeowners can save big with solar

Though Washington D.C. residents will see some of the cheapest solar prices in the country with continued cost declines expected over the next five years, low prices aren’t necessarily the biggest selling point. When it comes to going solar, the long term ROI and savings from avoided bill payments is often the biggest deciding factor – and the figures can be staggering even in states where utility rates are reasonable.

In 2017, solar quotes received by Washington D.C. homeowners yielded 20-year savings estimates of over $43,467 on average. Checkout the breakdown of average net savings by solar system size:

Washington D.C. net 20-year savings from solar

System size Average solar savings over 20 years
3 kW $23,441
6 kW  $40,154
10 kW $62,954
12 kW  $68,799

Three tips for solar shoppers in Washington D.C.

  1. Homeowners who get multiple quotes save 10% or more

    As with any big ticket purchase, shopping for a solar panel installation takes a lot of research and consideration, including a thorough review of the companies in your area. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recommended that consumers compare as many solar options as possible to avoid paying inflated prices offered by the large installers in the solar industry.

    To find the smaller contractors that typically offer lower prices, you’ll need to use an installer network like EnergySage. You can receive free quotes from vetted installers local to you when you register your property on our Solar Marketplace – homeowners who get 3 or more quotes can save thousands on their solar panel installation.

  2. The biggest installers typically don’t offer the best price

    The bigger isn’t always better mantra is one of the main reasons we strongly encourage homeowners to consider all of their solar options, not just the brands large enough to pay for the most advertising. A recent report by the U.S. government found that large installers are $2,000 to $5,000 more expensive than small solar companies. If you have offers from some of the big installers in solar, make sure you compare those bids with quotes from local installers to ensure you don’t overpay for solar.

  3. Comparing all your equipment options is just as important

    National-scale installers don’t just offer higher prices – they also tend to have fewer solar equipment options, which can have a significant impact on your system’s electricity production. By collecting a diverse array of solar bids, you can compare costs and savings based on the different equipment packages available to you.

    There are multiple variables to consider when seeking out the best solar panels on the market. While certain panels will have higher efficiency ratings than others, investing in top-of-the-line solar equipment doesn’t always result in higher savings. The only way to find the “sweet spot” for your property is to evaluate quotes with varying equipment and financing offers.

For any D.C. homeowner in the early stage of shopping for solar that would just like a ballpark estimate for an installation, try our Solar Calculator that offers up front cost and long term savings estimates based on your location and roof type. For those looking to get quotes from local contractors today, check out our quote comparison platform.

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