The U.S. has witnessed remarkable solar growth over the past decade, and North Carolina’s solar industry is growing quickly. Thanks to the state’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, renewable energy resources are an important part of the Tar Heel State’s electric grid. In Raleigh, North Carolina the price of solar panels is cheaper than both the national average and the state. In this article we’ll explain why Raleigh can be a top spot for solar power and what Raleigh homeowners can do to maximize their solar savings.
How much do solar panels cost in Raleigh?
As of mid-2017, the average price for solar panels in Raleigh was $3.12 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 Raleigh is $15,600 before any rebates or incentives.
While this price is low for the overall state of North Carolina, it is also very competitive in terms of the national average. Prices for solar panel systems have dropped by over 64% in North Carolina over the past 5 years and homeowners are taking notice. Check out this comparison table of Raleigh, the state, and U.S. average pricing for various system sizes:
Solar pricing table: Raleigh compared to North Carolina and U.S. average costs
||National average cost
|NC average cost
| Raleigh average cost
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, statewide, and in Raleigh for solar energy systems. As the data illustrates, typical solar prices in Raleigh, North Carolina 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 North Carolina is one of the most affordable and pragmatic places to install solar. But when you zero in on Raleigh’s market and compare it to the rest of the country, the advantage for homeowners is even clearer. The good news for most North Carolina homeowners is that these low costs do not even incorporate the added benefit of net metering, offered throughout the Tar Heel State.
North Carolina’s net metering and other incentives
Like most states, North Carolina has a net metering program to account for extra electricity production. When your solar panel system produces more than you need, the excess gets sent back to the grid in exchange for bill credits. When your system isn’t producing enough electricity, you can draw it from your utility just as you did before you went solar. As a result, the excess electricity your home produces covers the times when you don’t produce enough.
North Carolina also offers a state property tax exemption for all homeowners who are using their systems for residential purposes (for no business or profitable intention). The value that solar adds to a property isn’t included in property tax assessments.
Legislation enacted in NC allows for cities and counties to offer low-interest loans for solar panels and other energy upgrades. Thanks to this legislation, solar loan terms in North Carolina can be no longer than 20 years, have an interest rate cap set at 8 percent, and can easily be renewed.
How Raleigh homeowners can save big with solar
Though Raleigh 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 Raleigh homeowners yielded 20-year savings estimates of over $40,013 on average. Checkout the breakdown of average net savings by solar system size:
Raleigh net 20-year savings from solar
||Average solar savings over 20 years
Three tips for solar shoppers in Raleigh
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.
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.
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 Raleigh 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.