Solar power doesn’t provide much of Virginia’s electricity — just 4% in 2021 — but that figure is growing. Solar’s share of the state’s electricity generation doubled from 2020 to 2021.
But even if solar panels make up a small portion of the state’s overall energy mix, they can provide 100% of your energy needs.
Virginia doesn’t offer many solar incentives on top of the 30% federal tax credit, but that doesn’t mean solar can’t be worth it. Solar panels can be a sound investment for homeowners looking to displace their fossil fuel use and reduce their high electricity bills.
Electricity rates are on the rise around the country. Rising electric rates make solar panels more attractive, though high loan interest rates make purchasing a system with a loan less so. For many people, even with high interest rates, going solar can lock in long-term energy savings, though each installation has a slightly different calculation.
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Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering solar panels in Virginia.
Best national solar panel companies in Virginia
You should interview solar companies like you would any other contractor. Get multiple quotes and make sure a company clearly answers all of your questions before signing a contract.
Local solar panel companies in Virginia
Consider looking into a few local solar installers during your search. We pulled a few local solar installers with some of the highest Google review scores, but it’s still important to do your own research. If you know someone who already has solar installed, ask them for a recommendation. Here are a few local installers that might be worth considering in Virginia.
How to determine which solar company in Virginia is best for me
Since every house is a bit different, every solar installation will be different as well. What really matters is finding an installer with experience working with the type of roof you have, and the type of system you want installed.
Ben Delman, a communications director with Solar United Neighbors, a clean energy nonprofit, says homeowners should look for solar installers that are certified by NABCEP and have the proper licensing for to do their work. To get a better understanding of a company’s reputation, read up on online reviews from as many sources as you can. Google and Yelp reviews are a good starting point. Look for solar companies with at least 20 to 30 reviews. If you know someone who already has solar on their roof, ask them for recommendations too.
Benjamin Hoyne, the Virginia program director with Solar United Neighbors, recommends homeowners get at least three solar estimates before choosing an installer — and to watch out for aggressive sales tactics.
“The good news is there’s never a rush to go solar. Not to say you shouldn’t take advantage of going solar, but what I mean is, if some salesperson is being pushy and telling you that you need to sign a contract today or an offer expires, that’s not true,” Hoyne said.
Make sure you understand how the federal solar tax credit works and that your installer explains it to you correctly. The federal tax credit is a tax credit, not a refund. And not everyone may be eligible; it’s not guaranteed to everyone.
According to Delman and Hoyne, a good solar installer should be able to:
- Give good word-of-mouth references.
- Clearly explain the project and working deadlines.
- Define technical terms in an easy-to-understand manner.
- Accurately explain how the federal solar tax credit works.
- Be transparent about pricing and how financing works.
- Have knowledge about the local permit requirements and the process for system interconnection with your local utility company.
- Understand homeowners association restrictions and assist you in navigating that process.
- Answer any question, even the difficult ones.
Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification on any project and pricing details. Solar is an expensive and confusing process. Your installer should help you feel informed during every step of the journey.
Read more: Just looking for an emergency backup? Check out portable solar panels and solar generators.
Average cost of solar panels in Virginia
Here’s a look at the average cash price for a 5-kilowatt system before factoring in tax credits incentives, according to data from FindEnergy.com. But your system might become more expensive if you choose to install a solar battery.
Virginia solar panel costs
|System size (kW)||Price per watt||Total cost|
Virginia solar panel incentives and rebates
While the state of Virginia doesn’t offer any state-level solar incentives, homeowners can still take advantage of net metering and the solar renewable energy credit market in Virginia.
Net metering allows you to sell your excess solar energy to the power grid.
“They’re credited at a one-to-one rate. Kind of the same rate they would be when they purchase electricity from the grid on a rainy day or in the evening,” Hoyne said.
Similarly, you can also sell your excess solar energy in the form of a solar renewable energy credit. Certain states require power companies to supply a certain amount of their electricity from renewable sources. Power companies will buy and trade SRECs to meet these requirements.
“SRECs are available in Virginia. You can trade your credits on the market quarterly or even monthly,” Hoyne said. “The price will never exceed $75 per SREC, so often they trade in the $50 to $60 range per SREC.”
You can participate in net metering and trade SRECs at the same time, but the most notable solar incentive is the federal solar tax credit. This 30% solar tax credit applies to solar panel systems bought from the beginning of 2022 through 2032.
Virginia solar incentives
|Net metering||Energy companies give credits in exchange for excess energy generated by your solar system. Check with your local utility for specific details.|
|SRECs||Homeowners can sell and trade their excess solar energy on the SREC market.|
|Property tax exemption||State law exempts homeowners from property taxes on solar panel systems or other solar equipment (up to 25 kW).|
|Residential clean energy credit||Also known as the federal solar tax credit, this tax incentive allows homeowners to claim a 30% tax credit for systems installed before 2032.|
How to pay for solar panels in Virginia
Multiple payment options are available for Virginians interested in solar panels. Here are some of the most common ways to pay for your panels.
Cash: Paying in cash is not only interest-free but also allows you to take advantage of solar incentives. If you pay in cash, be ready for substantial upfront costs. If you’re thinking about going solar in the future, consider saving up with a high-yield savings account.
Solar loan: Your solar installer will most likely offer you a financing option called a solar loan. Loan terms and rates can vary, so shop around for low-interest rates and get multiple quotes before signing on the dotted line.
Other loan options: You aren’t limited to just financing options from your installer. Getting a personal loan from your bank or opening a home equity line of credit are other options. Keep in mind that going the HELOC route could mean losing your home if you can’t pay back what you owe.
Solar leases and power purchase agreements: You don’t own the solar panels. Instead, you pay a fee to use the equipment or buy the power they produce. These options can help with upfront costs. However, the terms of these agreements — especially any rate escalators — are very important to the return on investment. People with solar leases or PPAs typically save less than those who own the panels outright and typically aren’t eligible for tax rebates.
Community solar in Virginia
Shared solar, commonly known as community solar, allows homeowners to power their homes with solar by buying electricity generated by third-party solar equipment. And some shared solar programs offer cheaper electricity than what you would normally pay at your utility’s retail rate. The state has introduced its own community solar program, called the Shared Solar Program, to customers served by the utility Dominion Energy.
But this particular program also comes with a bit of a drawback for certain households — a minimum bill requirement. Households subscribed to the Shared Solar Program will need to pay a minimum of $55.10 a month to participate. However, low-income households are exempt from the minimum bill requirement, making solar more accessible to low-income families.
“The average minimum bill for a non low-income homeowner or household is going to be about $55 per month, which is the highest shared solar minimum bill in the nation,” Hoyne said.
The program is currently under a waitlist and capacity is awarded on a first-come basis.
“There currently are no shared solar projects that are actually up and running yet,” Hoyne said. “We have heard that there’s a handful of projects that should be coming online this fall.”
Installation factors to keep in mind
Are solar panels right for your home? Consider the following five factors about solar installation before making a final decision.
Solar installation factors
|Homeowners insurance||Check with your insurance company to see if your policy covers a solar panel system.|
|Location||Solar panels work best in direct sunlight. Obstructions like neighboring buildings or trees will hamper production.|
|Roof condition||Certified installers should provide roof maintenance recommendations prior to installation. Include potential roof repairs in your budget.|
|Own or rent||Homeowners receive more benefits from tax credits and incentives. Renters interested in solar can look into community solar programs.|
How we found the best solar companies
Virginia solar FAQs