Solar Panel Cost in Virginia (2023 Local Savings Guide)
In this guide on Virginia solar panel costs, you’ll learn:
- How much do solar panels cost in Virginia?
- What determines the cost of solar panels in Virginia?
- How much can you save by going solar in Virginia?
The figures above are only estimates based on the average energy use of Virginia homeowners. The price of a solar system for your home may look different based on factors unique to you.
Cost of Solar Panels in Virginia
A roughly 11-KW solar system is needed to meet the average monthly energy consumption of Virginia residents. With an average cost of $2.75 per watt for solar in Virginia, you’d pay a total of about $30,250 for an 11-kW home solar system. This is reduced to $21,175 after applying the 30% federal solar tax credit.
If your household uses more or less energy than the state average, you’ll need a bigger or smaller system size. Most residents see pre-tax-credit solar costs between $22,000 and $38,500 in Virginia.
Blue Raven Solar
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Virginia?
The average Virginia homeowner pays about $30,250 for an 11 kilowatt (kW) solar system — that’s the typical size needed to meet the energy needs of a Virginia home.
Solar panel installation costs in Virginia drop to $21,175 after applying the 30% federal solar tax credit.
These estimates are based on average energy use in Virginia. If your household uses less energy, going solar could be cheaper for you, and vice-versa if you use more energy than average. Most Virginians see pre-tax-credit solar costs between $22,000 and $38,500.
Solar equipment purchases are made primarily on a wattage basis. At an average per-watt cost of $2.75 in Virginia, every kilowatt increment will cause your total cost to jump by roughly $2,750.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to sizing your solar electric system, so your best bet is to connect with a reputable solar company in Virginia to get a quote customized precisely for your home.
Just as an example, if you have a monthly electric bill of $130 — which is about the average in Virginia — you’ll likely need an 11 kW system to offset your electricity costs entirely.1 This number can vary based on your home size, the energy efficiency of your appliances and more.
Below are the average costs of different sizes of solar installations in Virginia before and after you take advantage of the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC).
|SIZE OF SOLAR PANEL SYSTEM||VIRGINIA SOLAR PANEL COST||COST AFTER FEDERAL TAX CREDIT||HOME SIZE THIS SYSTEM IS APPROPRIATE FOR|
|8 kW||$22,000||$15,400||1,750 sq. ft.|
|9 kW||$24,750||$17,325||1,875 sq. ft.|
|10 kW||$27,500||$19,250||2,000 sq. ft.|
|11 kW||$30,250||$21,175||2,125 sq. ft.|
|12 kW||$33,000||$23,100||2,250 sq. ft.|
|13 kW||$35,750||$25,025||2,375 sq. ft.|
|14 kW||$38,500||$26,950||2,500 sq. ft.|
Click to read our review of the best solar companies in Virginia that offer affordable, high-efficiency solar power systems.
How Does the Current Cost of Solar in Virginia Compare to the National Average?
As of 2022, a typical solar installation costs about $990 more in Virginia than the national average. Looking at full pre-tax-credit prices, an 11 kW solar energy system costs the average Virginian $30,250 and the average American $29,260.
On a per-watt basis, solar in Virginia costs $2.76 per watt compared to the national solar cost of 2.66 per watt.
|Cost per Watt||Cost for 11 kW Solar System|
All numbers updated as of November 2022. Based on national market research data.
Aside from typical location-dependent price fluctuations, the main reason solar is more expensive in Virginia is because homeowners there use much more energy compared to the average American. A typical Virginia home consumes 1,094 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy per month, whereas the average American home consumes 886 kWh of energy per month.2
Because of this, the average American only needs a 9 kW solar panel system, which would cost $23,940, to meet all their energy needs.
But the high energy consumption in Virginia only makes going solar that much more important to reduce your electricity bills and your carbon footprint.
How Are Solar Costs Trending in Virginia?
There’s good news for Virginians who want to switch to solar power: Solar panel installation prices have fallen 53% in the last decade, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).3
Home solar systems have become increasingly popular in VA, although the SEIA reports that it’s predominantly utility companies that are using solar for energy (which ultimately goes to consumers). Still, as electricity rates continue to increase, we anticipate more residential solar panel installations in 2023 as an effort to reduce energy bills.
As solar panels continue to gain traction in the Old Dominion, we’ll likely see their cost drop even further. On the other hand, the price of standard electricity continues to rise.
Both Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power announced rate hikes in September 2022 that would leave the average customer with a monthly bill increase of about $15.4 The most recent annual data shows that already in 2021 the average electricity bill jumped to $130.92 per month.5 And we only anticipate more increases in 2023.
Many people feel like there’s not much they can do to lower their electricity bills in Virginia — other than turn off the lights and dress in layers instead of turning on the heat. But adding solar panels to your Virginia home is actually the biggest way to fight the rising costs of electricity.
How Much Can You Save by Going Solar in Virginia Today?
With the lifetime of a solar system at 25 years, the estimated lifetime savings of going solar in Virginia is about $21,700 based on the average system size and electricity data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). To clarify, that’s over and above the energy savings your solar panels will generate to pay themselves off.
But without installing a solar system, the average Virginia household will shell out close to $52,000 in energy expenses over the same 25-year period. After thinking about it that way, sticking with fossil fuels no longer seems more affordable than going solar.
That said, there’s no denying that solar involves a hefty up-front investment. But there are several ways you can finance your solar system — cash purchase, solar loan or a solar lease.
Each solar payment method has its own advantages and disadvantages. Read on below to see how much money you can expect to save with each option and decide which is best for you.
|Solar Financing Option||Upfront Cost||Payback Period||Est 25 Year Savings|
|Loan||As low as $0||15 Years*||$16,269*|
|Lease||$0||N/A (you never own the system)||$6,250|
*These are conservative estimates intended to represent base-level averages. In most cases, customers can see an even higher ROI and shorter payback periods.
Cash Purchase of a Solar System in Virginia
Paying for your solar panels in cash requires the highest up-front outlay, but you’ll save quite a lot on interest. In Virginia, you should be able to pay back your entire solar system from your energy savings in 13 years.
If you’re able to afford a solar panel system by paying up front, you stand to save thousands of dollars that would otherwise be needed to cover the interest over the duration of a solar loan. Paying in cash allows you to begin saving money right away with your solar production and makes the solar payback period 13 years in Virginia. With a loan, the solar payback period is longer because your energy savings have to cover your monthly loan payments.
Here are some pros and cons of paying for your solar panel system in cash:
- No interest paid, meaning lower overall costs
- Start saving money right away on your monthly utility bills
- Maximize your return on investment (ROI)
- Take advantage of all solar tax credits and incentives
- Shorter solar payback period
- Doesn’t require good credit
- Boosts your home value
- Highest up-front cost
Solar Loans in Virginia
We understand that not everyone has $22,000 to $38,500 available to cover the cost of solar panels up front. That’s why most homeowners choose to get a solar loan.
A solar loan works just like a personal or a car loan. It allows you to defer the total up-front cost of your solar panels by instead making smaller payments over time. The typical solar loan length is between five and 12 years, although it can range between two and 25 years.
With a solar loan, you still own your system, which means you’ll still be eligible for Virginia solar incentives. If you can’t afford to pay for your system in cash or credit, getting a solar loan is the next-best financing option.
The specifics of your solar loan agreement will depend on the type of loan and loan provider you choose. There are some solar loans that offer $0 down or no payment needed for a number of months. Interest rates are typically anywhere between 2% and 20% depending on the length of the loan and your credit score.
Of course, the biggest downside to choosing a solar loan is that it comes with interest rates, so your solar panel system will cost you more in the long run and will extend your solar payback period.
Let’s look at an example of how much you might pay with a solar loan using the average cost of an 11 kW solar panel system in Virginia — $30,250. If you take out a 10-year loan that comes with a 6% interest rate, you’d pay about $336 a month and a total of $10,050 in interest.
That means the $30,250 solar panel system will now cost you $40,300.
Solar Loan Example:
- Cost of solar panel system: $30,250
- Solar loan term: 10 years
- Interest rate: 6%
- Monthly solar loan payment: $336
- Total payment: $40,300
Below are some more pros and cons of paying for your solar panels with a loan:
- Minimal money required up front
- Lower barrier to entry than a cash purchase
- Allows you to invest your money elsewhere
- Still lets you take advantage of solar incentives
- Boosts your home value
- Pay more for your solar panels over time
- Have a longer solar payback period
- Need to have a decent credit score to get a good loan
Solar Leases in Virginia
If you’ve ever seen an advertisement for “free solar panels,” it was likely a cheap pitch for a solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA).
Solar leases are an attractive option because they can be installed for little to no money up front while still allowing you to take advantage of clean energy and lower electricity bills. The average cost to lease solar panels ranges from about $50 to $250 per month.
However, solar leases will typically save you the least amount of money out of any solar financing option. Because you’re leasing the equipment, you don’t have ownership over your panels — your solar panel company does. That means they get to cash in on any available tax credits or rebates for the solar panels on your home.
Additionally, solar leases tend to be often offered under shoddy circumstances by untrustworthy solar contractors. The majority of complaints about solar companies result from low-quality solar leases. And it can cost homeowners thousands of dollars to try to get out of a lease early.
- No down payment required
- Minimal barrier to entry
- Allows low-income families to support clean energy
- No maintenance required
- Doesn’t increase your home value
- Can complicate the process of selling a home
- You lose eligibility for solar tax incentives
- Sometimes sold by unethical companies
- Often come with hefty cancellation fees
How Do You Get the Best Solar Prices in Virginia?
Since panel systems can cost between $22,000 and $38,500 in Virginia, you’re probably looking for ways to get a good deal. So let’s look over a few different ways to secure the best solar panel prices in Virginia.
- Install solar in Virginia in 2023 to take advantage of tax exemptions
- Take advantage of the federal tax credit
- Sign up for Virginia’s Solar Renewable Energy Certificate program
- Get multiple solar quotes
Install Solar in Virginia in 2023 to Take Advantage of Tax Exemptions
As of 2022, some counties in Virginia already offer property tax exemptions for solar power equipment (including panels, inverters and solar batteries) but starting in 2023 the solar property tax exemption will become statewide, thanks to the addition of Chapter 496 to the Code of Virginia.6
With this change, your property taxes won’t increase after you’ve installed a solar system, even though adding solar will increase your home’s value.
Take Advantage of the Federal Tax Credit
The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is the best incentive available to Virginians, worth roughly $9,000 on average.
But we want to be clear that the ITC is not a rebate, but rather a reduction on income taxes that you owe. This credit gets applied to your income taxes for the year your system is installed.
The downside is that if you don’t owe $9,000 in income taxes, you won’t get the full 30%. However, the credit can be rolled over for up to five years.
Sign Up For Virginia’s Solar Renewable Energy Certificate Program (SREC)
Virginia’s Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) program was created in 2020 with the passage of the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA).
The SREC system works similarly to the stock market. When you sign up for Virginia’s SREC program, your SREC broker will automatically sell the SRECs your solar system generates at the going market price.
Be aware that SRECs are considered taxable income on both your federal and state income tax returns. Always consult with a tax expert to help you determine your taxable income. You’ll most likely report your SREC income on Form 1099-MISC if you’ve made $600 or more from selling your SRECs.
Get Multiple Solar Quotes
You should never sign up with the first company to give you a solar estimate. Instead, get a few estimates and compare prices and offerings.
It’s important to realize that the cheapest solar quote won’t always be the best option for you and your home. Be sure to ask each installer how many solar panels you need to offset your energy costs. Some companies, like SunPower, offer higher-efficiency panel brands, so you can get more energy output with a smaller size solar system compared to other brands. That may be a better option for you if you have less roof space.
Here’s a pro tip: if you like one company over another but its prices are much higher, you can use another quote as a bargaining chip for a better deal. Solar companies are very competitive in Virginia because of the state’s rapid solar growth, so use multiple quotes to your advantage.
If you want to start getting free solar quotes from reputable solar companies in Virginia, click the link below to connect with EcoWatch-vetted providers.
What Factors Affect the Cost of Solar Panel Systems in Virginia?
The average solar panel system in Virginia costs around $21,175 after the federal tax credit is applied, but prices range from $15,400 all the way up to $26,950.
The range of possible prices you’ll pay in Virginia is so wide because several factors can swing your price by thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. We’ll discuss the factors that influence your costs below.
Equipment brands make a big difference in terms of pricing and your power production.
Most homeowners don’t need to pay more for highly efficient solar equipment because there is ample sun in Virginia — around 205 sunny days per year, which is right in line with the national average.7
On the other hand, the state is prone to extreme weather, including intense thunderstorms, hurricanes and tropical storms, so some homeowners opt to pay more for high-quality panels that can stand up to abuse and come with above-average warranty coverage.
The type of equipment you choose will also play a role in your pricing. All solar systems include solar panels, but add-on equipment — like electric vehicle chargers and solar batteries — can drive up your price.
Solar batteries are particularly useful, as they can provide power through the frequent outages caused by extreme weather. However, these add-ons can raise your price by thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.
Solar Financing in Virginia
The type of financing you use to acquire your solar panels can also raise or lower your total system price by thousands.
Paying with cash, for example, comes with the highest up-front cash outlay, but you’ll save quite a lot on interest. Paying with a solar loan requires far less money — or none at all — up front, but your all-in price will be higher because of the interest.
Virginia offers homeowners financing via the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. PACE financing can cover 100% of your equipment costs and helps homeowners get a low APR to make solar more affordable overall.
C-PACE is Virginia’s commercial PACE program, which helps businesses convert to solar affordably.
Virginia also offers the Low-to-Moderate Income Solar Loan and Rebate Fund and Program.8 The Virginia Clean Economy Act, which was passed in 2020, also helps low-income households by requiring energy companies to purchase Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) from low-income homes with solar panels installed. There are also several national incentives for lower income households.
Virginia Solar Installation Company
No matter where you live, the installation company you choose to handle your solar conversion will play a role in your overall pricing. This is true for two primary reasons.
First, each solar installer sets its own prices for equipment and labor. You could end up getting the exact same service and equipment for a lower price from a national company, for example, as you would from a local company.
On average, the national solar companies in Virginia — like SunPower and Blue Raven Solar — will have lower prices than local companies which in Virginia include Nova Solar and Virtue Solar. However, local companies often provide discounts and superior customer service to compete with the larger providers.
Second, each solar installer carries certain panel and battery brands that vary in price. For example, SunPower only offers Maxeon-brand solar panels, which are among the most expensive on the market but come with high efficiency and excellent warranty coverage.
Given the price and quality of these panels, SunPower will tend to be a more expensive option than Nova Solar, for example, which offers less-costly panels from REC, LG, Tesla, and SolarEdge. The quality and performance will be lower, but so will the overall price.
Additional Considerations and Costs in Virginia
The primary cost factors above will play the biggest roles in your solar system pricing, but there are some other considerations to think about before committing to a particular company. We’ll briefly explain these other factors below.
- Permits: Each municipal building department in Virginia will require you to get a permit to install solar equipment. You’ll seldom need to do the work of filing for the permit yourself as your installer will typically do this, but you will need to pass inspection and pay the fee.
- Licenses: The State of Virginia requires that all solar contractors have an Alternative Energy System (AES) license in addition to a general contractor license. You should check to ensure that the company you’re hiring has both.
- Warranties: Solar equipment is expensive in Virginia, so it’s important to confirm what type of warranty coverage your panels include. Solar warranties usually cover the equipment, the installation, the performance or all three. The more coverage you have, the better, but the higher the system price will tend to be.
- HOAs: Virginia has legislation in place that prevents homeowners’ associations from stopping you from installing solar panels, so you’re guaranteed to be able to install panels no matter where you live and take advantage of the sun that hits your property.
- Environmental zoning: Some states have zoning codes that might prevent solar installation. Luckily, Virginia’s laws are pro-solar, so you shouldn’t have any issues going solar in the Old Dominion.
Are There Any Maintenance Costs Involved When Going Solar in Virginia?
Solar panels are relatively low-maintenance, so you shouldn’t have to put a lot of money into them once they’re installed. But there are a few maintenance costs that may pop up over the course of their 20- to 30-year lifespan.
On average, solar panel maintenance costs $400 but can range between $300 and $700 depending on the issue. Below we’ll explain what you need to know about solar panel maintenance costs:
Replacing Broken or Cracked Solar Panels
If the glass cracks on your solar panel, it can cost between $120 to $500 per panel to fix. If the panel itself breaks, it’s typically between $150 and $500.
You may be able to have your solar panel crack or break repaired for free if it’s covered under your solar panel company’s warranty, so always check that first. Repairs are typically not covered if the damage is due to weather, which is unfortunate since Virginia does see many types of inclement weather. However, solar panel damage from storms may be covered under your homeowner’s insurance.
Solar Panel Cleaning
If dirt or debris is covering the photovoltaic cells in your solar panels, it will decrease your solar energy output. The average price for solar panel cleaning is between $150 and $330, but costs may increase depending on the height of your house and your roof’s slope and pitch.
It’s recommended to clean your roof once or twice a year, so you could bundle and save by having both your solar panels and roof cleaned at the same time.
Removing Obstructing Trees and Branches
You may think removing or trimming trees is maintenance not directly tied to your solar panels. But if limbs are preventing the sun from reaching your panels, it will greatly inhibit their ability to create solar energy.
Tree trimming costs will vary based on the size of the job and the hours it takes to complete, but you can expect to pay around $320 per hour on average for tree trimming in Virginia and up to $1,500 for tree removal.
Typical Costs of Solar Providers in Virginia
There are more than 70 solar installers based in Virginia and even more that service the state. The best solar panel brand for you is the one that fits your budget and provides the efficiency you need to cover your home’s energy consumption. That often means researching cheaper solar panels or paying extra upfront for more efficient panels that will save money in the long run.
Because Virginia receives plenty of sunlight, most homeowners don’t need to choose the highest-efficiency panels (although it can be helpful.) Virginia is no stranger to severe weather like hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes and hurricanes,9 So you’ll want to choose a brand with a long-lasting warranty and look into solar energy storage options to protect you from blackouts like batteries and generators.
The table below includes a quick look at the relative pricing of the top solar providers and brands available in Virginia to give you an idea of which may be best for your household. Keep in mind that some solar companies may have a variety of solar equipment brands for added price flexibility.
|Solar Panel Brand||Average Cost per Watt ($-$$$$$)|
|Blue Raven Solar||$$|
Read More About Going Solar in Virginia
FAQ: Virginia Solar Panel Costs
The EcoWatch team gets tons of questions from Virginia homeowners about going solar and the costs associated with the conversion. Below are some of the more common questions we see, along with our responses. If you have specific questions that aren’t answered here, reach out to our team of solar experts at email@example.com.
The average cost to install solar panels in Virginia is between $22,000 and $38,500 — or $15,400 and $26,950 after the 30% federal solar tax credit is applied. It’s challenging to estimate where your total will fall within that range because many factors can affect your pricing.
To get a good idea of your price for going solar, you’ll need to consider your home’s size, its energy efficiency, your energy usage, the equipment and installer you choose, local electricity rates, and much more. It’s best to have a reputable solar installer assess your home and come up with an estimate designed to meet your needs and expectations.
Yes, absolutely! Solar panel systems unilaterally increase the value of your home, provided you purchase the system outright or finance using a solar loan. This is especially true in areas like Virginia, where properties are already valuable and desirable, and local utility companies offer great net metering programs.
According to Zillow, solar systems will bump the average home’s value by around 4%.10 Research completed by the Berkeley Lab suggests that you could enjoy an even steeper increase.11 While the exact amount you can expect your home value to jump isn’t known, experts agree that solar is a worthwhile investment in the long run.
The lease vs. buy debate has been ongoing for years, and there really is no universal answer. Leasing and buying options both have their upsides and downsides.
Buying solar panels — via cash purchase or financing — allows you to take advantage of federal tax credits and other solar incentives. It also raises your home value, and you stand to save far more on energy costs over time than you would pay monthly for a solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA). However, purchasing solar can be expensive up front or if you’re only able to secure a loan with high interest rates.
Leasing your solar equipment doesn’t raise your home value nearly as much, and you won’t be able to get the same incentives offered to homeowners who own their systems. Additionally, leasing saves the least amount of money over time on your electric bill. However, leases are some of the most affordable options in the short term, as companies usually don’t charge you high installation fees to get the system up and running.
We typically recommend buying your solar system outright or financing, as these options deliver the most benefits. Luckily, most Virginia homeowners will be able to secure low-APR loans and even no-money-down deals to keep clean energy accessible.
No, solar panels are not free in Virginia. Some companies might advertise that you can get panels for free, but this is usually code for a solar lease, which doesn’t actually help you save much money in the long run.
However, the average solar payback period for an 11 kW system in Virginia is about 13 years. For reference, solar panels typically last 25 years at the very least. This means that after your system has been producing energy for 13 years and you break even on your investment, the energy you produce will essentially be free.
Yes, it is possible to eliminate your electric bills in Virginia by going solar. Virginia receives an average amount of sun, but residents throughout the state enjoy full retail rates for net metering and promising incentives that help to offset energy costs.
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Best National Provider1985SunPower Panels25-year all-inclusive warranty
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