Alabama Solar Panel Buyers Guide (Installation & Efficiency 2022)
Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide to Alabama solar panels:
- The average price of solar panels in AL
- Factors that affect the system size you need
- Solar rebates and incentives available to save money and increase energy savings
How to Get Solar Panels in Alabama
When you’re ready to go solar in AL, you’ll first need to choose a provider and request a free quote. The company will review your energy bills to determine your average consumption and will likely do an inspection of your property to determine its suitability for solar. Next, you’ll choose from cash, a solar loan, a solar lease or a power purchase agreement (PPA) for payment.
Once the system is designed and you’ve approved it, the installation company will pull permits for the work. Finally, your system will be installed and will begin producing power for your home.
Most AL residents benefit greatly from solar investment. Panels make your home more environmentally friendly by reducing your carbon footprint, but they can also provide massive savings on utility bills that cover the system installation cost and leave you with an additional $28,500 in savings on top of that.
Creative Solar USA
Eagle Solar & Light
What Is the Price of Solar Panel Installation in Alabama?
Alabama homeowners enjoy some of the lowest solar equipment costs in the country, with an average per-watt price of $2.45. For the typical 11.5 kilowatt (kW) system needed in The Yellowhammer State, the average all-in cost is just over $28,000, or around $19,700 after the federal Residential Clean Energy Credit is taken.
In the U.S., the average panel payback period — the time it takes for solar savings to offset the system installation cost — is around 12 years. Photovoltaic (PV) equipment is slightly more valuable in AL than in most other states, as the average payback period in the area is just 11 years.
You can read more about solar value and up-front costs in your area by checking out our solar pricing guide for Alabamans.
The Best Solar Panel Brands Available in Alabama
Alabama is ranked 31st in the nation for solar adoption by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).1 Despite this relatively low ranking, most of the larger equipment brands still make their solar components available to customers in the state.
Each brand differs in quality, energy efficiency, warranty and cost. because AL is prone to extreme weather such as tornadoes and thunderstorms that can damage solar equipment, Alabamans should prioritize warranty coverage and durability when choosing their solar equipment.
Below are some of the most common panel brands installed in Alabama, all of which include robust warranty coverage to provide peace of mind.
- Maxeon (formerly SunPower brand)
- Canadian Solar
- Mission Solar
- Trina Solar
- LG (soon leaving the solar industry)
Is Alabama a Good State for Solar Panels?
Although AL on the whole has been slow to adopt solar energy, it’s still an outstanding place to go solar and solar systems in the state are capable of producing some of the highest energy savings in the nation. Below, we’ll discuss some of the factors that make PV systems so valuable in The Yellowhammer State.
- Below-average equipment costs: First off, the average price per watt for PV equipment is around 21 cents lower in AL than the U.S. average. For an 11.5 kW (kilowatt) system that’s typical for the area, that equates to approximately $2,415 in savings. Of course, paying less for the equipment means you get more bang for your buck, and your up-front costs will be lower.
- Plenty of sunshine: AL residents enjoy around 213 sunny days per year, which is above the nationwide average of 205.2 Solar equipment relies on available sunlight for power production, so having more sun exposure means more of your energy bills can be offset using solar energy. This provides a higher return on investment and makes solar PV systems even more valuable in the area.
- Frequent power outages: Alabamans are well acquainted with extreme weather, including thunderstorms and some of the highest rates of intense tornadoes in the country.3 These weather conditions mean that power outages occur frequently. In fact, AL is one of the states most prone to blackouts in the U.S.4 As a result, rooftop solar systems with solar batteries included for backup power are more valuable in the area than in most other states.
- Above-average energy needs: Finally, while AL residents pay around average electricity rates, they use way more electricity than most Americans. With an average monthly consumption of 1,145 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month, the state has the fourth-highest energy demands in the country.5 High energy consumption means your energy bills will be higher as well. Solar energy becomes more valuable when electric bills are high because they have more costs to offset and save.
How Much Energy Can I Get From Solar Panels in Alabama?
The amount of energy your panels will produce depends on a variety of factors. This makes it very challenging to estimate your production rates without a complete property assessment. We’ll discuss some of the more significant factors to consider below.
- The orientation of your roof: The U.S. Department of Energy notes that solar systems installed on south-facing roofs will generate the most electricity in North America.6 The reason for this is that the sun is located in the southern portion of the sky for most of the day, so panels angled in that direction will get the most intense sunlight. This translates to a higher level of production.
- The type of panels you install: One of the things you’ll need to consider when choosing a panel brand is the efficiency rating. This tells you how much of the available sunlight will be usable for energy generation. The higher the efficiency rating, the more power the panels will provide. Currently, SunPower holds the record for the highest efficiency rating.
- The size of your solar power system: Adding more panels to your system will always increase your energy production, provided other factors are equal. However, it’s not always beneficial to just add more panels, as in most cases it becomes less and less cost effective as you size up.
- Impediments to sun exposure: Shading on your roof will need to be assessed before your installer can calculate an accurate system size for your home. Any obstruction of the sunlight to your panels — including tree coverage or shading from buildings or utility lines — can cause a drop in production capacity.
- The weather: Finally, the weather can play a role in how much energy your panels produce. Cloud coverage can drop efficiency by up to 90%. The average local weather conditions will need to be considered by your installer before determining what size system you need to offset your utility bills.
Although an accurate estimate for solar production depends on many factors, you can get a rough idea of your solar production based on system size in your area in the chart below.
|Solar Power System Size||Expected Daily Energy Produced||Expected Monthly Energy Produced||Expected Annual Energy Produced|
|9 kW||30 kWh||900 kWh||10,800 kWh|
|10 kW||33.3 kWh||1,000 kWh||12,000 kWh|
|11 kW||36.6 kWh||1,100 kWh||13,200 kWh|
|12 kW||40 kWh||1,200 kWh||14,400 kWh|
|13 kW||43.3 kWh||1,300 kWh||15,600 kWh|
|14 kW||46.6 kWh||1,400 kWh||16,800 kWh|
|15 kW||50 kWh||1,500 kWh||18,000 kWh|
We also recommend using our solar estimates tool for a more customized calculation. This tool takes local data into account — including sun exposure on your property — to give you a good idea of how much electricity your rooftop solar system will produce.
Solar Panel Policy History in Alabama
Alabama is far from the most solar-friendly state, so it has a minimal history of passing pro-solar legislation and enacting policies that make solar more appealing.
The only statewide policy that promoted solar adoption came in 2016. This was the year the property tax exemption for renewable energy facilities was first offered. This exemption prevents your property taxes from increasing as a result of installing solar equipment.
In addition to this single perk, AL has taken some steps toward improving overall energy efficiency policies statewide.
For example, in 2006, a piece of legislation was passed mandating that all newly constructed state buildings — schools, government agencies and others — conform to energy-efficient building standards.
Similarly, in 2010, the Alabama Energy and Residential Code (AERC) applied energy-efficient building codes to all new construction in the state. These rules took effect in 2016.
AL is currently one of the few states that has yet to adopt a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal. These goals have proven to be critical for expanding local solar industries. Hopefully, The Yellowhammer State will implement an RPS goal soon, as that would likely lead to additional solar benefits becoming available.
However, since hydroelectric power makes up the majority of AL’s renewable energy sources, it’s possible that solar perks will take a back seat to clean energy incentives in general.
Importantly, the Alabama Public Service Commission (PSC) has yet to implement a mandated net metering program. Net metering has historically been one of the most crucial incentives for solar customers. Instead, companies like Alabama Power impose a charge for interconnection, which is working against solar adoption in the state.
What Are the Solar Panel Incentives in Alabama?
As you might have guessed, based on the lack of pro-solar policies and legislation mentioned above, there are very few solar benefit programs available in AL. We’ll discuss the perks that are available below.
- Residential Clean Energy Credit: This tax credit is provided by the federal government and is available to all AL homeowners. The credit is equal to 30% of your entire system cost, which comes out to an average of just under $8,500 in AL. This amount gets credited to your income tax burden, which effectively reduces the all-in cost of your solar electric system.
- Property tax exemption: Normally, a home improvement project like installing solar panels raises your property value and causes your property taxes to go up.7 This exemption prevents that from happening, which helps solar customers avoid a tax downside of converting to solar.
- Local efficiency incentives: Finally, some local municipalities and utility companies in AL — like the City of Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) — provide rebates to incentivize energy efficiency upgrades. While these don’t include cashback incentives for PV system installation, they do help reduce the costs of installing improvements like energy-efficient windows, LED lighting and new appliances.
For more information on how to take advantage of these perks or to see if there are additional local incentives available to you, you can check out our guide to Alabama solar incentives available in 2022.
Find a Local Installer in Alabama
One of the most critical decisions you’ll need to make when deciding to go solar in AL is the installer you hire to handle your solar project.
Each solar company in AL provides a different level of customer service, offers varying warranties and equipment brands and comes at a unique cost. All of these factors and your overall experience depend on the company to which you entrust your solar installation.
To help you narrow down your selection and focus on reliable companies in your area, we’ll include some links below to reviews of the top solar installers in major cities throughout AL.
You can also check out our guide to choosing a solar installer in AL for more general company recommendations outside of these cities.