Your Guide to Solar Panels in Arizona: 7 Steps to Solar Panels in Arizona

Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide to Arizona solar panels:

  • The average cost for solar panel systems in AZ
  • How the abundant sunlight in AZ makes it one of the best places in the U.S. to go solar
  • What rebates and tax incentive programs are available to you to reduce up-front and long-term costs of your home solar system
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Arizona ranks fifth in the country for solar adoption, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).1 And for good reason. Arizona gets more sunshine than any other state in the country, residents have high energy demands that can yield above-average energy savings totaling around $24,000 and homeowners pay below-average prices for solar equipment.2,3

Solar conversion is well worth it for most Arizonans. The average cost of a solar system in AZ is above average, around $30,015. However, the state has plenty of solar incentives and rebate programs available to bring costs down, which can save an average of around $9,000 upfront and lead to total savings of over $25,000 in the long run.

Perhaps more importantly, Arizonans pay more for electricity than most U.S. residents, and the state sees more sunny days than any other area in the country. Together, these things lead to above-average savings on utility bills and an increased overall solar system value

We’ll discuss every facet of the installation process in your area in the sections below. You can use the following links to skip to specific sections for the information you need.

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  • Expensive
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Step 1: What to Consider When Buying Solar Panels in Arizona

While converting to solar in Arizona can be profitable, it’s a big commitment that requires some thought and research before diving in. We’ll discuss the most important things to consider in the sections below to determine if solar is right for you.

Research If Solar Panels Are a Good Fit For You in Arizona

Solar is a financially beneficial option for most Arizonans, but you need to figure out if the cost and value are worth it for your home, specifically.

We recommend starting by determining the size of the solar array you’d need to offset your energy bills. Since the energy demands in Arizona are high, chances are your system size will be well above-average and, consequently, more expensive than most U.S. residents would pay.

You can use our solar calculator to figure out how many solar panels you need. The calculator uses satellite imaging to determine the direction your home faces and tree coverage on your roof, both of which can have a major impact on solar production.

We also recommend you consider local weather patterns. Solar panels produce less energy on cloudy days, so areas with longer average sun exposure each year will be best suited for solar conversion. However, many of the top cities for sunny days are located in Arizona, and the state receives above-average sunlight, so this shouldn’t be an issue for most Arizonans.

A key factor in how valuable your solar energy system will be is the availability of net metering, also called net energy metering or NEM. NEM is a billing policy that lets you accrue energy credits to put outward future bills whenever your panels generate more energy than you use.

Net metering in AZ has been phased out by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) in favor of net billing, so the value you’ll see from NEM varies based on your utility company. The NEM programs for the top three electric companies in the area are as follows:

  • Arizona Public Service Company (APS): Uses a Resource Comparison Proxy (RCP) rate for credits, which isn’t ideal. However, the provider will pay you for unused credits at the end of the year if you’ve accrued more than $25 in overproduction.4
  • Tucson Electric Power Company (TEP): TEP also uses an RCP rate for energy credits, which is set at $0.0703 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) through September of 2023.5 You can check the rate schedule for more information.6
  • UNS Electric (Parent Company of UniSource Energy Services): This company also uses an RCP rate for excess energy credits, which is set at $0.0839 through September of 2023.7 You can check out the rate schedule for information and planned changes.8

The table below includes a quick side-by-side analysis of how going solar in Arizona compares to converting to solar power in other states. This should help you realize just how good of an investment solar generally is in your area.

Arizona State Average United States National Average
Solar Power System Size Required 11.5 kW 9 kW
Typical Cost Per Watt to Install Photovoltaic (PV) Equipment $2.61 $2.66
Average Total System Cost Before Federal Solar Tax Credit $30,015 $23,940
Average Federal Credit Value $9,005 $7,182
Average Total System Cost After Federal Credit $21,011 $16,758
Average Panel Payback Period 12 years 12 years
Average Lifetime Savings of Converting to Solar $23,891 $22,379

As you can see, converting to solar is more costly initially for Arizonans than for most U.S. residents, primarily because of the above-average system size needed to offset energy consumption. However, those above-average electric bills you’ll continue to save money on will eventually yield greater savings over time.

Research How to Finance Solar Panels

Once you’ve decided that solar is a financially sound option for you, you’ll need to decide how you’re going to pay for your solar project. This is an especially important step in Arizona, where the average cost to convert is well above the national average.

First, we suggest using our solar calculator to determine what your system is likely going to cost you. Then, you can decide which of the four payment options works best for you. We’ll list the options below, along with a brief description of how they work and the perks and drawbacks of each.

  • Cash purchase: This involves paying the entire cost of your system initially in cash, which isn’t feasible for every homeowner. However, if you can afford it, this option will lead to the most affordable panel ownership and the greatest savings. It also allows you to take all of the solar tax incentives available in AZ.
  • Solar loan: A solar loan is a financing option that lets you put minimal or no money down and pay monthly — principal plus interest — for your system. You’ll end up spending more in total for your equipment due to the interest, which reduces your savings. However, this makes going solar far more affordable initially.
  • Solar lease: When you enter into a solar lease, you pay a monthly fee to rent the panels and you get to enjoy the energy the system generates. This comes with no upfront cost, but it also prevents you from taking advantage of the federal tax credit and yields lower savings than cash purchases and loans.
  • Power Purchase Agreement (PPA): A PPA is an agreement where a company installs panels for free and you pay for the energy they generate to offset your utility bills. This leads to the lowest savings overall and precludes you from enjoying the ITC. But, it comes with no initial cost.

We recommend weighing the pros and cons of solar and the solar financing options above to figure out which is best for your needs and your budget. But pay careful attention to your panel payback period, which is the time it takes for your savings to offset the cost of going solar. This is a great metric to use to figure out which payment option works best for you and is affordable both upfront and over time.

Step 2: Getting a Quote from a Solar Provider

Once you’ve determined that going solar will benefit you, it’s time to reach out to solar installation companies to get quotes. Free quotes that use satellite imaging are great for roundabout numbers, but the process detailed in the following sections will get you a specific price for a system custom fit to your home.

Picking a Solar Installer

Your first step in getting a solar quote is to choose the best solar installer for your needs. This can be a complicated process that involves a lot of research, especially since there are around 150 installation companies that serve the state.9 Ideally, you’ll want to find an installer that provides all of the following:

  • Years of experience in the local solar industry
  • Licensing and certification from organizations like NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners)
  • Affordable pricing and accessible financing options
  • Coverage in your service area
  • Warranty coverage for equipment, labor and panel performance
  • Positive customer reviews and testimonials

Some of the best solar companies in Arizona that operate on a national level include:

If you’re looking for a regional or local company for a more personalized approach, we recommend the below solar contractors:

  • Elevation
  • Sun Valley Solar Solutions
  • Verde Solar Power

You can check out our guide to choosing the best solar company in AZ for more information on these providers and additional recommendations in your area.

What to Expect After Requesting a Quote

Your first step once you choose a solar company is to provide your contact information, which you can do online with the majority of providers. Once you do, a sales representative will reach out to you to discuss this further.

During the call, you should expect to provide personal information, like your address and name. You’ll also need to provide the rep with a recent electric bill so that they can determine your monthly energy needs to size your system appropriately. They should also discuss your payment options and available incentives with you.

If you’re ready to move forward with your solar project after the call, the rep will send your information to the design team. In this stage of the process, a system will be designed specifically to fit your home and provide ample energy based on your average monthly consumption.

We recommend avoiding solar companies that don’t send a rep out to inspect your home in person at this stage. Accurate pricing and system sizing really require an in-person inspection and measurements of your roof for mounting and wire routing.

Once this inspection is completed, the design team will provide a formal estimate or solar proposal. This documentation should include the following information:

  • The brand of panels and the number of panels that suits your home and energy demands
  • Where the panels will be installed
  • How the wiring will be routed to your electric meter
  • The total cost of your system both before and after the federal tax credit and other incentive programs
  • The estimated monthly and annual production you can expect from your system
  • Warranty information for your system and service
  • A proposed installation and connection date
  • Information on permitting fees and whether they’re included in your total
  • Information on your payment option (including payment deadlines if applicable)
  • How much money you can expect your panels to save you on energy costs over time
  • How long those savings will take to pay off the entire system (your panel payback period)

A representative should contact you to discuss the proposal and address any questions or concerns you may have about the process. They should discuss your payment options and when any money is due. They may also give you access to an online portal where documentation is available about your system plan.

Although this process is involved, we recommend going through it with two to three installation companies. Getting multiple quotes lets you compare quality and cost to choose the installer that benefits you most. Plus, having multiple quotes sometimes leads installers to price match or “sweeten the pot” with add-ons and discounts.

Consider Purchasing Solar Accessories

All residential PV systems include panels and inverters, but there is a wealth of add-ons that you can choose from to customize your setup. Below are some of the most popular options for solar add-ons and upgrades in Arizona:

  • Solar batteries: Solar energy storage solutions are most valuable in areas where net energy metering isn’t available. However, they’re also a good option in Arizona due to the high energy consumption and the fact that net energy metering is only mandated at the avoided-cost rate for electricity. Batteries drive up your initial installation costs but can end up saving you more over time. They can also provide power during power outages, which occur frequently in the area due to high energy demands and strain on the grid.
  • Electric vehicle (EV) chargers: According to local news sources, Arizona ranks seventh in the country in terms of EV ownership.10 The state is such a great place for EVs combined with solar panels because of the abundant clean energy from solar available in the area.
  • Solar carports: Arizonans need above-average PV systems — 11.5 kW as compared to the 9 kW most Americans require. Some roofs are simply not large enough to accommodate a system of this size, and some structures aren’t approved to support that much additional weight. Solar carports are, therefore, a popular option because they give you additional panel mounting space to bump up your total system size.
  • Other energy efficiency home improvements: Since residents see such extreme weather, like average monthly temperatures over 100 degrees for four months out of the year, energy efficiency improvements are also popular options for reducing electric bills. These include smart thermostat installation, new insulation, window and door replacement, air sealing and more.

Step 3: Signing a Solar Contract in Arizona

Once you’ve found the installer you’re most comfortable hiring and you’ve figured out the system components and add-ons you need, you can move forward with signing a solar contract. We’ll include some information on what to look for in your contract in the following sections.

How Do Solar Warranties Work in Arizona?

We recommend first looking at the solar warranty information included with your contract. There are three different types of warranty coverages to look for:

  • Equipment warranties: Equipment warranties are typically provided by the manufacturer (they’re sometimes called manufacturer warranties) and cover things like product defects that can cause system malfunctions and damage to your property. Most of the major panel manufacturers in the U.S. offer equipment warranties that last between 20 and 25 years.
  • Production/efficiency warranties: A particularly important warranty option in Arizona is the efficiency warranty, which guarantees that your panel will continue functioning at or above a given level for a predetermined amount of time. Some of the best efficiency warranties last for 25 years and guarantee no more than a 20% drop in efficiency in that time. This is the case with SunPower’s efficiency warranty. This coverage is so crucial in your area because high-efficiency ratings mean you can take full advantage of the abundant sunlight for decades after installation, ultimately bumping up your long-term energy savings.
  • Labor warranties: Labor warranties protect your system and home from damages caused by improper installation. Most don’t include roof leak protection, although this isn’t terribly important in the Grand Canyon State, which sees far less rain than most other states per year.11 The typical labor warranty lasts for ten years.

When Can I Expect Solar Service to Go Live?

From the day you sign your solar contract to the day your system is installed and turned on — as in, solar offers power to your home — you’re looking at a time frame of between two and four months. This includes time for:

  • Your installer to design your system
  • Getting approval for the system design from the building department
  • Securing the building permit (depending on your location, this step can cause delays)
  • Scheduling the installation (keep in mind that Arizona solar installations are in high demand, so this step can cause some delays)
  • Carrying out the installation
  • Scheduling and completing the final inspection

One of the most important milestones in the solar process is the permitting process, which we’ll discuss in greater depth in the next section. For now, understand that your local building department can cause delays and can sometimes take days or even weeks to approve system designs and issue permits.

This process varies quite a bit, though. For example, Maricopa County has expedited solar permit processing processes to get permits issued within one business day.12

There may be additional permits required for your system as well. For example, the City of Phoenix requires fire safety permits for all PV systems. It offers “over-the-counter” permits for systems between 3 and 15 kW, which will include most residential systems.13 Other building departments may take longer, which will prolong your installation timeline.

Thankfully, the weather in Arizona — the sunniest state in the nation — is conducive to rooftop solar installations. As such, weather conditions shouldn’t cause delays like they would in states with more frequent inclement weather.

Solar Panel Permits in Arizona

All PV system installations completed in Arizona will require building permits, although the permitting process is governed and mandated by individual municipalities. Your solar installation company will handle the permit filing for you, so you won’t need to worry about filling out paperwork with your local building department.

However, you will need to be present for the final inspection, which your installation company should schedule for you.

The typical cost of a building permit for solar adoption in the state is around $350, which is well above average in the country. Your total will vary based on which city you live in.

For example, the cost for a solar permit in Phoenix ranges from $225 up to $600 depending on the plans submitted and how many inspections are required.13 The cost for a solar permit in Scottsdale is just $150 for residential systems.14

In any case, your permit and inspection fees should be included in your total conversion cost estimated by your installer. You may want to confirm that, though, as some companies might leave those charges out.

Solar & Utility Interconnection

Interconnection is the term used to describe how your solar panel system will interact with the electric grid once it’s active. Through interconnection, energy can pass back and forth between your system and the grid, and the net movement is monitored using your electric meter.

Interconnection is required to take part in net metering, and it requires an application filed with your utility company. The application process varies based on which electric company you have, so you’ll have to look up the specifics for your provider.

For example, APS has an online application that can be initiated by the solar customer (you) or the installer.15 TEP customers can log in to the TEP PowerClerk system and complete the interconnection application online as well.16

In most cases, your installation company will handle the net metering application process for you. You should confirm with your chosen company that a representative will complete and submit the required paperwork.

The interconnection application process can make activating your PV system take a bit longer. However, given how much value you’ll see from net metering in AZ, it’s well worth the wait.

Step 4: What to Expect on Solar Panel Installation Day in Arizona

From start to finish, the process of installing and connecting your panels should take between 6 and 10 hours, although some companies with larger installation teams may get it done more quickly. With the typical solar panel system size in Arizona being so large, it’s possible that some installers will split the work between two days.

Most solar customers anticipating their installation day tend to ask this question: “do I need to be home for solar panel installation?” Yes, you should expect to be home for the entirety of the solar installation process. Your installers will likely need access to the interior of your home throughout the day.

If your solar installer has scheduled the final inspection on the installation day, you should account for an even longer day of being home and available. Solar inspections take one hour, on average, so you can tack that onto the full installation estimate above.

Step 5: Final Inspection for Installed Solar Panels in Arizona

It’s common to have your final inspection done on installation day, but if that’s not the case, your solar installation company will coordinate a date and time in the future for you to meet the building inspector.

The time it takes for the inspection to be completed will vary wildly among different inspectors. Some complete a drive-by inspection, while others will want to get on the roof to confirm everything was hooked up properly.

If you have solar battery storage or EV chargers inside, the inspector will likely want to see those pieces of equipment as well to confirm they are up to code and installed safely.

Inspections often seem like unnecessary red tape or ways for your building department to charge more money. But they’re required to ensure installers do their jobs correctly. Ultimately, an improperly installed system could lead to property damage, fires and dangerous or deadly electrocution risks for those working on power lines.

After the inspector confirms that the system is connected properly, you’ll be responsible for confirming it continues to work as intended. You’ll often be set up with solar monitoring software — like the apps provided by SunPower and Tesla — to keep an eye on production and consumption. Your installer should show you how to use this software.

Step 6: Permission to Operate (PTO) in Arizona

The final step in the process is getting permission to operate (PTO), which is the official confirmation that your system can be turned on to begin generating power for your home. The electrical inspector from your power company will usually be the one to provide this, at which point you can turn your system on.

Your installation company may return to your home to help you activate the system. Otherwise, they should have shown you how to use the on switch and the emergency shut-off switch. You can also ask your installer for information on using the monitoring software if you haven’t gotten instructions already.

Lastly, you should have emergency contact numbers on hand in case you run into a serious problem — like a fire — with your solar system. We’ll list the numbers below for the largest electric companies in Arizona. Keep in mind that all power companies advise you to call 911 and then contact their emergency lines.

  • Arizona Public Service (APS): 855-688-2437
  • Tucson Electric Power Company (TEP): 520-623-3451
  • UNS Electric (Parent Company of UniSource Energy Services): 877-837-4968

Step 7: Sit Back and Enjoy Your Solar Energy in Arizona

Now that your system is active and providing power to your home, you can sit back, relax and enjoy the energy saving it’s providing and the reduction to your carbon footprint. You can monitor your panels in live time if you have an app or website for solar monitoring, and you can check your energy bills to see reductions and accrued net energy metering credits.

Keep in mind that your PV system is expected to provide immense value even if you don’t live in the home long enough to turn a profit on your system. Converting to solar boosts your home value by an average of 4.1%, so it’s really a win-win situation for you.17

FAQ: Solar Panels in Arizona

Below, we’ll answer some of the most common questions we see about the solar conversion process from Arizona homeowners.


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Article author
Dan Simms is an experienced writer with a passion for renewable energy. As a solar and EV advocate, much of his work has focused on the potential of solar power and deregulated energy, but he also writes on related topics, like real estate and economics. In his free time — when he's not checking his own home's solar production — he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, skiing and rock climbing.
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Expert reviewer
Kristina Zagame is a journalist, editor and content writer with expertise in solar and other energy-related topics. Before joining EcoWatch, Kristina was a TV news reporter and producer, covering a wide variety of topics including West Coast wildfires and hurricane relief efforts. Kristina’s reporting has taken her all over the U.S., as well as to Puerto Rico and Chile.

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