7 Steps to Solar Panels in Georgia (2023)

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

  • What the process of converting to clean energy looks like in GA
  • The average cost of a solar power system in the area
  • Factors that can influence your panel production
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Georgia is the seventh most popular place to go solar in the U.S., according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).1 While solar popularity doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good option, most homeowners in the state will see massive energy savings by converting, totaling over $23,000, on average.

Going solar is usually well worth the cost in GA, with most homeowners breaking even on their investment in just 12 years — around average in the country — and then saving big on energy bills thereafter. Although the total cost of Georgia solar conversions is above-average, the cost per kilowatt (kW) is below average, so the value-to-price ratio is higher than in most states.

Additionally, while the solar incentives in GA aren’t the best, the ones that are available can still help you save thousands on your photovoltaic (PV) equipment.

Below, we’ll be walking you through the solar conversion process step-by-step. You can also use the links below to navigate to a particular step for more information.

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Step 1: What to Consider When Buying Solar Panels in Georgia

With the average cost of a solar array totaling around $28,050 in Georgia before any rebates or tax credits, investing in this clean energy source is a big commitment. Below are some important things we recommend you consider before jumping in and signing any contracts.

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

The large majority of residents find that solar adoption in Georgia is an outstanding investment , but you should do some of your own research to confirm that it’s a good idea in your specific area.

We first recommend figuring out approximately how many solar panels you’ll need to offset your energy bills. You can use our free solar calculator to get an idea of your required solar capacity. The larger your system, the more it will cost, but the more energy it will generate to provide you with energy savings.

Georgia is the 15th sunniest state in the country, with residents seeing an average of 218 sunny days per year, well above the national average.2,3

However, it’s still worth looking into how much sunlight your particular area gets. Solar panels don’t produce as much energy on cloudy days, so residents in sunnier cities will naturally see more value from their panels. Still, most Georgians will see huge savings.

One of the most important factors to consider is the net metering policy (net energy metering or NEM) that’s available to you.

Basically, net energy metering lets you sell back excess energy your panels generate to offset your electric bills. Net metering in GA — also called the solar buyback program — is not mandated by the Public Service Commission (PSC), so many customers will not have access to this money-saving perk. However, some utility companies in the area do offer net energy metering or similar arrangements.

For example, Georgia Power, the largest electric company in the state, does not have an open net metering program. However, it does offer renewable and non-renewable (RNR) tariffs that mimic NEM. The solar programs are currently closed, but new customers can be put on a waiting list for access.4

Central Georgia Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) does have net energy metering available to customers, and there is currently no cap on how many individuals can enroll.5

We encourage you to check with your electricity provider for information on the net energy metering program available to you. Be sure to ask about the credit rate as well (how much you’re paid for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) you send to the grid) as this determines how valuable the program is to you and how much you’ll save over time.

The table below includes a look at some solar conversion statistics for Georgians, including the average cost of solar panels and typical savings. We’ll also include these statistics for the country as a whole to show just how valuable solar is in the Peach State.

Georgia State Average United States National Average
Solar Power System Size Required 11 kW 9 kW
Typical Cost Per Watt to Install Photovoltaic (PV) Equipment $2.55 $2.66
Average Total System Cost Before Federal Solar Income Tax Credit $28,050 $23,940
Average Federal Credit Value $8,415 $7,182
Average Total System Cost After Federal Credit $19,635 $16,758
Average Panel Payback Period 12 years 12 years
Average Lifetime Savings of Converting to Solar $23,182 $22,379

Research How to Finance Solar Panels

Once you confirm that solar is a viable option for your home, you can start researching the different payment methods available and deciding which one works best for you.

If you haven’t done so already, now is a good time to use our solar calculator to figure out the solar energy system size required to offset your energy bills. Once you know the kilowatts you need to install, you can use the average price per watt in the state — $2.55 — to figure out an approximate total system cost.
The calculator determines the solar panel system size you’ll likely need to offset your utility bills. As such, you can use these numbers to calculate your approximate solar panel payback period — the time it takes to see a return on investment — and your expected lifetime savings.

One of the biggest upsides of going solar is the money you’ll save on monthly energy bills. You can estimate your savings to nail down budgeting for whichever solar financing option you choose. We’ll list the four options you have below, along with some brief information on how each one works.

  • Cash purchase: With a cash purchase, you pay for your system upfront, which is prohibitively expensive for many people. However, you’ll enjoy the lowest overall system cost, you’ll see the shortest panel payback period and you’ll have access to all incentives, including the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC).
  • Solar loan: A solar loan involves financing your panels and paying interest over the length of the loan. The interest drives up the all-in price to go solar and extends the payback period a bit, but you get the benefit of paying a small amount of money upfront rather than the typical $28,000.
  • Solar lease: A solar lease is when you lease the panels — you pay a monthly fee to rent them — and get to use all of the energy they generate. Leases come with no down payment and don’t require good credit in most cases. However, the ROI is significantly lower, you’ll never own your panels and you cannot take the ITC.
  • Power Purchase Agreement (PPA): A PPA is when a company installs panels for free, and you buy the electricity they generate, usually at a discounted price. These agreements are the least appealing options financially for most people, and they don’t let you take the federal tax credit. However, they have no down payment requirements and no monthly costs.

Step 2: Getting a Quote from a Solar Provider

Once you confirm that you can afford to convert to solar and know which financing option works best for you and your budget, you can move on to the quoting process. We’ll walk through what you can expect at this point and the steps you need to take to get formal estimates.

Picking a Solar Installer

Choosing a solar contractor seems straightforward, but, in reality, it’s often one of the most challenging and time-consuming parts of moving to clean energy. The process is made more challenging by the fact that there are nearly 70 installers available in your area.6

There are quite a few things you should consider when deciding on an installation company. Some of the most crucial elements to think about include the following:

  • Experience in the solar industry — at least five years is recommended.
  • Warranty coverage included with your system.
  • At least one technician on each team holding certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).
  • Affordable pricing and financing options that suit you and your budget.
  • Generally positive customer reviews.

In our opinion, some of the best solar companies in GA that also operate on a national level include:

Some local installers that meet our criteria for being responsible and reliable include:

  • Renu Energy Solutions
  • Creative Solar USA

What to Expect After Requesting a Quote

After you provide your information to a solar company that you trust, a representative should reach out to set up an initial consultation. These can be done in person or virtually, but the latter is more common.

During the consultation, you should plan to provide some information about you and your home — including your address, your energy needs and what major appliances or heating/cooling systems you have running on electricity. The sales rep will also ask for a copy of a recent electric bill to determine your average monthly consumption.

Following the consultation, your solar project will be passed to the design team, which will create a system plan to fit your property and meet your energy needs. The sales rep will then set up a follow-up appointment to discuss the solar proposal. The proposal should contain the following:

  • How many panels your home will need (total system size).
  • How much energy your system is expected to generate per month and per year.
  • The type and brand of panels to be installed.
  • Plans for where everything will be mounted, including panels, inverters, wiring conduits and add-on products like solar batteries.
  • Your total system cost before and after financial incentives are applied.
  • How much you stand to save by converting to solar; some companies will also include your “energy burden,” which is used to compare your solar savings with how much you’d spend by not going solar.
  • An estimated PV panel payback period.
  • Permitting fees.
  • A proposed installation timeline.
  • Information about your warranty coverage.
  • Information about how and when payments should be made.

We recommend getting two or three quotes, at a minimum, even though the process can be time-consuming. It’s always beneficial to have multiple estimates so that you can compare the cost and the quality you get for your money. Having a few quotes on hand can also lead to installers price matching, which could get you even more for the same cost.

Consider Purchasing Solar Accessories

As you’re gathering quotes, you’re also in a good position to start thinking about any add-on products you might want. We’ll include some of the most popular options in Georgia below.

  • Solar batteries: Solar storage solutions are quite popular in your area because net energy metering isn’t mandated in the state. Not only do batteries provide power through blackouts — which are more common than in most other states — but they also effectively let you enjoy NEM, which can save you money over time.7
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers: EVs are increasingly popular in the state, with more than a 40% uptick in new EVs purchased last year alone.8 Installing a charging station alongside your panels lets you take the federal tax credit for a larger portion of your equipment rather than adding on an EV charger later.
  • Solar carports: Solar carports give you additional roof space to house panels, which can be helpful in areas like the Peach State, where above-average system sizes are required. Carports can help reach the system size you need to offset energy without adding additional weight to the roof of your main structure.
  • Energy efficient home improvements: Energy consumption is abnormally high in your area, in large part because air conditioners are used for long periods to combat the hot and humid summers.9 Many solar providers also offer energy efficiency upgrades to help further reduce energy costs and improve efficiency.

Step 3: Signing a Solar Contract in Georgia

Once you find a solar quote that you’re comfortable with and know exactly what equipment you want to be installed in and on your home, you can move forward with signing a contract. We’ll provide a quick look at what this process entails in the following sections.

How Do Solar Warranties Work in Georgia?

One of the first things we recommend looking at in your contract language is the warranty coverage. Warranties are important no matter where you live, but they’re especially crucial in areas like Georgia, where system costs are high, and the risk of damage to panels from extreme weather is also elevated.

There are three types of warranties you can look for in your contract:

  • Labor Warranties: A labor warranty is a good way to rule out unreliable installers, as only those comfortable with and experienced in installing solar will offer them. These warranties cover the installation labor and ensure that no mistakes are made that lead to property damage. We recommend looking specifically for roof leak coverage, as many companies don’t offer it, and it’s quite helpful in your area, where the annual rainfall is well above average.10 The average workmanship warranty is for ten years.
  • Equipment Warranties: PV equipment warranties protect you from manufacturer defects, which can cause damage to your system and home and decrease panel performance. Most manufacturers cover their products for 25 years.
  • Panel Efficiency Warranties: Efficiency guarantees ensure that your panels maintain a certain percentage of their peak production capabilities for a given amount of time. The standard is 80% to 90% over 20 to 25 years, but longer terms and higher percentages are always better.

When Can I Expect Solar Service to Go Live?

From the time you sign your solar contract, you can expect to wait approximately six to twelve weeks for your system to be installed. There are a few things that can slow this process down, including:

  • Your solar contractor; high demand in the area could mean delays based on scheduling
  • Your permitting process; some customers see permitting taking much longer than others
  • Equipment availability; some products — like Tesla Powerwalls — are commonly on backorder and may cause months-long delays in installation completion

If you’re installing panels during hurricane season, then the weather could be another factor that causes delays. It’s unsafe to install rooftop solar systems in heavy rain or during periods of strong winds.

Solar Panel Permits in Georgia

Every municipality in the state has building permit requirements for PV equipment installations.

Some municipalities — like the City of Dalton — have a dedicated solar permit, while others mandate electrical permits instead.10 In either case, your solar contractor will typically handle the permitting process for you, so you don’t have to worry about this step much. However, you may want to confirm that your installer is pulling permits.

The fees for solar permits vary based on where you live. For example, the DeKalb County building department requires just an electrical permit, which totals $120.11

The Athens-Clarke County building department charges fees based on total materials and labor costs. Given the average system total in the area, the fee comes out to $144.12 The City of Atlanta uses a similar structure, and the fee comes out to around $196.13

You can always reach out to your local building department for a fee schedule, but your installer should also be familiar with the charges in your area and include them in your initial estimate.

Solar & Utility Interconnection

Interconnection refers to how your home solar PV system interacts with and connects to the electric grid. Interconnection is necessary for net energy metering, as it allows for monitoring of the two-way flow of energy.

Most utility companies require an application for interconnection, which should be submitted directly to the power provider. For example, Georgia Power requires a Notice of Intent to be submitted prior to approval.14 The process of being included in the program can be tracked on the company’s online QF Manager.

Central Georgia EMC customers can fill out the interconnection agreement, which is located under Appendix B of the Distributed Generation Policy.15

Thankfully, most PV equipment installers in your area will handle the application process for you, so you won’t need to worry about filling out or submitting paperwork. The process of getting approved and enrolled in interconnection can extend your installation and connection timelines, but it’s worth it because of the benefits afforded to you by net energy metering.

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

On the day of your installation, you can expect your contractor to show up with a small team to install your panels and other equipment. They’ll be up on your roof for most of the day, so you should expect some noise inside.

Lots of solar customers ask, “do I need to be home for solar panel installation?” The answer is yes. While the installers will spend the majority of the time on the roof putting your panels up, they may also need access to the interior of your home. They’ll definitely need access if you’re having add-on products, like solar batteries, installed in an interior area, like a garage.

Solar installations take between six and ten hours in your area, on average. Some companies may take a bit longer and split the work into two or more days, as the required system size is above-average and involves installing more pieces of equipment.

Your installer may also schedule an inspection to be done on the installation day, which can take an additional hour. This involves a representative from your electric company inspecting the system to make sure it’s safe to turn on.

Step 5: Final Inspection for Installed Solar Panels in Georgia

In addition to the inspection done by your utility provider, you’ll also need a final inspection carried out by your building department. This typically gets scheduled by your solar contractor, although you’ll need to be home to provide the inspector access if needed.

The purpose of this inspection is two-fold. First, it helps the power company confirm that your system is installed according to the building, safety and fire codes. Second, it allows the building department to close out the permit, which will prevent issues if you go to sell your home at any point after the installation is completed.

Some municipalities in Georgia charge for final inspections. The fee is usually nominal, and it should be included in your initial solar quote. You might need to pay a re-inspection fee if you fail to be present for the first scheduled inspection. This fee is usually fairly low. For example, the City of Savannah charges $75 for each re-inspection.

After your inspection is done, it’s up to you to monitor your system to ensure it works properly. Your installer should give you access to monitoring software, provided your panel or battery manufacturer offers it. This will let you keep an eye on production, consumption and net metering credits, if applicable.

Step 6: Permission to Operate (PTO) in Georgia

Once the inspections are done on your system, you should be granted permission to operate (PTO). The PTO confirms that your system is safe to activate and operate.

At this point, you may want to ask your installer about monitoring software if they haven’t already gone over that with you. They should be able to help you set up the app and get your system connected to start tracking. Monitoring software is provided by many big manufacturers, including SunPower, Tesla and QCells.

You should also know where your emergency shut-off is — outside, usually near your electric meter — so ask about that if you don’t.

Just in case any emergencies arise — like a fire — you should also have the emergency contact number for your electricity provider. We’ll include the numbers for the two largest power companies in the area below.

Georgia Power: 888-891-0938

Central Georgia EMC: 770-775-7857 or 800-222-4877

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

At this point, all of the hard work is done! You can now sit back and watch your power bills drop, your panels pay for themselves and your savings accrue. You can also rest assured that your carbon footprint is reduced, and you now contribute less to emissions and global warming.

Although the biggest financial benefit of going solar is usually seen in the energy savings you’ll enjoy, you can also see a return on investment if you sell your home after installation. Solar panels make your home more valuable — around 4.1% more available, to be more precise — so you’ll see most if not all of your money back in most cases, even if you sell.16

FAQ: Solar Panels in Georgia

In the sections below, we’ll provide answers to some of the questions we see most often about the solar conversion process from residents in your area.




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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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