Hawaii Solar Panel Buyers Guide [Installation & Efficiency 2022]

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

  • The average cost of installing solar panels in HI
  • How solar panels can save money on electric bills in the Aloha State
  • How to choose a reputable solar installer in HI
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How to Get Solar Panels in Hawaii

The process of converting to solar in HI begins by contacting a solar panel installation company. The installer will likely speak with you about your energy consumption and monthly utility bills and inspect your home for suitability for solar panels.

Your solar provider will then design a system that meets your energy needs, pull building permits — if required by your local municipality — and install the solar energy system on your home. After permits are approved, your system can be activated.

Hawaii is an outstanding place to go solar, primarily because of its location near the equator and the resulting abundant and intense sunlight. However, the high electricity rates in the area also make solar panels well worth the investment for most homeowners.

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RisingSun Solar

Outstanding Regional Installer

Regional Service

EcoWatch rating

Average cost

Pros

  • NABCEP-certified technicians
  • Great warranty coverage
  • Excellent reputation
  • Representatives are experts on local policies

Cons

  • Relatively young company
  • Limited service area
  • No leases or PPAs
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RevoluSun Hawaii

Outstanding Regional Installer

Regional Service

EcoWatch rating

Average cost

Pros

  • Great warranty coverage
  • Offers products from leading manufacturers
  • Many financing options
  • Excellent reputation

Cons

  • Limited brands of solar equipment available
  • Slightly expensive
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SunPower by Eco Solar

Outstanding Local Installer

Local Service

EcoWatch rating

Average cost

Pros

  • Excellent reputation
  • Offers products from leading manufacturers
  • Full-service home energy solutions

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Limited service area
  • Limited brands of solar equipment available

What Is the Price of Solar Panel Installation in Hawaii?

Installing solar panels in HI costs most residents just over $10,000, which is well below the national average. This is due to the average cost per watt of $2.67 and the small system size requirement of just 5.5 kW (kilowatts).

One efficient way to estimate the overall value of solar panels in a given area is to estimate the solar panel payback period. This metric provides the typical time it takes for residents to enjoy energy savings that pay off the entire system — including panels, batteries and inverters.

The payback period in HI is just six years, one of the lowest in the country and half the national average.

For more cost information on adopting solar energy in HI, you can check out our solar panel cost guide for Hawaii.

The Best Solar Panel Brands Available in Hawaii

Hawaii residents will have numerous solar panel brands to choose from, and the one you pick will determine — at least to some extent — how much energy your panels generate on a daily basis. It will also determine the kind of warranty you receive and how long the panels will last at their peak efficiency.

HI receives an impressive 240 sunny days per year, which is well in excess of the national average of 205.1 As a result, most residents don’t need to buy the highest-cost, highest-efficiency panels, although if you do you may be able to reduce your total system size.

Hawaii solar panels
Credit: hmmunoz512 / Pixabay

Hawaii is also not prone to particularly bad weather.2 In states where hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes and other extreme weather conditions are common, high-quality panels are often required to stand up to winds, blown debris and other hazards. Thankfully, this is not the case in HI.

Below, we’ll include some of the most popular solar panel brands in Hawaii. All of these should provide plenty of energy for residents and stand up well to local weather conditions.

  • SunPower
  • LG (soon exiting the solar industry)
  • Panasonic
  • Mission Solar
  • Canadian Solar
  • Tesla
  • Qcells
  • REC
  • Trina Solar
  • Silfab

Is Hawaii a Good State for Solar Panels?

Hawaii is an excellent state to convert to solar, and it currently ranks 18th in the country for solar system installations.3 There are a few reasons why solar is considered such a good investment in HI:

  • Solar incentives: First, HI has some outstanding programs to make solar more affordable and appealing. One of the most impressive is the solar and wind energy credit, which is one of the best income tax credits in the country.
  • Abundant sun: As mentioned above, Hawaii receives plenty of sunlight to allow panels to produce sufficient electricity. Not only is the weather typically sunny, but Hawaii’s location near the equator means high solar intensity, which improves energy generation.
  • High energy cost: Hawaiians pay more for electricity than residents of any other state in the country at nearly three times the national average.4 Higher energy costs mean more potential for energy savings.
  • Low energy usage: While energy prices are high, the energy consumption in HI is the lowest in the U.S. That means residents need relatively small systems, which keeps up-front costs to a minimum.

Overall, Hawaiians pay off their systems in just six years and enjoy additional energy savings totaling around $49,458 over the remaining lifespan of the panels. This is higher than any other area in the United States.

How Much Energy Can I Get From Solar Panels in Hawaii?

The amount of energy your solar panels actually generate depends on a variety of factors and will fluctuate naturally from day to day and month to month. Some of the most critical factors that have an impact on production include:

  • How much sunlight your roof receives: Keep in mind that shading from trees or nearby buildings will reduce the amount of light hitting your panels and sink generation rates.
  • Which way your roof faces: Given the path of the sun in the sky in North America, southern-facing roofs receive the most direct sunlight and are best suited for solar panels.
  • Weather: Your day-to-day production will fluctuate based on the local weather conditions. Cloudy days can decimate your production rates temporarily.
  • Panel efficiency: Every panel brand has a different expected efficiency and power tolerance. More efficient brands will produce more electricity in all conditions.
  • Your system size: Adding more panels to your system will naturally increase your rate of energy generation. Larger systems aren’t always worthwhile, but they will lead to greater energy production.

While all of these factors will play a role in how much electricity your panels generate in HI, we can estimate average production rates (in kilowatt hours — kWh) based on typical local factors and average system sizes. We’ll include some average numbers based on system size in the table below.

Solar Power System Size Expected Daily Energy Generation Expected Monthly Energy Generation Expected Annual Energy Generation
3 kW 10 kWh 300 kWh 3,600 kWh
4 kW 13.3 kWh 400 kWh 4,800 kWh
5 kW 16.7 kWh 500 kWh 6,000 kWh
6 kW 20 kWh 600 kWh 7,200 kWh
7 kW 23.3 kWh 700 kWh 8,400 kWh
8 kW 26.7 kWh 800 kWh 9,600 kWh
9 kW 30 kWh 900 kWh 10,800 kWh

If you feel that you need a more accurate estimate for residential solar system energy production, you can use our solar calculator to see how much energy your home solar system will generate.

Solar Panel Policy History in Hawaii

Hawaii has long been a solar-friendly state, in part because incentivizing solar reduces the strain on the already overloaded electric grid and helps reduce energy costs.

The pro-solar policies in HI began in 1976 when the state implemented the solar and wind energy credit program. This state tax credit provides a massive credit of up to 35% of your system total. This program has been amended several times, most recently in 2009.

In 2001, the state set its first Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal. The initial goal was to generate at least 9% of the state’s electricity via renewable energy sources by 2010.

To achieve this goal and help residents reduce their carbon footprints and reliance on fossil fuels, the State of Hawaii put a net metering policy into place that same year. Net metering — also called net billing — helps solar customers offset future energy bills using excess energy produced by their systems.

Unfortunately, the net metering program was closed to new participants in 2015 and has yet to reopen. The incentive was supplemented by two distributed generation tariffs — Customer Grid Supply Plus (CGSP) and Smart Export — which offer homeowners a credit to utility bills for electricity sold back to the utility company.

In 2004, Hawaii revised its RPS to mandate that 20% of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2020. This was revised again in 2006 to 40% by 2030.5

That same year, Hawaii began a public benefits fund (PBF), which was funded by a small, unavoidable charge on all residents’ electric bills. The fund is used to promote solar conversion and educate consumers on the benefits of converting to solar.

Two years later, Hawaii began mandating that solar water heaters be installed in all new construction for single-family homes. While this isn’t an incentive, it does help promote clean energy and make the state more energy efficient overall.

In September of 2009, the City of Honolulu put a property tax exemption into place for solar systems. Normally, installing solar will bump up your home value and, naturally, your property taxes. This exemption prevents your taxes from going up as a result of installing solar.

The most recent statewide incentive enacted in Hawaii came in 2019 the Green Energy Money Save (GEMS) Program. This program helps low-income households afford solar and pay for them on a schedule that makes sense based on income and typical energy bills.

As we’ll mention later, the Hawaiian Electric Company also instituted local solar incentives on Oahu and Maui for solar customers. The Battery Bonus program was started in 2021 and helps all solar customers improve their system value. It also makes off-grid solar systems more viable.

What Are the Solar Panel Incentives in Hawaii?

solar panels hawaii

Today, Hawaii remains an outstanding place to go solar because of the enduring benefits available to homeowners. We’ll provide a brief list of the current benefits below, along with brief descriptions of each:

  • Federal solar investment tax credit (ITC): The federal solar tax credit is a credit provided by the federal government and available to all HI residents. You’ll enjoy a credit of 30% of your total home solar power system costs to your income taxes owed, with no upper limit for appropriately-sized systems.
  • Solar and wind energy credit: This is a statewide tax credit for 35% of your system total up to $5,000. With the average pre-credit cost of solar panel systems reaching nearly $15,000, most Hawaiians will be eligible to take the full credit.
  • City of Honolulu property tax exemption: If you live in the City of Honolulu, this perk prevents your property taxes from increasing because of the added property value from your system.
  • GEMS Hawaii. As mentioned above, this program helps reduce up-front costs and ongoing payments for solar panel systems, specifically for low-income households.
  • Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) Battery Bonus: This is a cash rebate offered to any solar customer on the islands of Oahu and Maui who installs a solar battery storage solution to complement their photovoltaic (PV) system.6 Just keep in mind that solar energy storage systems do add to your total system costs.

For more information on solar benefits in your area, you can check out our complete guide to solar incentives in Hawaii.

Find a Local Installer in Hawaii

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), over 50 solar installers serve Hawaii.7 You’ll have plenty of companies to choose from, but that does make your decision a bit more challenging.

Some things to consider when choosing a solar panel installer include:

  • The panel brands provided: Hawaiians generally don’t require the highest efficiency panels, nor do they need panels that can stand up to severe weather. Still, it’s important to look at what panel brands are offered by your installer, as this helps you evaluate the value for money.
  • Cost: Of course, the cost of your rooftop solar system is an important factor to consider. Every solar company will come with different material and labor charges, so you should compare based on total price in relation to other factors.
  • Warranty: Solar energy systems are less expensive in HI than in most states, but they’re still quite expensive. Solar panel warranties are crucial to consider because they help protect your investment in clean energy and guarantee production for years to come.
  • Customer service and online reviews: With the popularity of solar increasing in the Aloha State, more and more companies are popping up to meet the demand. It’s important to choose a company with years of experience and a good track record for customer satisfaction. This will help you avoid companies that provide subpar service and equipment.

You can check out our guide to picking a solar panel company in HI for more information, rankings and in-depth reviews.

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Dan Simms
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.