Top 5 Best Solar Companies in Rhode Island (2023 Reviews)
By Faith Wakefield /
Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide to Rhode Island solar panels:
The first step to going solar is to choose a solar company and request a free quote for a system. A representative will review your electric bills, inspect your home — physically or by satellite — and help you decide if a cash purchase, solar loan, solar lease, or power purchase agreement (PPA) is the right financing option for you.
Next, your solar provider will design a system to meet your energy needs, file for permits with your local jurisdiction, and begin the installation. Finally, your system will be activated to begin producing energy, and the permits will be closed out.
Choosing solar energy in RI is highly beneficial for most residents. Not only does convert to clean energy reduce your emissions and make your home more eco-friendly, but systems in the area typically save you quite a lot on energy bills. The average system pays for itself and saves a massive $34,500 thereafter.
The average price Rhode Islanders pay for solar equipment is around $2.84 per watt, which is higher than the national average. However, since energy demand is so low in the area, homeowners only need a 6 kilowatt (kW) system, leading to a total system price of just under $12,000 after the federal Residential Clean Energy Credit is taken.
One of the best metrics for determining the value of solar in an area is the panel payback period. This tells you how long panels take to pay themselves off. The national average is 12 years, but the typical system in RI pays for itself in just eight years, so RI is one of the most valuable locations in the U.S. for solar energy systems.
You can read more about what solar equipment costs and the value it provides by checking out our guide to solar pricing in RI.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), solar sales in RI have increased year on year for the past decade.1 In response to the growing demand, most major panel brands are making their equipment available throughout the state, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
Panel choice is usually based on cost, efficiency, warranty coverage, or some combination of these criteria. RI receives plenty of suns but is prone to severe weather like tropical storms and hurricanes which often leads residents to prioritize coverage.
Keeping this in mind, below are some of the most popular panel brand options installed throughout Ocean State.
As mentioned above, Rhode Islanders enjoy one of the shortest panel payback periods in the nation. This suggests that it’s one of the most beneficial places to convert to solar. Below, we’ll discuss some of the factors that make RI such a great place to install photovoltaic (PV) equipment.
The exact amount of electricity you can expect from your solar panel system will vary quite a lot. The reason for this is that there are a few factors that can push your production rates higher or lower, and taking all of these moving parts into consideration is a challenge. We’ll briefly explain these factors below.
Having a professional assess your home and provide an estimate for production is the best way to get accurate production numbers. However, you can reference the chart below to get a general idea of production rates in RI.
|Solar Power System Size||Expected Daily Energy Produced||Expected Monthly Energy Produced||Expected Annual Energy Produced|
|3 kW||10 kWh||300 kWh||3,600 kWh|
|4 kW||13.3 kWh||400 kWh||4,800 kWh|
|5 kW||16.6 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||26.6 kWh||800 kWh||9,600 kWh|
|9 kW||30 kWh||900 kWh||10,800 kWh|
For a more personalized and accurate estimate, you can use our solar calculator. This tool takes local factors and shading on your property into consideration and calculates how much electricity a rooftop solar system on your home will produce.
RI has long been considered a solar-friendly state. The state government has been instrumental in promoting solar with a number of policies and laws that make PV equipment more valuable.
The first such piece of legislation was the bill that established the solar easement laws in 1981. These laws set up resolution guidelines for homeowners who find that they have issues with neighboring homes, trees, or other obstacles blocking their access to solar energy.
In 1996, the state government started the Renewable Energy Fund (REF). This was a public benefits fund — one of the first in the country — that raised funds for solar rebates, grants, and other perks. by adding a small surcharge to electricity bills throughout the state.
In 2004, RI set its first Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal, officially deemed the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) by the state. The goal was for at least 38.5% of the state’s electricity to come from clean energy sources — including solar — by 2035. Most recently, in 2022, RI set its RPS to be the most ambitious in the nation — 100% of electricity from renewables by 2033.
Also in 2004, likely in response to the first RPS goal, RI began offering renewable energy products sales and use tax exemption. This lowers the up-front cost of solar equipment by removing the burden of sales tax.
Net metering — first offered in RI in 2011 — is one of the most crucial benefits in the U.S. for those with solar systems. The policy lets solar customers accrue credits for excess energy produced and sent to the electric grid. These credits can be used to offset energy bills in the future.
Unfortunately, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in RI doesn’t mandate that credits be offered at the retail rate. Most utility companies instead use a less beneficial avoided-cost rate. The utility company National Grid currently has the most appealing policy, with no aggregate cap on credits offered.
In 2013, RI began offering the Small-Scale Funding Program and the Commercial Scale Funding Program, which sought to reduce the up-front cost of going solar for residential and commercial customers. These were funded by the Renewable Energy Fund mentioned previously.
In 2014, the state began its Renewable Energy Growth Program (REGP). This was similar to the net metering program, but it credited customers with tariffs for exported energy at higher than the retail rate for energy for the first 15 years. You cannot enroll in both net metering and the REGP, so you’ll have to choose the one that suits you best.
2016 brought with it some changes to the net billing policy. First, it extended it to systems up to 10 megawatts (MW), which meant large solar farms could take advantage. The policy was also updated to allow for virtual net metering, so customers enrolling in community solar could also get access to the policy.
Finally, the property tax exemption for renewable energy equipment was initiated in 2016 as well. This prevented your property taxes from increasing as a result of installing solar even though your property value would increase.
Thanks to the policies and legislation mentioned above, RI residents have access to quite a few solar perks today. We’ll summarize the available perks below.
For more information on these perks or to see additional rebates that might be available to you, you can check out our guide to taking advantage of Rhode Island solar incentives.
The solar installer you choose for your solar project will play a major role in your solar power system cost, panel efficiency, customer service experience, warranty coverage, and more.
Below, we’ll include links to reviews of some of the top solar providers in major cities throughout RI. These should help you narrow down your options to reputable and reliable companies.
For company recommendations outside of these cities, you can check out our guide to choosing the best solar installer in RI as a whole.
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