Rhode Island Solar Panel Buyers Guide [Installation & Efficiency 2022]

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

  • The process of installing solar equipment in RI
  • The average cost of solar panels in The Ocean State
  • How to estimate the amount of electricity your panels will produce
Find Local Solar Quotes
Get Quotes
Connect with approved solar installers in your area. Zero obligation.

How to Get Solar Panels in Rhode Island

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.

Badge icon

Green Power Energy

Outstanding Regional Installer

Regional Service

EcoWatch rating

Average cost

Pros

  • Educational, no-pressure sales approach
  • Outstanding customer service
  • Multitude of products and services

Cons

  • Relatively young company
Badge icon

SunPower

Best National Provider

Nationwide Service

EcoWatch rating

Average cost

Pros

  • Most efficient panels on the market
  • National coverage
  • Cradle to Cradle sustainability certification
  • Great warranty coverage

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Customer service varies by local dealer
Badge icon

Trinity Solar

Solar Veteran

Regional Service

EcoWatch rating

Average cost

Pros

  • Many financing options
  • Family-owned and -operated
  • Makes charitable contributions

Cons

  • Limited service area
  • Relatively short workmanship warranty

EcoWatch Preferred Partners

Here is a list of preferred partners in this area.

VIEW MORE

What Is the Price of Solar Panel Installation in Rhode Island?

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.

The Best Solar Panel Brands Available in Rhode Island

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.

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

EcoWatch Preferred Partners

Here is a list of preferred partners in this area.

VIEW MORE

Is Rhode Island a Good State for Solar Panels?

rhode island solar panels=

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.

  • Plenty of sunlight: Since solar PV systems require sunlight to generate electricity, areas that receive a lots of it are naturally better for solar conversion. Rhode Island residents get around 202 sunny days per year, which is just shy of the U.S. average.2 This is plenty of sunlight for most residents to see a significant portion of their utility bills offset.
  • Below-average energy demands: Rhode Island homeowners consume an average of just 594 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month.3 This is well below the national average of 893 kWh per month and makes the state the fifth lowest in terms of energy needs. Since home solar systems are sized according to your energy consumption, RI property owners will need far smaller solar arrays to meet their needs, which means a more affordable equipment price tag.
  • Above-average electricity rates: While RI residents use less electricity than most Americans, they pay energy prices that are the fourth highest in the country and nearly double the national average.4 Solar panels save you money when they offset electric bills, so high energy rates translate to greater savings potential. This makes solar highly valuable in RI and New England as a whole.
  • Great solar incentives: Finally, the State of Rhode Island is solar-friendly and offers residents quite a few appealing financial incentives. We’ll discuss these in greater depth later and how they serve to reduce up-front costs and push long-term savings higher.

How Much Energy Can I Get From Solar Panels in Rhode Island?

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.

  • The intensity of the sun hitting your roof: The more intense the sunlight hitting your panels, the more energy they will generate. In the U.S., roofs that are angled to the south receive the most intense sunlight because the sun travels across the southern part of the sky. Residents with south-facing roofs will see the highest production rates, provided all other factors remain equal.
  • The volume of sun hitting your roof: The amount of sunlight hitting your roof is also important. If you have shading from trees, utility poles, or other obstructions, less sun will be striking your panels, which means you’ll produce less electricity. South-facing, unshaded roofs are the best bet for maximum solar energy production.
  • The efficiency of your panels: Each panel brand has different efficiency ratings, which tell you the maximum percentage of the solar energy hitting your panels that can be converted into electricity. High energy efficiency ratings will always lead to a greater potential for energy generation.
  • The number of panels you have installed: Perhaps most importantly, the number of panels you install will largely dictate how much electricity your system as a whole provides. Each additional panel you install adds an average of 100 kWh per month to your generation estimate. However, it’s more cost-effective to size your system to meet your energy demands than to install as many panels as possible.
  • The weather: Finally, your installer will consider the local weather conditions when sizing your system. Cloud coverage can block sunlight just like trees and other physical obstructions can. Production can dip about 90% on heavily cloudy days.

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.

EcoWatch Preferred Partners

Here is a list of preferred partners in this area.

VIEW MORE

Solar Panel Policy History in Rhode Island

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.

Community solar is incentivized in RI with virtual NEM
Credit: Gunnar Ridderstrom / Unsplash

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.

What Are the Solar Panel Incentives in Rhode Island?

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.

  • Residential Clean Energy Credit: This federal tax credit is for 30% of your total system cost, which averages out to just over $5,000 in RI. This amount gets credited to your income tax burden for the year in which your system is commissioned.
  • Net metering: This policy lets you accrue credits for the excess energy you produce with your panels and use those credits to reduce energy bills in future months.
  • Renewable Energy Growth Program: This is similar to net metering, but the credits you earn are higher than the retail rate in most cases and only last for the first 15 years after installation. You cannot participate in this program and in net metering at the same time.
  • Renewable Energy Fund: This is a public benefits fund that offers perks for solar installations. It provides grants, financing options, and other incentives.
  • Sales tax exemption: This exemption waives all sales tax on solar equipment, including panels, inverters, solar batteries, and electric vehicle chargers.
  • Property tax exemption: This policy prevents your property taxes from increasing when your property value goes up due to solar conversion. 

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.

Find a Local Installer in Rhode Island

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.

Truss bridge on rail trail in Coventry, RI
Credit: WikiMedia / WikiMedia

Best Solar Providers in Coventry

Welcome to Cumberland sign in RI
Credit: WikiMedia / WikiMedia

Best Solar Providers in Cumberland

Civil War Statue in N. Providence
Credit: WikiMedia / WikiMedia

Best Solar Providers in North Providence

Street view in Providence, RI
Credit: WikiMedia / WikiMedia

Best Solar Providers in Providence

Warwick, RI, from over the river
Credit: WikiMedia / WikiMedia

Best Solar Providers in Warwick

Street view in East Providence, RI
Credit: WikiMedia / WikiMedia

Best Solar Providers in East Providence

Aerial view of Cranston, RI
Credit: WikiMedia / WikiMedia

Best Solar Providers in Cranston

North Kingstown Town Hall
Credit: cmh2315fl / Flickr

Best Solar Providers in North Kingstown

City Hall in Pawtucket, RI
Credit: WikiMedia / WikiMedia

Best Solar Providers in Pawtucket

Royal Mill in West Warwick, RI
Credit: WikiMedia / WikiMedia

Best Solar Providers in West Warwick

For company recommendations outside of these cities, you can check out our guide to choosing the best solar installer in RI as a whole.

EcoWatch Preferred Partners

Here is a list of preferred partners in this area.

VIEW MORE
Blog author image
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.

What Are The Best Solar Companies?