South Carolina Solar Panel Buyers Guide [Installation & Efficiency 2022]
Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide to South Carolina solar panels:
- How to install solar panels in SC
- Pricing for the average solar system in SC
- How to save money when going solar in SC
How Can You Get Solar Panels in South Carolina?
When you’re ready to make the switch to solar power in SC, you’ll first need to get a quote from a local solar provider. You can reach out to a company in your area to request a property inspection to determine how much sun your home gets and an energy bill review to determine how many panels your home needs.
Based on this information, the company will give you a free quote for a system design that suits your needs. Once you get your free quote, you can approve the design and explore your financing options: cash purchase, solar loan, solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA). After you get financing squared away, your panels will be installed and activated.
Going solar in SC is almost always financially beneficial for residents. Not only does converting to solar help reduce your carbon footprint and your use of fossil fuels, but it also saves SC residents an average of nearly $25,000 in energy costs.
Blue Raven Solar
What Is the Price of Solar Panel Installation in South Carolina?
Most SC residents pay an average of $2.72 per watt for their photovoltaic (PV) equipment. Since the typical system size requirement in the area is around 11 kW, that puts the standard cost for solar systems at $20,944 after the Residential Clean Energy Credit is taken.
Given the average system cost and energy savings afforded by solar arrays in SC, most local solar customers will pay off their systems with savings on their utility bills in around 12 years. This is in line with the national average and leads to a savings of around $24,561 over the life of your panels. This savings is in addition to the savings used to pay for your panels.
For more in-depth cost and savings information, you can check out our SC solar cost guide for additional information.
What Are the Best Solar Panel Brands Available in South Carolina?
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), SC is home to over 30 local solar panel installers.1 The solar industry in SC is booming, so most residents have access to a wide range of solar equipment brands.
Homeowners in the area experience plenty of sunny days per year to justify choosing middle-of-the-road panel brands. However, SC is prone to some extreme weather, including hurricanes and tropical storms, so most residents opt for brands that carry robust equipment warranties.
Below are some of the most popular solar panel brands available in The Palmetto State.
- Maxeon (previously SunPower)
- LG (LG brand solar panels will soon be discontinued)
- Canadian Solar
- Trina Solar
Is South Carolina a Good State for Solar Panels?
SC is considered an excellent place to go solar in the U.S. There are a few factors that make going solar worth it in South Carolina. We’ll briefly discuss these factors below:
- Abundant sunshine: SC residents experience an average of 216 days of sunshine per year, which is above the national average of 205 sunny days.2 Areas like SC that see more sunshine than other states are better suited for solar installations because more sun means more opportunities to produce energy and save on utility bills.
- South Carolina solar incentives: SC offers residents a handful of highly beneficial solar incentives to make going solar a sound investment. We’ll discuss the available benefits in a later section, but you can rest assured that perks like net metering and a state solar tax credit help to make solar conversion beneficial for homeowners.
- Above-average energy consumption: SC residents consume an average of 1,081 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity each month.3 This is above the national average of 893 kWh. High rates of energy consumption mean above-average energy bills, which gives your solar panels more room to save money, thereby increasing their value.
- Frequent power outages: SC residents are no strangers to extreme weather. Homeowners in the area experience hurricanes, tropical storms, and tropical cyclones relatively often.4 Solar panels alone won’t provide energy through power blackouts, but panels coupled with a solar battery will. Many SC residents choose to add storage to their solar arrays to avoid outages.
How Much Energy Can I Get From Solar Panels in South Carolina?
The exact amount of electricity you can expect your SC solar panels to generate will depend on many different factors, so it’s challenging to estimate production levels without assessing your specific property and determining solar viability. We’ll briefly discuss the different factors that affect solar electricity generation below.
- How much sunlight your roof receives: The amount of sunlight your roof receives directly correlates to how successful a solar energy system on your home will be. Roofs that are entirely unshaded provide the best opportunity for solar production. Any shading from trees, buildings or other obstructions will reduce how much energy your panels generate. This is especially true during peak sunlight hours.
- Intensity of sunlight: Solar irradiance is a measure of the intensity of sunlight hitting your property. The more intense the sun you receive, the more electricity your panels will produce. In North America, solar intensity is greatest on south-facing roofs, so the direction your home faces will play a major role in determining how energy efficient your panels are.
- The efficiency rating of your solar panels: Abundant, intense solar energy is only valuable if your panels can harness it and convert it to energy for your home. The efficiency rating of your panels will determine how much of the available sunlight your panels will be able to absorb and turn into electricity. Different brands have different efficiency levels, so it’s wise to consider the efficiency rating when choosing a panel brand.
- How many solar panels you have on your home: Having more panels on your home will always translate to a higher level of production provided other factors remain equal. It’s important to configure your solar panel system according to your home size and energy usage, though, so larger systems aren’t always more cost-effective.
- The weather: Finally, the weather in your area plays an important role in your solar panel productivity. Cloudy days can cause your panels’ efficiency to drop by between 10% and 90%.
All the factors discussed above will affect your rooftop solar system’s efficiency, which makes estimating what your solar array will generate rather challenging. Although getting an accurate estimate generally requires having a professional inspect your home, you can use the chart below to get a ballpark idea of power production.
|Solar Power System Size||Expected Daily Energy Produced||Expected Monthly Energy Produced||Expected Annual Energy Produced|
|8 kW||26.6 kWh||800 kWh||9,600 kWh|
|9 kW||30 kWh||900 kWh||10,800 kWh|
|10 kW||33.3 kWh||1,000 kWh||12,000 kWh|
|11 kW||36.6 kWh||1,100 kWh||13,200 kWh|
|12 kW||40 kWh||1,200 kWh||14,400 kWh|
|13 kW||43.3 kWh||1,300 kWh||15,600 kWh|
|14 kW||46.6 kWh||1,400 kWh||16,800 kWh|
If you need a more accurate estimate of how much energy panels on your roof will produce, you can use our solar calculator for help.
Solar Panel Policy History in South Carolina
South Carolina is an outstanding place to convert to clean energy, but its solar-friendly policies and legislation weren’t adopted until decades after those of many other states.
It wasn’t until 2006 that the South Carolina State Energy Office implemented the first true solar panel policy: the solar energy tax credit. This is a statewide tax credit that helps reduce the overall cost of going solar. The credit is for up to 25% of your entire system cost, including the cost of panels, inverters and solar batteries.
Two years later, in 2008, SC passed the Palmetto Clean Energy (PaCE) program. Modeled after the North Carolina GreenPower Program, this solar program offered payments to all solar customers for energy generated via their panels. This is not to be confused with Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing available in other states.
Several years later, in 2014, SC’s Distributed Energy Resource Program Act set the state’s first Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal of producing at least 2% of the state’s energy via renewable energy sources by 2021.
Although not a particularly progressive RPS, there was a stipulation within this goal that half of the 2% must come from solar systems under 1 megawatt (MW). Essentially, that rules out community solar farms for half of the required production and instead incentivizes home solar systems. SC’s RPS has not been updated for future years.
2014 brought South Carolina’s most crucial solar perk: net metering. This is a policy that lets you generate more energy than you need with your solar panels and then bank the excess energy with your utility company. You can call on the banked electricity to help reduce electric bills in the future. This perk isn’t available to those who opt into solar farms.
Importantly, SC mandated that all excess electricity production be credited at the retail rate. This is the best-case scenario for net metering.
Finally, in 2015, several local electric companies started offering solar rebate programs to customers. These included:
- Duke Energy ($1 rebate for every watt — or $1,000 for every kW installed)
- South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G)
- Santee Cooper
What Are the Solar Panel Incentives in South Carolina?
Thanks to pro-solar legislation in SC, there are a handful of highly beneficial solar perks available to residents. These help reduce the up-front cost of converting to solar and maximize long-term savings. Below are the perks offered by the state (and federal) governments:
- Residential Clean Energy Credit: This federal tax credit, formerly called the investment tax credit or ITC, is available to all SC residents. It’s a credit to your income tax liability for 30% of the cost of your entire system, including the price of panels, inverters and solar batteries. In SC, the credit averages out to nearly $9,000.
- Net metering: This policy lets you bank all excess energy produced with your panels. The energy credits you earn will then be used to offset future utility bills. SC mandates that all utility companies offer net metering at the full retail energy cost, which is the best-case scenario.
- Renewable energy and energy storage property tax exemption: Normally, home improvement projects that increase your home value will also cause your property taxes to increase. Installing a solar energy system will boost your property value by around 4.1%, but this exemption prevents property tax rises as a result of your solar project.5
- Solar energy tax credit: This is the state tax credit that lets you take up to 25% of the total cost of your system as a credit to your personal income tax liability.
If you’re interested in learning more about these benefit programs or seeing if there are additional local benefits afforded to you, you can check out our guide to SC solar incentives.
Find a Local Installer in South Carolina
The solar provider you choose will heavily influence your overall cost of installing solar panels, the panel brands available to you, the warranty coverage you get and more — making this one of your most important decisions when converting to solar energy.
Down below, we’ll include links to our reviews of the top solar companies in the largest cities across South Carolina. If you’re looking for more general recommendations for solar servicers throughout the state, you can check out our reviews of top solar installers in SC.