Virginia Solar Panel Buyers Guide (Installation & Efficiency 2022)
Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide to Virginia solar panels:
- The typical cost of solar energy systems in VA
- Benefits and perks offered by the state to make solar more affordable
- Average energy efficiency of photovoltaic panels in VA
How to Get Solar Panels in Virginia
To begin the solar conversion process in VA, you’ll first need to reach out to a local solar installer to get a free quote. A representative from the company will confirm your average energy usage for the past year and take measurements of your roof. They’ll also look at other property specifics, like roof size and shading on your home.
Once all of the information is gathered, your installer will design an appropriately sized system and begin the permitting process. When the permits are approved, your installation team will install the solar equipment, activate it and schedule final inspections to close out the permits.
Going solar in VA is very often a lucrative investment. Not only will your photovoltaic (PV) equipment raise the value of your home, but you’ll also be able to offset the above-average amount of energy consumption in VA.
Solar customers in the Old Dominion save an average of over $21,000 by going solar, and that’s after the panels pay for themselves.
Blue Raven Solar
What Is the Price of Solar Panel Installation in Virginia?
The cost to install a solar system in VA fluctuates from solar project to solar project. After the federal investment tax credit (ITC) is considered, most residents pay between $15,400 and $26,950 for their systems, or an average of $21,175. This assumes the average per-watt cost of $2.75, which is above the average in the U.S. of $2.66.
A useful metric (specifically for financing options like solar loans and cash purchases) for determining the value of panels is the panel payback period, which estimates how long it will take for you to recoup the cost of your system through energy savings. In VA, the payback period is 12 years, which is the national average.
For more information on how to calculate your personal cost and payback period — including for solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) — you can check out our article on the average solar panel cost in VA.
The Best Solar Panel Brands Available in Virginia
The solar industry in VA is booming, so there are plenty of installers, as well as equipment brands, to choose from.
Since VA residents receive plenty of sunlight, most don’t need to choose the highest-efficiency panels, although it can be helpful. However, with the frequency of extreme weather in the area — including hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes and hurricanes — opting for a brand with a long-lasting warranty is wise.1
Below is a short list of some of the most popular panel brands available in VA:
- LG (these panels will soon no longer be available)
- Canadian Solar
Is Virginia a Good State for Solar Panels?
Virginia is considered an excellent place to install solar equipment, and it currently ranks tenth in the country for solar adoption.2 There are a few reasons why solar is such a great investment for most VA residents, including:
- Plenty of sunshine: First and foremost, Virginia receives an average of 205 sunny days per year, which is right in line with the average throughout the rest of the country.3 The amount of sun an area receives will play a major role in how much energy panels installed there produce. The more sunlight that hits a state, the more valuable solar will be there. VA gets plenty of sun for most solar customers to offset electric bills.
- Good solar incentives: VA is a relatively solar-friendly state, with a handful of incentives available that make solar more valuable. Among the most important is net metering, which is mandated in VA. We’ll explain this policy and other perks in greater depth below.
- Above-average energy consumption: VA residents use an average of 1,095 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month, which is quite high compared to the national average.4 This is likely due to air conditioner use in the hot summers and heater bills in the winter. Virginians pay well above average each month for electricity bills, making solar a worthwhile investment for most residents.
- Power outages: Finally, VA is prone to some severe weather, as mentioned above. These conditions can lead to power outages, as can high energy consumption and strain on the electric grid in the summer months. While panels alone won’t provide electricity through blackouts, coupling them with a solar battery will. Solar storage solutions are, therefore, a popular option in VA.
How Much Energy Can I Get From Solar Panels in Virginia?
Solar equipment operates differently in different areas and conditions, so it’s very challenging to say with any certainty how much solar electricity your system will generate. Some things that can affect energy efficiency and production rates include:
- The orientation of your home: Solar irradiation is a measurement of the intensity of the sun in a given area, and it plays a significant role in solar energy production. The direction your roof faces is important as well. According to the Department of Energy’s website (energy.gov) southern-facing roofs will collect the most direct sunlight in North America.5
- How much sun hits your roof: Any interruption in sun exposure of your rooftop solar system will cause a dip in production. In most cases, shading at any time of the day is considered carefully when determining the size requirement for your system. Your panels will generate less energy if they are shaded by trees, utility poles or nearby buildings.
- The panels you install: The brand of panels you choose will affect your pricing and warranty, but more importantly, it will have an impact on your system’s efficiency. Choosing panels with a high efficiency rating will always yield higher energy generation rates as long as other conditions remain the same.
- The size of your system in kilowatts (kW): The size of your solar power system is one of the most important things to consider when estimating energy generation. Adding more panels — although not always financially viable — will always lead to greater electricity production for your home.
- The weather: Finally, the weather plays a role in the daily production of your system. Heavy cloud coverage can cause your efficiency to drop by around 90%.
You can use the table below to get an estimate of your solar production in VA based on your system size. Keep in mind that these are just estimates, and individual systems will always perform differently.
|Solar Power System Size||Expected Daily Energy Generation||Expected Monthly Energy Generation||Expected Annual Energy Generation|
|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|
Calculating how much electricity your panels will produce can be complicated. You can use our solar estimates calculator to see how much energy a solar system on your home will generate — and cost.
Solar Panel Policy History in Virginia
The Old Dominion has a long history of solar policies and benefits dating back to 1977. At that time, VA passed the solar equipment property tax exemption, which prevented property taxes from going up because of solar installation. This is a great way to avoid disincentivizing solar conversion.
Several decades later, in 2005, the Virginia General Assembly implemented its net metering program. The solar program was made available to all residential solar arrays under 20 kW, which included most systems.
This policy allows solar customers to overproduce electricity with their systems and then save credits earned to pay down future bills if energy usage ever outpaces production. It is one of the most crucial benefits for solar customers.
A year later, in 2006, VA enacted solar rights and easements. This wasn’t a financial incentive, but it did give every Virginia homeowner — even those living under homeowners associations (HOAs) and private municipalities — the right to install and enjoy the benefits of solar equipment.
In 2007, VA set its first Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal. The goal was to produce at least 15% of the state’s electricity via renewable energy sources, including solar.
Unlike many other states’ RPS goals, VA’s was voluntary and didn’t provide an impetus for utility companies to incentivize solar conversion — so VA’s RPS goal didn’t do much to push the clean energy industry forward in the area.
In the early 2010s, two of the largest electric companies in VA — Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Dominion Energy — began offering payments for all solar energy generation.
These perks from TVA and Dominion Energy paved the way for the state’s Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) market, which pays out one SREC for every 1,000 kWh produced. The average price per SREC was between $20 and $50 over the past few years, which equates to an average value of around $500 annually.
Finally, in 2017, VA began pushing community solar — also called shared solar — with the installation of several large solar farms. This helps far more residential customers reduce their carbon footprints and their dependence on fossil fuels.
The state coupled these installations with virtual net metering, which allows community solar opt-ins to take advantage of net metering. These policies led to a massive uptick in solar adoption in VA from 2020 through 2021 — more than doubling the adoption rate of any other year in the past decade.6
What Are The Solar Panel Incentives in Virginia?
There are a handful of perks to installing solar equipment in VA provided by the state and federal government. These make solar conversion more accessible and affordable, and they increase the value of solar panel systems. The available Virginia solar incentives include:
- Net metering: One of the most important perks available to solar customers in VA is net metering. This policy lets you generate more energy than you need and bank credits for later use. Those credits are useful for offsetting energy bills on cloudy days or in the winter months when sunlight is less abundant and energy generation naturally dips.
- Federal solar tax credit: The ITC is a credit to the income taxes you owe for the year you install your solar system. It’s currently for 30% of your total system cost, which averages around $9,000 in VA.
- Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) program: SRECs are credits you earn for all solar energy production throughout the year. You earn one SREC for every 1,000 kilowatt-hour (1 megawatt-hour) you generate. SRECs can be sold via the local SREC market for an average of around $35.
- Residential property tax exemption: Finally, VA’s property tax exemption means your property taxes won’t increase even when adding a solar system bumps up your home value.7
For more information on how these benefits work or other local rebate programs or tax benefits that might be available to you, you can read our guide to VA solar incentives.
Find a Local Installer in Virginia
The installation company you choose to install your panels, inverters and batteries will play a significant role in your overall experience with converting to solar. The customer service and warranty coverage you receive will also be primarily determined by your solar installer.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the Old Dominion is home to over 70 solar providers.8 Since choosing the best one for your purposes can be a time-consuming decision, we’ll include some links below to rankings of the best solar companies in major cities across VA.
If you don’t see your city represented above, or you’re looking for general installer recommendations in VA, you can check out our article on the best solar companies in Virginia.