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For nearly as long as solar panels have been gracing rooftops and barren land, creative people have been searching out additional surfaces that can be tiled with energy-generating photovoltaic (PV) panels. The idea has been pretty straightforward: if solar panels generate energy simply by facing the sun, then humans could collectively reduce our reliance on coal, oil, gas and other polluting fuels by maximizing our aggregate solar surface area.

So, what kind of unobstructed surfaces are built in every community and in between every major city across the globe? Highways and streets. With this in mind, the futuristic vision of laying thousands, or even millions, of solar panels on top of the asphalt of interstates and main streets was born.

For nearly as long as solar panels have been gracing rooftops and barren land, creative people have been searching out additional surfaces that can be tiled with energy-generating photovoltaic (PV) panels. The idea has been pretty straightforward: if solar panels generate energy simply by facing the sun, then humans could collectively reduce our reliance on coal, oil, gas and other polluting fuels by maximizing our aggregate solar surface area.

So, what kind of unobstructed surfaces are built in every community and in between every major city across the globe? Highways and streets. With this in mind, the futuristic vision of laying thousands, or even millions, of solar panels on top of the asphalt of interstates and main streets was born.

While the concept art looked like a still from a sci-fi film, many inventors, businesses and investors saw these panels as a golden path toward clean energy and profit. Ultimately, though, the technology and economics ended up letting down those working behind each solar roadway project — from initial concepts in the early 2000s to the first solar roadway actually opened in France in 2016, they all flopped.

In the years since the concept of solar roadways went viral, solar PV has continued to improve in technology and drop in price. So, with a 2021 lens, is it time to re-run the numbers and see if a solar roadway could potentially deliver on that early promise? We dig in to find out.


Solar Roadways: The Original Concept

Solar roadways are complex in execution, but in concept, they’re as simple as they sound. They’re roads “paved” with extremely strong solar panels that are covered in glass that can withstand environmental stressors and the weight of vehicles driving over them on a consistent basis.

The idea was something that got people really excited when the initial Solar Roadways, Inc. project (which is still seeking funding) burst onto the scene in 2014:

More advanced designs included solar roadways outfitted with LED lights that could be used to illuminate lane lines, communicate to drivers and more. Other iterations included weight sensors that would detect when obstructions were on the road or could alert homeowners if unexpected vehicles were approaching their driveway. Embedding these kinds of technology into the solar roadways renderings only added to their appeal and the initial hype around the concept.

Key Selling Points of Solar Roadways

Early innovators of solar roadways touted the numerous benefits of their ideas. These included:

  • Sunlight shines down on roads at no cost, making the energy not only readily available, but also free (aside from installation and maintenance).
  • The ability to power street lights with solar roadways eliminated the need to pull extra energy from the grid.
  • Having electronics embedded into the roadway opened up a world of possibilities for communicating with drivers in ways that didn’t require painting and repainting of roads.
  • The ingenuity to attach weight sensors on the solar panels could be used to alert drivers about potential obstructions, such as animals, disabled vehicles or rocks on the road.
  • In a future of electric vehicles, the possibilities were seen as even more beneficial, as solar roadways could be used to power electric vehicle charging stations or to charge the cars while they’re driving.

While some early thinkers may also have envisioned these roadways sending solar energy to the local power grid, the most impactful way solar roadways could utilize the energy they generated is right around the road itself: lighting street lights, heating mechanisms to melt snow on the roadway, or powering small emergency equipment on road shoulders.

Using the energy for on-road applications would mean that the power didn’t have to be sent long distances before being used, which results in energy loss. However, in more rural or remote locations, having the solar roadway energy available for nearby homes and businesses could be a huge benefit, especially if there’s an outage in the overall grid.

Why Solar Roadway Tests Have Failed

To much of the general public — and especially to people who weren’t well versed in the intricacies of solar panels or road structures — solar roadways seemed like a slam-dunk solution that both looked futuristic and had benefits that went far beyond electricity generation. It was the kind of innovation that had people exclaiming: “How has no one done this yet?!” But in reality, the execution of solar roadways was much more complex than the idea.

Here are a few reasons solar roadway tests have failed:

Cost of Manufacturing and Maintenance

The cost of the energy from the sun may be free, but the investment to install and maintain the solar roadways was undeniably prohibitive. The reason asphalt is used by default to pave roadways is because it is immensely affordable and low-maintenance, which is especially critical on vast, expansive roadways and interstates.

In 2010, Scott Brusaw, co-founder of Solar Roadways, Inc., estimated a square foot of solar roadway would cost about $70. However, when the first solar roadway was built in France by a company called Colas, it measured 1 kilometer and cost $5.2 million to build — or about $1,585 per foot of roadway. Of course, this was a small iteration and bulk manufacturing would cost less, but either way, it’s hard to believe the cost of a solar roadway would ever be competitive with the price of asphalt, which is about $3 to $15 per square foot.

Further, the cost and complexity to send a crew to repair individual panels that fail would far outweigh those to maintain asphalt. So, while one of the presumed benefits of solar roadways is the cost savings associated with self-generated energy, even back-of-the-envelope math highlights how the numbers would simply not add up to be more cost-effective in the long run.

Energy Required to Produce the Panels

Another limiting factor appears when considering the energy it takes to make asphalt versus high-durability glass and solar panels. Most asphalt used on roads today is a byproduct of distilling petroleum crude oil for products such as gasoline, which means it makes use of a substance that would otherwise be discarded as waste.

The solar roadway panels, although intended to save energy in the long run, take much more to produce. Typical rooftop solar panels can easily make up for the extra energy used in production because the glass doesn’t need to withstand the weight of vehicles driving over them, but solar roadways have that added complexity.

Power Output of the Panels

When estimating power output, early optimists seemed to perform calculations based on the raw surface area they could cover — and not much else. However, beyond the stunted energy generation that any solar panels face on cloudy days or at night, solar roadways presented unique new performance challenges.

For example, vehicles constantly driving over solar roadways would interrupt sun exposure. Plus, they’d leave behind trails of fluid, dirt and dust that can dramatically reduce the efficiency of solar panels. Being installed on the ground is a challenge in itself because of how readily shade would find the roads; that’s the reason you find most solar panels on rooftops or elevated off the ground and angled toward the sun.

Issues With Glass Roadways

Lastly, driving on glass surfaces is simply not what modern cars are designed to do. Asphalt and tires grip each other well, being particularly resilient in wet conditions. If the asphalt is replaced with glass — even the textured glass that’s used for solar roadways — tire traction could be reduced dramatically. Wet or icy conditions could lead to catastrophic situations on solar roadways.

Could Recent Advances in Solar Technology Bring Solar Roadways Closer to Reality?

For all of these challenges and even more roadblocks that early solar roadway projects have run into in the past, the reality is that solar technology continues to improve. In the seven years since the first Solar Roadways, Inc. video went viral, solar panels have developed to be more durable, more cost-effective and more efficient at converting sunlight to electricity. To put some numbers behind these trends:

  • The average solar PV panel cost has dropped about 70% since 2014.
  • In 2015, FirstSolar made news with panels that were 18.2% efficient. Today, the most advanced prototypes are able to exceed 45% efficiency.
  • Total solar energy capacity in 2021 is nearly six times greater than in 2014, and with that explosion has come advances to flatten the learning curve and increase the general public’s acceptance of the benefits of solar.
  • Solar jobs have increased 167% in the last decade, giving the industry more capable workers able to take the reins of a solar roadway project and more professionals who know how to affordably install solar.

The question to ask is whether these advances are enough to bring solar roadways from failure to success.

Despite the improvements, many of the original challenges with solar roadways remain, and the scale of execution is immense. Even with decreasing solar PV costs, outfitting long stretches of roadway with such complex technologies will require tremendous capital.

Rather than a future where solar roadways cover the country from coast to coast, a more likely outcome is that these advances will bring solar roadways to viability in narrow, niche applications.

Just like tidal energy is a great opportunity for small coastal communities but can’t be scaled to solve the energy crisis across the world, it’s conceivable that limited-scope solar roadways could be constructed around the world. However, large-scale solar roadways may never be more than a pipe dream.

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Solar power has been an energy source of growing importance in recent years, as technology has advanced and the cost of solar panels has declined sharply. As a result, many smaller sun-powered products have become available, from solar phone chargers to solar generators to outdoor solar lights.

Solar power has been an energy source of growing importance in recent years, as technology has advanced and the cost of solar panels has declined sharply. As a result, many smaller sun-powered products have become available, from solar phone chargers to solar generators to outdoor solar lights.

Whether you’re looking for ground lights or flood lights, illuminating your outdoor spaces with a wired system can be both an electrical challenge and an eyesore. Convenience, sleekness and sustainability are just a few reasons so many people are looking for the best outdoor solar lights.

In this article, we’ll go over how solar lights work, show you some of the best solar lights available and help you decide whether solar-powered lighting is a good choice for your home.


6 Best Outdoor Solar Lights

The below table provides a quick summary of our recommendations for the best outdoor solar lights across six unique categories. We chose these products based on criteria including durability, ease of installation, ease of use, run time, cost and more.

Best Outdoor Solar Lights Our Award Buy Now
Solpex Solar Ground Lights Best Overall Check Price
Brightech Ambience Pro Best String Lights Check Price
Beau Jardin Solar Pathway Lights Best Path Lights Check Price
AmeriTop Motion-Sensor Lights Best Flood Light Check Price
Brightown Solar-Powered Fairy Lights Best Fairy Lights Check Price
Sunnest Stainless Steel Outdoor Solar Lights Best Lights Under $20 Check Price

To dig into the advantages and disadvantages of each of these models specifically, keep reading.

​Best Overall: Solpex Solar Ground Lights

Solpex Solar Ground Lights

Solpex

Solpex’s outdoor in-ground solar lights provide bright illumination without getting in the way or even really being noticeable until they’re turned on. The high-quality system is designed to be exceedingly easy to install, is extremely durable in material and operates with ease, turning on automatically and running from dusk to dawn. Solpex’s bright LED bulbs are perfect for providing your yard with guiding light year-round.

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Weather-resistant and durable
  • Efficient and effective

Cons:

  • More expensive than some competitors’ models
  • In-ground lights need more maintenance to keep clean and clear

Why Buy: If you’re looking for an in-ground solar garden light that will truly wow your guests when they turn on, the Solpex Solar Ground Lights could be your best pick.

​Best String Lights: Brightech Ambience Pro

Brightech Ambience Pro - Waterproof, Solar Powered Outdoor String Lights

brightech.com

String lights can be the perfect mood-setter, and using the Brightech Ambience Pro solar powered string lights ensures that you brighten your space reliably and efficiently. With a thorough two-year warranty and extensive weatherproofing and shatterproofing, these lights will hold up through most weather conditions while still appearing delicate enough for any setting — romantic, celebratory, relaxed or otherwise.

Pros:

  • Long lifetime
  • Flexibility in installation and design thanks to clip-on bulbs
  • Decorative cozy feel

Cons:

  • May not provide enough light for safety or security applications
  • Heavier than non-solar string lights

Why Buy: To fill your outdoor space with a warm ambiance, Brightech’s solar-powered outdoor string lights are a great option. The Edison bulbs give off a vintage feel that your guests are sure to appreciate.

​Best Path Lights: Beau Jardin Solar Pathway Lights

Beau Jardin Solar Pathway Lights

Beau Jardin

To dot a pathway, garden or outdoor patio, using solar outdoor lighting eliminates the need for fragile and cumbersome wiring, and the Beau Jardin Solar Pathway Lights are some of the best ones out there at an affordable price. These solar path lights take seconds to install — simply use the spike to insert them directly into the ground — and are built to last for years.

Pros:

  • Easy installation
  • Great value for money
  • Extensive battery life
  • Stylish appearance

Cons:

  • Made of plastic, so not as durable as more robust materials
  • Provide accent lighting rather than full illumination that may be needed for some pathways

Why Buy: The Beau Jardin Solar Pathway Lights are the best outdoor solar lights if you’re looking for affordability and quick installation. They’re ideal for accent lighting during the darker hours, and buying multiple packs can allow you to light up a wider area.

​Best Flood Light: AmeriTop Motion-Sensor Lights

AmeriTop Motion-Sensor Lights

AmeriTop

Floodlights are critical for outdoor security, but if the lights burn out or aren’t illuminating enough, then they can’t do their job. That’s why solar floodlights, and specifically the AmeriTop Motion-Sensor Lights, get high marks from us. They provide a wide angle of light to illuminate an expansive area brightly, and they do so using motion sensors in durable, waterproof fixtures.

Pros:

  • Wide angle is great for security
  • Built-in motion sensor requires no additional power
  • Highly durable, weatherproof design

Cons:

  • Designed for function rather than decoration, so they may not fit into your outdoor style
  • Doesn’t provide constant light (only on a motion sensor basis) so may not work for steady light applications

Why Buy: Floodlights can be critical for outdoor safety, and the AmeriTop Motion-Sensor Lights accomplish that efficiently with solar energy and built-in motion detection. We recommend them as the best outdoor lights to illuminate your entire yard for safety.

​Best Fairy Lights: Brightown Solar-Powered Fairy Lights

Brightown Solar-Powered Fairy Lights

https://www.brightown.com/

Fairy lights provide the perfect touch of style and design to an outdoor area, and moving to solar lights eliminates the frustrating constraints of having to plug them in. We recommend the Brightown Solar-Powered Fairy Lights because of their quick charging, flexible design and warm light that’s perfect to decorate for holidays, barbecues, parties, weddings and more. They also have eight light modes that range from slow fades to steady twinkling.

Pros:

  • Easy to shape into different designs
  • Multiple lighting modes and patterns for customizability
  • Great price

Cons:

  • More delicate in construction
  • May not hold up as well in heavy snow or flooding

Why Buy: Solar-powered fairy lights are the perfect decorative addition to a yard or patio, and the flexibility the Brightown Solar-Powered Fairy Lights offer in design and operation can’t be beaten for the price.

​Best Lights Under : Sunnest Stainless Steel Outdoor Solar Lights

Sunnest's stainless steel landscape lights

sunnests.com

The best solar-powered outdoor lights don’t have to break the bank. Sunnest’s stainless steel landscape lights come in a pack of 12 for under yet still deliver great functionality, appearance and ease of use. They can be installed to illuminate pathways, gardens or other outdoor areas.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Attractive in design with cool white lights
  • Ready to install in seconds

Cons:

  • Cheaper price means less durable over the long term when up against the elements
  • Provides accent levels of lighting rather than full illumination

Why Buy: If you want to dip your toes into the solar outdoor light area without investing a lot of money right away, the Sunnest Stainless Steel Outdoor Solar Lights are your best bet to enjoy that initial experience and get hooked into more solar light solutions.

How Do Outdoor Solar Lights Work?

When choosing the best outdoor solar lights for your yard, it may be helpful to understand how these solar panels work.

You may have seen traditional solar panel installations on the rooftops of homes around you, businesses at which you shop or even installed in large outdoor solar farms owned by utilities. What’s particularly intriguing about solar lights is that the technology used is more or less the same as these large-scale panels that are powering entire buildings.

Regardless of the size of a solar panel, it contains solar cells, which are made up of unique semiconductor materials like silicon. When sunlight strikes the cell, some of that energy is absorbed by the material via electrons being knocked loose and being able to flow freely (otherwise known as electricity!).

While standard types of solar panels may contain 36 to 48 solar cells connected together, solar lights are smaller in size and require much less electricity to run (particularly when paired with energy-efficient LED lights). The typical solar light will therefore use just four solar cells, but that’s really the only difference from a solar technology basis.

The rest of the solar light comprises a battery, controller board, photoresistor and the light itself. During the sunny daytime hours, the four-cell solar panel will charge up the battery, typically receiving more than enough juice to run for the entire night.

The photoresistor’s job is then to detect when light is no longer hitting the solar panel, at which point two things will happen: 1) the battery will stop getting charged, and 2) the controller board will tell the light to turn on. In that way, the solar light is always either charging or illuminating.

When morning strikes and the sun hits the photoresistor once again, the controller board will send a message to turn off the light, and the battery will begin accepting its daytime charge.

Types of Outdoor Solar Lights

Outdoor solar lights are a broad category, filling lots of niche needs and popping up in new opportune areas as the technology continues to improve. Because of their low installation threshold, falling prices and efficiency, solar outdoor lighting solutions can be ideal for countless scenarios, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Ground lights
  • Path lights
  • Floodlights
  • Landscape lights
  • Motion or security lights
  • Fairy lights
  • String lights
  • Spotlights
  • Hanging lights
  • Post lights

Homeowners deciding which style of outdoor solar light they want to install should consider all the same factors as they would with traditional lighting technologies: What areas do they need to be illuminated for safety? What fits into the aesthetic of the outdoor area? What security needs can lights fill?

The advantage is that homeowners wise enough to go the route of solar lights will have fewer headaches with installation, will have their lighting last for a longer period of time before it needs to be replaced and can easily change their minds on lighting locations because no wiring is needed.

How Much Do the Best Outdoor Solar Lights Cost?

You may be sold on the technology and ease of outdoor solar lights, but how much will it set you back to purchase the best option out there? As with any advancing technology, the answer to that question can vary significantly depending on the choices you make. The answers to these questions, for example, will all have a material impact on price:

  • How bright (i.e., how many lumens) do you need the lights to be?
  • How efficient do you want the lights to be?
  • How durable do you need the lights to be?
  • How top-of-the-line do you want the materials and decorative nature to be?

For the bulk of the outdoor solar light market, regardless of your answers, each light system will typically cost between $20 and $50. If you really want to go with a high-tech system (which could mean higher-capacity batteries, more intelligent functionality, intricate customizations and more), it could end up costing over $200.

The best approach is to analyze your specific needs and then purchase accordingly.

Choosing the Best Outdoor Solar Lights for Your Home

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, outdoor solar lighting works quite well in most areas of the U.S., as it doesn’t require an excessive amount of sunlight to charge up and work. This means that even on cloudy days or during winter, you’ll still be able to light your way. Solar light adopters aren’t only helping the environment, but they’re also saving money via reduced energy consumption.

If you’re ready to make the switch, identifying the best solar lights for your specific home and need is no small task. When picking the best outdoor solar nights for your need, some characteristics you’re going to have to make decisions on include:

  • Design, style and aesthetics
  • Size of fixture
  • Brightness
  • Ease of use and control after installation (remote-controlled, connected to in-home smart device, manually controlled, etc.)
  • Durability to weather and general wear and tear
  • Expected lifetime before replacements are needed
  • Overall system cost

FAQ: Best Outdoor Solar Lights

What are the brightest outdoor solar lights?

If you want the brightest outdoor solar lights, you’ll want to look at floodlights or spotlights. These often have a higher lumen count and can light spaces better than string or ground lights. Our pick for the best solar-powered floodlight is the AmeriTop Motion-Sensor Light.

What is the best outdoor solar lighting?

We named the Solpex Solar Ground Lights the best overall choice for outdoor solar lighting. These lights are easy to install, ultra-efficient and hold up well in the elements.

What should I look for in outdoor solar lights?

When choosing the best outdoor solar lights for your home, consider factors such as design, brightness, durability and cost.

Do outdoor solar lights really work?

Yes, outdoor solar lights work just as well as traditional outdoor lights. According to the DOE, solar-powered outdoor lights work well in most areas of the U.S. because they don’t require much sunlight. This means that even if you live somewhere with more gray days than sunny ones, you can still harness the sun’s power to light your outdoor space.

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zstockphotos / iStock / Getty Images

Solar energy has been among the fastest-growing sources of power generation in the U.S. in recent years, catapulting from 1.2 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of generation in 2010 to over 90.1 billion kWh in 2020. While that's still just a small slice of the overall energy mix (2% of all U.S. electricity in 2020, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration), the rate of growth is accelerating. The EIA forecasts that by 2022, solar capacity installations will outpace wind capacity installations for the first time on record after wind turbines had a huge head start.

The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic downturn of 2020 led to equipment shortages and other hardships for the solar industry. However, forecasts show the industry is primed for a resurgence in 2021 and beyond. In the first quarter of 2021 alone, many of the nation's highest rated solar installers are ramping up at a record pace and experienced a 46% year-over-year increase compared with the first quarter of 2020.

Solar energy has been among the fastest-growing sources of power generation in the U.S. in recent years, catapulting from 1.2 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of generation in 2010 to over 90.1 billion kWh in 2020. While that’s still just a small slice of the overall energy mix (2% of all U.S. electricity in 2020, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration), the rate of growth is accelerating. The EIA forecasts that by 2022, solar capacity installations will outpace wind capacity installations for the first time on record after wind turbines had a huge head start.

The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic downturn of 2020 led to equipment shortages and other hardships for the solar industry. However, forecasts show the industry is primed for a resurgence in 2021 and beyond. In the first quarter of 2021 alone, many of the nation’s highest rated solar installers are ramping up at a record pace and experienced a 46% year-over-year increase compared with the first quarter of 2020.

As 2021 continues to look like a prime year for solar power in the United States, which states are leading the charge? We can look to the recently released
U.S. Solar Market Insight Report® from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) for some answers.

Top 10 States for Solar Energy

The Solar Market Insight Report included a ranking of the top states across the country based on the total amount of solar electric capacity installed and in operation as of the end of the first quarter of 2021. To put it into context, SEIA figures also include the equivalent number of homes that can be powered by that solar capacity in the individual state.

Here are the current leaders for solar power in the U.S.:

State Cumulative Solar Capacity (Megawatts) Equivalent Number of Homes Supplied by Solar Energy
California 31,873 8,548,370
Texas 9,311 1,082,407
North Carolina 7,132 859,707
Florida 7,074 842,897
Arizona 5,247 810,751
Nevada 3,904 672,707
New Jersey 3,653 586,709
Massachusetts 3,263 545,258
Georgia 3,069 359,160
New York 2,840 474,848

On this leaderboard, some states show up that would be expected —
California has long been the solar king, and they don’t call Florida the Sunshine State for nothing — while other states represent surprising emerging solar hotbeds. For example, you may be surprised to see some smaller, northeastern states like Massachusetts and New Jersey beating out the field. But these results go to show it’s not just about land space and the natural sunshine; the policies and economics driving these installations are just as impactful.

2021 Top States for New Solar Installation

With the solar market really exploding in recent years, traditional
solar stalwarts like Arizona and Nevada are being actively challenged by some emerging contenders.

Specifically looking at where solar installations were most active during the first quarter of 2021, the SEIA report finds the following were the top states for solar installations from January through March:

  1. Texas
  2. California
  3. Florida
  4. Indiana
  5. Virginia

On top, Texas added 1,525 megawatts (MW) of electicity capacity, which is equivalent to 45% of the capacity installed in the state during all of 2020 and represents 16% of the state’s cumulative capacity to date. California added 563 MW of capacity, equivalent to 14% of the capacity installed in 2020 and 2% of the state’s cumulative capacity. Florida added 525 MW of capacity, which is 19% of the capacity installed during 2020 and 7% of the state’s total capacity.

Compare the above list with the top 5 states for solar installations for all of 2020:

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. Florida
  4. Virginia
  5. North Carolina

A few compelling trends become evident when looking at the above numbers. First, it’s never too late to become a solar leader. While Florida is in the top five of cumulative capacity today, and given its sunny reputation that result may not seem surprising, the truth is that 47% of that capacity has been added since the beginning of 2020. In just over a years’ time, Florida nearly doubled its total solar capacity.

Another important trend to recognize is that geography alone doesn’t decide whether a state will be a solar leader. Mid-Atlantic states like Virginia and
North Carolina or Midwestern states like Indiana wouldn’t necessarily be the first most would guess as being solar powerhouses, but thanks to policies like North Carolina’s generous Solar Property Tax Exemption, Virginia’s allowance for net metering and Indiana’s solar easement laws, residents of these states are enjoying solar power on their homes in record numbers.

Where Does Your State Rank for New Solar Installation?

So, are you living in a state that’s leading the way on solar or one that has some ground to make up? Factors to consider when looking at why some states are making more progress than others will include the types of policies in place, the availability of rooftops on which solar can be installed, the appetite for new energy generation across the U.S. and even the state’s seasonal
solar irradiance.

Taking all of those factors into account, here’s where each state stands in SEIA’s recently published rankings:

Here’s how each state’s Q1 2021 ranking compares to how it ranked for total solar installations in 2020:

State Ranking

for Q1 2021

Solar Installations
Ranking

for Total 2020

Solar Installations
Texas
1 2
California 2 1
Florida 3 3
Indiana 4 32
Virginia 5 4
Michigan 6 27
Oregon 7 20
Iowa 8 22
Utah 9 10
New York 10 8
South Carolina 11 6
Massachusetts 12 12
North Carolina 13 5
Illinois 14 14
Maine 15 29
Arizona 16 9
New Jersey 17 11
Colorado 18 13
Maryland 19 26
Nevada 20 15
Minnesota 21 21
Connecticut 22 24
Ohio 23 18
Pennsylvania 24 17
Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories 25 33
New Mexico 26 16
Hawaii 27 28
Missouri 28 37
Rhode Island 29 25
Washington DC 30 42
Wisconsin 31 19
Washington 32 34
New Hampshire 33 39
Arkansas 34 23
Idaho 35 38
Oklahoma 36 40
Delaware 37 44
Georgia 38 7
Vermont 39 41
Kansas 40 35
Louisiana 41 30
Kentucky 42 46
Montana 43 45
Wyoming 44 36
West Virginia 45 48
Alaska 46 47
Mississippi 47 31
Nebraska 48 43
South Dakota 49 50
Tennessee 50 49
North Dakota 51 52
Alabama 52 51

Seeing some states jump up or down the list from one year to the next may seem drastic, but keep in mind that certain tax incentives expire, new policies come into play and other market forces affect local solar industries. That reality underscores the point that being a solar-leading state takes continued commitment, and doing so can happen at any point state leaders decide to truly embrace the solar industry.

The Future of Residential Solar

As the Solar Market Insight Report indicates, solar energy is a hot and growing market. To date, though, solar still only provides a fraction of the total energy generated in the U.S. While some customers, buildings and regions see much higher penetration of solar into their power mix on a micro level, there’s much improvement still on the way, especially as dirtier energy sources like coal continue to retire.

The recent SEIA report shows that it’s a constant push and pull as well, as residential solar installations in the second quarter of 2021 were down 8% from the fourth quarter of 2020 but up 11% from the first quarter of 2020. The fact remains, though, that residential solar had its largest first quarter on record and its second-largest quarter of all at the beginning of 2021. These results signal a growing solar market, especially in states like Florida, Arizona and
Texas.

Additionally, customer appetite for residential solar is as strong as ever: 19% year-over-year growth is expected to get the residential market to a total of 3.8 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity by the end of 2021, a sum that would have been unthinkable just 10 years ago. Indeed, the future remains bright for residential solar.

If you’re interested in becoming one of the millions of Americans who have made the switch to solar panels, fill out the form below to get a free installation quote from a top solar company near you.

Get Free Quotes From EcoWatch Approved Solar Installers
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