Below you’ll find the top solar companies in Hawaii as ranked by us and reviewed by verified solar customers. To learn more about what goes into our “Best Rank” score for each company, visit our How We Rank page. For our full Hawaii Solar Overview, keep reading:
With some of the highest electricity prices in the United States and almost year-round sunshine, Hawaii is primed to be one of the best states to install solar energy. Solar customers in Hawaii will enjoy a rapid return on investment if they purchase or finance a solar PV system through a loan, as well as enjoy consistent savings from day one if they lease or sign a power purchase agreement (PPA).
Beyond the climate, Hawaii enjoys a number of favorable solar incentives and pro-solar policies designed to not only maximize solar adoption, but to also establish a 100 percent renewable energy portfolio by 2050.
Read on to learn more about the ins and outs of going solar in Hawaii.
Here's an at-a-glance description of the current benefits and drawbacks of switching to solar in Hawaii:
The levelized cost of solar over 25 years equates to about five cents per kilowatt-hour. When compared to the levelized utility cost without solar, 81 cents per kWh, the better choice is clear. At around $2.67 per watt, Hawaiian residents could reasonably expect to pay between $8,000 and $11,000 for solar panels, depending on capacity, brand, and energy efficiency.
Hawaii’s approach to charging for solar is different than most states. Rather than credit solar users 100 percent for their excess solar energy, the state applies the excess to other customers as a way to help lower utility costs. This program, pioneered by Hawaiian Electric (HECO), is known as the Customer Grid Supply Plus program, or CGS+. As a result, solar users in Hawaii receive a reduced-cost credit on their utility bill.
Hawaii residents have several financing options to help them make the switch to solar. In addition to financing through cash purchase, and solar loan, they can also benefit from low solar energy rates through a solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA):
Hawaii exhibits one of the fastest repayment periods on solar installation projects in the nation. At a staggering four to five years, customers will start saving on energy from day one. Following the 30 percent federal solar tax credit, solar energy system buyers can expect to pay a little less than $11,000 for a 5.2 kW system. Following the state tax credit, which caps at $5,000, that number gets reduced to around $6,000 — for the entire system.
After the system pays for itself, homeowners who buy their systems upfront could see net profits of up to $26,000 after 25 years!
Hawaii is one of the few states in which financing a solar panel system through a solar loan is actually preferable to a cash purchase. Because you don’t have to put any money down on a solar loan, and comparably high electricity prices and federal and state tax credits eradicate most if not all of the solar cost, a typical 5.2 kW solar array will pay for itself on day one.
Savings will remain fairly steady over the course of a 15-year loan repayment plan, dipping slightly toward the end as electricity prices increase. But once the loan is paid off, customers will still end up with more than $20,000 in savings over the next decade — all without paying a penny for solar on the front end.
Leasing or financing through a PPA can also be viable options for individuals who want to invest in solar, but lack the capital necessary to either pay upfront or quality for a solar loan. PPAs specifically, in which customers pay for only for the power their systems produce, might be a good short-term solution, but may not result in massive savings over time. That’s because energy prices are projected to remain fairly stable over the next several years, and most PPA contracts will raise the monthly rate by about two percent each year. That said, customers could expect to save an average of $64 per month through leasing or PPA, still a great option even without tax credits.
Apart from the Federal Solar Tax Investment Credit worth 30 percent of the total system cost, Hawaii has a handful of solar incentives that in some cases will almost completely cover the cost of going solar in the Aloha State:
Although the state does not have any solar power rebates in place, it is one of the few to offer a solar tax credit at the state level worth 35 percent of the cost (up to $5,000) of the system. Combined with the federal tax credit, that’s a huge percentage of your upfront costs paid back to you after the first year!
While the State of Hawaii does not exempt solar panel systems from being taxed as part of a property, its capital city, Honolulu, does. Since the majority of solar installations in the state take place in Honolulu (approximately 70 percent), a good portion of solar customers are entitled to this exemption.
Despite not having the best net metering policy (the majority of excess solar power is diverted to other utility customers, rather than credited back to the system owners), Hawaii’s favorable solar policies, including basic interconnection rules, have made solar energy so much more accessible than in the past.
The renewable portfolio standard (RPS) is a policy requiring the state and utility providers to attribute a certain percentage of their energy output to renewable sources by a strict deadline. In Hawaii’s case, that standard is 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 — an ambitious goal by any metric. That goal will be accomplished in phases: 30 percent by 2020, 40 percent by 2030, 70 percent by 2040, and 100 percent by 2045.
Hawaii’s solar installations have generated enough energy to power more than 330,000 homes across the state. The state currently ranks 15th among all reporting states for solar output and investment, hosts almost 100 different solar providers, and reports a solar workforce of more than 2,000 people.
Interested in a solar quote? Check out the top-ranked solar companies in Hawaii and read reviews from verified solar customers.