Below you’ll find the top solar companies in North Carolina 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 North Carolina Solar Overview, keep reading:
Although many southern states have as yet struggled with adopting solar energy on a grand scale, North Carolina has thrived. Not only is the Tar Heel State one of the nation’s leaders in solar energy production, with massive utility investment every year since 2010, but the state has also promoted a number of solar-friendly initiatives aimed at reducing the financial burden of solar power.
Read on to learn more about the ins and outs of going solar in North Carolina.
Here's an at-a-glance description of the current benefits and drawbacks of switching to solar in North Carolina:
The levelized cost of solar energy in North Carolina averages out to 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. This figure represents the total upfront costs of a solar PV system divided by the lifetime energy output, and is drastically less than the levelized cost of traditional utilities, which come out to 25 cents per kWh.
As for upfront costs, homeowners could expect to pay anywhere between $13,000 and $16,000 for a typical 5 kW solar array, depending on energy efficiency, the installing company, and other factors. Regardless of where homeowners fall within that range, the federal tax credit will reduce their upfront costs by 30 percent. Additional state-level rebates will reduce the price even further.
Although North Carolina does not offer residents the option to finance through solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA), the state does offer two viable financing options that both lead to solar panel ownership:
As with most states, buying a solar panel system in North Carolina is by far the fastest and most effective way to see an ample return on solar investment. Considering our example from above, a 5 kW system would set buyers back about $16,000 in upfront costs (equipment, warranties, labor, installation, monitoring, etc.); but thanks to the federal solar tax credit, that number can be reduced by 30 percent, or $4,800, meaning upfront cost would be a little more than $11,000 when all is said and done.
On average, North Carolinians can expect the annual savings of solar to offset these upfront costs in about 12 years, and, assuming yearly savings of a little more than $800, the average solar PV system in North Carolina will have netted close to $13,000 after 25 years. Home values, meanwhile, will increase by about $18,000.
On the other hand, for interested homeowners who lack the capital to make such a sizable upfront investment, solar loans are a solid choice. The great thing about solar loans is borrowers will pay zero money down, so savings will begin from day one. Assuming a 5 kW system, borrowers can take out a loan or home-equity line of credit (HELOC) for about $16,000 on a 15-year repayment plan and 4 percent interest. Borrowers will also qualify for the federal solar tax credit. For years one through six, the homeowner will see net positive savings, though these savings will be smaller each year as loan payments will be higher than utility payments.
Unfortunately, years seven through fifteen will be net negative; but once the loan is paid off after year 15, homeowners will begin to recoup their losses each year, and by the end of the 25-year lifespan of the solar energy system, will have accrued about $7,500 in total savings.
Although North Carolina does not carry a state-level tax credit for solar owners, it does offer residents a few noteworthy solar incentives to help alleviate the costs of going solar in the state:
Both Duke and DEP utility providers offer their solar customers a solar rebate program worth $600 per kilowatt. For a 5 kW system, that’s $3,000 off the $16,000 cost. These rebate programs only apply to solar installation projects built between 2018 and 2022.
North Carolina also exempts solar panel systems 80 percent of the home value increase in property taxes. Assuming a 5 kW system and $18,000 in total home value increase over 25 years, that can mean hundreds of dollars of savings each year.
North Carolina’s solar-friendly policies are better than most. The state does have a net metering policy and renewable portfolio standard in place, as well as consistent interconnection rules across the state:
A state’s RPS is a goal for renewable energy production by a set date. North Carolina’s RPS is 12.5 percent by 2021, with a solar carve-out of 0.2 percent within that same timeframe. Given that solar power currently occupies more than 6.5 percent, this goal could use some updating.
Net metering is a state-backed policy that requires utility providers to credit solar users for their surplus energy each month. In North Carolina, this policy only applies to its big three utility companies: Duke Energy, Progress Energy, and Dominion North Carolina Power.
Interconnection rules are the standards set by either the state or the utility provider that solar users are required to pass before they can plug into the system. If given the option, utility providers can sometimes raise these standards unnecessarily, requiring solar users to buy additional home insurance or install a costly external disconnect switch prior to plugging in. Although North Carolina’s rules are consistent throughout the state, it still leaves the application of these different measures up to the utility providers.
As one of the top five solar producing states in the country, North Carolina, as of 2020, has installed nearly 6,500 megawatts of solar energy to-date, with the bulk of that figure being attributed to community solar and other utility solar installation projects. With more than 17,000 solar installations throughout the state, North Carolina is producing enough solar power to send electricity to more than 777,000 homes. The state hosts 216 solar companies employing more than 6,600 people.
Interested in a solar quote? Check out the top-ranked solar companies in North Carolina and read reviews from verified solar customers.