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Solar Panels in North Carolina: Costs, Savings and Incentives in 2023

Are you a North Carolina homeowner considering making the switch to solar power? You‘re not alone. In recent years, the Tar Heel State has seen explosive growth in residential solar installations – and for good reason. With an abundance of sunshine, falling equipment costs, and generous incentives, there‘s never been a better time to go solar in North Carolina.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll break down everything you need to know about the costs and benefits of installing solar panels on your North Carolina home. From average prices to potential long-term savings, rebates and more, get ready to become an expert on going solar in NC.

The Benefits of Solar Energy in North Carolina

Before we dive into the financials, let‘s explore some of the top reasons why North Carolinians are embracing solar power:

  • Clean, renewable energy: Solar panels generate 100% clean electricity, reducing your household‘s carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels. In 2022 alone, solar energy in NC helped offset over 2.6 million metric tons of CO2 emissions.

  • Energy independence: Generating your own power insulates you from rising utility rates and provides a degree of energy independence, especially when paired with battery storage.

  • Lower electricity bills: For most homeowners, installing solar panels leads to substantially lower monthly electricity costs. Many see their energy bills slashed by 50% or more.

  • Increased home value: Studies show that homes with solar panels sell faster and for more money than non-solar properties. In North Carolina, solar can boost your home‘s value by 3-4% on average.

Thanks to these benefits and more, North Carolina now ranks 3rd in the nation for total installed solar capacity. As of 2023, the state boasts over 8,000 MW of solar – enough to power more than 900,000 homes.

What is the Average Cost of Solar Panels in North Carolina?

Now for the question on every homeowner‘s mind – how much do solar panels actually cost in North Carolina? The good news is, solar prices in the Tar Heel State are some of the most competitive in the country.

As of early 2023, the average cost of solar panels in NC is approximately $2.47 per watt. For a typical 7 kilowatt (kW) home solar system, this translates to a total cost of around $17,290 before applying any incentives or rebates.

Here‘s how that cost breaks down:

  • Solar panels (equipment): $6,200
  • Inverters and balance of system: $4,000
  • Installation labor: $4,400
  • Permitting and inspection fees: $500
  • Sales tax: $2,190
  • Total cost: $17,290

Keep in mind these are averages and your actual costs may vary depending on factors like your location, roof characteristics, choice of installer, and the specific equipment you select.

To put these numbers in perspective, the average cost per watt for solar panels in North Carolina is nearly 10% lower than the national average of $2.73/watt. Among southern states, only Florida and Texas have slightly lower costs at $2.44/watt and $2.45/watt respectively.

Key Factors Affecting Solar Panel Costs in North Carolina

So what accounts for these regional differences in solar pricing? Let‘s take a closer look at some of the key variables that impact solar costs in North Carolina:

1. Sunlight exposure: The Tar Heel State is blessed with abundant sunshine, ranking 15th in the nation for solar irradiance. More sun means more electricity generation, allowing NC homeowners to meet their energy needs with fewer panels.

2. Solar equipment: The type and brand of solar panels and inverters you choose will impact your total costs. Opting for premium, high-efficiency panels will increase upfront expenses but generate more power over time. Choosing a reputable, proven equipment brand can provide greater long-term value.

3. Installation company: With hundreds of solar installers serving North Carolina, it pays to shop around. Larger national installers may offer lower prices but less personalized service, while local companies can provide greater attention to detail and ongoing support. Always get multiple quotes and check installer reviews before signing a contract.

4. Roof characteristics: The size, angle, shading and condition of your roof all play a role in your solar costs. Larger, unobstructed, south-facing roofs are ideal, as they allow you to install more panels and maximize sun exposure. If your roof is older or in need of repairs, you may need to factor in additional costs.

5. Economies of scale: In general, larger solar panel systems have a lower cost per watt, as fixed costs like permitting and labor are spread out over a greater number of panels. If you have high energy needs, upsizing your system can lead to a better return on investment in the long run.

Estimating Your Long-Term Solar Savings in North Carolina

For most North Carolina homeowners, the upfront cost of going solar is more than offset by the long-term electricity savings. But just how much can you expect to save with solar panels, and how long will it take to recoup your investment?

To find out, let‘s crunch some numbers using statewide averages. The typical North Carolina household uses about 1,055 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per month, at an average rate of 10.96¢/kWh. This translates to an average monthly power bill of $116.

Now let‘s say you install a 7 kW solar panel system at a net cost of $12,000 (after claiming the 30% federal solar tax credit – more on that below). In an average year, this system will generate approximately 10,600 kWh of electricity, enough to offset most or all of your annual energy needs.

With a solar payback period of around 9 years, your solar panels will save you over $41,000 on electricity costs over their 25+ year lifespan. That‘s a return on investment of over 340%! And these savings could be even higher if electricity rates continue to rise over time.

Solar Incentives and Rebates in North Carolina

The long-term savings alone make solar a smart investment for most North Carolinians. But thanks to a robust set of solar incentives, you can slash your upfront costs and enjoy a faster payback period. Here are the top solar financial incentives available in NC:

1. Federal Solar Tax Credit: Also known as the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), this nationwide incentive allows you to deduct 30% of your total solar costs from your federal taxes. For a $17,000 system, that‘s an instant savings of $5,100. Note that the 30% rate is locked in through 2032.

2. NC Net Metering: Under North Carolina‘s net metering policy, your utility must credit you for any excess solar electricity you send back to the grid. These credits roll over month-to-month and can be used to offset future electric bills. All major utilities in NC offer full 1-to-1 net metering for solar customers.

3. State Solar Rebates: Green-minded utility Duke Energy offers rebates of up to $4,000 for customers who install solar panels and participate in their energy efficiency program. Many of the state‘s electric cooperatives, like Randolph EMC and Roanoke EC, also provide rebates of up to $2,400.

4. Property Tax Exemption: Thanks to North Carolina‘s Renewable Energy Property Tax Incentive, solar panels are 80% exempt from the appraised value of your home for property tax purposes. This shields you from higher property taxes in the event your home value increases due to solar.

5. USDA REAP Grants: Live in a rural area? You may qualify for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which provides grants of up to 25% of your total system costs. To be eligible, your property must be in an area with a population under 50,000.

Is Solar Worth it in North Carolina?

For the majority of North Carolina homeowners, the answer is a resounding yes – installing solar panels is a smart financial move with benefits that extend far beyond monthly utility bill savings.

By generating your own clean solar power, you can lock in lower energy costs for decades to come while also doing your part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. With the state‘s strong pro-solar policies and generous incentives, there‘s never been a better time to make the switch.

Of course, every property is unique and your solar savings will depend on a variety of factors like your energy usage, roof characteristics, shading, and the size and orientation of your solar panel system. We always recommend getting a professional solar assessment and savings estimate to determine if your home is a good candidate.

Frequently Asked Questions About Solar in North Carolina

Still have questions about going solar in North Carolina? Here are answers to some of the most common queries:

How much do solar panels increase home value in North Carolina?
According to recent data from Zillow, North Carolina homes with solar panels sell for an average of 4.8% more than comparable properties without solar. For the median-value home, that‘s a premium of nearly $15,000.

How long do solar panels last in NC?
Most solar panels are warrantied for 25-30 years and can continue generating electricity for 35+ years. Because solar panels have no moving parts and are resistant to corrosion, they hold up very well in North Carolina‘s climate.

Can I install my own solar panels in North Carolina?
While it‘s legal to install your own solar panels in North Carolina, it‘s not recommended for most homeowners. Solar panel installation involves working with high-voltage electricity, wiring, and often mounting panels on your roof – all tasks that are best left to trained professionals. DIY solar installations can also void equipment warranties and disqualify you from certain incentives.

Are solar panels worth it in North Carolina?
For most homeowners, solar panels are an excellent investment that can save you tens of thousands of dollars on electricity costs while also adding to your home value. With North Carolina‘s abundant sunshine, falling solar costs, and generous incentives, going solar is a smart financial move for most residents.

What is the best way to find a solar installer in North Carolina?
We recommend getting solar quotes from at least 2-3 established installers in your area. Start by using a comparison-shopping service like EnergySage, which allows you to receive customized quotes from multiple pre-screened installers in your area. You can compare offers side-by-side and read customer reviews to find the best deal.


As you can see, there are many compelling reasons to consider going solar in North Carolina. From long-term utility bill savings to generous financial incentives to the peace of mind that comes with generating your own clean power, solar panels offer a host of benefits to North Carolina homeowners.

While the upfront cost may seem daunting, keep in mind that most solar installations pay for themselves within 7-10 years and continue generating free electricity for decades beyond that. Factor in rising utility rates and the increased home value that solar provides, and it‘s clear that going solar is a smart long-term investment.

Ready to see how much you could save with solar panels? We recommend starting with a free, no-obligation solar estimate from a trusted solar company in your area. With a professional assessment and savings analysis, you can determine if solar is right for your North Carolina home.