Skip to content

Maximizing Solar Savings in North Dakota: An Expert‘s Guide

As a digital technology expert passionate about the transition to clean energy, I‘ve seen firsthand how solar panels can provide both financial and environmental benefits for homeowners across the country. But when it comes to going solar in North Dakota, many residents are still in the dark about how much they can actually save and the best ways to maximize their investment.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll shed light on the true costs and benefits of installing solar panels in North Dakota, drawing on the latest industry data, policy research, and insights from solar experts. Whether you‘re a longtime homeowner looking to slash your electricity bills or a tech-savvy early adopter eager to embrace the future of energy, read on to discover how you can make solar work for you in the Peace Garden State.

Crunching the Numbers: Solar Costs and Savings in North Dakota

Before we dive into specific money-saving strategies, let‘s take a closer look at the baseline costs and potential savings of going solar in North Dakota.

According to the most recent data from the Solar Energy Industries Association, the average cost of a residential solar panel system in North Dakota is $2.42 per watt, which translates to $14,520 for a standard 6 kilowatt (kW) system before applying any incentives or credits. While this may seem like a steep upfront investment, it‘s actually one of the lowest average costs in the nation, as shown in the table below:

State Average Solar Cost ($/watt)
North Dakota $2.42
Oklahoma $2.62
Florida $2.70
Texas $2.73
Minnesota $2.98
U.S. Average $3.00

Source: EnergySage, March 2023

At the same time, North Dakota residents pay an average of 14.02 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for electricity, which is higher than the national average of 13.01 cents/kWh. This means that North Dakotans have more to gain from offsetting their electricity costs with solar energy.

So just how much can you save by going solar in North Dakota? Let‘s crunch the numbers for a few different scenarios:

Scenario 1: Average 6 kW System

  • System Cost (before incentives): $14,520
  • Federal Tax Credit (30%): -$4,356
  • Net Cost (after tax credit): $10,164
  • Average Annual Electricity Savings: $1,668
  • Estimated Payback Period: 6.1 years
  • Estimated 25-Year Savings: $31,536

Scenario 2: Large 10 kW System

  • System Cost (before incentives): $24,200
  • Federal Tax Credit (30%): -$7,260
  • Net Cost (after tax credit): $16,940
  • Average Annual Electricity Savings: $2,780
  • Estimated Payback Period: 6.1 years
  • Estimated 25-Year Savings: $52,560

Scenario 3: Small 3 kW System

  • System Cost (before incentives): $7,260
  • Federal Tax Credit (30%): -$2,178
  • Net Cost (after tax credit): $5,082
  • Average Annual Electricity Savings: $834
  • Estimated Payback Period: 6.1 years
  • Estimated 25-Year Savings: $15,768

As you can see, the payback period for a residential solar system in North Dakota is just over 6 years on average, after which point the system will have paid for itself entirely through electricity savings. Over the 25+ year lifespan of the system, North Dakota homeowners can expect to save anywhere from $15,000 to over $50,000 depending on the size of the system and their energy usage.

It‘s worth noting that these are conservative estimates based on current electricity rates and assuming no additional incentives beyond the federal tax credit. As we‘ll discuss later, advancements in solar technology and potential policy changes could accelerate the savings even further.

Optimizing Your Solar Setup for North Dakota‘s Climate

Now that we‘ve established the significant savings potential of solar panels in North Dakota, let‘s talk about some key considerations for designing a system that‘s optimized for the state‘s unique climate and geography.

First and foremost, it‘s crucial to orient your solar panels for maximum sun exposure. In North Dakota, the ideal direction for solar panels is due south, with a tilt angle roughly equal to your latitude (which ranges from 45.9° to 49° north). This will ensure that your panels capture the most direct sunlight possible throughout the day and across different seasons.

While North Dakota doesn‘t get as much sun as some of the southern states, it still receives an average of 4-5 "peak sun hours" per day, which refers to the equivalent number of hours at an irradiance of 1,000 watts per square meter. This is more than enough to generate significant electricity with a well-designed solar array.

In terms of equipment selection, it‘s important to choose solar panels and inverters that are built to withstand North Dakota‘s harsh winters and temperature swings. Look for panels with high wind and snow load ratings, as well as a robust warranty that covers performance and defects.

Some of the top solar panel brands for durability and efficiency include:

  • LG
  • Panasonic
  • SunPower
  • SolarEdge

When it comes to inverters, which convert the DC electricity generated by your panels into usable AC electricity for your home, microinverters or power optimizers are often the best choice for snowy climates like North Dakota‘s. These devices are installed on each individual panel, allowing them to operate independently and minimize the impact of shading or snow cover on the overall system performance.

Another way to optimize your solar savings is by integrating your system with smart home technology and energy monitoring software. Platforms like Sense and Nest allow you to track your solar generation and energy usage in real-time, identify opportunities for efficiency upgrades, and automatically adjust your consumption based on electricity rates and peak sunlight hours. By leveraging these tools, you can squeeze even more value out of your solar investment and make informed decisions about your energy usage.

Financing Your Solar Investment

While the long-term savings of solar panels are undeniable, the upfront cost can be a major barrier for many North Dakota homeowners. Fortunately, there are several financing options available that can help make solar more affordable and accessible.

One popular option is a solar loan, which allows you to borrow money specifically for the purpose of installing solar panels on your property. Solar loans typically have lower interest rates and longer repayment terms compared to traditional loans, and the monthly payments are often designed to be offset by the electricity savings from your panels.

Some top solar loan providers operating in North Dakota include:

Another option to consider is a green mortgage, which is a type of home loan that includes additional funds for energy efficiency upgrades like solar panels. If you‘re planning to buy a new home or refinance your existing mortgage, a green mortgage can be a smart way to bundle your solar investment with your overall home financing.

For North Dakota homeowners who can‘t or don‘t want to purchase a solar system outright, community solar gardens and solar co-ops offer an alternative way to access the benefits of solar energy. With these models, you can subscribe to a portion of a larger solar array located off-site and receive credits on your electricity bill for the energy it generates. While the savings may not be as significant as owning your own system, community solar can still provide a meaningful reduction in your energy costs and carbon footprint.

The Future of Solar in North Dakota

As we‘ve seen, solar panels can be a smart and lucrative investment for North Dakota homeowners even without a robust state incentive program. However, there are several factors on the horizon that could make going solar in North Dakota even more appealing in the years to come.

One major factor is the continued decline in solar equipment and installation costs. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the cost of residential solar has fallen by over 60% since 2010, and experts predict that prices will continue to drop as technology improves and economies of scale take hold. This means that the already impressive savings potential of solar in North Dakota could become even more compelling in the near future.

Another potential game-changer for North Dakota solar is the growing momentum behind renewable energy policies at both the state and federal levels. While North Dakota currently lags behind many other states in terms of solar incentives and mandates, there are signs that this could change in the coming years.

In 2021, the North Dakota legislature considered a bill (HB 1412) that would have established a new property tax exemption for residential solar systems, though it ultimately failed to pass. Meanwhile, at the federal level, the Biden administration has proposed extending and expanding the solar tax credit as part of its ambitious climate agenda. If enacted, these policies could provide a major boost to the economics of going solar in North Dakota.

Finally, it‘s worth noting that the value of solar goes beyond just the financial savings for individual homeowners. By investing in solar energy, North Dakotans can play a crucial role in the global transition to a clean energy economy and help mitigate the impacts of climate change. As more and more homeowners, businesses, and communities embrace solar, the cumulative environmental and social benefits will only continue to grow.

The Bottom Line

Whether you‘re a numbers-driven pragmatist or a values-driven environmentalist, there has never been a better time to go solar in North Dakota. With some of the lowest installation costs in the country, a generous federal tax credit, and the potential for tens of thousands of dollars in lifetime electricity savings, solar panels offer a smart and sustainable investment for savvy North Dakota homeowners.

Of course, maximizing your solar savings requires careful planning and execution. By working with a reputable installer, choosing high-quality equipment, and optimizing your system design for North Dakota‘s climate and energy needs, you can ensure that your solar investment pays off for decades to come.

As a digital technology expert and solar advocate, I believe that the future of energy is bright in North Dakota and beyond. By embracing solar power and other clean energy solutions, we can not only save money on our utility bills but also help create a more sustainable and resilient world for generations to come. So why wait? Start exploring your solar options today and join the growing movement of North Dakotans who are taking control of their energy future.