Washington D.C. solar panels: The complete guide in 2024

Data updated May 21, 2024

Written by: Emily Walker

Interested in going solar? You'll need to install a 9.45 kW solar panel system to cover the average electric bill in Washington D.C., which will cost you about $20,453 after the federal tax credit.

Cost for an average system in Washington D.C.


Out of pocket cost, cash
$29,218
Federal tax credit (30%)
- $8,765
Price post tax credit
$20,453

20-year savings $69,667
Payback period 4 Years
Electricity offset 85%
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As long as your federal tax bill is high enough, you can take advantage of the federal investment tax credit (ITC).

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Going solar in Washington D.C.

Make this the year you vote for solar power! With D.C.-specific incentives and the federal tax credit, D.C. homeowners can save thousands on solar panels, making the switch to solar an easy and cost-effective decision.

Here's what you should know about going solar in D.C.

Cost

How much do solar panels cost in Washington D.C.?

Solar panels cost a lot to install, but they can save tons of money over time by shrinking or eliminating your electricity bills. The average Washington D.C. homeowner needs a 9.45 kW solar panel system to cover their electricity needs, which comes out to $29,218 before incentives. Prices range from $24,835 to $33,601, but after the federal tax credit, that drops by 30%. 

And that's not all.

Other great incentives can significantly improve your return on investing in solar panels, such as solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs) and the Solar for All program for low-income homeowners. That's why over 6,100 Washington D.C. homeowners have used EnergySage to receive and compare quotes for solar installations. You can expect to earn back your initial solar investment through electricity savings in about 3.79 years, while most systems last at least 25 years. You'll often see this number referenced as your solar payback period.

There are a few ways to finance your solar panel system so you don't have to provide all that money upfront. 

  • Cash purchase: You'll own the system and pay for it upfront. This provides the best long-term savings. 

  • Solar loan: This allows you to retain ownership of your system while owing little to no money upfront. Solar loans aren't all created equal. If you have access to subsidized clean energy loans through local incentive programs, that's usually your best bet. A home equity loan or a personal loan are often your next best options—private solar loans typically come with higher interest rates or upfront fees.

  • Solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA):  A third-party company owns your system and either leases you the solar panels (solar lease) or allows you to purchase the electricity they generate (PPA). These generally provide the lowest savings and generate the most negative press about solar. If you choose this financing option, read the fine print: You can get trapped in them for longer than you'd like.

Solar panels on a house

Incentives

What are the best solar rebates and incentives in Washington D.C.?

Incentives help bring solar's price tag down considerably in  Washington D.C.. Here are the major ones to know about:

Incentive
Average savings in Washington D.C.
Description

Residential Clean Energy Tax Credit (formerly known as ITC)

$8,765

Lowers your solar panel system's cost by 30%

Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs)

$2,400 per year

Cash payments for producing solar power

Solar For All

$10,000

Free rooftop solar for low-income households

Washington D.C. solar property tax exemption

The typical property tax in D.C. is 0.55%

Exempt from paying property taxes on the value added by solar panels.

Is net metering available in Washington D.C.?

In some states, you'll earn bill credits from your utility company when your solar panel system generates excess electricity and sends it to the grid. This incentive is known as net metering—basically a solar buyback program—and makes it so you will owe very little, or even nothing, on your electric bills with solar panels.

In Washington D.C., PEPCO provides net metering services. When your solar panels produce electricity during sunny periods, your home uses this power first. Any surplus energy is sent back to the grid, and PEPCO gives you credits for it on your energy bill.

During periods when your solar panels don't produce enough energy, and you require electricity from the grid, PEPCO deducts from your accumulated credits. You only start paying for electricity once you've used up all your credits.

A house with rooftop solar panels connected to the grid

Equipment

Equipment quality

Each year, solar panels get more and more efficient—that is, they produce more power per square foot. As of 2024, the most popular solar panels can produce about 400 watts of electricity when they’re in full sunlight. If you want to make the most of your roof’s solar potential, get panels with at least that much power output.  

You should also make sure to select a solar inverter setup that makes sense for your roof’s layout. 

And if you want or need a solar battery, be sure to pick one that can integrate cleanly with that inverter. 

Premium equipment can come with a high price tag, but it will often save you more money in the long run. The best equipment tends to have the best warranty terms, often guaranteed to 25 years (sometimes even 40!), so you’re covered in case you need repairs or replacements. The highest-quality panels also degrade more slowly, so they’ll maintain more of their power output further into the future. 

See our list of the best solar panels

Companies

Who are the best solar installers in Washington D.C.?

We pre-screen all of the solar companies on EnergySage to ensure they'll provide you with a high-quality installation. We then rate them based on their results, reputation, and responsiveness. Here are the highest-rated EnergySage installers in Washington D.C.:

Ready to start looking for a solar installer?

Here are some of the most popular ones near you:

resources

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