Rhode Island solar panels: The complete guide in 2024

Data updated May 28, 2024

Written by: Emily Walker

Interested in going solar? You'll need to install a 9.63 kW solar panel system to cover the average electric bill in Rhode Island, which will cost you about $22,306 after the federal tax credit.

Cost for an average system in Rhode Island


Out of pocket cost, cash
$31,866
Federal tax credit (30%)
- $9,560
Price post tax credit
$22,306

20-year savings $78,162
Payback period 7 Years
Electricity offset 95%
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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 Rhode Island

The smallest state in the nation fosters some of the biggest solar savings for its residents. Rhode Island’s solid incentives, coupled with the sky-high electricity prices, make solar panels a good investment for pretty much anyone in the Ocean State. 

Factor in the federal solar tax credit and Rhode Islanders can cut the cost of solar by thousands of dollars, speeding up their payback periods and increasing the value of their investments. 

Here's what you need to know about going solar in Rhode Island.

Cost

How much do solar panels cost in Rhode Island?

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 Rhode Island homeowner needs a 9.63 kW solar panel system to cover their electricity needs, which comes out to $31,866 before incentives. Prices range from $27,086 to $36,646 before incentives. After the federal tax credit, that drops by 30%, and Rhode Island has some local incentives as well. 

As a Rhode Islander, you can participate in either the Renewable Energy Growth (REG) Program or a Renewable Energy Fund (REF) Small Scale Solar Grant (but not both). These are both first-come, first-serve incentives where you can earn $0.27 per kWh or $0.65 per watt (up to $5,000), respectively. 

Solar pays off in Rhode Island.That's why over 13,000 Rhode Island 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 6.72 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: 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 Rhode Island?

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

Incentive
Average savings in Rhode Island
Description

Residential Clean Energy Tax Credit, formerly the federal investment tax credit (ITC)

$9,560

Lowers your solar panel system's cost by 30%

Renewable Energy Growth (REG) Program

$0.27/kWh

Compensates you for your solar generation for the first 15 years of generation

Renewable Energy Fund (REF) Small Scale Solar Grants

$5,000

Grant offered to new solar installations

Rhode Island solar sales tax exemption

7% of your system’s cost

You don't need to pay any sales tax on new solar panel systems in Rhode Island

Rhode Island solar property tax exemption

1.398% of your system’s cost, annually on average

If you use solar energy as a source of power, you won't need to pay more for the value your solar panels add to your property

Is net metering available in Rhode Island?

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. 

Under Rhode Island’s net metering program, you’ll earn credits at the retail rate of electricity for each kWh of electricity your system produces, up to 100% of your monthly utility electricity demand. If you send more electricity to the grid than you demand, you’ll be credited based on the avoided cost rate for your excess generation. Net excess generation credits are limited to 125% of your utility usage. 

All major utilities in Rhode Island offer their own net metering program, so make sure to cash in on it while it's still available. Learn more about net metering in Rhode Island or get program details below:

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 Rhode Island?

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 Rhode Island:

resources

Top solar resources for Rhode Island

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