South Carolina solar panels: The complete guide in 2024

Data updated Jun 11, 2024

Written by: Emily Walker

Interested in going solar? You'll need to install a 12.94 kW solar panel system to cover the average electric bill in South Carolina, which will cost you about $22,776 after the federal tax credit.

Cost for an average system in South Carolina


Out of pocket cost, cash
$32,537
Federal tax credit (30%)
- $9,761
Price post tax credit
$22,776

20-year savings $31,187
Payback period 8 Years
Electricity offset 92%
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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 South Carolina

South Carolina offers more than just idyllic summer getawaysit's also an ideal location for solar energy.

With plenty of sunshine throughout the year and robust solar incentives, South Carolinians can save thousands on electricity expenses by installing solar panels on their roofs.

Here's our guide to going solar in the Palmetto State.

Cost

How much do solar panels cost in South Carolina?

Solar panels will save you a lot of money over time, but the upfront costs aren't cheap. The average South Carolina homeowner needs a 12.94 kW solar panel system to cover their electricity needs, which comes out to $32,537 before incentives. Prices range from $27,656 to $37,418, but after the federal tax credit, that drops by 30%. 

While this may sound high, South Carolina has tremendous local incentive programs that bring down the cost of solar. That's why over 12,000 South Carolina 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 7.93 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 South Carolina?

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

Incentive
Average savings in South Carolina
Description

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

$9,761

Lowers your solar panel system's cost by 30%

South Carolina state tax credit

$3,350

Lowers your solar panel system’s cost by 25%, up to $35,000 total

Santee Cooper utility rebate

$4,750

A $0.95 per watt rebate, up to $5,700.

South Carolina solar property tax exemption

The typical property tax in South Carolina is 0.52%

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

Is net metering available in South Carolina?

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.

South Carolina does offer net metering, but it’s a bit complicated: 

  • To qualify for net metering, you’ll need to enroll in a time-of-use rate plan with your electric utility. 

  • Your solar credits get tallied within each time-of-use period—basically the time of day. 

  • Energy credits do not roll over from month to month. Instead, they get converted to cash credits at a low rate.

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 South Carolina?

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 South Carolina:

resources

Top solar resources for South Carolina

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