Washington D.C. solar panels: local pricing and installation data

Over 6,700 homeowners in Washington D.C. have used EnergySage to receive & compare solar panel installation quotes!

Updated 2/17/2024

Solar Data Explorer:

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Solar installation costs do not include the 30% federal investment tax credit or local incentives.

Save money by installing solar panels in DC.

Solar power is more popular than ever in our nation's capital thanks to financial incentives that help you save on your solar installation.

Solar in Washington D.C.

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The District of Columbia’s experience with solar mirrors that of the nation writ large: from President Carter inspiring a nation by installing solar panels on the White House, to President Reagan promptly removing them, Washington DC has experienced first hand the ups and downs of the solar industry in the country. These days, the White House once again has solar panels installed, helping set the tone for solar energy in Washington D.C. and the nation as a whole. And thanks to D.C.’s ambitious Renewable Portfolio Standard, which calls for 100% renewable energy by 2032, the District has robust solar incentives in place, making now a great time to go solar in Washington D.C.

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

From Washington D.C. data, it is shown that the average cost of a solar panel installation ranges from $14,832 to $20,068. On a cost per watt ($/W) basis, a solar panel installation in Washington D.C. ranges in price from $2.97 to $4.01. See how Washington D.C. compares to solar panel costs across the U.S.

How long does it take to earn back your initial investment in solar panels? A solar payback period is the amount of time it takes for property owners who install solar panels to recover their initial investment through electricity savings. In Washington D.C., the average solar payback period is 4.77 years.

Regardless of the exact cost of installation, there are many affordable financing options for solar panel systems. Cash purchases are one common method to pay for solar and often lead to the most long-term value for your money. If an upfront purchase isn’t right for you, solar loans and solar lease/PPAs are available to help finance a solar energy system.

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$14,832 – $20,068

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What solar panels should I install in Washington D.C.?

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For property owners, you now can customize your solar panels, inverters, racking systems, and batteries, as well as the general aesthetic of the installation. This customizability has made it important for solar consumers to understand these various factors. For example, the best solar panels available may have premium efficiencies and warranties, but will typically be more costly. However, depending on the size of the installation, you’ll need to determine whether high-efficiency solar panels that can produce more electricity are worthwhile. Also, your appetite for risk can help determine which solar warranties best fit your needs. These are just a few of the many factors to consider when selecting solar panel equipment.

How much energy can I get from solar in Washington D.C.?

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Aside from the power output of the solar equipment you choose to install, the amount of energy you generate with solar panels in Washington D.C. is directly related to the amount of sunlight that hits your panels. Fortunately, Washington D.C. receives over 200 days of sun a year, making it easier for your solar panels save the most money over your system’s lifetime.

There are additional factors that determine how much solar electricity you can produce. These include shading and panel angle, which are used to calculate your total production estimate. a prediction of how much energy your solar installation will produce over time. This evaluation offers a clear estimate of how much energy your solar installation will produce. You can see how much solar panels can save you based on factors like geographic location and shading by using the EnergySage Solar Calculator.

Washington D.C. solar incentives

Solar incentives in Washington D.C. can help you reduce the overall price of going solar. Learn more about why solar panels are such a great investment in Washington D.C..

Learn about solar incentives in DC

What rebates and incentives are there in Washington D.C. for solar?

The federal investment tax credit, now referred to as the Residential Clean Energy Credit for residential systems, has been one of the most reliable and impactful incentives for solar across the U.S. This solar incentive allows you to deduct 30 percent of the total system cost from your federal taxes. For example, a solar energy system installation that costs $15,000 out of pocket will qualify for a tax deduction of $4,500. For residential systems, this advantageous incentive lasts until the end of 2032 at which point it steps down to 26 percent. The federal ITC drops to 22 percent in 2034 and is eliminated for residential solar installations in 2035. Commercial systems are eligible at least through 2024, but may not be eligible for the full 30 percent depending on certain labor and domestic manufacturing requirements; they also may be eligible for specific ITC adders.

Besides the federal ITC, Washington D.C. has additional incentives for going solar that are dependent on your area and utility company. Of note are Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs), generous property tax exemptions, net metering availability, and low income residential solar. To learn more about Washington D.C.’s best financial incentives for solar, check out our complete overview of the state’s best solar incentives.

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History of solar policy in Washington D.C.

As of the end of 2018, SEIA reports that nearly 50 percent of the Washington D.C.’s electricity is produced by solar. While declining solar costs have been crucial for the recent surge in solar growth in the District, D.C.’s solar policies have been the key driver in developing the industry.

D.C.’s first notable solar policy is net metering, which passed in 2000. Throughout the nation, net metering has been vital for the solar energy industry by allowing residents to send surplus net energy to the electric grid and receive compensation for it on their energy bill. In D.C., residents with 100 kilowatt (kW) or smaller systems are credited for excess generation at the retail rate, providing a better incentive than other states that only compensate excess generation at the lower wholesale or avoided-cost rate. Amendments in 2008 and 2013 further bolstered the program for residents by extending the capacity limit for systems to 1 megawatt (MW), as well as by establishing virtual net metering.

In 2005, D.C. took a major stride in clean energy by passing the renewable portfolio standard (RPS). Nationwide, state energy requirements have been instrumental to the development of clean energy, with D.C. as no exception. The requirement of the District’s RPS has already been increased three times by the local legislature: as of the 2018 update, D.C. is fully committed to supplying 100 percent of its electricity by renewable energy by 2032, the highest RPS in the nation. What’s more, the RPS requires that D.C. set a solar carve-out of 5 percent by the same target date.

A major tool that D.C. is using to help meet its renewable goals is a Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) market. Created as a part of the RPS revision that established a solar carve-out, the purpose of the SREC market is to help utilities meet their RPS compliance levels. For D.C. residents, this means solar performance payments that are the best financial incentive to go solar: in 2019, SREC prices are around $0.50/kWh, meaning a 5-kilowatt (kW) system that generates 5 MWh per year could sell SRECs for as much as $2,500 annually.

Another notable clean-energy regulatory policy mechanism is the Sustainable Energy Trust Fund, founded in 2008. Succeeding the Reliable Energy Trust Fund (RETF), this public benefits fund is tasked with helping the state to use less energy and save money through providing financial incentives, investments, and technical assistance for clean energy causes. The funding for this program comes from a surcharge on all electric and natural gas ratepayers at a per-kilowatt-hour basis and adjusts its price each year.

While Washington D.C. has already realized a wide variety of policies to incentivize going solar, the state has not stopped supporting the industry. For example, policymakers helped make solar more accessible to residents by enacting the Solar Energy System and Cogeneration System Personal Property Tax Credit in 2012 to protect residents against increased property taxes that come with installing residential solar systems. Another example is 2016’s Solar Advantage Plus Program: this policy makes solar more accessible by providing eligible low-income residents a rebate of up to $10,000 to cover the full cost of a 3kW to 4kW solar system. Even better, the applicants will receive full ownership of the system and the energy produced, which includes the financial givebacks from net metering and SREC market.