North Carolina solar panels: local pricing and installation data

Over 33,000 homeowners in North Carolina have used EnergySage to receive & compare solar panel installation quotes!

Updated 9/23/2023

Solar Data Explorer:

Out-of-pocket cost  
Net 20-year savings  
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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 NC.

Solar power is more popular than ever in the Tar Heel State thanks to strong financial incentives and significant environmental benefits.

Solar in North Carolina

Simple map of North Carolina with a map pin showing a roof with installed solar panels

The future looks bright for renewable energy in North Carolina. North Carolina is one of the nation’s top solar markets, which comes as no surprise given North Carolina’s strong net metering program, solar rebate incentives, and significant tax exemptions. Plenty of sun and great incentives make North Carolina one of the best places to go solar in the country.

How much do solar panels cost in North Carolina?

The average cost of a solar panel installation in North Carolina ranges from $12,452 to $16,848. On a cost per watt ($/W) basis, a solar panel installation in North Carolina ranges in price from $2.49 to $3.37. See how North Carolina 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 North Carolina, the average solar payback period is 13.02 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.

See the cost of solar in NC cities and towns

$12,452 – $16,848

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What solar panels should I install in North Carolina?

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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 North Carolina?

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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 North Carolina is directly related to the amount of sunlight that hits your panels. Good news for energy conscious homeowners in North Carolina, this state ranks in the top half of all US states for average peak sun hours, which will be sure to help your panels rack up tons of energy.

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.

North Carolina solar incentives

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

Learn about solar incentives in NC

What rebates and incentives are there in North Carolina 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, North Carolina has additional incentives for going solar that are dependent on your area and utility company. Of note are the Duke Energy solar rebate program, building permit rebates, low-interest revolving loans, and generous state property tax exemptions. Additionally, Connecticut has established a strong net metering program that makes purchases for solar panels a great deal. To learn more about North Carolina’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 North Carolina

The Tar Heel state is a true success story in the solar industry. While today the state is nationally recognized as one of the top solar markets in the nation, North Carolina had only around 1 megawatt (MW) of solar electric capacity installed as of 2007. Through 2018 SEIA reports that the state firmly ranks 2nd in the nation in solar capacity with a total of 5,261 MW. This remarkable turnaround can be accredited to a variety of crucial factors, but North Carolina’s state level policies and regulations especially stand out for driving its growth.

The beginning of North Carolina’s legislative involvement in solar and renewable energy can be traced back to 2003 with the creation of NC GreenPower. This non-profit organization was the first statewide green power program in the nation and was designed to encourage the use of renewable energy by providing production payments for energy generated by solar, wind, small hydro, and biomass. Payments for solar systems specifically retired in 2018.

Soon after, North Carolina took the next major step towards large-scale solar development when the state implemented its own net metering program in 2005. Throughout the U.S., net metering has been crucial for the solar energy industry by allowing residents to store net excess generation in the electric grid. For North Carolina, policymakers have maintained a strong program by compensating excess solar energy at the higher retail rate, rather than the wholesale or avoided cost rate.

Two years later, in 2007, North Carolina became passed its Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Standard (RESP). Like net metering, state energy requirements have been imperative to the development of clean energy across the nation. In this case, North Carolina provided a mandate for investor-owned utilities to supply 12.5 percent of their retail electricity sales with renewables by 2021, while issuing that municipals utilities and electric cooperatives needed to supply 10 percent by the same date. Additionally, the legislation includes a carve-out provision for solar energy that required 0.2 percent of this technology to be supplied by 2019.

While many states with energy requirements are still in the midst of fulfilling their legislative goals, solar in North Carolina has developed so rapidly that it has easily met their compliance levels already. Although some have worried that this will curb growth, analysts at PV Magazine have calculated that from Governor Roy Cooper’s 2018 executive order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2025, there will be the potential for 25 gigawatts (GW) of new solar generation from this plan.

To support its net metering and RESP foundational policies, North Carolina developed a wide range of financial incentives that spurred substantial momentum in solar development. For example, when the state’s RESP was enacted in 2007, policymakers began to offer a 35 percent tax credit on the installed cost of solar systems, which was one of the most generous subsidies in the nation until it was retired in 2015. The state followed this up by issuing the Property Tax Abatement for Solar Electric Systems in 2008 that ensured homeowners they would be exempt from 80 percent of the appraised value from their installations. Finally, policymakers passed legislation the following year–in 2009–that authorized cities and counties to establish revolving loan programs to finance renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, which has made solar much more accessible to all residents.

The most enticing solar incentive right now for North Carolinians is without a doubt the Duke Energy – NC Solar Rebate Program, which began in 2017. As arguably the top rebate program in the nation, homeowners are eligible for a $0.60/Watt rebate for systems up to 10 kilowatts. These awards come a first-come, first-serve basis though so residents interested in solar should definitely try to apply as soon as possible.