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The use of solar panels in Virginia is becoming very popular. With policies aimed at transitioning the state to 100% renewable energy by 2050 and a climate suited for productive solar installations, both homeowners and businesses across Virginia have a tremendous opportunity to invest in solar panels.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about installing solar panels in Virginia, including:

  • Why solar is worthwhile in Virginia
  • The process for getting started with a solar panel installation
  • Typical installation costs and financing options
  • Expert advice on choosing a solar installer
  • Frequently asked questions about residential and commercial solar

Whether you're looking to reduce energy bills, pay fewer taxes, or invest in a sustainable future, solar energy can pay dividends for decades to come in Virginia. Let's examine the key considerations for making the switch to solar power.

Is Solar Worth It In Virginia?

With plenty of sunshine and generous solar incentives, the potential for solar in Virginia is great. 

Crewe-Tractor-Solar-System_2Virginia gets 4.2 - 4.5 peak sun hours a day on average. Florida, the sunshine state, gets 4.5 for comparison. With adequate sun hours and the 32nd highest electric rates in the country, Virginia homeowners and businesses can greatly benefit from a solar panel investment. 

That’s exactly why Virginia is ranked the ninth-best solar state in SEIA’s U.S. Solar Market Insight Report. Over 4,286 MW of solar is installed in the state, equivalent to 476,108 homes supplied by solar energy. 

With electric rates rising steadily, combined with declining solar installation costs and generous solar incentives in Virginia, solar is a worthwhile investment for many of Virginia’s businesses, farmers, and homeowners.  

How to Get Started with Solar Energy in Virginia?

If you’re still relatively new to solar panels, getting started may seem like an overwhelming process. Keep reading below to learn more about how to get started and move forward with confidence. 

Navigating the Solar Installation Process in Virginia

There are a few key steps to get started with a solar panel installation in Virginia.

  1. Step one: Request a site visit from a reputable solar company. The site visit will allow the solar company to evaluate the solar feasibility at your business or home. They will look to see if your roof is suitable for solar based on its orientation, shading, and structural considerations. If your roof isn’t suitable for solar panels or you would rather have a ground-mounted system, they will help you determine the best location for that ground mount. Ultimately, the goal of a site visit is to answer all your questions and find the most economical location for your panels.
    Pro tip: If a solar company is unwilling to visit your property, it may be a good sign to move on to another company. 
  2. Step two: After deciding to proceed with your installation, you’ll want to select a reputable solar company to design your system, obtain permits, apply for grants, complete the installation, and maintain your system for years to come.
  3. Step three: After selecting your solar installer, they begin the design process and schedule your installation. The average residential installation will take a few days to a week to complete. Larger commercial and agricultural systems will take several weeks to months to design, permit, and install.
  4. Step four: This is the part you’ve been waiting for. The installation is complete, and your system is energized. Now, you can “Save With Every Sunrise.” 

Financing Options For Solar Panels In Virginia

When it comes to paying for your solar panel system, there are several options available in Virginia.

Purchasing the system outright with cash or a loan offers the best return on investment in most cases because you will receive all the incentives (tax credit, SRECS, and electric savings) and own a cost-reducing asset. 

If you want to avoid the upfront cost of a solar installation, third-party financing, such as solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs), is a possibility. These options allow you to pay little or no upfront cost in exchange for monthly payments. However, the third party will retain ownership of the system and receive all the available incentives. 

The Cost of Solar Panels In Virginia

The cost of installing solar panels in Virginia will vary depending on several factors like the system size, type of installation, installation location, the selected equipment, and utility interconnection costs.

Virginia homeowners looking to invest in solar energy can anticipate a cost of $3 to $5 per watt when opting to partner with a reputable installation company. A homeowner with an average monthly electric bill of $120 per month can expect to invest around $40,080 upfront, with a net cost of $28,056 after factoring in the 30% federal tax credit.

System Size
Cost Before Incentives
Tax Credit
Cost After Tax Incentives
Year One Electric Savings
Year One SREC Income
10 kW
$40,080
$12,024
$28,056
$1,375
$569
15 kW
$50,685
$15,206
$35,479
$2,063
$853
20 kW
$61,290
$18,387
$42,903
$2,750
$1,138

 

Virginia businesses and farmers should budget around $2 to $3 per watt for a solar panel installation. For a business with an average monthly electricity bill of $1,200, the initial cost before incentives would be approximately $273,300. However, capitalizing on the tax savings would bring the net cost down to $126,845.

System Size
Cost Before Incentives
Tax Credit & Depreciation
Cost After Tax Incentives
Year One Electric Savings
Year One SREC Income
50 kW
$151,200
$81,024
$70,176
$5,000
$2,844
100 kW
$273,300
$146,455
$126,845
$10,000
$5,688
200 kW
$499,600
$267,723
$231,877
$20,000
$11,375

 

Pro Tool: Try our solar calculator for a quick estimate of your installation cost and savings. 

 

Virginia Solar Incentives In 2024

There are several solar incentives available for Virginia businesses and homeowners. 
For homeowners, the 30% federal tax credit and Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) are the main two incentives. The federal tax credit can be used to offset your owed taxes - this is money saved in year one. Solar-Owners-Celebrating_Flip-The-Switch-Social-Graphic-2

SRECs are a lesser-known benefit available for homeowners and businesses. They pay you for the kilowatt-hours produced by your system. For every 1,000 kWh produced by your solar panels, you’ll receive 1 SREC. In May 2024, VA SRECs were selling for $35. This price can greatly fluctuate depending on market conditions.

The tax benefits for businesses are much greater than those available for residential projects. Businesses that install a system under 1 MW AC can capitalize on the federal tax credit, which can grow from 30% to 60% if specific criteria are met. However, at this time, most businesses will only qualify for 30%. For systems 1 MW AC and larger, the tax credit begins at 6% and can increase to 70% upon meeting requirements for prevailing wages, domestic content, and system location.

Virginia businesses can also take advantage of depreciation, with 60% of the federal depreciation accelerated to year one. The remaining 40%, along with the state depreciation, will follow the five-year MACRS schedule. 

Many of Virginia’s rural businesses and farmers may also qualify for a generous USDA grant

The Average Payback Period For Solar In Virginia

Solar panel systems pay for themselves through immediate tax savings and long-term energy savings. With the tax credit available for use in the initial year to reduce your federal tax liabilities and accelerated depreciation benefits for businesses, a substantial portion of the solar panel investment's returns are front-loaded.

Virginia homeowners can expect an average payback period of 16 years on their solar panels, with an ROI of 9.55%.

Businesses in Virginia that choose to invest in solar panels can expect to recoup their initial investment in around 6 years, with a solid 20% return on investment.

Solar panels typically have a lifespan of 25 to 30 years, backed by a warranty for the same duration. This means homeowners can enjoy over a decade of free electricity, while businesses can benefit for more than two decades.

Ultimately, you must weigh the expected lifespan against your tax savings, projected energy savings, and environmental impact to determine if a solar panel system is the right investment for you. While solar may be a valuable investment for many Virginia residents, it’s not right for everyone.

Virginia
Mid-Atlantic States Average
Other Investment Options
ROI
9.55% for Residential
20% for Commercial
8% for Residential
16.3% for Commercial
Average Annual Stock Market Return Is 10%
Average Annual Roth IRA Return is 7-10%
Payback
16 Years for Residential
5.5 Years for Commercial
15 Years for Residential
9.1 Years for Commercial

* Sources: Average Annual Stock Market Return and Average Annual Roth IRA Return

Why Are People Going Solar In Virginia?

Paradise Energy has helped hundreds of businesses, farmers, and homeowners across the Commonwealth invest in solar. For Virginia residents, solar presents an excellent investment opportunity, offering long-term control over a fixed cost and immediate tax savings.

Here’s what your neighbors are saying about their solar investment.

 

 

Visit our project gallery to view other solar installations in Virginia.

 

Frequently Asked Questions When Going Solar In Virginia

How much can you realistically save by installing solar panels in VA?

The amount of money you will save with solar panels will vary greatly depending on your electric consumption and the size of your solar system. 


In addition to the immediate tax savings generated by solar, Virginia homeowners can expect to save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of their solar panels. Most businesses will save hundreds of thousands over the lifespan of their solar panels.

What is net metering and how does it work?

In Virginia, utility companies are mandated to compensate solar owners for the surplus electricity they generate. This compensation process, known as net metering, allows solar owners to exchange electricity with the grid on a one-to-one basis. It ensures that solar owners are fairly rewarded for the electricity they contribute to the grid and draw from it during times of low solar energy production.

Learn more: How net metering works in Virginia

How do I find a qualified solar company in Virginia?

Solar is a long-term investment. To ensure the longevity of your system post-installation, it's crucial to choose a trustworthy local installation company with experience, financial stability, and a dedicated service team.

The best way to find a reputable installation company is to research them online. Examine their website to learn about their team, company culture, and industry experience. Browse their reviews on Google and SolarReview.com. Ask to speak with their past customers.

Pro Tip: Ask your solar salesperson these 10 questions for a smooth and successful solar investment. 

Do solar panels require a lot of maintenance?
Solar panel systems are low-maintenance if properly installed. If problems occur, the manufacturer or installer will most likely address them within the warranty coverage.
How long do solar panels realistically last?
The majority of solar panels are backed by a 25- or 30-year production warranty, ensuring that they will maintain a guaranteed level of efficiency for the warranty timeframe or be replaced.
Can I go completely off-grid with solar in Virginia?

Going completely off-grid is an option, but it will be costly. Installing a whole-home battery system will cost upwards of $100,000. 


The more cost-effective solution is to install a grid-tied solar system with a small battery system or generator to support your essential loads during short-lived outages. 

Tool: Utilize our calculator to assess the optimal size and cost of a battery system tailored to meet your specific requirements.

 

 

Is Solar Right For You?

Virginia's strong solar potential, lucrative incentives, favorable policies, and long-term energy savings combine to make a compelling case that going solar is a wise investment for many homeowners, farmers, and other businesses across the Commonwealth.

If you would like to learn more about how solar could help you, click the button to get started. Our team of solar consultants will answer your questions and provide a quote with all the information you need to make an informed investment decision.

If you’re not ready for a quote, visit our learning center for valuable blogs, videos, and guides that will help you on your solar journey.