Solar Panels, Richmond VA
How much do solar panels cost in RIchmond, Virginia?
Solar panels in Richmond Virginia cost around $3 per watt, which is considered to be the national average though this actually seems to be a little above average according to my own research. This means then that the average solar panel, which is going to usually be 250 watts, will cost around $750. Your home is going to require between 20 and 30 solar panels to operate self-sufficient of the grid, and thus you’re going to pay something between $15,000 and $22,500 for your solar panels. This is, of course, a lot of money, but there’s more to the story- a number of credits, tax breaks and incentives exist that can more than pay you back for your initial investment.
What are the benefits of going solar?
So what can possibly offset an investment of that size? The state of Virginia has a handful of benefits in place that can benefit solar customers, so let’s take a look at a few of them now:
- Net Metering– The state of Virginia has strong net metering laws, and that’s good news for anyone out there producing electricity on their own, and that includes solar customers. Net metering is, essentially, the practice of not only measuring the amount of energy your solar panels produce but also measuring how much you actually use and how much gets “sold” back to the utility company. This means that you will be given credit for the energy your system produces, whether that’s in the form of a cash payment or credits toward future electric bills.
- Statewide Interconnection Standards- Anywhere you hook up your solar panels to the grid in the entire state of Virginia it should be the same procedure, thereby making it that much easier for your solar installer to do their job. This is thanks to Virginia’s interconnection standards, and should ultimately make things not only easier for you but also cheaper.
- Tennessee Valley Authority Rebate- Though the state itself offers no rebate, the TVA utility company does offer a rebate of up to $1000 for eligible homeowners after the installation of your system. So make sure you don’t miss out on this one, your solar installer should be familiar with it.
- Performance Based Incentives (PBIs)- Solar power producers in Virginia are eligible for Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs). Long story short, this system essentially measures how much energy your system generates and compares that to how much energy you actually use. The rest is “sold” back to your utility company and credited to you on future electric bills. So in other words, not only are you not paying for electricity, you are in effect being paid for generating it.
- Property Tax Exemption- By Virginia state law, your property taxes cannot be reassessed based on the addition of solar panels. This is a big deal because obviously the addition of solar panels can increase the value of your property (and therefore your tax responsibility) tremendously. So this exemption can potentially save you thousands and thousands of dollars in future taxes.
- Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC)- The federal government offers consumers who install a solar energy system the ability to write off 26% of that purchase as a credit toward your federal tax liability. Considering 26% of your purchase could be as much as seven thousand or more dollars, this is an incentive well worth your time.
- Increased Home Value- Although your realtor can give you a much better idea of exactly how much, you can expect your home’s value to increase anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 with the addition of solar panels, possibly even more depending on the size of the system, energy output, etc. So even though you’re paying a lot for your system, when the time comes to sell your home you’ll be getting almost every dime of your investment back out just from this alone.
- Lifetime Savings- Your total savings on electricity over the life of your solar panels is going to come out to something like $20,000 in the state of Virginia. Keep in mind, this is just how much money you will save on electricity, and has nothing to do with energy you “sell” to your utility or any other kinds of rebates and incentives you may receive. So again, this alone is going to cover most of the cost of a solar installation in and of itself
How much solar power do I need?
So every home is obviously going to be different- some homes require more or less electricity than others, depending on a number of factors- size f the home, how many people live there, general climate in your area, insulation, you name it. There’s no hard and fast answer to the question of how many solar panels you’ll need, but generally speaking most homes require somewhere between 20 and 30 panels to be fully functional. Obviously that’s a big margin for error, so your solar installer should be able to look at your past electric bills and give you a pretty good estimate as to how many you’ll need to be self-sufficient. And of course, if you get more than you need, that energy won’t be wasted, it will simply “roll over” as credits on future bills.
What is the “payback” period for solar panels in Virginia?
So the “payback” period refers to how long it will take your solar panels to pay for themselves, whether that’s through savings on electric bills, solar energy credits, incentives, tax breaks or whatever. Currently in Virginia, the “payback” period is expected to be about 12 years, meaning that within 12 years, every penny you invested in your solar panels should return to you in terms of rebates, credits, savings on electric bills, etc. This means that after 12 years, any savings or credits you earn from your solar panels can be considered as “profit”, above and beyond the actual cost of the panels themselves.
How long do solar panels last?
The majority of solar panels and solar installations come with warranties of 20 to 25 years. This means that the manufacturers and installers both believe that the panels should last at least that long, otherwise they wouldn’t give you such a long warranty. Therefore, we can safely assume that your solar panels are likely to last at least 20-25 years. The reality of it is that, as with many things, your solar panels will not stop working all at once, but rather will simply lose efficiency and become less and less effective over the years. But until they die completely, they will continue to produce electricity, even long after their warranty has expired.
Types of Solar Panels
So there’s a lot to know about solar panels, but here’s a few basics that you may want to keep in mind when going through the process of installing a solar panel system. First off, there are two primary kinds of solar panels- Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline. Monocrystalline panels are the smaller panels you often see used for smaller installations like water heaters etc. Monocrystalline panels tend to be more efficient and work with less direct sunlight, but they’re also more expensive. They do last longer, however, than polycrystalline panels. Polycrystalline panels are the bigger ones that you most commonly see installed on the ground or on rooftops. They require direct sunlight to function and are less efficient than monocrystalline panels. They don’t last as long either, but they are cheaper, and therefore you see them quite often when a homeowner has enough space for them on the ground.
The other crucial piece of equipment that you need to know a little about are inverters. Inverters are the machines that actually convert captured sunlight into electricity you can use in your home. There are several different types of inverters that are commonly used in home installations- string inverters, power optimizers, micro inverters primarily- but the kind of inverters you use are normally dictated by the kinds of solar panels you use and where they’re located. So don’t worry too much about kinds of inverters, as your solar installer will probably tell you what kind you’ll have to use.
How Will Virginia Weather Affect My Solar Panels?
Virginia has a very mild climate- yes, I know, you might not think so, but look at the facts: The hottest month of the year in Virginia (July) features an average high temperature of 88, while the coldest month of the year (January) has an average high temperature of 32. There are just over 200 sunny days per year on average, which is again a very fine and mild climate compared to many other parts of the country. Other factors to consider:
Fog / Dense Cloud Cover- Obviously anything that impedes sunlight from reaching your solar panels is a negative thing. On very cloudy days, your solar panels may produce only 30% as much electricity as they normally would.
Rain- Now regardless of the obvious negatives associated with cloud cover, rain is actually good for your panels. It washes them off and can actually make them produce more efficiently.
Snow- Obviously snow is bad. Any accumulation of snow is going to block your solar panels from receiving sunlight and therefore from creating electricity, and in Richmond you are going to get a fair amount of snow. However, as soon as the snow is removed, whether it melts or you scrape it, your panels will go back to operating like normal
Temperature- One myth many believe about solar panels is that they like hot weather. They actually don’t. They can operate more efficiently at lower temperatures in fact. And luckily, in Virginia, you will not get a lot of extreme heat the way you would in some of the nastier parts of the country- Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, etc.
How do I get solar panels installed in Richmond, Virginia?
The city of Richmond itself has a dozen or more very solid solar providers available, and I’m going to go through a few of them here, but keep in mind that many solar companies are more than willing to travel across a whole state to get your business. So don’t limit yourself to only very local providers- be prepared to search outside of your area to find a provider who is right for you and your needs.
Company: Solar Tyme
Address: 6710 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Richmond, VA 23237
Years in Business: 10
Business Quote: “SolarTyme is dedicated to providing alternative energy, energy conservation, and environmentally friendly products and services. SolarTyme has already helped thousands of homeowners in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina gain energy independence and save money while making their homes more comfortable and improving the environment.”
Company: Performance Solar
Address: 7047 River Rd, Hanover, VA 23069
Reviews: 5 / 5 Chamberofcommerce.com (1 review)
Business Quote: “ We work with clients to do an exhaustive review of the numerous factors that can influence their decision to go solar, how to execute the system to maximize tax benefits, maximize energy production, meet capital outlay and budget requirements, and can even craft solutions to eliminate any out of pocket needs and save you money the first month when compared to existing energy costs. We can even fund your project!”
Company: Shockoe Solar
Address: 13421 River Ridge Ln, Ashland, VA 23005
Reviews: 4.8 / 5 Homeadvisor (5 reviews), 5 / 5 Chamberofcommerce.com (6 reviews)
Business Quote: “Every company – no matter its product or service – is a direct reflection of its people. Shockoe Solar’s staff works together like a well oiled machine. Whether it is our largest project or our smallest, your project will get our full attention. All of our employees are dedicated, intelligent, friendly, and passionate about solar energy and our customers. We excel in producing long-lasting friendships with our customers.”
Company: Blue Raven Solar
Address: 9327 Midlothian Turnpike Ste 2C, Richmond, VA 23235
Reviews: 4.5 / 5 Chamberofcommerce.com (221 reviews), 4.9 / 5 Birdeye.com (18 reviews)
Business Quote: “Solar costs have dropped by 55% over the last 5 years to make solar more affordable and allowing more Richmond residents to help sustain the environment. Unfortunately, some solar incentives will be decreasing. After 2022, the federal tax credit won’t be so generous, and you never know how long local rebates and incentives will last. It’s time to take control of your utility bill. There has never been a better time to go solar in Richmond.”
So in the end, yes, solar panels may be a little more expensive in Richmond than they are in some other parts of the country, and no, the state of Virginia does not have the most solar friendly laws. But they’re not the most expensive solar panels, and Virginia does have *some* solar friendly statutes. Combine that with Virginia’s very solar ready climate and you have a pretty good situation, one that will likely only improve with time as more states adopt more renewable energy laws. So a good situation will become a better one given enough time,