Solar Companies in Tennessee
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Tennessee?
If you are a Tennessean (Tennessee-ite? Tennessissian? Tenny-Tenny?), I have some exciting news for you about solar power.
Before I talk about the various solar companies, let me say that the state of Tennessee currently has some of the cheapest rates in the U.S. on solar panels.
Solar panels are typically priced by the watt, and your average commercial solar panels come in 250 watt increments. The average price for solar panels in Tennessee is something between $2.45 and $2.55 per watt- A very low price compared to many states in the U.S. Your average home requires something like 20-28 250 watt solar panels to be fully energy efficient, so before any kind of rebates, incentives, tax breaks, etc (of which there are plenty), you’re looking at something between $12,000 and $19,000. But remember, there’s lot of stuff out there that can offset much of that cost.
Tennessee Solar Companies, Reviewed:
There are a number of companies in the state, but most are predictably clustered around your four biggest cities- Memphis, Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville, respectively. So if you live in a more rural area- say, the apparent no-man’s-land between Nashville and Memphis, for example- you may struggle to find a company within shouting distance. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible though, and in this article I will try to examine some companies from different parts of the state.
Company: Dr. Solar
Address: 334 W Olive Ave Memphis, TN 38106-3908
Years in Business: 9
Reviews: Literally none
Business Quote: We are currently offering a 2Kw system for $12,500.00 installed.
The Good: … This business appears to have existed at one point
The Bad: … That’s the best thing I can say about them.
Summary: So I went west to Memphis for our first company, and I started not to review this company because I couldn’t find anything to say about them- I can’t find a single review, and very little evidence to suggest they exist at all outside of their own website. They do appear in the BBB registry but are not accredited. Their website has no logo and looks like it was designed by me in 2004 when I should have been paying attention in some college class. It seems almost entirely focused on how much money you could be making off your home solar power system and points out that they can install a 2kw system for 12,500. Now I don’t claim to be the solar expert here, but I know for a fact from writing these reviews that $12,500 is closer to the price you should pay for a 5 or even 6 KW system in a lot of places. So the Solar Doctor, mysterious as he is, may or may not even exist. And that could be a good thing.
Company: Lightwave Solar
Address: 3026 Owen Dr Ste 104, Antioch, TN 37013
Years in Business: 15
Reviews: 3 / 5 Yelp (2 reviews), 1 / 5 Merchantcircle (1 review), 4.8 / 5 Birdseye (60 reviews), 4 / 5 Facebook (11 reviews)
Business Quote: Solar power solutions have a positive impact on your bottom line, and the environment. So whether you need help servicing your solar panels, or are looking for a complete solar installation, call us today!
The Good: Great website, lots of good reviews (a few imperfect ones), a map on their website showing where they’ve operated
The Bad: Not BBB Accredited
Summary: Lightwave solar looks like a great company to deal with. The few bad reviews I’ve seen are far outweighed by the positives, and the company looks ready and willing to go wherever necessary to install or service solar panels. The map on their website shows projects they’ve done as far east as Virginia, south into Alabama, west almost to Oklahoma and north into Kentucky. So I would guess they’d be willing to come to any part of Tennessee to get the job done for you. So no matter where you are in Tennessee, check these guys out.
Company: GES Solar (Aka: Green Earth Solar)
Address: 9111 Cross Park Dr Ste E-120, Knoxville, TN 37923
Years in Business: ??
Reviews: 4.2 / 5 Solar Reviews (6 reviews)
Business Quote: At GES Solar, we are 100% focused on the design, sales, and installation of solar (PV) electric systems that provide clean, affordable, and renewable energy.
The Good: Nice website, lot of information provided, the few reviews I found are mostly good
The Bad: Not a ton of web presence, hard to find out much about them outside of their own website
Summary: According to their own website, GES Solar is “the premier solar energy company and one of the oldest firms in the Southeast specializing in solar (PV) electric systems”. Which is great and all, but I can’t find a lot of corroborating evidence for that on the internet. Nevertheless, their website says all the right things, has some nice customer testimonials and pictures of the company’s work. I can’t find them on the Better Business Bureau website, but I don’t see many complaints about them anywhere on the internet (or anything at all really), so chances are they are fairly reputable. Overall, I just can’t find a lot of information about this company outside of their own website, but they look promising, so definitely check them out if you’re going solar anywhere near Knoxville.
Company: Total Quality Environmental
Address: 1232 Coffelt Rd, Hixson, TN 37343
Years in Business: 6
Reviews: 5 / 5 Facebook (2 reviews)
Business Quote: We started Total Quality Environmental to provide the South East with the most advanced renewable energy products partnered with cost-saving solutions.
The Good: There isn’t a lot out there about these folks as far as reviews or anything else, but the little bit there is is good.
The Bad: Scanty information on their website, very little info about them outside their own website, not BBB accredited.
Summary: Sort of a mystery company, from what I can gather from their website I think they do solar panel installation. The website doesn’t offer a whole lot of details about what they do, but judging from the little bit that is there I’m pretty sure they do that job at least. Like I said, the little bit of information about them that is out there on the internet is all positive, so this might be a company worth looking into if you’re in the Chatanooga area.
What are the benefits of going solar?
So what’s in it for me? Great question. And as it turns out, quite a lot, more than a lot of other states offer. So here’s just a few of the reasons to go solar in Tennessee:
- Tennessee Valley Authority: The TVA and its affiliate utilities have a power generation incentive for residential and commercial buildings that install renewable energy systems (solar panels, wind power, hydroelectric power, biomass). This incentive and the amount you are eligible to receive is dependent on the kind of system. Since we’re focused on solar panels, we’ll point out that customers receive a rate of $0.12 per kilowatt hour, while all others receive only $0.03 / kWh. So how much does that work out to? In an average 30 day month you can expect a 250 watt solar panel to produce about 45 kilowatt hours. 20 of those panels will produce around 900 kilowatt hours per month, meaning at 12 cents per, you can expect an incentive of about $108!! Not only that, but new members to the program get a $1,000 bonus for joining. So just off this alone, with nothing else, you can expect a return of over $30,000 over the lifetime of your system- your system that, if you remember, only cost something like $15,000 to install.
- State Sales Tax Exemption: All solar equipment and solar installation is exempt from sales taxes in the state of Tennessee. When you’re dealing with a cost of $12-19,000 dollars, you’re talking about pretty big savings, on the order of as much as $1,600.
- Tennessee Performance Based Incentives- Like many other states, Tennessee offers PBIs based on the metered output of your solar or other renewable power system. The energy your system produces is credited as “solar energy credits” (SRECs) that will apply as credits to your future electric bills.
- Federal Tax Credit- Just like with every other state, you are eligible to write 26% of the cost of any solar power system off of your federal income tax responsibility. If your system costs $15,000, that’s a $3,000+ write off, which can potentially save you hundreds of dollars in taxes at the end of the year.
How much will the addition of solar panels increase my home’s value?
There are a lot of different estimates out there about how much solar panels increase the resale value of a home, but the truth is a lot of it comes down to the interest of the buyer- some people are going to get really excited about a home having solar panels and will be willing to pay more for it, while others won’t care at all. That being said, what we can do is look at some estimates of how much you might expect to add to your home’s value with the addition of solar panels.
One school of thought suggests that you might add $20 to the value of your home for each $1 of savings generated- Meaning if your home saves you $1,000 per year in electric bills, you can add $20,000 to the value of your home. This seems extreme, but it’s one way to look at it. On the other hand, other sources estimate a flat 4% increase in the value of your home when adding solar panels. Therefore, if the average home price in Tennessee is about $250,000 you can theoretically add $10,000 to the value of your home.
What are the Effects of Net Metering on a Solar System?
Net metering is the act of measuring how much excess electricity your solar panels generate and feed back into the “grid”. Your solar power system will feed back any energy you don’t use into the grid automatically, and states with regulated net metering laws mandate how electric companies have to handle that. Tennessee, unfortunately, does not appear to have net metering laws, so I can’t find any solid information on how your utility company will handle this- In many states, your utility company will credit you one “free” kilowatt hour of electricity for every one you feed into the system. In months when your solar panels produce more electricity than you actually use, this can not only result in you not having an electric bill but can also result in you getting credits towards future electric bills- in some cases, to the point where you build up enough “credits” that you won’t owe anything for years, even if your system stops working.
How much solar power do I need to power my home?
The average American home uses around 867 kilowatt hours of energy each month according to the department of energy, and 20 commercial solar panels operating at maximum capacity can produce this much power in that time. Every home is different of course, meaning you may need more solar panels to be self sufficient. The size of your home, number of occupants and a lot of other factors can affect how much power you use each month, so you may need as many as 28 or even more solar panels to be completely self sufficient.
What is the “Payback” period for Solar Panels in Tennessee?
“Payback’ periods for solar panels vary wildly from state to state and person to person, so this is always hard to pin down. It has a lot to do with electric rates in your state- if you have cheap electricity, you’re not going to be saving as much as you would on expensive electricity, for example- but also lots of other factors, including but not limited to: Size of of your system, size of your home, your average monthly energy usage, number of people living in your home, rebates and incentives you receive in your state, etc. So obviously this one isn’t easy, and your mileage may vary, but Tennessee actually seems to have one of the short payback periods of any U.S. state, averaging around 7 years to for your system to pay for itself. This means that with a 25 year warranty (pretty standard in the solar field), your next 18 years of electricity are basically free!
So here’s the best I can offer you: The state of Tennessee has some of the best solar laws in the U.S., but finding a company to install your system could be a daunting task. That isn’t to say there aren’t companies- they’re out there, though maybe not in the numbers you would like. The problem is, unless you know someone who has had some solar work done, there just doesn’t appear to be a huge amount of information available about any of these companies. Solar panels are too big and expensive of an undertaking to roll the dice on someone you don’t know much about, so make sure to do your research before deciding on a company. Learn everything you can about solar panels, ask questions, know exactly what you want and need, get price quotes and shop around.