How much does it cost to install solar panels in Virginia?
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Solar Panel Installation in Virginia Cost Guide
Updated: August 19, 2022
If you are a resident of Virginia, you may know that the state consistently ranks in the top five states for solar energy. Virginia has a sub-tropical climate with hot, muggy summers and moderate winters. They also have an average of 205 sunny days a year, making solar energy a good choice, even with lower-than-average state electricity costs.
The state average cost to install solar panels in Virginia is $15,540 to $19,500, with most homeowners paying $17,520 for a 6kW system with monocrystalline panels mounted on a roof. This project’s low cost is $5,180 for a 2kW system using thin film panels installed on a roof. The high cost is $55,000 for a 10kW system using monocrystalline panels with battery backup installed on the ground.
Cost to Install Solar Panels in Virginia
|Cost of Solar Panels in Virginia|
|National average cost||$17,520|
Cost of Solar Panels in Virginia by Type
Depending on the system size and electrical needs, you can install solar panels in Virginia in two ways. The most common is a grid-tied system. In this scenario, you remain tied to the electrical grid. You can still rely on grid electricity at night or in inclement weather when your solar panels are not strong enough to meet your energy needs. You can remain grid-tied with a small system that meets some of your needs or a large system that meets all your needs with battery backup.
The other setup is off-grid. In an off-grid installation, you disconnect completely from the electrical grid. This requires your system to be larger and have full battery backup and another backup source, such as a generator or wind power. Because these systems are generally much larger than grid-tied systems, they cost more money. Below are the average costs to install both systems in Virginia.
|Type||Average Cost (Installed)|
|Grid-Tied||$15,540 - $19,500|
|Off-Grid||$45,000 - $75,000|
Solar Panel Cost per Watt in Virginia
The average cost per watt to install solar panels in Virginia is $2.59 to $3.25. Costs vary depending on several factors, including the panel type, install location, and region. Your costs are higher if you live in an area like Norfolk or Virginia Beach than in a less-populated area.
Solar panels typically have between 250 and 400 watts per panel. Therefore, the number of panels you need varies. You may need between 15 and 24 panels for a 6kW system, costing $15,540 to $19,500. Below are the average costs for a grid-tied system using various sizes and panels.
|System Size||Panels Needed||Average Cost (Installed)|
|2 kW||5 - 8||$5,180 - $6,500|
|3 kW||8 - 12||$7,770 - $9,750|
|4 kW||10 - 16||$10,360 - $13,000|
|5 kW||13 - 20||$12,950 - $16,250|
|6 kW||15 - 24||$15,540 - $19,500|
|7 kW||18 - 28||$18,130 - $22,750|
|8 kW||20 - 32||$20,720 - $26,000|
|10 kW||25 - 40||$25,900 - $32,500|
|12 kW||30 - 48||$31,080 - $39,000|
|15 kW||38 - 60||$38,850 - $48,750|
|18 kW||45 - 72||$46,620 - $58,500|
Cost to Install Solar Panels in Virginia per Square Foot
Your home size loosely impacts the size of the solar panels you need. While energy needs vary by home, larger homes typically use more energy than smaller homes. For this reason, larger homes have larger solar panel systems and higher costs.
You can have a smaller home with higher energy needs that requires a larger system. Or, you can have larger homes with lower energy needs that require a smaller system. However, the system size typically increases with the home size. There can be an overlap between home and system sizes based on your needs. Below are the average costs for installing a solar panel system for homes of different sizes.
|House Size||Average Cost (Installed)|
|1,000 sq.ft.||$5,180 - $26,000|
|1,500 sq.ft.||$6,500 - $31,080|
|2,000 sq.ft.||$10,360 - $32,500|
|2,500 sq.ft.||$15,540 - $39,000|
Average Cost of Solar Panels in Virginia by Cell Type
Solar panels come in several types. These can be grouped into polycrystalline, monocrystalline, and thin film. Monocrystalline is the most common because it is the most efficient. You should have a smaller system with fewer panels by installing a monocrystalline system than the other two. However, the cost per watt for a monocrystalline system is higher.
Monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels use silicon crystals to make the cells. Monocrystalline panels use whole crystals, and polycrystalline panels use fragments, making the latter less expensive and less efficient.
Thin film panels are different panels with a thinner profile. They work slightly better in overcast areas but less efficient than monocrystalline panels. Given the number of cloudy days in Virginia, thin film may be preferable to polycrystalline panels for those hoping for a lower-cost system. However, monocrystalline panels are still the most efficient. Below are the average costs to install a 6kW system using the three types.
|Cell Type||Average Cost (Installed)|
|Polycrystalline||$14,000 - $18,000|
|Thin-Film||$14,000 - $18,000|
|Monocrystalline||$15,000 - $20,000|
Labor Cost to Install Solar Panels in Virginia
The average labor cost to install solar panels in Virginia is between $0.91 and $1.18 per watt. Costs per watt for installation can vary due to several factors. These include the panel type, inverter type, and location. Labor costs can be higher in urban areas than in less-populated spaces. Installing your solar panels on the roof typically has lower labor costs than installing them on the ground. For this reason, numerous factors can influence your labor costs. Below are Virginia’s average labor costs for installing solar panel systems of varying sizes.
|System Size||Average Labor Costs|
|2 kW||$1,820 - $2,360|
|3 kW||$2,730 - $3,540|
|4 kW||$3,640 - $4,720|
|5 kW||$4,550 - $5,900|
|6 kW||$5,460 - $7,080|
|7 kW||$6,370 - $8,260|
|8 kW||$7,280 - $9,440|
|10 kW||$9,100 - $11,800|
Which Direction Should Solar Panels Face in Virginia?
In most cases, the recommended direction for solar panels to face in Virginia is to the south. However, you can install the panels to the southwest or southeast without a noticeable drop in energy production if your roof is not facing south. You can also install your panels facing the west with adequate results. Your installer can help determine the best direction for your panels to face and potential adjustments you may need in the system type or size for the best energy output.
Cost to Install Solar Panels in Virginia by Location
Most people in Virginia install solar panels on their roofs. This is the most common and cost-effective installation area. However, you can install your panels on the ground for oversized systems and roofs incapable of holding the weight.
A ground-mounted system has higher costs than a roof-mounted system. The ground array is more costly, and the wires must be run to the house underground, increasing labor costs. However, this is often the only option for large systems. You may also better position the panels if your roof is in the shade or does not face south with a ground-mounted system. Below are the average costs for installing a 6kW system on the ground and roof.
|System Location||Average Costs (Installed)|
|Roof||$15,540 - $19,500|
|Ground||$18,850 - $23,700|
Virginia 2022 Tax Credit for Solar Panels
While there is no state tax credit for solar panels in Virginia, residents can take advantage of the federal tax credit. This credit is 30% for panels installed in 2022 and can be claimed when you file taxes.
While there are no no-cost solar programs in Virginia, the state has several subsidized loans and other programs to lower the cost for residents. Check with your local municipality to find out which options may be available in your area. Virginia also allows net metering, reducing your monthly energy bills and paying off the panels faster. For a 6 kW installation, this credit equals $4,662 to $5,850 for the average installation.
Solar Inverter Cost by Type
In addition to the solar panels, your system needs one or more inverters to run efficiently. Inverters take the energy produced by the solar panels and turn it into energy your home can use. Several types are available.
String inverters are one of the most common. The panels are grouped into strings, with several strings attached to a single inverter. This inverter is generally located in your basement or another easily accessible area. While you generally only need one inverter, it can take the entire string out of operation if one panel fails.
Power optimizers are not inverters, but they can be used with string inverters. They are installed close to each panel, and you need one per panel. They optimize the power coming from each panel to help level out the energy output from the string if you have a complex roof where some panels may be in the shade.
Microinverters are another inverter installed near each panel. While microinverters are cheaper than string inverters, you need one per panel. So, you need 20 inverters if you have 20 panels. The plus side is that if one panel goes down, it does not impact the system.
If you have battery backup, you also need a battery inverter to convert the energy into something the battery can store. You need one battery inverter per battery. Below are the average costs for each inverter type.
|Inverter Type||Average Costs (Materials Only)|
|Power Optimizer||$125 - $150|
|Microinverter||$150 - $215|
|String Inverter||$1,000 - $2,000|
|Battery-Based||$2,000 - $2,300|
Cost to Run and Maintain Solar Panels in Virginia
Solar panels do not require much maintenance in Virginia. They require periodic inspections and cleaning to ensure they operate at their best. It is generally recommended to inspect and clean them at least twice yearly. During inspections, the inspector ensures there are no loose wires or other issues impacting performance, giving you a chance to make repairs before they become a problem. The average yearly cost of this service is slightly cheaper than the average, ranging from $300 to $600, depending on the area and how many solar panels you have to inspect and clean.
Tesla Solar Roof in Virginia Cost
If your roof is older and needs replacement before installing solar panels or you do not like how solar panels look on your roof, you may want to invest in a Tesla solar roof. Tesla roofs use inactive and photovoltaic tiles that cover the entire roof. This gives it a more cohesive and seamless look than installing panels. Depending on the number of inactive tiles versus photovoltaic tiles and if you use one of Tesla’s Powerwall batteries, expect costs of between $40,000 and $70,000 to install a 6kW system in Virginia.
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
Solar Water Heater
In addition to solar panels for your home, you may want to consider installing a solar water heater. Solar water heaters heat the water you use for your home. Some work on their own, while others use backup electric-resistant heat. They are sized to your home’s water needs. Costs range from $8,000 to $10,000.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Permits. Permits are required to install solar panels on your home in Virginia. Speak to your local municipality for more information.
- Licenses. Make sure your installers are fully licensed by the state before beginning the installation. Speak to your local municipality to find out what licensing requirements are in your area.
- Warranties. Solar panel warranties vary depending on manufacturer, type, and location. Speak to your installer about what warranties may be available.
- HOAs. Virginia law prohibits Homeowner Associations from disallowing the installation of solar panels. However, an HOA may try to limit the type and placement of the panels. Speak to your HOA for more information.
- Environmental zoning. Some areas in Virginia are zoned as environmentally sensitive and may be subject to additional permits and inspections. Speak to your local municipality for more information if you live in such an area.
- Home value. Solar panels generally increase your home’s value by about 4.1%.
- SRECs. Virginia allows the sale of SRECs at $30 to $60 apiece. These are solar renewable energy certificates. You generate one certificate for every megawatt-hour your solar panels generate electricity.
- Is it worth it to go solar in Virginia?
It is definitely worth it to go solar in Virginia. The state sees enough sunny days to make the systems worthwhile, and with net metering and SRECs, you can see substantial returns on investment.
- How much does it cost to have solar panels installed in Virginia?
The average cost of a 6kW system installed in Virginia is $15,540 to $19,500. However, you may need a smaller or larger system, depending on your energy needs.
- Does solar power make sense in Virginia?
Yes, Virginia has many incentives for homeowners to go solar. This can provide you with numerous returns on investment.
- Is Tesla solar available in Virginia?
Yes, you can invest in Tesla solar panels and solar roofs in Virginia.
- Can you lease solar panels in Virginia?
Yes, programs are available in Virginia that allow you to lease solar panels.
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.