Home Uncategorized Best Solar Panel Installation Companies in Virginia

Best Solar Panel Installation Companies in Virginia

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Solar power doesn’t provide much of Virginia’s electricity — a total of 6.15% of the state’s energy production came from solar panels in 2023 — but that figure is growing. But even if solar panels make up a small portion of the state’s overall energy mix, they can provide 100% of your energy needs, as long as you’re willing to foot the initial cost.

Virginia doesn’t offer many solar incentives on top of the 30% federal tax credit, but that doesn’t mean solar can’t be worth it. Solar panels can be a sound investment for homeowners looking to displace their fossil fuel use and reduce their high electricity bills.

The state also offers a couple incentives that could help make a difference in your solar panel installation decision. Net metering policies allow you to send excess solar energy to the grid during peak production times and then pull from the grid for free during times when your solar panels don’t produce enough energy. You also gain solar renewable energy credits for solar energy production, which you can sell as an additional revenue stream on the SREC market.

If you’re considering getting solar panels in Virginia, these are the best national solar installation companies to start looking at.

Best national solar panel companies in Virginia

You should interview solar companies like you would any other contractor. Get multiple quotes and make sure a company clearly answers all of your questions before signing a contract.

Palmetto Solar

Best overall

Solar panels are typically low maintenance equipment, but they’re also unfamiliar. If you want to reap the benefits of solar but will have a bit more peace of mind if someone else is making sure it’s working, Palmetto might be a good fit for you. Just remember to add the cost of Palmetto’s monitoring service in to your payback period calculations.

SunPower Solar

Best solar panels

If you’re looking for top-of-the-line solar panels, SunPower is your best choice. But don’t write it off if you’re looking for a less flashy installation that will get the job done. This year it started installing Qcells panels, which should make an installation from the longest-tenured company on our list available to more people.

Freedom Forever

Best for cash customers

Include Freedom Forever in your search if you want the backing of a national company that installs a wide variety of the most popular solar equipment available. Freedom Forever also extends a couple of products that take some of the pain and risk out of going solar, like a production guarantee and an escrow option with cash purchases. Online reviews say customer satisfaction has been low of late, though the company says that’s changing.

Tesla Solar

Most affordable

Tesla’s solar branch seems to be the least loved of Elon Musk’s ventures. Even Tesla’s Solar Roof seems to get more love.

If price is the thing you won’t budge on, consider Tesla. By all accounts, Tesla installs quality panels and makes the closest thing there is to a household name in solar storage: the Powerwall.

Where you might miss out is customer service. Discussion online seems to suggest Tesla’s service is a bit of a gamble.

Local solar panel companies in Virginia

Consider looking into a few local solar installers during your search. We pulled a few local solar installers with some of the highest Google review scores, but it’s still important to do your own research. If you know someone who already has solar installed, ask them for a recommendation. Here are a few local installers that might be worth considering in Virginia.

Convert Solar has one of the highest Google review scores for local solar companies in Virginia. The company’s in-house team handles every step of the process, and you’ll get a free solar estimate too. Your solar panels will come with a 25-year product warranty. You’ll also have the option of installing a solar battery. Convert Solar has financing options available. You might not even need to make a down payment.

As a local solar installer, Ipsun Solar serves Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Ipsun Solar uses name-brand products like SolarEdge Inverters, Tesla Powerwall and Enphase. In addition to the 25-year manufacturer warranty on solar panels and inverters, Ipsun Solar offers a 12-year quality-of-work warranty for installation. If you’re interested in a longer warranty, the company offers a 30-year extended warranty through Solar Insure. Financing options include cash purchase and solar loans or leases. The company does not offer PPAs.

For over 15 years, Nova Solar has provided solar services to residents of Virginia, Washington, DC and Maryland. The company handles the process from design to installation with its licensed in-house team. Nova Solar installs REC Alpha solar panels with an extended warranty lasting a total of 25 years. The company offers other installation options like Q Cells solar panels, Enphase microinverters and SolarEdge inverters and power optimizers. Nova Solar includes a 20-year quality of work warranty in addition to manufacturer warranties on installed products.

How to determine which solar company in Virginia is best for me

Since every house is a bit different, every solar installation will be different as well. What really matters is finding an installer with experience working with the type of roof you have, and the type of system you want installed. 

Ben Delman, a communications director with Solar United Neighbors, a clean energy nonprofit, says homeowners should look for solar installers that are certified by NABCEP and have the proper licensing to do their work. To get a better understanding of a company’s reputation, read up on online reviews from as many sources as you can. Google and Yelp reviews are a good starting point. Look for solar companies with at least 20 to 30 reviews. If you know someone who already has solar on their roof, ask them for recommendations too. 

Benjamin Hoyne, the Virginia program director with Solar United Neighbors, recommends homeowners get at least three solar estimates before choosing an installer — and to watch out for aggressive sales tactics. 

“The good news is there’s never a rush to go solar. Not to say you shouldn’t take advantage of going solar, but what I mean is, if some salesperson is being pushy and telling you that you need to sign a contract today or an offer expires, that’s not true,” Hoyne said.

Make sure you understand how the federal solar tax credit works and that your installer explains it to you correctly. The federal tax credit is a tax credit, not a refund. And not everyone may be eligible; it’s not guaranteed to everyone. 

According to Delman and Hoyne, a good solar installer should be able to: 

  • Give good word-of-mouth references.
  • Clearly explain the project and working deadlines.
  • Define technical terms in an easy-to-understand manner.
  • Accurately explain how the federal solar tax credit works.
  • Be transparent about pricing and how financing works.
  • Have knowledge about the local permit requirements and the process for system interconnection with your local utility company.
  • Understand homeowners association restrictions and assist you in navigating that process.
  • Answer any question, even the difficult ones.

Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification on any project and pricing details. Solar is an expensive and confusing process. Your installer should help you feel informed during every step of the journey. 

Read more: Just looking for an emergency backup? Check out portable solar panels and solar generators.

Cost of solar panels in Virginia

Electricity rates are on the rise around the country. Rising electric rates make solar panels more attractive, though high loan interest rates make purchasing a system with a loan less so. For many people, even with high interest rates, going solar can lock in long-term energy savings, though each installation has a slightly different calculation

Here’s a look at the average cash price for a typical solar panel system in Virginia before factoring in tax credits and incentives, according to data from FindEnergy.com. Your system might become more expensive if you choose to install a solar battery.

Average cost of solar panels in Virginia

Typical system size (kW) Price per watt Total installed cost Cost after 30% federal tax credit
Virginia 9 $3.59 $32,310 $22,617
National average 8.6 $3.67 $31,558 $22,091

The following map is a visual representation of the average total price, cost per watt and system size for solar panel systems in different states, according to data from FindEnergy.com. The prices shown do not factor in fluctuations from tax credits or state solar incentives. If FindEnergy doesn’t have solar data for a particular state, it appears grayed out on the map.

Virginia solar panel incentives and rebates

While the state of Virginia doesn’t offer any state-level solar incentives, homeowners can still take advantage of net metering and the solar renewable energy credit market in Virginia. 

Net metering allows you to sell your excess solar energy to the power grid. 

“They’re credited at a one-to-one rate. Kind of the same rate they would be when they purchase electricity from the grid on a rainy day or in the evening,” Hoyne said.

Similarly, you can also sell credits you gain for producing solar energy — solar renewable energy credits. Certain states require power companies to supply a certain amount of their electricity from renewable sources. Power companies will buy and trade SRECs to meet these requirements.

“SRECs are available in Virginia. You can trade your credits on the market quarterly or even monthly,” Hoyne said. “The price will never exceed $75 per SREC, so often they trade in the $50 to $60 range per SREC.”

You can participate in net metering and trade SRECs at the same time, but the most notable solar incentive is the federal solar tax credit. This 30% solar tax credit applies to solar panel systems bought from the beginning of 2022 through 2032.

Virginia solar incentives

Program Description
Net metering Energy companies give credits in exchange for excess energy generated by your solar system. Check with your local utility for specific details.
SRECs Homeowners can sell and trade the credits they earn from producing solar energy on the SREC market.
Property tax exemption State law exempts homeowners from property taxes on solar panel systems or other solar equipment (up to 25 kW).
Residential clean energy credit Also known as the federal solar tax credit, this tax incentive allows homeowners to claim a 30% tax credit for systems installed before 2032.

How to pay for solar panels in Virginia

Multiple payment options are available for Virginians interested in solar panels. Here are some of the most common ways to pay for your panels.

Cash: Paying in cash isn’t only interest-free but also allows you to take advantage of solar incentives. If you pay in cash, be ready for substantial upfront costs. If you’re thinking about going solar in the future, consider saving up with a high-yield savings account.

Solar loan: Your solar installer will most likely offer you a financing option called a solar loan. Loan terms and rates can vary, so shop around for low-interest rates and get multiple quotes before signing on the dotted line. 

Other loan options: You aren’t limited to just financing options from your installer. Getting a personal loan from your bank or opening a home equity line of credit are other options. Keep in mind that going the HELOC route could mean losing your home if you can’t pay back what you owe.

Solar leases: Starting in July 2024, third-party solar leases will become legal in the state of Virginia. When you lease solar panels from an installer, you don’t own the rooftop system. Instead, you pay a fixed rate to use the equipment. This option can help with upfront costs, and may be worthwhile if you don’t have a reason to take advantage of the tax incentives associated with rooftop solar installation.

Power purchase agreements: Power purchase agreements are similar to solar leases, in that the installer owns the solar panel setup on your home. Instead of paying a fixed rate for the equipment, you’re paying a set fee for the energy generated by the solar panels. However, the terms both solar leases and PPAs — especially any rate escalators — are very important to the return on investment. Power purchase agreements are complicated contracts with different pros and cons, so you need to make sure you understand what you’re getting into before signing any paperwork.

It’s important to note that people with solar leases or PPAs typically save less than those who own the panels outright and typically aren’t eligible for tax rebates and certain other solar incentives.

Community solar in Virginia

Shared solar, commonly known as community solar, allows homeowners to power their homes with solar by buying electricity generated by third-party solar equipment. And some shared solar programs offer cheaper electricity than what you would normally pay at your utility’s retail rate. The state has introduced its own community solar program, called the Shared Solar Program, to customers served by the utility Dominion Energy. 

But this particular program also comes with a bit of a drawback for certain households — a minimum bill requirement. Households subscribed to the Shared Solar Program will need to pay a minimum of $55.10 a month to participate. However, low-income households are exempt from the minimum bill requirement, making solar more accessible to low-income families. 

“The average minimum bill for a non low-income homeowner or household is going to be about $55 per month, which is the highest shared solar minimum bill in the nation,” Hoyne said. 

The program is currently under a waitlist and capacity is awarded on a first-come basis.

“There currently are no shared solar projects that are actually up and running yet,” Hoyne said. “We have heard that there’s a handful of projects that should be coming online this fall.”

Installation factors to keep in mind

Are solar panels right for your home? Consider the following five factors about solar installation before making a final decision.

Solar installation factors

Homeowners insurance Check with your insurance company to see if your policy covers a solar panel system.
Location Solar panels work best in direct sunlight. Obstructions like neighboring buildings or trees will hamper production.
Roof condition Certified installers should provide roof maintenance recommendations prior to installation. Include potential roof repairs in your budget.
Own or rent Homeowners receive more benefits from tax credits and incentives. Renters interested in solar can look into community solar programs.

How we found the best solar companies 

The companies we listed above as “the best” are curated from CNET’s best solar companies list. Companies making the best list are scored on the equipment, warranties and customer service they offer. Then, we make sure these recommendations are available in your state. You can read a full breakdown of how we review solar companies here.

Companies listed under the local installers were chosen in a less rigorous way. We chose them because they offered something unique or notable to customers in the state, they seemed well-regarded by internet reviewers or because they were one of the few installers we could find information on in the state.

Whether we’ve completed a full review on a company or not, it’s always a good idea to get multiple quotes from different installers before choosing a company.

Virginia solar FAQs

Are all solar panels the same?

No, not all solar panels are the same. Solar panels can differ from one another in efficiency, size, wattage and material.

Are solar panels in Virginia worth it?

Solar panels are often a worthwhile investment for Virginians looking to lower their energy bills and power their homes with clean energy. Virginia also receives more sunshine than many other states. However, Virginia doesn’t offer many solar incentives, and other solar options, like community solar, have only recently been introduced. 

If you’re interested in going solar, look for a reputable installer that you trust. Reliable solar installers should provide you with an exact price quote and a potential return on investment. Getting at least four or five quotes from various solar companies can ensure you get the best price for your home.

How much do solar panels cost in Virginia?

The average upfront cash price of solar panels in Virginia is about $17,960 for a 5 kW system, according to Find Energy. Solar panels in Virginia cost are a bit pricer than in other states. Consider all financing options to determine what’s best for your budget.

Are solar panels good for the environment?

Yes. Though solar panel manufacturing has an impact on the environment, it is a more sustainable source than fossil fuels like coal and gas. Fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide, which is a main contributor to climate change.





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