s traditional electricity costs continue to escalate, South Carolina homeowners are turning to solar power as a practical solution. Nonetheless, the process of getting started can be intimidating for newbies. This guide aims to introduce South Carolinians to home photovoltaics, including details on the feasibility of solar energy in the state, the installation costs, and the incentives available to help reduce the expenses.
Is solar energy viable in South Carolina?
South Carolina is a prime candidate for utilizing solar power due to its consistently sunny weather all year round. With an average of 216 sunny days per year, which is higher than the national average of 205, and over five peak sun hours, the state has the perfect conditions for solar production. In fact, solar energy in South Carolina has experienced a significant boost in recent years, positioning the state as the 14th highest adopter of solar power in the country. This can largely be attributed to the various incentives and policies currently in place.
Incentives for solar adoption in the Palmetto State
While it's understandable for homeowners to have concerns about the cost of solar systems, there's good news. There are various incentives available for those switching to solar power in South Carolina that could potentially save thousands of dollars.
The initial incentive worth exploring is the investment tax credit (ITC), now known as the Residential Clean Energy Credit for residential systems. This federal credit covers a whopping 30% of the total installed cost of a solar system until 2032. After that, the credit decreases to 26% for systems installed in 2033 and 22% in 2035. To take advantage of this incentive, simply file IRS Form 5695 as part of your tax return.
Besides, if you install solar panels in South Carolina, you'll receive a 25% tax credit. The credit's value is capped at $3,500 or 50% of your state tax liability for up to 10 years, whichever is less. And if you're lucky, you may also be eligible for rebates from energy companies, manufacturers, and installers.
The state also offers a net metering policy that lets you receive credit from your energy supplier if you generate more electricity than you require. The policy is mandatory for most companies, except for electric cooperatives. Note that the buy-back rate varies across providers, so it's worth confirming the details with your power company.
Costs of installing solar panels in South Carolina
The price tag of a residential PV setup hinges on a few factors, such as installation expenses, the number of panels required, and whether or not you opt for add-ons like solar batteries. According to Find Energy, the typical energy consumption levels in the Palmetto State require a 9-kilowatt solar system to cover, which is generally higher than the national average. Since South Carolinians use more energy compared to residents of other states, the typical cost of a photovoltaic system is also higher.
So, if you're considering installing a 9kW system, based on the average residential price-per-watt of $4.03 in the state, your system could cost approximately $36,000, depending on any rebates or other factors that may apply. The payback period for SC averages 11 years, which is shorter than the US average of 13 years - meaning you can recoup your investment more quickly.
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Solar installers in South Carolina: making the best choice
The state has more than 30 solar installers, so selecting the right one can be a daunting task. However, choosing a reliable installer is critical to ensure that your solar system is installed safely and efficiently and that you get the most value for your investment. When looking for an installer, it's important to consider factors such as experience, credentials, and customer reviews.
These are some examples of solar installers operating within South Carolina that have earned a good reputation.
- Palmetto Solar has a strong focus on customer service, offering several support options and a comprehensive protection plan.
- Sunrun is a great option for those seeking flexible financing, with four payment options available, including two lease types.
- SunPower is ideal for homeowners looking for high-efficiency equipment and a comprehensive 25-year warranty. However, it is relatively expensive, and there are no leasing options available for South Carolina residents.