Hawaii is a near-perfect market for solar energy. Not only does the Aloha State receive a huge amount of sunshine every year, but it also has some of the priciest electricity rates in the nation. As a result, Hawaiians need more affordable energy sources – and solar is a fantastic option.
To date, the state has invested $3.4 billion in solar, with many more projects in progress. It’s clear that residents are embracing solar as a way to lower their energy costs and reduce their carbon footprint. Interested in doing the same? Keep reading for more details about solar panels in Hawaii, including costs, incentives, and frequently asked questions.
Hawaii solar panel cost
Before committing to solar, it’s important to understand the cost of solar panels in Hawaii. The price you pay will depend on a few factors, including the size of your solar system, the specific components that you use (such as solar batteries), and local solar panels installation costs. However, you can get a general idea of the cost of solar panels by looking at the typical prices of solar across the country.
On average, residential solar systems cost $3 – $5 per watt. For a typical home, this comes out to $15,000 – $25,000 per system. These prices might seem steep, but you can bring them down by taking advantage of credits and rebates, including the solar federal tax credit and Hawaii solar incentives. Typically, the solar panel payback period for a home system is between six and nine years.
Why choose Hawaii solar power?
Whether you’re interested in lowering your energy costs or living more sustainably, there are many reasons to invest in a residential solar system. Here are three of the top incentives for going solar.
Lower energy costs
If you’re concerned about rising energy costs, you may be able to save some money by switching to solar power. Through your solar panels, you’ll be able to generate energy to power your home. As a result, you’ll no longer need to buy energy from your utility or electricity provider.
In addition to these monthly savings, going solar also provides other financial benefits. Specifically, adding a solar system will boost the resale value of your home by as much as $15,000.
Establish energy independence
Establishing energy independence is another compelling reason to transition to solar. As we’ve covered, solar panels give you the freedom to produce your own electricity. This means that you won’t get your energy from the local grid, so you won’t need to pay higher electricity costs when demand surges. Also, you won’t be at risk of losing power when there are issues with the public grid.
Finally, switching to a green energy source like solar puts less stress on the environment. Unlike traditional energy, solar power is renewable and doesn’t emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. When you use solar energy for your home, you can feel better knowing that you’re doing your part to protect the planet.
Hawaii solar panel incentives or rebates
Solar panels have a high upfront cost, but there are ways to make them more affordable. Here’s how to take advantage of federal and state programs to bring down the upfront cost of solar panels in Hawaii.
In all 50 states (including Hawaii), homeowners can receive a 26 percent tax credit on solar systems installed on their primary or secondary residences in 2021. Although there is no maximum amount that you can claim, the credit is due to expire in 2024, so you’ll want to finish your installation as early as you can to guarantee your money back.
There are also Hawaii solar incentives that are only available to residents. The Renewable Energy Technologies Income Tax Credit (RETITC) provides a 35 percent income tax credit on solar installations (up to $5,000). The state also operates the Green Energy Money $aver (GEM$) On-Bill Program, which gives renters and low-income Hawaiians a more affordable pathway to solar. Finally, the city of Honolulu offers property tax incentives for homeowners that go solar.
Previously, the state of Hawaii had a net metering program that encouraged residents to sell their surplus energy back to the grid. However, net metering ended in 2015 and was replaced with the Customer Grid-Supply Plus and Smart Export programs, which offer bill credits for solar-producing homeowners.
Should I buy or lease my solar panels?
Solar is an incredible short-term and long-term investment, but what should you do if you can’t afford the upfront costs? If that’s the case, it could be better to lease your solar panels instead of buying them outright. However, leasing won’t provide as many financial benefits as purchasing your panels and won’t save you as much money in the long run.
If you buy your system, you can claim the federal tax credit and Hawaii solar incentives that we’ve outlined above. But if you choose a solar lease, you aren’t eligible for these tax credits. Also, owning your system will add more value to your home if you choose to sell. Leasing doesn’t provide this perk and can make it more difficult to sell your home if your contract has not expired.
Alternatively, some cities allow you to participate in a community solar program or choose a solar purchase power agreement (PPA). Under these programs, you won’t have to cover the costs of installation, but you’ll still reap the other benefits of solar. If you’re considering a PPA, make sure to consider these key solar PPA factors.
Hawaii solar panel companies
As with any investment, it pays to do your research before signing up with a solar company. There are a number of solar providers that serve Hawaii, so make sure that you thoroughly understand how your chosen company can meet your needs. If you’re new to solar, check out the following resources from SaveOnEnergy to get up to speed:
The history of solar power in Hawaii
Right now, Hawaii ranks 18th in the U.S. in terms of solar generation. It’s been quite popular with residents and business owners across the Aloha State, thanks to the favorable weather conditions and lack of cheap energy options. Over the next five years, solar capacity in Hawaii is expected to grow by 1,403 megawatts (MW).
There are many solar projects across the Hawaiian islands, including the Kawailoa Solar (49 MW), Waipio Solar (45.9 MW), and Mililani Solar II (14.7 MW) projects. Several more projects are currently in development as part of Hawaii’s ambitious commitment to achieving 100 percent clean energy by 2045.
Important solar installation factors to consider
Solar systems can work in all types of conditions, but there are some factors that can increase or decrease the effectiveness of your panels, such as:
- The age, state, and angle of your roof: For the best results, your roof should face south and have a 15-40 degree slope. It should also be away from any trees or buildings that could block the sun from reaching your panels.
- The sunshine levels in your state: As you might expect, solar panels work best in places where there is plenty of sunshine. Hawaii is one of the best states in the country in this regard, ranking it within the top 20 solar-generating states.
- The rules in your neighborhood: Some HOAs or neighborhood rules will prevent you from adding solar panels without permission. Check the regulations in your community before starting the solar installation process.
Solar power FAQs
How much would solar cost in Hawaii?
For an average-sized house, you can expect to pay between $15,000 – $25,000 for a solar system (before tax credits or Hawaii solar incentives). This price may vary depending on the size of your system, how you configure it, the types of solar panels that you choose, and the cost of solar installation.
Is solar power a good investment in Hawaii?
Thanks to its sunny climate, Hawaii is a fantastic place for solar. However, the effectiveness of solar will also depend on the conditions at your home. Take a look at the previous section for more information about the factors that affect how well solar panels will perform at your home. Outside of residential systems, solar-powered RVs are also a good investment in Hawaii.
How much could I save by investing in solar?
It depends on how much you currently pay for energy, but you could see significant savings by investing in solar. Once your solar system is running, you’ll no longer have monthly energy bills to pay. The savings become even more impressive once you’ve reached your payback period (typically six to nine years).
Where can I find a good solar panel installer in Hawaii?
There are many reputable solar installers in Hawaii. To find the best one for your needs, you’ll want to do plenty of research, looking at customer reviews, financing options, and company history. You can also use SaveOnEnergy as a resource for all things solar.
How does solar power help the environment?
Since it comes from the sun, solar power is a renewable resource and doesn’t produce carbon emissions. That’s in stark contrast to many other energy sources, which are harmful to the environment. When you go solar, you’ll reduce your impact on the environment and enjoy a more sustainable lifestyle.