While Delaware produces less energy than any other state in the US, it actually consumes quite a bit of it. Fortunately, there are potential solutions and your rooftop has the chance to play a role.
The First State is making strides toward renewable energy. The state got 86% of its power from natural gas in 2021, but a recent law says utility companies must get 40% of their energy from renewable sources by 2035, with 10% coming from solar.
There are plenty of incentives for homeowners to go solar in Delaware. About 5% of the state’s electricity generation came from solar power in 2021, but that number is steadily increasing. This is likely due to the state’s renewable portfolio standards policy and incentives and rebates administered by utility companies through the state’s Green Energy Program — a grant fund backed by the state Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy.
Can solar panels save you money?
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However, it’s important to know that solar might not cover all of your electricity costs, according to Andrew Slater, executive director of Energize Delaware, a renewable energy nonprofit.
“When I was the public advocate for the state, sometimes customers would call and say that their solar was not working because it was not netting out 100% of their usage. So just understand that solar can go up to 110% of your usage, but it may not cover the entirety of your bill,” Slater told CNET.
Your expected savings from solar is mainly dependent on your home’s energy usage, geographic location, the condition of your roof and other factors.
Here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking about going solar in Delaware.
Best national solar panel installation companies in Delaware
Local Delaware solar panel installation companies
You don’t have to go with a big national installer. Here are some local companies in Delaware we identified that might be a good fit.
Green Street Solar
Green Street Solar is a local solar company operating in Delaware and Maryland. The company offers a 10-year workmanship warranty and a 25-year solar panel warranty. Their installers are certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, or NABCEP, and they’ll do a free site inspection to see if your home is a good fit for solar. You can pay cash or finance your solar panels with Green Street Solar.
TerraSol Energies is a solar installer operating in four states. The company installs SunPower solar panels and offers a 25-year system warranty. Their installers are NABCEP-certified and install solar panels and inverters. You can either pay cash or finance your solar panels with TerraSol Energies.
Trinity Solar operates in nine states along the East Coast, offering solar panels and batteries. You’ll receive a five-year workmanship warranty and a 12-year warranty with the purchase of an inverter. You can pay cash, lease or enter a power purchase agreement. Trinity Solar’s lease and power purchase agreements are fully covered by warranty.
How to determine which solar panel company in Delaware is best for me
Delaware may be small, but you’ll have quite a few solar installers to choose from. There are 44 solar companies in Delaware, with 23 of those companies being installers or developers, according to data from the SEIA.
Going solar is an expensive decision, so grab quotes from several installers in your area to get the best price you can. You should also take panel warranties, maintenance fees and customer reviews into consideration during your search.
Average cost of solar panels in Delaware
Here’s a look at the average cash price for a 5-kilowatt system before factoring in tax credits and incentives, according to data from FindEnergy.com.
Delaware solar panel costs
|System size (kW)||Price per watt||Total cost|
Delaware solar panel incentives and rebates
Many of Delaware’s solar incentives come from grants and rebates offered by Delaware utility companies through the government-regulated Green Energy Program. Each utility company has its own requirements and application forms for any grants or rebates offered through this program. On the federal level, homeowners can also take advantage of the residential clean energy credit, which gives you 30% of the total cost of your solar system back in tax credits.
Another incentive available (that can be a little tricky to understand) is solar renewable energy certificates. Essentially, an SREC is a credit that gets created when a solar generator produces 1 megawatt-hour (1,000 kilowatt-hours) of electricity. SRECs exist due to Delaware’s renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, which requires power companies to provide a certain amount of their electricity from renewable sources.
To meet these requirements, utility companies will purchase renewable energy from generators to earn renewable energy certificates. Power companies will use these RECs as proof that they are meeting the state RPS requirements. In simpler terms, local utility companies will buy excess solar energy from you and translate that energy into SRECs, counting your solar energy as their green energy contribution. Note that SRECs are separate from net metering (the process of selling excess solar energy to the power grid), and some homeowners can qualify for participation in both.
Participating in the Delaware SREC program can even earn you a grant toward the upfront cost of your solar system. “There are incentives, and part of it has to do with the SREC auction process. Through that process, you get a green energy funding grant, and the grant is dependent on the size of your system. But for a residential customer, it can be an upfront grant,” Slater said.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the solar incentives offered in Delaware. More state solar incentives can be found on the DSIRE database.
Delaware solar incentives
|Net metering||Delaware does allow net metering. By staying connected to the power grid, homeowners can sell excess solar energy to the grid.|
|Solar renewable energy certificates (SREC)||SRECs are another way you can earn money from solar generation. Homeowners earn one SREC for every 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity generated.|
|Delmarva Power grants||Customers of Delmarva Power can receive grants to offset the cost of their solar system. Applications for this grant are submitted through the Green Grant Delaware application system.|
|Delaware Electric Cooperative||Customers of the Delaware Electric Cooperative can receive grants to offset the cost of their solar system. Requirements and application instructions can be found on the Delaware Electric Cooperative website.|
|Low to Moderate-Income Solar Pilot Program||This program assists eligible low to moderate-income homeowners with the cost of solar. Qualified low-income homes receive cost-free solar installation up to 4 kW in size.|
|Residential clean energy credit||This is a federal tax credit allowing you to claim 30% of the total cost of your solar system back in federal taxes.|
How to pay for solar panels in Delaware
There are various ways you can go about paying for your panels. Some are more difficult than others, but what really matters is picking the best option for your personal situation.
Cash: If you can fit the cost of solar panels into your budget, paying for your panels in cash is your best option. There are no fees or interest rates. And you won’t have to worry about your credit score. If you have solar as part of your plan for the future, consider putting money aside into a high-yield savings account to earn more money toward your panels over time.
Solar loan: Many solar installers will offer you a solar loan through themselves or another third-party financial institution. A solar loan might have higher fees and interest rates than other loan options, so weigh all your options before settling.
Other types of loans: Other loan options to consider are personal loans, home equity loans or home equity lines of credit. Home equity loans and HELOCs can help you finance your solar panels at lower interest rates, but it’s important to know the risks involved. You could lose your home if you default on payments.
Lease or power purchase agreement: Some solar companies allow you to lease your system or enter a power purchase agreement. If you choose to lease, you won’t own the solar system; you’ll just pay for the use of the equipment. Entering a power purchase agreement means you’ll buy solar energy generated from the solar company to power your home. The price you’ll pay is usually lower than the retail rate from your local utility company. Note that not all incentives are available with a lease or power purchase agreement.
Installation factors to keep in mind
- The condition of your roof: Your roof will need to be in good condition before installing solar panels. A reputable solar company will conduct a roof inspection before solar installation. A few things your solar installer will be looking at on your roof are damages, pitch and angle, age, and amount of tree cover. The angle of your roof plays a part in determining the efficiency of your solar system. A south-facing roof angled between 15 and 40 degrees is the ideal roof for solar panels, according to the US Department of Energy.
- Homeowners association regulations: If you live in a neighborhood with an HOA, check with them before installing solar panels. Delaware HOAs can’t ban solar panels but can impose reasonable restrictions on your system not affecting cost or overall performance.
- Insurance coverage: Your homeowner’s insurance company might cover solar panels. If they do, consider adding your solar panels to your insurance policy.
- Your location: The more peak sunlight hours you receive, the more efficient your solar panels will be. Delaware is one of the cloudier states in the US, receiving an average of 4.23 peak sunlight hours per day.
- Rentals: Since renters can’t make permanent changes to the property they are renting, solar options for renters are limited. You can’t install solar panels, but joining a community solar program could be an option. Community solar allows you to power your home using electricity generated from solar farms or companies.