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Cost of Solar Panels in South Carolina

Going Green in South Carolina: The Cost of Solar Panel Installations

Key Details

  • Average-sized solar panel (5 to 6 kWh) costs between $14,300 and $17,160.
  • South Carolina solar panel cost per watt is $2.86.
  • Costs can vary based on location, installation type, solar incentives, and installation company.
  • Average-sized home needs 17-20 solar panels.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in South Carolina?

As of 2023, it costs an average of $2,860 to install a kilowatt-hour of solar panels in South Carolina. This means an average-sized solar panel (5 to 6 kWh) costs between $14,300 and $17,160.

Furthermore, the average South Carolina solar panel cost per watt is $2.86. However, the cost fluctuates based on factors such as location, type of installation, solar incentives, and the installation company handling the project.

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According to the Center for Sustainable Energy, a solar system costs an average of $3 to $5 per watt in the US. In comparison with the national average, solar installation costs in South Carolina are considerably cheaper and more affordable for residential and commercial solar users.

Are solar panels a cheaper option than retail electricity in South Carolina?

Per the EIA report for 2022, South Carolina's electric utility companies charge an average of $0.12 per KWh. This means, compared to grid electricity, solar energy offers an affordable solution. Solar users in the state are able to bring down the huge upfront cost by using federal and local solar incentives and rebates.

Average Solar Panel Cost in South Carolina

Size Solar Panel Installation Cost System Installation Cost After Solar Credit Home Size
3 kW $8,580 $6,349 < 1,00 sq ft
5 kW $14,300 $10,582 <1,000 sq ft
8 kW $22,880 $16,931 1,100 sq ft
9 kW $25,740 $19,048 1,300 sq. ft.
11 kW $31,167 $23, 279 1,700 sq ft
13 kW $36,833 $27,512 2,100 sq ft
14 kW $39,667 $29,628 2,300 sq ft
15 kW $42,500 $31,745 > 2,400 sq ft

How Big of a Solar System do I need to go Off-Grid in South Carolina?

To go off-grid in South Carolina, your solar system must:

  • Cover your energy demands and provide enough for storage.
  • Efficiently receive direct sunlight and have a performance rating above 1,000 W/m2.
  • For solar roof installation, it must not exceed more than the roof's load-bearing capacity.
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Here's a step-by-step guide to determining how large a solar panel should be:

Step 1: Determine how much energy you consume. You'll see the energy usage on the monthly electric utility bill.

Step 2: Calculate the peak sunlight hours. South Carolina receives an average of 4.5 peak sunlight hours.

Step 3: Use the peak sunlight hours to calculate how much kWh you need to install. For residents in South Carolina, multiply the peak sunlight hours (4.5 x 30) to get 135. Next, divide the monthly peak sunlight hours by the monthly energy usage. If you consume 2,000 kWh every month, you'll need to install a 14 kWh solar panel.

Step 4: Calculate how many solar panels to install to go off-grid. First, convert the PV system capacity to watts: 14 kWh x 1,000 = 14,000. Next, divide it by the number of watts you want to install. For a 300-watt solar panel, you need to install 41 solar panels.

Number of panels and estimated cost for a 300-watt panel

System Size Number of Panels Estimated Space Estimated Cost.
5 kWh 17 312 sq. ft $14,300
7 kWh 23 436.8 sq. ft $20,020
8 kWh 27 500 sq. ft $22,880
9 kWh 30 561.6 sq. ft $25,740
10 kWh 34 624 sq. ft $28,600
12 kWh 40 748.8 sq. ft $34,320

Is it Better to Lease or Buy in South Carolina?

Most new solar users are usually torn between buying or leasing a solar panel in South Carolina. To help you figure it out, let's consider the benefits of both options:

Benefits of leasing a solar panel in South Carolina

No high upfront cost

You'll need an average of $14,300 to install a 5 kWh solar panel in South Carolina. This price may be out of reach for most low- to middle-income households in the state. However, leasing a solar system will remove the financial burden of a high upfront cost.

In a lease agreement, you only pay a monthly fee for the use and maintenance of the system. Solar panel installers have different lease agreements.

No extra costs of maintenance
Solar companies are solely responsible for maintaining ten panels under a lease agreement. In most cases, the company will factor the cost of maintenance into the monthly payments.

Access to energy-saving incentives
In a solar lease agreement, you are also eligible to receive some energy incentives or rebates. You can check the local energy incentives accessible in your region.

Benefits of buying a solar panel in South Carolina

Long-term savings on costs
The high upfront cost is a major deterrent for most solar users in South Carolina. However, this is only a one-time fee. Most solar panels have a lifespan of more than 25 years.

This means you get to save up to tens of thousands on solar energy within that time frame. Furthermore, the panel will pay for itself within five to seven years. Solar users can save between $20,000 and $37,500 within 25 years of using solar panels.

Access to multiple solar incentives and rebates

You can access all solar incentives when you outright purchase a solar system. For example, to receive the federal solar tax credit, you must own the solar system. Other solar incentives accessible to solar users:

  • The South Carolina tax credit
  • Santee Cooper Solar Rebate Program

Increased real estate value

Solar systems increase your home's value by as much as 4.1 percent. However, you can only get the increased value of the property when you own the solar system.

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need in South Carolina?

An average-sized home will require between 17 and 20 solar panels. However, this estimation is general and does not apply to all solar homeowners.

There are many factors you need to consider to have a clear estimate of how many panels to install. After considering these factors, you can then determine how many solar panels to install by following these steps:

  1. Divide the required system size by the production ratio.
  2. Next, divide the answer by the panel wattage.

What factors determine how many solar panels to install in South Carolina?

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to solar installation. These factors will determine the number of solar panels to install:

  1. The solar panel wattage and size
  2. The geographical location
  3. Average energy consumption.
  4. Solar panel size and the type of mount system

The solar panel wattage

This is how much energy a solar panel can generate. Therefore, the higher the wattage, the fewer solar panels you need to install. Under normal conditions, solar panels have a wattage rating between 250 and 400. In most cases, the type of solar panel determines the wattage. Other factors, such as the orientation and hours of peak sunlight, can increase or decrease the wattage. A monocrystalline panel in South Carolina can generate up to 300 watts.

The geographical location

Each US state receives a different amount of peak sunlight. Peak sunlight hours are hours when the sun emits energy higher than 1,000 watts per square meter. That said, the higher the peak sunlight hours, the fewer solar panels you need to install.

Average energy consumption per annum

How much energy do you consume? Also, how many appliances do you have and use? These questions will determine the number of solar panels to install. The size of the household is also another factor to consider. A two-person household will most likely install fewer solar panels.

Solar panel size and the type of mount system

Most solar panels come in two sizes: the 60-cell and the 72-cell panel. The 60-cell panel is often used for solar installation on rooftops and in cramped spaces. On the other hand, the 72-cell panel is common in large buildings and commercial solar projects, including farms. Keep in mind that the smaller the panel size, the more panels you can install.

So, how do I calculate how much solar panels to install in South Carolina

To calculate this, you must first determine these metrics:

  • Your annual energy consumption
  • The solar panel wattage
  • The production ratio

Your annual energy consumption is necessary to determine the required solar system capacity. Next, divide the system size by the production ratio. Then, further divide the answer by the wattage to get the number of solar systems to install.

Here's a case study:

Betan, Inc. is a midsized company in South Carolina. It decided to transition to solar energy before the third quarter of the year. To make this move, it needs to calculate the number of solar panels it needs to install.

According to most solar companies, Betan needs to install a 15,000 kWh solar system to cover its energy demands. The company is looking forward to installing 400-watt solar panels with a production ratio of 1.4.

Based on the calculations, Bentan may need to install 27 solar panels to cover their energy usage.

How Many Solar Panels do I Need for a 3-Bedroom House?

In South Carolina, you'll need to install between 20 and 24 solar panels for a 3-bedroom house. Here's how to calculate the number of solar panels to install.

First, determine the required power usage. A 3-bedroom house in South Carolina occupies about 1,300 sq. ft. According to the first table, you'll need 9 kWh to power a facility of that size.

Next, determine how much power the system will generate daily. A 9 kWh solar system has the capacity to generate an average of 33 kWh, or 33,000 watts.

Divide the daily energy output (in watts) by the peak sunlight hours. The state receives 4.5 peak sunlight hours.

So, divide 33,000 by 4.5 to give 7,333.

Now, divide your answer by the solar panel wattage. If the wattage is 350, you'll need to install 21 solar panels. However, you only need about 19 panels if the wattage is 400.

How Many Solar Panels do I Need for a 4-bedroom house?

You need between 25 and 27 solar panels for a 4-bedroom house in South Carolina. Most 4-bedroom homes occupy an average of 2,100 sq ft, and you'll require a 13 kWh panel to power them.

Do all Solar Panels Produce the Same Energy?

No, not all solar panels generate the same amount of energy. In most cases, the energy output depends on the wattage of the panel. The higher the efficiency of the panel, the more wattage it produces.

Crystalline solar panels are highly efficient at capturing solar energy, and generate the highest amount of energy or wattage. These panels have an efficiency rating between 15 to 25 percent. Monocrystalline panels, for instance, have a 20 percent efficiency and can generate up to 300 watts. On the other hand, Passivated Emitter and Rear Contact (PERC) is the most efficient crystalline panel and may generate up to 350 watts.

Which type of Solar Panel is best for Home Use in South Carolina?

Monocrystalline solar panels are the most preferred for home use in South Carolina. Most solar companies recommend this panel over options like polycrystalline and thin-film panels.

Monocrystalline panels capture more solar energy, take up less space, and last longer. However, this panel is quite expensive and may be out of reach for low-income earners. Tesla solar roofs in South Carolina are examples of monocrystalline panels.

To understand other options, let's compare the pros and cons of each solar panel.

Monocrystalline solar panel


  • It is highly efficient at converting solar energy into electricity. The efficiency rating is 20 percent for monocrystalline panels.
  • It is suitable for small and enclosed places, especially in urban regions where roof spaces are small.
  • It has a lifespan of up to 25 years.
  • It is also efficient at low sunlight levels.


  • They are more costly than other solar panel options.

Polycrystalline solar panel


  • More affordable than monocrystalline panels
  • More environmental-friendly since there's no wastage of silicon during manufacturing
  • Can function in low temperature, including during snowy conditions


  • Polycrystalline solar panels have a lower efficiency rate between 13 and 16 percent.
  • They require more space for installation. These panels are more suited to ground-mounted solar installations.

Thin-film solar panels


  • They are extremely lightweight.
  • They are the most affordable solar option.


  • Thin-film panels have an extremely low efficiency. They only convert 7 to 8 percent of solar energy.
  • It requires more space for installation.
  • It is less durable than options like monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels.

Can you Run a House Solely on Solar Panels in South Carolina?

Yes. Modern PV systems are more efficient, durable, and capable of meeting a home's energy needs. For example, the Tesla solar panel in South Carolina is a good option if you want to rely completely on solar energy.

Homeowners in South Carolina looking to switch to solar energy can complete the process in several steps.

  • Calculate your daily and annual energy usage.
  • Determine the peak sunlight hours in your region. South Carolina receives an average of 4.5 peak sunlight hours.
  • Invest in top quality PV systems, such as Tesla roofs and panels in South Carolina.
  • Purchase a solar battery that will power your appliances during low sunlight levels.