Resources for Residential Rooftop Solar Installations
Solar electricity is abundant and increasingly affordable. As costs have fallen, more and more people are reaping these benefits and installing rooftop solar at their home. There are now more than 2 million solar homes in the U.S. To learn more about solar in Kentucky, check out the Solar Energy Industries Association’s Kentucky Solar Spotlight Fact Sheet!
This page is intended to assist Kentuckians who wish to install rooftop solar at their residence. It is of the utmost importance for interested homeowners to ensure they are educated on the technology in general, the incentives available to them, the average price in their area, and even the potential for misleading advertisements.
Individuals who wish to have solar installed should be knowledgeable of the basic terminology they may encounter. Such as:
- Solar Array – Multiple solar panels wired together. Panels produce electricity when sunlight hits them. They can be mounted to the roof or on the ground.
- Inverter – Device that converts the electricity produced by your solar panels from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC), which can be used by your home.
- kW – Kilowatt is a measurement of the size of your system. 1 kW is 1,000 W (watts).
- kWh: Kilowatt-hour is a measurement of the electricity produced by your system.
The Department of Energy offers many educational resources for those interested in learning about photovoltaic (PV) technologies. Below are some of these resources:
Determining if solar is right for your home
Solar panels can be installed grouped together on a large and uninterrupted portion of a roof. The panels require direct sunlight and minimal shading.The size, shape, and slope of your roof are also important factors to consider. Typically, solar panels perform best on south-facing roofs with a slope between 15 and 40 degrees, though other roofs may be suitable too. You should also consider the age of your roof and how long until it will need replacement. If you are unsure if your home is a good candidate for rooftop solar, you may be able to get a pre-screening of your home at no cost to you and with no obligation to purchase anything. Do not agree to having rooftop solar installed unless the installer has visited your home for a detailed review of shading, roof, electrical, and structural details.
Residents of Franklin, Anderson, Henry, Owen, Scott, Shelby, Woodford, Jefferson, Oldham, Shelby, Bullitt, and Fayette county have active Solarize campaigns in their area. These campaigns can be a valuable resource from pre-screening your home, choosing a reputable installer, and ensuring that you know exactly what you are signing up for.
Contacting your utility
There are a few reasons why a homeowner might contact
their utility other than net metering when installing solar.
- Interconnection agreement: An interconnection agreement is a
contract between the homeowner and the utility that specifies the terms
and conditions for connecting the solar system to the grid. This agreement
will typically cover things like the location of the solar system, the
size of the system, and the amount of electricity that can be exported to
- Net metering: Net metering is a voluntary program that allows homeowners with solar panels to sell their excess electricity back to the grid. In Kentucky, net metering is available to all customers of investor-owned utilities and rural electric cooperatives.
- Rebates and incentives: Utilities often offer
rebates and incentives for solar projects. These can help to offset the
cost of solar panels.
It is important to contact your utility early in the
solar installation process to get all of the information you need and to make
sure that your project is approved. By contacting your utility early in the process, you
can avoid any surprises and ensure that your solar project is a success.
How much does solar cost?
Solar is priced by the watt and costs will vary based on your system’s type and size. In Kentucky, the cost for installation is around $2.11 - $2.58/watt. The size of the average residential system falls between 4 kW (4,000W) and 8 kW (8,000W). Given the average installation cost, those systems cost roughly $11,500-$14,100 respectively. (Note: this is before applying the 30% federal tax credit or other state incentives). SolarReviews is one of many resources available for homeowners to gauge how much a system typically costs in their area.
Available solar installation incentives
A 30% federal tax credit is available to those who purchase a solar energy system. The tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the amount of income tax you would otherwise owe; it is not a rebate or a government check. For example, claiming a $1,000 federal tax credit reduces your federal income taxes due by $1,000. If one does not have any tax liability, one will not receive a refund. Read the Department of Energy’s Homeowner's Guide to the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics to learn more about the tax credit, eligibility, and how to claim your credit.
Solar installers, solar campaigns, any utilities may offer additional financial incentives. These incentives can be utilized in addition to the federal tax credit. Several utilities provide rebates for energy-efficient home upgrades. One should contact their electric utility to see if the installation of a solar array would qualify for any financial incentives.
Kentucky does not offer a sales tax exemption for solar arrays or a property tax exemption for the installation of a solar array.
Will I receive a return on my investment?
Solar saves you money by reducing your monthly electric bills - every unit of solar electricity you produce is one less unit you must purchase from your electric utility. Over time, the cumulative total of your electric bill savings may pay off the upfront cost of your system. The payback period for a typical residential solar array is anywhere from 4 - 12 years, depending on market conditions and system performance. Solar is a long-term investment and panels are typically warranted for 25-30 years. Homeowners should ensure that their panels are warranted for at least the anticipated pay-back period to guarantee a return on their investment.
Choosing a Solar Installer
Choosing a reputable installer is an important step in this tedious process. Not doing the proper research and not being knowledgeable about the solar installation process can result in one being misled or even scammed. The Kentucky Solar Energy Society (KSES) has put together a Directory of Kentucky Solar Installation Contractors and Consultants* that employs certified solar professionals. Ensure that your installer checks all the boxes on KSES's Quality Solar Installer Checklist.
Additionally, KSES has a guide for choosing a solar installer, getting the right information, and avoiding scams. Review the guide here: Choosing a Solar Installer: Get the Right Information and Watch out for Scams.
*The Office of Energy Policy provides no endorsement or guarantee as to the capabilities or quality of service of those companies listed.
Sounds too good to be true?
It very well may be. One must be wary of installers that offer installations at little or no cost, as there are no government incentives or programs offering free home solar panel installations nor does the government require companies to grant solar panels for free to customers. Additionally, be wary of attempts to collect your personal data in exchange for a price quote or to verify eligibility for services.
Never be pressured into a solar contract by unreasonable deadlines or financial offers. Always get at least two quotes.
Are you the victim of a misleading solar advertisement?
You can help fight fraud by reporting your experiences to both the Federal Trade Commission and the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office.
Additionally, you can report suspected scam to the Better Business Bureau using their Scam Tracker. The Better Business Bureau will investigate your claim and warn others so they can avoid similar cons.