Hawaii relies on imported electricity due to its island location, resulting in the highest electricity costs in the country. The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, a group formed through the US Department of Energy, set the ambitious goal to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2045.
Hawaii doesn’t have much of its own oil and coal, so the resources must be imported, which results in high electricity costs. Data from the Energy Information Administration shows electricity rates in Hawaii (41.74 cents per kilowatt-hour in June 2023) are the most expensive in the country. The average electricity bill in Hawaii was $199.30 in June 2023, also the highest in the country, despite being down 11.3% from a year earlier.
You don’t have to wait for the whole state to overhaul its energy industry. Putting solar panels on your own home can help you contribute to the state’s transition away from fossil fuels while also saving you money by avoiding those high electric bills.
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Here’s what you need to know about getting solar panels in Hawaii, including the best installers operating in the state.
Best national solar panel companies in Hawaii
There are dozens of solar installers in Hawaii to choose from. Whether you’re interested in a nationwide or local company, I researched the following five companies to help you choose a solar installer. You should compare quotes from multiple companies to help you find the right fit for your budget.
Local solar panel companies in Hawaii
You don’t have to go with a big national company. Here are some local companies we identified in Hawaii. Shop around and check with friends and neighbors to see who they worked with.
How to determine which solar company in Hawaii is best for me
Getting solar panels or any kind of home energy equipment is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. You’ll want to find a company that offers the equipment you’re interested in, whether that’s a particular type of solar panels or a specific solar battery. You’ll also want to trust the company doing the installation. Search for customer reviews online for each company you consider.
Most importantly, get quotes from multiple companies. The pricing of solar systems can vary widely, and much of the cost is driven by factors other than equipment.
How much do solar panels cost?
The total cost of installing a solar panel system depends on several factors, including roof maintenance, installation costs, the number of panels you need and other components like solar batteries. You may be able to offset the cost with solar incentives and rebates.
Data specific to Hawaii is hard to come by. Nationwide, the median price per watt for a solar system in 2022 is $3, with the median system costing $23,920, according to consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.
Nationwide average solar panel costs
|System size (kW)||Price per watt||Installed cost|
Hawaii solar panel incentives or rebates
Federal and local incentives and rebates offset the cost of solar systems to help Hawaii residents choose renewable energy. The residential clean energy credit is a federal solar incentive crediting 30% of the total price of a solar panel system to you when you file your federal tax return. The credit was increased and extended in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.
In addition, Hawaii offers a property tax exemption and other incentives. The following are solar incentive programs available in Hawaii.
Hawaii solar incentives
|Hawaiian Electric Smart Export||Similar to net metering, customers receive credits for exporting excess energy generated by their solar panel system back to the energy grid from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m.|
|Honolulu Solar Loan Program||Zero-interest loan programs are offered by the city and county of Honolulu to homeowners for the installation of a solar system. The program aims to assist those of low to moderate income status.|
|Renewable Energy Technologies Income Tax Credit||Eligible homeowners may receive up to a 35% credit or $5,000, whichever is less, toward the total cost of a residential photovoltaic solar system.|
|Residential Clean Energy Credit||Apply through the IRS for a 30% federal tax credit for solar systems installed from the beginning of 2022 through 2032. The credit will decrease to 26% in 2033, 22% in 2034 and expire in 2035.|
How to pay for solar panels in Hawaii
As with any major purchase, you will want to think about how to finance the cost of solar panels. Keep in mind, the money from the tax credit won’t be yours until after you’ve filed your taxes for the year the panels are installed. It’s also important to factor in the solar payback period, which is the time it takes to recoup your upfront investment and when savings begins.
Here are some ways to pay for solar panels:
Solar loan: Your solar installer likely has a relationship with a bank or other financial institution to offer a loan designed for solar panels. This can be a great deal, but you’ll want to get multiple offers to ensure the rates and terms are the best.
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 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.
Cash: This approach only works if you happen to have thousands of dollars sitting around in a bank account. If you don’t have that yet, but you want solar panels in the future, consider saving money in a high-yield savings account. Interest rates are high right now, and this can help you save faster.
Home equity: You don’t have to use a loan from your solar company. Financial institutions offer home equity loans and lines of credit (or HELOCs) that are commonly used for home improvement projects. These loans can be used for basically any purpose, and they may be a good fit for your solar project. Shop around and make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Personal loan: You can also borrow the money through a personal loan. The main difference between a personal loan and a home equity loan is that a personal loan is typically unsecured. That means your house isn’t at risk. The downside is they tend to have shorter terms and higher interest rates than home equity products.
Installation factors to keep in mind
Before installing solar panels, consider the following five factors to avoid any potential surprises throughout the process and to determine if solar is right for you.
Are you a renter? Renters have less decision-making ability when it comes to changing the property. Community solar programs allow renters to subscribe and power their homes with solar from nearby panels. Check with your landlord to explore available options.
Do you have an HOA? Neighborhood and home owners associations in Hawaii can’t prohibit solar panels but may have guidelines for solar placement. Check with your association for details.
Does your insurance cover solar panels? Confirm with your homeowner’s insurance agency to ensure your policy has solar panel coverage.
What is your roof’s condition? Solar installers may require roof maintenance after completing an inspection. According to the Department of Energy, solar panels perform best on roofs with a 15- to 40-degree slope that faces south.
Is your home shaded? Solar panels still work when shaded by trees and buildings but perform best in direct sunlight for at least 4 hours a day. Consider the location of your home and how much direct sunlight your roof receives.
How we found the best solar companies
Doing a hands-on review of a solar company is difficult, and considering all the differences between projects is impossible. Instead, we focused on what we can measure and meaningfully compare among solar companies.
When evaluating solar companies, we focus on three categories of criteria: equipment, warranties and service.
For the equipment category, companies receive scores for the panels, batteries and inverters they install. The warranty category includes the guarantees on the panels, workmanship and weatherization against leaks. Solar companies will earn points in the service category if they offer a price-match guarantee, a decent level of price transparency and a well-rated app for monitoring solar energy production. Solar companies lose points if there are glaring issues concerning customer service. This includes lawsuits, investigations or reputations for low-quality service. These service issues will always be detailed in the review.
We don’t consider the average price of a solar company’s installations in their score. Accurate and reliable pricing information is hard to find and difficult to compare across service areas (and even project to project). Solar companies are often slow to disclose this information as well. We also leave out easy-to-find (but not useful information), such as how many states a company operates in.
Hawaii solar power FAQs