Savannah, Georgia Solar Power – Everything You Need to Know
Get answers and find out if solar is right for you
Solar power in Savannah, Georgia is surging. As of 2021, we’re ranking ninth in the nation in total megawatts of installed solar energy, with solar now producing 3.65% of our state’s electricity. If that doesn’t seem like much to you, consider that just three years ago, it was only 0.75%.
Solar installations are accelerating statewide across Georgia, and Savannah is no exception. Everyone by now probably knows about the headline-grabbing IKEA solar array, which generates over 2 million kWh per year. But not far from there, a 4000 panel solar farm on the old Deptford Landfill is now churning out energy for hundreds of local homes and businesses.
And besides the big projects that everyone sees, average homeowners, farms, and businesses are realizing solar power isn’t just good for the environment. It’s good for their bank account.
As you’re about to see, solar power in Savannah isn’t just for wealthy people. Just about anyone can afford to go solar. If you can afford a car, you can afford solar power. The real question is — is your home, business, or farm a good candidate for solar? Not every building is.
We’ll discuss all this and much more in this complete summary of the current state of solar power in Savannah, Georgia. And, we’ll give you an opportunity to meet with a locally owned solar power company to find out if solar is right for you.
Don’t want to wait? Schedule a free consultation with a solar consultant and get your numbers today.
Why Go Solar in Savannah
There are a number of reasons why solar can be a great choice for almost anyone.
1. Own your power — stop renting it
The first is, you’re already paying for power, and will continue to do so forever, no matter what.
But once you go solar, you stop paying for that same power — however much of it gets generated by the solar panels. The solar investment is a fixed, one-time cost (unless you finance it — we’ll get to that in a bit). But once it’s paid for, it’s done. You keep generating power, but you don’t have to pay for it anymore.
Properly installed solar panels always eventually pay for themselves and turn into a money-saving, profit-generating asset. It’s just a matter of time. It might be three years. Might be eight years. But that break-even point will come. And once you’ve passed it, everything beyond that is pure savings.
2. Beat inflation
Another reason solar power saves money is because of inflation.
Power costs will continue to rise. So if your solar panels generate 750kW every month on average, you will not have to pay the ever-increasing costs that you would have paid for that same power, month after month.
In other words, as time passes, you save even more money from solar power.
3. Stabilize the grid
There’s an altruistic reason to go solar in Savannah as well. When big storms and hurricanes hit, or cold spells and heat waves wash over the region, the power grid gets stretched thin. Some places have had to institute rolling brownouts because of an overworked grid.
Your solar panels reduce the demand on the grid because you’re producing your own power. And if you’re producing excess power at various times of day, the grid can use that to help your neighbors.
The more people who go solar, the less strain there will be on the grid during high-usage periods.
And speaking of hurricanes…
Does solar power have backup power?
What happens if the power goes out and you have solar power for your home or business in Savannah?
This is actually a complicated question, and the answers depend on a number of factors.
In general though, if you have a basic, grid-connected solar power system, when the power goes out, you will also lose your power. This has to do with the mechanics of how your panels are tied to the grid.
The simplest way around this is to get solar power battery backups. With solar batteries, you can store excess solar energy produced on sunny days, and then use it when you need it, including in power outages.
Does solar power work at night then? If you have solar power batteries, then yes! You can store up any excess energy in the day, and then use it at night. The more panels you have, the more energy you will produce and can store for when you need it.
While Tesla has the most familiar brand name among solar battery options, it’s actually not the best choice, for several reasons. Coastal Solar has evaluated many brands of solar batteries, and settled on two that provide customers with the best set of options.
One, made by Eguana, is more affordable without sacrificing performance or quality. The other, by Sonnen, is more elite, offering the best technology and the highest performance. See why these two choices are better than the Tesla Powerwall.
Another way around the power outage problem is to get an old-school gas generator. There are pros and cons to generators as compared to solar power batteries.
For instance, gas generators will likely produce more steady power over a longer period of time. An extended blackout would be tough for solar batteries.
But, gas generators also waste a lot of energy. They produce the same amount of energy all the time once you turn them on, even if you don’t need it all. Solar batteries only use whatever is needed at each moment, so they’re much more efficient. Plus, generators are noisy and dirty and require expensive fuel and have moving parts and all that.
Another advantage of solar power batteries over gas generators is that solar batteries are actually less costly, over time. See why, and other pros and cons of batteries vs generators.
How much does solar power cost in Savannah, Georgia?
You probably already know what the answer to this is.
You got it. The answer is, ‘it depends.’ (Groan…)
But, when it comes to a new solar installation, the cost really does depend on several big factors. For example, national estimates for the cost of a 10kW solar power system range from about $17,000 – $23,000. That’s quite a range, and the reality is, it should be even wider.
Why? Because you have to begin with how many solar panels you will want. The size of your system has a direct effect on its cost, because you pay for each solar panel in addition to the installation. More panels, higher cost.
For most homes, 10kW is actually quite large. For mid-sized businesses and poultry farms, 10kW is probably on the small side. But it doesn’t have to be. You can get whatever size system you want. It all depends on how much power you want to produce.
If you’re happy producing 30% of your average monthly power usage, you’ll get a smaller system. If you want to produce 75%, you’ll need a bigger system. If you want solar batteries and want to generate even more so you can store more excess, this again affects the size.
A good solar consultant will discuss all this with you and give you several reasonable options to choose from.
Several other factors also affect the cost of solar panels in Savannah:
- Type of solar panels – there is a range of quality, and several different types of panel technology
- Ease of installation – long flat roofs are much simpler than roofs with lots of angles and sections, not to mention other complications on the property
- Your solar panel installer
Surprisingly, you actually will often pay more to use the big national companies compared to local ones like Coastal Solar, even though there is no increase in quality or expertise with the national ones.
Regarding types of panels, in general, you want to opt for quality over the cheapest option. The reason for this is, better panels will last longer and generate energy more efficiently. You’re taking the long game here, once again. A panel that lasts 30 years is better than one that lasts 20 years – even if the 30-year one costs “more” up front. In the long run, it costs less, because it produces more energy.
Same goes for efficiency. Some panels convert higher percentages of sunlight into energy than others. A solar panel producing energy at a rate of 15% is very different than one producing it at 20%. Think about how much more energy the 20% panel will generate over 30 years. That 5% difference will be worth thousands of dollars over the life of your solar array.
So again, the more “expensive” panels – if they last longer and produce energy more efficiently – are actually the better choice in the long run. See more about 5 factors affecting the costs of solar panels in Savannah.
Is solar power affordable?
So then, how do we answer this question? If you just buy four panels, it will cost a lot less than buying 20. But 20 will produce more energy.
That’s why, the affordability question really comes down to how you choose to pay for it.
There are at least five ways to pay for solar panels, but only two of them are worth your consideration.
Those two methods are:
- Pay cash all up front
- Finance your solar array
Cash up front is the most financially efficient method, because it’s a one-time cost, and all you have to do after that is save money on power, hit your break-even point, and enjoy a life with reduced or completely eliminated power bills.
Financing works well too, but the added interest does extend your break-even point a bit. But financing is a great option for anyone who can’t afford the all cash option. There are at least 7 reasons solar financing makes solar affordable for almost everyone.
A good solar loan might go for ten years, and by spreading out the payments, it’s very reasonable to expect that you can finance a good-sized solar array for well under $200 per month. In other words, it’s not that different than financing a car.
Suppose your desired solar array will cost you $20,000, which may be on the high side, especially considering the tax rebates you will get, which we’ll discuss in a moment.
But if you put $5000 down and financed $15,000 over ten years at a reasonable interest rate, you will pay less than $200 per month. That’s doable for most people, especially when you remember that your monthly power bills will be smaller too!
Don’t forget about that. A solar loan is not just a new monthly payment. It is replacing a large part of an existing monthly payment too. So your actual new monthly costs may end up lower than you’re spending on power now in certain months.
And, once the loan is paid off, you’re set for life with nearly-permanently lower power bills.
How much money does solar power save?
Costs are one thing. Now let’s talk about all the money you will save with solar power in Savannah.
You may have noticed this by now, but power bills never get lower. The per-kWh charge either stays the same, or goes up every year. It never goes down.
And there are at least five reasons your power bill is high.
One reason is caused by government regulations. They require power companies to do various things to protect the environment or maintain various safety standards, and the power companies pass this on to you.
Plus, power companies might, on occasion, just not use their money wisely.
Besides that, there’s an increasing population to serve, power lines and distribution centers to build and maintain, fluctuations in energy prices from the variety of sources we’re currently using, and coal and nuclear plants closing down. All this works to drive up costs over time.
When you own your own power, you escape all these price increases.
As power prices soar, your savings increase. Consider this scenario:
Suppose that right now, you’re spending 12 cents per kWh. So 1000 kWh would cost you $120. But next year, they raise the price to 12.5 cents. And then again the next year and the year after that. Ten years from now, you might be paying 15 cents for that same 1000 kWh, or $150 every month.
But if you have solar panels generating 1000 kWh, you never have to pay for any of those cost increases. So your savings increase month after month, year after year. You’d be saving $120 per month now. But next year, you’d be saving $125 per month. See how that works?
That’s why it’s hard to project exactly how much money your panels will save you. We can say how much you’d save now, if power bill rates never go up. But they WILL go up. And when they do, your savings from solar power go up too.
Solar power increases home values in Savannah, Georgia
Power bill inflation is just one way you’ll save money with solar power. You’ll also make money by increasing the value of your home.
Studies on this vary, but you can safely assume that a solar array will add at least $10,000 to the value of your property. That means, if you install a solar array but then move in three years before hitting your break-even point, you will still make back most if not all of your investment and more, because you’ll sell your home for more money — especially if you have fully paid for the panels, which is another reason to pay cash up front.
If you still owe money on a solar loan that your new buyers would have to pick up, you probably won’t get as much of an increase on your home sale. But in that scenario, you also haven’t paid for most of the array anyway, so you don’t need to ‘make it back’ on the sale.
What if you’re retired?
Solar power can actually increase your retirement security, because it reduces your tax burden and provides a more reliable investment return than the stock market. Here’s more on solar power and retirement.
What are the tax incentives for solar power in Savannah, GA?
The most well-known solar tax credit is known as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). It’s a federal credit that got extended a few years back, and currently sits at 26%, though it goes down to 22% at the end of 2023. So don’t wait too long if you want the maximum credit. See more details about the ITC here.
The ITC is big stuff. It means that, whatever the cost of your solar panels, you will get over a quarter of that cost back on your next tax return. So if you spend $20,000 on a solar array, you’ll get $5200 back next April. This dramatically quickens the time to reach your break-even point.
If you pay all cash up front, then you just get to enjoy a mammoth tax return.
If you finance your solar panels, then you can use the huge tax return to make a big payment on the loan, and then refinance the remainder at a much lower monthly payment. This is a very smart approach for anyone who can’t afford to pay for solar all up front. Just remember to bite the bullet of financial responsibility, and USE that big tax return to pay down your loan, instead of going on vacation. Otherwise, you’ve lost the financial benefits of the tax credit!
Have a farm or rural business near Savannah?
If you have a farm or a rural business, there’s another tax perk that might be available to you. It’s called the REAP, and it’s from the Department of Agriculture. With a REAP, which can be a grant or a loan, you can get a huge additional credit for the cost of your new solar panels.
Coastal Solar has helped dozens of poultry farmers and other rural businesses apply successfully for REAP grants. We have over a 90% success rate, far better than anyone else in the solar industry.
If your property is in a rural area, you might qualify. And the REAP doesn’t affect your federal solar tax credit. You can have both. The farms and businesses we’ve helped get the REAP have gotten over half of their solar cost eliminated by combining just these two credits.
Learn more about the REAP Grant and see 2 case studies
How does solar panel installation work?
There are three types of solar panel installations.
You can install panels on a roof, or on the ground, and you can also install them with trackers. Trackers increase the cost, but these allow your panels to actually adjust their tilt throughout the day to receive larger amounts of direct sunlight for more hours of the day. The increased cost often doesn’t always justify the increased production, but sometimes it does. Ask your solar consultant about trackers if you’re interested in seeing your numbers.
There are pros and cons to all three of these approaches.
The biggest advantage of rooftop solar panels is that they’re out of the way. Unless you have a lot of extra unused land, this is your only option. However, some are getting creative with their definition of ‘rooftop.’ Carports, for example, are becoming a favorite place for solar panels. You can also consider sheds, detached garages, and other sturdy structures besides your house.
The biggest problem with rooftops is that you can’t easily adjust the orientation of the solar panels. If your roof isn’t facing an ideal direction for sunlight, there’s not much you can do.
A ground array allows for the greatest flexibility in which direction your panels face. Plus, you are only limited by the size of your land, which is probably much larger than the size of your roof. See more pros and cons of the three solar power installation options.
How many solar panels will I need?
This is probably the biggest question to answer when considering solar installation.
If you’re doing rooftop solar, then your solar consultant will probably give you a ‘maximum’ number — however many panels can fit on your roof.
But in addition to that, you need to consider a few other things.
1. Power bill costs
How much savings do you want to see on your power bill? Don’t forget that power usage, as well as power generated by your panels, will change depending on the time of year.
That’s why you want to consider annual power bill costs, not just monthly. With a larger solar array, you might have some months with $0 bills, but other months with some remaining costs. It’s pretty hard to have no power bills every single month. For example, in December, there is less sunlight, and you will use your heater more often, most likely. Yes, even in Savannah.
But set a goal for yourself. Want to see some $0 bills? Just want to reduce your bills by a good percentage? Is any savings better than nothing, even if it’s just 25%? This is your biggest factor in deciding how many panels you want.
2. Power usage
This is related to costs, but now you’re considering how much power you expect to use. For example, if you used to work in the office but now work at home, you’re probably using more power. But if you expect to work in the office again soon, your power needs will decline a bit.
If you’re planning to have kids (or more kids!), that will increase your power usage.
Want to buy an electric car and need a charging station? If you want your solar panels to power your electric car, you might want more panels.
3. Direct sunlight?
Your solar consultant will help you with this one, because it can get complicated real quick. Why? Because the sun is in a different position in the sky depending on the season. In the winter, it’s lower. So if there are buildings or trees nearby, and they don’t appear to ever cast a shadow on your roof in the summer, that doesn’t mean they won’t interfere with your solar panels in the winter.
Where you put your panels, in addition to how many, is a big factor in the final solar array you end up selecting.
All of these factors play a role in your solar installation. And by the way, if you love diving deep into the math, here’s an in-depth guide into calculating exactly how many panels you might want.
Once you settle on the number of panels you want and the location of the array, then installation can commence.
What the solar installer does next
The solar installer will then proceed to take care of all the permitting that has to be done. After that, they will schedule the date of installation.
When they show up, if it’s a roof installation, they will attach a series of racks to your roof, and will make sure to avoid any possibility of leakage – if you’re working with a certified solar installer who knows what they’re doing, that is.
Then, the panels get fixed in place on the racks, including all the wiring, which leads to the inverter. If you’re using microinverters, the process is a bit different. This is another item you can discuss with your solar consultant. What’s an inverter? The inverter converts the electricity generated by your panels, which comes in the form of direct current (DC), into the alternating current (AC) that your home requires.
The inverter will typically be inside the structure somewhere. If you also choose to add solar batteries to your system, these will usually be near the inverter. And both the inverter and the batteries will get connected to the electric system in your home or business.
Can you install your own solar panels?
What about DIY solar panels? Wouldn’t that save us some money?
Actually — no. You will likely spend more on DIY solar panels, and not just because time is money, though that too is a reason.
We’ve written extensively on why installing panels on your own doesn’t save money or make your life easier. Here are 5 reasons why you won’t save money doing it yourself. And here are 7 questions to ask yourself before trying to DIY.
The quick summary is this:
There is a ton of knowledge required to install solar panels. This is not just a new computer. It’s not a new fridge or a kitchen sink. It’s not even like adding a room onto your house. All of that is easier than installing solar panels. Much easier.
Remember all that talk earlier about solar panel efficiency? If you do everything else right (not an easy task), but install your solar panels at a sub-optimized angle, you will set back your solar production for the life of the panels. That one error can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars over the next 25 years.
So, it’s not just the time of installation that will take far longer than if a professional does it. But it’s the time you’ll spend learning everything you need to know — including the permitting process referred to earlier that your installer will handle without effort because they do it all the time.
And the other main problem with DIY is that if you make any mistakes, the costs of having to fix them can easily eclipse the cost of having a pro do it. And rest assured — you WILL make mistakes, because there are so many steps in the process.
On top of that, you don’t get the federal tax credit if you install solar panels yourself. They only give the tax credit to solar arrays installed by certified installers. The reason for this was just stated — doing it yourself invites too much potential for mistakes. And if your array breaks down, or causes a fire, or isn’t working as efficiently as it should, it’s not in the government’s interests to pay for your mistakes.
So should you DIY your solar panels? Unless you’re a very very special person who already possesses extensive knowledge about electricity, roofing, solar, inverters, and all the rest – then no, you shouldn’t.
How do you choose a good solar company in Savannah, Georgia?
The best way to choose a good solar company is to ask them to come out and give you a bid.
Reviews are great and can be helpful. But we at Coastal Solar have great reviews, and so do lots of other companies.
What you really want to know is, what kind of service will you get? Is there a warranty and how good is it? Has this company been around long enough that you can trust them to still be here in ten years? Do they have NABCEP certified installers?
You also want to know which solar panel manufacturers they use. A good installer will be able to talk about different manufacturers, and why their company chose the one they use (some offer more than one option). Here are 10 questions to ask any solar installer who brings you a bid.
So, ask more than one company to come out and make a bid. Then you’ll have some options to compare. And when you have solar consultants show up to make a bid, pay attention to what they do, and what they don’t do.
What to look for in a solar consultation & bid
We have a writer on staff who works in a different state where Coastal Solar doesn’t operate. He had solar panels installed on his own house, and got two bids.
His experiences with each bidder could not have been more different, and it made the choice of which company to go with very easy.
He came up with 8 things to expect from any solar installers who come to bid on your project. If you don’t get even one or two of these from a particular bidder, find a better installer.
- At least a 60-minute consultation — at minimum
- A preliminary solar array layout for your home or business
- Estimates of projected power production and money saved
- More than one solar array option to consider
- Information about tax credits and net metering
- Awareness of special considerations unique to your property, if any
- Payment and financing options — again, you should be given choices here, not just one way
- Answers to questions you have
Get more detail about each of these items and see a photo of the actual solar array, which he put on a detached garage.
What makes Coastal Solar different?
Why should you choose Coastal Solar over other solar installers?
The answer is simple — have us come out and do a bid along with a couple other installers, and you will see the difference for yourself.
We have an NABCEP certified installer on our team. That means the quality of installation you’ll receive from us is the best it can be. We also source high quality solar panels, and batteries if you want solar power battery backups.
We also have special expertise in working with agricultural solar customers like poultry farmers. No one has installed more farm solar arrays than we have.
Beyond that, we have done numerous residential and business solar installations as well.
And best of all, we are locally owned, based near Savannah in Georgia, just over in Hinesville. You can come to our offices anytime and meet the team. We are not a huge national company with CEOs up in New York City. Our owner has done business here for 50 years. We’re right here with you. We know the state. We know the local issues. Both candidates for governor in the 2020 election visited our offices. We are part of this community, and want to see more people save money and own their power.