When considering a residential solar project, the first step should be to investigate energy efficiency improvements to your home, as many energy efficiency investments have faster paybacks than solar. Visit the State Energy Office's Energy Efficiency webpage for more information.
Once energy efficiency has been explored, there are many resources available to help you pursue residential solar. The NC Sustainable Energy Association’s “Consumer Guide for Solar for the NC Homeowner” explains the basics of how solar operates and the factors to consider when deciding on a solar project.
Homeowners Associations and Solar
If you live in a community that has a homeowner association, it is important to check to see if that HOA has provisions or covenants affecting solar. While North Carolina’s solar access law prevents HOA’s from completely prohibiting solar panels, there are still ways that an HOA may restrict their installation. See the Southern Environmental Law Center for more information about solar and HOA's.
There are several online options to get rough estimates for residential solar costs. Energy Sage is an online tool you can use to get a free estimate based on your ZIP code. Solar installers in your area may also be able to provide cost estimates.
Community solar is another option that some homeowners may be able to make use of. In this type of program, a household will typically enroll in a monthly subscription to a community solar project in their area. As part of that subscription, the value of the solar electricity that you have subscribed to is typically credited to your monthly electric bill. In North Carolina, some Electric Membership Co-ops and Municipal Electric Utilities (ElectriCities) have community solar projects. You will need to check if your Co-op or ElectriCity has a community solar project. Duke Energy does not yet have a community solar option.