Are Solar Panels Worthwhile in North Dakota?

Solar energy is only just beginning to emerge as a power source in North Dakota. Today, coal and wind energy are the most common power sources in North Dakota, with solar trailing far behind. 

However, the Solar Energy Industries Association predicts North Dakota will add 508 megawatts of solar capacity over the next five years, greatly increasing the state’s total solar generating power.

Though the SEIA says the cost of solar panels has fallen 52% in the last 10 years, North Dakota residents normally pay low energy prices, so investing in solar panels doesn’t always make financial sense. North Dakotans paid 26% lower energy rates in 2022 than the US average, according to CNET sister publication SaveOnEnergy’s analysis of data from the US Energy Information Administration.

If you live in North Dakota and are interested in solar panels for your home, you’ll be more limited in your choice of installer and available incentives than in other states. However, if you have high electricity bills, solar panels could help you save money on energy costs while also lowering your carbon footprint.

North Dakota solar panel costs

The cost of a solar panel system depends on many factors, including the system size, components like solar batteries, and installation costs. Because there are very few residential solar systems in North Dakota, there isn’t state-level cost data available at this time. Here’s a look at the cost of a typical solar system in the US, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Nationwide average solar panel costs

System size (kW) Price per watt Installed cost
Nationwide 8.6 $3.67 $31,558

How to pay for solar panels in North Dakota

Depending on the solar installer you choose, there may be several financing options available. You can purchase solar panels upfront or finance them with a solar loan, both of which result in you owning the system and qualifying for solar incentives and rebates. You can also use a separate loan, such as a home equity loan, a home equity line of credit or a personal loan

You may also have the option to sign a solar lease or power purchase agreement. With these options, you pay a monthly rate to use the electricity from the solar system, but you don’t own the system and won’t qualify for most state and federal incentives. 

North Dakota solar panel incentives and rebates

Solar incentives, rebates and tax credits can lower the cost of solar panels. At the federal level, the residential clean energy credit (formerly known as the investment tax credit) is available in every state and offers 30% of the total cost of solar panels as a tax credit. Based on the US average solar panel cost, this credit alone could save you $9,467. There isn’t a maximum amount set for this credit, so you can claim the full 30% regardless of your system size as long as you owe that much in taxes that year.

North Dakota solar panel incentives

Program Description
Residential clean energy credit This federal tax credit covers 30% of the cost of a solar panel installation. To apply, fill out IRS form 5695 (PDF) following these instructions. After your application is approved, you’ll receive your 30% credit when you file your federal tax return.
Property tax exemption Solar panels typically raise the value of your home. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimates an installed solar array increases the average home’s value by about $15,000. If your home’s value increases, your property taxes can also go up. When you purchase and install solar panels in North Dakota, you will be exempt from paying increased property taxes for five years after installation.
Net metering In North Dakota, you can participate in net metering, which lets you send extra solar energy from your system to the power grid in exchange for credits on your electricity bill. Net metering is normally considered a benefit to owning solar panels because it helps you save more on energy bills in a shorter period of time.

Solar panel companies in North Dakota

Because solar is still in the early stages of adoption in North Dakota, there isn’t a huge selection of installers to choose from at this time. The number of installers may grow if solar capacity increases as SEIA predicts it will.

We’ve compiled a list of solar installers that stand out in the industry. Though some of these installers don’t operate in North Dakota, you can use our research as a starting point when searching for an installer. 

GenPro Energy Solutions

With 18 years of experience, GenPro Energy Solutions was founded in South Dakota and offers a variety of energy-related services, including solar installations. GenPro offers grid-tied and off-grid solar installations. You can purchase solar panels upfront or finance them with a solar loan. GenPro offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee, though its website doesn’t elaborate on what this guarantee covers or specific warranty terms. If you’re a customer of GenPro, you can submit a warranty request directly through its website.

Lightspring Solar

Lightspring Solar is a local installer serving North Dakota and Minnesota. This company entered the market in 2018 and, according to its website, has installed hundreds of kilowatts of solar capacity and battery storage. Lighthouse Solar offers installations for residential, commercial and community solar projects. With this installer, you can purchase your system upfront or with a solar loan.

Lighthouse Solar installs rooftop and ground-mounted solar panels and can also design and install off-grid solar systems. If off-grid solar interests you, Lighthouse Solar might be a good fit. Its solar panels and inverters come with 25-year manufacturer warranties, and Lighthouse Solar offers a 25-year quality-of-work warranty. 

SunPower Solar

SunPower Solar is one of the largest national installers and serves all 50 states. With SunPower, you can buy or lease a solar system or sign a power purchase agreement. Though leasing and PPAs offer a cheaper upfront cost, you won’t own your system and will probably experience lower long-term savings on energy bills. 

What sets SunPower apart from the competition is its highly efficient solar panels, sourced from Maxeon, which have an efficiency rating of up to 22.8%. The industry average is currently between 15% and 20%, so the Maxeon solar panels are top of the line. SunPower’s warranties are also strong; the company guarantees 92% production capacity for 25 years. SunPower offers a quality-of-work and material warranty for 25 years, which covers defects or damage to the equipment in your system.

Installation factors to consider

Investing in solar panels is a big decision that you should consider from all angles beforehand. Figuring out whether it makes financial sense is one of the most important considerations. There are several factors that can impact whether solar is right for your home.

  • Your roof’s condition: According to the Department of Energy, roofs with a slope between 15 and 40 degrees are ideal for solar panel installation. The size of your roof will determine how many solar panels you can fit into the system. You should also consider the age and condition of your roof. Older roofs or roofs in poor condition may need to be replaced or maintained before installing solar panels.
  • HOA and neighborhood requirements: Some states have a solar rights law, meaning homeowners associations and neighborhoods can’t ban or restrict residents from installing solar panels. North Dakota doesn’t have a solar rights law, so your HOA or neighborhood may have restrictions around whether you can install solar panels. Before signing a contract, check the regulations in your neighborhood for details specific to where you live.
  • Insurance: After your solar panels are installed, you should contact your homeowners insurance agency to update your policy so it covers your solar system. Most standard policies cover rooftop solar, but check the terms of your policy for specific details.
  • Where you live: Solar panels can produce electricity in all climates and temperatures. But they’ll generate more electricity when they receive a lot of direct sunlight. North Dakota gets an average of 201 sunny days per year, which is close to the US average of 205 days. If your home receives a lot of direct sun every day, solar panels could make financial sense for you. If you live in a shaded area, a solar system might not generate enough electricity to cover your usage, so you’ll save less on energy bills.
  • Renting your home: If you rent your home or live in an apartment, you might not be allowed to install solar panels. If that’s the case, community solar may be an alternative. Community solar lets you pay a monthly fee for solar power produced at another location (usually nearby). In exchange, you get a credit on your energy bills. The amount you pay for community solar should be cheaper than the credit you receive on your bills, so you come out ahead financially. 

North Dakota solar FAQs

Does North Dakota have a solar easement law?

North Dakota doesn’t have a solar rights law, but it does have a solar easement law, which protects your home’s access to sunlight. For example, you can enter an agreement with your neighbor to guarantee they won’t let trees get so tall that they block your solar panels. An easement can protect you even if your neighbor sells the property.

Are solar panels worth it in North Dakota?

Because solar panels are less popular in North Dakota, there are fewer installers and less cost data available in the state. This makes it difficult to estimate whether solar panels are a good move financially. If you tend to pay high electricity bills, you might be able to save a lot of money over the course of the panels’ lifetime. Most residents in North Dakota pay low electric rates, so the upfront cost of solar might be too high to offset the price of traditional electricity. You can begin to estimate whether solar panels make sense financially for you based on your current energy bills and how much energy you normally consume.

How can I find a solar installer?

There are a limited number of installers operating in North Dakota, so comparing your options might be easier than in states with hundreds of installers available. Take your time to research your options thoroughly and compare multiple quotes from installers. You can also review CNET’s choices for top solar companies as a starting point.