If you live in Michigan, you have a few reasons to consider taking your electricity into your own hands and installing solar panels. The state has frequent power outages, including during winter storms and other moments when the temperature can hit extremes.
Michigan may not have been at the forefront of the solar energy boom, but recent legislative changes and ambitious energy goals have the state primed for solar growth. Interested in being part of it? For you, the hard part might be choosing a solar installer.
We’ve compiled a list of national and local solar installers that serve the Great Lake State. We’ve also got answers for some of the questions you may be asking yourself about getting solar panels.
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Best national solar companies in Michigan
Local Michigan solar installers
You don’t have to go with a big national firm if you want to go solar. Here are some local companies worth considering.
Solar panels can protect you from Michigan’s frequent outages
Rising electricity rates are reason enough for many homeowners to install solar panels. And while Michigan’s electricity rates have increased over the years, frequent power outages are another reason why Michigan homeowners choose to go solar. Michigan suffers from frequent power outages, with the state’s winter storms posing a threat to the reliability of the power grid during periods of extreme temperatures.
“The Michigan grid is in the bottom ten in terms of reliability and performance in the country,” Robin Dutta, a campaign director with Local Solar for All, a clean energy advocacy group, told CNET. “That’s been the last few years fairly consistently.”
How to determine which solar panel installation company is best for you in Michigan
You’ll likely have multiple solar installer options in your area. But which is the best and how can you tell? Every house is a bit different, so every solar installation will be different as well. What you really need is an installer who has experience working with the type of roof you have and the type of system you want installed.
Ben Delman, a communications director with Solar United Neighbors, a clean energy nonprofit, says homeowners should look for solar installers that are certified by NABCEP and have the proper licensing and permits to do their work. Read up on online reviews from as many sources as you can, too. Google and Yelp reviews are a good starting point. Look for solar companies with at least 20 to 30 positive reviews. If you know someone who has solar panels installed on their roof, you can ask them for recommendations too.
Make sure that your installer is getting the best angle and orientation possible for your system, Dutta said.
“You want to make sure that they’re looking at the orientation of your system so that you can maximize the generation of the system,” Dutta said. “So typically that’s a south or southeast facing orientation. And if it’s not, for some reason, make sure they can explain why and why it’s beneficial.”
Make sure you’re familiar with how the federal solar tax credit works. Your solar installer should be able to explain it accurately. If they can’t, that’s a red flag. Your installer should also be able to clearly define how pricing works before beginning the project.
According to Delman and Dutta, a good solar installer should be able to:
- Give good word-of-mouth references.
- Explain the project and working deadlines in detail.
- Clearly lay out the cost of everything beforehand. There shouldn’t be any surprise charges.
- Define technical terms in an easy-to-understand manner.
- Accurately explain how the federal solar tax credit works.
- Design a system that is as efficient and beneficial as possible for your needs.
- Be knowledgeable and transparent about how financing works.
- Have knowledge about the local permit requirements and the process for system interconnection with your local utility company.
- Understand homeowners association restrictions and assist you in navigating that process.
- Answer any question, even the difficult ones.
Average cost of solar panels in Michigan
Here’s a look at the average cash price for a 5-kilowatt system before factoring in tax credits and incentives, according to data from FindEnergy.com. But your system could cost more if you choose to install a solar battery.
Michigan solar panel costs
|System size (kW)
|Price per watt
Michigan solar panel incentives and rebates
The most substantial solar incentive in Michigan is the residential clean energy credit. This federal solar tax credit applies to solar panels purchased between 2022 and 2032 and allows you to claim 30% of the total cost of your system back in tax credits.
Michigan doesn’t offer traditional net metering. Instead, there is a similar program called the Distributed Generation Program. You won’t receive a set compensation rate for any excess solar sent to the power grid.
“The compensation that solar owners get for the excess power that they produce is less than the retail rate of the electricity that they pay for,” Dutta said. “And that has definitely hurt the value proposition for solar in Michigan.”
How to pay for solar panels in Michigan
When it comes to the actual purchase of your solar panel system, you’ve got lots of options. Here are some of the most common.
Cash: Paying cash for your panels is an interest-free way to pay for solar panels, but requires a large amount of upfront capital. If you’re not ready to go solar yet, consider saving some money in a high-yield savings account.
Solar loan: Your installer will likely offer you financing options via a solar loan. These solar loans are an alternative way to buy a solar array and qualify for tax incentives, but you will have to pay interest.
Other financing options: Solar loans from your installer aren’t your only financing option. You could also consider taking out a personal loan through your bank or opening a home equity line of credit.
Solar lease: When you lease a solar system, you don’t own it. Instead, you pay for the use of company-owned solar equipment. Going with a solar lease will save you more money up front, but less over time. Not every solar company offers solar leases.
Power purchase agreements: When you sign a power purchase agreement, you pay for the electricity generated by a third-party solar panel system to power your home. Certain states don’t offer power purchase agreements.
Installation factors to keep in mind
Besides deciding on your budget, solar installer, purchase and financing method, consider these five aspects of your home when considering residential solar panels.
Own or rent. Homeowners are set up to get the best incentives and return on investment with solar panels. Renters who want to use renewable energy are better off looking into community solar programs.
Roof condition: If your roof needs repairs before solar panel installation, factor that expense into your budget. Make sure your installer advises you on how the size and slope of your roof will affect panel placement and performance. A roof oriented toward the sun with an unobstructed view will generate more electricity.
Location: Some states receive more sunlight than others. Michigan doesn’t get nearly as much sunlight as other states, receiving about only four hours of peak sunlight per day.
Neighborhood and HOA rules: Michigan doesn’t have solar rights laws, which means homeowner associations can ban solar panels. Check your neighborhood bylaws before proceeding with solar installation. A reputable installer should help you navigate this.
Homeowners insurance: Consult your home insurance company to ensure a solar system can be covered under your policy.