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Learn About Solar

Solar FAQs in the time of COVID-19

The process of going solar is easier than you might think, and can take place almost entirely digitally.

  • The first step is to receive solar quotes from reputable local solar companies, which you can do online through Rhode Island Energy’s Solar Marketplace in partnership with EnergySage. 
  • The second step is for solar companies to finalize their custom system design and quote based on any details specific to your home, a process that can be completed via a video conference call with solar companies. 
  • Third, if and when you decide to make a decision on solar, you can select the installer with whom you’d like to move forward digitally through the Solar Marketplace
  • At that point, all that’s left is paperwork and contracts, all of which can be e-signed.

Yes! Right now is a great time to shop for solar, for three main reasons: 

  • First, the best financial incentive for solar–the federal investment tax credit–decreases at the end of this year. You will need to have your system installed and connected to the grid prior to December 31st in order to claim the tax benefit, which provides a tax credit of $5,000 to $8,000 for most solar shoppers.
  • Second, the cost of a solar installation is the lowest it’s ever been. In fact, the price of solar has decreased nearly 25% in the last five years.
  • And third, you can begin the process of shopping for solar now, and plan for an installation later this year, allowing you to take advantage of the low costs and best financial incentives. 

Additionally, you can shop for solar entirely online through Rhode Island Energy’s Solar Marketplace with EnergySage. While you spend time sheltering-in-place, solar installation companies are also working more remotely. This means solar companies are likely to be very responsive and communicative when you shop for solar online right now.

Rhode Island Energy helps our customers explore solar options through a partnership with EnergySage, the country’s leading Solar Marketplace. By visiting Energysage.com/rienergy, you can learn more about the process of going solar, read reviews of local solar companies, and research and compare solar panel equipment. Check out EnergySage’s online Solar Calculator to estimate how much installing solar can save you over the next twenty years.

When you’re ready to take the next step with solar, you can register for a free account on EnergySage to receive custom solar quotes from pre-screened solar installers near you. EnergySage’s team of unbiased advisors are available to answer any questions you have about the process of going solar, the quotes you’ve received, or the solar installers in your area. No phone calls are required and your contact information is not shared with any contractors.

Adding a battery to your solar energy system can provide a number of different benefits, from emergency backup power in the event of major storm events, increased financial savings if you're on certain types of electricity rates, or to even maximize the amount of the solar electricity you use at your home, as opposed to sending back to the grid. However, home energy storage is still a fairly new industry, meaning batteries won't make sense financially for every home or business owner.

For Rhode Island Energy customers in Rhode Island, there are two primary reasons to consider adding a battery to your solar installation: first, to provide the peace of mind of having on-site backup power; and second, for the financial incentives available through Rhode Island Energy's ConnnectedSolutions program. The ConnectedSolutions program offers $400 per kilowatt (kW) of battery power if you participate during the summer, which could add an extra $1,000-$2,000 in incentives per year of participation. Combined with the 30% federal investment tax credit, this means battery buyers in Rhode Island will see a very quick return on their investment.

If you're interested in exploring your energy storage options, you can get both solar and solar-plus-storage quotes online through the Rhode Island Energy Solar Marketplace.

With solar, you can save money on electricity costs while generating your own power and reducing your carbon footprint. Rhode Island Energy wants to help you make an informed decision about solar.

We’ve partnered with EnergySage, the nation’s leading online marketplace for solar, to make it easier than ever for our customers to explore solar. Learn more about a range of solar topics, get an estimate for the potential of your property for solar, and get easy-to-compare quotes from pre-screened, high-quality installers by visiting our Solar Marketplace.

Why install solar panels?

Solar is one of the fastest growing sources of energy, and for good reason. Here’s why many are considering solar:

  • Save on monthly electric bills - Solar panels can help reduce your electricity bill, providing long-term savings.
  • Generate your own energy - Energy customers like the idea of being able to generate electricity using their own roof.
  • Protect against fluctuating energy costs - Energy costs will rise and fall. When you generate solar power, you lock in a fixed electricity rate for the lifetime of the system.
  • Benefit the environment - Solar is a clean, emission-free source of energy. By using solar power, an average home can eliminate three to four tons of carbon emissions each year - this is equivalent to planting over 100 trees annually.
  • Increase in property value - Studies have shown that homes with solar panels sell quicker and at a higher value than comparable, non-solar homes.


When it comes to installing solar, there are three primary decisions to make: what equipment you want to install, how you want to finance your solar panel system, and which installation company you want to move forward with. Here are some key facts to keep in mind about each:


  • The key components of a solar installation are solar panels, inverter, and mounting equipment. Compare solar panels, inverters, and batteries with the EnergySage Buyer's Guide
  • Not all solar energy equipment is created equal; panels and inverters come with different warranties, efficiencies, certifications, and more.
  • Premium equipment options will often come with a higher price tag but may generate more solar electricity than standard equipment options.
  • Equipment manufacturers warranty their products for 10-30 years.


Financing options

  • You can finance a solar panel system through a loan or lease. You can also purchase a solar panel system upfront.
  • There are $0-down financing options available for going solar.
  • Solar financing products have different terms, interest rates, and down payments.
  • Installation companies typically partner with specialized solar lenders and can help you obtain a solar loan, but some people elect to obtain their own loan directly (home equity loan, HELOC, etc.).


Installation company

  • Installers vary in terms of experience, reputation, company size, certifications and warranty offering.
  • Most solar installers offer a workmanship warranty of at least 10 years.
  • Reputable installers will have online reviews and can typically provide contact information for references as well.

Solar panels are made up of silicon. When sunlight hits a solar panel, electrons in the silicon begin to move, initiating a flow of electricity. This creates direct current (DC) electricity. A solar inverter will convert the DC electricity into alternating current (AC) for your home’s appliances to use. 

How do solar panels work?

You can use EnergySage’s Solar Calculator to get ballpark estimates for solar costs and savings on your property. To use the calculator, you’ll need to input your address, confirm your roof, and enter an average monthly electricity cost. The resulting costs and savings estimates will take into account these factors, along with current pricing data and any available incentives.

Is my roof good for solar?

Every solar panel system is unique - the number of panels you’ll require depends on how much electricity you want to generate, the efficiency of the equipment, the proposed location of the solar panels, and your geography. When quoting a solar panel system, installers use design tools to propose an appropriately sized solar panel system based on these factors. Installers will also confirm system size at an in-person site visit prior to installation.

How many solar panels do you need?

Net metering is a solar incentive that allows you to send any excess electricity your solar panels produce back to the grid for credits. You can draw electricity from the grid and use these credits come night time when your solar panel system is not generating power. If your solar panel system produces more than you used in a given billing cycle, Rhode Island Energy will add credits to use on a future electric bill. Alternatively, if you use more electricity than your solar panel system generates in a billing cycle, Rhode Island Energy will charge you standard electricity rates for the “net” energy you used from the grid during that month.

How does net metering work?

Yes; your solar panel installation will be grid-tied. This allows you to pull electricity from the grid when you need to, like at night when your panels are not producing. That said, your electric bill can either have a credit or a charge depending on how much solar electricity your system generated versus how much electricity you used during the month.

The cost to install solar panels will depend on multiple factors, including your location, the type of equipment you choose, the size of the system, how you finance the system, and your installer. Fortunately, there are $0-down options available for installing solar panels, including both loan and lease arrangements. 

How do you pay for solar?

Solar PV systems installed between 2022-2032 are eligible for a 30% tax credit. To learn more, please visit https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/homeowners-guide-federal-tax-credit-solar-photovoltaics.

You can save money by going solar with an upfront purchase, loan, or lease. Before financing a solar panel system, it’s important to compare terms, down payments, rates, available incentives, and overall savings between your various options.

Should you buy or lease your solar panel system?

With a solar battery, you can store extra solar electricity at home instead of feeding it back to the grid. Solar batteries can provide an excellent source of backup power in the event of a grid outage. Installing a battery with a solar panel system will add on an additional cost, but you’ll be eligible for multiple storage incentives that will help minimize overall costs.

Should you install a solar battery for your home?