How it Works
The aim of Solarize is to simplify the process and lower the price of installing solar photovoltaic systems. The basic process is outlined below.
- Solarize programs run for limited time periods and in specific geographic areas. To see if there is an active Solarize program in your area, check our Locations page. If there is one, follow the links to find out how you can sign up. Signing up only indicates your interest; it does not commit you to anything. If there is no current program in your location, read our Tips for Going Solar page for suggestions on how to go solar without Solarize.
- Once you enroll in a Solarize program, we will first look at your site online on a satellite map. If we determine that your site may be suitable for solar power, you will be assigned to one of our solar partners. If they agree that your site is good for solar based on the satellite image, they will contact you to set up an appointment for a free on-site assessment. They will make detailed measurements, ask you for data on your electricity usage over the last year, and answer all your questions about solar power. After analyzing this information, they will send you a proposal stating what size system is best for you and how much it will cost. The installers will size your system based on your available roof space and your electricity usage. An average home might use 5 or 6 kilowatts. See our Pricing page for cost estimates. If your site is too shady or otherwise not suitable for solar, we will contact you to discuss this.
- If you decide to install solar, you will sign a contract with the installer. The company will coordinate all permits, equipment purchases, installation, interconnection and inspections. Usually, you will pay part of the cost when you sign the contract and the rest when the project is complete. Solarize programs often have tiered pricing: the more people participate, the lower the price will be.
- If you need financing, your installer can explain some options. For example, Self-Help Credit Union has loans customized for renewable energy systems. A home equity line of credit from your bank may also be a good option. Read more about financing here.
- After your solar system is installed, solar power will begin reducing your electric bill right away. An optimally-sized system will reduce your monthly bill by an average of 60-80%. See “What solar products are available?” on the FAQ page for more details about the equipment.
- When you file your taxes, you can get back up to 30% of the cost of the system as a tax credit on your Federal tax return. You have two years to use up the credit. (Until 2015, there was also a 35% North Carolina tax credit, but that has expired.) Learn more about the tax credits.