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The Best Solar Companies In Hawaii

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Carlos Huerta
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Hawaii’s famous sunny weather makes it a great location for solar power. It’s no surprise then, that the state comes 16th out of all US states when it came to total installed solar capacity in 2021. Hawaii generates over 1,400 MW of solar power from 91,000 solar energy systems, including both large utility-scale farms and smaller residential solar rooftops. 15.8% of all electricity used in the state comes from solar, which is able to power 353,000 homes in the state.

And solar is only looking like an increasingly smart investment for Hawaii residents. While originally much more expensive compared to fossil fuel generation methods such as coal, solar power equipment costs have fallen by as much as 82% in the last 10 years. This has led to massive investments into Hawaii’s solar power industry: solar capacity in the state is expected to more than double in the next five years to almost 3,000 MW, supplying 33% of the state’s electricity needs. The state has also adopted the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI), which in 2014 laid out a mandate for Hawaii to become 100% reliant on renewable energy by 2045.

What you should know about Solar Energy in Hawaii

Hawaii’s electrical grid is operated by four investor-owned electric utilities: KIUK, HECO, MECO, and HELCO. Among these four utilities, MECO and HELCO are actually subsidiaries of HECO, and the three utilities are often collectively referred to as the Hawaiian Electric Companies. This group of utilities supply the vast majority of power in the state, providing electricity to 95% of state residents. The remaining utility, KIUK, only operates the electrical grid on the island of Kauai.

Neither the small Niihau nor Kahoolawe islands of Hawaii have established electrical utility companies. Niihau, also known as the forbidden islandgenerates 100% of its power from solar energy. Kahoolawe currently generates all of its electricity from diesel generators installed on the island, but the Hawaiian government plans to make the island 100% dependent on solar and other renewable energy sources in the near future.

Hawaii has the highest electricity rates in the US, with average power costs at $0.3208 per kWh. To put this figure in perspective, that’s roughly 2.5 times the national average! Due in part to these incredibly high prices for electricity, Hawaiian homeowners have low per-capita power consumption rates, only consuming an average of 525 kWh per month.

This means that while Hawaiian residents have some of the lowest power consumption rates in the country, they also face higher than average utility bills, thus facing the same difficult situation which US state Massachusetts also faces. Per capita, Hawaiian homeowners pay an average of $168 per month for electricity, 45.64% more than the average national monthly electricity bill.

These high rates can be attributed to Hawaii’s isolated nature and its many separate inhabited islands, leading to high costs for building and maintaining electrical grid infrastructure. Importing fuel for generating electricity is also expensive for the state. This also means that solar power, which can be generated directly on the island, holds many unique advantages in Hawaii. Both Hawaiian homeowners and the state itself are looking into solar energy as a prime alternative for future energy generation.

Is it worth going solar in Hawaii?

Due to the state’s high electricity costs and unique geography, going solar in Hawaii can be an extremely profitable investment choice compared to other states with cheaper electricity. A residential solar energy system would be able to save you much more money in Hawaii compared to many other states, simply due to the high cost of buying electricity from the grid. And with the HCEI in place, Hawaii plans to become a state 100% reliant on renewable energy by 2045.

Hawaii’s average electricity rates of 32.06 ¢/kWh are at least 167% higher than those in states like California, Wyoming, Montana, and the entire West South Central region of the US. These massively high rates mean that Hawaii homeowners pay on average $168 for electricity each month (and up to $2,017 a year!), even when state residents consume 40% less power than the national average.

Considering average per-capita electricity use of 6,300 kWh a year in the state, we recommend Hawaiian homeowners to go with a solar energy system with a capacity of approximately 4.5 kW DC. A Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system of this size can generate 6,408 kWh of electricity each year in Hawaii, just enough to offset your entire electrical bill with a little left over.

And to make going solar even sweeter of a deal, it can cost just $2.79 per watt to install solar in Hawaii, which is cheaper than in many other states. A 4.5 kW DC PV system can cost only $12,555, before solar incentives are applied to further lower the cost. After applying the federal Solar Investment Tax Credit, for example, the price for a 4.5 kW DC PV system can be reduced by 26% to just $9,290! With solar installation costs this low, you can make back the money spent on installing a 4.5 kW DC solar energy system in Hawaii in only 4.6 years.

Keep in mind also that PV systems have an average lifespan of 25 years, meaning that the 4.5 kW DC PV will have returned your investment after less than 5 years and can go on to provide you with 20 more years of free solar energy. Throughout its lifetime, your PV system can save you an average of $50,436 in Hawaii. Compared to the mere $9,290 average investment needed, going solar in Hawaii is a complete no-brainer.

Do note that precise numbers would differ based on your property and the solar company you go with, however, as solar products differ in cost-efficiency. The orientation of your property, shading and rooftop structure can also affect how much solar power your home can generate.

These massive potential solar savings have a time limit too. The Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit mentioned above can reduce the cost of installing PV by up to 26%, in the form of a federal tax credit. This number will fall to only 22% in 2023, and the incentive scheme is set to expire from 2024 onwards. We recommend you to take advantage of these tax incentives and install solar in 2021 or 2022, in order to make the most out of this scheme.

How much energy will your solar system generate?

Hawaii’s year-long sunny weather is perfect for generating solar power. According to NREL solar data, Hawaii receives radiation levels of between 4.2 – 6 kWh each square meter every day. These high and stable levels of radiation allow for PV systems in Hawaii to produce similar amounts of electricity each month, ensuring a reliable supply of electricity no matter the season.

These radiation levels also translate into 4 – 6 full hours of peak solar power generation from your Hawaii PV system. A 4.5 kW DC PV system operating under these conditions can generate between 6,200 – 6,600 kWh of electricity per year, assuming that the solar panels on your property can be oriented to face south, and angled correctly for maximum efficiency. This means that you can offset almost all of your electricity use by relying on your residential PV system!

And while Hawaii has not currently adopted a Net Metering (NEM) program, the state has a Distributed Generation Tariffs scheme in its place. Like a standard NEM scheme, Hawaii’s Distributed Generation Tariffs allow homeowners to exchange excess solar power for credits, which can be used to offset electricity use in later months (more details on this scheme later!)

With its stable annual solar power generation potential, high solar radiation levels and expensive electricity rates, installing a PV system for your Hawaii home or business can help you effectively cut back on your power bills. A 4.5 kW DC rooftop solar generation system can be enough to offset your entire monthly electrical bills, saving you more than $2,000 each year!

Payment options for your PV system in Hawaii

Homeowners get to pick from a diverse range of different payment options when buying a residential PV system in Hawaii. Here’s a quick breakdown of the four main payment types available in the state

Solar Purchase/Cash

Simple and straightforward, we recommend paying entirely for your solar energy system upfront in cash, if you have the funds available on hand. This means that you avoid paying interest rates on solar loans, and also makes you fully eligible for all solar incentives which require you to own your solar generation system.

Solar Loan

That being said, if you prefer paying for your system in installments, there are also various low-interest solar loan options available in Hawaii. For example, the federal FHA PowerSaver Loan Program offers set interest rates of 4.99 – 9.99%, and allows for repayment across 20 years. The state GreenSun Hawaii loan also offers low-interest solar loans to homeowners, but the specific loan terms are different for each lender participating in the program. The regional City and County of Honolulu – Solar Loan Program grants residents of Honolulu county a generous 0% interest rate solar loan with a 20-year payback period.

Any solar PV system you pay for through a loan still allows you to be eligible for state and federal solar incentives.

Solar Leasing

Solar leasing allows homeowners to use solar power without needing to pay up-front, though it does exclude you from any solar incentives since you do not actually own the PV system. These plans allow you to pay a fixed cost to use the total output of a solar PV system owned by a solar lessor.

Solar Power Purchase Agreement (Solar PPA)

Another great option for using solar energy without committing to an up-front payment, solar PPAs are basically electricity purchase agreements which you enter into with a solar company. Under a solar PPA, an installer would build a PV system on your property, but instead of you paying for the system, you would only pay for the electricity you use from the system at a pre-determined rate. Unfortunately, this also means that you won’t be eligible for most solar incentives, since many require you to be the owner of a solar energy system.

What are the solar incentives in Hawaii?

To ensure that Hawaii achieves its goal of achieving 100% renewable energy generation by 2045, there are several active federal and local solar incentives available to Hawaii residents to make going solar even more attractive. Here’s a quick breakdown and explanation of the main incentives available to state residents..

Federal Tax Solar Incentive or Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

The Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, also known as the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), is a country-wide federal solar incentive. This federal incentive allows homeowners in Hawaii to apply for a 26% dollar-for-dollar reduction on the total cost of installing a solar PV system, in the form of a federal tax credit.

If the incentive amount is greater than your federal tax liability that year, the remaining tax credit can be rolled over to the next year. The credit paid out under this scheme is also set to be reduced to only 22% of installation cost for systems built in 2023, and the incentive would completely expire from 2024 onwards.

Renewable Energy Technologies Income Tax Credit (RETITC)

The Renewable Energy Technologies Income Tax Credit, also known as the Solar and Wind Energy Credit, is a Hawaii state scheme which provides an income tax credit to eligible solar homeowners. Homeowners who install solar in Hawaii can claim up to 35% of their installation costs as a state income credit, capped at a maximum of $2,250.

Honolulu Solar Property Tax Exemption

Renovations and improvements in homes usually result in an increase in property value, which also increases any property tax that you need to pay. Fortunately, with Honolulu’s Real Property Tax Exemption for Alternative Energy Improvements incentive, residential solar installations are the one exception to this rule. Honolulu homeowners enjoy a 100% property tax exemption for any additional value which installing solar adds to their home. This exemption lasts for 25 years.

Distributed Generation Tariffs (formerly the Hawaii Net Metering Program)

Hawaii’s Distributed Generation Tariffs scheme was the state’s replacement for their former Net Metering program. In 2015, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted to eliminate the old Net Metering Program, and established the Distributed Generation Tariffs program in its place. Customers have two tariff options under this new scheme, explained below:

Customer Grid Supply (CGS) Plus

The CGS Plus Tariff allows homeowners to sell their excess solar power to the state electrical grid, receiving credits based on island-specific rates for each kWh of electricity sold. Credits are used to offset your monthly electricity bill, and are rolled over each month until the end of the annual billing cycle, when unused credits expire. Notably, customers who sign for up this plan must allow their utility to remotely monitor and control their electricity output, allowing utilities to arbitrarily reduce your export of electricity based on current grid requirements.

The HECO, MECO, and HELCO utilities allow for systems with up to 100 kW capacity to sign up for the tariff, while KIUC allows for only a maximum capacity of 50 kW.

Smart Export

The Smart Export Program is only eligible to solar homeowners with renewable energy battery storage. Under this scheme, homeowners will charge their home batteries with excess power generated by their PV systems during the daytime. During the hours of night or early morning, any stored power in the batteries will be supplied to the grid and homeowners will receive credits for how much energy is sold. The rates received differ for each Hawaiian island.

Best Solar Companies in Hawaii: Our top choices

Choosing the right solar company is extremely important. Don’t think of installing solar as simply being a one-off purchase: you want a solar company who is able to provide you with quality products from top manufacturers, file all the required paperwork for your system, and be able to provide maintenance and support throughout your system’s decades-long lifespan. You also want to ensure they are experienced, and can be trusted to maintain the integrity of your roof’s warranty.

We’ve picked out some of Hawaii’s best solar installers below to get you started. Here’s some of the criteria we used to pick out our shortlist:

  • Company reputation and customer satisfaction – We looked into real customer reviews across different online platforms to ensure that the solar company treats its customers right and does great work.
  • Project quality and experience – Experience is key for a solar installer, and we put a high priority on picking companies who have a long track record of putting together many great solar projects. It’s also important to us that installers hire experienced personnel, and have been active in the community for a long time.
  • Product brands and performance – Another important consideration are the brands which a solar company carries. A solar company which uses quality products from top manufacturers would naturally be able to build more efficient and durable solar energy systems for your home.
  • Partnerships and certifications – All solar installers should be compliant with the required state licensing for Hawaii. It’s also a plus if the installer employs NABCEP-certified personnel, or are partnered with top solar brands.
  • Warranty coverage – Warranty coverage can differ greatly between different solar installers, and it’s one important detail you shouldn’t overlook.

Pacific Energy LLC

Pacific Energy LLC is a Maui-based solar installer with a focus on providing excellent customer service. They’ve been active in Hawaii for over ten years, and exclusively install high-quality Sunpower solar modules.


Locations

Pacific Energy LLC is headquartered in Kihei, on the island of Maui. They are able to serve solar customers all across Maui island.

Licensing and Certification

Pacific Energy LLC holds a C-60 Solar Power Systems Contractor license for Hawaii. The company does not appear to be NABCEP-certified.

Background

Founded in 2010, Pacific Energy LLC is focused on providing customers with products from top-of-the-line solar companies. They exclusively use solar modules from Sunpower, a leading US solar manufacturer well-known for their high-efficiency solar panels. Each Sunpower system they install comes comes backed by a 25-year product warranty, 25-year 92% performance guarantee warranty and 25-year service warranty.

 

Pacific Energy also exclusively use Solar Edge inverters and Tesla Powerwall batteries in their installations. According to testimony on their website, some of Pacific Energy’s customers have recouped the cost of their solar energy system in as little as four years!

Reviews

Pacific Energy LLC is the single highest-rated solar installer in Hawaii on Solar Reviews, where they hold a 4.69-star rating after 54 reviews. The company also enjoys high Google ratings, where they have a 4.7-star average based on 23 customer reviews. Many satisfied customers commended the company providing excellent customer service from start to finish, and being exceptionally accommodating towards customer requests and questions.

 

The company has received less recognition on other platforms, however. They have no reviews on their Facebook page, and also have no customer ratings on their BBB profile.

Pacific Energy LLC Website

Haleakala Solar & Roofing

Haleakala Solar & Roofing is one of Hawaii’s oldest and most reliable solar installation companies. They have an incredible 40 years of experience doing business in Hawaii, and have installed more than 14,000 residential solar energy systems to date.


Locations

Haleakala Solar & Roofing has two locations in Hawaii, one on Maui and the other near Honolulu on Oahu. Their service area covers these two islands of Maui and Oahu.

Licensing and Certifications

Haleakala Solar & Roofing holds a C-60 Solar Power Systems Contractor License for Hawaii. They also employ NABCEP-certified PV Technical Sales Professionals.

Background

Haleaka Solar and Roofing was founded in 1977 by Jim Whitcomb, and initially only installed solar water heating systems. The company quickly gained the trust of its customers in Maui, and went on to install more than 75% of all solar water heating systems found on the island during that time.

 

Today, the company mainly installs solar PV systems and remains one of Hawaii’s most well-known solar installers. They’ve installed 14,000 solar PV systems in the state to date, and have been named by Solar Power World magazine as one of the country’s top 250 Solar Companies. Haleaka Solar offers a 25-year warranty for each solar energy system they sell.

Reviews

Haleaka Solar and Roofing has surprisingly few reviews for such a historical company, partly due to a change in ownership which happened in 2018 and 2020. This led to many old online reviews of the company being removed.

 

The company is now back under ownership of original founder Jim Whitcomb, and has a 4.6-star rating for their Oahu location on Google with 8 customer reviews. Their Maui location has a slightly lower rating, with a 4.1-star score after 9 reviews.

 

Haleaka Solar has the most reviews on Yelp, where they have a 3 out of 5 average rating based on 71 reviews. Most negative reviews focused on the company’s poor customer service, with company reps taking a long time to address installation issues. It should be noted that the vast majority of these negative reviews were for the company’s operations between 2018 and 2020 however, and Haleaka Solar’s current leadership has made repeated promises online to restore the company’s reputation through providing their original excellent service.

Haleaka Solar and Roofing Website

RevoluSun Smart Home

Established in 2010, RevoluSun is one of Hawaii’s most prolific solar companies. This locally-owned and operated company is Hawaii’s largest residential solar installer by total installed volume, and has even won the state’s Governor’s Innovation award for contributions the company has made to Hawaii’s economy.


Locations

RevoluSun Smart Home was founded and headquartered in Oahu, Hawaii. The company also has locations on the US mainland, in Idaho and Massachusetts. They are able to serve customers in all three of these states.

Licensing and Certifications

RevoluSun holds a General Engineering, C-13 Electrical Contractor and C-60 Solar Power Systems Contractor license for Hawaii. This makes them qualified to carry out all electrical and home renovation work for installing a solar energy system, without relying on sub-contractors.

 

The company does not appear to have any NABCEP-certified employees on board.

Background

RevoluSun has more than 11 years of experience installing solar for Hawaii. The company has completed more than 10,000 residential solar installations across the states of Hawaii, Idaho and Massachusetts where it does business, and is the number one installer of battery-attached residential solar energy systems in the US. The company has also won much recognition in Hawaii, where they made the Best of Honolulu and Hawaii’s Best lists for multiple years in a row.

 

RevoluSun Solar is a certified partner of top solar manufacturers such as Sunpower, Panasonic and Tesla, and mainly offers high quality products from these brands to customers.

Reviews

RevoluSun Solar has a high 4.4-star rating on Google, where the company has received 32 total reviews. They also have a 4-star rating on Yelp from 108 customer reviews, and hold the same 4-star rating on Facebook based on 42 opinions.

 

Many online reviews praised the company for giving good estimates for how their solar modules will perform, successfully cutting down on their power bills. Some customers have complained about occasional slow responses to inquiries and delays in the installation process, however.

RevoluSun Smart Home Website

ProVision Solar

ProVision Solar has been around since 1998, and is a solar company focused on educating their customers as well as designing customized solar energy solutions suited to each of their individual power needs.


Locations

ProVision Solar is headquartered in Hilo, Hawaii and mainly serves customers on the Big Island.

Licensing and Certifications

ProVision Solar holds an Electrical Contractor license for the state of Hawaii, which also allows them to install residential solar power systems without an additional solar license. The company does not appear to be NABCEP-certified, however.

Background

ProVision Solar was founded in Hawaii in 1998, and is today owned by Dr. Marco Mangelsdorf, an academic with a research interest in renewable energy. They are the first Hawaiian solar installer to specialize purely in residential PV systems.

 

ProVision Solar prides themselves on being able to install a solar PV system from start to finish for their customers, unlike many other installers without an Electrical Contractor license and reliant on sub-contractors for electrical wiring work. They are an authorized Sunpower dealer, and exclusively use solar modules from this top US manufacturer.

Reviews

ProVision Solar has a relatively small team, and so have not received many reviews online. The reviews which the company has accumulated have been great however: ProVision has perfect 5-star ratings on both Google and Facebook,  based on 20 and 8 total reviews respectively.

 

The solar installer also has a high 4.4-star rating on Solar Reviews, based on 13 reviewers. Many customers commended the company for being both friendly and professional throughout the installation process.

ProVision Solar Website

Rising Sun Solar Electric

Rising Sun Solar Electric are one of Hawaii’s most experienced solar installers, with 35 years of experience and more than 5,000 successful solar PV installations under their belts.


Locations

Rising Sun Solar Electric is headquartered on the island of Maui, but the company also has office locations and serves customers on the Hawaiian islands of Kauai, Oahu and Big Island.

Licensing and Certifications

Rising Sun Solar Electric holds an Electrical Contractor license for Hawaii. They employ NABCEP-certified PV Design Professionals.

Background

Rising Sun Solar Electric was founded in 1986, and the company has been specialized in installing solar PV systems since 2003. They are a Sunpower Elite Dealer, and exclusively install high-efficiency solar modules from this leading US solar manufacturer.

 

The company puts a large emphases on ensuring the quality of each of their installations. They use a 20-point checklist to ensure that all work they do is of a high standard, and backs up their systems with 5-year parts and workmanship warranties, in addition to the standard 25-year product warranties.

Reviews

Rising Sun Solar Electric’s main Maui headquarters enjoys a perfect 5-star Google rating, even after 26 total reviews. The company also has a great 4.5-star rating on Facebook from 52 reviews, and a good 4.09 rating on Solar Reviews from 37 customers.

 

Many customers reported being happy with the company’s professional attitude and quick responses. Some also praised Rising Sun Solar for offering cheaper solar bids, compared to other Hawaiian installers.

Rising Sun Solar Electric Website

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Author Bio

Electrical Engineer with background in solar PV designs for residential and commercial projects as well as power systems development. Fan of renewable energy topics and projects. Technical writer for papers, articles and research in related topics to sustainability and especially solar power.

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