What are the Best States for Solar Energy?
Solar energy is possible anywhere the sun shines. In a country with rocky mountains, old-growth forests, sandy beaches, and everything in between, sustainability enthusiasts can generate usable electricity from solar panels in every single state in the USA.
Still, many people wonder, “what are the best states for solar energy?”
Shop Solar Kits is a proud member of the American Solar Energy Society focused on empowering customers with complete DIY solar panel kits collections for homes, boats, RVs, and more. In this article, we will take a virtual road trip through the United States to showcase the absolute best states for solar energy. If you plan to move to any of these states, also check our another article pros and cons of home with leased solar panels.
Let’s begin on the west coast, where California ranks first as the definitive best state for solar energy in America. Besides its notoriously sunny conditions, California has consistently led the country with solar energy policies, such as the new construction mandate of 2020.
Incredibly, California generates approximately one-third of the solar energy in the United States and hopes to obtain 100% zero-carbon energy infrastructure by 2045.
Although we started with the best, heading east across Death Valley, Nevada is a great state for solar energy in its own way (and a worthy stop on this road trip). Nevada has consistently ranked in the top 5 solar energy-producing states of the last decade with many residential and utility-scale facilities.
For a bit of nightlife, I think we’ll stop for the night in Las Vegas, which is the largest US city to be run on purely renewable energy. This was achieved both with solar and hydroelectric power from the Hoover Dam.
From Vegas, we’ll head to the Grand Canyon State of Arizona. Solar panel expansion has been skyrocketing in Arizona, with a 43% increase in capacity installed in 2020. Besides residential and off-grid installations, Arizona is also home to a few multi-megawatt photovoltaic and thermal solar energy facilities.
With 5 national parks and tons of annual sunlight, Utah is a hub for solar-energy-fueled adventures in self-contained campers throughout the state. To keep a fridge and electronics running, plenty of happy campers simply slap a 200-watt solar panel or two on their RV or van in order to have enough electricity while exploring off of the grid.
Beyond just the desert dwellers, Utah’s cities are also blossoming with solar energy infrastructure and development. A few years ago, Salt Lake City joined the top ten US cities for solar production per capita.
Heading east, our next stop in the Four Corners region is Colorado. Although many people picture it as a cold, snowy destination, Colorado is actually one of the best states for solar energy.
Colorado ranks 5th in the country for average sun index and has favorable net metering policies for grid-tied systems. With nearly 500 registered solar companies in Colorado, the sun is providing both electricity and jobs in the Centennial State.
Directly south of Colorado, the Land of Enchantment awaits with the third-best sun index in the country (behind Arizona and Nevada). If you’re enjoying one of New Mexico’s 280 days of sunshine per year, you may not need much more than a 400 watt solar panel kit to generate loads of electricity for your home, RV, food truck, or whatever needs power.
Everything is bigger in Texas, including the future location of the largest solar power plant in the United States. Despite its reputation for oil, Texas has consistently ranked in the top 5 states for solar energy over the past ten years. With plenty of new developments state-wide, anyone driving the 20+ hours across the Lone Star State will likely spot many solar panels along the way.
No solar road trip would be complete without a visit to the Sunshine State of Florida. Although it was not as quick to catch on as other states, most Florida residents now have access to net metering programs for grid-tied solar systems. For the kids, we promise to stop at Disneyworld’s mickey mouse shaped solar farm.
Climbing up the East Coast, our next destination is Georgia, which is one of the fastest-growing states for solar energy jobs. Georgia has seen an influx of manufacturers and installers, allowing it to earn a national ranking in the top ten states for solar energy.
Through the Palmetto State and into Tar Heel territory, North Carolina may surprise some people as one of the best states for solar energy in the US. In fact, North Carolina ranks second only to California in terms of solar energy installed and produced from large and small-scale facilities.
Heading north to the Garden State, New Jersey leads the country with the least restrictive net metering laws for grid-tied solar installations. This has led to solar growth in nearly every sector, with installations on schools, government buildings, private homes, businesses, and just about every kind of roof in the state.
In terms of forward-thinking solar policies, few states have made it easier for homeowners to purchase solar panels than Massachutesses. Residential installations typically use 300-watt solar panels or larger, with high-efficiency solar cells producing enough power for limited roof space in the state’s crowded cities and suburbs. Per capita, Massachusetts produces the fifth-highest percentage of their state’s energy from solar panels.
Bonus State: Hawaii
Although our road trip is over, why not hop on a plane to Hawaii, which is easy to forget as one of the best states for solar energy in America. Because of the high import costs of other fuel sources, Hawaiians have been quick to utilize the free power of sunlight with over 1.5 MW of grid-tied solar panels installed in the island state.
Test it out for yourself.
Are you ready to get started experimenting with solar energy in your state? If you simply want to get your toes wet with renewable energy, we recommend starting small with a 100 watt solar energy panel and a kit to match. Also consider your roofs specifications, check another blog - Is My Roof Good for Solar?.For customers in every state, Shop Solar Kits provides the equipment and information to create the perfect DIY solar energy solution, from small van conversations to large off-grid cabins. Feel free to contact us today or read more about solar energy in our DIY solar learning center.