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Best 5 Solar Companies in Columbia, MD

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Written By Max Peterson|Last Updated: February 05, 2024

Columbia homeowners are fortunate to live in ample sunlight, both to appreciate and harness as energy. If you reside in one of the area's many old homes, you might doubt your electrical system would accommodate solar panels. However, technological advancements and knowledgeable installers can help these homeowners access renewable, clean power. In this article, we'll show you Columbia's best solar providers and offer tips for your company choice, so you can find the right one for your home.

Best High-Efficiency System
4.8
  • Builds custom, high-efficiency solar systems suited to each home
  • Extensive coverage area throughout the country
  • Offers energy storage and EV charger add-ons
Best Solar Panel Leasing
4.4
  • Provides system monitoring
  • Offers diverse financing options for various budgets
  • Provides EV and solar battery solutions

Top Columbia Solar Companies

MSSI - Maryland Solar Solutions, Inc Logo

MSSI - Maryland Solar Solutions

4.6/5
Based on 81 customer reviews.

Services Offered

Panel InstallationSkilled RepairsSystem DecommissioningSolar CarportsCleaning And MaintenanceFinancing Assistance

Highlights

  • Free quotes
  • Informative resources
11436 Cronridge Dr Suite V, Owings Mills, MD 410-363-4300 marylandsolarsolutions.com
Solar-Verse Logo

Solar-Verse

4.7/5
Based on 250 customer reviews.

Services Offered

Panel InstallationConsultation

Highlights

  • Informative resources
  • Reliable customer support
  • Clear pricing policy
313 Najoles Rd Suite P, Millersville, MD 443-971-7421 solar-verse.com
Solar Energy Services, Inc. Logo

Solar Energy Services

4.4/5
Based on 63 customer reviews.

Services Offered

Panel InstallationCleaning And MaintenanceConsultationBattery Storage

Highlights

  • Reliable customer support
  • Informative resources
  • Free quotes
1514 Jabez Run, Millersville, MD 410-923-6090 solarsaves.net
Advanced Solar Logo

Advanced Solar

5.0/5
Based on 305 customer reviews.

Services Offered

ConsultationSkilled RepairsPanel Installation

Highlights

  • Reliable customer support
  • Informative resources
  • Free quotes
3321 75th Ave Suite F, Landover, MD 202-505-5401 advanced.solar

More Local Solar Companies

The Solar Brokers USA

User Reviews: 4.7/5 

16701 Melford Blvd #400
Bowie, MD 20715

Glim Solar

User Reviews: 4.7/5 

18310 Montgomery Village Ave #300
Gaithersburg, MD 20879

Power Factor

User Reviews: 4.7/5 

8240 Beachwood Rd
Baltimore, MD 21222

Advanced Green Home Solutions

User Reviews: 4.6/5 

1125 West St #421
Annapolis, MD 21401

Suntuity Solar

User Reviews: 3.6/5 

4351-4395 Nicole Dr #4371
Lanham, MD 20706

Tiger Solar

User Reviews: 4.7/5 

8033 Penn Randall Pl B
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772

SunGaze Solar, L.L.C.

User Reviews: 4.7/5 

137 National Plaza Suite 300 - #1
Forest Heights, MD 20745

American Sentry Solar

User Reviews: 4.5/5 

221 Gateway Dr
Bel Air, MD 21014

American Solar Enterprises LLC

User Reviews: 4.5/5 

46400 Benedict Dr STE 203
Sterling, VA 20164

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at reviewsteam@thisoldhousereviews.com.

Ranking Methodology

We reviewed a multitude of Columbia solar providers, using the following criteria to choose the finest:

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Facts about Columbia
Average Max Temp:62°F
Solar Payback Period:14.3 years
Average Daily Sunlight:54%
Homes Powered by Solar:2,162
Average Annual Energy Bill:$1,414
Solar Power per Capita Percentile:48.0%

Expert Tips By

This Old House empowers homeowners with the knowledge and tools they need to tackle various projects and navigate the complexities of homeownership.

Benefits of Solar Energy

Solar energy offers multiple advantages. Here are some highlights.

  • Reduced carbon footprint: The sun is a highly abundant clean energy source, meaning you can lower or beat your home's dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Lowered energy bills: With solar panels, you generate power without paying the tacked-on costs of grid-connected power. Going off-grid can eliminate your bills completely.
  • Better energy independence: Solar panels can keep your home powered through emergencies and blackouts. You can use your solar energy anytime with an optional battery backup system.

What Solar Incentives Are Available to Columbia Homeowners?

The state of Maryland offers numerous solar incentives to help cut your solar system costs. Below is a breakdown of eligible solar programs where you live.

Incentive Type: Rebate Program

Website: energy.maryland.gov

Incentive Amount:

PV: $1,000/project (flat per installation/household incentive)
SWH: $500/project (flat per installation/household incentive)
New GHC: $3,000/project
GHC Replacement: $500/project

Incentive Type: Solar Renewable Energy Credit Program

Website: psc.state.md.us

Incentive Amount:

Varies based on market conditions

Incentive Type: Sales Tax Incentive

Incentive Amount:

100% exemption from sales and use tax

Incentive Type: Property Tax Incentive

Incentive Amount:

100% real property tax exemption for solar and wind energy property

Incentive Type: Rebate Program

Website: energy.maryland.gov

Incentive Amount:

Stick Burning Stove: $500
Pellet Burning Stove: $700

Incentive Type: Sales Tax Incentive

Incentive Amount:

100% exemption

Incentive Type: Property Tax Incentive

Incentive Amount:

Varies

Incentive Type: Property Tax Incentive

Incentive Amount:

Varies by jurisdiction; credit may be available for up to 3 years.

Incentive Type: Rebate Program

Website: bgesmartenergy.com

Incentive Amount:

Appliances & Recycling
Clothes Dryer (Electric): $50
Clothes Washer: $75 - $100
Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater: $500
Pool Pump: $150 - $400
Refrigerator: $100
Dehumidifier: $30
Refrigerator or Freezer Recycling: $50, plus $25 bonus when recycling an old, working room A/C or dehumidifier at the same time
Room A/C or Dehumidifier Recycling (*May 20, 2017 only*): $25
Smart Thermostat: $100

Heating & Cooling
Air-Source Heat Pump: $400 - $650
Central A/C: $300 - $500
Gas Furnace: $250
Furnace Blower Motor: $50 - $100
Geothermal Heat Pump: $1,500

Lighting
Instant discounts vary by participating retailer; see program website

Incentive Type: Rebate Program

Website: bgesmartenergy.com

Incentive Amount:

Appliances & Recycling
Clothes Dryer (Electric): $50
Clothes Washer: $75 - $100
Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater: $500
Pool Pump: $150 - $400
Refrigerator: $100
Dehumidifier: $30
Refrigerator or Freezer Recycling: $50, plus $25 bonus when recycling an old, working room A/C or dehumidifier at the same time
Room A/C or Dehumidifier Recycling (*May 20, 2017 only*): $25
Smart Thermostat: $100

Heating & Cooling
Air-Source Heat Pump: $400 - $650
Central A/C: $300 - $500
Gas Furnace: $250
Furnace Blower Motor: $50 - $100
Geothermal Heat Pump: $1,500

Lighting
Instant discounts vary by participating retailer; see program website

Incentive Type: Rebate Program

Website: energy.maryland.gov

Incentive Amount:

Residential: $4,000/kW of normalized capacity at 11 m/s
Community: $1000/kW - $4000/kW, depending on the system capacity

Incentive Type: Property Tax Incentive

Website: howardcountymd.gov

Incentive Amount:

High Performance Buildings (except R-2, R-3 buildings): credit of 10% to 75% of taxes owed for 3 to 5 years; varies by building type and building rating

High Performance R-2, R-3 Buildings: credit of 19% to 100% of taxes owed for 4 years; varies by building rating and declines for each year claimed (i.e., the Year 2 % is less than Year 1)

Green Buildings (w/energy conservation devices): credit of 14% - 20% of cost of device for 3 years; varies by building rating

Incentive Type: Personal Tax Credit

Website: ecowatch.com

Incentive Amount:

30% federal tax credit for systems placed in service after 12/31/2021 and before 01/01/2033. Good for: solar water heat, solar photovoltaics, biomass, geothermal heat pumps, wind (small), fuel cells using renewable fuels.

How To Choose the Best Solar Company in Columbia

The more informed your provider search is, the better your solar panels will ultimately operate. Here are some important factors to remember while searching for a solar provider.

Licensing and Training

A Maryland solar PV installation team must include a Home Improvement Commission-licensed contractor and a master electrician with at least seven years of experience. The contractor installs the panels, while the master electrician handles permits and hooks the system up to the grid. If you're installing a solar water heater, your contracting team must include a master plumber for permits and utility connections. Solar companies can also earn certificates from trade groups and standards organizations. The most recognized ones in the industry come from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. Most company websites will prominently display earned credentials, but you should also ask your estimator for more information.

Cost of Solar Panels in Columbia

Your photovoltaic panels' type will impact how much energy you can produce. Monocrystalline panels perform the best but cost the most. Polycrystalline panels offer you a budget panel with a traditional design, but at the cost of less power generation. Thin-film panels are excellent for non-traditional roof shapes and cost the least, but don't work well for large residential installations.

Additional components, such as electric vehicle (EV) chargers and battery storage, will add to your overall costs. However, they might make your solar system more efficient and convenient to use. Not all solar providers include these additional features, so look for a contractor that installs them if it's crucial for you.

You can expect to pay about $17,700 on average for a five-kilowatt solar energy system in Columbia. Check the table in this section to get an idea of what amount Columbia solar companies might quote for your specific system.

Solar Panel CostAverage Cost
Solar Monocrystalline$1,239
Solar Polycrystalline$967
Thin-Film$565
Solar Battery$793
Solar Home EV Charger$2,974

Financing Solar Energy in Columbia

There are various ways to pay for new solar panels, and the right one will lower your costs. A few of the most common options include cash payments, leases, power purchase agreements (PPAs), and loans. We advise paying with cash or securing a solar loan for the highest return on investment (ROI). Cash payments require a hefty sum up-front, but you’ll pay the least long-term by avoiding interest. You’ll also own your system and can apply for solar incentives to reduce your total costs. Solar loans are another good option if you don’t want to make a big initial investment. You can pay for your system in installments while still benefiting from energy bill savings and solar incentives. However, you’ll spend more in total due to accruing interest. Solar leases involve paying a set monthly rate to use rooftop panels. A PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) allows you to pay a monthly rate determined by the energy you use, as with an electric bill. We usually don’t recommend these two options because you won't own the system and are disqualified from using solar incentives. We advise working with a provider that offers multiple financing options. Ask each consultant about what's available, and get more than one estimate for the best odds of staying within your financial plan.

The table below lists the average payback periods for different capacities of solar systems in Columbia.

The IRS allows you to claim a 26% federal tax credit on your new solar panels, so long as you purchase it before 2032. Municipal authorities and utilities might also offer their own incentives, financing programs, and rebates that could save you more money.

Solar System CapacityEstimated Payback period
1 kW2.9 years
2 kW5.7 years
5 kW14.3 years
10 kW28.6 years

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Frequently Asked Questions About Solar in Columbia

How much energy and money could I save per year by switching to solar?

Most Columbia homeowners spend about $1,414 on energy each year. Your costs could drop by $748.37 for each kilowatt you generate after you pay off a solar array.

Is solar energy readily available in Columbia?

Yes, solar energy is readily available in Columbia. A growing number of area homes already access solar power on-site or through utility grids, and Maryland has about 4854 jobs forming its solar economy.

Will solar energy systems increase my Columbia home price?

Yes, new solar systems lead to higher property values according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL.) Homeowners could project a $20 property value increase for each dollar they save on energy. Therefore, $600 in energy savings could boost your property value by $12,000.

Could I still use solar power if I live in a rainy, wooded, or dark area?

Even with Columbia's above-average tree cover, you could still benefit from solar energy. Your contractor will optimize your system's performance by choosing the proper site for panels, cleaning them regularly, installing a battery backup system, and positioning them to capture the most sunlight throughout the year. This way, you can keep solar energy longer and use it as necessary.

How can I evaluate my home's solar feasibility?

One common way to calculate your home's solar viability is by using PVWatts. This free, powerful tool considers local weather and topography, system size, tree cover, and panel efficiency to determine how much energy your array could generate. However, it's not a substitute for consulting with a solar energy professional, who can build a full estimate with the most updated data.

How long does a standard solar system last?

Modern solar systems are built for longevity. The average unit lasts at least 25 years. Lower-cost panels tend to have shorter lifespans than premium models.

What are the signs I shouldn't use a particular solar company for my job?

Even the most esteemed Columbia solar installers will have both favorable and unfavorable reviews. To make the most informed decision possible, focus on these warning signs to know if a company isn't worth your investment:
  • Aggressive sales pitch
  • Dodging questions about references, warranties, cost and training and credentials
  • "One-size-fits-all" approach
  • Rushing through the site assessment
  • Limited online information

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at reviewsteam@thisoldhousereviews.com.

Sources