Fairfax County encourages residents and businesses to invest in solar energy. Our commitment to solar can be found in this Solar Statement, which was endorsed by the Board of Supervisors on February 19th, 2019.
This webpage provides resources for residents and businesses interested in installing solar panels in Fairfax County. For more information about the basics of solar energy, your solar options, and questions to ask solar professionals, refer to the Department of Energy’s Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar.
Solar energy uses a renewable energy source – the sun! In addition to reducing your electricity bill, using solar energy reduces your carbon footprint and the carbon footprint of Fairfax County. You also help reduce demand on the electricity grid during peak, sunny hours. Plus, by installing solar panels, you are helping support 3,900 solar jobs and 250 solar companies in Virginia (according to the Solar Energy Industries Association).
Solar Maps and Potential
Investigate your property’s solar potential by visiting the Northern Virginia Regional Commission's NOVA Solar Map. You can also estimate the performance of potential solar projects using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s PVWatts Calculator.
Finding a Contractor
Certified solar installers can be found through the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners®. Visit the county's Consumer Services webpage for general tips about hiring a contractor.
Policies and Processes
Solar panels are permitted accessory structures on all developed properties in Fairfax County provided that they serve the property and are subordinate in purpose, area and extent to the building or use served. For more information, refer to the last entry on the Department of Planning and Zoning's FAQ page.
To learn about the permitting and inspection process, refer to our Permit Checklist about Residential Solar Panels. Assuming your application is straightforward, our permit turnaround time is same-day. The Permit Checklist also includes Typical Residential Solar Plans that can be used to increase the speed of your application process.
A 3-10 kW residential solar installation will typically cost $8,000-$30,000. Residential solar panels can be purchased outright or financed with a loan from a solar installer, bank, or other financial institution.
Fairfax County offers a number of incentives to encourage residents and businesses to install solar panels. The county's Land Development Services division waives the permit fee for solar permit applications, and the county's Department of Tax Administration provides a solar energy equipment tax exemption. In the spring, Fairfax County typically offers a Solarize campaign, which features free onsite assessments, bulk discount prices, vetted contractors, and community workshops and support.
The federal government offers a 30% tax credit that reduces to 26% in 2020, 22% in 2021, and expires December 31, 2021. 2019 is the last year to receive the full federal tax credit.
Under Virginia state law (§56-594), residential customers may install systems up to 20 kilowatts and non-residential customers may install systems up to 500 kilowatts. Electric utilities must credit solar panel owners for excess electricity generated through something called "net metering." Your solar contractor should coordinate with your electric utility to replace your standard meter with a net meter after your panels are installed. The net meter is bi-directional, tracking electrons flowing both out of and into the grid.
Under Virginia state law (§67-701), homeowner associations (HOAs) typically cannot prohibit solar installations. However, the law allows "reasonable restrictions concerning the size, place, and manner of placement." For more information refer to this Solarize webpage or talk to your solar installer.
Under Virginia state law (§55-353), property owners can form solar easements with their neighbors. A solar easement enables you and a neighbor to voluntarily form an agreement under which the neighbor will not shade your property. The easement then applies to later owners of the neighboring property.