Residential Solar-Adopter Income and Demographic Trends: 2023 Update

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The report describes income, demographic, and other socio-economic trends among U.S. residential rooftop solar adopters. The report is based on address-level data for roughly 3.4 million residential rooftop solar systems installed through 2022, representing 86% of all U.S. systems. With its unique size, geographic scope, and level of detail, this report is intended to serve as a foundational reference document for policy-makers, industry stakeholders, and researchers.

Key findings include the following:

  • Median solar adopter income was about $117k/year in 2022, compared to a U.S. median of about $69k/year for all households and $86k/year for all owner-occupied households
  • The degree of income skew varies significantly across all states, but all exhibit some positive income skew relative to all households in the state, with median solar-adopter incomes ranging from 108-180% of the respective state-median income for all households
  • Roughly 45% of solar adopters in 2022 had incomes below 120% of their area median income (AMI), a threshold sometimes used to define “low-and-moderate income” (or LMI), while 23% were below 80% of AMI, often used to define “low-income”
  • Solar adoption continues to shift toward less affluent households, with the median current income of solar adopters dropping from $140k for households that installed systems in 2010 to $117k in 2022
  • PV systems installed in 2022 by households earning less than $50k had a median size of 6.1 kW, 34% were third-party owned, and 5% included battery storage, compared to corresponding values of 7.6kW, 17%, and 15% for households earning more than $200k
  • Compared to all households in their respective state, solar adopters tend to be negligibly more rural; have higher home values; and are more likely to be college educated, identify as non-Hispanic white, live outside a disadvantaged community (DAC), be middle-aged, work in a business or financial occupation, and own a single-family home

In conjunction with the report, Berkeley Lab has published an updated accompanying set of online data visualizations that allow users to further explore the underlying data. Berkeley Lab is also offering related analytical support to states, local agencies, and other organizations on issues related to solar adoption among low-to-moderate income households; requests for analytical support may be submitted through this online form.

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A brief overview of this study can be found here

The authors recorded a webinar highlighting key findings from this study on December 20, 2023, which can be viewed here


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