Residential Solar-Adopter Income and Demographic Trends: 2022 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 data for roughly 2.3 million residential rooftop solar systems installed through 2020, representing 82% 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:

  • The median solar adopter income was about $115k/year in 2020, compared to a U.S. median of about $63k/year for all households and $79k/year for all owner-occupied households
  • The degree of income skew varies significantly across all states, but all states exhibit some positive income skew, with median solar-adopter incomes ranging from 130-175% of the respective county-median income for all households
  • Notwithstanding the fact that solar adopter incomes skew high, a substantial share of adopters could be considered low-to-moderate income (LMI), with 41% of all 2020 adopters earning less than 120% of their area’s median income.
  • Solar-adopter incomes are declining over time, with median incomes dropping from 138k in 2010 to $115k in 2020, as adoption becomes more proportionately distributed across the population.
  • Solar-adopter incomes are consistently higher for systems paired with battery storage, for host-owned systems, and for systems installed on single-family homes; higher income adopters also consistently install larger systems.
  • Compared to the broader population, solar adopters tend to: identify as Non-Hispanic White, be primarily English-speaking, live in rural areas, have higher education levels, be middle-aged, work in business and finance-related occupations, live in higher-value homes, and live in neighborhoods with higher average credit scores

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 webinar discussing this research was recorded on March 17, 2022, and can be viewed here


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