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Here’s how US rooftop solar adoption breaks down by income – it might surprise you

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) analyzed roughly 2.8 million residential rooftop solar systems installed through 2021, representing 86% of all US systems. Here are the latest trends based on income among American solar adopters, according to the data.

LBL’s annual report, “Residential Solar-Adopter Income and Demographic Trends,” looks at solar adopter trends in such categories as household income, education, occupation, age, and location within a “disadvantaged community.”

As a whole, researchers found that, compared to the broader population, solar adopters tend to identify as non-Hispanic white, be primarily English-speaking, have higher education levels, be middle-aged, work in business and finance-related occupations, and live in higher-value homes.

Source: LBL

The latest findings show that solar households span all income levels. For example, around one-third of all households that installed solar in 2021 had incomes between $50,000 and $100,000. About half were above that range, and 15% of adopters were below that range. The largest percentage fell into the $75-100,000 range, and the $50-75,000 range was the second-highest percentage.

Median solar adopter annual income for 2021 was about $110,000 in 2021, compared to the US median annual income of about $63,000 for all households and $79,000 per year for all owner-occupied households.

The data also looks at “disadvantaged communities.” The US Department of Energy developed a designation for disadvantaged communities (DACs) that considers a diverse set of criteria related to energy burden, environmental and climate hazards, socioeconomic vulnerabilities, and fossil fuel dependence. The percentage of residential solar installations in DACs more than doubled from 5% in 2010 to 11% in 2021. But DACs make up 18% of US households as a whole, so they still remain underrepresented relative to their share of the population.

Read more: Could rooftop wind give rooftop solar a run for its money?

Photo: SunPower

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.