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

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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 across 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 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 under-represented relative to their share of the population.

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