Idaho Solar Panel Buyers Guide (Installation & Efficiency 2023)
By Dan Simms /
Here’s a quick look at the estimated cost of solar in Idaho:
*Average system size is calculated using data from the Energy Information Administration. This price is after tax credit.
**Payback period is calculated assuming the system is purchased in cash.
The average cost of solar panels in Idaho is $2.60 per watt, which is slightly below the national average of $2.66 per watt. Idahoans enjoy lower electricity rates and have less demand for energy than much of the country, but most homeowners in the state still find that they need a 10-kilowatt system to offset their monthly electric bills of $95 per month.1 That comes out to an average of $26,000 to go solar before the 30% federal tax credit, or $18,200 after the credit.
The size of the solar panel system you need will be the most significant factor when it comes to pricing out the equipment and labor. Each kilowatt you need to add to your system will tack on about $2,600 in Idaho. The table below shows some typical system sizes that get installed in Idaho, along with prices before and after the 30% federal solar investment tax credit (ITC).
|Size of Solar Panel System||Idaho Solar Panel Cost||Cost After Federal Tax Credit|
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Solar panel systems in Idaho can vary quite a lot in price, with most systems falling between $12,740 and $23,660 after the federal tax credit is accounted for. The range of pricing is so wide because there are a few major factors that can raise or lower your price by thousands.
We’ll discuss the primary things that affect your system cost below.
If you’re trying to estimate your solar system cost, the first thing you’ll want to consider is the equipment you’re installing.
It’s common for homeowners to pay above-average prices for solar panels where there is below-average sunlight availability. A lack of sunlight means high-efficiency panels, which are more expensive overall, are required.
Idaho doesn’t receive particularly intense sunlight given its location in the northern U.S., but it does experience about the average number of sunny days across the country (around 205). This being the case, high-efficiency panels usually aren’t required, so no special pricing considerations need to be added for higher efficiency.
Additionally, because Idaho isn’t particularly prone to extreme weather and the state uses many different power sources to generate electricity, the risk of outages is relatively low. This means very few homeowners feel the need to buy add-on products like solar batteries.
These products increase overall costs, which means, once again, that prices can remain relatively low in Idaho.
When it comes to solar financing, you have four options: cash purchase, solar loan, solar lease and power purchase agreement. The one you choose will not only affect your long-term savings but also your overall system cost.
Only a cash purchase and a solar loan will leave you with a system that you own, and a cash purchase gets you a system for less because there is no interest to be paid on top of the equipment and labor charges. Financing with a solar loan will cost you a few thousand dollars more overall than a cash purchase because of the interest.
Idaho works to promote renewable energy by providing some solar financing options to homeowners.
First, the Office of Energy and Mineral Resources (OEMR) offers the State Energy Loan Program (SELP), which is available for up to $50,000 worth of financing for single-family residence solar systems. These loans have low APRs to reduce overall costs. SELP is in place of any official low-income solar loan.
Idaho also offers Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing but only for commercial customers.
The solar installer you choose in Idaho can affect your pricing as well. As is the case with companies in other industries, your solar installer will set its own prices for equipment and labor, so every installer will be different in terms of cost.
When you’re pricing out your system with different companies, it’s important to remember to consider the price as well as the quality of the equipment, as the equipment offered can have a significant impact on a vendor’s average cost.
For example, Blue Raven Solar, one of the best solar options in Idaho, installs panels from Trina Solar, Canadian Solar and SunPower. The first two options are quite affordable, while the last is one of the most expensive on the market.
If you got a quote for solar from Blue Raven with SunPower panels and a quote from, say, Intermountain Wind and Solar with Enphase panels, the former will almost certainly be more expensive and might seem less appealing.
However, SunPower panels are some of the best on the market and include an outstanding warranty and level of efficiency, so the value would be higher along with the price.
Below are some additional considerations you should think about when deciding on a solar installer. These won’t have much of an effect on your pricing, but they are important.
With the average price of a solar energy system sitting at a costly $26,000 in Idaho, many homeowners are relieved to find that there are several solar incentives available from the state and federal governments. These incentives aim to make solar power more accessible. We’ll discuss the incentives available to Idaho residents below.
|Idaho Solar Incentive||How it Affects the Cost of Solar Panels in Idaho|
|Residential Alternative Energy Tax Deduction||This statute allows taxpayers an income tax deduction of 40% of the cost of a solar panel system. Taxpayers can apply this 40% deduction in the year in which the system is installed and can also deduct 20% of the cost each year for three years thereafter. The maximum deduction in any one year is $5,000. The total maximum deduction is $20,000.|
|Idaho Solar Easements & Access Laws||In 2019, Idaho passed HB 158, which states that a homeowners association may not limit or prohibit the installation of solar panels or collectors on any property rooftop or structure within its jurisdiction.|
|Property Tax Exemption for Wind, Solar and Geothermal Energy Producers||Installing solar will increase your home value, which typically triggers property taxes to increase as well. The property tax exemption states that your property taxes will not increase as a result of installing a solar panel system. This can save Idaho homeowners thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars over time.|
|Net Metering||Through net metering programs, you can send any excess power your panels produce back to the local grid in exchange for billing credits from your utility company. Net metering is not required by law in Idaho, but the three largest utilities in the state – Rocky Mountain Power, Idaho Power and Avista Utilities – currently offer net metering incentives to their customers.|
|Local Solar Rebates & Incentives||Utility companies and local governments may offer their own programs or rebates. For example, the Rocky Mountain Power Wattsmart residential efficiency program lets you save on products that increase your home’s energy efficiency, ultimately helping you eliminate electric bills and improving the value of your home and solar system.|
|Federal Solar Tax Credit||The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is available to residents nationwide, including those in Idaho. This credit is applied to your federal income taxes owed, and it totals 30% of your entire solar system cost. In Idaho, where the typical system is $26,000, that’s an average credit of $7,800.|
Idaho homeowners can choose from a variety of solar installation companies that carry many different products. Many homeowners choose their solar panel brand based on budget, with a nod to performance and durability as well.
The table below includes some basic pricing information for the top solar panel brands available in the Gem State.
|Solar Panel Brand||Average Cost Per Watt ($-$$$$$)|
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Read More About Going Solar
At EcoWatch, we get questions from Idaho residents daily about the cost of going solar and what to expect throughout the process. Below are some of the questions we see most often, along with our responses. If you have specific questions that aren’t answered here, reach out to our team of solar experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The average cost of solar panels in Idaho is $2.60 per watt. With the average home in the state requiring a 10-kilowatt system, that’s a typical cost of $26,000 before the federal tax credit or $18,200 after the credit.
These totals are just averages, though, and your cost of going solar will depend on many different factors. The best way to get an accurate estimate is to have a reputable solar installer create a quote based on your home and energy needs.
Yes! The increase in home value you can expect when you install solar on your Idaho home is a substantial benefit. According to data from Zillow, the average property value increase is around 4.1%.4 In Idaho, where the average home value is $467,315 at the time of publication, that’s an average bump in the value of $19,160!5 That nearly offsets the entire cost of going solar immediately. You stand to increase the value even more in more costly areas, like Boise.
It’s crucial to understand that this benefit is only expected if you buy your solar panel system via cash purchase or with a solar loan. Leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) will not cause your property value to increase.
Solar leases have their place in the industry, as they can make clean energy accessible to homeowners who cannot afford a cash purchase and cannot secure financing. However, purchasing your panels with cash or using other financing options is almost always a better idea.
A solar lease won’t give you access to the federal tax credit, which means you’ll miss out on an average of $7,800 in Idaho. A lease also won’t increase your property value, so your home will be worth, on average, about $19,160 less than if you purchased your system. The other local rebates and tax incentives also won’t apply with a solar lease, and leases unilaterally lead to lower savings over time than if you opted for solar financing.
Solar panels are not free in Idaho. You might see companies advertising “free panels,” but free panels are never really free. This is a marketing tactic to get you to sign a solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA), both of which are far less beneficial than buying your panels.
Yes, solar panels can eliminate your energy costs in Idaho, although the lack of a standardized and mandated net metering policy makes it a bit more challenging than in many other states. Still, if your roof can support the size system you need and you have a reputable company estimate the size appropriately, you can reduce your electric bills entirely.
It will be easiest to do so if you install solar batteries or if you can take advantage of net metering as a customer of Rocky Mountain Power, Idaho Power, or Avista Utilities.
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