Washington Solar Panels: Cost & Installation Pricing (2022)
Here’s a quick look at the estimated cost of solar in Washington:
- Average Cost Per Watt: $2.69
- Cost of Average System: $19,906*
- Cost of Energy Without Solar: $37,746
- Payback Period: 16 Years**
- Lifetime Savings of Going Solar: $10,846
*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.
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Washington Solar Panels Guide
The typical cost per watt for a solar energy system in Washington is $2.69, slightly above the national average of $2.66. Most homeowners in Washington need a 10-kW system to offset energy costs entirely, which means the average total to go solar is $26,900 before the federal tax credit, or $19,906 after the credit is applied.
The electricity rates in Washington are relatively inexpensive — around $95 per month — so solar conversions won’t go as far as they would in places like California, where energy use is high. However, great state incentives and an excellent net metering program still mean solar energy is a good investment for most homeowners in Washington.
Solar Panel System Installation Cost in Washington
The size of the solar electric system you need is the most significant cost factor to consider. For every additional kilowatt you need, you can expect your total to increase by nearly $2,700. The table below provides some estimates for typical system sizes in Washington State both before and after the federal tax credit.
|Size of Solar Panel System||Washington Solar Panel Cost||Cost After Federal Tax Credit|
Want to enjoy the benefits of going solar but not sure where to start? You can check out our reviews of the best solar companies to ensure you get a reputable installer.
What Determines the Cost of Solar Panels in Washington?
Even if you assume you’ll need a standard solar system size to cover your average kilowatt-hour consumption, there are other factors at play that can affect your total for going solar. We’ll discuss three other factors that can have a major impact on your cost.
The solar equipment you choose can bring your price up or down by thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. You’ll have to consider the brands you choose and the array of equipment you need for your solar project.
Many brands of solar equipment are available throughout Washington, including some of the highest-quality ones, like SunPower solar panels and Tesla Powerwalls. If you choose the most efficient solar panel brands, you’ll end up paying more upfront for your solar conversion than if you opted for the most affordable panels. However, higher efficiency could save you more in the long run on your electric bills.
Additionally, not every homeowner wants to install the same types of equipment. Nearly every home solar project includes solar panels and an inverter for interconnection and net metering. However, add-on products can bump up your total well above the average in Washington. Some popular add-on products include electric vehicle chargers and solar batteries to provide power through Washington’s many cloudy days or through power outages.
Some homeowners will undoubtedly see the average solar cost of $26,900 and shy away from clean energy for financial reasons. Solar loans are available from most installers in Washington, and these can reduce or eliminate your upfront costs to make solar more accessible. However, they also increase your all-in costs by adding interest to your expenses.
Even low-APR solar loans can lead to hundreds or thousands of dollars in interest, and high-APR loans can add even more. You can use a solar calculator to determine your total cost, including interest. You can always reduce the total you pay in interest and possibly even your APR by putting more money down.
Solar Installation Company
Finally, the solar panel installation company you choose can affect your total expenditure. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), there are 56 solar installers operating in Washington. Each charges different prices for its labor, equipment and warranty coverage, so the same system from multiple companies can vary.
Some companies — like Tesla — only install a single brand of equipment, while others offer a variety of brands for customization. If you opt for a company that only carries high-quality and high-efficiency brands, you’ll end up paying more upfront. Keep in mind, though, that the added investment could pay off in the long run by saving more on energy costs.
The size of the company is often an excellent place to start when estimating the costs. Larger national companies usually charge less but have worse customer service and fewer equipment options. Smaller local companies might generally be more expensive, but they typically have better customer care and carry more solar brands. Additionally, some small companies offer discounts to compete with the larger corporations.
Washington Solar Incentives
Washington is a very solar-friendly state, so residents can expect the benefit of several solar tax incentives and rebates when going solar. Below are the incentives offered to Washington homeowners by the federal and state governments.
Federal Solar Tax Credit For Washington Homeowners
The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is one of the most appealing incentives available to Washington residents. Offered by the federal government, the ITC is a rebate on your federal income tax in the amount of 26% of your total solar system cost. In Washington, that comes out to an average savings of $6,994, reducing the average price from $26,900 to $19,906.
You’ll need to install your solar system in 2022 to take full advantage of this incentive. It’s scheduled to drop to 22% in 2023 and be eliminated for residential panels in 2024 unless Congress renews the bill.
Net Metering Policies in Washington
Net metering is an incentive program that allows you to pay your utility provider for the energy you pull from the grid less any your panels produce above and beyond what your home consumes. In other words, when you use more electricity than your solar system creates, you’ll pull the excess from the grid. When you use less than you produce, you route the excess energy production to the grid. Any excess sent to the grid will be compensated for via energy credits.
The net metering policy in Washington was established in 2000 when Washington State Legislation enacted a bill mandating utility companies to offer net metering. The Mandatory Utility Green Power Option guarantees that you’ll earn energy credits for excess power production, which can be used to offset electricity costs in future billing cycles.
Ultimately, this policy helps eliminate electric costs in Washington, increasing the overall value of solar energy systems. Every electric company has a slightly different process and net metering rate, so be sure to check yours before you commit.
Local Solar Rebates in Washington
Finally, Washington State offers several solar incentives to residents, the first of which is the Renewable Energy Projects Sales & Use Tax Exemptions. This sales tax exemption means you won’t pay sales tax on your solar equipment or installation. Since the average sales tax rate in Washington is 6.5%, that’s an average savings of $1,749.
Washington State has also established Solar Easement & Rights Laws, which guarantees that homeowners can install solar and have access to sunlight that would usually hit their property. That means you can install solar even if you’re in a strict HOA that restricts exterior changes, and you can work with your neighbor or other entities to guarantee that your panels aren’t obstructed.
Finally, independent municipalities throughout Washington and even individual utility companies offer incentives and rebates. You can check the DSIRE database before going solar to see what other local incentives might be available to you.
What solar panels should I install in Washington?
The EcoWatch team completed an in-depth review of the best solar panels available to homeowners in Washington. The table below provides the top brands, as well as a relative pricing model for each to help you visualize how they stack up against others in terms of pricing.
|Solar Panel Brand||Average Cost Per Watt ($-$$$$$)|
Ready to see what your solar project will cost and the savings it will bring you on energy expenses? Connect with a pre-vetted solar installer in the state of Washington that can assess your home and determine the best solar array for your needs.
How much energy can I get from solar panels in Washington?
Washington is a rainy state, and gets only 165 sunny days each year. Though solar panels still work when it’s raining, this could limit the amount of power you can get from panels in Washington. It also might force you to install a larger system.
To make sure you get the most of your solar system, panels in Washington should be highly-rated for efficiency — meaning they capture all available light when the sun is out. All photovoltaic solar modules used in Washington should also be durable, able to hold up against the elements.
SunPower panels are some of our favorite panels for residents of the state of Washington because they are both efficient and well made.
Solar Policy in Washington
Washington ranks 30th in the nation in terms of installed solar capacity — but we’re seeing interest continue to increase in the Evergreen State. It seems the state sets a new record for solar arrays installed each year as the costs of equipment and installations continues to go down.
Legislation has also helped encourage solar adoption. In 2009, Washington enacted a law to prevent homeowner’s associations from blocking solar installs. Solar panels must meet state regulations, but local ordinances can’t keep them off your roof.
Net metering is also available in the state of Washington. Net metering allows homeowners to sell back unused power to the utility (up to 100 kW) at a retail exchange rate. The state’s passage in 2006 of the Renewable Energy Standard required utilities to supply at least 15 percent of power from renewables, which further promoted solar installs.
People Also Ask
EcoWatch FAQ: Solar Panels Washington
The EcoWatch team gets tons of questions from the state of Washington about solar conversions and what the process will cost for them. Below are the more frequent questions we see, along with our responses.
The answer to this question will vary from homeowner to homeowner because not every house requires the same size system. The capacity you need is determined by many factors, including your home size, roof size, roof orientation, monthly energy consumption, and more.
To get an idea of what your solar system will cost, you can base it loosely on the average cost to go solar in the area, which is $26,900 before the federal tax credit or $19,906 after the credit is applied.
Yes, you can absolutely expect your home value to increase significantly, so long as you buy or finance your solar panels and don’t opt for a solar lease or Power Purchase Agreement (PPA),
According to research done by Zillow, the average home increases by about 4.1% with solar installation. In Washington, where the average home price is $573,071 at the time of publication, that’s a massive value boost of $23,496!
Solar leases might seem appealing because they typically require no money down, but solar financing and cash purchases are considered better options in almost every situation.
Leasing your panels means your property value won’t increase, so you’ll lose out on an average of $23,496 in home value. Leases also don’t give you access to the federal tax credit, which would be an additional $6,994 you’ll be passing up with a lease. Finally, leasing panels doesn’t save you nearly as much on energy costs as buying with a cash purchase or solar loan would.
Yes! In Washington, where the net metering policy is strong and other incentives are abundant, it is possible to eliminate your utility bills. For most homeowners throughout the state, reducing electric costs to $0 per month will require at least a 10-kW system. Not all homes will have the roof space for that size system, so you’ll want to check with a local solar installer to see how many panels your home can accommodate.
Cost is always an important factor when going solar, but in Washington, your specific location in the state will typically matter more. Local incentives vary between municipalities and electric providers, and these can affect your costs significantly. Additionally, solar will go further in Southeast Washington—like in Walla Walla—given that sunlight is more abundant than in the Seattle area or other cities in the Puget Sound region.
There is no one-size-fits-all renewable energy system that will be right for every property. The size that you need should be determined based on your home’s square footage, your roof size, your monthly energy needs, your location in Washington State, shading on your property, and much more.
If you’re looking for an accurate estimate for a system that suits your property and your expectations, your best option is to contact a reputable solar installer in your area to provide a solar quote.