Idaho Solar Panel Buyers Guide [Installation & Efficiency 2022]

Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide to Idaho solar panels:

  • What the process of going solar looks like in ID
  • Average system costs in the area
  • How to estimate how much energy panels on your Idaho home will produce
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How to Get Solar Panels in Idaho

When you’re ready to make the switch to renewable energy, you’ll first need to choose a solar installer and request a free solar quote. In most cases, this will involve a property inspection and a review of your utility bills to gauge your energy needs.

Next, you’ll choose a financing option — cash purchase, loan, lease, or power purchase agreement (PPA). After you’ve arranged your payment plan, your system will be designed and permits will be pulled from your local building department. Finally, your system will be installed and hooked up to the electric grid for interconnection.

Most ID residents find that installing solar energy systems is a great financial decision. Solar helps you reduce your carbon footprint, but it also tends to save you money on your utility bills. In fact, the average system in ID pays for itself and then saves an additional $11,500, assuming you purchase with cash rather than financing your system.

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Blue Raven Solar

Best Solar Financing

Regional Service

EcoWatch rating

Average cost

Pros

  • Industry-leading in-house financing
  • Competitive pricing
  • Excellent reputation

Cons

  • Doesn't offer solar batteries (coming 2022)
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EGT Solar

Outstanding Local Installer

Local Service

EcoWatch rating

Average cost

Pros

  • Representatives are experts on local policies
  • Outstanding customer service
  • Offers products from leading manufacturers

Cons

  • Limited information available on website
  • Slightly limited service offerings
  • No leases or PPAs
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SunPower

Best National Provider

Nationwide Service

EcoWatch rating

Average cost

Pros

  • Most efficient panels on the market
  • National coverage
  • Cradle to Cradle sustainability certification
  • Great warranty coverage

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Customer service varies by local dealer

What Is the Price of Solar Panel Installation in Idaho?

In most cases, your solar array will be priced by watt, with the average cost in ID sitting at $2.60. Most residents in the area need around a 10 kilowatt (kW) system, which means the typical all-in system price would average approximately $18,200 after the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is taken into account.

An important metric to think about before going solar is the panel payback period, which is the amount of time it takes your system to pay for itself. This metric takes electricity rates, energy consumption, and installation costs into consideration. In ID, the typical payback period is 14 years, which is a bit longer than the U.S. average.

For more information on pricing your solar panel system or to see other metrics to determine solar viability, you can check out our solar pricing guide for Idahoans.

The Best Solar Panel Brands Available in Idaho

The local solar industry in ID is strong, which means most of the panel manufacturers in the country provide service and equipment to The Gem State. You’ll have your choice of panel brands available to you, so you can optimize for whichever factors make the most sense for you like cost, efficiency, or warranty coverage.

ID experiences around 197 sunny days per year, which is around the national average.1 Plus, there isn’t much in the way of extreme weather, so most residents don’t feel the need to buy the panels with the longest warranty coverage.

Below are some of the more popular solar brands installed in ID. These provide a great balance of cost and value, which most residents optimize for.

  • SunPower (now operating under the Maxeon brand)
  • Panasonic
  • LG
  • Tesla
  • Trina Solar
  • Canadian Solar
  • REC
  • Qcells

Is Idaho a Good State for Solar Panels?

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has ID ranked as 27th in the country for solar adoption.2 While it’s far from the most popular place to go solar, converting is still an excellent option in Idaho. There are a few reasons for this, including:

  • Plenty of sunshine: As mentioned above, ID residents enjoy an average of 197 sunny days per year, which is just a bit below the national average of 205. This is plenty of sunlight for most residents to be able to offset their energy bills.
  • Below-average equipment costs: ID property owners pay an average of $2.60 per watt installed, while the national average sits at $2.66. While this might seem like a small difference, it means an average solar savings of around $600 on the system total in ID. Areas with a below-average cost of solar panels naturally bring homeowners more value for their money.
  • Above-average energy consumption: ID residents pay around the average for energy costs, but they consume slightly more electricity than homeowners throughout the country. Monthly consumption sits at around 955 kilowatt-hours (kWh), while the U.S. average is 893.3 Property owners with higher energy consumption levels naturally get more value from solar. Higher energy consumption means higher electricity bills, which means there is more for your panels to offset and save.
  • High risk of power outages: ID is at high risk of power outages, not only because of aging infrastructure but also because of the frequency of winter storms and thunderstorms that can knock out power. The typical solar system — panels and inverters — won’t provide any power through blackouts. However, solar batteries are a popular option in areas like ID because they can maintain power through outages.
  • Decent solar perks: Finally, ID is home to several benefit programs for property owners converting to solar energy. This help brings down up-front costs of the equipment and may help reduce the payback period and push long-term savings higher. We’ll discuss the specific incentives available in ID in a later section.

How Much Energy Can I Get From Solar Panels in Idaho?

One of the most common questions homeowners have about photovoltaic (PV) panels is how much electricity they will generate. Estimating the production level is useful because it helps you get an idea of the solar power system size you need to offset your electric bills and cover your energy demand.

Unfortunately, arriving at an accurate estimate is best left to the professionals. There are lots of factors influencing panel production that complicate the process. These include:

  • The orientation of your home: One of the first things an installer will look at is which direction your roof faces. South-facing roofs in the U.S. are angled toward the path of the sun in the sky, which means they receive the most direct sunlight for most of the year. A higher intensity of sunlight hitting your panels means a greater level of energy production.
Panels angled toward the sun produce the most energy
Credit: Biel Morro / Unsplash
  • Shading on your roof: The hours throughout the day that your panels are exposed to sunlight will have a massive impact on your production. If the available sunlight is impeded by trees, utility poles or other obstructions, your production levels will dip. This is one of the reasons your installer will conduct a property inspection prior to sizing your system. They’ll assess shading on your roof and estimate how much of a burden that will put on your energy generation.
  • The efficiency of the panels you install: ID residents typically don’t need to splurge for the highest-efficiency panels. However, your panels’ energy efficiency is still an important consideration. Every brand and product line has a different efficiency rating, which tells you how much of the sun that does hit them can be converted into electricity. Panels with higher ratings will naturally generate more energy for your home in otherwise equal conditions.
  • The size of your solar system: It’s always important to size your system appropriately for your home and energy demands, as larger systems are pricier and can become less cost-effective as they grow. Still, the more panels you install, the more energy your system as a whole will produce. Each additional panel is expected to generate approximately 100 extra kWh per month.
  • The weather: Finally, the weather can swing your production up or down by up to 90% from day to day, so local weather conditions are always a concern. Your installer will typically use averages to bring weather into the equation.

You can use the chart below to get a general idea of what systems of different sizes can produce. Keep in mind that these numbers can vary widely based on the factors discussed above.

Solar Power System Size Expected Daily Energy Produced Expected Monthly Energy Produced Expected Annual Energy Produced
7 kW 23.3 kWh 700 kWh 8,400 kWh
8 kW 26.6 kWh 800 kWh 9,600 kWh
9 kW 30 kWh 900 kWh 10,800 kWh
10 kW 33.3 kWh 1,000 kWh 12,000 kWh
11 kW 36.6 kWh 1,100 kWh 13,200 kWh
12 kW 40 kWh 1,200 kWh 14,400 kWh
13 kW 43.3 kWh 1,300 kWh 15,600 kWh

If you’re looking for a more accurate estimate, you can use our solar calculator tool. This uses your property address and satellite imaging to determine your local weather conditions and shading on your property throughout the day. This provides a good estimate of how much energy panels on your particular roof can produce.

Solar Panel Policy History in Idaho

Idaho is a relatively solar-friendly state, although its pro-solar legislation wasn’t initiated until a few decades after that of numerous other states.

The pro-solar agenda began in ID with a boom in 2000, when three measures were initiated the residential alternative energy tax deduction, the State Energy Loan Program, and the state’s first net metering program.

The alternative energy tax deduction made it so that property taxes wouldn’t increase as a result of installing solar equipment.

Normally, taxes would increase as solar equipment bumps up your home value and your assessed value.4 Idaho’s property tax exemption saves solar customers hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars over the lifespan of their systems.

The State Energy Loan Program was a statewide offering that helped make solar financing more accessible and affordable. It capped interest rates for solar loans at 4% and provided 5-year loan terms to allow for delayed repayment.

Idaho Power initiated the first net metering program in The Gem State. It offered the program to customers with systems up to 25 kW. Credits for excess energy are offered at a below-retail rate, which isn’t ideal. However, they are carried forward indefinitely, which is the best way to allow customers to save money.

Three years later, in 2003, Rocky Mountain Power followed suit and began offering net billing as well.

It was provided for systems up to 25 kW — which was basically all home solar systems but excludes solar farms — and was credited at 85% of the retail rate for electricity. This rate makes Rocky Mountain Power’s program decent, but not as good as some others.

Avista Utilities, another major utility company in ID, began offering net metering a bit later, in 2006. The program was available for systems up to a massive 100 kW. All accrued and unused energy would be forfeited to the provider after each 12-month billing cycle. Most importantly, though, the credits were offered at the retail rate for energy.

Net metering essentially lets your meter run backwards when you overproduce
Credit: Robert Linder / Unsplash

In 2019, Idaho Power pushed to drop the credit rate to 50% of the retail rate, which would have been a big blow for solar customers. Thankfully, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) denied it. This was a big deal for ID residents and established that pro-solar policies would continue to be protected throughout the state.

It’s also worth noting that ID is one of the few states that still doesn’t have a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal. Once the state sets one, the likelihood is that additional policies and programs — potentially a state tax credit — will become available to incentivize solar and reach the goal.

What Are the Solar Panel Incentives in Idaho?

ID residents have access to several perks and benefits programs, some of which have been protected by the PUC and other governing bodies. We’ll discuss the incentives currently available below.

  • Net metering: Net metering lets you generate more energy than you use and bank the excess. The credits you earn for overproducing can be put toward future bills if your usage exceeds your solar production. Net metering isn’t mandated in the State of Idaho, but many of the major electric companies do offer this program.
  • Federal solar tax credit: The federal tax credit is applied to your income tax liability for the year your system is commissioned, and it can be rolled over to the following year. Currently, the credit rate is 30% of your total system price, which is an average of $7,800 in ID.
  • Property tax exemption: This policy prevents your property taxes from increasing after you install your system. This can save you thousands of dollars over the lifespan of your equipment, although the savings depend on the value of your home and the cost of your system. This clean energy perk is more valuable in higher-cost areas like Boise or Twin Falls.
  • State energy loans: ID provides access to state-funded solar loans with capped interest rates and long loan terms. These are a great way to finance your solar project and save money in the process.

For more information on available perks, you can read through our guide to Idaho solar incentive programs.

Find a Local Installer in Idaho

Choosing a solar installer is always a difficult decision. Each company brings something different to the table in terms of equipment availability and cost, warranty coverage, and customer service.

According to the SEIA, Idaho is home to around 20 local solar companies, and you’ll also be able to choose from regional and national providers.5 Below, we’ll include some links to our reviews of the top installers in major cities in ID to help get you started.

Idaho State University Campus in Idaho Falls
Credit: WikiMedia / WikiMedia

Best Solar Providers in Idaho Falls

Iconic Rexburg Idaho Temple in Rexburg
Credit: WikiMedia / WikiMedia

Best Solar Providers in Rexburg

Panorama shot of Pocatello, ID
Credit: WikiMedia / WikiMedia

Best Solar Providers in Pocatello

If you’re looking for company recommendations outside of these major cities, or you’re looking more for regional or national providers, you can check out our guide to the top solar companies that service Idaho.

Blog author image
Dan Simms
Article author
Dan Simms is an experienced writer with a passion for renewable energy. As a solar and EV advocate, much of his work has focused on the potential of solar power and deregulated energy, but he also writes on related topics, like real estate and economics. In his free time — when he's not checking his own home's solar production — he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, skiing and rock climbing.

What Are The Best Solar Companies?