Ohio Solar Panel Buyers Guide [Installation & Efficiency 2022]
Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide to Ohio solar panels:
- What the process of going solar looks like in OH
- How much power your panels are expected to produce in the area
- What incentives are available to help reduce installation costs
How to Get Solar Panels in Ohio
The first step you’ll need to take to go solar is to have a local installer assess your property and provide a free quote. Company reps will look at your roof size, your average energy consumption and your preferred financing option — cash purchase, solar loan, solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA).
The design team will then plan out a solar array suited to your home. Once you approve the design, the installer will file for permits with your local jurisdiction. When those are approved, the installation will be completed, and your system will be activated. Your permits will need a final inspection to be closed out.
Adopting a solar energy solution in OH is a great investment for most residents. Solar equipment lets you reduce your carbon footprint and your reliance on fossil fuels. More importantly for many homeowners, it saves money on electric bills. The average system in OH pays for itself and then saves an additional $19,272.
Blue Raven Solar
What Is the Price of Solar Panel Installation in Ohio?
The cost of solar panels in OH can vary a bit based on a few factors, but the average solar price is around $2.56 per watt. This is below the national average and puts the total price for the typical 9 kilowatt (kW) system in the area at just over $16,000. Keep in mind that this is after the federal Residential Clean Energy Credit (a credit to your income tax) is applied.
As soon as they’re installed, your photovoltaic (PV) panels should begin saving you money on utility bills. Over time, those savings should offset the entire system cost. This payoff timeframe is a metric called the panel payback period. The average timeframe in OH is 12 years, which is in line with the national average.
For more in-depth information on system costs and the value your panels will provide in your area, you can read through our guide to PV system pricing in OH.
The Best Solar Panel Brands Available in Ohio
Ohio’s local solar industry is quite strong, so homeowners have plenty of options when it comes to equipment brands.
Since OH receives less sunlight than most states, the majority of residents optimize their systems for efficiency. High efficiency ratings allow you to take better advantage of the sunlight that is available.
Below are some of the most popular panel brands installed throughout The Buckeye State. All of these brands offer high-efficiency, high-quality monocrystalline panels that are ideal for low-sun conditions.
- Maxeon (previously SunPower)
- Canadian Solar
- Mission Solar
- Trina Solar
Is Ohio a Good State for Solar Panels?
Ohio is ranked 25th in the nation for solar adoption according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).1 Despite being middle-of-the-pack for solar conversion, OH is considered a great place to install solar energy systems. Below, we’ll discuss some of the factors that make solar investment sound in OH.
- Below-average equipment costs: First off, Ohioans pay an average of $2.56 per watt for solar equipment, which is below the U.S. average of $2.66. A savings of $0.10 per watt might not seem like much, but for the 9,000 watts — or 9 kilowatts — most residents install, that equates to a savings of around $900. Paying less for equipment means you get more value out of it in the long run. This also means that your panel payback period will be shortened, so you can take advantage of actual energy savings earlier.
- Great solar incentives: OH might not be the best state in terms of aggregate solar installations, but the state does provide a handful of positive solar benefits to entice residents to go solar. Some of the most crucial perks offered in The Buckeye State include net metering and a Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) market. We’ll discuss these in greater depth later on.
- High risk of power outages: OH homeowners experience more power outages than nearly every other state in the country.2 Outages occur largely because of the extreme weather in the area. Lake-effect snowstorms, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms can all contribute to blackouts.3 In areas where outages are common, solar batteries are far more valuable. PV panels alone will not provide energy through an outage, but adding a solar storage solution to your panels and inverters is a great way to maintain electricity through power outages.
How Much Energy Can I Get From Solar Panels in Ohio?
Many prospective solar customers want to know how much electricity solar power systems will generate. With this knowledge, a system can be sized appropriately for your home and an average system cost can be calculated. Unfortunately, it’s very challenging to estimate solar electricity production without a personalized review of your property.
The reason for this is that a few factors can swing your energy generation rate up or down significantly. We’ll discuss some of these factors below.
- The orientation of your home: The direction your roof faces plays a major role in how much electricity your panels will provide. South-facing roofs in Ohio point toward the path of the sun in the sky for most of the day, so they receive more intense sunlight. Since your panels rely on solar energy to produce electricity, this translates to higher production rates. This is the primary reason why the U.S. Department of Energy maintains that south-facing roofs are the best option for solar conversion.4
- The amount of shading on your property: When shade is cast over your panels during sunlight hours — especially during the peak sunlight hours in the early to mid-afternoon — your production will decrease. Heavy shade can cause power generation to come to a complete halt, as your panels need energy from the sun to convert to electricity. Your installer will assess your home for shade from trees, buildings and other obstructions before deciding what size solar panel system you need. This is because shade on your roof can cause average production levels to drop significantly.
- The weather: Just like shade from trees and nearby buildings, overcast conditions can block the available sunlight and cause live-time production to dip. Heavy cloud coverage can decimate your generation rate, sometimes dropping panel efficiency down to around 10% of its maximum. Most reputable solar installers will consider the average year-round weather conditions in your area to size your system appropriately.
- Your panel efficiency: As mentioned above, Ohioans have access to a variety of panel brands. Each brand has its own efficiency rating, which tells you how efficient your equipment will be at absorbing solar rays and converting them to electricity. Panels with higher efficiency ratings will always generate more energy in equivalent conditions. Since OH receives an average of just 173 sunny days per year — compared to the national average of 205 — most residents need to opt for the high-efficiency options.
- Your system size: Finally, the number of panels you have installed will dictate your production to a large degree. Each additional panel you add to your system will generate more electricity for your home, so larger systems mean greater production potential. It’s important to size your system appropriately, though, as simply adding more panels isn’t always cost-effective.
Getting an accurate estimate for how much electricity your panels will produce really requires a professional’s opinion and property assessment. However, you can use the chart below to get a rough idea of your expected production.
|Solar Power System Size||Expected Daily Energy Produced
|Expected Monthly Energy Produced
|Expected Annual Energy Produced
|6 kW||20 kW||600 kWh||7,200 kWh|
|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|
You can also enter your address into our solar calculator tool to get a more personalized estimate for power production. This takes local weather and shading on your property into consideration to give you a better idea of how much electricity panels on your roof will generate.
Solar Panel Policy History in Ohio
Over the past few decades, solar policy in Ohio has gone through numerous changes.
The state’s first piece of pro-solar legislation — the solar easement law — was passed in 1979. This law made it possible for homeowners to file for easements to maintain access to the solar energy hitting their properties.
It wasn’t for another two decades that the next pro-solar policy was put into place by the Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUC) — the net metering program. Sometimes called net energy metering (NEM), this policy lets customers overproduce energy to create credits and use them to pay down future bills.
The NEM policy in Ohio mandates that all utility companies offer credits at a generation rate that is between the ideal retail rate and the less appealing avoided-cost rate. This essentially reduces your electricity rates. In addition, credits that remain unused for a year are cashed out by utility companies.
The same year it implemented net metering, OH initiated a public benefits fund called the Advanced Energy Fund (AEF). This was funded by a small surcharge on energy bills throughout the state, and the money went toward providing rebates and grants for solar conversion.
The fund was terminated in 2010, and the remaining money was put toward the Energy Loan Fund in 2011. As the name implies, this fund offered loans with low interest rates and minimal down payment requirements to make solar financing more accessible.
In 2000, OH began offering the sales tax exemption for solar equipment. This helped to keep up-front costs down by waiving sales tax on all PV system equipment.
In 2008, OH finally set its first Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which it called the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS). The goal was to produce 12.5% of the state’s electricity via renewable energy sources by 2025. This included a specific 0.5% carve-out for solar energy.
A year later, the state began the Energy Conservation for Ohioans (ECO-Link) program. This program sought to make solar financing more affordable by providing up to a 3% interest rate reduction for loans.
That same year, the Solar Renewable Energy Credits market was established. SRECs are credits you can earn for producing power with your panels. The credits are accrued per kilowatt-hour or megawatt-hour you generate and can then be sold on the local market for a profit.
In 2014, Ohio became the first state to freeze its RPS goal. The reasons stated were that the goal was unrealistic and that the push to clean energy was raising costs for customers and employers in the local solar industry. Whether or not this was true remains hotly debated. Unfortunately, the standard was reduced to 8.5% of electricity generated from renewables by 2026.
What Are the Solar Panel Incentives in Ohio?
As a direct result of the solar policy changes mentioned above, OH property owners now have access to a variety of benefit programs. We’ll discuss each of the available perks below.
- Residential Clean Energy Credit: The federal tax credit gets applied to your income tax liability for the year your system is installed and activated. The credit is for a massive 30% of your system value, which averages out to around $6,900 in OH.
- SRECs: These are credits solar customers earn for each kWh they produce with their panels. The credits can be sold on the local SREC market for a profit. Utility companies are typically the ones purchasing these credits, as they can help them meet the RPS requirements and avoid penalties. The value of each credit depends on the supply and demand, and the average price changes from year to year.
- Sales tax exemption: OH waives all sales tax — an average of 5.75% — on solar equipment throughout the state.5 In total, this saves residents an average of $1,300 up front on equipment costs.
- Net energy metering (NEM): NEM is a billing policy that credits you for the excess energy your panels generate. Those credits can be used to pay down future electric bills or they can be cashed out once per year.
- Energy Conservation for Ohioans (ECO-Link): This program seeks to make solar financing more affordable by providing interest rate reductions on loans for solar installations and other home improvements.
To read more about the available incentives and how they work, or to see other local perks that might be available — like the property tax abatement for energy efficiency upgrades in Cleveland — you can check out our guide to currently available Ohio solar incentives.
Find a Local Installer in Ohio
One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make when converting to solar is the installer you decide on.
Ultimately, this one decision will affect your solar project cost, the equipment that’s available to you, the quality and length of the warranty you get and more. According to the SEIA, there are nearly 60 local installers that service OH residents.6 While having options is great, it also means your decision will be more challenging.
To get you started in the right direction, we’ll include some links to our reviews of the top solar companies in major cities in OH.
You can also check out our general guide to choosing a solar installer in OH for recommendations outside of these cities.