Oregon Solar Panel Buyers Guide [Installation & Efficiency 2022]

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

  • The average cost of installing solar equipment in OR 
  • How big a system you need to offset your electric bills
  • What perks are available to help reduce solar panel costs and maximize savings
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How to Get Solar Panels in Oregon

When you’re ready to begin the process of going solar in OR, you’ll first need to reach out to a solar installation company in your area. You’ll speak with a salesperson about getting a free quote, which typically involves a review of your energy bills and a rep coming to your home to take roof measurements.

Once the preliminary assessment is completed, a designer from the company will design a system that fits your home and can offset your energy consumption. You’ll need to approve the design and then explore financing options with your rep. These include cash purchases, solar loans, solar leases,s and power purchase agreements (PPA).

Finally, permits will be pulled and your system will be installed.

Most OR residents find that solar conversion is an outstanding investment. The typical system in the area pays for itself in around 13 years. This is just above the national average payback period of 12 years, but Oregon residents experience an average of over $15,000 in energy savings after the payback period is reached.

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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
Badge icon

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)

What Is the Price of Solar Panel Installation in Oregon?

Solar photovoltaic (PV) equipment in OR costs an average of $2.60 per watt, which is lower than prices in most other states. The average system size needed in OR is 9.5 kilowatts (kW), which means the typical total cost is $24,700, or $17,290 after the federal tax credit is taken.

Although these prices might seem steep, solar provides immense savings for most residents, especially when compared to the energy burden if you stick with fossil fuels. It’s wise to compare energy savings with solar — around $15,648 in savings over 25 years — with the energy costs of not going solar — around $40,348 in payments.

For more information on the price of solar equipment and total system prices in Oregon, you can check out our guide to solar costs in OR.

The Best Solar Panel Brands Available in Oregon

Oregon is ranked 21st in the country in terms of solar adoption, so it’s not surprising that residents have access to a wide range of equipment brands.1 Most of the larger panel manufacturers in the country also service residents in OR either through in-house installation teams or third-party installers.

Many parts of OR receive some of the lowest numbers of sunny days per year in the country, with the state average sitting around 143 days.2 Since the U.S. average is 205, most OR residents need to opt for high-efficiency panel brands to maximize production and minimize their carbon footprint even on cloudy days.

For this reason, OR is best suited for monocrystalline solar panels (mono panels) rather than less-efficient polycrystalline solar panels and thin-film panels.

Below are some of the best and most durable monocrystalline solar panel brands for OR solar customers. These all provide great energy efficiency to help produce sufficient energy in Beaver State’s less-than-optimal weather conditions.

  • SunPower (now operating under the name Maxeon)
  • Panasonic
  • LG (this brand of panel will no longer be available as of 2023)
  • Tesla
  • Qcells
  • Trina Solar
  • REC
  • Canadian Solar

Is Oregon a Good State for Solar Panels?

Despite the lack of sunlight availability, Oregon is still considered a great place to convert to solar energy. This is because there are several other factors at play that make solar equipment more affordable and more valuable. We’ll discuss these factors below.

  • Below-average equipment and installation costs: First off, OR residents enjoy equipment prices that are below the national average. For each kW installed, OR homeowners pay around $60 less for solar panels, inverters and energy storage solutions. While this might not seem like much, these savings would drop equipment prices by over $500 for the typical 9.5 kW solar array, so Oregonians get more value for their money.
  • Above-average energy consumption: Although OR property owners pay average electricity rates, they consume slightly above-average amounts of electricity per month. Areas where energy needs are higher than average tend to be better for solar conversion because there is more room for savings.
  • Outstanding solar benefit programs: Oregon has some of the best solar incentives in the nation. These include a state rebate of up to $7,500, net metering and a property tax exemption. We’ll explain later on how each of these perks and other benefits available in the area can affect your up-front cost and long-term savings.
  • Frequent power outages: Finally, OR residents experience a variety of conditions that can lead to power blackouts. These include inclement weather, wildfires and heavy strain on the electric grid during the cold winters. OR is ranked tenth in the country for highest number of power outages.3 Homes fitted with solar panels will still lose power during a blackout because inverters stop converting the direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) that’s usable in your home. However, customers who install solar battery storage options with their panels can maintain electricity when temporarily off-grid.

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

Estimating how much electricity your solar panels will produce is helpful because it lets you calculate how many panels and solar cells you need to offset your utility bills. Ultimately, this allows you to estimate your entire solar energy system cost.

It’s challenging to determine your production rate because there are many factors that affect how much power your panels generate. These factors include:

Clouds blocking the sun can reduce your panel production
Clouds blocking the sun can reduce your panel production.
  • How much sun hits your solar panels: One of the first things your solar installer will assess on your property is how much shade is cast on your roof. Solar panels use photons from the sun to produce electricity. If the available sunlight hitting your solar cells is interrupted at any point during the day, your production levels will drop significantly. Shading from trees, utility poles, and other obstructions can cause below-average production rates for your area.
  • The angle of your solar PV panels with respect to the sun: Energy generation will be higher when more intense sunlight hits your rooftop solar modules. In North America, southern-facing roofs are angled toward the sun, which provides the most direct sunlight. This is why the U.S. Department of Energy notes that north/south-facing homes are best suited for solar conversion.4
  • The size of your solar power system: Each panel you install on your home will produce additional energy for your property, which means larger systems are better suited for high electricity consumption. However, your solar panel system should be appropriately sized for your property to ensure the system remains cost-effective.
  • The efficiency of the panels you install: Panels come with a variety of efficiency ratings, which tell you how much of the sunlight that hits them can be converted to electricity. Panels with high-efficiency ratings are usually required in OR, given the lack of sunlight. With all other conditions remaining equal, higher efficiency ratings will always generate more energy.
  • Local weather: Finally, the weather has a massive impact on your solar electricity production. As mentioned above, cloudy days can drop your efficiency levels by up to 90%. Local weather trends should be considered by your installer when sizing your system.

It should be obvious that getting an accurate estimate of how much energy your panels will produce is nearly impossible without a customized property assessment. If you’re just looking for roundabout numbers, though, you can use the chart below for guidance.

Solar Power System Size Expected Daily Energy Produced

(kilowatt-hours)

Expected Monthly Energy Produced

(kilowatt-hours)

Expected Annual Energy Produced

(kilowatt-hours)

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

 

Keep in mind that the numbers above are just estimates and your actual production rates can differ quite a lot. For a more personalized estimate, you can use our solar calculator to see the estimated energy production of panels on your roof or click below to get a quote from one of EcoWatch’s preferred solar panel companies in Oregon.

Solar Panel Policy History in Oregon

Oregon has some of the most appealing solar benefits programs in the country, as well as one of the most aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goals. These wouldn’t have come about without the strong solar policy and pro-solar legislation that have developed since the late 1970s.

The first perk OR implemented was the renewable energy systems exemption of 1976. This was a property tax exemption that prevented solar equipment from bumping up tax-assessed home value and, by extension, taxes. Unfortunately, this solar program ended in 2018.

Next, OR passed solar rights and easement laws in 1979. These established the rights of all homeowners to install solar equipment and maintain access to the sunlight hitting their properties.

Two years later, in 1981, the Oregon Department of Energy initiated the Small-Scale Energy Loan Program (SELP). As the name implies, this offered affordable financing options to residents looking to install solar systems.

It took nearly another two decades for additional legislation to be passed, but 1999 brought some of the most crucial turning points for solar customers in OR.

First, the energy market was deregulated throughout the state, which gave property owners an energy choice. Along with deregulation came the state’s net metering policy.

Net metering is a crucial perk for incentivizing solar conversion, as it helps residents maximize their long-term savings. Net metering in OR was and still is mandated at the avoided-cost rate for electricity, which isn’t ideal.

Also in 1999, the Energy Trust of Oregon was established. This program produced a public benefits fund that was funded by small charges on all taxpayers’ electric bills. The fund was used to provide rebates and other perks to solar adopters.

Among these perks was the rebate offered to Portland General Electric (PGE) customers. The rebate was for up to $1.70 per watt, or a total of $6,000, whichever was less.

In 2007, Oregon finally set its first RPS goal, which was to produce 2% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources. Nearly a decade later, in 2016, the RPS goal was amended to require 50% of the state’s electricity to come from clean energy sources by 2040.

In response to the RPS goal improvement, several rebate programs were offered to residents of different cities and counties. One of the most impressive came from the City of Ashland, which offered up to $7,500 in rebates for solar conversion.

Another benefit that came about from the change to the RPS goal was virtual net metering. This provided the same benefits for community solar customers that residential solar customers had had since the late 1990s.

Community solar benefitted from Oregon’s virtual net metering policy
Credit: mrganso / Pixabay

What Are the Solar Panel Incentives in Oregon?

Although benefits programs available for OR solar customers have come and gone over the years, a number are available today. We’ll mention these briefly below.

  • Federal solar investment tax credit (ITC). The ITC is a credit in the amount of 30% of your total system costs — an average of nearly $7,500 in OR. This credit gets applied to your income tax burden for the year you install your system.
  • Net metering. Net metering grants you energy credits for all excess electricity your system produces. You can then use those credits to pay down future electric bills.
  • Oregon Solar + Storage Rebate Program. This is an enticing rebate provided to customers who install panels and energy storage solutions. The average (and maximum) rebate is $7,500.
  • Solar electric incentive programs. These are rebate programs for customers of certain local utility companies — including PGE and Pacific Power — that use solar financing to acquire their solar PV systems. The value can be as high as $1,200.
  • Property tax exemption. Solar systems increase the value of your home, which would normally bump up your property taxes.5 This exemption prevents your taxes from being affected by adding a solar system.
  • Solar Within Reach. This is another rebate program designed to help low-income households afford the solar conversion. It provides cashback amounts of up to $8,400 to make clean energy more accessible.

For more information on available benefit programs in OR, you can check out our guide to solar incentives and perks in Oregon.

Find a Local Installer in Oregon

OR is home to over 50 solar installers, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).6 Each provider brings different prices, warranty coverage, and customer service to the table, so choosing the right one for your solar project is crucial.

To help narrow down your search, you can read through our in-depth reviews of the best solar companies in Oregon.

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.

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