Is solar worth it in Oklahoma?

7 factors to consider in the Sooner State

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solar panels on roof

Solar panels are gaining popularity all over Oklahoma. People like powering their homes with a reliable source of cheap, clean energy. The main drawback is the high upfront cost of purchasing and installing the panels and equipment. On the bright side, once that’s paid for, solar panels can significantly reduce or even eliminate your electricity bills.

If it’s worth it comes down to your initial installation costs, the orientation and shading of your roof, and how long you plan to stay in your home. For many, the long-term savings outweigh the upfront costs.


Key Insights

  • Depending on the size of your system and what financial incentives you qualify for, a typical residential solar panel installation costs $8,948 to $25,567 in Oklahoma.
  • On average, it takes solar panels approximately 11 years to pay for themselves in Oklahoma.
  • Over 25 years, Oklahoma homeowners with solar panels avoid $65,916 in total utility costs on average.

7 factors to consider before getting solar panels in Oklahoma

We’ve talked to thousands of solar customers who have already gone through the installation process. It’s generally worth it if you like the idea of lowering your monthly utility bills, helping the environment and gaining more energy independence. But it doesn’t work out for everyone. Here’s what to consider before making the switch.

  1. Solar panel installation costs
  2. Your energy consumption
  3. Oklahoma solar incentives
  4. Net metering buy-back rates
  5. How long you live in your house
  6. The solar company you hire
  7. How you pay

1. Solar panel installation costs: $10,000 to $30,000

Before considering the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC), average solar panel costs in Oklahoma range from $12,783 to $25,567. That price drops to $8,948 to $17,897 after considering the full 30% tax credit.

Most installers set the price according to the system's wattage, with a typical cost between $2.50 and $5 per watt. “Cost per watt” is a little like looking at the price per square foot when you buy a house. It helps you compare the value of solar energy systems in different sizes. In Oklahoma, the average cost per watt is only $2.56.

Like most things, high-quality panels come with a more expensive price tag, but they often pay off in the long run with better performance and durability. The more efficient your panels are, the more electricity they produce and the less space they take up on your roof.

Average solar panel installation cost by system size in Oklahoma

2. Your current energy consumption

Look at your latest utility bills to see how much electricity your house needs each month. This tells you what size and capacity your solar system needs to be. A typical Oklahoma household needs a system with a capacity of 11.35 kW to offset its electricity needs with solar energy. You might need a larger or smaller system, depending on your current energy consumption.

It’s a common misconception that solar panels always completely eliminate your monthly power bill — this is not always the case. Still, you’ll likely be paying much less than you would for traditional utility bills. Once you know your current energy consumption, you can calculate your potential savings and the time it should take for your solar installation to pay for itself.

3. Oklahoma solar incentives: Relatively few

The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is a major incentive that reduces the upfront cost of going solar in Oklahoma. The ITC provides a 30% tax credit on your total system costs including equipment, labor and permits. It will drop to 26% in 2033 and 22% in 2034.

Don’t get confused: The ITC is not a rebate or a refund. It is a credit that goes toward what you owe on federal income taxes. It can only offset the taxes you owe. No one is going to automatically mail you a check for 30% of what your system costs immediately after you purchase it.

There are no statewide incentives in Oklahoma to go solar, but you can take advantage of a few programs encouraging energy efficiency upgrades.

» GREENEST STATES: Oklahoma ranked 28th in 2024

4. Net metering rates in Oklahoma: Avoided-cost rates

Net metering lets Oklahoma homeowners get credits for extra electricity their solar panels generate. To qualify, you must have a system smaller than 300 kW, which isn’t a problem since most home systems are much smaller. Here's how it works:

  1. Your home's electricity meter tracks both the electricity used by the utility company and any extra electricity fed into the grid from your solar panel system.
  2. At the end of each billing period, your utility company looks at whether your system put more electricity into the grid than you pulled out.
  3. If you put back more than you used, you get a credit towards next month's bill for the extra amount. If you used more than your system produced, you only pay the utility company for that additional amount.

For example, Lowell in Oklahoma City overproduced about 600 kilowatts (kW) in early 2023. Their solar panels produced less electricity in May because it was cloudy. “But I have all this credit, so it'll be carried over into this month,” Lowell told us. “So, I still won't have a bill.”

It’s worth noting that utility companies don’t have to buy back excess energy at the retail rate. Instead, they often use an avoided-cost rate, which is similar to the wholesale value of electricity. Any credits that are more than a year old will expire.

This encourages you to produce enough renewable electricity for your own home's needs, but not drastically more than what you use.

5. How long you plan to stay in your house

Buying solar equipment is expensive, and it takes five to 10 years to recover the initial investment through savings on electric bills. If you sell your house and move before then, you might not fully realize the financial benefits of your solar panels.

Solar panels are designed to last 25-30 years.

One study found that, on average, houses with solar panels sell for 4.1% more. Let’s say you spend $25,000 putting solar panels on a house that costs $400,000. It might sell for $16,400 more in a few years, according to Zillow. Over 25 years, Oklahoma homeowners with solar panels avoid an average of $65,916 in utility costs.

In other words, don't get solar panels just because you want to sell your house soon. Instead, consider a home improvement project with a better return on investment, like remodeling the bathroom or kitchen.

6. The solar company you hire

People have mixed experiences with solar companies. In the best-case scenario, it’s easy to make the switch and you’re happy with the system’s performance. In the worst-case scenario, you end up paying thousands for mid-tier solar equipment from a company with poor customer service and no follow-up or support.

One of the most common complaints is related to pushy sales reps who make promises that can’t be delivered. One resident, Wendy in Lawton, told us about a negative experience with dishonest sales practices, equipment issues and lack of assistance from the solar company she hired. Unfortunately, there aren’t any specific-state requirements for solar panel installers in Oklahoma, or a state-maintained database concerning solar contractors for consumers.

That’s why it’s so important to thoroughly research and verify claims made by sales teams before making a decision. Use NREL’s PVWatts Calculator to estimate how much electricity a solar panel can produce over a year on your house — just type in your address. Project Sunroof is a free solar savings estimator powered by Google Earth imagery.

7. How you pay

If you can, it’s often financially strategic to pay for the whole thing upfront. You own the system from day one and receive the benefits of available tax credits; plus, you don’t have to pay interest on a loan. Of course, paying cash is not always an option. That’s when loans, leases and other agreements come into play.

  • Solar loan: Solar loans work like any other type of loan. They have relatively low interest rates. Once you pay it off, you own your system outright.
  • Leasing options: Leasing panels is one way to get the benefits of solar energy without the high upfront cost. A solar lease works like a car lease — you get to use the panels but don’t own them. Leasing can be good if you have limited savings. Solar lease agreements typically last 20 to 25 years.
  • Home equity loans or lines of credit (HELOC): These let eligible homeowners borrow against equity in their house to finance a solar panel system. They often have variable interest rates, meaning monthly payments can increase over time.

Monthly costs: solar payments vs. savings

Think of going solar in terms of your monthly costs. Financing solar panels makes sense as long as your monthly loan payment is less than what you would be paying the utility company anyway. Once the initial installation costs are paid, solar panels essentially generate free electricity.

Is my house a good candidate for solar panels?

Going solar ends up being worth it for many homeowners as long as their house is a good candidate to support a solar panel installation. Here’s what to think about before you commit:

  • How old are your appliances? The first step is to ensure that your electrical loads are as small as possible. For instance, if you have an older refrigerator or air conditioning unit, it’s smart to upgrade those before investing in solar panels.
  • How much sunlight do you get? Solar panels need regular exposure to sunlight to produce the most energy possible. Oklahoma averages 4.5 to 5.5 peak sun hours each day. However, lots of shading — like trees or tall buildings above your roof — could make your solar system less efficient.
  • What is the size and angle of your roof? Oklahoma (and the rest of the United States) is in the northern hemisphere, so solar panels perform best on south-facing roofs. The worst place to install would be on north-facing roofs, especially if those roofs have a high pitch. For example, if the only place you can install is a north-facing roof with a 30-degree pitch, your costs will likely go up by 30% to 40%.
  • What is the condition of your roof? If you have to replace your roof, do that before you install solar panels. Solar panels are designed to last up to 30 years, so you want your roof to last just as long. Otherwise, it could cost thousands to remove the panels, fix your roof and reinstall the panels again.

Pros and cons of solar panels in Oklahoma

Oklahoma might not be the best state for going solar, but it still ends up being worth it for many residents. It has a good climate for solar panels. However, you can expect some seasonal fluctuation in how much energy they can produce.

Pros

  • Long-term savings
  • Better for the environment
  • Low maintenance costs
  • May increase home resale value

Cons

  • Upfront costs
  • Seasonal production variations
  • Performance can be affected by shading from trees or buildings.

Drawbacks of solar panels in Oklahoma

The main obstacle to going solar is the high upfront cost of purchasing and installing solar equipment. Then, since solar panels do not generate electricity at night, you need to pull power from the grid or get an energy storage battery to keep your lights on.

  • Solar equipment is expensive: Even with rebates and other financial incentives, the price typically starts between $10,000 and $30,000. It’s even more expensive if you want a solar battery for energy storage. Solar battery costs are generally between $7,000 and $18,000. Getting a solar battery might be strategic If net billing rates continue to decline in Oklahoma. That way, you can store energy at home instead of tapping into the local grid when you need to.
  • Energy production varies: Solar panels are dependent on weather conditions and seasonality. Solar panels still work on cloudy days, but less available sunlight does affect how efficiently they produce energy.
  • Some solar companies are sketchy: Some solar companies may not be upfront about the permitting process, so make sure to ask careful questions before signing any paperwork. For instance, an Oklahoma City family was sent into a panic after they spent $28,000 on a new solar panel system and an inspection holdup kept them waiting to use the panels for months, a local television station reported in summer 2023.

» MORE: Solar energy pros and cons

Find solar companies in Oklahoma

A good solar company helps you navigate local incentives, permitting and net metering policies. Compare our picks for the top solar companies in Oklahoma to learn more.

Do you own or rent?

Oklahoma solar FAQs

Does Oklahoma really pay for solar panels?

No, Oklahoma does not pay for solar panels, and there are no sales or property tax exemptions available to residents who purchase new solar systems. Oklahomans can take advantage of federal tax credits, which can help you with your tax bill.

» FREE SOLAR PANELS: Are they really free?

How can I pay for solar panels?

You could pay the full cost upfront, but many finance their solar panel system through a solar loan. It works like most other types of loans — there is an application process, and you pay the loan back over time with interest.

Alternatively, you can lease solar panels, which has its own pros and cons. It’s often cheaper in the short term, but you’ll be disqualified from some of the best financial incentives, including the federal solar investment tax credit.

Some solar companies suggest using a home equity line of credit or loan to finance a solar installation. This can be a financially beneficial option — home equity interest rates are relatively low, and homeowners can take advantage of the federal solar tax credit.

» SOLAR PANELS: Lease vs. buy

Do solar panels increase property taxes in Oklahoma?

Possibly. A new solar panel system may increase property taxes on your residence in Oklahoma as there is no property tax exemption in place. Solar panel systems often increase the property value of your home.

» MUST KNOW: Tax deductions for homeowners

Can I get a power purchase agreement in Oklahoma?

Not currently. The regulations surrounding power purchase agreements are still under discussion in the state of Oklahoma.

Do I really need a solar battery?

A solar battery helps you increase your energy independence and is essential if you want to go off-grid. Solar batteries let you store the solar energy you produce to use when your system is not generating power.

What solar scams are common in Oklahoma?

In 2018, Oklahoma Gas & Electric reported a rise in scammers posing as OG&E employees, and demanding immediate payment from customers after threatening a cutoff in service. These scammers targeted churches, small businesses and nursing homes. Some used a scheme involving prepaid cards.

Like in any booming industry, some salespeople want to make a quick buck and might say anything to close a sale. It’s important to read your contract carefully, especially if you finance or lease a system.

Look for companies with years of experience in Oklahoma and good local reputations. Get multiple quotes from different solar companies to compare prices and services. Be cautious of companies that provide significantly lower quotes than others — this may indicate lower quality.

» TIPS: Get the best solar quotes

Bottom Line: Is going solar in Oklahoma worth it for you?

It’s worth considering if your house is a good candidate to support solar panels. For a lot of homeowners, solar panels are worth it as long as their cost savings over time outweigh the initial investment. Others are happy to go solar for the environmental benefits alone.

Depending on the size of your system and what financial incentives you qualify for, a typical residential solar panel installation costs $8,948 to $25,567 in Oklahoma. Over 25 years, Oklahoma homeowners with solar panels can save about $65,916 in total utility power costs.

If you can afford it, buying your solar energy system outright typically provides the highest return on investment. You own the system from day one and receive the benefits of available tax credits, and you don’t have to pay interest on a loan.

Solar costs and savings: Oklahoma vs. nearby states

* For 100% usage offset; ** Over 25 years

Article sources

ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:

  1. DSIRE, “Oklahoma Solar Programs.” Accessed March 14, 2024.
  2. EnergySage, “Solar Panels in Oklahoma.” Accessed March 14, 2024.
  3. Solar Energy Industries Association, “Oklahoma Solar.” Accessed March 14, 2024.
  4. SolarReviews, “How much do solar panels cost in Oklahoma, 2024?” Accessed March 14, 2024.
  5. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “Homeowner’s Guide to the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics.” Accessed March 14, 2024.
  6. Oklahoma Corporation Commission, “Net Metering in Oklahoma.” Accessed April 1, 2024.
  7. Public Service Company of Oklahoma. “Solar Energy.” Accessed April 1, 2024.
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