Cost of solar panels in Ohio (2024)

How much is it to go solar in the Buckeye State?

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Average solar panel installation costs range from $9,461 to $27,031 in Ohio. How much you pay depends on the size of your system, what incentives you’re eligible for, your home’s sunlight exposure and other factors.

Based on feedback from hundreds of solar customers in Ohio, the general consensus is that solar panel investments pay off over time. Assuming an upfront purchase, it takes about 11.5 years to break even (when your savings with solar panels make up for the cost).


Key insights

The average solar panel installation costs $2.75 per watt in Ohio. “Cost per watt” is similar to the price per square foot when you buy a house. It helps you compare the value of solar energy systems in different sizes.

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The federal solar investment tax credit is usually the most significant financial incentive for homeowners buying solar panels. It is not a rebate or a refund but goes toward what you owe on federal income taxes.

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In Ohio, you can lease a system or enter a power purchase agreement with lower upfront costs. However, you won’t be eligible for the federal tax credit if you do.

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How much do solar panels cost in Ohio?

With professional installation, a typical 6-kilowatt residential solar panel system in Ohio costs $16,218. That price drops to $11,353 after the full federal solar investment tax credit (ITC). On the high end, Brian in Rocky River, Ohio, said he spent $65,000 on his system.

The size of your solar panel system is a big factor in your overall solar costs. A typical Ohio household needs a system with a capacity of 10.95 kW to offset enough energy costs to make solar viable. Depending on your household energy usage, you might need a smaller or larger system.

Average solar panel installation cost by system size in Ohio

This doesn’t include the cost of a solar storage battery, which sometimes costs as much as the panels. Solar batteries are a must if you want real energy independence and essential if you go off-grid. Permitting, utility fees and maintenance also add to the cost of going solar.

Are solar panels worth it in Ohio?

Installing solar panels leads to big long-term savings on electricity bills for Ohio homeowners. For instance, Michelle in Westerville, Ohio, bought a solar system for her dad. “He's very much into saving energy and keeping his bills low,” she told us. Similarly, Michael in Clearwater, Ohio, said, “Since getting the solar panels installed, we've gotten cheaper bills. They're saving us money, and I'm satisfied.”

In Ohio, solar panels usually pay for themselves within 11.5 years years. Over 25 years, Ohio homeowners with solar panels avoid $52,568 in utility costs on average.

It’s a common misconception that solar panels always eliminate your monthly power bill, but this isn’t always the case. On the bright side, people who still have a bill after going solar are paying significantly less than they were before. 

Homeowners with solar panels typically save $20,000 to $90,000 over 25 years.

We suggest using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory'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.

If your house is a good candidate for solar, it’s worth considering if you like the idea of lower monthly utility bills and more energy independence. Many Buckeyes seem happy with solar, and Ohio ranks among the best states for solar panels.

» STILL NOT SURE? Solar energy pros and cons

Solar panel installation cost factors in Ohio

The equipment — solar panels, inverters, mounting hardware and other electrical accessories — is typically the largest portion of your overall total costs (approximately 25% to 50%). Labor, which includes planning, preparing and connecting your system to the grid, accounts for 10% to 30%. Local permits and fees are a small part of your overall costs.

Solar panels

Most of your solar equipment costs come down to how much you pay for solar panels. Monocrystalline panels are considered the best bang for your buck. Cheaper solar panels are typically polycrystalline. The difference comes down to efficiency and materials: Monocrystalline panels are made from pure, single silicon crystals; various silicon fragments melted together are used to make polycrystalline panels.

Solar panel efficiency is a measure of how well a panel makes electricity. The more efficient the solar panels you buy are, the fewer panels you need. While more efficient panels cost a little more, you save by buying fewer panels.

Additional solar equipment costs

Systems also contain mounting equipment, wiring and other devices, such as inverters, batteries or a monitoring system.

  • Solar batteries: A battery stores energy for later use. It’s a must if you want real energy independence, and they sometimes cost as much as the panels. Prices often depend on the battery’s storage capacity, lifespan, brand and other factors. Expect to pay between $7,000 and $18,000, though some cost $30,000 or more.
  • Solar inverter: Inverters convert the electricity generated by your solar panels from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). Inverter costs usually range from $1,000 to $3,000.
  • Monitoring system: Some companies include a solar monitoring system to track how much energy your system produces and if there are any problems. If not, you can get one for $80 to $400.

Size of your system

The cost difference between a 6-kilowatt system and a 7-kilowatt system is thousands of dollars. To estimate what size system you need, first look up how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) you used last year on your electricity bill. Divide that number by 1,200. This will be roughly the system size you need. For example, if your home used 30,000 kWh last year, you would need a 25-kW system.

» WATT’S THE DIFFERENCE? kW vs. kWh

Condition of your roof

An inspection of your roof is necessary before you go solar, so remember to factor that into the overall cost. The state of your roof can influence the expense of your solar system installation beyond the initial costs, too. If it needs repairs or a replacement, those will add to the bottom line.

Considering solar panels typically last 25 to 30 years, your roof must be ready for that long-term commitment. If not, you could face additional costs: removing the panels, repairing or replacing the roof and reinstalling the panels.

» SHOULD YOU: Replace your roof before going solar?

Labor costs

The cost of hiring professionals to install your solar system varies based on project size and complexity. Labor costs are usually included in your system's initial price estimate, but be sure to confirm before committing to a contract.

Solar equipment costs are going down, but labor costs are higher than ever in some areas. Installing solar panels yourself might initially seem cheaper because you'll save on labor costs. However, it's crucial to consider several factors for safety before going the do-it-yourself route. If not installed correctly, solar panels pose safety risks, causing roof leaks and other problems.

Local permits and fees

You will need building permits, zoning and electrical work. If your home has historical status, you may need additional permits. The flat fees are $20 each for the plan review and zoning permits. However, the building and electrical permits have variable costs depending on the size and price of the solar system. For altering an existing home, the building permit fee is $5 for every $1,000 of project cost. For a new solar structure, it's $10 per $1,000, with a $30 minimum. Electric permit is $50 per 1,000 square feet.

How to save money on solar panels in Ohio

There’s no way around it — solar panel installations are expensive. Here are some tips to maximize your savings on solar panels in Ohio:

  • Compare quotes: Get quotes from at least three or four different solar installers in Ohio. This lets you compare different proposed equipment, pricing, financing terms and estimated energy production to find the best overall value. Don't just go with the cheapest option without vetting quality and services.
  • Lower your electrical load: Before going solar, it’s smart to upgrade any old appliances. For example, replacing an old refrigerator with a more eco-friendly one reduces your electric load, which also helps lower your utility bill. If you use less electricity, you need fewer solar panels, making the whole system cheaper.
  • Explore payment options: Affordable financing makes the upfront costs of solar more manageable. For instance, leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) can let you start saving from day one with little or no money down.
  • Use incentives: The federal solar tax credit, manufacturer rebates, low-interest loans and other financial incentives sweeten the pot for homeowners looking to go green.

» TIPS: Get the best solar quotes

How can I pay for solar panels in Ohio?

You have options when it comes to paying for your solar system. You can pay cash upfront, take out a solar loan, lease your system or get a PPA.

  • Solar loans: A solar loan works like any other type of home improvement loan — there’s an application and approval process, and you pay it back over time (with interest) each month. In an ideal financing scenario, your system generates enough extra power to pay off the loan. Solar loan terms typically last eight to 20 years.
  • Solar leases: Leasing solar panels is a great way to set up a system without the high upfront costs. A potential downside is that you are not eligible for the same tax incentives.
  • Power purchase agreements: A solar power purchase agreement (PPA) is similar to leasing. A solar developer buys, installs and maintains solar panels on your property. You buy the power generated by the system on a per kilowatt-hour (kWh) basis. It’s a fixed price, and the cents/kWh is usually cheaper than the utility’s rate for the same amount of electricity.
  • Home equity: Using a home equity line of credit or loan to finance a solar installation can be a financially beneficial option — home equity interest rates are relatively low, and homeowners can still take advantage of the federal solar investment tax credit.

» SOLAR PANELS: Lease vs. buy

Solar incentives, tax credits and rebates in Ohio

The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is the best financial incentive for most homowners going solar in Ohio. The ITC credits 30% of the system’s total cost — including equipment, labor and permits — toward what you owe on federal income taxes.

The ITC drops to 26% in 2033 and 22% in 2034.

For example, if you spend $10,000 installing a solar panel system, the ITC is worth $3,000. If you owe $15,000 in taxes, the credit reduces your debt to $12,000.

Don't get confused: The ITC is not a rebate or a refund. It only offsets your tax liability; you can't take advantage of it if you don’t owe federal taxes in the first place. However, any unused portion of the credit rolls over into future tax years.

» EXPLORE: Ohio solar incentives, tax credits and rebates

Compare solar installation companies in Ohio

We compared ratings and reviews, equipment options, warranties, availability and other factors to pick the top solar companies in Ohio.

Do you own or rent?

FAQ

Can I get free solar panels in Ohio?

We’re not aware of a totally free solar option in Ohio. You can also lease or enter a PPA with little to no upfront costs. Though, neither is totally free. Solar leases usually come with a flat monthly fee, and PPAs make you pay per unit of electricity. In general, beware of deals that sound too good to be true. Solar scams that promise free solar panels often, unfortunately, end up costing people quite a bit of money.

» FREE SOLAR PANELS: Are they really free?

How are solar costs trending in Ohio?

The cost to go solar in Ohio has fallen 47% over the last 10 years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

How does net metering work in Ohio?

When your solar system generates excess energy beyond your needs, you can sell it to your local electricity provider. Selling excess solar electricity is known as net metering. In Ohio, homeowners receive compensation for their additional power through credits on their electricity bill.

Will solar panels increase the value of my home?

Installing solar panels can significantly increase a home's value. According to a Zillow study, homes with solar panels sell for 4.1% more on average. The exact increase in value varies by location, with homes in active solar markets seeing higher boosts.

Bottom line

Residential solar panel system costs typically fall between $10,000 and $30,000 or higher, depending on factors like the system's size, local labor rates and available incentives. Ohio homeowners with solar panels can typically save more than that in total avoided energy costs over the lifetime of a system.

The ConsumerAffairs Research Team has conducted extensive research to compare the costs of going solar in Ohio and other states.

Solar costs and savings: Ohio and 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, “Ohio Programs.” Accessed March 29, 2024.
  2. EnergySage, “The cost of solar panels in Ohio.” Accessed March 29, 2024.
  3. Solar Energy Industries Association, “Ohio Solar.” Accessed March 29, 2024.
  4. SolarReviews, “How much do solar panels cost in Ohio?” Accessed March 29, 2024.
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