1. Homeowners
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4. Washington solar panel costs

# Cost of solar panels in Washington

## How much is it to go solar in 2023?

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The average upfront cost to install solar panels is \$26,900 in Washington. That price drops to \$18,830 after you receive the full federal solar investment tax credit (ITC).

Going solar in the Evergreen State is about 13% more expensive than the national average. The out-of-pocket investment might be higher compared with other states, but it’s pretty standard in the northwestern United States.

### Key insights

• The average cost per watt is \$2.69 in Washington.
• The average payback period is 16 years if you pay cash.
• Washington residents who go solar save an estimated \$10,846 over 25 years.

## How much do solar panels cost in Washington?

Installing residential solar panels can cost between \$10,000 and \$30,000 or more, though individual costs vary significantly. On the high end, a solar customer in Tacoma paid \$51,000, including interest.

Usually, systems are priced by wattage. You can determine the size of the system you need by determining how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) you used last year and dividing it by 1,200.

For example, the average Washington household uses around 11,808 kWh per year. Using this formula, someone there would need a system that is about 10 kilowatts (kW), which will cost around \$26,900 before tax credits.

» WATT’S THE DIFFERENCE? kW vs. kWh

Average cost by system size in Washington

7 kW8 kW9 kW10 kW11 kW12 kW13 kW
Before federal tax credits \$18,830 \$21,520 \$24,210 \$26,900 \$29,590 \$32,280 \$34,970
After federal tax credits \$13,181 \$15,064 \$16,947 \$18,830 \$20,713 \$22,596 \$24,479
Approximate house size 1,600 square feet 1,800 square feet 2,000 square feet 2,200 square feet 2,400 square feet 2,600 square feet 2,800 square feet
Source: EcoWatch

## Are solar panels worth it in Washington?

We analyzed firsthand feedback from dozens of Washington homeowners to get an impartial look at the pros and cons of going solar in the Evergreen State. For many households, the combination of utility bill reductions, incentives and environmental benefits make going solar worth it.

### Financial savings

Happy solar customers in Washington have consistently lower electric bills.

“My utility is going down a magnitude,” Randy in Vancouver told us. “Our utility bill was nearly \$300, and last month, I paid \$12.” Similarly, Steve in Mead said he looks forward to “lower bills and no high winter or summer spikes.”

Anthony in Seattle went solar to save money on \$400 electric bills and said he’s saving money each month, but said his utility company charges a monthly service fee that reduces the amount of money he saves.

“I shouldn't be getting those \$40 (service) bills,” he said. “People in PSE&G's area have to be careful because there's really not a lot of savings.”

### Environmental benefits

For some Washington residents who install solar panels, the eco-friendly aspects outweigh the financials.

“In part, our decision was based on reducing the impact our all-electric home imposes on the environment,” Richard in Lakebay told us. “Since the power we draw from the grid is virtually all derived from hydroelectric sources, the reduced load we put on the grid is more modest than if our utility relied on fossil fuels.”

### Energy independence

For Theresa in Woodinville, solar provides peace of mind by maintaining power during outages. “Two falls ago, we had five power outages in the four months. We've had two windstorms since and there have been two power outages. The only way I can tell there’s been power out is when I see the stove light blinking,” she said.

If you work from home and/or use a medical device to sleep, like Theresa, then you need consistent power. Getting solar panels and a storage battery is one way to achieve that.

“Some people do it to lower the bill, but I'm just doing it for backup,” Rick in Clarkston told us.

### Potential downsides

While benefits like bill savings and eco-friendliness motivate many, high costs and long payback periods give some buyers pause.

The estimated net savings with solar panels in Washington isn’t as much as in other states, but panels still help people lower their monthly utility bills. And post-solar bills can still be frustrating because of utility fees, as Anthony of Seattle noted.

» STILL NOT SURE? Solar energy pros and cons

## Cost factors of going solar in Washington

The cost of solar panels is influenced by various factors, including the size of the system, the quality of the panels and the condition of your roof.

### Equipment costs

Most equipment costs are bundled into one price when you purchase your system from a solar company. To give you an idea of what you may pay, here’s a breakdown of some of the costs of major components:

• Solar panels: The average price per watt for solar panels is \$2.69 in Washington. The panel size and weight and the solar panel’s efficiency can affect the price of the panel, though.
• Solar batteries: Batteries for solar energy storage sometimes cost as much or more than the panels themselves. Solar batteries can cost anywhere from \$7,000 to \$18,000.
• Solar inverters: Inverters are what turn the energy that your panels generate into usable electricity. Inverters can cost \$1,000 to \$3,000.
• Monitoring system: A good monitoring system can range from \$80 to \$400, but some installation companies may provide one with your system for no charge.

High-quality solar panels typically have a life span of 25 to 30 years, which means that you need to make sure your roof can endure just as long. If your roof falls short, it can lead to costly and troublesome scenarios.

Washington receives an average of 2.5 to 5 hours of peak sunlight a day.

You don’t want the expense of taking off your solar panels and then having them reinstalled to fix your roof. So, have your roof inspected before you install solar panels.

» SHOULD YOU: Replace your roof before going solar?

### How you pay

There are various ways to pay for a solar panel system, each with its own pros and cons.

• Upfront purchase: Paying for solar panels upfront gives you immediate, full ownership and reduces the cost because you won’t pay interest, but most people don’t have that kind of money on hand.
• Solar loan:Solar loans let you finance your solar panel system by borrowing the necessary funds and repaying over time. While you need to pay interest, you may be able to offset the interest with savings.
• Solar leasing: Leasing solar panels is basically renting the equipment from a solar provider. The good part is it usually takes little to no upfront payment. The downside is you won’t own the system.
• Power purchase agreement: In a power purchase agreement (PPA), you agree to purchase power from a third-party company that owns and installs solar panels on your property. You agree to purchase the electricity generated by the panels at a fixed rate over a specified period. You get the electricity bill savings but don’t get to own the system.

» SOLAR PANELS: Lease vs. buy

### Labor, permits and installation costs

Labor, permits and installation costs are often bundled into your system's overall price. Make sure to get an estimate of labor and installation costs upfront to help you better compare solar companies if you’re shopping around.

“In Washington, the fire marshal and county buildiñg inspector must complete their inspection,” according to Arnold in Spokane. Fees for this vary depending on the size of your system and whether you’re installing solar panels as part of a new construction or putting them on an existing house.

Your utility company should turn on the system after all inspections are completed.

» GUIDE: Solar panel installation

## Solar incentives, tax credits and rebates in Washington

The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) gives you big cost savings when transitioning to solar energy in Washington. If you install a residential solar panel system in the Evergreen State before the end of 2032, you’re eligible to claim a federal income tax credit equal to 30% of the total system cost of your solar energy system.

The average ITC value in Washington is \$8,070 in 2023.

Washington also has a 100% sales tax exemption on solar to help with the costs. Low-income households can take advantage of low-interest loans from the Washington State Housing Finance Commission.

» EXPLORE: Washington solar incentives

## Compare solar installation companies in Washington

Compare popular solar companies available in Washington below. Read our guide about finding the best solar companies for more.

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## FAQ

How are solar costs trending in Washington?

The cost to go solar in Washington has fallen 43% over the last 10 years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

How much can I save with solar panels?

The average 25-year savings with solar in Washington is \$10,846 when you pay upfront. While you may not be able to completely eliminate your monthly power bill with solar, the good news is you can expect to offset it by 71% to 96%, according to EnergySage.

How can I maximize my long-term savings with solar panels?

Here are some tips to maximize your solar savings in Washington:

How does net metering work in Washington?

When your system produces more energy than you can use, you can sell it to the power grid in a process called net metering. In Washington, the payment comes as a credit on your electricity bill that rolls over each month until March 31 each year.

» COMPARE: Best solar monitoring systems

How many solar panels do I need for my house?

The number of solar panels you need depends on how much electricity your household uses and the type of panel. For example, Jay in Spokane had 10 solar panels installed; Lee in Burien needed 42.

In Washington, the average monthly energy consumption is 984 kWh. As a general rule, a 2,000-square-foot home requires around 19 panels.

Can I install solar panels myself?

It really depends on how handy you are with tools and electricity. There are do-it-yourself solar panels on the market through companies like ShopSolar for those who are up for the challenge.

Can I get free solar panels in Washington?

No, but you can get solar through a lease or enter a PPA with little to no upfront costs. Solar leases generally require a flat monthly fee, and PPAs make you pay per unit of electricity.

» FREE SOLAR PANELS: Are they really free?

Will my solar panels work on rainy days?

Yes. Your solar panels' power output only decreases by about 20% on cloudy days. Rain is actually good for solar production because it clears off debris that may block light from getting to the panels.

## Bottom line

Going solar in the Evergreen State is more expensive than the national average, but you can save more than \$10,000 over 25 years. Plus, there’s no sales tax on your solar equipment, and you may qualify for a low-interest loan to make your system more affordable.

Solar costs: Washington vs. nearby states

Upfront cost*Typical system sizeAverage cost per wattITC value (30%)Payback period**Estimated net savings
Washington \$26,900 10 kW \$2.69 \$8,070 16 years \$10,846
Oregon \$24,700 9.5 kW \$2.60 \$7,410 14 years \$23,058
Idaho \$26,000 10 kW \$2.60 \$7,800 14 years \$11,478
Utah \$21,440 8 kW \$2.68 \$6,432 14 years \$10,202
*Before the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC); **When you pay in full upfront

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. EcoWatch, “ How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Washington? ” Accessed Sept. 14, 2023.
2. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “ Homeowner’s Guide to the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics .” Accessed Sept. 14, 2023.
3. Solar Energy Industries Association, “ Washington Solar .” Accessed Sept. 14, 2023.
4. DSIRE, “ Washington Solar Programs .” Accessed Sept. 14, 2023.
5. EnergySage, “ Washington solar panels: local pricing and installation data .” Accessed Sept. 14, 2023.
6. Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, “ Electrical Inspection Fee Schedule .” Accessed Sept. 14, 2023.