- Washington is known for its vast stretches of clear blue skies and warm temperatures. The state features a semi-arid climate with mild winters and long summers. And solar panel installation season lasts much longer than in many other regions.
- The average cost of solar panels in Washington is around $15,000 to $25,000. This price includes the cost of the solar panels, inverter, batteries, wiring, and installation. However, the cost can vary depending on the size of your home and the type of solar panels you choose.
- Installing solar panels can save you a significant amount of money in the long run. On average, homeowners in Washington can save around $1,000 to $2,500 per year on their electricity bills. Over the lifespan of the solar panels (which is typically 25 to 30 years), this can add up to $25,000 to $75,000 in savings.
- There are several rebates and incentives available for homeowners in Washington who install solar panels. The federal solar tax credit allows you to deduct 26% of the cost of installing the solar panels from your federal taxes. Additionally, Washington offers a sales tax exemption for solar energy systems, which can save you another 8.5% on the cost of your solar panels.
In 2022, Washington installed nearly 300MW of solar energy, kick-starting its efforts to support renewable energy. This comes as a surprise to some who recognize the Evergreen State for its notorious weather. As the state government continues to build upon these efforts, homeowners are starting to consider solar panels in Washington.
So if you’re thinking about purchasing an array for your home, you might want to know how much it’s going to cost. In this article, we cover all the important numbers; from average costs to potential savings, we’ll help you get started on a budget. Let’s get started.
Average Cost of Solar Panels in Washington
With notoriously cloudy weather, you may count out solar panels in Washington. And even more so when considering the average cost of an array, which ranges around $2.77 per watt. One of the highest rates in the country, homeowners should prepare to invest around $16,620 for a standard 6kW system.
This seems even harder to pull the trigger on when compared to the traditional cost of electricity. Homeowners pay around 10.4 cents per kW, the lowest rate in the United States. This means that the total purchase of a home system barely results in net savings on utilities.
Still, if you’re interested in improving your carbon footprint, you can cut the cost of solar panels in Washington with the federal solar tax credit. This program offers 30% back on all purchases made toward a home array, which includes labor and equipment. Washingtonians installing the same 6kW system could drop its total cost from $16,620 to $11,634.
How Much Solar Do Washingtonians Need?
The above example shows the average price of solar panels in Washington as it relates to the typical array. However, it may not reflect the power requirements for your home. To find the appropriate size solar panel system, you’ll need to divide your daily energy usage by the amount of sunlight you receive in your nearest city.
Let’s use Washington’s averages as an example:
Homeowners in the Evergreen State use about 32.3kWh a day (or 969kWh a month). When we divide that by Washington’s average peak sun of 3.57 hours, we learn that a solar panel system needs to produce about 9.0kW an hour to keep up with energy demands. Significantly higher than the national average, residents may need to pay as much as $25,060 before incentives.
Now that you know how to calculate the wattage for your home, you can create a budget that matches. Because peak sun varies depending on where you live, use this Washington sun chart to find the average amount for your nearest city.
Washington Solar Cost Factors
In the last example, we saw how the low level of sunlight drove the price of solar panels in Washington. However, the Evergreen State features a diverse landscape, resulting in more peak sun.
For example, homeowners in Yakima, which resides on the east side of the Cascades, receive around 4.8 hours of direct sunlight a day. At nearly 75 more minutes of daily sun, that’s sure to drop the cost by a considerable amount.
To learn about how sun and location affect the cost of solar panels, compare Washington to its neighboring states:
Additionally, the type of equipment in your array can determine how much you pay in the long run. Monocrystalline is excellent for those who need to maximize their power output. However, with enough sunlight, polycrystalline panels make a great affordable option.
Finally, it’s worth your money to invest in a quality installation. Some solar installers undercut their competition by offering less efficient equipment and weaker warranties. However, you want your system to last 20-25 years, and these aspects are non-negotiable.
Fortunately, Washingtonians have their choice of over 60 installation companies, meaning you can find the right one for your needs.
Best Solar Installers in Washington
When we recommend installers for solar panels in Washington, we refer to EnergySage’s pre-screening qualifications. With DoE and SEIA endorsements, this review company is a trustworthy source. While reviewing solar installers, we take a look at:
- Industry experience
- Contractor transparency
- Licenses and certifications
- Quality equipment
- Warranty coverage
Here are two of the top installation companies in Washington.
With its headquarters in Everett, Blossom Solar has served Washingtonians for the last six years. The company’s in-house team of technicians has an intimate knowledge of the conditions your house will face in the Evergreen State. They back their work with an NABCEP certification and a 10-year workmanship warranty.
However, if you’d like to work with a company with a little more experience, Smart Solar Energy is your best bet. While the company is technically out of Portland, it serves only Oregon and Washington, making them local. The family-owned company has been in the industry for nearly 30 years, so you know they’ll be around to take care of your system. They also offer a 25-year warranty, one of the best among installation companies.
Can Solar Energy Save Washingtonians Money?
With high equipment prices, low power rates, and poor sunlight, solar panels in Washington may not result in the savings that homeowners see in other states. However, that’s not to say there’s no value at all. Those making the switch can still earn a net return on their utility bills over 25 years.
To determine how much you can save, you first need to find out how long it takes to pay off a solar array. If we use the average annual electricity bill in Washington ($1,209.36) as an offset for a 6kW array, homeowners could have it paid off in 13.7 years. That’s already higher than most states, and those needing more than the average wattage could take even longer.
With the system covered, any utilities covered come back as a net return. With solar panels in Washington lasting about 20-25 years, this means you could save $7,619 to $13,665. So even with the high cost of solar, there’s money to earn by switching.
Solar Panels in Washington: Rebates, Credits, and Incentives
Homeowners have the potential to earn thousands of dollars on utility offsets, and they can save even more by taking advantage of financial incentives. While Washington has historically avoided solar energy, they’ve taken steps forward to support it.
First, homeowners can utilize the federal solar tax credit to save 30% on installation costs. Those purchasing a 6kW system could save around $5,000 on equipment and labor. When paired with the Evergreen State’s expanded net metering laws and tax exemptions, those savings lengthen across the lifespan of your array. To learn more about the available incentives in Washington, continue reading our in-depth program guide.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Millenius/Shutterstock.com.