Washington state’s coastal areas are notorious for clouds and rain. Whether that reputation is deserved or not, it raises questions for those looking to get their energy from the sun. The good news is that with rising power bills and new financial incentives, solar panels might still make sense for you.
The state’s 100% clean electricity goal and the 2021 Climate Commitment Act have continually increased the role of renewable and clean energy sources (including solar) in power generation. The Inflation Reduction Act’s federal tax credit is also a massive boon to homeowners looking to switch to clean energy, offering a 30% tax rebate on the cost of any clean energy additions to your home.
Washington state also offers some noteworthy local incentives. One such incentive is net metering, which credits your household for sending excess energy produced by your solar panel system to the grid — and allows you to pull energy from the grid when your solar panels can’t produce the energy your home needs.
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Given the combination of state and federal solar incentives and utility rate increases, installing a solar system to ease your financial burdens and increase your energy independence might be a decision worth considering. Here’s a look at some of the best solar installation companies to help you get started.
Best national solar companies in Washington
Local Washington solar installers
National solar panel installers aren’t the only options you have. Here are some local companies we found that you may want to consider.
How to determine which solar company in Washington is best for me
You have a lot of choices when it comes to getting solar panels. The most important step is to get quotes from several companies and compare their prices and offerings. Make sure these quotes are coming from companies that have sent someone out to examine your home and your rooftop and discuss your energy use and priorities.
Consider a company’s product offerings, warranties, price and reputation when making a decision. Ask around with your friends and neighbors who have gotten solar, and check online reviews to see if a company does a good job.
Cost of solar panels in Washington
Here’s a look at the average cash price for a typical solar panel system in Washington state before factoring in tax credits and incentives, according to data from FindEnergy.com. The average cost for solar panels falls in line with the national average of $3.67 per watt.
Average cost of solar panels in Washington
|Typical system size (kW)
|Price per watt
|Total installed cost
|Cost after 30% federal tax credit
The map below shows the average total price, cost per watt and system size for solar panels in different states, according to data from FindEnergy.com. The prices shown do not represent savings from tax credits or state solar incentives. If FindEnergy doesn’t have solar data for a particular state, it appears grayed out on the map.
Washington solar panel incentives and rebates
Washington residents have several solar incentives to save thousands when purchasing residential solar panels. The residential clean energy credit, a federal solar tax credit program previously known as the investment tax credit, is one of the most important solar incentives available for American homeowners. This credit lets you claim 30% of the cost of a solar system from your federal income taxes for the year. While the credit is available until 2034, it will drop to 26% in 2033 and 22% in 2034 and terminate in 2035, unless renewed.
You can receive the clean energy credit by filling out and submitting form 5695 (PDF) to the IRS. Go over the IRS instructions on how to complete this form. After the IRS approves your documents, your solar savings will appear as a credit when you file your federal tax return. The credit will lower your tax burden and give you a higher refund.
In addition to the clean energy credit, Washington residents can take advantage of a few state incentives.
Washington state solar incentives
Washington’s net metering policy allows solar owners to send their excess solar generation back to the power grid and get credits on their electric bill at their utility’s retail value.
The state’s Solar Easement and Rights Laws allow you to voluntarily sign a solar easement agreement with your neighbors to ensure your solar panels have access to sunlight. The laws limit the ability of homeowners’ associations to ban solar panel installations on a resident’s property.
Washington offers a 100% sales tax exemption on all solar systems of up to 100 kW and labor costs pertinent to solar installation. You can claim the sales tax exemption when filing your state tax returns.
Allows you to claim 30% of the total cost of your solar panel system back in federal tax credits.
Property tax exemption
Some states have regulations that exempt your property taxes from increasing after a solar panel installation increases your home value. At this time, Washington state does not have this regulation in place.
Community solar programs allow you to tap into solar energy without the costly commitment of installing panels by subscribing to a shared solar array through your utility. Typically this leads to a energy bill discount. Check with your local utility to see if community solar is available to you.
How to pay for solar panels in Washington
You have a few routes to go solar in Washington. Choosing what’s right for you will depend on your circumstances.
Cash: If you purchase a solar system with cash, you immediately assume full ownership. You will avoid any interest or loan fees associated with taking out a loan. The federal residential clean energy credit can help you recoup some of the high upfront cost of your investment (details on that below). Consider saving up for your future solar panels in a high-yield savings account.
Solar loans: If you don’t have cash to pay for solar panels, but still want to own them, taking out a solar loan is the next best option. These loans, typically offered by your solar installer, are another option that is still eligible for the federal tax credit. Keep in mind that interest and fees can lead to higher costs over time.
Other loans: You don’t have to borrow money from your solar company or the partner they recommend. You can also pay for solar panels — and get the full federal tax credit — with loans from banks and other lenders. That includes home equity loans and home equity lines of credit, which are secured by your home. Be careful: If you don’t pay back a home equity loan or HELOC, your lender can foreclose.
Leasing: If you lease, you sign a long-term contract with a solar developer. The developer will install solar panels on your property and charge you a monthly rate (it’s like paying rent) for using the energy from the panels. Unfortunately, you won’t get any government incentives since you don’t own leased panels. As the owner of the panels, the solar developer will receive all the incentives.
Power purchase agreement: With a power purchase agreement, a solar developer installs solar panels on your property and charges you a fixed price per kilowatt-hour for the energy generated by the panels. Like solar leasing, the company supplying electricity to your home through a power purchase agreement retains ownership over the solar panels and takes advantage of all government incentives.
While investing in solar isn’t cheap, it’s worth considering full ownership of a solar system by buying or financing it since they often save the most in the long term. If you buy your panels, the average payback period is estimated to be between six and 12 years. If you can’t afford solar panels, a lease or power purchase agreement could be an affordable alternative.
Just looking for an emergency backup? Check out our list of the best portable solar panels and solar generators.
Important installation factors to consider
Before going solar, it’s good to consider whether potential constraints outweigh the benefits of installing solar panels.
Roof condition and pitch: A roof’s pitch can play an essential role in determining the cost of a solar system. See if your roof has the right pitch to maximize solar production. Based on the US Department of Energy‘s calculations, an angle between 15 and 40 degrees is ideal for panel performance. Consulting with a professional solar installer will help determine if your roof needs repair or replacement before installing solar panels.
Insurance coverage: Incorporating your solar equipment into your homeowner’s insurance policy is an excellent way to add more protection to your system. Call your insurance company if your policy would extend to the solar system. If it does, remember to add your solar panels to your insurance after installing them.
Commitment vs. time: Before you commit to solar, calculate how long you will live in your home. Buying or financing a solar system or signing a lease or power purchase agreement are long-term commitments. If you move in a few years, you may not fully realize your solar investment.
Homeowners Associations (HOA) regulations: Washington has solar access laws in place that prevent any HOA from outright banning solar panels. There still may be some restrictions or requirements so it’s best to check with your HOA and local government to make sure you’re following all the guidelines.
Your location: Where you live and how many sunny days per year you receive. Washington receives 2.8 – 4.4 peak sun hours per year. Even though some experts say four peak sun hours per day is ideal for going solar, getting solar panels in Washington can still be beneficial. A reputable solar installer will help you make this determination.
Renting vs owning: If you rent your home rather than owning it, it will be really difficult to convince your landlord or property manager to get them. Renters can sign up for community solar — a subscription to a solar farm through your utility — with no commitment or buying panels.