Washington solar 101: must read before you buy solar panels

Last updated 12.03.21

Washington State 54 solar panels available

  • $2.14 / W Average gross price of a solar power system as of May 2023
  • 12 years Average system payback period
  • $36 070 Average savings from going solar in Washington
  • 6 ¢ / kWh Levelized cost of solar energy
  • 6.2 kW Recommended system size

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What our happy customers say

I was in need of new solar panels and found A1 SolarStore while surfing the web. I ordered 13 pieces of REC 360W solar panels at a fairly reasonable price, and also ordered their liftgate service at checkout. everything was very easy and intuitive. I highly recommend A1 SolarStore!
Jesse Tang
Via Google
May 22, 2023
I recently purchased 10 pieces of Q CELLS 480W Solar Panels from A1 SolarStore. The site was incredibly easy to navigate and I found exactly what I wanted without any trouble. They had different payment options, which was great for me. Now I'm just counting down the days until my panels arrive. Overall, I will definitely be buying from them again.
Steve L
Via Google
May 22, 2023
Store was well organized, staff was super friendly and shipping was speedy.
Via Google
May 16, 2023
I have been looking for affordable, quality solar panels for a while! After some research I decided to purchase the Trina 390w solar panels. I loved the price and the customer service & decided to buy with a1solarstore. Even though there was a $275 shipping fee. Was worth it to me to receive the quality product in once piece. Payment processing took a while & could have gone faster - however, totally worth the wait!
Kara J
Via Google
May 9, 2023
The customer service at A1 solar is nothing short of amazing. A person can buy their equipment anywhere and receive that equipment with no support following whatsoever. A1 solar was with me all the way through the purchase process, the acquiring my panels at a distribution center, and finally giving me a discount for the pallet breakage charge because the pallet was already broken up. No other Solar company has given me such excellent customer service. Add that the prices are lower if not similar than the rest, buying from A1 solar is a real no brainer. I am very grateful and lucky to have found them!
Robert Sullivan
Via Google
Apr 27, 2023
The Silfab 490W Solar Panel (156 Cell SIL-490-HN) exceeded my expectations with its exceptional power output and sleek design. Its efficient monocrystalline cells make it a reliable and smart investment for any home. Highly recommended!
Via Google
Apr 25, 2023

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Solar laws, incentives and rebates in Washington you need to know

Save 30% of your PV system cost with Federal Solar Tax Credit

The US government wants more people to go solar: it’s a modern and green way of getting energy. This is why the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) program was developed. It allows American citizens to claim 30% of the cost of their installation as an income tax deduction. The cost here is not only solar panels, but also shipping, installation expenses and more. For example, if your system overall made you spend $10,000, the government returns you $3,000. To claim the ITC, complete all the necessary forms and submit them when filing your taxes.

Join Net Metering program to cover your electric bills

Net Metering is the main way in which a solar system pays for itself in the US. The idea is always the same: you sell your excess solar energy into the commercial grid, gain credits and use them to cover your next electric bill.

All municipal utilities and electric cooperatives in Washington have to offer Net Metering to customers with solar systems that are up to 100 kW in size. Net excess generation (NEG) is credited to your electric bills at the utility retail rate. Any unused NEG is surrendered to the utility every April 30 with no compensation. The only exception is Grays Harbor PUD which reimburses NEG of its customers at 50% of the utility's retail rate by the end of the year. Renewable energy credits that you get remain yours. Consult with your utility company about the rates and conditions of Net Metering.

Save additional $350 to $2,000 a year trading SRECs

For generating clean electricity any person can get Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs). Unlike with Net Metering, you don’t need to sell any electricity to get credits – the certificates are simply given to you. One SREC is granted for 1 MW of power. A 5kW system can generate over 7 MW over the year, so in theory it’s possible to get 5-7 SRECs in 12 months if you send all your energy into the grid.

You can choose to store or sell these certificates using the WREGIS platform. In Washington, Renewable Energy Certificates are bankable for 12 months and can be used by utilities for prior year's compliance. The value of SRECs is always changing, which makes them similar to stock market assets. In Washington the cost of a SREC can be quite high: around $350. Overall, selling SRECs could bring you from $350 to $2,000 annually for a 5kW system. To participate, register your system at the WREGIS website.

Clark Public Utilities help financing solar projects of their customers

Clark Public Utilities issues loans for solar projects for up to 7 years. The maximum size of the loan is $30,000 with an interest rate of 3.5%. Loans under $10,000 must be repaid in 5 years or less with a minimum $25 monthly payment. The processing fee is $230 for loans under $5,000 and $450 otherwise. Find the list of conditions and apply here.

Solar systems are eligible for sales and use tax exemption

This Washington solar incentive benefits installers and buyers of solar systems. Solar panels and equipment get full sales and use tax exemption if:

  • System is bigger than 1 kW, but smaller than 100 kW
  • Equipment is purchased after Jul 1, 2019, but before December 31, 2029

To report the exemption, the buyer must provide their seller and installer with a Retail Sales Tax Exemption Certificate. They have to keep it in their records for 5 years. If the tax was charged, it is possible to apply for a refund later. For more information visit Washington Department of revenue website and read the guide.

Ask your utility about WSU energy program

In 2006, a Renewable Energy System Incentive Program started in Washington. The idea was simple: utilities give incentives to their customers with solar installations and earn a tax credit equal to the cost of those payments. The size of an incentive ranges from $0.02/kWh to $0.12/kWh with a $5,000 per year cap for residential clients and $25,000 per year for commercial solar systems in Washington. The program hasn’t ended officially, but since then some utilities have withdrawn from the program and the last time the program website was updated was in 2019. Nevertheless, it makes sense to inquire of your utility if this incentive is still available.

Solar easements help settle the debates with neighbors

To make sure that your panels get enough sunlight and won't be overshadowed by, say, trees on your neighbors land, you can create a solar easement. All the conditions of an easement you have to negotiate with your neighbors yourself. The easement should be written down and recorded in the county’s register of deeds. In Washington, solar law also restricts homeowners associations from prohibiting the installation of panels. They can, however, release guidelines related to aesthetic appearance and visibility of panels.

Get a permit and install your solar panels in Washington with no worries

Generally, in the US you would need a solar permit from your local authorities to install a solar system. Requirements, however, vary in different cities and counties. For example, in Seattle you always need an electric permit and a building permit in some cases. Seattle officials have put out a guide on solar installation that gives an idea of what you can expect. Usually your installer knows all the details about permits in your area and handles most of the process. After the permit is obtained, it is legal to install solar panels on your house in Washington. Be aware that city or county officials can impose additional fees on you for inspections and documents.

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