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Washington solar 101: must read before you buy solar panels

Last updated 12.03.21

Washington State 52 solar panels available

  • $1.98 / W Average gross price of a solar power system as of February 2023
  • 11 years Average system payback period
  • $36 862 Average savings from going solar in Washington
  • 6 ¢ / kWh Levelized cost of solar energy
  • 6.2 kW Recommended system size

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in Washington

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Washington #27 in the US
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What our happy customers say

I like this company. Good service 👍
Daiga Ellaby
Via Google
Sep 19, 2022
I was choosing between a1solar and another store, the prices finally convinced me,
and I contacted A1. Everything was processed, packed and delivered to Fresno, CA
in under a week. We kept in contact during the installation and I got a few additional
parts from them. A1SolarStore deserves a solid five stars!
Michael Grubb
Via Google
Sep 7, 2022
I ordered some solar panels. The top 4 ones were damaged during delivery (A1 had emailed me in advance what to check for before I took delivery which I followed even though the truck driver was pushing not to inspect them as thouroughly) and A1 replaced them in a timely manner and kept me informed. The price on the panels were some of the best on the internet (delivered). I would buy from them again.
Robert Broughton
Via Google
Nov 27, 2021
Ordering online was easy.
Price was reasonable even with shipping added. Actually, it was the best I could find with the panels I wanted.
Customer service was beyond expectations. I received a phone call after the order to verify everything. The rep also went over receiving instructions. I got an email with recieving procedure. I got a follow up call the day before the panels were to be delivered. The day of delivery, the FedEx call also called. I got a follow call afterwards verifying everything was good.I had 8 350 watt panels shipped. They arrived via FedEx on a pallet. Recieving instructions said to not sign the recieving doc until I inspected everything. I am half paralyzed so I asked my neighbor ahead of time to help unpack the panels to inspect for physical damage. The FedEx guy dropped the pallet in my driveway and handed me the package list and then he very quickly left before I was able to inspect the panels. He said he did not need a signature. My mindset immidiately turned negative since fraud, burglary, murders, etc are now legal, encouraged, and even rewarded in the US. To my relief, the panels turned out to be in good shape.
I have had several different panels prior to ordering from A1 Solar. I am used to solar panels outputting 70% or less of the rated output.I hooked up one panel yesterday and I was getting over 85% at 9:30 AM in direct sun output which really suprised me. This number is what the charge controller reported while charging a 12 volt battery bank. My current project that these panels will be used for is my second offgrid system.
Next year after I have my house electrical panels rebuilt to allow for a whole house battery bank, I will be ordering another 7KWH in panels and I plan to order those from A1 Solar Store.
Junkyard Dog
Via Google
Aug 12, 2021
Solar panels are great quality at a good price! Pick up was very easy!
Quirino Passione
Via Google
Jul 27, 2021
Great price and AWESOME service.
Sam McCleary
Via Google
Jun 23, 2021

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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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