Solar Panels Seattle Washington
How much do solar panels cost in Seattle, Washington?
Solar panels in Seattle are surprisingly reasonable at about $2.50 to $2.60 per watt. Most of the time, solar panels come in 250 watts, which is the industry standard size, which means you’re going to end up needing 20 to 28 panels to be completely independent of the grid. The end result means you’ll end up paying something between $12,500 and $18,500 to power an average household. This of course will differ from user to user, based on a lot of factors- everything from how much hot water you use to what temperature you prefer to keep your house at. This cost will also be lowered substantially by various rebates, tax incentives and other little bonuses we’ll talk about later. So keep reading!
What incentives are there for going solar in Seattle?
Washington is a great state to go solar in, and a big part of that is the incentives that the state provides for customers who want to do it. Below is a short breakdown of some of the big incentives that are available for those interested in going solar:
- The state of Washington has mandated net metering standards, which means that the state tells your utility how they have to measure the output of your solar panels. The benefit for you, the user, is that you will get full credit for the energy your solar panels feed back into “the grid”. By this method, your utility company will then “owe” you for the energy you “sell” to it- which means that your utility will either have to give you a check for the energy you send it or will have to give you “credits” toward future electric bills in months where your panels may not produce enough electricity to cover your needs.
- Washington has statewide interconnection standards, meaning that no matter where you are in the state your connection to “the grid” should be standardized, therefore making it easier, faster and very likely cheaper for your solar company to get you hooked up.
- Washington offers PBIS (performance based incentives) when you feed excess power from your solar power system and back into the grid. These incentive payments are based on how many kilowatt hours of power your solar panels generate according to your electric meter. The energy created is credited as “solar renewable energy credits” which can fluctuate in value depending on supply and demand.
- The state of Washington offers a sales tax exemption on solar energy system installations up to 100 kilowatts. Your solar installation at an average home or even a large home won’t even approach 100 kilowatts. This could potentially save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars on an installation, depending on the size of your system.
- Under the MACRS (modified accelerated cost recovery program) system, business owners are able to recover the cost of some of their assets purchased over time via a deduction to income taxes. For solar equipment, business owners are allowed to deduct up to 85% of the cost from their federal income tax responsibility.
- Under the Federal ITC (Investment Tax Credit) you can deduct 26% of the cost of your solar energy system from your federal income tax responsibility. In a solar project that could cost $16,000, a 26% savings adds up to over $4,000- no small amount no matter how you look at it.
- The payback period for solar panels in the state of Washington varies for a number of reasons, but is estimated to be between 15 and 21 years. This is a long time to be sure, but keep in mind- your solar panels will eventually pay for themselves, in all circumstances. They’ll do this through savings on electricity, rebates, performance based incentives and tax credits, and eventually you’ll be getting “free” electricity for the rest of their existence.
- It is estimated the value of your home could increase by between $10,000 and $20,000 on average with the addition of a solar energy system, though this number can vary quite a bit depending on the size of the system, the size of your home, what kind of panels you use, along with other factors. A realtor can give you a much better estimate of how much you can expect your home value to increase as a result of the addition of solar panels.
How Much Solar Power Do I Need?
Most homes require somewhere between 6 kw and 8 kw of power to be self-sufficient. This comes out to between 24 and 32 solar panels. The amount of power you’ll need will vary from person to person however, largely based on your own personal preferences- hot water usage, preferred temperature, etc, not to mention the number of people living in the home.
How long do solar panels last?
In almost every case, solar panels are warrantied by their manufacturer for 20-25 years, so in the case of a manufacturer’s defect or similar flaw, they can be replaced. Similarly, most solar installation companies offer warranties, quite often of the same length as those of the manufacturer- 20-25 years. Therefore, it is very reasonable to assume that your solar panels will last at least a similar length of time. Once again, if your solar panels pay for themselves in as little as 15 years, then you’re looking at at the very least 5 to 10 years of “free” electricity, with a possibility of more afterward.
Types of Panels & Inverters
So if you’re looking into solar panels, it’s a good idea to know at least a little about the different kinds that are available, since one or the other may suit your needs better than the rest.
So first up, let’s talk about panels. Obviously these are the key to any solar energy system, as they collect the sunlight that will be converted into electricity. Simply stated, there are two basic kinds that are readily available for use in home systems- Polycrystalline panels and monocrystalline panels. Essentially, what this boils down to is that monocrystalline panels are smaller, more efficient and can operate with less direct sunlight than others, but they also tend to be more expensive, so a lot of homeowners will look past them. Polycrystalline panels on the other hand are the bigger ones, the kind that as often as not are installed on the ground due to their size. They are less efficient and require direct sunlight to operate at any large capacity, so they are not feasible in some situations.
Your inverters are the devices that actually turn the captured sunlight into usable electricity, and the kind you get are largely going to be dictated by the type of panels you use and their placement. So there’s really not much to worry about here. Suffice it to say, there’s three major types- string inverters, microinverters and power optimizers. String inverters are the most common type used in home installations as they tend to be the cheapest and most flexible kind.
Weather & Solar Panels
So it rains a lot in Seattle, right? Everybody who ever listened to grunge rock knows that. But how does weather affect your solar panels? Let’s take a look at some common weather conditions and see.
Rain: Believe it or not, a little rain is actually good for your solar panels. It helps wash the dust, grime and other assorted accumulations that tend to build up on them over time, especially if they’re place on a rooftop. So rain is actually a positive.
Clouds/Fog: Unfortunately, the cloud cover associated with rainfall is bad for your panels in the sense that the less sunlight that gets to them, the less electricity they will produce. Same goes for dense fog. Your panels can produce up to 70% electricity on an overcast day than a sunny one.
Snow: Snow is bad for solar panels mainly because any significant accumulation can completely block the sunlight reaching your panels, which in turn completely stops your production of electricity. The snow itself is not damaging however, but if you’re able you may want to have a plan to remove the snow from your panels when it gets built up or you could be without solar energy till it melts. And that could be a while.
Temperature: Sunny weather and high temperatures mean more solar power, right? Sort of. Sunny is great, but higher temperatures actually reduce the efficiency of your panels by an estimated 1% for every degree they rise above 77 fahrenheit. Lower temperatures, however, actually increase the efficiency of your panels up to a point, so the optimal weather for solar panels is a bright sunny day in the 50s. Seattle of course doesn’t get a ton of those, but you can always hope.
Things to Look for in a solar company
As with any major investment, you’re going to want to do your research before dropping a lot of money on a solar panel system, and the internet gives you an outstanding resource to this end. Here’s just a few things to look for when considering a solar company:
Time in the industry: Just like in any other industry, the longer a company has been in operation, the more reliable they are likely to be. Furthermore, companies that stay in business for a long time tend to be the ones that keep good relationships with customers and therefore have good word-of-mouth advertising. This doesn’t mean new companies can’t do a good job, it’s just a little more comforting to know someone has been doing this for 20 or 30 years and hasn’t gotten sued out of existence yet.
Types of Panels: So believe it or not, some companies don’t like to work with certain types of panels. As a result, if you think you’d prefer to use a certain kind of panel or definitely don’t want to use one kind, you might want to check with your solar company and make sure they are comfortable working with your preferred panels.
Payment Options: So obviously this is going to be an investment, and there’s going to be a substantial cost associated with it before you receive any kind of rebates or credits. So how are you going to pay for this? Some people may be able to just write a check for the full cost and call it a day, but that’s not an option for the vast majority. So you’re more than likely going to need some kind of financing. Some companies will offer some form of in-house financing, but most are going to leave it up to you. Either way, just be aware of what’s going to be expected of you payment-wise before making any decisions.
Warranties: Your solar panels will more than likely come with a warranty of some variety, usually 20-25 years, which means the company itself will repair or replace your panels if they malfunction due to a manufacturer’s error. Your solar company quite often will have a similar warranty, often guaranteeing their work for 20-25 years with the promise that they will fix anything that comes up due to an installer’s error. However, make sure you read the fine print- many companies will ask for service charges and other fees when you ask them to honor their warranty. So just make sure you know what you’re getting into before you sign anything so you don’t end up with any nasty surprises when you need some work done.
Reviews: Probably the most important thing to consider is any reviews you can find online. Customers online tend to be brutally honest- if they’re not completely and 100% satisfied with a company, they’re gonna let you know about it. So by all means, scour the internet and find out everything you can about a company before making any commitment.
How do I get solar panels installed in Seattle?
There are numerous well-qualified solar installers available in Seattle, so you won’t have any shortage of companies to choose from. And if you know what you’re looking for, calling around to a few will more than likely put you in touch with someone who suits your needs fairly quickly. Just a few of the available companies with good reputations are:
Puget Sound Solar LLC (average 4.64 out of 5 stars in 61 reviews)
A&R Solar (4.82 / 5 stars in 100 reviews)
Artisan Electric (4.79 / 5 stars in 246 reviews)
Synergy Systems (4.76 / 5 stars in 103 reviews)
Sun Path Electric (4.53 / 5 stars in 20 reviews)
Northwest Mechanical LLC (4.51 / 5 stars in 21 reviews)
Cascadia Solar (4.63 / 5 stars in 26 reviews)
Power Trip Energy (4.79 / 5 stars in 129 reviews)
And keep in mind, these are just the ones I could find that averaged more than 4.5 stars in their reviews, so there are a lot more out there, many of which are probably very good at what they do.
So what do we know? Solar panels in Seattle are going to be a little more expensive than elsewhere in the country, so your initial investment is going to be somewhat higher than in most places. However, Seattle’s climate is fairly well suited for solar panels temperature wise, and your panels will pay for themselves sooner or later. Additionally, there are a number of credits and incentives in place that will help offset your cost, so there’s very little risk here- So if you’re considering the addition of solar panels in Seattle, you’ve got a number of options available in the greater Seattle area, so do your research and find the one that’s right for you.