As the U.S continues to witness remarkable growth in solar, Ohio’s rising renewable energy standards have helped foster more and more solar panel installation over the past decade. Ohio has installed 153.1 MW of solar which powers 18,000 homes in the state. The state’s burgeoning solar industry means cities like Cincinnati have lower than average solar panel system costs. In this article we’ll explain how Cincinnati has become a top spot for solar power and what homeowners can do to maximize their solar savings.
How much do solar panels cost in Cincinnati?
As of mid-2017, the average price for solar panels in Cincinnati was $3.00 per watt. Thus, since the typical system size in the U.S. is 5 kilowatts (5,000 watts), the average cost of a solar panel system in Cincinnati is $15,000 before any rebates or incentives.
While this price is low for the overall state of Ohio, it is also very competitive in terms of the national average. Prices for solar panel systems have dropped by over 64% in Ohio over the past 5 years and homeowners are taking notice. Check out this comparison table of Cincinnati, the state, and U.S. average pricing for various system sizes:
Solar pricing table: Cincinnati compared to state and U.S. average costs
||National average cost
|State average cost
| Cincinnati average cost
The above table, which uses pricing data from solar quotes received by homeowners on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace over the last 12 months, offers a comparison of prices nationwide and in Cincinnati for solar energy systems. As the data illustrates, typical solar prices in Cincinnati, Ohio are significantly lower than the rest of the country.
When looking at the solar industry as a whole, it’s well known that Ohio is one of the most affordable and pragmatic places to install solar. But when you zero in on Cincinnati’s market and compare it to the rest of the country, the advantage for homeowners is even clearer. The good news for most Ohio homeowners is that these low costs do not even incorporate the added benefit of net metering, offered throughout the Buckeye State.
Ohio’s net metering and other incentives
Ohio’s net metering program allows homeowners to sell any excess electricity generated by their solar panel system back to the grid in exchange for credits on the utility bill. When homeowners use more power than the solar panel system generates, these credits can be used in lieu of buying electricity from the utility.
Other solar incentives in Ohio include solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs) and an interest rate buydown program. SRECs incentivize homeowners by granting one certificate that can be sold for extra cash for each megawatt hour of electricity the solar panels produce. In 2016 these certificates sold for about $15, meaning that a 5-kilowatt system that produces 5 MWh per year could earn about $75 annually.
There is also an interest rate buydown program, known as the Energy Conservation for Ohioans (ECO-Link) Program, that makes it less expensive to finance a solar panel system. Homeowners who successfully apply for the program receive up to a 3 percent interest rate reduction on bank loans for up to seven years.
How Cincinnati homeowners can save big with solar
Though Cincinnati residents will see some of the cheapest solar prices in the country with continued cost declines expected over the next five years, low prices aren’t necessarily the biggest selling point. When it comes to going solar, the long term ROI and savings from avoided bill payments is often the biggest deciding factor – and the figures can be staggering even in states where utility rates are reasonable.
In 2017, solar quotes received by Cincinnati homeowners yielded 20-year savings estimates of over $47,926 on average. Checkout the breakdown of average net savings by solar system size:
Cincinnati net 20-year savings from solar
||Average solar savings over 20 years
Three tips for solar shoppers in Cincinnati
Homeowners who get multiple quotes save 10% or more
As with any big ticket purchase, shopping for a solar panel installation takes a lot of research and consideration, including a thorough review of the companies in your area. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recommended that consumers compare as many solar options as possible to avoid paying inflated prices offered by the large installers in the solar industry.
To find the smaller contractors that typically offer lower prices, you’ll need to use an installer network like EnergySage. You can receive free quotes from vetted installers local to you when you register your property on our Solar Marketplace – homeowners who get 3 or more quotes can save thousands on their solar panel installation.
The biggest installers typically don’t offer the best price
The bigger isn’t always better mantra is one of the main reasons we strongly encourage homeowners to consider all of their solar options, not just the brands large enough to pay for the most advertising. A recent report by the U.S. government found that large installers are $2,000 to $5,000 more expensive than small solar companies. If you have offers from some of the big installers in solar, make sure you compare those bids with quotes from local installers to ensure you don’t overpay for solar.
Comparing all your equipment options is just as important
National-scale installers don’t just offer higher prices – they also tend to have fewer solar equipment options, which can have a significant impact on your system’s electricity production. By collecting a diverse array of solar bids, you can compare costs and savings based on the different equipment packages available to you.
There are multiple variables to consider when seeking out the best solar panels on the market. While certain panels will have higher efficiency ratings than others, investing in top-of-the-line solar equipment doesn’t always result in higher savings. The only way to find the “sweet spot” for your property is to evaluate quotes with varying equipment and financing offers.
For any Cincinnati homeowner in the early stage of shopping for solar that would just like a ballpark estimate for an installation, try our Solar Calculator that offers up front cost and long term savings estimates based on your location and roof type. For those looking to get quotes from local contractors today, check out our quote comparison platform.