Below you’ll find the top solar companies in Ohio as ranked by us and reviewed by verified solar customers. To learn more about what goes into our “Best Rank” score for each company, visit our How We Rank page. For our full Ohio Solar Overview, keep reading:
With a wide variety of financing options and forward thinking solar policies, Ohio is quickly shaping up to be one of the best places in the country to make the switch to solar energy. Though the Buckeye State’s utility prices are about even with the national average, the state does offer customers a number of ways to save on solar, while also incentivizing utility providers to open to the door for renewable energy.
Read on to learn more about the ins and outs of going solar in Ohio.
Here's an at-a-glance description of the current benefits and drawbacks of switching to solar in Ohio:
The per-kilowatt-hour cost of going solar in Ohio over a 25-year span (also called the levelized cost) is roughly 6 cents. This means that when you divide total system costs (which, as we’ll show, can be thousands of dollars upfront) by the total kWh output for the lifetime of the system, you get 6 cents per kWh. When compared to the 25 cents per kWh you would pay the utility company over that same period of time, it is not a bad tradeoff.
Now, for the upfront costs. A typical 5 kW system in Ohio will set homeowners back about $19,000, which is lower than some other states in the Midwest and the South. The federal solar tax credit will knock $5,700 (30 percent) off that total, leaving homeowners with a bill of just below $15,000. Readers should note that this number can be higher or lower depending on the installation company, solar panel energy efficiency, system capacity, and other factors.
The Buckeye State is one of the few places in the country that allows residents to go solar in any one of four ways: direct purchase, solar loans, solar leases, and power purchase agreements (PPA). Each has its advantages as well as drawbacks, and customers should consult a solar provider to determine which is best for their circumstances:
Cash purchase presents two main advantages for people interested in going solar in Ohio: the first in the form of panel ownership, which automatically qualifies homeowners for the federal tax credit; the second is though cash purchase requires the largest upfront investment, it also poses the highest return on investment among any of the four financing options.
Assuming a typical 5 kW system at $19,000, homeowners will qualify for the federal tax credit, which will reduce that figure to $13,300, give or take. The first five years of operation also qualify for solar renewable energy credits, which can reduce the cost by hundreds of dollars depending on system output.
Savings from solar will pay for the system after about 15 years, leaving at least 10 years of remaining solar panel lifespan for pure profit. At a little more than $1,000 in annual savings, that totals to just over $10,000 in net profit after 25 years. Home values will also increase by an average of $9,500.
The other path to solar PV system ownership is through a solar loan or home-equity line of credit (HELOC). Qualified solar customers can receive a $19,000 loan at zero money down and 4 percent APR. Assuming a 15-year repayment plan, borrowers will begin saving from day one, coming ahead by as much as $5,000 after the first year. Loan payments, however, will be more expensive than traditional utility bills, so these savings will diminish through every year of the loan. In fact, borrowers will be in the hole for the majority of their system’s lifetime (by as much as $7,000 by year 15).
The good news is that once the loan is paid off, the savings will start to accrue once again. In year 21, borrowers will see their first profitable year (only a few hundred dollars or so). By year 25, solar borrowers will have netted about $4,500 in total savings.
Leasing a solar system is a cost-effective way for Ohio residents to take advantage of solar energy without fronting thousands in equipment, solar installation, and monitoring costs. Payments will be fixed, and often lower than the utility bill. After a 25-year lease, customers will have saved about $1,000. Not a lot, but still a good way to help the environment.
A PPA functions much like a solar lease, only instead of paying for the system, you’re paying for the energy. Like a solar lease, homeowners won’t be burdened with installation or maintenance fees, and will be subject to low monthly payments for either 20 or 25 years, depending on the contract. After 20 years, homeowners will have saved close to $3,000!
Ohio has few solar incentives to speak of. No solar rebates from utilities or tax credits from the state mean homeowners are almost completely reliant upon the federal government to significantly alleviate the costs of buying a solar energy system. On the bright side, Ohio does offer some kickbacks to help solar customers, however small they may be:
Ohio offers solar customers two types of tax exemptions:
Ohio’s solar policies, on the other hand, are going a long way towards making solar energy accessible in the state. From its renewable portfolio standard to its net metering policy, Ohio’s path toward solar adoption in commercial, utility, and residential is sure to increase.
The renewable portfolio standard (RPS) is a goal set by the state to attribute a certain percentage of its total energy product to renewable sources like solar, natural gas, and wind, by a predetermined date, setting stiff penalties for utility providers that fail to meet this standard.
In Ohio, the RPS is 8.5 percent by 2026, with a 0.5 percent solar carve-out for that same window. As of 2019, renewable energy accounted for about 3 percent of Ohio’s energy footprint, and solar energy is currently riding at 0.45 percent. While 8.5 percent is a far cry from the loftier and more ambitious goals of other states, it is achievable, and may be updated to a higher number should Ohio meet it by 2026 or sooner.
Ohio’s net metering policy applies to utility providers throughout the state, requiring them to credit solar users for the surplus solar energy their systems contribute to the utility grid. Normally, utility providers must credit solar users each month; however, Ohio gives solar customers the option to carry over their surplus check for up to 12 months, meaning if their solar arrays maintain a net positive energy exchange for a year, they will receive a big payment from the electric company.
Interconnection rules are the standards every solar panel installation must adhere to before it qualifies to be connected to the grid. Sometimes, states will leave these standards to the discretion of the utility provider, which can actually disincentivize homeowners from going solar, due to the costly additions some utility companies require before plug in (e.g. additional insurance, external disconnect switch, etc.).
Fortunately, Ohio’s interconnection standards have been simplified for homeowners: all systems under 10 kW qualify for a quick inspection process before plugging into the energy grid. No additional hoops to jump through or add-ons to install.
Between 2010 and 2020, Ohio has maintained a well-balanced portfolio of residential, utility, and commercial solar installations amounting to nearly 300 megawatts of clean energy in the state. Its close to 6,500 solar installations provides power to nearly 34,000 homes, and its more than 200 solar companies employ over 7,000 people.
Interested in a solar quote? Check out the top-ranked solar companies in Ohio and read reviews from verified solar customers.