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2019 Policy Grade


Avg. Yearly Savings


Congratulations! You've found the ultimate guide to going solar in Ohio

2019 Policy Grade


Avg. Savings/year


Your 2019 guide to getting solar panels for your home in Ohio

This page is a complete guide to the complicated and sometimes confusing process of installing solar panels on your Ohio home. Since there's a lot to consider, we've separated the page into sections to help you find what you are looking for. If you find this page useful, please share it with someone who might also find it interesting!

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** What's new for 2019 **

When some people think of Ohio they think of the crossroads between the east and the midwest, and all those cities and factories. Others, perhaps, think of all those Presidents (seven of them) that have come out of the Buckeye State. Here at Solar Power Rocks, we think of rivers. Ohio isn’t just a crossroads for American geographic regions and cultures, it’s a crossroads for lots of big rivers too. Big rivers that drain north into Lake Erie and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean, and big rivers that drain south into the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico. Along with heavily forested areas in the southeastern part of the state, Ohio has a wealth of important and beautiful ecosystems that need protection.

So how is Ohio doing encouraging the sort of earth-friendly solar power that will help in that protection? Well, back in May 2014, they suspended the ramp-up of the state’s alternative energy standard for two years, pushing back progress on an already-tepid renewable energy law. This kind of wishy-washy commitment to renewables is way behind Ohio’s neighbors to the east like Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. Let’s go over some of the policy major areas and see where Ohio is at…

Questions? Our network of solar experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page. You can get discounted on-grid pricing as low as $4,000/kW! This is paired with the Ohio solar incentives you see below.

The Solar Strategy section is focused on the 3 ways of paying for solar in Ohio, so you can decide which is best for you. We've created a tool that asks you a few questions and recommends whether you should pursue a solar lease, loan, or outright purchase. Then, we provide detailed analysis of how each works.

The Policy Information section contains all our latest research on the rules set by lawmakers and the Public Utilities Commission, which determine how easy it is to go solar in Ohio. These policies and rules govern everything from renewable energy mandates to interconnection, and have a huge effect on the viability of solar.

Finally, the Solar Incentives section includes information about money-back rebates and grants, tax credits, and tax exemptions for going solar in Ohio.

Click any of the boxes below to go to that section of the page, or scroll down to read the page in order.

Your Solar Strategy in Ohio

Figuring out the best way to go solar in Ohio can be a little daunting. From loans and leases to power-purchase agreements, there are a lot of options out there. To help you pick the one that might be best, we've created the handy decision tool below.

We'll ask you a few simple questions about you and your home. Once you're done, we'll recommend a good option. Further down this page, we provide cost estimates and example return-on-investment calculations for all the various options:

How should you pay for solar?

Use our decision tool to find out!

How to pay for solar panels in Ohio

The chart above shows the 25-year returns for an investment in solar whether you choose to purchase a system with cash or pay over time with a loan or lease. As you can see, the purchase option leads to the highest dollar-amount returns over time, but look a little closer. Taking a solar loan or Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit (HELOC—the orange bars) and paying for the system over time means you'll actually spend less of your own money over time, while reaping a big financial benefit in year 1.

That's because you'll be paying over time for the system, but you still get a 30% federal tax credit this year based on the entire cost. You'll start out ahead, so your payments over 15 years will have less impact on you than plunking down a big pile of money up front. All you need is equity or great credit.

Lastly, take a look at the blue bars. They represent a solar Power-Purchase Agreement (PPA), which is also called third-party ownership. With a PPA, you put $0 down on a rooftop solar system and make monthly payments for the electricity it produces that are a little less than you had been paying the utility company for their energy. With a PPA, your savings star t out small but grow as the cost will rise by less than the electric company's annual rate hikes. PPAs are an excellent option if you don't have any equity or cash to put down, and they still save you money!

Read more below about each of three very good options for solar in Ohio.

How much can you save with solar?

Find out

Option 1: Paying cash for solar

An outright purchase used to be the only way to get solar, and it's still the option that provides the "biggest" financial returns. The reason we put "biggest" in quotes here is because it's technically true, but based on percent return for the money, a loan is a better option.

If you'd rather make monthly payments instead of putting $19,000 down on a solar system, and if you have equity in your home or can get a large loan with an interest rate of 4% or less, a loan is the option to go with. It's like being able to start a business that is sure to succeed, just by having a roof. Read about loans below.

If you've got cash and you prefer to pay up front, you'll have to plunk down $18,750, but tax breaks and energy savings will erase a bunch of that after just 1 year. Over 25 years, your system will have produced about $11,000 in income, after your system cost is paid back. The reason this works is that solar offsets your electricity costs—enough to save you about $667 in year 1, and it just goes up from there. As the electric company raises rates, you save more and more, and more...

Here’s how the numbers pencil out for a 5-kW rooftop solar system in Ohio:

  • Installing a typical 5-kW solar system should start at about $18,750. That's cheaper than solar has ever been, but it still might seem like a big investment. Don’t worry, because after tax breaks and energy savings, your first-year costs will be considerably less than that.
  • The Feds calculate their incentive based on actual out of pocket costs, so take 30% of $18,750, for a tax credit of $5,625.
  • After the tax credit we subtract your first year’s energy savings, which we estimate to be $667. That reduces your cost after the first year to only $12,458.
  • But wait, there's more! On top of the electric bill savings, you'll earn special Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) for the first 5 years your system is running. You'll get one each time your system produces a megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity, and our example 5-kW will earn you about 5.5 SRECs each year. You can sell your SRECs to the utility company for about $12 a piece, putting an estimated $67 in your pocket.
  • Your system will pay for itself with electric bill savings in 15 years, and you'll see a total net profit of $10,811 before the end of your panels' 25-year warranty. The internal rate of return for this investment is a solid 5.2%. Nearly as good and more reliable than the stock market!
  • And don't forget... your home's value just increased by more than $9,5000, too ( the NPV of your expected electricity savings over 20 years).
  • In addition to all that cash (and home value), you’ve created some green for the earth as well by not using electricity from fossil fuels. It's like planting 93 trees a year, every year your solar power system is humming.
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Ohio. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar panel system, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

Option 2: Using a loan to pay for solar

You don't need $19,000 sitting around to pay for solar. As long as you have equity in your home, you can still own solar panels and reap all the benefits. Heck, even if you do have the cash, getting a loan to pay for solar is by far the best option when it comes to percentage return on investment.

That’s because, in Ohio, using a loan to pay for solar is like investing in a business that's sure to succeed, and also earns you a tax break. That's right: a HUGE tax break!. You'll come out thousands ahead this year, and you'll still see a handsome profit over the 25-year life of your system.

A solar purchase like this will make sense for you if the following is true about you and your current situation:

  • You can qualify for a solar loan or home-equity line of credit (HELOC) for $18,750, with a fixed rate of 4% or lower and a 15-year repayment period. Don't be put off if you're offered a higher rate. It just means a tiny bit less of the thousands of dollars you'll make with solar.
  • You love making money without much risk.

Here’s how the numbers pencil out for an Ohio homeowner who makes a solar purchase with a loan:

  • Installing a typical 5-kW solar system should start at about $18,750. That's how big your loan will need to be to cover it.
  • The electricity you'll save in the first year of operation would have cost $667, but your annual loan payments will be $1,664, meaning you'll spend $997 on solar this year, but...
  • You'll also see a huge tax break. The Feds give you 30% of the cost of your system back as a tax credit, which in this case is $5,625. You'll be paying over time but getting the benefits up front!
  • But wait, there's more! On top of the electric bill savings, you'll earn special Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) for the first 5 years your system is running. You'll get one each time your system produces a megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity, and our example 5-kW will earn you about 5.5 SRECs each year. You can sell your SRECs to the utility company for about $12 a piece, putting an estimated $67 in your pocket.
  • All those incentives mean you'll come out $4,694 ahead after year 1. Your loan payments will be about $83/month more than your energy bill savings, but that difference will get smaller as the utility company raises rates every year.
  • By the time you've paid off your loan after 2031, you'll see yearly savings of more than $1,000. After 25 years, your total profit will be $4,596!
  • On top of the green that will stay in your pocket, your system will mean green for the environment, too. 93 trees-worth, every year!
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Ohio. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar loan, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

Option 3: Buying the electricity, not the panels with a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)

A PPA is a great way to go solar if you haven't got stacks of cash or oodles of equity in your home. It's possible to get solar panels for $0-down and see savings over 20 years!

As for leases in Ohio: we don't see quite have the financial benefits of states with more sunshine or higher electricity prices—or both. For now, the electrcity from a 5-kW solar system will cost you $567 per year, while the same amount of power would have cost $667 from the utility company; a savings of $100.That might not sound like a great deal, but as the utility company raises rates, you will start to see larger savings. Over 20 years, our estimate shows a total savings of $3,354.

Here's more about how a solar PPA works:

Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in Ohio. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar PPA, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

How much can you save with solar?

Find out

Ohio Solar Policy Information

Ever wonder why solar seems to be everywhere in some states, but not in others? We did too.

State legislatures and public utilities commissions can enact rules to make solar power accessible for everyone. Favorable rules explain why some of the cloudiest states—New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, are doing so well with solar, and yet some of those with the most natural solar resources—like Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia—are doing so poorly.

Below is important information about the public policy, rules, and economic reasons that affect your ability to go solar here in Ohio:

Ohio's Renewable Portfolio Standard

12.5% by 2026

Grade: D

Ohio's Renewable Portfolio Standard grade

A Renewables Portfolio Standard (“RPS”) requires utilities in the state to eventually source at least a certain percentage of their electricity from clean, renewable sources like solar panels.

Ohio has a weak RPS, mandating that only 12.5% of all energy must come from renewable sources by 2026. Compared to other states, 12.5% is a pretty sad, and Ohio has has struggles keeping even this minor accomplishment afloat. The program includes a specific target of 0.5% of total energy just from Ohio solar panels, but that, too, falls short of the goals in the best solar states.

Ohio’s RPS is critical to strong renewable energy policy. Utility companies aren't really all that gung-ho about you producing your own power. After all, it costs them money when you use less of their electricity. They also don’t naturally want to give you big payments for energy you're feeding back into the grid. The main reason the utilities are aiding your transition to lower electric bills and offering you incentives to put solar on your roof is because the state forces them to. If the utilities don't hit their RPS numbers, they have to pay large fees back to the state.

Learn more about Renewable Portfolio Standards

Ohio's RPS solar carve out

.5% by 2024

Grade: C

Ohio's Solar Carve-out grade

As we mentioned above, Ohio’s RPS specifies that 0.5% of all electricity must come from solar. If that doesn’t seem like a lot, you’re right; it’s not. Still, there are some incentives out the for solar in Ohio, if you know where to look. Luckily, we do.

Learn more about Solar Carve-outs

Ohio Electricity Prices


Grade: C

Ohio's Electricity cost grade

Electricity in Ohio is pretty cheap at just 12 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). But we here at Solar Power Rocks think it’s still too cheap. Okay, we know you like your energy bills low, but bear with us. All that cheap energy comes from dirty old coal and other fossil fuels. Remember all that natural beauty in Ohio? We’ve got to protect it. Let’s think of a way to do that and maybe make some money too. Hmm… how about… SOLAR POWER!?

Seriously though, whatever you think of fossil fuels, new regulations and future scarcity of supply are going to cause prices to rise. And people who make the switch to solar and other renewable now are gonna look pretty darn smart in 20 years when everyone’s paying two or three times as much for electricity in twenty years. We’re talking Einstein-level here.

Find out why electricity prices matter

Ohio Net Metering


Grade: A

Ohio's Net Metering grade

Net Metering requires your utility to monitor how much energy your solar power system produces and how much energy you actually consume, and make sure you get credit for the surplus.

Ohio has one of the nation’s strongest net metering laws for residential customers, but that might be changing soon. A proposal regarding changes to the net metering policy is wending its way slowly through the Public Utilities commission. It's unclear what will happen when the PUC makes its final determination, but watch this space for updates.

Currently, all utilities in Ohio must offer net metering to residential customers. All net excess generation (“NEG”) credit is carried over to your next bill at the utility’s “unbundled generation” rate (this is different from the full retail rate that was paid a few years ago, but your savings should not be significantly affected). That month-to-month carry over is pretty standard. Ohio separates itself from the pack as one of the handful of states that allows you to request a check for any credits accumulated over the course of a 12-month billing cycle. That’s right – if you run a surplus for the year, the utility company will actually pay you.

Learn more about net metering

Ohio Interconnection Rules

Simplified for Homes

Grade: A

Ohio's Interconnection Standards grade

Interconnection in Ohio is also very strong for residential customers. All systems under 10kw qualify for a simplified review process that makes it quick and easy for you to get onto the grid and start raking in those net metering savings. There are no requirements for separate liability insurance – an unnecessary cost we’ve seen imposed in some other states, but there is a requirement for a redundant external disconnect switch, even for small producers for whom such a switch makes little sense.

Learn more about solar interconnection rules

Solar Incentives in Ohio

Next to high electricity prices and net metering, solar incentives have traditionally been the most important factor for whether home solar power makes financial sense in a state. In the past, some states with otherwise lousy policy had tremendous incentives that drove down the up-front cost of going solar so much that homeowners could save oodles of money even without net metering or a good RPS.

These days, the big incentive most people can get is the Federal Solar Tax Credit that earns you 30% of your total system costs back after just 1 year. State incentives play less of a role than in the past, but some really good ones are still out there, ready to help homeowners go solar and save money before you know it.

Let's see how Ohio measures up:

The availability of state solar incentives for residential solar systems was sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, utility company websites, and the state public utility commission.

Ohio Solar Power Rebates


Grade: F

Ohio's Solar Rebates grade

AEP, one of Ohio’s largest utilities, had a sweet rebate program that paid customers up to $12,000 just for putting solar panels on their houses. Unfortunately, in a state without robust RPS requirements, the rebate was allowed to expire. There is currently no statewide rebate program in Ohio, meaning the picture is looking pretty bleak here.

Learn more about solar rebates

Ohio Solar Tax Credits


Grade: F

Ohio's Solar Tax Credits grade

Unlike many other states, Ohio does not offer any tax credits to help with the installation of your new solar power system. Not to worry, though; you still qualify for the federal government’s 30% tax credit, which is a really sweet deal.

Learn more about state solar tax credits

Ohio Solar Performance Payments

SREC Market

Grade: C

Ohio's Solar Performance Payments grade

Ohio offers performance incentives on solar power production by building Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECS) directly into the state’s RPS. For every one megawatt-hour (MWh) of solar (or other renewable energy based) electricity a generator produces, they get one SREC. Utilities must either produce or purchase enough SRECs to meet their RPS requirements. As a homeowner, that means your utility company will be motivated to purchase SRECs from you as you produce solar power.

By establishing alternative compliance payments (ACPs) for every SREC a utility misses, the state legislature helps keep the SREC market stable. For 2014 through 2016, the ACP is $300 for the equivalent of every REC a utility is short. In a state with a strong RPS and solar carve-out, this would be great news, because the utility would be motivated to purchase your SRECs at prices near the ACP price.

In Ohio, however, the last few years have seen enough solar development to meet Ohio’s meager RPS requirements, and SREC prices are around $15, down from $400 back in 2010. Ouch.

All this means that you’ll still make a few bucks on your SRECs, but not much more than $100 a year.

Learn more about SRECs

Property Tax Exemption

Varies by city

Grade: C

Ohio's Solar Property Tax Exemptions grade

Here’s some great news: the value of your home goes up when you install solar panels. Here’s some okay news: The cities of Cleveland and Cincinnati will let you keep that extra home value off the property tax rolls for many years to come. Here's some not-so-good news: the rest of the state has property tax relief only for commercial solar installations. Boo, Ohio.

Sales Tax Exemption


Grade: A

Ohio's Solar Sales Tax Exemption grade

Ohio also has a sales tax exemption, meaning you’ll save 5.75% on the purchase of your new system.

Learn more about tax exemptions for solar

The consensus on Ohio solar power rebates and incentives

With a meager RPS and solar carve-out, there are aren’t many good incentives in Ohio to make solar an attractive and lucrative investment over the long term. Those tax exemptions are just as good here as they can get, but the performance of SRECs is disappointing. Here’s hoping we see a renewed commitment to increasing renewable energy in Ohio, and with it a return to strong SREC prices. Without those things, Ohioans can look forward to solar as a mediocre investment and a way to help save the planet, but not much more. Right now, we’ll give Ohio a “C+” for trying, but you’re ON NOTICE, Ohio—shape up or risk being branded a solar failure.

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CarlJoeAvatar for Dave LlorensBen ZientaraAvatar for Dave Llorens Recent comment authors
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I have a quote from a distributor out of state (not in Ohio) that has included sales tax in my quote. They say they collect sales tax for Ohio.
Is this proper? Can they charge sales tax on solar panels, inverters, etc

Ben Zientara

You know, I’m looking and looking and I can’t for the life of me figure out where we sourced that sales tax exemptions from. It’s possible it’s been removed. Ohio has certainly been screwing up its renewable policy lately.

o m hicks
o m hicks

where is your office ???


Would like to see every roof on this planet be solar panel.


We live a little south of Findlay, OH and have no trees of any kind in our 4 acre lot, and are extremely interested in solar panels on our property.


We up-graded our ‘geothermal system’ last year and had a 9kW ‘grid-tied’ solar system installed. I am having trouble getting our energy credits from our ‘electric company’ (DP&L), I need help!

Ben Zientara

Hi there. Not sure what kinds of credits you’re talking about, but since DP&L offers no rebates, maybe you mean Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs). The SRECs are actually generated based on the power your system produces, and you get one for every Megawatt (MW) of electricity. Unfortunately, Ohio has taken a step back in the fight for good solar policy, and the state now allows utilities to purchase RECs from adjacent states, driving SREC prices down.

DP&L does maintain a page with information about selling your SRECs to them that might help a little. Good luck!


I live in Lorain County Ohio in an all electric home, and would like any updates in changes that Ohio makes towards incintives and credits in the near future. I would love to volunteer my house for any “green energy” initiative be it solar, geo thermal or wind alternitive power.


We live on the east side of Columbus, Ohio and would love to learn more and perhaps be involved in a solar energy program.


we live outside of lancaster and I am interested in getting solar power


I would be very interested in participating in a demonstration program! My roof is 2 years old and in good shape. My home was build in 1952. Please email me


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