Solar panels may produce a small amount of Oregon’s electricity right now, but that figure is expected to grow substantially in the coming years. Should your rooftop be part of that growth?

Residents of the Beaver State pay some of the lowest electricity bills in the country. Oregon’s residential energy rates are normally lower than the US average, but many Americans have experienced a sharp increase in electricity bills in recent years. The state has seen nearly an 11% jump in electricity prices over the last year. According to the SEIA, solar prices in Oregon have fallen by 52% in the last decade, leading to a rise in residential solar installations.

There are tax credits and incentives to help lower the cost of solar even more. The residential clean energy credit bolstered by the Inflation Reduction Act allows US residents to get a 30% rebate on the cost of their clean energy additions to their homes. Net metering policies also allow residents to send excess energy produced back to the grid, with accreditation for when the solar panel system doesn’t produce enough energy.

If you live in Oregon and are considering solar panels as a way to cut energy costs, it’s important to consider whether the investment in a solar panel system will pay off in the long run. Here are the best solar installation companies operating within Oregon.

Best national solar panel companies in Oregon

There are 70 solar installers operating within Oregon, according to the SEIA. Finding the right solar installer for your home is important because installers provide different levels of service, warranties and products.

SunPower Solar

Best solar panels

If you’re looking for top-of-the-line solar panels, SunPower is your best choice. But don’t write it off if you’re looking for a less flashy installation that will get the job done. This year it started installing Qcells panels, which should make an installation from the longest-tenured company on our list available to more people.

Freedom Forever

Best for cash customers

Include Freedom Forever in your search if you want the backing of a national company that installs a wide variety of the most popular solar equipment available. Freedom Forever also extends a couple of products that take some of the pain and risk out of going solar, like a production guarantee and an escrow option with cash purchases. Online reviews say customer satisfaction has been low of late, though the company says that’s changing.

Tesla Solar

Most affordable

Tesla’s solar branch seems to be the least loved of Elon Musk’s ventures. Even Tesla’s Solar Roof seems to get more love.

If price is the thing you won’t budge on, consider Tesla. By all accounts, Tesla installs quality panels and makes the closest thing there is to a household name in solar storage: the Powerwall.

Where you might miss out is customer service. Discussion online seems to suggest Tesla’s service is a bit of a gamble.

Local solar companies in Oregon

If you prefer going with a smaller solar company, there are plenty of local options to choose from in Oregon. Here are a few worth considering. 

Smart Solar Energy is a local solar installer operating across Oregon, Washington and parts of Idaho. Founded in 2020, Smart Solar Energy offers solar panel systems for residential and commercial projects. This installer will provide a free solar audit of your home. 

Smart Solar Energy offers strong warranty terms. If you purchase solar panels through Smart Solar Energy, you receive a 25-year service and labor warranty, a 25-year production guarantee and a 25-year factory warranty on solar panels and inverters. Smart Solar Energy also provides 15 years of support, which includes helping you apply for solar incentives in your area.

Sunlight Solar has been around more than 30 years and serves regions of Oregon, Colorado, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Sunlight Solar offers solar products for residential and commercial customers, as well as solar for RVs, electric vehicle charging options and battery storage. If you choose this installer, you have the option of installing rooftop solar or ground-mounted solar panels.

Sunlight Solar offers virtual or in-person site assessments, during which one of its designers determines what type of solar system will be most compatible with your home and energy goals. You can purchase solar panels upfront or finance them through Sunlight Solar. Its warranty terms are competitive with industry standards, including a 10-year quality-of-work warranty, a five-year production guarantee and 25-year warranties on panels, inverters and optimizers.

How to determine which solar installer in Oregon is right for me

 Here are some tips to help you find a reputable installer.

  • Understand federal, state and local solar incentives. Make sure your installer can accurately explain how tax credits and incentives work.
  • Read online reviews from multiple sources. Google and Yelp are a good place to start.
  • Get recommendations from neighbors who have solar installed.
  • Check an installer’s licensing and certifications. Look for installers who are certified by NABCEP. 
  • Compare multiple solar quotes.
  • Ask your installer all your questions, even the difficult ones.
  • Assess your potential savings cost and your solar payback period. Your installer should be able to explain this to you.

Cost of solar panels in Oregon

Here’s a look at the average cash price for a typical solar panel system before factoring in tax credits incentives, according to data from FindEnergy.com. But your system might become more expensive if you choose to include solar batteries or additional equipment in your purchase.

Average cost of solar panels in Oregon

Typical system size (kW) Price per watt Total installed cost Cost after 30% federal tax credit
Oregon 8 $3.50 $28,000 $19,600
National average 8.6 $3.67 $31,558 $22,091

The map below charts the average total cash price, cost per watt and system size for solar panel systems across the US, according to data from FindEnergy.com. Prices shown don’t factor in rebates from tax credits or state incentives. Certain states don’t have any FindEnergy solar data and are grayed out on the map.

Oregon solar panel incentives and rebates

The cost of solar panels has decreased in recent years, but it’s still a significant investment, especially if you decide to purchase your system. There are a variety of tax credits and incentives at the federal, state and local levels to make solar more affordable in Oregon.

For starters, every resident who purchases solar panels will qualify for the federal residential clean energy credit. This solar incentive offers 30% of the cost of a solar system to consumers in the form of credit when they file their federal tax return. This tax credit was increased and extended when the Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law in August 2022. 

There’s no cap on how much you can claim with the residential clean energy credit and you can combine it with other solar incentives. To apply for the federal solar tax credit, fill out IRS form 5695 (PDF), following the instructions provided by the IRS. Once your application’s approved, you’ll receive your 30% savings in credit when you file your tax return.

Oregonians may qualify for a wide range of state and local solar incentives and rebates. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency offers an extensive list of available incentives. Here are a few you should know about:

Program Description
Energy Trust incentives The nonprofit Energy Trust of Oregon offers $500-$600 toward the cost of a new solar panel system for customers of Portland General Electric and Pacific Power.
Net metering Oregon residents can send extra solar power generated by solar panels back to the grid in exchange for credits on their energy bills. Under Oregon law, utilities are required to offer net metering to customers.
New homes incentive program Energy Trust provides cash incentives towards energy efficient technology (like solar panels) installed for new construction homes. The amount of this incentive depends on the home’s energy efficiency levels and will vary by home.
Property tax exemption Solar panels increase a home’s property value. In Oregon, residents are exempt from paying increased property taxes after installing solar panels.
Salem Electric rebate program Utility Salem Electric offers residential customers a rebate of $300 per kW up to $1,500 for installing solar panels.
Solar electric incentive program Pacific Power and Pacific General Electric customers receive between $750-$800 for solar panel installations on new or existing homes.
Oregon solar plus storage rebate program This rebate program from the Oregon Department of Energy covers up to $5,000 of the cost of qualifying solar systems and up to $2,500 for energy storage systems. Incentives are higher for low- or moderate-income homeowners.

How to pay for solar panels in Oregon

The average installed cost of a solar panel system is higher in Oregon because the average system size and price per watt are higher than the US average. However, there are several financing options available to make the purchase easier. Some residents are able to purchase solar panels outright, while others finance them with a solar loan. Solar leases and power purchase agreements are also available in Oregon, although you won’t own your system or qualify for tax incentives with these options.

Here are some of the ways to pay.

Cash: If you have the money to pay upfront, this saves on financing costs and interest. If solar panels are in your long-term plans but not your short-term plans, consider saving up for them with a high-yield savings account.

Solar loans: These financing options are offered by installers, solar companies or their partner financial institutions. Get a few different offers and shop around to make sure you’re getting a good deal.

Home equity: Many people pay for large home improvements with home equity loans or lines of credit, aka HELOCs. These loans are secured by your home equity, which means they often have lower rates and longer terms. Be advised: If you fail to repay, the lender can foreclose on your home.

Personal loan: Unlike a home equity loan, a personal loan generally isn’t secured by property. They often come with higher rates and shorter terms than other types of loans, but are generally available relatively quickly from lenders. 

Lease or power purchase agreement: With these two arrangements, you won’t actually own the solar panels, a solar company will. You’ll either rent the panels, through a lease, or buy energy from the solar company, in a power purchase agreement. Both save you the upfront cost, but your savings will be lower over time.

Installation factors to consider

Solar panels are a substantial investment, even as prices have dropped in recent years. Before signing a contract with an installer, you should consider whether solar panels are right for your home. Here are some of the most important factors to think about:

Are you allowed to install solar panels? In some states, homeowners’ associations and neighborhoods can ban or restrict solar panels. However, Oregon has a solar rights law, which guarantees an HOA resident’s right to install solar panels. There may be approval processes or specific requirements in your area, so be sure to check ahead of time.

Do you live in a prime location for solar? Solar panels can work in warm and cold climates and can also generate power in indirect sunlight. However, they’ll produce much more electricity when they receive at least four hours of direct sunlight each day. The more power your panels generate, the less electricity you’ll have to pull from the grid. Oregon tends to get more rain and less sun per year than the US average. While solar panels can still generate power when it’s cloudy, they probably won’t save you as much on bills in Oregon as they would in an especially sunny state like Florida.

Is your roof right for solar? The size, shape and even the slope of your roof affects how much power solar panels can produce. According to the US Department of Energy, roofs with a slope between 15 and 40 degrees will work best with solar panels. You may also need to perform maintenance or repair your roof before installing solar panels. Solar panels have a lifespan of 25-30 years, so you’ll need to make sure your roof is in the right condition to handle having the panels installed on it.

Will your insurance cover solar panels? Most homeowner’s policies cover rooftop solar panels, so you may be able to update your current policy so it covers your panels. You can check with your homeowner’s insurance agency before or after installation day to learn about your policy’s specific details.

Do you rent your home? Rooftop solar panels might not be an option if you rent your home or live in an apartment. You can check with your landlord or property manager for details specific to your home. If solar panels aren’t allowed, you can look into community solar options in your area. Community solar lets you pay a subscription for solar energy produced at another location. In exchange, you receive a credit on your energy bills. The subscription fee you pay is lower than the credit you receive, so you come out ahead financially. Depending on where you live, you may be eligible to participate in the Oregon Community Solar Program.

Read more: Want something smaller than a whole-home solar system? See our picks for the best portable solar panels and solar generators.

How we found the best solar companies

The companies we listed above as “the best” are curated from CNET’s best solar companies list. Companies making the best list are scored on the equipment, warranties and customer service they offer. Then we make sure these recommendations are available in your state. You can read a full breakdown of how we review solar companies here.

Companies listed under the local installers were chosen in a less rigorous way. We chose them because they offered something unique or notable to customers in the state, they seemed well-regarded by internet reviewers or because they were one of the few installers we could find information on in the state.

Whether we’ve completed a full review on a company or not, it’s always a good idea to get multiple quotes from different installers before choosing a company.

 Oregon solar power FAQs

Are solar panels worth it in Oregon?

The answer depends on a number of factors, including how much energy you use each month, whether your home is a good candidate for solar and your eligibility for solar incentives. The biggest drawback for solar panels in Oregon is the state’s cloud coverage. Because Oregon tends to get a lot of rain, solar panels might not generate enough electricity to fully power your home. The average solar panel price per watt in Oregon is also higher than the national average, so you might end up paying more for a solar system in Oregon than you would in other states. However, an installed solar panel system could help you significantly lower your electricity bills, especially after the payback period.

Where does Oregon get its electricity?

Oregon’s energy mix is relatively diverse compared to other states. Based on data from the EIA, over 50% of Oregon’s energy generation came from hydroelectric sources in 2022, while another 32% came from natural gas. Wind and solar also contribute to the state’s electricity production. Solar is currently the smallest contributor, generating almost 4% of the state’s energy mix. If solar capacity grows as SEIA expects it will, that percentage will increase in the next five years.

How do I find the right solar installer in Oregon?

As the number of available solar installers grows, it can be tricky to narrow down your options. When researching potential solar companies, we recommend comparing multiple quotes from different installers so you find the best price. However, cost isn’t the only factor you should consider. Be sure to also compare warranty terms, ask about the manufacturers each installer works with and read customer reviews. You can check CNET’s choices for top solar companies as a starting point.

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