Installing Solar In Ohio? 7 Things You Should Know

Twenty years ago, when people first found out we installed solar in Ohio, they said: “you must have guts!”

At that time, quite a few things were different. Prices were much higher, the technology wasn’t as advanced, and the number of Ohioans willing to invest was simply less than it is today.

These days in Ohio, we see solar booming across the state- from municipal solar going up on government buildings in Cuyahoga County to libraries in rural Ohio to food pantries in Central Ohio and residential solar sprinkled in neighborhoods across the state.

The market is bustling, and we’re so glad to see clean energy becoming commonplace in Ohio.

Each state has different rules, regulations, incentives, and markets for solar energy. So, if you’re considering solar and doing research online: make sure what you’re reading is Ohio-specific.

If you’re starting your research and wondering what you need to know when considering solar in Ohio, we’ve covered the essential bases in this article.

1. Net-Metering rules in Ohio

Your utility company is required to compensate you for the extra energy you produce in Ohio.

The policy that requires compensation for excess solar generation is called net-metering. Net-metering increases the economic benefit of solar power by crediting you for the extra power your solar energy system produces.

So, when you crank out 200% of what you use during sunny July, you bank credits that you’ll use to purchase utility power during the months where you don’t produce 100% of what you use.

The amount of energy you produce and use will vary over the course of the year. Net metering helps you account for this difference by crediting you for the excess electricity your panels produce so you can use it later.

2. Net Excess Generation

Ohio’s energy market is de-regulated.

So, the rate you’re credited for the power you return to the grid varies between different utility providers. Electric companies credit you at a net excess generation rate. The State of Ohio’s net metering policy does not require utilities to credit energy you produce at the full retail rate.

Additionally, using credits for fixed charges on your bill (distribution charges, other fees) varies between electric suppliers.

An experienced solar installer will help you understand your utility’s net excess generation rate is and how your utility handles fixed charges.

3. Understanding the Advertisements

We’ve seen a lot of wonky advertising over the years. And it’s getting weirder- maybe you’ve noticed. You’re not alone; we’ve scratched our heads about those ads on Facebook, too.

Some claim that you’ll get cash back when you go solar. The truth is: there is no “special program” or event a government-issued solar stimulus program. To receive money back when you purchase your system, you’re simply borrowing more money than your solar system costs and getting some of it back.

Some solar companies misleadingly use the word “free” in their ads. Actually, what they’re referring to is a zero money down, long-term, low-interest loan. Often, they offer what appears to be a very low interest rate, but they secretly add 15 – 25% to the cost of the system to buy down the rate from their loan partner.

4. Solar in the Wintertime

Can my solar panels produce energy if they are covered in snow? No, a solid covering of snow all but shuts off production. The good news is that overall production loss from the snow is minimal when looking at performance on an annual basis. Losing a day of production in January is a fraction of a day in July.

Unless covered in snow, solar panels are more efficient in cold conditions. Like most electronics, solar panels function better at colder temperatures than under intense heat.

Here at Third Sun Solar, our team takes winter’s shorter days, snowfall, and the orientation of sunlight into account when estimating the output of your system.


5. Rural Cooperatives

If your utility supplier in Ohio is a rural cooperative: pay attention to this.

Because rural co-ops are member-owned and not required to follow regulations set out by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), they can set their own net metering rules.

Rural electric co-ops in Ohio are not required to offer net metering like investor-owned utility companies are. Most of them do, however, not all.

Because there isn’t one standard for the 24 rural electric co-ops, solar installers need to be familiar with the local rules, rates, and regulations.

And if you know that your rural co-op has policies that disincentivize solar production – become an advocate! If you’re part of a co-op- use your vote, attend public meetings, and make your voice heard! Here is one example of our customers who had to advocate at the local level to get solar.

6. Ohio State and Local Incentives

The truth is, there aren’t any local or state incentives for solar in Ohio. That’s the way it’s been for a while now.

Recent legislation has aimed at making solar even more inaccessible. While this legislation didn’t affect the economics for residential solar, it’s an indication of the priorities of our state government.

Until 2023, the Federal Tax Credit for solar remains available to homeowners and stands as the most considerable cost savings. We hope – but we aren’t sure if there will be state or federal incentives on the horizon after that.

Otherwise known as the solar investment tax credit, federal investment tax credit, or ITC for short, this tax credit gives the solar system owner the ability to deduct 26% of the system cost from taxes owed.

For a long time, the tax credit allowed you to recoup 30% of solar system costs.

The step-down schedule began in 2020 when the tax credit dropped from 30% to 26%. The stepdown was paused for two years when the federal government signed the 2020 Covid relief bill. So, homeowners have until the end of 2022 to claim the 26% tax credit benefit. In 2023 the tax credit will drop to 22%, then down to 0% for homeowners in 2024 (a 10% tax credit will remain in place for commercial solar projects).

7. Solar Energy Storage

There are a few different reasons choose to install battery backup with their solar energy systems.

Number one: We’ve seen utility rates escalate at about 3% per year for the past ten years. We know rates will increase as the grid faces necessary upgrades, and many utilities consider a time-of-use rate structure, where electricity will cost more during peak demand hours.

Solar energy storage allows you to consume more of the solar energy you generate, maximizing your solar investment, increasing independence, and lowering your carbon footprint.

Number two: power during an outage. In some places in Ohio, blackouts are common. We see an uptick in interest in solar battery backup anytime a significant weather event disrupts the grid and causes blackout. Solar batteries assure you have power in the event of a grid outage.

Third Sun Solar to donate solar array to local nonprofit, Baileys Trail System, of Athens, Ohio

September 2021, Athens, Ohio — Ohio’s Third Sun Solar is proud to announce the donation of a roof-mounted solar array to the Baileys Trail System project this winter.

Third Sun Solar has partnered with the Village of Chauncey and the Baileys Trail System to provide clean energy at the Chauncey-Dover Community Park trailhead. Third Sun Solar will install the solar system on the rooftop of the restroom facility. The solar energy installation will begin in January of 2022. The addition of a solar array to the restroom facility will reduce the Village’s utility costs for the next two decades or more.

CEO and co-founder, Geoff Greenfield says: “As a company committed to the flourishing of our community, we are proud to support this groundbreaking trail project. We believe that partnering with the Baileys Trail System in this way will not just reduce the overhead costs for the Village of Chauncey but will help the Baileys Trail System advance their mission of bringing sustainable economic development to the Southeast Ohio Region,” said Greenfield.

“We are incredibly grateful for the donation of the solar array by Third Sun Solar to the Chauncey-Dover Community Park that was once the site of the Chauncey mines. It’s important to us while repurposing the land for recreational use that it be done in a sustainable and responsible manner including adopting a zero waste event policy, so the implementation of solar energy is a great addition to our vision.” Mayor Amy Renner, The Village of Chauncey

Third Sun Solar is excited about this partnership, a continuation of our tradition of supporting organizations that we believe in. Last year, the company partnered with local nonprofit Women for Recovery, installing a 22 panel, 7.4kW ground-mounted solar array at the Serenity Grove home in Athens, Ohio. Third Sun Solar is excited to support the work that Baileys Trail System is doing in our community, and to reduce the ongoing operating costs for the Village of Chauncey.

“Part of our responsibility as a certified B Corp is to actively seek ways to provide social and environmental support to our community,” Greenfield said. “Providing education about the untapped resources our region has to offer (the sun!) to visitors from across the Midwest and beyond is a great fit for our mission-driven company, and our team is looking forward to it.”


Photo Credit: Joel Prince | Athens County Convention & Visitors Bureau

Installing a Solar Farm in Ohio

Over the past decade, solar in Ohio has boomed across the state. Increasingly, projects producing multiple megawatts (MW) of power are the norm. Before 2018, most solar projects in Ohio were residential, agricultural, or commercial and powered homes and facilities onsite. Today – solar farms and utility-scale solar is on the rise.

What are Solar Farms?

A solar farm is a large installation of solar PV panels that absorb energy from the sun, convert it into electricity, and send that electricity to the power grid for distribution and consumption by customers like you.

Rural areas with sizeable amounts of available land are ideal for installing many solar panels that produce multiple megawatts of electricity. This electricity usually powers the local community or contributes to the larger national grid.

Usually, utility companies or local governments finance these solar installation projects due to the sheer volume and high initial investment needed for a project of this scale.

According to the Ohio State University Extension’s Farmland Owners Guide to Solar Leasing:

“Two primary differences between commercial and residential solar projects and utility-scale solar projects are that utility-scale solar projects are typically greater than 5 MW, and the electricity generated is interconnected to the electric distribution or transmission grid. Under a utility-scale solar model, either an electrical utility owns the project or an independent project owner enters into a power purchase agreement to sell electricity to wholesale utility buyers.”

Interested in Learning More About Utility-Scale Solar for your Property?

We are excited by your commitment to accelerating the shift to clean energy in our state.

The development of solar farms is not in our wheelhouse here at Third Sun Solar. However, we have some resources to share with you to get you started.

We believe this is the best place to start if you’re interested in developing a solar farm in Ohio: Ohio State University Extension, Utility-Scale Solar Development, Solar Leasing Resources.

Our specialty

At Third Sun, we specialize in full turnkey, grid-interactive solar system design, quoting, permitting, procurement, and installation for residential and commercial projects. If you’re interested in a solar installation to power your home or business, complete the form below!

Home Solar Energy Production Guarantee

So, what is a home solar energy production guarantee?

When you purchase a solar system, you will have many questions: how can I be sure that this technology will perform the way I was told it would?

Building trust with your installer, reading reviews, checking references are all wonderful places to start.

But, for added peace of mind and security, a built-in Energy Production Guarantee does not hurt!

Third Sun Solar offers Omnidian Energy Production Guarantee

When you invest in a solar system, you are investing in a long term solution. You count on your solar system to produce a certain amount of electricity each month, offsetting the electricity you take from the grid and lowering your electricity bills.

One way we make clients more comfortable making this investment is by offering an energy production guarantee.

This cashback energy production guarantee is provided through Omnidian. Read on to understand the benefits of a home solar energy production guarantee as well as the additional benefits you will receive through the program.

How does it work?

When you sign up for a solar evaluation at your home, your installer makes predictions about the amount of energy your solar system will make each year. They will use local weather data, the pitch of your roof, the footprint of where the solar system will go, and the panels you choose, among a few other factors.

All of these calculations go into a prediction that Third Sun backs up with an energy production guarantee.

In the chance that our predictions are off, and your solar system produces 95% or less energy annually than we told you it would: you are reimbursed in cash for the difference.

Be aware when comparing solar installers: not all companies guarantee that the solar system will produce as much power as they say it will.

The energy production guarantee comes with professional around-the-clock monitoring.

With this service, you’re notified of solar system underperformance, often before you notice.

If there is a maintenance issue, the Omnidian team will notify you, and our service team will come out to resolve the issue.

What’s the difference between the energy production guarantee and the Third Sun Solar workmanship warranty?

To give our clients the confidence to take control of their energy future by going solar, we offer a 20-year workmanship warranty, which we back up with our 20 years in business.

The workmanship warranty works alongside the energy production guarantee. It guarantees our workmanship for 20 years. If any problems with your system are determined to result from faulty workmanship, any parts or labor costs are covered by the 20-year workmanship warranty.

And, the energy production guarantee + monitoring will let us know if any issues need addressing.

If there are, it is in our best interest to fix them ASAP.

Why do I need a production guarantee if my panels have a Manufacturer Warranty?

The first thing to consider is that a Solar Panel Manufacturer warranty covers the part itself – not the labor to de and re-install the panel. The energy production guarantee covers that gap.

Second, the manufacturer warranty guarantees that a panel will produce a certain amount of power on its own. The manufacturer warranty doesn’t warranty things like weather variations that could decrease solar system performance. Again, the energy production guarantee covers that gap.

Program Highlights – Omnidian Energy Production Guarantee

  • 95% Energy Guarantee
  • 100% Covered Maintenance (including wiring and inverters)
  • 100% Peace of Mind
  • 24/7 Professional Monitoring
  • Proactive Service Dispatch
  • Live Support and Diagnostics
  • The plan is pre-paid for five years with new solar systems

Ready for a free solar evaluation of your home?

Get Started

Complete the form below to begin your free solar evaluation.