Your Idaho Solar Energy Experts

Here's our insights from 10,000+ installs, and 15 years in business in the Gem State.

Your Trusted Idaho Solar Experts

Since 1999, Big Dog Solar has been the leading provider of solar solutions in Idaho. With over 10,000 successful installations under our belt, we take pride in being the go-to solar company for residential and commercial customers across the state. As a locally owned and operated business, our entire workforce is comprised of Idaho locals who are passionate about bringing clean, renewable energy to our communities.

Is Solar Worth it in Idaho?

Many Idaho homeowners have considered going solar. Many have asked us if it’s even worth it with the Idaho winters, and snow and hail that we have here. It’s actually not worth it for everyone, but it can work great for some people. Despite our reputation, Idaho is actually a fairly sunny state.

When you’re using solar, you can use the extra sun to bring in some energy credits through net metering.

You might be wondering if solar will work for you. After all, Idaho’s home to long winters, right?

We want you to make a good decision about solar, here’s what you need to know before going solar in Idaho. We’ll talk about our climate, the pros and cons, local tax incentives and the different utility companies. Let’s get into it!

Table of Contents

The Idaho Climate: How Much Sun is There?

Many people associate solar energy with hot areas. It’s not the heat that’s important, but the energy from the sun coming down that’s important. That energy comes in the form of light.

Wether or not a state is good for solar, is determined by how many sunny days a state has. We need to look at the rain or snow, cloud cover, and obstructions like tree cover or heavy dust.

Rain, Snow & Hail

Humidity in general is low throughout the state. However, Idaho is known for its snowy winters, especially in the mountains.

Average annual rainfall varies from 10.4 inches in Twin Falls to 15 to 25.9 inches in Coeur d’Alene. Mean snowfall can be as high as 52.2 inches in the mountains. This means that during winter, you will need a way to brush snow from your solar panels.

Cloud Cover

Idaho is fairly sunny for most of the year. When you look at data recording how many sunny days the state gets, the average is quite high state-wide. In Boise, the average is 210 sunny days a year– almost 60% of the time! 

These are the peak solar days. Even cloudy days can frequently generate a little power, and you’ll store so much solar energy on your good days that you’ll have plenty stored for night and gray days.


Idaho is home to a lot of trees. In fact, it’s the state with the greatest percentage of land devoted to national forests. If you live in the southwestern part of the state, you won’t have to worry much about tree cover. This region is part of the Great Basin Desert and the Oywhee Desert.

If your home is in a wooded area, find the area that receives the most sunlight to place your solar panels. If you’re worried about tree growth, or a neighbor building something that blocks your sunlight, there’s a solution for that. It’s called an easement.

This is a process where you can file with the state of Idaho to protect your right to receiving sunshine. Learn about easements. If you decide you need to file one, then talk to a local legal expert that knows how to file them.

Idaho makes it easy to set up a solar easement along your property. This is voluntary. If you aren’t predicting serious tree growth or building construction near your property, it doesn’t need to be done.

Pros & Cons of Going Solar in Idaho

Every energy source has its benefits and drawbacks. Before you make a decision, you need to consider the pros and cons of solar systems to figure out if solar is the right choice for you.

The Pros of Going Solar

Here are the key benefits of going solar in Idaho.


  • Good for the Planet: Solar energy is a renewable resource that relies on the sun’s rays, which are abundantly available in Idaho. By utilizing solar power, you can reduce dependence on fossil fuels, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and contribute to a cleaner environment.
  • Energy Cost Savings: Installing solar panels allows you to generate your own electricity, reducing or even eliminating your reliance on the grid. Over time, this can lead to significant cost savings on your energy bills.
  • Energy Independence: Many Idahoans value their independence, and energy independence is no different. When you’re less dependent on traditional utility providers, you can enjoy stability and security when faced by power outages, grid failures, and rising electricity costs. the face of potential power outages, grid failures, or rising electricity prices.
  • Financial Incentives: The state of Idaho and the federal government offer various financial incentives to people who adopt solar energy. These incentives include federal tax credits, state tax exemptions, grants, and rebates. They can significantly offset the initial installation costs and accelerate the payback period of your solar system.
  • Net Metering: Idaho allows for net metering policies, which allows homeowners and businesses with solar systems to sell excess electricity back to the grid. All four of the main power suppliers offer net metering. This arrangement credits your account for the surplus power you generate, offsetting future consumption during periods of low solar production, such as stormy days or nighttime.
  • Property Value Increase: About 67% of non-solar homeowners want solar. This means that home listings with solar spend 13.3% less time on the market and are 24.7% more likely to sell for more than their asking price. Having a solar energy system can increase your home’s value by about 4.1% on average. That’s on top of the money you’re already saving. It’s a very smart, reliable investment.
  • Long-Term Investment: Solar panels last about 25-30 years. Investing in this form of renewable energy gives you a reliable, durable source of electricity. You will have energy security and stability for decades to come.

The Cons of Going Solar

Solar systems are amazing investments, but they do come with a few drawbacks. Here are some of the things that people don’t like about solar in Idaho.


  • Upfront Costs: The initial investment in a solar system can be very expensive. While there are financing options, grants, and low-interest loans available to offset these costs, it can still be a financial challenge for some homeowners.
  • Seasonal Energy Production: Idaho’s weather patterns, especially the long mountain winters, can impact the amount of sunlight that reaches your panels. This should be considered when you’re estimating potential savings.
  • Space Requirement: Solar panels require a considerable amount of roof or ground space, and older roofs may be a challenge for installation. Shade from surrounding trees or buildings can affect how well your solar system works.
  • Maintenance and Upkeep: While solar panels require little maintenance, they do need periodic cleaning. If you’re in the mountains, you will need to brush snow from your panels on a regular basis. If you’re in the desert, you will need to keep them free of dust.
  • Grid Connection: While solar panels will reduce your reliance on the grid and in many cases let you become completely energy independent, this isn’t true for everyone. If there are long periods where your solar panels don’t produce enough electricity, you will need to remain connected to the grid and be subject to utility regulations and fees.
  • Energy Storage Considerations: Solar panels generate lots of electricity during the day, but the sun isn’t out 24-7. If you want to utilize that power during the evening or at times when the sun is not shining, you will need an energy storage solution, i.e. batteries Adding battery storage to your solar system can increase the overall cost and complexity of the installation.

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Misconceptions About Going Solar in Idaho

Many of us still think of solar panels as huge, bulky, heavy panels that take up a ton of space and don’t produce very much electricity. But solar panels are much more than just a green-washed publicity stunt; advances in solar technology makes solar energy a reliable, inexpensive, and relatively easy alternative for a lot of Idaho residents. Here are some of the most common misconceptions about solar energy.

Is there a free solar program in Idaho?

Recently, there have been many ads for free solar programs in Idaho. Some even promote a free federal solar program. The truth is that there’s no free solar program. There are tax incentives, and financing options, but anyone promising free solar is trying to trick you.

Solar energy is expensive and not cost effective.

The price of daytime electricity where you live and the existence of tax incentives help make solar power worth it. Solar panels continue to become cheaper each year.

Solar won't work where I live.

The price of daytime electricity where you live and the existence of tax incentives help make solar power worth it. Solar panels continue to become cheaper each year.

Solar is a fad, the industry is too small to be reliable.

The US solar industry is expected to reach the $10-$15 billion level in the next 20 years and provide 300,000 jobs by 2025. This sustained growth exceeds that of the semiconductor industry.

Solar panels are hard to maintain and break easily.

Solar panels need cleaning, but there aren’t a lot of moving parts that need maintenance. You can install guards to keep things from getting under the panels.

Solar means going completely off-grid.

There has been a major market shift in the solar industry. It has shifted from almost completely remote, off-grid products to nearly 60% grid-connected, distributed power. You can still draw grid power for emergencies– solar just means you’ll pay less in the long run and generate clean energy. Of course, if you want to go completely off-grid, you can do that with solar storage batteries.

Idaho Solar Incentives

Idahoans who switch to solar power have lots of financial incentives to do so. The state and federal governments offer very appealing rewards for those who install solar panels on their property. These incentives include the following:

Residential Alternative Tax Deduction

This program allows homeowners to deduct 40% of the cost of your solar panel equipment and installation from your personal income taxes the first year, with an additional 20% deduction for the following three years after installation. This maxes out at $5,000 per year, or $20,000 total.

Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

This federal program, also called the Investment Tax Credit, allows you to apply 30% of the cost of your solar system as a credit to your federal tax bill. This will be available until 2033, when it will drop to 26%. There’s no cap on the value, but you do have to own the solar system rather than lease it.

Net Metering

Net metering isn’t mandated, but all four of the state’s main providers (Idaho Power, Rocky Mountain Power, Avista Utilities, and Idaho Falls Power) offer credit for all of the extra energy you put into the grid. Not all of their net metering programs are created equal. Idaho Power is in the process of changing theirs, and Idaho Falls generally has a financially disadvantageous net metering plan.

Rural Energy for America Program

The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is a federal program that assists farmers and other people in rural areas with renewable energy. It provides grants and loan guarantees for renewable energy projects in rural areas. These funds can be used for solar installations on agricultural properties, rural businesses, and farms in Idaho, so you don’t have to worry as much about the up-front costs of a solar system.

What Areas in Idaho do You Cover?

At Big Dog Solar we service nearly all of southern Idaho. We even serve parts of central Idaho. We’ve completed thousands of installations in the area.

Here’s a quick view of the counties that we service here.

Counties We Service

Bear Lake
Twin Falls

How to Get Started with Solar in Idaho

Now that you understand the many benefits of solar energy, how do you get started? The first thing you need to do is find a reliable solar installer. They’ll come out and take measurements, making sure that you get an ideal setup.

Then, your solar company will work with you on plans and design. Their energy experts will figure out the right configuration of panels for your home’s energy needs.

The next step is permitting. This is something your solar company can help with– they can arrange all of the permits and submit information to the relevant authorities.

Then, once that clears, it’s installation time! Your installation company will send out their pros to make your solar plans a reality.

After that, your installation will be inspected, and your meter company will perform a meter swap. This is where you can earn energy credits for the extra power you produce, so that you can have access to power for no extra cost in winter or cloudy weather.

Finally, your solar system is ready to turn on and start working for you!

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