Cost of Solar Panels in Illinois: What to Expect (2022)

Reviews
Rear view of home with solar panels in cherry valley, illinois

Rebecca Nelson / Getty Images

Solar energy is on the rise in the Prairie State, with a predicted 1,700% growth in solar installations over the next five years. But how will this growth affect the cost of solar panels in Illinois?

In this article, we’ll take a look at current average solar costs in the state and give an overview of Illinois solar incentives to help homeowners save money on system costs. Owing to a number of factors, equipment pricing across the state will obviously vary, but the average cost of solar panels in Illinois is still an important benchmark to know if you are considering going solar.

If you’re interested in skipping the guesswork and seeing how much a system would cost for your home right away, you can get a free, no-obligation quote from a certified solar installer in your area by using this tool or filling out the form below.

Get Free Quotes From EcoWatch Approved Solar Installers

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Illinois?

Although Illinois has witnessed a steep drop in the prices of solar equipment, the state’s average solar panel cost is still slightly above the national average. Based on market research and data from solar companies, we’ve found the average cost of solar panels in Illinois to be $2.73 per watt and the U.S. average to be $2.66 per watt.

This means a 5-kW system (which is a common size for smaller homes) will come with a price tag of about $10,113 after the federal solar tax credit is applied. Here’s a table that shows the average pricing for systems ranging from 5 kW to 10 kW.

Size of Solar Panel System

Illinois Solar Panel Cost

Cost After Federal Tax Credit

5kW

$13,667

$10,113

6kW

$16,400

$12,136

7kW

$19,133

$14,159

8kW

$21,867

$16,181

9kW

$24,600

$18,204

10kW

$27,333

$20,227

As mentioned, the price of a solar system will vary, and the above table simply depicts the average cost of solar panels in Illinois for different system sizes. The best way to find out how much solar would cost for your home is to connect with installers near you.

Consulting local solar companies will not only get you an idea of pricing (and allow you to compare quotes so you make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck), but it can also help you understand the size and type of system that’s best for your specific needs.

What Determines the Cost of Solar Panels in Illinois?

Like many other personalized technologies, home solar power systems don’t (and can’t) have a fixed pricing nationwide or even state-wide. Here’s a quick list of factors that control the solar panel cost in Illinois.

Solar Equipment

Hundreds of manufacturers worldwide design and produce a staggering variety of solar equipment. The available products thus vary in quality as well as the features they boast.

For instance, you can choose between basic, low-cost solar panels and the newest, best solar panels on the market with higher efficiency ratings and innovative capabilities. The same applies to inverters, controllers, solar batteries and nearly every other component of your system.

Solar Financing

Despite the ability to save homeowners a significant amount of money over their lifetime, solar panels require a hefty starting investment. Naturally, not all customers opt to pay the whole amount up front — many choose to go the solar financing route. Here’s a brief description of the most common ways to pay for solar panels:

  • Cash purchase: The most straightforward way of buying solar panels, purchasing in a lump sum allows homeowners to enjoy maximum savings from going solar. However, as stated before, not all buyers are willing or able to choose this option.
  • Loan: Arguably the most popular option of all, taking out a solar loan allows buyers to reduce or even eliminate their upfront installation costs, instead paying in installments over a number of years. Although this option saves slightly less than a cash payment, it still affords homeowners key benefits of owning their system.
  • Lease/PPA: Similar to the loan option, a solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA) frees the customer from the initial investment. The difference, however, is that leasing means the customer is not the owner of the system and hence not the beneficiary of the federal solar tax credit. Additionally, lease payments usually last longer than loan payments. The combined result is that solar leases provide the least amount of savings over their lifetime.

Installation Company

With over 100 installation companies to choose from, the cost of solar panels in Illinois is bound to vary considerably. Different installers prefer to use equipment with varying qualities and features, and thus show variation in pricing.

Additionally, local installers are more likely to offer personalized solutions and competitive prices in order to grow faster in an increasingly saturated market. On the other hand, large, national or international companies can be a bit more reliable and offer bulk pricing.

The best way to find out the installer that is most suitable for your needs is to consult a number of companies and compare them on all fronts (which you can book using the form below). When you do so, you look at component specifications along with pricing, and remember that buying the cheapest solar panels might not save you the most money in the long run.

Illinois Solar Incentives

Illinois has a number of incentives that make it a great state to switch to solar. Besides the federal incentives, residents can benefit from state- and local-level incentives. Here’s an outline of the various ways homeowners can save on the cost of solar panels in Illinois:

Illinois Solar Incentive

How it Affects the Cost of Solar Panels in Illinois

Illinois Solar for All

ILSFA makes solar more accessible by providing affordable solar systems for low-income and Environmental Justice Communities across the state. Eligible customers can install a solar system without upfront costs and pay reduced energy fees.

Net Metering

Net metering allows solar owners to send surplus electricity back into the grid in exchange for energy credits that allow them to pull the same amount of energy from the grid without paying for it. This eliminates energy storage costs while also reducing monthly bills.

Solar Property Tax Exemption

Solar panel installation increases home value like any other addition, but thanks to Illinois’ property tax exemptions, this added value is not calculated into the valuation of a home or office for tax purposes.

ComEd Solar Rebate

Commonwealth Edison (comED), one of the oldest energy companies in the country, provides a rebate of $250/kW to its commercial and industrial customers in the state. The rebate is available only for systems up to 2,000 kW in size.

Local solar incentives

Several local utility companies and governing bodies throughout the state offer incentives for solar customers. Make sure to check for any additional rebates or credits offered by your energy company, city or county.

Federal solar tax credit

The solar investment tax credit allows you to deduct 26% of your solar system’s cost from your tax amount. The ITC is available to both residential and commercial solar adopters and will reduce to 22% in 2023.

FAQ: Solar Panel Cost in Illinois

Is it worth it to go solar in Illinois?

It might not be the country’s leading state for solar, Illinois’ decent level of solar irradiance and costs close to the national average make going solar an attractive proposition. Furthermore, a lineup of federal, state-wide and local incentives make going solar in Illinois even more lucrative.

However, solar might not be the best choice for every household. We recommend having a free consultation with a solar company near you before making the switch to solar.

How much does it cost to install solar panels in Illinois?

Illinois might not be the state with the cheapest solar panels, but at $2.73 per watt, it is only slightly more expensive than the national average. Therefore, a typical 5-kW system would cost just over $10,000 after the federal ITC is applied.

The state also offers its own incentives to drop prices even further. As mentioned previously, the best way to get an accurate price is to consult a few installers in your locality.

Are solar panels free in Illinois?

The prices of solar panels have shown a spectacular fall in the last few years. However, they’re far from free. If you see an advertisement or have someone knock on your door offering “free solar panels,” it’s likely a marketing tactic they’re using to have you sign a solar lease or PPA. In these agreements, you don’t have to pay anything to have the solar panels installed, but you do have to pay for the energy they produce.

We recommend avoiding solar leases or PPAs if you can, as they may not actually help you save money and you’ll miss out on the key financial benefits of owning your system, like claiming the 26% tax credit and having a higher property value.

How long will it take for solar panels to pay for themselves?

Solar panels pay for themselves well before they reach the end of their lifespan. However, there is no fixed timeline for solar payback periods, as they depend on factors such as the cost of electricity in your area, the price of the solar power system you select, the levels of solar radiation at your home and more.

In most cases, solar panels in Illinois pay for themselves within 10 years of installation. Considering the lifetime of a typical system is 25 to 30 years, the savings accumulated beyond the payback period are always significant.

Aniket Bhor is a solar engineer who has spent nearly a decade studying and working in the solar power sector in the European, Asian and North American markets. He is a climate enthusiast and avid cyclist, and he also loves to lose himself in books and cooking.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter