Solar Panel Cost in Colorado (2022 Local Savings Guide)
In this EcoWatch guide on the cost of solar panels in Colorado, you’ll learn:
- What the average cost of going solar in Colorado is
- How solar system sizes affect installation costs in Colorado
- How Colorado can save money when going solar
- Which local installation companies have the best prices
This guide has helped thousands of Colorado homeowners save time and money when going solar by teaching them exactly what affects installation costs in the Centennial State. Let’s get started!
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How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Colorado?
Most solar panel systems in Colorado cost around $2.69 per watt, which is slightly above-average in the U.S. of $2.66 per watt. Based on the amount of energy that Colorado residents use, on average, the majority find that they need a 7.5-kW system to offset their energy costs.
This standard system costs approximately $20,175 before the federal tax credit or $14,122 after the deduction. This total cost is well below the national average because homes in CO need smaller-than-average systems.
Electricity costs in Colorado — even in major cities like Denver and Colorado Springs — are relatively low, so you’ll get a bit less value out of your home solar system than you would in an area with high electricity rates, like California. Colorado’s abundant sunshine and excellent solar incentives still make going solar a worthwhile investment for most homeowners.
Watch Below: U.S. Secretary of Energy Visits Colorado, Announces Millions of Dollars Towards Net-Zero Goal
How Do Colorado’s Solar Installation Costs Vary By System Size?
Solar energy systems in Colorado commonly fall between $9,953 and $21,897 after the tax credit. This range is so wide for several reasons, but the primary one is the size of the system required. For every kilowatt you add to your solar panel system, you can expect a price bump of about $2,690.
The table below provides average pricing before and after the solar tax credit for standard system sizes in CO.
|Size of Solar Panel System||Colorado Solar Panel Cost||Cost After Federal Tax Credit|
What Determines the Cost of Solar Panels in Colorado?
As seen in the chart above, the cost of solar panels in Colorado varies greatly depending on the size of your solar system. The good news is that Colorado homeowners tend to use less energy on average compared to most states, therefore the majority of them can power their entire home with a smaller solar panel system between 7 to 8 kW.
Aside from size, the following factors will determine the cost of solar panels in Colorado:
It’s not just how many, but the brand of the solar panel you choose to install that will affect the cost. Colorado is a pretty popular state for solar (ranked 13th in the nation for solar installations as of July 2022), so there are plenty of solar companies to choose from, each carrying different products.
While it may not be known for sunshine, Colorado sees over 300 sunny days a year.
That means you may be able to save some money by choosing solar panels that aren’t as efficient, because lower-grade models may be enough to power your home. However, it’s still dependent on where you live and how much direct sunlight your roof receives — your solar installer will know best.
Colorado is no stranger to extreme weather conditions, seeing everything from blizzards and hailstorms to tornadoes and wildfires. For this reason, many Colorado homeowners will invest in solar batteries.
Battery systems store electricity generated by your solar panels, for use in case of power outages in the area. Battery systems are growing in popularity but still can add several thousand dollars to your total.
While having snow on your solar panels is okay in most cases, it can be damaging under extreme weather conditions. That means you’ll probably want to invest in a solar panel that’s known for durability — like SunPower/Maxeon or REC solar panels — and you’ll want to ask about warranties that may protect your purchase in the event of damage.
Colorado Solar Financing
Even though the cost of solar panels is lower in Colorado compared to many states, it’s not cheap by any means. The average cost of $20,175 for a solar panel system is still a hefty investment for most Colorado homeowners, but there are some financing options and incentives available to receive a much lower upfront cost or even no down payment at all.
Unfortunately, Colorado has yet to offer any state-wide solar incentives, but many cities and municipalities offer local incentives (more on this in the section below).
There are also several banks and solar financing companies that offer mortgage or equipment loans to Colorado homeowners to help them with the upfront cost of solar, including:
- Alpine Bank: Green lending program line of credit
- Elevations Credit Union: Low-interest rates with zero down payment (not available in Boulder or Fort Collins, as those cities have their own programs)
- Clean Energy Credit Union: Offers 0.50% rate discount on solar PV system loans from Clean Energy Credit Union
- Colorado RENU Loan: Offers low-cost, long-term financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements with interest rates starting at 2.75%
- Fort Collins Utilities EPIC Loan: Bill financing, zero down loans for FC Utilities customers
- Mosaic Loan: Offers several different loan structures to cover upfront costs of renewable energy systems.
Colorado Solar Installation Company
Each solar panel installation company in Colorado will have varying prices based on availability, labor costs, equipment provided and warranties offered — that’s why we always recommend getting multiple quotes for your clean energy system.
It’s helpful to consider the value the company provides and not just the price they’ll charge for your system. We’ve found that often bigger companies may charge more for equipment but less for labor, and the opposite is true for smaller companies.
For example, a company like SunPower or Tesla only installs top-notch, high-efficiency panels, so you’re paying for that high quality and value, but you may not have as great of an installation experience.
On the other hand, choosing a local Colorado solar company like Photon Brothers may save you some money on equipment as they offer more affordable solar panels (like Qcells), but you may be paying more for outstanding workmanship and customer service. The only way to know for sure is to get multiple quotes and compare.
Additional Considerations and Costs in Colorado
While the factors discussed above are the main considerations, there may be some other factors that affect your total solar system cost in Colorado. They’ll probably have a minor effect, but you should still be aware of the following elements before committing to installing your renewable energy system.
- Permits: A national study found that local permitting can raise the cost of residential solar by 15 to 20%.1 The permits you require will vary based on where you live. For example, in Denver, solar panel systems require an electrical permit and possibly a zoning permit as well. Fortunately for Colorado homeowners, the Colorado Fair Permit Act was signed in 2011 that requires the cost of a permit for residential solar projects (under 2 megawatts) to be capped at $500, so that’s the maximum permitting fee you can expect to pay.2
- Licenses: Some states require solar installation companies to obtain a contractor’s license to operate in the state, which may lead the company to increase labor costs. As of July 2022, Colorado does not issue a contractor’s license at the state level, but certain counties, such as El Paso County, have local solar-specific requirements that may add to the cost of your solar panel system.3
- Warranties: A renewable energy system is a hefty investment, so of course, you’ll want it protected under an extensive warranty. Most solar panel brands offer lengthy, comprehensive warranties, but be aware that the ones with the best warranties are often the most expensive options.
- HOAs: As of 2021, homeowner associations (HOAs) are no longer allowed to restrict homeowners from installing renewable energy-generation devices, like solar panels, thanks to Colorado House Bill 21-1229.4
- Environmental zoning: Colorado is a solar-friendly state and its recent laws are only building on this trend, but some areas of the state may be more strict on the design of your solar panel system. For instance, in Adams County, rooftop solar panels cannot increase the height of your home by more than 5 feet, and ground-mounted solar arrays generally cannot exceed 10 to 15 feet.5
Colorado Solar Panel Incentives
Colorado is commonly listed as one of the most solar-friendly states, affording residents many incentives and rebates to make going solar more appealing. Below are the incentives available to CO homeowners.
Federal Solar Tax Credit For Colorado Homeowners
The federal solar investment tax credit — or the ITC — is a rebate offered by the federal government in the amount of 30% of your total system cost. In Colorado, that’s an average credit of $6,053, making the ITC one of the best incentives for converting to a renewable energy source.
The 30% federal solar tax credit applies to all residential solar installations through 2032. It is set to reduce to 26% for photovoltaic systems installed in 2033 and 22% in 2034. The credit is set to expire in 2035 unless renewed by Congress.
Net Metering Policies in Colorado
Net metering is a policy that allows you to deduct all excess energy you produce from all of the power you’ll have to pay for throughout the year. In some cases, the exchange rate between energy pulled from the grid and energy sent to the grid isn’t one-to-one, but the policy still provides a better opportunity to eliminate your electric bills.
In 2004, Colorado became the first state to establish a renewable energy standard (RES) by public ballot, which is a goal set forth by the state to produce a certain percentage of all electricity via renewable sources. As a result, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) put net metering and interconnection into effect in Colorado in 2005.
Today, net metering in Colorado provides energy credits to homeowners for every kilowatt-hour they produce with their panels. The credits are worth up to 120% of the cost from Investor Owned Utilities, including Xcel Energy Black Hills. That means you could get paid more for the electricity you produce than you’d pay when buying it from your local utility company.
For example, the Yampa Valley Electric Association, one of Colorado’s electric cooperatives, offers a one-to-one energy credit up to 100% of a home’s production, plus an additional credit of 3.3 cents after that point.
Ultimately, Colorado’s net metering makes it probable that even slightly undersized systems will be able to eliminate electricity costs for homeowners throughout the state.
Local Solar Rebates in Colorado
As one of the most solar-friendly states in the country, it should come as no surprise that Colorado also offers several local incentives to residents.
First, the EnergySmart Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program provides rebates on the order of hundreds or even thousands of dollars for energy-efficient equipment. Solar rebates under this program are currently offered in Roaring Fork Valley, Eagle County, Lake County, Gunnison County, Boulder County and Summit County.
Second, Colorado has established solar/wind easements and rights laws, guaranteeing all homeowners access to renewable energy sources. Under these laws, no HOA, municipality or other agency can prevent you from installing rooftop solar panels. Additionally, the law guarantees that your panels will be unimpeded by neighboring homes or buildings, so you’ll always be able to take advantage of the abundant sunlight in Colorado.
Finally, Colorado provides a sales tax exemption for solar equipment, which means you won’t pay sales tax on solar panels or the installation process. With a typical system cost of $20,175 and an average state sales tax rate of 2.9%, and some municipalities charging up to 8%, that’s up to $1,614 in savings.
There are other rebates and incentives provided to individual municipalities or customers of particular energy companies. You should check the DSIRE database for additional incentives in your area.
The Best Solar Panel Brands Available in Colorado
As with anything else, the brand you choose for your solar panels is going to have a great impact on the total cost of your renewable energy system.
For the most part, high-quality brands are going to cost more, but will also work more efficiently and last longer, which will save you the most money over time through electricity savings. However, if your home requires less energy, a mid-level or even lower-tier solar panel brand may work just as well.
The table below provides a general idea of the cost of the top solar panel brands in Colorado.
|Solar Panel Brand||Average Cost Per Watt ($-$$$$$)|
Ready to see how much solar panels would cost for your Colorado home? Take a look at our top providers below to get a free, no-obligation quote based on your household’s energy needs.
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FAQs: Solar Panel Cost Colorado
Given the immense popularity of solar power in Colorado, the EcoWatch team gets many questions from residents about going solar and the costs involved. Below are some of the more common questions we see. If you have specific questions that aren’t answered here, reach out to our team of solar experts at email@example.com.
The answer to this question depends primarily on your monthly energy consumption, which determines the size of your system. However, other factors need to be considered as well, including the size of your home, shading on your property and more.
To get a customized quote, you’ll need to contact a solar installer to design a system to meet your particular needs. With that being said, the average cost to install solar panels in Colorado is $20,175 before the federal tax credit, or $14,122 after the 30% rebate is applied.
Yes, absolutely! The value of solar equipment in Colorado is a bit lower than in other states, given the low electricity usage. However, solar panel systems still increase home value by approximately 4.1%, according to estimates from Zillow.
In Colorado, where the average home value is $536,839, that amounts to a massive value bump of around $22,010! It’s important to note that this increase in value is only expected if you purchase your panels outright or buy them using a solar loan. Leases and Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) will not increase your property value.
- Leasing doesn’t let you take advantage of the federal tax credit, which is a $6,053 value, on average.
- Leases also won’t increase your property value, so you’ll lose out on over $22,000 in increased home value.
- Finally, leasing solar panels saves you far less money over time than buying or financing.
With that being said, leases can be a good option if you cannot afford to buy panels and cannot secure financing due to poor credit. However, even high-APR solar loans are generally a better option than leasing in most cases.
Yes, absolutely! Many Colorado homeowners pay $0 per month for electricity because of their solar energy systems. The abundant sun, low electricity costs and great net metering program in Colorado make the state one of the easiest to eradicate utility bills.
Most homeowners throughout the state will need a system of at least 7.5 kW to do so, but some can get away with a smaller 5-kW solar system.
The cost will always be an essential consideration when going solar, but most Colorado homeowners find that energy efficiency is more crucial in the long run. Given the state’s excellent net metering program, high-production panels will usually save you more in the long run, meaning higher costs quickly get paid for by the system’s production.