Solar Panel Cost in Iowa (2023 Local Savings Guide)

In this guide to Iowa solar panel costs, you’ll learn:

  • How much does it cost to install solar panels in Iowa?
  • Is solar power cost-effective in Iowa?
  • Do solar panels help to reduce monthly electric bills in Iowa?
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How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Iowa?

The average solar panel system in Iowa costs $24,930 before the federal tax credit or $17,451 after the credit. This figure assumes that you need a 9 kilowatt (kW) system to offset the average monthly electricity bill of $110 in the state.1

Solar panel installation costs vary based on a number of factors, but the size of your renewable energy system (how many panels you install) is the most significant contributor. So, if you have lower energy needs than the average Iowan, you can save money on solar panels by installing a smaller system.

Most Iowans see pre-tax-credit solar systems costs between $16,600 and $33,240. Solar panel systems are priced per watt, costing an average $2.77 in Iowa. The table below shows how the cost of solar energy systems in Iowa varies by size:

SIZE OF SOLAR PANEL SYSTEM IOWA SOLAR PANEL COST COST AFTER FEDERAL TAX CREDIT HOME SIZE THIS SYSTEM IS APPROPRIATE FOR
6 kW $16,620 $11,634 1,500 sq. ft.
7 kW $19,390 $13,573 1,625 sq. ft.
8 kW $22,160 $15,512 1,750 sq. ft.
9 kW $24,930 $17,451 1,875 sq. ft.
10 kW $27,700 $19,390 2,000 sq. ft.
11 kW $30,470 $21,329 2,125 sq. ft.
12 kW $33,240 $23,268 2,250 sq. ft.

How Does the Current Cost of Solar in Iowa Compare to the National Average?

The average cost of solar is slightly more expensive in Iowa compared to the national average — $2.77 per watt compared to $2.66 per watt. This means that the average system costs $17,451, versus the national average of $16,758 — a $693 difference for the same size (9 kW) system. These figures are both after factoring in the solar tax credit.

Place Cost Per Watt Cost for Average (9 kW) System After Tax Credit
Iowa $2.77 $17,451
U.S. $2.66 $16,758

All numbers accurate as of December 2022. Based on national market research data.

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  • Some reported communication issues
  • No leases or PPAs

How Are Solar Costs Trending in Iowa?

Lucky for you, solar panel costs are dropping in Iowa. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), solar prices have dropped 52% in the last decade.2

More and more homeowners are taking advantage of the lower costs of solar, with the number of residential solar installations increasing every year since 2018, with a sharp uptick seen in 2020.3

Comparatively, electricity rates are rising in Iowa and are expected to keep increasing. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts that the cost of residential electricity will increase again in 2023.4 The higher your electricity costs, the more value your solar system will provide.

How Much Can You Save By Going Solar in Iowa Today?

With electricity rates increasing and the cost of going solar decreasing, it’s well worth it to install solar panels in Iowa.

The average Iowa homeowner saves at least $17,500 over the 25-year lifetime of their solar panel system. That’s based on the average system size and electricity data from the EIA.

But your energy savings will vary based on how strong your panels are and how you choose to finance your solar system.

The three main solar financing options are cash purchases, solar loans and leases. Below, we’ll explain how much money you can expect to save with each option.

Iowa Solar Financing Option Average Upfront Cost (After Federal Tax Credit) Average Payback Period Est 25 Year Savings
Cash $17,451 12-years* $17,572*
Loan As low as $0 15 years* $13,179*
Lease $0 N/A $6,250*

*These are conservative estimates intended to represent base-level averages. In most cases, customers can see an even higher ROI and shorter payback periods.

Cash Purchase of Solar System

Purchasing your system upfront in cash is the best way to save money on energy and get the most out of your solar investment.

A cash purchase offers the shortest payback period and won’t accrue interest like a solar loan. But perhaps the best benefit of purchasing your solar system in cash is that you’ll start seeing energy savings right away.

However, in Iowa where the average solar power system costs $17,451, we don’t anticipate the majority of homeowners will be able to afford the entire system in cash. But the more you can pay upfront, the more savings you’ll see in the long run.

Pros of Cash Purchase

  • You own your system
  • You can claim the federal solar tax credit
  • Provides the shortest payback period
  • You pay the least amount over time

Cons of Cash Purchase

  • High upfront cost

Solar Loan

Most Iowa homeowners pay for their home solar systems with a solar loan. Similar to a car loan, solar loans typically require little money down and then you can pay for your solar equipment in monthly installments over time.

Taking on a loan is a great way to finance your solar system. But again, we recommend paying as much as you can upfront so that you don’t get burned with interest rates. The good news is that you can use some of your solar savings (the money that would be going to your energy bills) for your monthly solar loan payment.

Just keep in mind that your total solar system cost will be higher with a solar loan because of the accrued interest. The average solar payback period in Iowa is 13 years, which is already slightly higher than the national average of 12 years. This will all depend on your own financial situation, however, so it’s best to speak with a solar company to get an accurate estimate.

Pros of Solar Loans

  • Requires little to no upfront payment
  • You can claim the federal solar tax credit
  • You own your system
  • You can use your energy savings to pay off your system

Cons of Solar Loans

  • You end up paying more over time due to interest rates
  • Longer payback period compared to a cash purchase

Solar Lease

Lastly, a solar lease allows you to utilize solar energy without owning your system. It’s just like renting a home, except in this case you’re renting your solar panels.

Solar leases may be a good idea if your main goal is to switch to solar to reduce your carbon footprint and save some money on energy bills. But they’re by far the worst option when it comes to your return on investment (ROI).

When you lease your solar panel system, you don’t get to claim any tax credits or rebates that you could get from going solar. Instead, your solar installer gets to capitalize on these financial and tax incentives.

Solar leases also won’t add value to your home the way buying a solar panel system would. Actually, solar leases can complicate the process of selling a home, as not all home buyers will want to assume the lease, and it can cost thousands of dollars to terminate your lease early.

Pros of Solar Leases

  • No down payment required
  • Minimal barrier to entry
  • Allows lower-income families to support clean energy
  • No maintenance required

Cons of Solar Leases

  • Doesn’t increase your home value
  • Can complicate the process of selling a home
  • You lose eligibility for solar tax incentives
  • Sometimes sold by unethical companies
  • Often come with hefty cancellation fees

Use this solar calculator to estimate your expected savings

How Do You Get the Best Solar Prices in Iowa?

Many homeowners think about installing solar panels to save money on energy bills in Iowa. But finding out a solar panel system can cost between $16,000 and $34,000 may scare you off.

Don’t be scared! There are several ways to save on solar panels in Iowa, including:

  • Claiming the federal solar tax credit
  • Taking advantage of local Iowa solar incentives
  • Shopping different solar companies to get the best quotes

Claim the Federal Solar Tax Credit

The federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is the best solar incentive in Iowa, worth up to 30% of your total system cost. In Iowa, the average homeowner shaves $7,479 off the total cost of their solar energy system.

It’s important to note that the ITC is not a discount, but rather a credit for the federal taxes you owe. If you don’t owe at least 30% of your total system cost in taxes the year you install your solar system, the credit rolls over up to five years.

Take Advantage of Local Iowa Solar Incentives

We’ll be honest; compared to other states Iowa doesn’t offer great solar incentives. It used to offer a state tax credit, but the program has since expired.

Still, some solar programs in Iowa can help you lower the cost of your solar panel system. For example, customers of Waverly Light & Power can receive the following cash rebates for solar and other energy-efficient HVAC systems:

  • Heat Pump Water Heater: $400
  • Solar Water Heater: $30 per square foot
  • AC/Air to air heat pump 17 SEER: $275
  • Geothermal Heat Pump: $4505

If you live in Ames, you can earn $300 for every kilowatt (kW) of solar installed, as well as several other rebates that can save you on energy-efficient HVAC costs.6

You should always check with your utility company to see if there are any additional solar incentives or energy efficiency rebates available that can lower the cost of your home improvement project.

Iowa also offers sales tax exemptions for all solar equipment. With the 6% sales tax rate in Iowa, that saves you about $1,500 on your solar investment.

And while it won’t save you any money upfront, Iowa’s solar property tax exemption means that you won’t have to worry about your property taxes increasing, even though solar panels will increase your home value by an average of 4.1%, or around $8,200, based on the average home value of $200,000.7,8

Shop Different Solar Companies for the Best Quotes

There are 30 different solar companies in Iowa, and all of them want your business.9 You can use the competitive nature of the solar industry to your advantage to secure the best price on your solar panels.

Every solar provider in Iowa is going to charge a different amount — even if you’re looking at the same products. Two companies’ quotes can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars apart. But, we don’t expect you to call up all 30 solar installers in Iowa to see who offers the cheapest solar panels or the best value deal.

Choosing a solar company can be an exhausting process — that’s why we’re here to help. You don’t have to spend hours calling the best solar companies in Iowa and comparing their prices because the EcoWatch reviews team has already done the work for you.

We know you’re passionate about switching to solar energy, and we’re passionate about helping homeowners like you reduce your carbon footprint and create a healthier planet. By using EcoWatch to receive multiple quotes, you can compare offers directly to make sure you’re getting the best value out of your solar system.

Customers who compare multiple quotes via our funnel are more likely to secure a lower price for a system than customers who go directly to a single provider. Click the links below to receive your free quote. Pro tip: if you prefer one company we’ve featured over another, but the preferred company is more expensive, use the lower quote as a bargaining chip.

What Factors Affect the Cost of Solar Panel Systems in Iowa?

You may be wondering how the cost of a solar panel system could possibly range from $16,000 to $35,000 in Iowa — that’s a huge range.

The following factors affect the cost of your solar panel system in Iowa:

  • How many panels you install
  • Which Iowa solar company performs the installation
  • The solar equipment brands you choose

How Many Panels You Install

You pay for solar panels on a per-watt basis, so it should come as no surprise that the more solar panels you install, the more your solar panel system is going to cost.

The average Iowa homeowner uses 861 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per month, which is why a 9 kW system is the average size needed to offset the energy needs (dividing energy usage by 100 gives you the system size needed, we rounded up to the nearest whole number).10

If you only use 600 kWh of energy per month, you can get away with installing a 6 kW energy system, which costs roughly $16,620 in Iowa before applying any solar incentives.

You also don’t need to install as many solar panels as you need to offset your entire energy bill. You could install a few solar panels to lower your energy costs and shift some of your energy usage away from fossil fuels.

Which Iowa Solar Company Performs the Installation

As mentioned, different solar companies will charge different prices even for the same equipment. Solar installers base their prices on several different factors, including location, the difficulty of installation, availability of products and more.

It may even vary based on solar popularity where you live. For example, a national company like ADT solar may have different installation rates for Des Moines customers versus Iowa City or Cedar Rapids depending on how far its technicians have to travel and how much it has to pay to get the proper solar equipment shipped to that city.

We know it’s sounding like a broken record, but this is why it’s so important to get multiple quotes from different solar companies. It can make a huge difference in the cost.

The Solar Equipment Brands You Choose

You wouldn’t expect to pay the same price for a Toyota as you would for a BMW. Just like cars, each solar equipment brand has its own reputation for performance.

If you choose to install the best solar panels, like the Maxeon panels from SunPower, you’ll be paying top price.

Pair your panels with top-notch equipment like a Tesla Powerwall solar battery and the latest Enphase microinverters and you can expect solar installation prices to climb.

But on the other hand, you can think of paying for top-performing solar panels as more of an investment than a luxury purchase. The better your solar technology, the more power it’s going to generate, which means bigger energy savings in the long run.

Are There Any Maintenance Costs of Going Solar in Iowa?

Fortunately, solar panels are pretty low-maintenance. But there may be a few maintenance costs that may pop up over the course of their 20- to 30-year lifespan.

Solar panel maintenance in Iowa costs $400 on average but can range between $300 and $700 depending on the issue. Let’s look at some of the potential issues that may arise:

Solar Panel Cleaning: $150 to $330

Any dirt or debris covering your solar panel will decrease your solar energy output. But here’s where Iowa’s average amount of rainfall and an above-average amount of snowfall can actually come in handy for solar panels.11

Rain and snow can help solar panels by keeping them clean and clear of debris. Otherwise, you can expect to pay between $150 and $330 for professional solar panel cleaning.

Replacing Broken or Cracked Solar Panels: $120 to $500

You should always check your solar panel company’s warranty to see what coverage they offer for broken or cracked panels. Sometimes you can have these issues replaced for free.

If the glass cracks on your solar panel, it can cost between $120 to $500 per panel to fix. If the panel itself breaks, it’s typically between $150 and $500.

Solar panel repairs are not typically covered if the damage was due to weather, which is unfortunate in a state like Iowa that sees severe weather like tornadoes, thunderstorms and blizzards.,12 However, storm damage to solar panels is usually covered under your homeowner’s insurance.

Typical Costs of Solar Providers In Iowa 

There are more than 30 solar installers based in Iowa and likely several more that serve Iowa homeowners from surrounding states. Choosing the best solar panel brand for you is the one that fits your budget and provides the efficiency you need to cover your home’s energy consumption.

The table below includes some of the top solar brands available in Iowa, as well as a relative pricing guide. This should help you figure out which brands are most likely to be affordable given your budget.

SOLAR PANEL BRAND AVERAGE COST PER WATT ($-$$$$$)
Canadian Solar $$$
JA Solar $$
Mission Solar $$
Panasonic $$
Qcells $$
REC $$$
Silfab $$
SunPower $$$$$
Tesla $$
Trina Solar $$$

Read More About Going Solar in Iowa

FAQ: Iowa Solar Panel Costs

The EcoWatch team gets lots of questions from Iowa residents about solar system costs and the process of converting to renewable energy. Below are some of the questions we see most frequently, along with our responses. If you have specific questions that aren’t answered here, reach out to our team of solar experts at solar@ecowatch.com.

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Article author
Kristina Zagame is a journalist and content writer with expertise in solar and other energy-related topics. Before joining EcoWatch, Kristina was a TV news reporter and producer, covering a wide variety of topics including West Coast wildfires and hurricane relief efforts. Kristina’s reporting has taken her all over the U.S., as well as to Puerto Rico and Chile.
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Expert reviewer
Karsten is an editor and energy specialist focused on environmental, social and cultural development. His work has been shared by sources including NPR, the World Economic Forum, Marketwatch and the SEIA, and he is certified in ESG with the CFA Institute. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the solar energy sector, studying energy policy, climate tech and environmental education. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.

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