Illinois Solar Panels [Cost & Installation Pricing Guide 2022]

In this EcoWatch guide on the solar panel costs in Illinois, you’ll learn:

  • How the solar costs in Illinois compare to the national average
  • What the Illinois Shines SREC system is
  • How the federal and local government can help with financing

This guide has helped thousands of homeowners in the Prairie State produce clean, renewable energy, while saving them time and money in the process. Let’s get started!

Ecowatch Author Karsten Neumeister

By Karsten Neumeister, Solar Expert

Updated 8/3/2022

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What is the Cost of Installing a Solar Panel System in Illinois?

Most solar panel systems are sold according to a price per watt, the average of which in Illinois is $2.73, which is above the national average of $2.66. Given that the average home in the area requires around a 7.5-kW system to eliminate its electric bills — which hover around $93 per month — the average cost of going solar in Illinois is around $15,152 after the federal tax incentive.

The cost of installation is higher than the national average, as is the estimated payoff time. The cost of electricity throughout the state is low, meaning it will take you longer than average to let savings pay off the cost. This is unless you live in Chicago, where electricity rates are far higher and payoff time is much shorter.

The cost to install a solar system in Illinois can vary by more than $10,000 from home to home. There is a price range for many reasons, but the biggest factor when it comes to the cost of your system is its size. Solar panels are typically sold on a per-watt price basis, so the larger your system is, the more expensive it will be. The average cost per watt in Illinois is $2.73, which means every additional kW will increase your total by approximately $2,730.

In an area like Illinois, where cold temperatures demand more power to heat your home and the available sunlight is about average for the country, a 10-kW system is typically needed. If your home is more or less efficient than most, smaller or larger than average or uses more electricity than a typical home, your cost can be quite a bit higher or lower than the average.

The table below offers pricing before and after the federal tax credit is accounted for of systems ranging from 5 kW up to 11 kW.

Size of Solar Panel System Illinois Solar Panel Cost Cost After Federal Tax Credit
5 kW $13,650 $10,101
6 kW $16,380 $12,121
7 kW $19,110 $14,141
8 kW $21,840 $16,162
9 kW $24,570 $18,182
10 kW $27,300 $20,202
11 kW $30,030

What Determines the Cost of Solar Panels in Illinois?

Solar panel systems in Illinois usually cost around $2.73 per watt, which means the typical 7.5-kW system would total about $15,152 after the federal tax credit. It’s not uncommon for prices to fall well below or above that, with costs typically ranging from $10,101 up to $22,222.

The range is so wide because of several cost factors that play a major role in the per-watt pricing. We’ll discuss the main cost factors below.

Solar Equipment

solar panel cost IL

As you might have guessed, the type of equipment you install and the overall size of your system are two of the most significant factors when it comes to pricing for your solar panels.

All solar energy systems include solar panels, but not all panels are created equal. Some panels — like Maxeon brand panels — have a higher efficiency and are suitable for areas that get minimal sunlight, but they tend to be more expensive than other brands. 

Illinois gets 198 sunny days per year, on average, so lower-efficiency panels should still be suitable, which means you could save some money by opting for more affordable panel brands.

Illinois residents contend with severe weather on a regular basis, with intense thunderstorms and tornadoes occurring frequently throughout the year. The climate means power outages are more common than in many other states, so coupling your solar panels with battery storage to provide power through blackouts is a good practice in IL. 

Unfortunately, this does increase the average cost of solar panel systems in the state.

Lastly, the number of panels you need — which can depend on many factors — will affect your pricing. Larger homes, those with heavy shading on the roof and those with east/west-facing roofs might require more panels or more-efficient panels, driving up the average cost.

Solar Financing in Illinois

The payment method you use for your solar panels can have a big impact on your cost as well. Paying with cash means you must have the money up front, but it will also lead to the greatest energy bill savings over time and leave you with the lowest system cost possible. 

A solar loan, which most solar customers choose, reduces your up-front payment considerably or entirely, but you’ll end up paying more in interest, which will cut into your overall savings.

Illinois has Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs, which limit interest rates and loan terms for solar loans. We’ll note that PACE financing in Illinois is only available for commercial customers. 

Illinois does, however, have the Illinois Solar for All Low-Income Community Solar program, which seeks to provide access to community solar to allow low-income households to get behind renewable energy.

Illinois Solar Installation Company

As is the case with companies you choose for other home improvements, the company you go with for your solar project can bring your price well above or below the average in the area. This can happen for two reasons.

First, every solar installer will have unique pricing for labor, and each company can also charge different prices for equipment. In fact, the same exact system could cost thousands less from one company than it does from another based on demand, customer service, warranty coverage, upcharges, discounts and more.

Second, not every solar installer offers the same equipment. For example, Windfree Solar, a local solar company in Illinois, installs a variety of equipment brands that you can choose from to suit your budget. 

SunPower, a national solar company that services Illinois customers, only installs Maxeon panels. These panels are some of the most expensive in the industry, so choosing SunPower will naturally cost more than choosing a company like Windfree Solar.

However, it’s important to remember that panels also differ in quality and performance and not just cost, so it’s best to compare panels on value as well as price.

Additional Considerations and Costs in Illinois

There are some other minor things you’ll want to think about before committing to a solar installer in Illinois. We’ll discuss these considerations below.

  • Permits: The State of Illinois requires a building permit for all solar panel system installations. Your solar installer will typically handle the permitting process for you but you’ll probably see the permit fee on your bill.
  • Licenses: Illinois has a special license requirement for solar installers called the Distributed Generation Installer Certification. You should always check to ensure your preferred installer has this license before committing to a solar panel system.
  • Warranties: Solar warranties can guarantee that your multi-thousand-dollar investment continues to provide you with energy savings for many years to come. Long, comprehensive warranties that cover performance, equipment damage and issues caused by the installation — like roof leaks — are best.
  • HOAs: The Illinois Solar Rights Act prevents homeowners’ associations and other entities from prohibiting solar panel installation. All homeowners have the right to adopt solar and use the sunlight that naturally hits their properties for power generation.
  • Environmental zoning: Zoning laws in Illinois can sometimes restrict ground-mounted panels, but you shouldn’t have any issues getting a rooftop solar system installed on your home.

What Solar Incentives Does Illinois Offer? 

Going solar is sometimes prohibitively expensive for homeowners. Luckily, the local and federal governments offer a number of solar incentives in Illinois to make solar more accessible and lower the upfront and long-term cost of converting to solar energy. Below are the most significant incentives available to homeowners throughout the state.

Federal Solar Tax Credit For Illinois Homeowners

The federal government provides the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) to all homeowners throughout the country, including those in Illinois. This is a rebate you’ll receive on your taxes in the amount of 26% of your entire cost for solar installation. At an average solar cost of $20,475 in Illinois, this amounts to a credit of $5,324, bringing your effective total down to $15,152.

The federal tax credit is 26% of your total if you install solar panels in 2022, but it’s scheduled to drop to 22% in 2023 and be eradicated for residential solar in 2024. It’s possible that Congress will renew the bill that provides access to the credit. However, there is no guarantee that it will.

Net Metering Policies in Illinois

Net metering is a billing option offered by many utility companies nationwide that incentivizes going solar. Basically, it involves power companies paying you or crediting your electric bill for any power you produce above and beyond your home’s energy requirements.

The net metering incentives vary from state to state, and Illinois has an excellent policy. Most utility companies in the area have a one-to-one payback, which means they’ll pay full retail price for any excess energy you produce. This provides a great opportunity to eliminate your electric bill because the excess is credited to your account for later use.

Some customers of companies like Commonwealth Edison can even get paid for overproduction, meaning the electric company will pay you instead of the other way around.

The strong net metering policies in Illinois make going solar more worthwhile, even though the upfront cost per watt is above the national average.

The below video puts some actual numbers behind this so you can see the real value of net metering.

Local Solar Rebates in Illinois

In addition to the federal solar tax credit and the appealing net metering policy, there are some local incentives available to reduce overall costs as well.

First, Illinois has set the lofty goal of producing 25% of its energy from solar by 2025. To reach this goal, the state started the Illinois Shines program that incentivizes residents with a robust Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) system. For every 1,000 kilowatt-hours you produce in excess of what you use, you get one SREC, which you can sell to power companies for a profit. Each SREC is worth around $70.

Second, Illinois has instituted a Solar Property Tax Exemption. Installing solar panels almost always increases the value of your home if you buy them outright or finance them. In most cases, property value increases also lead to a bump in your property taxes. To avoid increased property taxes from dissuading homeowners from going solar, Illinois homeowners will not be taxed on the property value added by their solar energy systems.

Lastly, Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) offers a solar rebate to nonresidential solar customers in the amount of $250 for every kilowatt installed up to a 2,000-kW system. For commercial customers, this can amount to an incredible $500,000 rebate.

The Best Solar Panel Brands Available in Illinois

Choosing the right solar panel brand for your energy needs, expectations and budget is essential, as it helps guarantee that your panels are affordable and produce the energy you need for your home. 

The table below includes relative pricing information for some of the best solar panel brands available in Illinois. This can help you figure out which brands are likely to be affordable for you.

Panel brand Avg cost ($-$$$$$)
LG $$$
Canadian Solar $$$
JA Solar $$
Mission Solar $$
Panasonic $$$
Q Cells $$$
REC $$$$
Silfab $$$
SunPower $$$$$
Tesla $$$
Trina Solar $$$

Want a free quote for a solar system customized for your property? Select one of our top providers below, and we’ll connect you with one of the top solar installers in your area right away.

Is Illinois a Good State For Solar Panels?

Illinois is absolutely a good place to go solar. There are some factors that detract from the value of solar in IL, like the fact that the state receives well below the national average number of sunny days. 

Additionally, solar equipment tends to be more costly in Illinois than in other states, with an average per-watt cost of $2.73 as compared to the national average of $2.66.

Despite the higher cost of equipment, most homeowners in Illinois still pay off their systems with energy savings in the average amount of time — 12 years — and they use less energy than average, so they require smaller and less expensive systems overall. 

The energy rates in Illinois also average around 15.06 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is well above the national average. The higher cost of energy means a greater potential for savings, making solar a worthwhile investment for most Illinois homeowners.

How Much Energy Can I Get From Solar Panels in Illinois?

The actual rate of energy production you can achieve on your property depends on many different factors. Among these are the direction your roof faces, the number of panels you have, the efficiency of your panels, how shaded roof is and much more. 

The only reliable way to estimate power production for your system is to have a solar installer assess your property and design a custom system.

The average 7.5-kW system in Illinois is expected to generate around 800 kWh per month. This is based on the typical number of sunny days, minimal shading and average solar panel efficiency. For most homeowners, this rate of production is enough to eliminate energy bills.

Solar Policy History in Illinois

Illinois began passing pro-solar legislation in 1998, which was late to the game compared with other states. It started with a solar property tax exemption a nice incentive for installing solar panels.

Also in the late 1990s, Illinois created new funds for renewable energy: the Renewable Energy Resources Trust Fund and funds through the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. These funds helped promote solar and make it more affordable through rebates and grant programs.

In 2007, Illinois implemented its net metering policy, which is a massive benefit to solar owners and greatly reduces the cost of solar panels over time. A year later in 2008, Illinois set forth its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal, which aims to have 25% of the state’s energy produced via renewable sources by 2025-2026. 

The Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) market was established in 2016, which again made solar more affordable and enticing to residential customers. In 2021, Illinois passed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, which commits the state to reaching 40% renewable energy by 2030 and 50% renewables by 2040.

The Solar Energy Industries Association currently ranks Illinois 17th in the country for solar adoption.1 Based on projections and budding legislation, the likelihood is that solar adoption will continue to increase in IL, bringing the state to fifth in the country over the next five years.

People Also Ask

FAQs: How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Illinois?

The EcoWatch team receives plenty of questions from homeowners in Illinois. Below are some of the most common ones we see, 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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Karsten Neumeister

Solar Expert

Karsten Neumeister is a solar energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the renewable energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on solar energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.