Solar Panel Cost Guide in Chicago, IL (Oct 2022)

  • Chicago Solar Installation Cost: $12,345
  • 25-Year Savings: $10,267
  • Payback Period: 13.7 Years

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EcoWatch Local Advisors

By EcoWatch Local Advisors

Updated 9/16/2022

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Average Cost of Solar Panels in Chicago

See how much it might cost to install solar panels in Chicago.

The national average cost of solar panels is $2.66 per watt, but in Chicago it's $3 per watt. The average solar panel system size in Chicago is around 6.5 kilowatts, meaning a cost of about $12,345 for a solar installation, or $9,135 after the 30% federal solar tax credit is applied.

Bear in mind that the figures above are only estimates based on the average energy use of Chicago homeowners. The price of a solar system for your home may be different depending on factors unique to your situation, like your household energy use and solar contractor. But, once you've paid the upfront cost of installation, the payback for most homeowners is quite rewarding, with a net average savings of about $13,000 over 20 years on utility bills.

You can click the button below to get connected with a top solar company in Chicago that can help you get a more accurate cost estimate for your home.

Solar savings over time in Chicago

Year Return on Investment
1 years $-11,441
3 years $-9,632
5 years $-7,823
7 years $-6,014
9 years $-4,205
11 years $-2,396
13 years $-587
15 years $1,222
17 years $3,031
19 years $4,840
21 years $6,649
23 years $8,458
25 years $10,267

Top Solar Installers in Chicago

When switching to solar energy, many homeowners prefer to hire a solar company since putting up a solar system yourself can be a difficult project. Some solar installers, particularly local ones, can help you take advantage of incentives in Chicago, thereby optimizing your ROI.

If you're searching for a solar installer in Chicago, the EcoWatch team has put together a list of our top suggestions here:

Best National Provider

SunPower

★★★★★
5.0

  • Most efficient panels on the market
  • National coverage
  • Cradle to Cradle sustainability certification
  • Great warranty coverage
  • Expensive
  • Customer service varies by local dealer

Best Solar Financing

Blue Raven Solar

★★★★★
4.5

  • Industry-leading in-house financing
  • Competitive pricing
  • Excellent reputation
  • Doesn't offer solar batteries (coming 2022)

Best Technology

The Green Panel

★★★★★
4.5

  • Price-match guarantee
  • Sleek, efficient, and durable solar panels
  • Best solar battery on the market
  • Some reported issues with customer service
  • Customer service varies by local dealer

See all of the solar companies in Chicago

Factors that Affect Solar Panel Costs in Chicago

For many Chicago homeowners, the decision to install a solar energy system depends on cost. However, the range of solar installation costs can be quite wide in Chicago, with typical prices between $20,000 to $40,000. There are several factors that considerably influence the price you'll pay, which we'll go over below.

Solar Equipment Size

Size is one of the largest factors that determines the overall cost of going solar. That's why it's important to accurately gauge the size of the solar energy system needed for your home by figuring out your typical energy use. Some solar panel brands — like Maxeon from SunPower — are more expensive upfront but also tend to offer higher efficiency. In a city like Chicago, where sunlight is relatively abundant, efficiency can quickly pay off. In addition, if you have a small roof or you don't have a lot of space for your panels, higher efficiency options will be a better option. Additional equipment like electric vehicle chargers and solar batteries will also increase the cost.

Solar Financing Terms

For some homeowners, paying for solar panels out of pocket can be difficult. Solar loans are provided by most installers in Chicago, which can reduce, or in some cases totally eliminate, your upfront costs to make solar more accessible. Although solar loans make switching to solar energy more accessible for Chicago homeowners, they can also increase the total you pay for your system, depending on your interest rate and how long you take to pay off the loan. If you make a larger down payment, though, you can avoid paying as much in interest.

Solar Panel Installation Company

The remaining significant cost factor you should take into consideration is the installer you choose. Given the booming popularity of sustainable energy solutions in Chicago, you'll have a great number of options to choose from, but each comes at various price points for labor and equipment. Companies that only sell high-efficiency and high-priced products — like Maxeon solar panels from SunPower or Tesla Powerwall batteries — so choosing those installers will generally come with an above-average cost. It's best to do some research and go with the company that has the products, warranties and services you want and also fits within your budget.

Solar Panel Cost Data by System Size

System size Cost per system watt Solar system cost 25-Year savings Payback period
6 kW $2.84 $11,925 $9,074 14.2 years
8 kW $2.78 $15,594 $12,404 13.9 years
10 kW $2.73 $19,110 $15,887 13.7 years
12 kW $2.68 $22,473 $19,523 13.4 years
14 kW $2.62 $25,684 $23,312 13.1 years
16 kW $2.57 $28,741 $27,254 12.8 years
18 kW $2.51 $31,646 $31,349 12.6 years
20 kW $2.46 $34,398 $35,596 12.3 years

Solar Incentives in Chicago

Name Special Assessment for Solar Energy Systems
Incentive Amount Varies
More Info Click here

Name ComEd - Energy Efficiency Program for Residential
Website Visit here
More Info Click here

Name City of Chicago - Green Building Permit Programs
Website Visit here
More Info Click here

Name Solar Renewable Energy Credits
Website Visit here
More Info Click here

Name Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit
Website Visit here
More Info Click here

How to Save on Solar Panels

There are a large number of companies to choose from in Chicago, and some homeowners feel overwhelmed considering their options. Picking the right company for you can be challenging, so here are some tips to help you decide:

  • Reputation: The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is a respected certification organization for sustainable energy professionals. If your solar panel installer is NABCEP-certified, it most likely has a good reputation and is qualified to install your solar system. Another way you can look into your installer's reputation is by reading reviews.
  • Contract: It's important to read through your solar installer's contract thoroughly to understand what services they will provide, what the warranty covers and what expectations you should have about the project timeline.
  • Solar Panel Brands: Each solar panel brand and kind has varying levels of quality, durability and energy efficiency. They will come at different prices as well. The company you choose has an impact on which solar panel brands you have access to.
  • Warranty: A comprehensive, long-term warranty can help keep your solar panels running smoothly and save you money on part replacement and repairs.

Best National Provider

SunPower

★★★★★
5.0

  • Most efficient panels on the market
  • National coverage
  • Cradle to Cradle sustainability certification
  • Great warranty coverage
  • Expensive
  • Customer service varies by local dealer

Best Solar Financing

Blue Raven Solar

★★★★★
4.5

  • Industry-leading in-house financing
  • Competitive pricing
  • Excellent reputation
  • Doesn't offer solar batteries (coming 2022)

Best Technology

The Green Panel

★★★★★
4.5

  • Price-match guarantee
  • Sleek, efficient, and durable solar panels
  • Best solar battery on the market
  • Some reported issues with customer service
  • Customer service varies by local dealer

EcoWatch's Chicago, IL Solar Cost FAQs

What is the average cost of installing solar panels in Chicago?

This is a tough question to answer exactly, because the cost depends on a variety of factors. Broadly speaking, it costs about $13,650 for a 5-kW system and $27,300 for a 10-kW system after the ITC is applied. It will be more expensive if you want other solar equipment or higher quality panels, or if you have higher-than-average energy usage. On the other hand, you can spend less if you opt for a smaller solar panel system or less expensive solar panels.

Are solar panels free in Chicago?

A solar panel system isn't free in Chicago, but there are some options that can make getting them more affordable, such as leasing solar panels or getting a solar loan. There may also be local programs or incentives that you can take advantage of.

Is it worth going solar in Chicago?

Solar panels can be a good investment for many homeowners, but they might not be worth it for everyone. If your home doesn't get a lot of direct sunlight and/or your electricity bills are already reasonably low, solar panels might not be for you.

How many solar panels should I get to power my home?

To figure out what solar panel system size you need, you should find out how much energy your home needs and how much sunlight your home gets. For a general estimate, however, since each panel can typically produce about 250 to 400 watt-hours per hour, the average home will need 20 to 35 panels.

Our goal is to reach as many people as we can with sensible solutions like solar energy. Our team of full-time local researchers collects solar price and installation data for every city in America then compiles it to create these digestible city guides. If you want to read our solar expert’s opinion on the top solar companies featured here, follow this link.

Company research was conducted by Melissa Smith and Karsten Neumeister. Local data analysis was conducted by James Savino. See something we missed or could do better? Email the editor.

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