Solar Panel Cost Guide in Chicago, IL (Jan 2023)

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

See cost of a solar system near you:

By EcoWatch Local Advisors

Data Analysis: James Savino

Ranking Methodology: Karsten Neumeister

Updated January 20, 2023

Why you can trust EcoWatch

We work with a panel of solar experts to create unbiased reviews that empower you to make the right choice for your home. No other site has covered renewables as long as us, which means we have more data and insider information than other sites. Our rankings are never affected by revenue or partnerships.

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

Tesla Energy

★★★★★
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

Even though the average cost of a solar system in Chicago is $12,345, your final cost may differ. There are quite a few factors that can have a sizable impact on the cost of a solar system installation. Below are some of the more crucial things to consider.

Solar Equipment

System size, which is measured in kilowatts, is one of the largest factors that influences the overall cost of going solar. For that reason, it's a priority to accurately ascertain the size of the solar energy system needed for your home by figuring out your average energy use. The solar equipment you choose can increase or decrease your cost by thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. If you get the most efficient solar panel brands, you'll end up paying more upfront than if you opted for the most affordable panels. However, more efficient panels could save you more over time on your power bills. Additionally, add-on products, like solar batteries, can bump up your total well above the Chicago average.

Solar Financing Terms

Most solar companies in Chicago offer solar loans, which reduce the initial cost of installing solar. Although solar loans make adopting solar energy more accessible for Chicago homeowners, they can also raise the total you pay for your system, depending on your interest rate and how long you take to pay off the loan. If you put down a larger down payment, though, you can avoid paying as much in interest.

Solar Panel Installation Company

The final major 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 lots of options to choose from, but each comes at different price points for labor and equipment. Larger national companies generally have lower costs, but some local companies compete with them by promoting sales and discounts. While the smaller companies might not have specific equipment options like Tesla Powerwall batteries or extra services like electric car charger installation, they might be cheaper overall.

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

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

Tesla Energy

★★★★★
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

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

The average cost of solar panels in Chicago is about $13,650 for a 5-kW system and $27,300 for a 10-kW system before the ITC, but the real cost will depend on things like the kind of solar panels you want, what size system you need and how much energy you use.

What other factors should I consider apart from cost when buying solar panels?

The initial cost is a key factor to consider, but whether it's the most important for you depends on your goals for going solar. In areas where rooftop space is limited, efficiency can be more important than the cost. Other factors that are important to keep in mind are the quality and durability of your solar panels.

Can you sell solar power back to the grid in Chicago?

Most states have net metering programs of some kind. Through these, you can either get paid for the extra power your system produces or or receive credits to put toward future electricity bills. Currently there are just three states that don't have any net metering laws: Alabama, Tennessee and South Dakota.

How many solar panels do I need to power my home?

The exact number of solar panels you need depends on your household energy needs and the amount of sunlight your roof gets. You can take a look at your energy bills for the past year to get an idea of the solar system size you'll need. The average household has to install between 20 and 35 panels to cover their typical energy usage.

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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