Solar Panel Cost In 2023 (Homeowner’s Installation Savings Guide)
By Karsten Neumeister /
Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide:
If you’re considering installing solar panels in Utah, you might be interested to know that the average homeowner in the state sees lifetime savings over $10,000 on electric bills just by installing photovoltaic (PV) panels. Plus, some cities in Utah receive over 250 days of intense sunlight per year, making Utah one of the best states in the country for solar energy production.1
The state of Utah currently ranks 12th in the country in terms of the rate of solar adoption, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).2 There are many reasons why solar is so popular in the area.
Perhaps most notably, Utah’s solar incentives are outstanding and better than most other states’ perks. Utah residents also pay less for solar arrays because the below-average energy consumption demands a smaller system and less equipment, which helps keep costs down. The average system in the area is 8 kilowatts (kW), compared to the U.S. average of 9.5 kW.
Plus, power outages are very common in Utah, which means homes equipped with panels and solar batteries can benefit greatly from backup power in the case of a blackout or emergency.3 These factors all combine to make converting to solar well worth it in the Beehive State.
Generally speaking, converting to solar in Utah is a great financial investment. The panels typically pay for themselves in 14 years and provide an additional $10,000 or more in savings over the lifetime of the system. However, you should still do your research before installing solar panels to make sure it makes sense for you, your home and your budget.
We’ll discuss how to tell if solar will be a good match for you in the sections below.
Before you contact a solar installer in Utah, you should do some basic research on the local cost of equipment, the size of the system you’ll need and how viable solar production is for your property. The EcoWatch team has provided this information for you throughout this helpful guide to going solar in Utah.
First, we recommend looking at how valuable solar is in your area and even your specific property.
Generally speaking, Utah residents will need a solar system size around 8 kW to offset their energy needs. At an average of $2.68 per watt, a complete PV system in the area will total $21,440 upfront. If you consider the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) of 30%, you can bring your effective costs down to around $15,008.
This is about $2,000 less than most Americans will pay, which improves the value of your system overall.
Keep in mind that these are average numbers and will look different depending on your household needs. The size of the system you need will often be the largest determining factor in your price to convert to solar, so you’ll need to calculate how many panels you need to offset your utility bills. With 400-watt panels, you’re probably looking at around 20 panels for an 8 kW system, which is below the U.S. average.
Another important consideration is the amount of sunlight your property gets. You can look at average cloud coverage and sunny days per year and per season to get a general idea of how the weather will affect your production.
Panels will still work on cloudy days, but the energy generation rate will be lower. If you live in a city that receives less sunlight, you may need to invest in high-efficiency panels to make them worth your while.
If you have a southern-facing roof with little to no tree coverage or shade, chances are you’re in a prime location for solar conversion. If you have an east- or west-facing roof with shading throughout the day, you may need to contact a professional to see if solar panels would be a viable option for you.
The value of solar is also dependent on your local net metering program. Net energy metering credits you for the excess energy you generate, so you can offset future utility bills and save more throughout the year on energy.
Net metering isn’t mandated by Utah’s Public Service Commission, but there’s a good chance your local municipality or electric provider offers this perk. Many of the largest electric companies in the state do offer net energy metering, including Rocky Mountain Power (PacifiCorp).
Make sure to check the net metering credit rate as well, as many companies offer a less-than-ideal avoided-cost or wholesale rate. The full retail rate is ideal and will let you offset the largest portion of your utility bills.
The table below provides a quick look at how solar conversions and installation costs in the Beehive State compare to those throughout the United States. This should help you get an idea of how valuable solar conversion can be in your area as opposed to in other regions.
|Utah State Average||United States National Average|
|Solar Power System Size Required||8 kW||9 kW|
|Typical Cost Per Watt to Install Photovoltaic (PV) Equipment||$2.68||$2.66|
|Average Total System Cost Before Federal Solar Tax Credit||$21,440||$23,940|
|Average Federal Credit Value||$6,432||$7,182|
|Average Total System Cost After Federal Credit||$15,008||$16,758|
|Average Panel Payback Period||14 years||12 years|
|Average Lifetime Savings of Converting to Solar||$10,202||$22,379|
It’s worth noting that the payback period in Utah is about two years longer than average, and the lifetime savings are about half what most Americans will see. The primary reason for this is that energy in the Beehive State costs below average, and most residents use far less power than property owners in other states.4 Higher energy demands yield a great potential for savings over time.
Once you know that solar is a good option for your property, the next step will be figuring out the best way to pay for your system. Although PV equipment is usually well worth the investment, it’s still quite expensive to convert to solar in Utah.
First, you should determine what your home solar system will cost you. You can get an estimate using our solar calculator, which takes your specific property into consideration, including tree coverage and sun exposure. Once you know your system size, you can get an approximate estimate by multiplying the watts you need by $2.68, the average cost of solar per watt in Utah.
Next, you can do a quick value analysis to figure out how much your Utah solar system can save you. One of the most significant upsides to solar adoption is that you’ll offset your energy bills with the solar electricity your panels generate.
Many residents can eliminate their power bills, so you can take your monthly energy costs and determine the maximum amount going solar would save you per month. With an average utility bill of $80.87 in the state, that’s a maximum savings of around $970 annually.5 Over the 20 years your panels are expected to last, that’s a total savings of $19,400.
Doing this quick analysis for your home can provide an easy way to see how your potential savings stack up against the outlay of money to convert to solar.
Once you figure out the cost and value of your panels, you can move on to determine the best solar payment option for you. You have four options:
You should also want to consider the payback period of your panels and the long-term return on investment (ROI) you’ll see with these payment options. Cash purchases will typically pay for themselves in around 14 years for Utahns and provide the highest ROI. Loans will take around 16 years, on average, to pay for themselves, and have a moderate ROI.
When you’ve determined that solar is a good option for your home and have figured out which financing option works best for you, you can reach out to a solar installation company to get a formal estimate. This part might seem simple, but it often involves the most work and research. There are a few reasons for this, which we’ll discuss below.
Utah is home to 45 solar panel installation companies, according to the SEIA.6 Having lots of options is great for prospective solar customers, but it means that making a final decision can be quite time-consuming.
You should consider a number of things when choosing an installer in Utah, including:
Some of the top national solar companies that service Utah include:
Some of the best local companies and smaller solar providers in Utah include:
You can check out our guide to the best solar providers in Utah for more information on these companies and tips for deciding which is ideal for you.
Once you provide your contact information to a solar installer, a representative will reach out to set up an in-person consultation.
Given the recent increase in demand for solar in Utah, some less reputable companies have been providing quotes based on satellite images. While this is standard practice for broad estimates, you should generally avoid companies that don’t insist on an in-person inspection before drawing up a formal quote.
You’ll need to provide some personal details, including your name, your address and a recent electric bill before getting a quote. Your installer will use that information to contact you with a detailed estimate, which should include the following:
A representative from the installer should review the proposal with you to ensure you understand it and to answer questions if you have any. The rep can then discuss moving forward with your preferred payment method. They might give you access to an online portal to manage loan or lease payments or provide a payment address for cash payments.
Finally, we recommend getting at least two or three quotes from different providers to see how they stack up against one another. You can then compare them based on overall cost, the value and durability of the products that are being installed, the reputation of the company, the customer service and the warranty coverage included.
If you’re planning on installing add-on equipment to your solar setup, you should let your installer know as they’re starting the quoting process. Some common add-on products include:
Once the contract is drawn up for your solar installation, your next step is to sign it. Solar contracts are lengthy, but we strongly recommend reading through yours in its entirety before signing. If you’re uncomfortable with any of the language, consult with an attorney first.
Most solar companies in Utah will offer warranty coverage with your system and/or the installation. You should look carefully at the three different options when it comes to solar warranties:
There are a few checkpoints you’ll need to pass throughout the planning and installation stage, some of which can cause some delays in getting your system commissioned (which is to say, “turned on”). The biggest delays for Utahns typically come from your local government’s building department. Before any work can be completed, permits need to be filed for and approved.
After that, the installation can proceed, but this part of the process can cause delays as well. – especially given the above-average demand for solar in Utah right now. After installation is complete, you’ll need a final inspection.
Delays at this stage are dependent on how busy local building inspectors are, but it shouldn’t be too long a wait in most parts of Utah. You may see greater delays in major cities where demand is higher, including Salt Lake City, St. George, Provo and Ogden.
Generally speaking, from solar contract signing to system commissioning, you’re looking at two to four months. In busier areas, you could wait up to about six months. Just as an example, the timeline for going solar according to Rocky Mountain Power is as follows:
Taking installation timelines and delays on the part of the installer into account, the full solar installation process takes two to four months on average.
All construction and most major home improvements — including solar panel installation — require building permits. Although there is no specific state law requiring permits for solar, individual municipalities generally mandate them for every solar project.
Thankfully, your solar contractor will pull the permits for you, so you don’t have to worry about contacting the building department or filing any paperwork. However, after the permits are pulled and the installation is completed, your building department will need to complete a final inspection, for which you’ll likely need to be home.
Building permits also come with mandatory fees, which are typically included in your solar estimate and paid to the building department directly by your installation company.
The fees vary based on your location in the state, but most fall between $150 and $350. For example, solar permits in Salt Lake City average around $225, while permits in Herriman City average around $175.7,8
Interconnection is a means of monitoring the power passing back and forth between your home and your utility company. When you convert to solar, a device called a bidirectional meter will monitor energy getting pulled from the grid (when your panels aren’t producing sufficient energy) and power going out (when your panels are overproducing).
Since the Public Utility Commission in your state doesn’t mandate net metering, it also doesn’t handle permitting or applications for the program. Instead, your utility company will require an application for interconnection, which will then need to be approved and closed out after a representative installs a bidirectional meter. For example, RMP and Dominion Energy both require applications.9,10
Your solar installer should handle this application process for you, so be sure to ask the representative if they will fill out the application for you during your interviewing process or after you have received solar quotes.
Getting the application filled out, submitted and approved may add a bit to your connection timeline, but it’s well worth the time and effort, as net energy metering is a great way to boost your long-term energy savings in the area.
One of the most common questions about installation day is, “Do I need to be home for solar panel installation?” The answer is: Yes, absolutely. For most of the day, your installers will be outside on your roof, but you may need to provide access to your main electrical panel and/or your attic throughout the day.
In most cases, solar installers can get a system up and running in a single day. The average installation time for the typical 8 kW system in Utah is between six and 10 hours. However, some installers may take longer, and some installations might be more complicated, so you should plan on taking the entire day off.
If you’re installing solar batteries like many other Utahns do to combat the frequent power outages in the state, then your installers might have to come back another day to complete the battery installation.
Keep in mind that popular energy storage products like the Tesla Powerwall are often on backorder given the demand. Installers will often install the panels when they can and then wait until the batteries are available to complete the installation.
Your solar installer will usually help schedule a date and time for the final inspection your local government requires. You’ll just need to be home and provide access to any inside components, like batteries. If you only installed rooftop solar panels, your inspector might be able to complete a drive-by inspection, but they may also require access to your roof.
Inspections help ensure that your system is installed and connected to the grid properly to prevent property damage and electrical fire. They might seem like unnecessary red tape, but they do help ensure your safety and your home’s longevity.
For example, Utah has specific laws regarding the placement of solar storage solutions for safety reasons.11 All system components need to be installed according to the International Building Code (IBC) and the state building code. There are regulations regarding the placement of electrical wiring and inverters as well, in accordance with the National Electric Code.
After the inspection, you’re often on your own to make sure your solar power system continues functioning properly. Many installers in the area will give you access to an app to monitor solar production and the power you pull from the grid. In some cases, your installer will monitor your equipment remotely as well.
Your installation company may be able to activate your solar system before the final inspection, but some might wait until the inspection is completed. Either way, the company should let you know when you can expect your panels to start generating power for your home.
You can double-check with your installation company on monitoring software or websites to keep track of your production and consumption. Many of the larger manufacturers — like SunPower and Tesla — have apps that make monitoring simple and straightforward, but you can ask your installer for help accessing these programs if you need to.
Once your system is installed and commissioned, you can finally relax knowing that your utility bills are actively being reduced, you’re contributing to the clean energy movement, and you’re limiting your carbon footprint and contribution to global warming. The hard work is done; now it’s time to monitor your panels and watch your solar savings continue to climb.
We should also mention here that converting to solar is expected to boost your home value by around 4.1%, on average.12 That means if you sell your home a few years after installing your panels, you’ll still likely see a pretty sizable return on them.
Here are some additional resources that you may find helpful when doing your homework on solar panels in Utah.
Installing a solar panel system is a big investment, so many homeowners choose to take on a loan to help with the upfront costs. Below is a list of some of the most popular solar loan providers in Utah:
Here are some resources addressing energy needs and information in Utah that you may find helpful:
Below, we’ll answer some of the most common questions we see about the solar conversion process from aspiring solar customers in Utah.
In most cases, no. The state passed solar rights laws in 2017 that prevent homeowners associations from prohibiting solar installations if the homeowner owns the roof where the installation is to take place. However, HOAs that had rules regarding solar prior to 2017 are grandfathered in and could potentially ban solar.13
HOAs that didn’t have solar rules prior to 2017 can limit your solar array’s size slightly — by no more than 5%.
Yes, absolutely. Utah gets above-average sunlight, making it ideal for solar production, and residents have below-average energy needs, which means smaller and more affordable systems are generally required.
Additionally, there are better state incentives in Utah than you’d find in many other areas. These include a battery rebate for $400 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) your batteries can store, and the Renewable Energy Systems Tax Credit.
Generally speaking, going solar is a great option in Utah that can save you money on energy bills over time. In fact, the typical system saves an average of more than $10,000 on energy expenses after the panels pay for themselves.
The average lifespan of solar equipment is around 20 to 25 years, and most Utah residents can expect to see that or more out of their equipment, given that the state sees some of the lowest number of natural disasters.14 While monsoons, thunderstorms and even tornadoes aren’t completely out of the question, most solar panel systems are built to withstand winds of 140 miles per hour or more.15
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