Utah Solar Panel Buyers Guide [Installation & Efficiency 2022]
Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide to Utah solar panels:
- The average cost of installing solar equipment in UT
- Things to consider when sizing your system
- Incentives available to help you save money on your panels
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How to Get Solar Panels in Utah
When you’re ready to begin the process of converting to solar energy, you’ll first need to choose a solar installer and request an estimate and system design. A representative will probably need to inspect your home and review your energy bills to get an accurate system size that will offset your energy consumption.
Next, you’ll need to choose a financing option — cash, loan, solar lease, or power purchase agreement (PPA) — to finalize your payment scheme, and then wait for permits to be approved. After that, the system will be installed and commissioned to produce energy.
Most UT residents find that converting to solar energy is a great option, both from an environmental standpoint and a financial one. Photovoltaic equipment will reduce your carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels. It also boosts your property value, and systems in UT typically pay for themselves and save an additional $10,000 thereafter.
What Is the Price of Solar Panel Installation in Utah?
The cost of solar panels in UT hovers around $2.68 per watt, although this can vary. Most residents need around an 8 kilowatt (kW) system to offset their electric bills, which puts the average system cost right around $15,000 after the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is considered.
Oftentimes, a metric called the panel payback period is more important than the up-front cost. This tells you how long it will take for the energy savings from your panels to pay off your system. The average payback period in UT is 14 years, which is slightly longer than the national average of 12 years.
If you need more in-depth explanations for the cost and value of solar in your area, you can turn to our solar cost guide for Utahns.
The Best Solar Panel Brands Available in Utah
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) ranks UT 12th in the country for solar adoption.1 Unsurprisingly, the solar industry is booming in the area, which means residents will have numerous options when it comes to equipment brands and installers.
Utah receives plenty of sunshine and minimal extreme weather, so homeowners don’t necessarily need panels with the highest efficiency rating or the lengthiest warranty. Most focus more on cost and overall value instead.
Below are some of the most popular panel brands in UT:
- Maxeon (previously marketed as SunPower)
- Canadian Solar
- Mission Solar
- Trina Solar
Is Utah a Good State for Solar Panels?
Utah is an outstanding place for solar conversion. There are a few things that make solar so valuable in The Beehive State. We’ll discuss these factors below.
- Abundant sunlight: Solar modules rely on available sunlight to generate electricity, which means areas with above-average sun exposure are better suited for solar conversion. More sun means more energy savings, improving the value of your panels. UT residents see an average of 238 sunny days annually, which is well above average in the U.S.2
- Below-average energy demands: UT property owners pay below-average electricity rates and also use less energy than residents throughout the country. The average monthly consumption in the area is around 769 kilowatt-hours (kWh), compared to the national average of 893 kWh.3 Lower energy needs mean smaller systems will suffice to offset electricity consumption. As a result, UT residents pay less for their solar equipment overall.
- Excellent state solar incentives: UT is a popular place to go solar, in part because the state provides several benefit programs and perks for converting to clean energy. We’ll discuss the specific benefits available in a later section and how they lower your costs and increase your savings.
- Frequent power outages: Utah is prone to power outages, not only because of thunderstorms and other inclement weather but also because the aging electric grid can get overwhelmed by increasing demand in the state.4 Solar power systems with panels, inverters, and solar batteries are more valuable in areas with a high risk of blackouts because they can maintain off-grid energy even through long outages.
How Much Energy Can I Get From Solar Panels in Utah?
Estimating how much electricity your panels will generate is a challenge because there are many things that can push production levels up or down. However, getting an accurate estimate is helpful for determining what size system suits your home. We’ll discuss the factors to consider below.
- The weather: Local weather conditions are typically a primary consideration when your installer is sizing your system. Cloudy days can see production levels drop by up to 90%, so averages need to be used to figure out the total impact of weather on your generation rates. Luckily, cloudy days aren’t common in UT.
- Shading on your roof: Just like clouds blocking the available sunlight, shading on your roof from trees, buildings, utility poles, and other obstructions near your home can all push production rates lower. Your panels require unhindered access to the sun for maximum production, so shade during the day needs to be considered carefully.
- The orientation of your home: South-facing roofs are the best for solar conversion, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.5 This is because, in North America, the sun is located in the southern portion of the sky and will provide the most direct sunlight to roofs pointing to the south. A higher sunlight intensity means higher energy production levels, which translates to greater energy savings over time.
- The baseline efficiency of your panels: All panels available in UT come with an efficiency rating. This metric tells you how efficient the panel is at converting available sunlight to electricity for your home. The higher the efficiency rating, the more energy your panels will produce in otherwise equal conditions.
- The number of panels you have installed: Finally, the number of panels you have installed plays a big role in how much power your solar energy system generates. More panels will always equate to more energy, provided they have access to sunlight. However, cramming as many panels as you can on your roof is far less cost-effective than sizing your system according to your needs.
The chart below can act as a good starting point to estimate how much energy different system sizes in UT can provide. Keep in mind that these numbers can fluctuate quite a lot based on the factors described above.
|Solar Power System Size||Expected Daily Energy Produced||Expected Monthly Energy Produced||Expected Annual Energy Produced|
|5 kW||16.6 kWh||500 kWh||6,000 kWh|
|6 kW||20 kWh||600 kWh||7,200 kWh|
|7 kW||23.3 kWh||700 kWh||8,400 kWh|
|8 kW||26.6 kWh||800 kWh||9,600 kWh|
|9 kW||30 kWh||900 kWh||10,800 kWh|
|10 kW||33.3 kWh||1,000 kWh||12,000 kWh|
|11 kW||36.6 kWh||1,100 kWh||13,200 kWh|
For a more accurate estimate of how much energy panels on your roof can generate, you can use our solar calculator tool. This uses your property location and average shading throughout the day — based on satellite imaging — to provide a more accurate estimate.
Solar Panel Policy History in Utah
UT is a relatively solar-friendly state, which is partially why solar adoption is so strong in the area. The pro-solar policies and legislation are the primary reason for so many helpful incentive programs.
Pro-solar policies in UT began in 1979 when the state enacted solar easements and rights laws. These provided all property owners with the right to install and enjoy solar panel systems. Basically, they prevented homeowners associations (HOAs) and municipalities from prohibiting solar adoption.
It wasn’t until 2001 that Utahns saw the next piece of progressive solar legislation. This was the year the state initiated the renewable energy systems tax credit.
This is a tax credit that provides up to 25% of your system cost — up to $1,600 — as a credit toward your state income tax liability. Unfortunately, this credit will decrease in 2023 and is scheduled to end in 2024.
A year later, in 2002, Utah began its net metering program. The program credits customers for excess energy produced with their photovoltaic panels, and those credits can bring down power bills if energy needs ever outpace solar production.
The policy doesn’t mandate any specific credit rate, except that the Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) utility company is required to provide the retail rate for energy. Most others offer a less beneficial avoided-cost rate. All systems up to 25 kW — virtually all residential solar installations — are included in this policy.
Two years later, in 2004, UT began offering the alternative energy sales tax exemption to reduce commercial solar panel installation costs. This policy waives sales tax on all photovoltaic (PV) equipment for systems above 2 megawatts (MW), including community solar farms and other large solar projects.
While not available for home solar systems, this program does push solar energy overall in the state and is beneficial for the industry.
In 2008, Utah set its first Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal. This called for the state to generate at least 20% of its power from renewable energy sources by 2020. Unfortunately, the goal was voluntary, so the state fell short. The goal has been reset for 2025, though, and in addition, 23 Utah cities and counties have committed to adopting 100% net-renewable electricity by 2030. This makes up about 37% of Utah’s electricity load.6
Finally, in 2013, UT legalized Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for commercial installations. This helps reduce the barrier to entry into solar energy for commercial solar customers.
What Are the Solar Panel Incentives in Utah?
Although some of the policies discussed above only apply to commercial customers, Utah residents looking to convert to solar still have access to several benefits and tax incentive programs. We’ll discuss those currently available below.
- Federal solar tax credit: The federal tax credit is for 30% of your system total, including panels, batteries, inverters and other PV system equipment. This amount gets credited to your income tax burden, which can help save an average of nearly $6,500 in Utah.
- Net metering: Net metering guarantees energy credits for all unused solar production. The credits you earn can bring down future energy costs and utility bills, which increases your long-term energy savings. The policy mandates retail rates for credits from Rocky Mountain Power, but most other companies offer wholesale rates or avoided-cost rates.
- Renewable energy systems tax credit: This is UT’s state tax credit, which functions similarly to the federal government’s tax credit. It’s for up to 25% of your system cost or $1,600, whichever is less. The credit rate will drop in 2023 and will no longer be available come 2024.
- Rocky Mountain Power Wattsmart Battery program: RMP offers rebates to customers who choose to install solar batteries with their systems. You can earn up to $600 back for each kW you install up to 30 kW, plus a monthly credit on your bill.
For more information on Utah solar incentives or how you can apply for the above programs, you can read through our guide to perks and benefits for Utahns.
Find a Local Installer in Utah
Given how valuable solar systems are in UT, there is a high demand for solar equipment. Many solar contractors have popped up to meet that demand, which means you’ll have a lot of research ahead of you if you want to choose the right one for your needs.
Below, we’ll include links to the top solar installers in a few cities throughout Utah. These should help you get a feel for which company is best for you in terms of cost, value, brands offered, warranty coverage, and more.
For more information on solar companies that operate in other cities in the area, you can check out our complete guide to choosing a solar installation company in UT.