Is Solar Worth It in Kansas? (2022 Homeowner's Guide)
Here’s a quick overview of solar viability in Kansas:
- Kansas ranks 44th in the country for solar installations*
- The average cost of electricity in Kansas is 12.85 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh)**
- The average solar payback period is 12 years***
- Homeowners are eligible for a Renewable Energy Property Tax Exemption and the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC)
- The average homeowner saves $21,455 over the lifetime of their solar system***
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Kansas ranks 44th in the nation in terms of solar adoption, meaning conversions are less popular in the Sunflower State than in many other areas throughout the country. However, solar is still a viable option for power production and saves many homeowners money, especially given the abundant and intense sun and the relatively low cost of solar equipment. Below, you’ll find an in-depth guide on how to determine if solar is right for your home, including how factors to consider that can affect how valuable solar is for you. We’ll also discuss some of the most significant benefits of going solar in Kansas and some additional things you need to consider as you prepare for installation.
How to Figure Out if Solar Panels are Worth It in Kansas?
Many Kansas homeowners find that solar saves them quite a bit of money, often enough to pay for the system and save thousands of dollars on top of that. However, solar panels aren’t right for every property. Below, we’ll discuss some of the factors that you need to consider that can have an impact on how valuable solar is for your home.
What’s Your Home Electricity Consumption?
One of the most crucial things to consider is how much energy your home typically uses in a month. Homes with high power consumption will be able to offset more in their electric bills, ultimately saving more money and making the panels more valuable. Generally speaking, solar is likely a good option for your home from an energy consumption standpoint if you use more than 500 kWh per month. The average home in Kansas consumes 883 kWh monthly, which is just below the national average. Unless you use far less power than the average home in your area, chances are you use enough to make solar panels worth the investment. You can check your energy consumption on your past electric bills, which typically include charges for the prior 6 to 12 months.
How Much Is It To Go Solar in Kansas?
The price of solar panels in Kansas will depend on many factors, including your monthly energy needs, the size and energy efficiency of your home, shading on your property and more. Most Kansas homeowners pay around $23,310 for a complete solar energy system, which equates to $17,249 after the federal solar tax credit is considered. Although this might seem a bit steep, it’s well below the national average. Solar provides more value in areas where energy bills are high, and Kansas has around average energy prices and consumes about the average amount of energy. However, solar is more valuable in Kansas due to the lower equipment prices in the area.
What’s the Payback Period for Solar in Kansas?
One of the most useful metrics for determining how valuable solar will be for your home is the solar panel payback period, which is the time it takes your solar panels to provide enough energy savings to offset the entire system cost. In Kansas, this time period is typically between 9 and 15 years, with an average of around 12 years. This is right in line with the national average. You can use a solar calculator to estimate your payback period or have a solar installer do it for you, the latter of which is typically more accurate if you choose a reputable company. If your estimated payback period is more than 15 years, you’ll still likely see savings, but it will take you longer to break even, and your return on investment (ROI) will be below average in the end.
What Are Average Buy-Back Rates in Kansas?
Most states have a net metering program or an “energy buy-back” program that provides a massive benefit to solar customers. These policies allow you to sell any power you produce with your panels and don’t use to the electric utility companies to offset your electric bills. Kansas does mandate net metering for all investor-owned utilities (IOUs), and some electric cooperatives and public utility companies also offer net metering. You should check with your electricity provider before committing to net metering, as there is no mandate on the rate at which energy is purchased back. Many utilities offer below-retail rates for overproduction, which is still helpful but less appealing. If you have a sub-optimal net metering program offered to you, installing a solar battery will help offset your energy bills. Batteries add significantly to your upfront costs, but you’ll usually see a high ROI with solar energy storage solutions in Kansas.
How Much Sun Does Your Roof Receive?
The amount of sunlight that hits your roof is an important factor to consider when thinking about going solar, as the more sun you receive, the more energy you’ll produce and the higher your chances are of seeing a large return on investment with your panels. Kansas as a whole receives around 240 sunny days per year, which is well above the national average of 205. This generally means that solar panels will be a worthwhile investment for most Kansans. Of course, there are some individual factors to consider as well. First, your location within Kansas can make a big difference, as residents in Kansas City receive around 216 sunny days per year, well below the state average. Second, you should consider the direction your roof faces. South- and west-facing roofs receive the most sun in the US, while exclusively north-facing roofs aren’t typically suitable for solar panels at all. Shading on your property from trees or nearby buildings is another factor that can make or break solar for your home. The less shading you have, the better panels will fare on your home.
What’s the Outlook on Solar in Kansas?
Solar power is certainly not as popular in Kansas as it is in most other states, but the market is growing. Residential solar conversions have grown year over year for the past decade, and utility-scale and the commercial solar sector have also grown considerably over the past few years. The slow adoption is mostly due to the prevalence of wind power systems. The state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goals call for 20% of all energy production to come from renewable energy sources. Since wind accommodates that itself, there is little reason to incentivize solar any further. Still, solar is becoming more and more popular in Kansas, so the likelihood is that the market will continue to grow and policies will improve in the future.
Benefits of Solar Energy in Kansas
If you’ve determined that a solar power system is right for your Kansas home, you’ll be pleased to hear about all of the benefits the conversion will bring you. We’ll discuss the most significant upsides of going solar in Kansas below.
Electricity Bill Savings
Of course, the number one benefit of solar power in Kansas is the energy savings you’ll enjoy, and the reduction on your energy bill is so substantial that it is expected to pay off your system and then some. After the average 12 years it takes for your panels to pay for themselves, the 13+ remaining years of equipment life are expected to provide you with savings totaling $21,455, on average. In addition to the massive savings you’ll enjoy, installing solar panels also makes you less reliant on your power company, which means the hikes in electricity rates that are expected in the future won’t affect your bills much or at all for 25+ years.
Lower Taxes & Access to Other Incentives
While solar power isn’t the primary focus as far as renewable energy sources go in Kansas, there are some incentives available to promote solar conversion offered by the state and federal governments. One of the most considerable incentives is the federal solar tax credit (ITC), which is a credit to your federal income taxes for 26% of your total installation cost. In Kansas, the ITC averages out to $6,061. There are some other solar incentives available to Kansas residents:
- Renewable Energy Property Tax Exemption: Normally, home improvements that bump up your property value will also cause your property taxes to go up. This statewide property tax exemption prevents that from happening, even though solar panels do improve your home value.
- Net Metering: Kansas mandates net metering for all investor-owned utilities, which means there’s a good chance you’ll be able to offset or even eliminate your electric bills by overproducing energy with your panels.
Home Resale Value Increase
One incentive that many homeowners never consider is the bump in home value solar provides. A data study completed by Zillow suggests that your property value will increase by approximately 4.1% just from installing a solar power system. In Kansas, where the typical home costs $197,505, the average jump in value will be around $8,098. It’s important to note that this benefit is only available to solar customers who purchase or finance their panels. Solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) do not provide the same benefit.
Clean, Renewable Energy
Financial incentives are often what push homeowners to go solar in Kansas, but there are some environmental benefits to installing solar panels as well. You’ll reduce your dependence on fossil fuels and your carbon footprint by converting to clean energy, which means you’ll be responsible for less pollution and will help stop global warming. You will no longer be relying as much on your power company, which gives you some independence and means energy rate spikes won’t affect you nearly as much.
What to Look Out For When Considering Solar in Kansas
Even once you’ve determined that solar is a good investment for your home and are excited to reap the many benefits of converting to this renewable energy source, there are some things you’ll need to consider as you move forward. We’ll discuss these additional factors below.
Although solar equipment is more affordable in Kansas than in most states throughout the country, the average upfront cost is still quite high. You’ll have to figure out if the initial investment is something that fits into your budget. You can keep upfront costs down by limiting the add-on equipment — like solar batteries and EV chargers — you choose for your home solar project, opting for a no-money-down solar loan and choosing a cheaper solar panel brand.
As we mentioned above, the panel payback period is the time it takes your panels to pay for themselves in energy savings, which is a crucial factor. Not only does this help you plan and budget, but it gives you a snapshot of how valuable solar panels will be for your home. The average payback period in Kansas is 12 years, and anything between 9 and 15 years is normal. If your estimated payback period is over 15 years, it will take you longer to break even on your system, and your overall savings will be lower.
Net Metering Policies in Kansas
Net metering is a massively beneficial policy that is mandated in many states, including Kansas. However, Kansas doesn’t require a specific buy-back rate for power production, so the policy can vary based on your utility company. While the net metering program available to you probably isn’t a make-or-break factor for solar altogether, a sub-optimal policy could mean that a solar battery is a good option. This will add thousands to your system total but has a high rate of return for most Kansans who have below-retail buy-back rates.
Pending Policies & Changes to Incentives
The solar industry is expanding and improving every year, so policies and incentives available now to Kansas residents may no longer be in existence in the future, or they might have improved over time. While we don’t recommend waiting for better incentives or rebates to come along, you should research which ones are available to make sure you take advantage of everything you can.
Weather & Climate in Kansas
Kansas ranks in the top 10 states in the country for abundance of sunshine, with the state as a whole receiving an incredible 240 sunny days, on average. This is well above the national average of 205 sunny days, which means the weather is generally conducive to installing solar panels and saving money in the process. While Kansas homeowners typically don’t worry about how cloudy weather affects panel efficiency, they do concern themselves with the extreme weather that is common in the area. Intense thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes all happen with relative frequency in Kansas and can pose some threat to your panels. Opting for a reputable solar panel installation company that provides a robust warranty is a good way to maintain peace of mind.
Companies Pushing Solar Leases or PPAs
Finally, you should very carefully consider the companies with which you’re willing to work on your solar project. Unfortunately, there are some companies out there that don’t have your best interests at heart, like those that advertise “free panels.” There is no such thing as free panels, and this is a marketing scheme to get you to sign a solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA). Solar leases aren’t advisable, as they don’t let you take the federal solar tax credit, they provide a far smaller ROI, if any at all, and they don’t increase your property value. The Prairie Land Electric Cooperative has put its customers on notice about solar scams occurring in its service area that leave unwitting customers without the savings they are promised and with massive conversion bills.4 Other complaints have been made in Kansas about high-pressure tactics and misleading savings estimates to get customers to agree to solar conversion. It’s important that you never feel pressured to go solar and work only with a vetted and reputable solar panel company with a history of success.
Wrap Up: Is Solar Worth it in Kansas?
Most Kansas homeowners will find that installing solar panels is a worthwhile endeavor, thanks to the abundant sunlight that hits the state and the relatively low cost of solar panels locally. However, solar certainly isn’t right for everyone, so it’s important to do a property assessment before you get started. Some things to make sure you consider include your estimated solar panel payback period, your monthly energy usage, the direction your roof faces, shading on your property and more. We strongly recommend contacting a reliable solar installer in your area to help you figure out if solar will benefit you and your home in the long run.
Frequently Asked Questions
The EcoWatch team is thrilled to get questions regularly about the value of solar panels from Kansans and how the conversion could benefit them. Below are some of the things we get asked most often, along with our responses.
The answer to this question is highly dependent on your individual home. The size of the system you need, the square footage and energy efficiency of your home, your monthly energy needs, and access to sunlight can all affect how long it takes for your panels to pay themselves off in energy savings. The best way to get an accurate estimate is to have a reputable solar installer assess your home. With that being said, most Kansas residents have a payoff period of between 9 and 15 years, with the average sitting around 12 years. These numbers are right in line with the national averages.
Provided you purchase or finance your solar panels, yes, they are expected to save you money in Kansas. Producing your own energy with your solar power system lets you offset electricity costs, which provides savings every month. Most systems in the area are expected to pay for themselves in 12 years, after which they provide an average of $21,455 in energy savings.
Yes, installing solar panels will bump up your home value as long as you buy or finance them. Solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) will not improve the value of your home and might even decrease what buyers are willing to pay. According to estimates from Zillow, solar panels boost property value by an average of 4.1%, which is around $8,098 in Kansas.
Yes, permits are required in Kansas to install solar panels. Although permitting might seem unnecessary, it’s actually beneficial for you as a homeowner. Permits and town or city inspections ensure that your solar system connection and installation are done safely. Your solar installer will likely be able to handle the entire permitting process for you.
You could opt to DIY your solar panel installation, but it generally isn’t wise. Installing a rooftop solar panel system is inherently dangerous, and mistakes could cause severe property damage, including roof leaks. We strongly recommend having an experienced and insured solar installer do the work for you.