Illinois Solar Panels: Pricing and Incentives


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Solar energy is picking up steam in Illinois, with almost 50,000 installations across the state. Homeowners continue to recognize the many benefits of going green, choosing to install solar panels in Illinois with the support of federal and state incentives. Over the past several years, Illinois legislators have been working on a bill to increase the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) and create higher targets for green energy sources.

If you’re curious about investing in home solar panels, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you should know about home solar, including the cost of solar panels in Illinois, tax credits and rebates, and more.

Illinois solar panel cost

Once you’ve decided to switch to solar power, you’ll probably start to wonder about the cost of solar panels in Illinois. The price of a system is dependent on a few different factors, such as the size and set-up of your panels and local installation fees.

For reference, the cost of solar panels is expressed in dollars per watt of energy produced, with a median price of $3 – $5 per watt for a residential solar system. That comes out to a total cost of $15,000 – $25,000 for the average home.

Even if these costs seem out of your budget, there are a couple of important points to keep in mind. First, the total system price mentioned above is before you apply the federal solar panel tax credit or Illinois solar incentives. Also, residential systems have an average solar payback period of six to nine years, at which point you’ll recover the money from your initial investment.

Why choose Illinois solar power?

There are plenty of reasons to install solar panels in Illinois, with three of the biggest being reduced electricity expenses, energy independence, and sustainable living. Here’s a quick look at each of these benefits.

Lower energy costs

One of the most compelling reasons to invest in solar is that it helps reduce your energy costs since you’ll be generating your own solar power instead of purchasing it from your local electric company every month. In some cases, you might be able to cut your bill in half.

In addition to these immediate savings, adding a solar system to your home also boosts the long-term value of your home. If you decide to sell, many buyers will find it favorable that you have working solar panels installed on your property and are willing to pay up to $15,000 more.

Establish energy independence 

As we’ve mentioned, going solar means that you’ll produce your energy at home rather than relying on your utility or electricity provider. This means that you won’t have to cope with widespread power outages or huge electricity rate increases during times of high demand.

Go green

Lower power bills and energy independence are excellent personal benefits, but your solar panel investment helps the world around you as well. When you utilize a renewable energy source like solar, it minimizes your eco-footprint. You’ll no longer be reliant on traditional carbon-emitting energy sources, which is far better for the environment.

Illinois solar panel incentives or rebates

At the federal and state levels, the government recognizes the value of homeowners installing solar panels at their homes. That’s why there are various programs in place to help you cover the cost of solar panels in Illinois.

First, the U.S. government incentivizes solar installations by offering a 26 percent federal solar tax credit to homeowners that add solar panels to their primary or secondary residence. Right now, this credit is valid through 2024 (unless Congress extends it), so you should make sure to install sooner rather than later to guarantee your rebate.

The Illinois state government also offers its own incentives for solar adoption. Notably, you won’t be subject to property tax increases if the value of your home goes up due to your solar installation. The state also had a program called Illinois Shines, which rewarded solar-generating homeowners with Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs), but it’s currently waitlist-only. Finally, net metering is available in the Prairie State, giving you the option to sell your surplus electricity back to your utility.

Should I buy or lease my solar panels?

Once you’ve made the decision to go solar, you’ll need to figure out whether you want to buy or lease your solar panels. The appropriate choice for you will depend on your individual situation, but in general, purchasing your system will provide more long-term benefits and save you more money over time.

First, let’s discuss the pros of owning your solar panels. In order to qualify for the federal tax credit or any Illinois solar incentives, you’ll need to purchase your system. You won’t be eligible if you lease, which could be a big enough motivator for buying. Also, from a long-term perspective, having a working home solar system adds about $15,000 to your home’s value.

With that said, there are also compelling reasons to lease your panels. For example, if you can’t afford to buy or don’t own your home, then leasing is a solid alternative. Leasing a solar system also makes it possible for families to access solar (even if they can’t purchase their own panels) via power purchase agreements or community solar projects.

Illinois solar panel companies

Finding the best Illinois solar panel company can require a lot of research. SaveOnEnergy is here to make that process easier with a variety of solar energy resources. Once you feel ready to begin the search for a solar installer in Illinois, remember to compare your options, ask for customer testimonials, and carefully read your contract before signing.

The history of solar power in Illinois

Illinois currently ranks 19th in the country for solar power, with installations increasing every year. In 2020, residential, commercial, community, and utility solar projects rose dramatically, with the trend looking to continue. In fact, the SEIA anticipates that the solar capacity in the Prairie State will increase by 1,700 percent over the next five years.

At the moment, there are several solar projects across the state. Some of the biggest installations include the Grand Ridge Solar Plant (20 MW) and the Rockford Solar Project (3 MW).

Important solar installation factors to consider

Solar is a large investment, so you should make sure that you understand all of the factors that go into a solar installation. Let’s look at the key factors that impact how effective solar will be at your home.

  • The condition of your roof: For the best results, your roof should be in great shape and not in need of repair before investing in solar. Ideally, your roof should be at a 15 – 40 degree angle, with a south-facing slope.
  • How much sunlight you receive: If you live in a place that receives large amounts of sunshine, your solar panels will be more effective than they would be in cloudier or shadier areas.
  • Neighborhood or HOA rules: In certain communities, you’ll usually need to request approval from your HOA to make any modifications to your home (including adding solar panels).

Solar power FAQs

How much would solar cost in Illinois?

Generally speaking, you should expect to pay from $3 – $5 per watt of energy generated. On an average-sized home, this equates to approximately $15,000 – $25,000 for an entire system. Remember that this is before any federal, state, or local incentives, so your overall cost would likely come down.

Is solar power a good investment in Illinois?

Adding solar panels can be an excellent short-term and long-term investment. To get the best return on investment, your roof should receive a decent amount of sunshine and not be covered by trees or other buildings. Check out the previous section for more information about the best conditions for home solar.

How much could I save by investing in solar?

It depends on a few separate factors, including how much you’re currently paying in energy bills and the suitability of your home for solar. However, in some cases, homeowners who switch to solar have lowered their electric costs by as much as 50 percent. (Note: Just switching to solar doesn’t mean you’ll be using less energy.)

How does solar power help the environment?

When you switch from traditional to solar energy, you’ll immediately cut down on your greenhouse gas emissions and reduce your carbon footprint. Since solar power is renewable, generating it puts less stress on the environment and is far better for the planet.