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Solar panels in Illinois
Illinois continues investing toward a leading position in the solar energy transition across the U.S. The state aims to source 25% of its retail electricity sales from renewables by 2025. The initiatives taken to achieve this target have helped bring Illinois into the top 15 solar-producing states in the country, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
If you’re an Illinois resident thinking about going green, you might be wondering if solar energy is worth it. Adding solar panels can yield high long-term energy bill savings for many homeowners and businesses. On this page, we’ll explore solar costs, incentive programs, installers, financing options, and the environmental benefits of your investment.
Cost of solar panels in Illinois
The cost of solar panels in Illinois depends on your residential system size and components. The type of panels you choose and any local labor and permitting costs also impact the total price.
According to data from Find Energy, you can expect to pay around $3.76 per watt for solar panels in Illinois. The average size of a home solar energy system in the state is 7 kilowatts (kW). This would lead to a price tag of $26,320 for a complete residential solar system in the Prairie State. Keep in mind that this price does not factor in potential savings from incentive programs like the federal tax credit or state-specific rebates.
The following table provides cost estimates for different solar panel system sizes. You can determine the ideal system size for your home by consulting your current energy usage.
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Solar incentives and rebates in Illinois
Federal, state, and local governments offer helpful incentives to make solar more affordable and attractive for homeowners interested in green energy.
Here are the most popular Illinois solar incentives for homeowners who purchase solar panels in the Prairie State:
|Residential Clean Energy Credit
|The federal government offers a solar panel tax credit, allowing you to receive a credit for 30% of the cost of your solar panels through 2032. The credit will be reduced in 2033 and 2034 and expire in 2035 if Congress does not renew it.
|Illinois allows net metering, which means you can sell excess electricity back to the grid in exchange for credits on your electricity bill.
|ComEd solar rebates
|ComEd is an Illinois utility offering rebates to commercial and industrial solar customers to reduce out-of-pocket costs.
|Property tax exemption
|Your solar panels are likely to increase the value of your home in Illinois. Thanks to this tax exemption, they won’t increase your assessed value for property taxes.
Solar incentives in Chicago
In addition to federal and state incentives, Chicago residents can benefit from the city’s Solar Express Permit Program. The program speeds up the permitting and zoning process, typically one of the most time-consuming parts of a solar installation. Chicago also has a Green Permit Program, which provides expedited permitting for building projects with green technology. Both programs allow Chicago residents and businesses to accelerate their solar projects and start benefiting from renewable energy.
Solar panel setup
One of the most important factors determining the cost of your solar panel system is the components you choose to include. Certain components are necessary for every residential solar system, while others are optional. Here are some of the most common pieces of equipment:
- Solar panels: Panels are generally either monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or thin-film, each of which comes with its own unique cost and level of performance. These can be in the form of a solar panel roof on your home or attached with mounting and racking equipment.
- Solar cell: The cell is the part of the solar panel that converts your sunlight into electricity.
- Inverter: The solar panel inverter converts direct current (DC) output into alternating current (AC) power, which is used by appliances in your home.
- Battery: If you produce more energy than you use, you can use a solar battery to store the excess power and supply electricity for your home when the sun isn’t shining. Solar generators also allow you to store and use backup energy during an outage.
Are you interested in solar?
Choose Energy is your trusted partner for all things solar. Get in touch with our solar experts to learn more about the best solar panels in Illinois and connect with a solar installer in your area.
Solar energy in Illinois may help lower your electric bills
Solar panels can help you experience long-term savings in the form of lower electric bills. Let’s say you purchase a home solar system for $26,320, the average cost of solar panels in Illinois. Thanks to the federal tax credit, you can recover $7,896 from the total installation cost.
After adding solar panels to your home, you can begin saving on your energy bills and earning bill credits through net metering. The average Illinois monthly electric bill is currently $126.89. By switching to solar, you can reduce or cut out this monthly bill — and in roughly 12 years, your solar panel cost would be paid off.
Energy independence in Illinois
When you install solar panels on your home, you have the potential to achieve energy independence, which means you aren’t solely reliant on the traditional energy grid to power your home.
Energy independence helps you become less vulnerable to electricity price hikes when demand is high. You also aren’t at risk of losing power if you have a solar battery since you can generate and store your own solar electricity when the grid is overwhelmed during times of high demand. You can also sell your excess electricity back to the grid through net metering programs.
How to buy solar panels in Illinois
Residential solar systems can be expensive, making it vital to research your options before installing panels. There are also some important factors to consider before you add solar to your home. For example, solar panels are most effective on south-facing roofs with angles between 15 and 40 degrees. They function most efficiently when they receive direct sunlight, so consider clearing any trees or other obstructions to the sun before installation. You will also want to repair or replace your roof prior to installation if it is damaged, old, or in poor condition.
Certain neighborhoods have homeowner’s associations (HOAs) with requirements regarding solar panels. Check with your HOA to find out if your installer will have to navigate any local restrictions when installing your solar array.
How should I pay for my solar panels?
You have several options to consider when deciding how to pay for your panels. Paying in cash will secure you the most long-term savings. Alternatively, you can consider financing your solar panels or leasing them if the upfront cost is too high. The following table outlines the pros and cons of several ways to access solar.
|Largest long-term savings, solar panel ownership, eligible for incentives, lower energy bills
|Highest upfront cost
|Solar panel ownership, eligible for incentives, lower energy bills
|Avoid upfront costs, lower maintenance requirements, lower energy bills
|No ownership of the panels, ineligible for incentives, may need to find someone willing to take over the lease if you move
|Power purchase agreement
|Avoid upfront costs, lower maintenance requirements, lower energy bills
|No ownership of the panels, ineligible for incentives, fewer long-term savings
|Easy to subscribe, receive green energy with no maintenance
|No ownership of the panels
Solar panel companies
Residents and businesses in Illinois have 341 solar companies to choose from. When shopping for a solar installer, you should compare quotes from multiple companies and research their financing options, warranty terms, products, and other important factors. The following table highlights some of the top Illinois solar installers.
|Cash purchase or solar loan
|30-year performance warranty, 25-year panel warranty, and 25-year quality guarantee
|Cash purchase or solar loan
|25-year manufacturer warranty and production guarantee
|Cash purchase, solar loan, or lease
|25-year full system warranty
The future of energy is solar in Illinois
Like many states, Illinois has witnessed rapid growth in solar power over recent years. The state adopted various policies to encourage homeowners to switch to solar. As solar costs decline, more residents are choosing to go green for their energy needs.
Today, Illinois ranks 15th in the nation for solar energy generation. It gets roughly 1.56% of its electricity from solar power, enough to power 338,495 homes. There are also more than 340 solar companies in the state, creating 5,520 solar jobs.
Illinois has also experienced a huge increase in residential and commercial solar installations. In 2020, the state began investing heavily in community solar projects. Community solar allows renters or residents with homes unsuitable for solar panels to use solar energy. They host solar panels at a central location, and residents can subscribe to the shared energy program.
Solar energy FAQs
Do solar panels save you money in Illinois?
Solar panels can certainly save you money in Illinois. You can reduce your electricity bill significantly by installing solar panels. In addition, you could increase the resale value of your home and even sell excess electricity back to the electricity grid in exchange for bill credits.
What is the life expectancy of solar panels in Illinois?
Solar panels have a typical lifespan of between 25 and 30 years. However, various factors can impact how long your panels last. Before choosing a solar installation company, ask about the typical lifespan of the panels you’re considering and whether the company offers warranties or guarantees on the solar panels.
Are there disadvantages to using solar energy in Illinois?
While there are plenty of perks to installing solar panels on your home, it’s also important to talk about the downsides of solar energy. Solar panels come with a huge price tag, though this can be offset with tax credits and energy savings. It’s also worth noting that not every home is suitable for solar. Consider whether solar makes sense for your budget and household before signing a contract with a solar company.
How does solar power help the environment?
Traditional electricity generation emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, polluting the air and water and contributing to climate change. Solar power is a form of green energy and doesn’t have the same negative environmental consequences because panels don’t emit greenhouse gasses when they generate energy. It is also a renewable resource, as using solar energy does not deplete the sun.
Is it better to buy or lease solar panels?
While both buying and leasing solar panels are legitimate options, buying panels tends to have a better long-term financial payoff. However, if purchasing solar panels up front is not an option for you, a solar loan or community solar program may be a better option. You can also consider investing in portable solar panels.