Solar Panels in Illinois: Cost, Savings, and Rebates

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Solar Panels in Illinois: Cost, Savings, and Rebates

Illinois produces enough solar energy to power 217,000 homes despite some of the least amount of sunlight in the country. With great state-level support, homeowners are finding it worth their time to make the switch. If you’re considering solar panels in Illinois, we’ve got you covered. We discuss expected costs, important solar factors, and potential savings below. 

Average Cost of Solar Panels in Illinois

Featuring one of the country’s major commerce hubs, it’s no surprise that homeowners can buy solar panels in Illinois at a decent rate. The average cost for equipment in the Prairie State is $2.57, which is lower than in most places. For a 6kW system, Illinoisans can expect to budget around $15,420 before incentives.

However, homeowners might not feel so motivated to make the switch; with an average utility bill of $94.38 a month, Illinoisans pay the least in the country for electricity. This means that it’ll take longer to pay off a solar panel system with offsets, resulting in a smaller return.

Still, those that are equally interested in improving their carbon footprint can cut the cost of an array with the federal solar tax incentive. This benefit comes in the form of a 30% credit off federal taxes at the end of the year for which the system was installed. In Illinois, people can reduce the cost of a 6kW solar array from $15,420 to $10,794.

How Much Solar Do Illinoisans Need?

While the previous example presents the typical price of solar across the Prairie State, it might not apply to your personal household. Because Illinois has varying geography and weather patterns, you’ll want to calculate the size of the array that will cover your electricity usage. To determine wattage, you’ll need to divide your daily power by the amount of peak sun in your region. Here’s how to do it with Illinois averages.

Based on state research, Illinoisans use about 24.0kWh a day (721kWh a month). When divided by the state’s average peak sun of 3.14 hours per day, we’ll need a 7.7kW solar panel system to cover all of our power. A system of this size might cost homeowners in Illinois around $19,789. 

Now that you know how to calculate the ideal wattage for your household, you can find out how much you need to budget. To find out how much sunlight you get, follow this Illinois sun chart.

solar panels under a blue sky
To determine how much wattage you’ll need, divide your daily power by the amount of peak sun in your region.


Illinois Solar Cost Factors

As previously mentioned, the Prairie State features a diverse geography. Those living closer to the Great Lakes might need more solar panels than those living further south. In fact, those in Springfield might experience up to 4.8 peak sun hours a day. To discover how geography and sunlight can alter solar costs, compare Illinois to some of its neighboring states:

  • Wisconsin
  • Michigan
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Missouri
  • Iowa

Additionally, the type of solar panels used in your array can have a noticeable effect on the overall cost. Generally, those that receive less sunlight will benefit more from monocrystalline panels, which are expensive but highly efficient. However, homeowners that live on the southern end of Illinois might take advantage of polycrystalline panels, the more affordable option.

Finally, Illinoisans should take the time to review installation companies. With stiff competition in Chicago, you’ll want to be wary of installers that undercut prices. You might be tempted to save money this way, but companies that do this typically use lower-quality equipment and provide less than standard warranties. With installation, you want a company that will stick around for the length of your system’s lifespan.

Best Solar Installers in Illinois

When suggesting the best solar installers in Illinois, we refer to EnergySage, a solar review company trusted by the SEIA and the USDoE. The review company screens each company they recommend using a list of qualifications which include:

  • Many years of industry experience
  • Contractor transparency
  • Quality equipment/warranties
  • Proper licenses and certifications

Here are two of the best Illinoisan solar installers worth considering.

Founded in 2009, All Energy Solar is a regional company that serves Northeast and Midwest states. They have installed over 6,000 arrays and feature a 4.8-star rating on Google Business. The installer has all the necessary certifications and outdoes the competition with a 15-year workmanship warranty in some states.

While All Energy Solar might seem good, you might feel more comfortable using a local installer. If that’s the case, you’ll want to consider RxSun. With their headquarters located in Chicago, you’ll know that your contractors are knowledgeable about the state’s conditions. RxSun also offers one of the best warranties in the industry, covering your installations for 30 years.

Can Solar Energy Save Illinoisans Money?

Featuring low electricity rates and some of the cloudiest weather in the country depending on location, homeowners in Illinois might not feel so inclined to make the switch to solar. And because Illinoisans pay so little for power as it is, their total net return won’t be as impressive as it is in other states. Still, the potential for savings exists for those considering solar panels in Illinois.

First, homeowners need to know how long it takes to cover the cost of an array. Typically, Illinoisans pay about $1,132.56 a year for electricity. If homeowners in the Prairie State use a 6kW system to offset that yearly bill, it would take 13.6 years to pay it off. That’s about as long as it gets anywhere in the country.

After the system is paid off, you’ll start seeing net returns. Considering the lifespan of solar panels in Illinois is 20-25 years, homeowners would discover about $7,248 to $12,911 back in their pockets. While it might not feel as satisfying as in places like Arizona or Hawaii, that kind of return still makes a difference.

save money on solar panels in georgia
After the system is paid off, Illinois homeowners could get as much as $7,248 to $12,911 back in their pockets.


Solar Panels in Illinois: Rebates, Credits, and Incentives

If you’re wishing there were more ways to save money on solar panels in Illinois, you’re in luck. While the geography might not be the most conducive for solar energy, the Prairie State has some of the most progressive renewable standards around. Through credits, rebates, and other government regulations, Homeowners in Illinois can save thousands more on their installation.

Right off the bat, any qualifying Illinoisan can use the federal solar tax credit to save 30% of their purchase cost. This could result in a return of nearly $5,000 for some arrays. Additionally, the Prairie State offers decent tax exemptions, net metering, and performance programs. For an in-depth review of each of these incentives, check out our Illinois solar incentives list.

Solar Panels in Illinois: Further Reading

Whether you’re looking to save money or the environment, it’s worth considering solar panels in Illinois. Despite the already low cost of electricity, homeowners are in a position to earn over $10,000 with an array. For more on how the Prairie State is adopting emerging technology, click through the articles below.

The 10 Largest Solar Panel Companies in the World, and What They Do – these companies plan to improve the infrastructure of solar energy.

Solar Panels in Connecticut: Cost, Savings, and Rebates – here’s how Illinois compares to one of the leading states in solar energy.

Owning an EV in Illinois: Charging Cost, Incentives, and More – With Illinois’ strong, progressive economy, it might make sense to purchase an electric vehicle in the state.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is solar worth it in Illinois?

With low traditional power rates and poor sunlight, Illinoisans might not feel inclined to purchase solar energy. However, those that make the switch could still find savings as much as $10,000 or more, and possibly even more as the state continues to adopt renewable energy.

How much does solar cost in Illinois?

In the Prairie State, homeowners can expect to pay about 2.57 a watt, which equals about $15,420 for a 6kW system.

How long does it take for solar panels to pay back in Illinois?

With a low utility offset of $1,132.56 a year, Illinoisans could expect to pay off a 6kW system in 13.6 years.

How long before Illinois residents see net returns from solar investments?

After the system is paid off, homeowners will start seeing net returns. Considering the 20-25 year lifespan of solar panels in Illinois, homeowners would get about $7,248 to $12,911 back.

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