Solar Panel Cost Chicago, IL: Everything You Need to Know

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Chicago is the perfect place for the solar revolution, with solar panel costs constantly decreasing. Indeed, solar panels in Chicago are growing in number and quality, cutting electricity bills for thousands of households.

But how much does this ticket to energy independence cost?

At first, the residential solar panel cost in Chicago may seem staggering, but don’t rush to conclusions. Like in other states, the actual solar panel cost in Chicago, IL, depends on many factors and has quite a few caveats to capitalize on.

Read on to learn more about the profitability of solar panels in Chicago, the factors that make them more expensive, and how much solar panels cost in Illinois.

How Much Are Solar Panels in Illinois?

The average cost of solar panels in Illinois ranges from $13,379 to $18,101 – excluding federal tax credit discounts and other incentives – with the per-watt cost floating around $2.57 to $3.68.

However, to accurately determine how much solar panels cost, it is necessary to consider factors like the size and type of your panel system, its power, quality of components, and more. Likewise, you can decrease the solar panel cost in Chicago by accurately estimating your energy needs and the necessary equipment.

Factors Influencing Solar Panel Prices

Installing a solar power station is a significant investment, but it will pay off in 9-12 years, saving you tons of money in the long run. But then again, solar panel cost IL is not fixed, so it’s useful to conduct a thorough research first, comparing offers from different installers.

Let’s consider the main factors influencing solar panel cost Chicago, IL.

1. System Size and Power

It goes without saying that the bigger and more powerful the system, the more expensive it is – and the more electricity it can generate for you.

However, you may not even need the excessive energy, especially if you can’t sell it. Make sure to conduct an energy audit to determine your real energy needs, proceeding from the amount of energy you consume. You can use this Global Solar Atlas – enter “Chicago” in the field on the top panel and press Enter.

2. Panel Type

The most common types of solar panels are monocrystalline and polycrystalline, with the former being 10-20% more expensive.

Monocrystalline Polycrystalline
19-23.5% efficiency with around 5-7% power loss during operation 16-18% efficiency with 80-85% power loss, producing 35% less energy.
Warranty up to 25 years Warranty up to 20 years
Have a better aesthetic appearance due to the solid black color and rounded shape of the photoelectric squares. The uniform surface does not reduce the cost of silicon production. May have visual defects in the form of crystalline inclusions, as they are made from heterogeneous polycrystals. This gives the panels a spotted blue hue.

Now, the trick with solar panel cost in Chicago (and other states, for that matter) is that worse panels from a popular brand may be more expensive than less known panels of higher quality. This, of course, begs for thorough research or, even better, a consultation with an expert who can separate the wheat from the chaff.

3. Quality of System Components

Using high-quality solar panels, inverters, charge controllers, etc., increases the value of the entire system. But it also guarantees its reliability.

Unjustified cost-cutting will lead to equipment failure, and buying new equipment means additional expenses. Moreover, low-quality system components are usually inefficient and may not meet safety standards.

4. Resource Intensity for Chicago Solar Panel Installation

Installation costs are an important factor that affects the overall solar panel cost in Chicago, depending on the following:

Installation complexity Installation on roofs with unusual configurations requires more time and special skills. Likewise, ground-mounted installations complicate the process due to the need for foundation preparation.
Size and power The larger and more powerful the system, the longer and more difficult it is to install. Synchronizing all components with each other requires extra effort.
Incentives Chicago solar incentives can significantly reduce installation costs and the overall cost of solar panels.

Knowing the pitfalls that can increase the solar electricity installation cost means a lot in the industry where prices vary dramatically. With this in mind, we recommend turning to professionals to ensure your solar system is installed correctly and will serve for many years.

Wondering about solar panel cost in Chicago? Don’t waste another second and get your solar quote now!

Are Solar Panels Worth It in Chicago?

Illinois ranks 15th in the national rating for favorable solar energy utilization, with Chicago playing a significant role in this.

Below is the synopsis of solar performance in Chicago, Illinois.

Solar Insolation Levels

Chicago receives 2508 hours of sunlight per year, which is slightly above the national average:

  • Buffalo (New York): 2207 hours
  • Columbus (Ohio): 2183 hours
  • Grand Rapids (Michigan): 1536 hours

Long story short, solar panels in Chicago will generate more electricity than in many other cities in the USA.

Electricity Expenses

The average electricity cost in Chicago is $0.14 per kWh, or 3% lower than the average in Illinois. However, electricity prices are constantly rising. In 2022, prices increased by 10.7%, the highest annual increase since the beginning of the century.

The amount of savings depends on the size of your system. For example, a 5 kW system that generates 6000 kWh annually can save up to $840; a 10 kW system can save up to $1680.

Here’s what affects solar panel efficiency: 

  • The slope and orientation of your roof
  • The level of shading
  • Your monthly tariff

Incentives and Rebates for Solar Panel Installation

Illinois has an ambitious goal: to become a state capable of independently producing a certain share of energy for both industrial and residential sectors. This step will not only guarantee the state’s energy security but also have significant environmental and economic benefits.

Renewable energy statistics for Illinois
Source: IEC
Becoming an energy-independent state is an ambitious but entirely achievable goal. With clear plans, decisive actions, and investments, Illinois can become a leader in transitioning to a clean and sustainable energy future. In this regard, there are various incentives in the state that contribute to reducing the solar panel cost in Illinois or compensate for initial expenses.

Federal Incentives

When it comes to federal incentives, the first thing that comes to mind is the federal solar tax credit (ITC) that offers credits for systems installed after January 1, 2006.

Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act passed in 2022, the ITC has a new name—Clean Energy Credit—and its capabilities have been expanded. From 2023, the credit will be available for both solar systems and energy storage systems.

If you own a home in Chicago, you are entitled to a 30% tax credit on the cost of solar panels in Illinois. Over the past years, the percentage has varied between 26% and 30% depending on the installation date.

Local State Incentives

  • Illinois solar panel program “Illinois Shines”

It offers incentives for solar panel owners by paying them for projected energy efficiency over 15 years. It is suitable for residential buildings, non-profit, and government organizations. You can familiarize yourself with the requirements of Illinois Shines here.

This IL solar program offers an incentive based on Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC), a certificate confirming 1 MWh of renewable energy. The incentive amount depends on the energy production and the current price of SREC.

To secure the incentive, you need to sign a contract with Iconic Energy, fill out a Disclosure Form, and wait for Carbon Solutions, the SREC provider, to send you a contract for signature.

Then, a legal process takes place, which does not require your participation:

  1. Carbon Solutions submits an application to the Illinois Energy Agency.
  2. The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) reviews the application.
  3. A contract for the sale of SREC is signed, fixing your incentive rate.

The whole process can take more than 4 months.

  • “Illinois Solar for All” Program (ILSFA)

ILSFA makes solar energy more accessible and affordable for Chicago, especially for low-income residents, non-profit organizations, and public facilities.

The program offers three options for collaboration with owners of residential infrastructure, non-profit organizations, and solar communities.

General requirements Requirements for low-income families Requirements for institutions
  • Reside in the state of Illinois
  • Have a valid Social Security number
  • Pass a credit check
  • Have a combined family income not exceeding 80% of the Illinois median income
  • Be the owner of a single-family home or multi-unit residential building
  • Obtain notarized consent from the owner if you rent housing
  • Be a non-profit organization or government institution
  • Own and/or lease the property where the solar system will be installed

To learn more about the option that suits you, familiarize yourself with the information here.

  • Net Metering

Net metering is a system that allows you to sell excess electricity generated by a solar system back to the grid, thus saving on solar panel cost in Chicago, IL. It is not available in all states, but Chicago residents should not worry – opportunities are open to them.

Solar energy incentives distribution in the United States
How does it work? If you have commercial or residential solar panels in Chicago that generate more electricity than you need, then you can:

  • Contact the utility company in Chicago to have specialists inspect and approve your installation.
  • Register in the net metering system by filling out a special form for direct energy accounting. The forms may vary depending on the solar companies in Illinois you choose.

After agreeing to the legal arrangements, excess electricity will be fed back into the grid. The utility company will buy it from you at the retail price, and the amount paid will be credited to your electricity bill.

The best solar companies in Illinois (ComEd, Ameren, MidAmerican) support net metering, offering their conditions. You can find out more information about net metering here.

Financing Options for Solar Energy Systems

According to statistics, 59,2% of Americans whose homes are not equipped with solar systems plan to install them in the near future. There are many reasons for this: decreasing solar panels cost in Illinois, the desire to be independent from power outages, the effect of incentives and solar rebates in Illinois, and variability in financing methods.

Cash Payment

This is the simplest option and offers the greatest cost savings in the long run. It requires significant initial investment, which is not always feasible. However, you won’t have to deal with banks as there is no need for loans. Plus, you’re free from monthly payments and interest.

Solar Loan

This is a special loan offered by banks, credit unions, and even some Illinois solar panels installers specifically for financing solar systems. They typically offer lower interest rates than traditional loans and longer repayment terms, making monthly payments more manageable. The possibility of obtaining such a loan depends on your credit history and rating.

Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)

According to the PPA agreement, you don’t own the solar panels but lease them from a green energy provider. You pay a fixed monthly fee for the electricity the system generates, similar to a regular utility bill.

Usually, the service provider is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the solar system. However, be prepared that some contracts may include penalties for excessive usage.

Willing to get the best solar estimates in Chicago? Get your free quote now.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to install solar panels in Illinois?

The cost of solar panels in Illinois depends on the size of your home, the amount of electricity you use, your budget, the type of panels, and the location. Approximate prices range from $13,000 to $18,000.

Don’t forget about Illinois solar incentives, which significantly reduce the price. These include the federal solar tax credit, property tax exemption, Net Metering program, incentives from local companies, and more.

Can I sell the excess electricity generated by my solar panel in Chicago?

Yes, you can sell excess electricity generated by your solar panels in Chicago. The “Net Metering” program allows you to receive credits for electricity fed back into the grid and use them later when needed.

Is an advance payment required for solar panels Chicago?

Not necessarily. You can pay in cash or take a loan with a small or zero down payment.

Is my home suitable for solar panel installation Chicago?

Most homes in Chicago are suitable for solar system installation. However, it’s important to assess your roof for sufficient space, orientation, and lack of shading. Consult a qualified solar panel installer for a professional evaluation.

Are solar panels suitable for Chicago’s climate?

Yes, solar panels are suitable for Chicago’s climate, as the city receives plenty of sunlight throughout the year, making your investment in solar energy worthwhile.