Illinois solar panels: local pricing and installation data

Over 31,000 homeowners in Illinois have used EnergySage to receive & compare solar panel installation quotes!

Updated 4/20/2024

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Out-of-pocket cost  
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Solar installation costs do not include the 30% federal investment tax credit or local incentives.

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The Prarie State is home to some of the best solar rebates and incentives in the Midwest – there's no better time to go solar in Illinois.

Solar in Illinois

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A Midwestern state marked by farmland, forests, rolling hills, and wetlands, Illinois is also beginning to be known for solar, with a wide variety of solar incentives that are sure to entice the energy conscious homeowner. From a strong RPS and net metering policy to a property tax break for solar shoppers, Illinois is proving to be solid state for installing solar power.

How much do solar panels cost in Illinois?

Illinois' average cost of a solar panel installation ranges from $13,600 to $18,400. On a cost per watt ($/W) basis, a solar panel installation in Illinois ranges in price from $2.72 to $3.68. See how Illinois compares to solar panel costs across the U.S.

Another calculation that potential solar buyers have to consider is the solar payback period. This term tells us as at what time you will recover your initial investment through electricity savings from your solar system. For Illinois, the average solar payback period is 5.14 years.

Another choice that solar shoppers have to face is how to pay for a solar panel system. Fortunately, there are many financial options available to ensure the customer can afford installations. Cash purchases are one common method to pay for solar and often lead to the most long-term value for your money. If an upfront purchase isn’t right for you, solar loans and solar lease/PPAs are available to help finance a solar energy system.

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$13,600 – $18,400

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What solar panels should I install in Illinois?

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For property owners, you now can customize your solar panels, inverters, racking systems, and batteries, as well as the general aesthetic of the installation. This customizability has made it important for solar consumers to understand these various factors. For example, the best solar panels available may have premium efficiencies and warranties, but will typically be more costly. However, depending on the size of the installation, you’ll need to determine whether high-efficiency solar panels that can produce more electricity are worthwhile. Also, your appetite for risk can help determine which solar warranties best fit your needs. These are just a few of the many factors to consider when selecting solar panel equipment.

How much energy can I get from solar in Illinois?

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Aside from the power output of the solar equipment you choose to install, the amount of energy you generate with solar panels in Illinois is directly related to the amount of sunlight that hits your panels. Illinois receives below average sunshine, meaning you’ll need more solar panels to produce the same amount of electricity than are needed in other, sunnier states.

There are additional factors that determine how much solar electricity you can produce. These include shading and panel angle, which are used to calculate your total production estimate. a prediction of how much energy your solar installation will produce over time. This evaluation offers a clear estimate of how much energy your solar installation will produce. You can see how much solar panels can save you based on factors like geographic location and shading by using the EnergySage Solar Calculator – the calculator will take into account site-specific conditions like shade and geography.

Illinois solar incentives

Solar incentives in Illinois can help you reduce the overall price of going solar. Learn more about why solar panels are such a great investment in Illinois.

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What rebates and incentives are there in Illinois for solar?

The federal investment tax credit, now referred to as the Residential Clean Energy Credit for residential systems, has been one of the most reliable and impactful incentives for solar across the U.S. This solar incentive allows you to deduct 30 percent of the total system cost from your federal taxes. For example, a solar energy system installation that costs $15,000 out of pocket will qualify for a tax deduction of $4,500. For residential systems, this advantageous incentive lasts until the end of 2032 at which point it steps down to 26 percent. The federal ITC drops to 22 percent in 2034 and is eliminated for residential solar installations in 2035. Commercial systems are eligible at least through 2024, but may not be eligible for the full 30 percent depending on certain labor and domestic manufacturing requirements; they also may be eligible for specific ITC adders.

Besides the federal ITC, Illinois offers additional incentives for going solar, depending upon where you live and who your electric utility is. Of particular note are rebates such as ComEd’s commercial solar rebates, the statewide net metering policy and property tax breaks, and the opportunity to earn solar renewable energy credits (SRECs). To learn more about Illinois’s best financial incentives for solar, check out our complete overview of the state’s best solar incentives.

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History of solar policy in Illinois

Residents of the Land of Lincoln can be encouraged by their state’s recent efforts to promote renewable, and specifically solar, energy in their state. In 2019, Illinois sits at 34th in SEIA’s national ranking for solar, with an installed solar capacity of 100 megawatts (MW). However, Illinois leaped an impressive nine spots in the ranking between 2017 and 2018, demonstrating the impact of recent solar efforts in state. What’s more, SEIA projects that over the next five years the state will climb to 12th in installed solar capacity in the nation by adding nearly 2,000 MW of additional solar energy capacity, a surge that can largely be attributed to both the decreasing cost of solar and Illinois’s recent efforts to increase and improve its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).

Following the deregulation of Illinois’s electricity market in 1997, the state set off to construct the groundwork for a healthy, competitive energy market for its residents. Their policy approach from the beginning was to establish this by offering financial incentives and state grants rather than through mandates or regulations. For solar energy, the first major step Illinois took to encourage installations was to pass the Special Assessment for Solar Energy Systems in 1998. The bill, which remains available today, provides a property tax easement by equating the solar equipment to be valued at no more than the value of a conventional energy system.

Illinois made further in-roads for all alternative energies by passing the Renewable Energy Resources Trust Fund (RERTF) later in 1998 and the Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICECF) in December 1999. These public benefit funds were created to support renewables through grants, loans and other incentives. For the RERTF, surcharges on customer’s electric and gas bills support the grants that were then made available to all residents. Although the fund closed in 2015, the fund awarded more than $55 million in incentives over its lifetime, via 223 issued grants and more than 1,600 rebates. For the ICECF, the organization is structured as an independent foundation with a $225 million endowment provided by one of the largest utilities in Illinois: Commonwealth Edison. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded over 5,000 grants providing $258 million to Illinois nonprofit organizations, schools, municipalities, and other local and state government agencies.

Beginning in 2007, Illinois shifted their approach to encouraging renewable growth by focusing instead on regulations and mandates for renewable and alternative energies. The first policy established under this new paradigm was net metering, a foundational regulatory policy for any strong solar state that requires investor-owned utilities (IOUs) and alternative retail electric supplies/providers (REPs) to buy back any net excess generation from residents with their own energy systems.

Illinois followed with a state-mandated Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) established through the Illinois Power Agency Act, which also created the Illinois Power Agency (IPA), a new state department to overrun future energy plans. While the state actually established an RPS in 2001, participation by utilities was voluntary. The reworked structure and electricity procurement plan implemented a 2025 deadline for IOUs and REPs to source 25 percent of their eligible electricity sales from renewable energy.

The RPS did not immediately lead to a boom in the state’s renewable energy industry, in large part due to the passage of the Municipal Aggregation Act in 2010, the existence of separate funding accounts for the IPA, and the state’s ongoing budget crisis.

Illinois resolved many of the issues that were barriers to renewable growth with the 2016 passage of the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA). For renewable energy, this bill streamlined funding within the IPA, to allow for more continuity in progress for these technologies moving forward. For solar specifically, the FEJA added language to the state’s RPS to include a solar carve-out of 1.5 percent by 2025, beyond its original mandates. To match this procurement plan, the state redesigned its Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) market to what is known as the Adjustable Block Program (ABP). Overall, this structure will provide residents greater monetary value than the previous structure since SRECs are to be based on fixed rates according to Block eligibility rather than floating variable rates.

With this strong commitment to renewables and solar energy specifically, Illinois should become one of the top solar states in the near future.