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How much do solar panels cost?

by: Jenny Goldsmith
Posted on: March 5, 2019

This post updated on June 13, 2023.


How much will going solar cost you? This guide will help you understand average solar panel costs in Illinois, including the factors that go in to determining that cost.

Trying to figure out exactly how much going solar will cost for your home? Don’t speculate over averages – save yourself time and get started with a free custom quote for your home using the button below.

The cost of owning solar panels

The typical cost of going solar ranges from $15,000 to $40,000 before incentives. After incentives, which in 2023 cover about 60% of that cost, you likely end up in the $6,000 to $16,000 range.


house with solar panels by certasun


What incentives?  In 2023, the federal government covers 30% of home solar panel costs via a federal solar tax credit.  You will also receive an Illinois-specific incentive because of the renewable energy you generate that typically covers an additional 25-40% of the system cost.

$0 down options

Even after incentives, you still have some cost.  But that doesn’t mean you need to go out of pocket to cover it. We have a range of financing options available to manage the remaining solar panel costs and allow you to own a solar system for $0 down (if you so choose).

The cost of leasing solar panels

Homeowners who lease a solar system have no upfront solar panel costs and immediately start saving money on their monthly electric bill.  In other words, it’s the best of both worlds.

We only offer leases when the annual payment on the lease is less than what you would pay to your utility for the same amount of electricity.  In most cases, you pay far less than grid rates for the electricity generated by your solar system.

Solar panel cost factors

The typical solar panel cost range provided above is fairly wide, so what factors determine the actual cost of solar panels for a specific homeowner?


certasun solar panel install in buffalo grove


Cost of the actual solar panels

The number of panels in a solar system is the biggest driver of cost.  Systems with more panels are more expensive than systems with fewer panels. So the key question is, how many panels do you need? This depends on your electricity usage and certain characteristics of your roof.

How electricity usage affects solar panel costs

It’s a common misunderstanding that solar panel costs can be estimated by the square footage of a house. Actually, it’s electricity usage that matters most.

For example, imagine two houses in the Crystal Lake, IL area which have the same square footage. The first is a two-person household which doesn’t need to run the major appliances very often. The second household is home to a family of five with a pool that uses an electric heating system. This family also needs to run the dishwasher and laundry multiple times per week to clean up after big family meals and outings.


cord plugged into a standard residential wall power outlet


It’s highly likely that the two households, despite living in houses with the same square footage, will have very different solar panel costs. The two-person household may only need 12 panels to generate the amount of electricity they need while the family of five may need 28 panels to offset their electricity usage.

Because electricity usage is a major determinant of how many panels a household needs, it’s therefore a major factor in determining a household’s solar panel costs.

How a house’s roof impacts solar panel costs

The second major factor in determining how many panels a house needs is the solar suitability roof. Determining if your roof is good for solar is not always simple and usually requires detailed analysis.

The solar suitability of your roof depends on the roof’s orientation to the sun, its slope, and any shading.

Imagine two houses in Huntley, IL, one medium shaded and one in full sun, that use the same amount of electricity each month.  The medium shaded house will likely need more solar panels to offset the same amount of electricity usage than the house that has a roof with full sun.


certasun solar install in glenview


Solar panel costs over time

The upfront cost of solar panels isn’t the only cost to think about when deciding if going solar is right for your home.

As with any major home improvement, you’ll want to (1) make sure you have a good understanding of other potential costs that could come up over the lifetime of the system, and (2) know for sure whether or not those costs would be covered by your solar warranty. At Certasun, we believe that homeowners should have complete information provided to them before making a major decision about their home.  That’s why we offer our No Surprises Guarantee.

Solar panel costs for your home

We’re happy to provide a free, no-pressure custom quote. Use the form below to find out if your home is a good fit for solar.

by: Jenny Goldsmith
Jenny is Certasun's Marketing Manager.



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