Cost of solar panels in Iowa

How much is it to go solar in 2024?

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tech checking solar panels on the rooftop of a home

Before using the full federal solar investment tax credit (ITC), the average residential solar panel installation costs $24,930 in Iowa. The price drops to $17,451 after the ITC.

Going solar in the Hawkeye State is about 4% more expensive than the national average. The out-of-pocket investment might be slightly higher than in other states, but Iowa residents can take advantage of financial incentives to help lower the cost of switching to solar.


Key insights

  • In Iowa, solar panels take about 12 years to pay for themselves.
  • The average cost per watt for solar energy systems is $3.49 in Iowa.
  • Iowa homeowners with solar panels save an estimated $17,572 over 25 years.

How much do solar panels cost in Iowa?

Installing residential solar panels can cost between $10,000 and $30,000 or more, though individual costs vary. On average, residents of Iowa pay $24,930 before tax credits for their system. On the higher end, Jennifer in Colfax told us her family’s solar panel system cost $38,000.

Not surprisingly, the smaller your system, the less you pay. The average size of solar energy systems in Iowa is 9 kW (kilowatts).

Average cost by system size in Iowa

Source: EcoWatch

Are solar panels worth it in Iowa?

Most solar customers we’ve talked to in Iowa are happy making the switch. For many, going solar is worth it for the cost savings. In the best-case scenario, you can almost completely eliminate your monthly utility bill.

I easily got my money back in savings … ”
— Connor in Dubuque

According to Jared in Fairmount, seasonality affects how much your solar energy system saves you each month. “We did not have to pay for electricity our first three months, and then we've had a greatly reduced last two months,” he said. “Living here in the Midwest, you catch as much sun as you can in the summer and whatever you can in the winter is kind of gravy.”

One resident, Connor in Dubuque, told us that going solar was less expensive than he thought it would be. “I think I easily got my money back in savings since I got my solar power panel installed in my house,” he said.

Solar doesn’t work out for everyone, though. Some Iowa homeowners told us about issues with poor installation and a lack of ongoing support. This is why it’s so important to consider all the aspects before making such a significant investment.

For others, like Allissa in Decorah, it’s worth it for the ecological benefits. “I am very glad I made this purchase because I know it is good for the environment and the future,” Allissa told us.

» STILL NOT SURE? Solar energy pros and cons

Cost factors of going solar in Iowa

What you pay for solar depends on various factors, from what equipment you choose to what kind of permits you need. There are some unexpected costs, like potential roof repairs and maintenance, to watch out for, too. These add up.

Solar equipment

Equipment prices vary due to the quality of the equipment and the company you buy it from. Solar panels are typically priced per watt. In Iowa, the average cost per watt for solar panels is $3.49.

The other big expense to consider is storage batteries. Here are some average costs you can expect for batteries and other equipment:

» COMPARE: Most efficient solar panels

Size of your system

Your system's size is a huge factor in how much you pay overall. You determine what size system you need by finding out the amount of electricity you used in the last year in kilowatt-hours (kWh). You can find this information through your electric bill’s online account dashboard.

Divide your annual kWh by 1,200 to find the system size you need. For example, the typical Iowa household uses 10,332 kWh per year. Using this formula, the typical household would need a 9-kW system.

» WATT’S THE DIFFERENCE? kW vs. kWh

Condition of your roof

Quality solar panels should last 25 to 30 years, so you need your roof to last just as long. Otherwise, you have to pay to remove the panels, fix your roof and reinstall them again. Be sure to hire a professional to inspect your roof and make any repairs before you install your solar.

» SHOULD YOU: Replace your roof before going solar?

Other cost factors

There are several other costs to consider when going solar. For example, most towns require permits for solar installation. This can add hundreds of dollars to your solar bill.

Also, solar panels require minimal maintenance, but potential repair or replacement of components, periodic cleaning and system monitoring add to the lifetime cost.

» TIPS: Getting the best solar quotes

Solar incentives, tax credits and rebates in Iowa

The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is the biggest factor in reducing the cost of going solar in Iowa. If you install a residential solar panel system by the end of 2032, you will deduct 30% of the system's total cost — including equipment, labor and permits — from your federal taxes. The credit drops to 26% in 2033 and 22% in 2034.

The average ITC value is $7,479 in Iowa.

Iowa also offers several local solar incentives. Residents can take advantage of sales and property exemptions, as well as several solar rebates.

» EXPLORE: Iowa solar incentives

Compare solar installation companies in Iowa

Compare popular solar companies available in Iowa below. Read our guide to finding the best solar companies for more.

Do you own or rent?

FAQ

Can I get free solar panels in Iowa?

You can lease solar equipment or enter a power purchase agreement (PPA) with little to no upfront costs, but neither is totally free. Solar leases generally require a flat monthly fee; PPAs make you pay per unit of electricity.

» FREE SOLAR PANELS: Are they really free?

How are solar costs trending in Iowa?

The cost to go solar in Iowa has fallen 42% over the last 10 years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

How can I pay for solar panels?

You can pay cash, but most people finance solar panels. A solar loan works a lot like any other type of loan — there’s an application and approval process, and you pay it back over time (with interest).

If you are considering a solar loan, lease or power purchase agreement, always ask:

  • Is there a down payment?
  • How much will I pay per month?
  • Will monthly payments increase, and by how much?

» SOLAR PANELS: Lease vs. buy

How much can I save with solar panels?

When you pay cash, the average 25-year savings with solar is $17,572 in Iowa. Solar panels don’t always completely eliminate your monthly power bill. The good news is that people who still have a bill after going solar typically pay less than before. You can expect to offset your electricity bill by 73% to 99%, according to EnergySage.

» EXPLORE: Where your solar savings go the furthest

How does net metering work in Iowa?

Net metering involves selling your solar energy system's surplus electricity to a local electric company. MidAmerican Energy and Interstate Power and Light (IPL) offers net metering in Iowa.

Will hail damage my solar panels?

Hail can damage solar panels, but you shouldn’t let that deter you from installing them. Many solar energy systems can withstand small hail. Your homeowners insurance may cover the cost of fixing any damage that does occur.

Bottom line

In Iowa, solar costs are slightly higher, but don’t let that stop you from going solar. The ITC and all of the local solar incentives will save you more than enough to cover the difference. Plus, over 25 years, you could save an average of $17,572.

Solar costs: Iowa vs. nearby states

*Before the federal investment tax credit (ITC); **When you pay in full upfront

Article sources
ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
  1. EcoWatch, “Solar Panel Cost in Iowa.” Accessed Nov. 18, 2023.
  2. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “Homeowner’s Guide to the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics.” Accessed Nov. 18, 2023.
  3. Solar Energy Industries Association, “Iowa Solar.” Accessed Nov. 18, 2023.
  4. DSIRE, “Iowa Programs.” Accessed Nov. 18, 2023.
  5. EnergySage, “Iowa solar panels: local pricing and installation data,” Nov. 11, 2023.
  6. Iowa Environmental Council, “Solar Energy.” Accessed Nov. 18, 2023.
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