Are solar panels worth it in Wyoming?

7 considerations in the Equality State

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two-story wyoming  home with solar panels installed on the roof

Wyoming's solar industry is currently small, but there is a significant potential for future expansion. While solar energy accounts for less than 1% of the state's electricity generation, it has favorable solar resources and abundant land suitable for solar development.

The main drawback is the high upfront cost of purchasing and installing the panels and equipment. On the bright side, once that’s paid for, solar panels can significantly reduce or even eliminate your electricity bills. For many, the long-term savings outweigh the upfront costs over time.


Key insights

Depending on the size of your system and what financial incentives you qualify for, a typical residential solar panel installation costs $9,394 to $24,590 in Wyoming.

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On average, it takes solar panels approximately 9 years to pay for themselves in Wyoming.

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Over 25 years, Wyoming homeowners with solar panels avoid $85,447 in total utility costs on average.

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7 factors to consider before getting solar panels in Wyoming

ConsumerAffairs has heard from thousands of solar customers who have already gone through the installation process. It’s generally worth it if you like the idea of lowering your monthly utility bills, helping the environment and gaining more energy independence. But it doesn’t work out for everyone. Here’s what to consider before making the switch.

  1. Solar panel installation costs
  2. Your energy consumption
  3. Wyoming solar incentives
  4. How long you stay in your house
  5. How you pay
  6. Net metering buyback rates
  7. The solar company you hire

1. Solar panel installation costs: $10,000 to $30,000

Average solar panel costs in Wyoming are comparable to the national average. Before the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC), a typical residential system ranges from $13,420 to $24,590. That price drops to $9,394 to $17,213 after the full 30% tax credit.

Most installers set the price according to the system's wattage, with a typical cost between $2.50 and $5 per watt. “Cost per watt” is a little like looking at the price per square foot when you buy a house. It helps you compare the value of solar energy systems in different sizes. In Wyoming, the average cost per watt is only $2.57.

Average solar panel installation cost by system size in Wyoming

2. Your current energy consumption

Look at your most recent utility bills to see how much electricity your house needs each month. This tells you what size and capacity your solar system needs to be. A typical Wyoming household needs a system with a capacity of 11.48 kW to offset its electricity needs with solar energy. You might need a larger or smaller system, depending on your current energy consumption.

Once you know your current energy consumption, you can calculate your potential savings and the time it should take for your solar installation to pay for itself. In Wyoming, solar panels usually pay for themselves within 9 years.

3. Wyoming solar incentives

The state of Wyoming has relatively few financial incentives for residents investing in renewable energy, but residents can still take advantage of the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC).

The ITC reduces your federal tax liability by 30% of what you spend going solar, including equipment, labor and permits. For example, if you spend $10,000 installing a solar panel system, the ITC is worth $3,000. If you owe $15,000 in taxes, the ITC reduces what you owe to $12,000.

It only offsets your tax liability; you can't take advantage of the ITC if you don’t owe taxes in the first place. However, the credit rolls over to the next tax year if you don’t use the full amount.

4. How long you plan to stay in your house

It takes years for electric bill savings to make up for the initial cost. Solar panels typically pay for themselves within 9 years in Wyoming. If you sell your house and move before then, you might not fully realize the financial benefits of your solar investment.

A Zillow study found that houses with solar panels sell for about 4.1% more. Let’s say you spend $25,000 putting solar panels on a house that costs $400,000. It might sell for $16,400 more in a few years, according to Zillow. But, you miss out on some of that $85,447 in total avoided utility costs over 25 years.

Solar panels last 25 to 30 years.

In other words, don't get solar panels just because you want to sell your house soon. Instead, consider a home improvement project with a better return on investment, like remodeling the bathroom or kitchen.

5. How you pay

If you can, it’s often financially strategic to pay for the whole thing upfront. You own the system from day one and receive the benefits of available tax credits; plus, you don’t have to pay interest on a loan. Of course, that’s not always an option. That’s when loans, leases and other agreements come into play.

  • Solar loan: Solar loans work like any other type of loan. They have relatively low fixed interest rates. Once you pay it off, you own your system outright.
  • Leasing options: Leasing panels is one way to get the benefits of solar energy without the high upfront cost. A solar lease works like a car lease — you get to use the panels but don’t own them. Leasing can be good if you have limited savings. Solar lease agreements typically last 20 to 25 years.
  • Home equity loans or lines of credit (HELOC): Eligible homeowners can borrow against equity in their house to finance a solar panel system. The interest rate may be fixed or variable; home equity loans tend to have fixed rates, while HELOCs have variable rates.

6. Net metering rates in Wyoming

Net metering lets homeowners with solar panels sell any excess electricity they generate to their local power grid. In Wyoming, utility companies compensate these homeowners through energy credits on future power bills.

The specific value of the credit depends on your utility provider. Some utilities may offer a kilowatt-hour (kWh) credit at the full retail rate, while others apply an avoided cost rate, which could be lower than the retail rate. At the end of the year, any unused credits are typically purchased by the utility at the avoided cost rate.

7. The solar company you hire

People have had mixed experiences with solar companies. In a best-case scenario, it’s easy to make the switch and you’re happy with the system’s performance. In a worst-case scenario, you end up paying thousands for midtier solar equipment from a company with poor customer service and no follow-up or support.

One of the most common complaints is related to pushy sales reps who make promises that can’t be delivered. That’s why it’s so important to thoroughly research and verify claims made by sales teams before making a decision. Use NREL’s PVWatts Calculator to estimate how much electricity a solar panel can produce over a year on your house — just type in your address. Project Sunroof is a free solar savings estimator powered by Google Earth imagery.

Monthly costs: solar payments vs. savings

Think of going solar in terms of your monthly costs. Given rising energy costs in Wyoming and elsewhere, financing solar panels makes sense as long as your monthly loan payment is less than what you would be paying the utility company anyway.

Is my house a good candidate for solar panels?

Going solar ends up being worth it for many homeowners as long as their house is a good candidate to support a solar panel installation. Here’s what to think about before you commit:

  • How old are my appliances? The first step is to ensure that your electrical loads are as small as possible. If you have an older refrigerator or air conditioning unit, for instance, it’s smart to upgrade those before investing in solar panels. That way, you can get a smaller system, which will be cheaper overall.
  • How much sunlight do I get? Solar panels need regular exposure to sunlight to produce the most energy possible. Wyoming averages five to six peak sun hours each day. However, lots of shading — like trees or tall buildings above your roof — could make your solar system less efficient.
  • What is the size and angle of my roof? Wyoming (and the rest of the United States) is in the Northern Hemisphere, so solar panels perform best on south-facing roofs. The worst place to install would be on north-facing roofs, especially if those roofs have a high pitch. For example, if the only place you can install is a north-facing roof with a 30-degree pitch, your costs will likely go up by 30% to 40%.
  • What is the condition of my roof? If you have to replace your roof, do that before you install solar panels. Solar panels are designed to last up to 30 years, so you want your roof to last just as long. Otherwise, it could cost thousands to remove the panels, fix your roof and reinstall the panels again.

Pros and cons of solar panels in Wyoming

It’s a common misconception that solar panels will completely eliminate your monthly power bill — this is not always the case. Still, you’ll likely be paying much less than you would for traditional utility bills.

Pros

  • Long-term savings
  • Better for the environment
  • Low maintenance costs
  • May increase home resale value
  • Tax breaks

Cons

  • Upfront costs
  • Seasonal production variations
  • Potential roof leaks

Benefits of solar panels in Wyoming

  • Better for the environment: Traditional energy sources like coal and natural gas release carbon dioxide and other harmful pollutants into the air. Solar panels generate electricity from sunlight, a clean and renewable energy source. Installing solar panels on your roof helps the environment primarily by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Higher home resale value: Installing solar panels can significantly increase a home's value. According to the study mentioned above, houses with solar panels sell for 4.1% more on average. The exact increase in value varies by location, with homes in active solar markets sometimes seeing even higher boosts. 
  • Cheaper energy bills: The average homeowner in Wyoming uses a lot of power, which adds up to a lot of savings when you switch to solar. Going solar now means that your monthly energy expenses will be more predictable (and very often significantly lower). Solar panels also protect you from future energy cost increases.

Drawbacks of solar panels in Wyoming

  • Solar equipment is expensive: Even with rebates and other financial incentives, the price typically starts between $10,000 and $30,000. It’s even more expensive if you want a solar battery for energy storage. Solar battery costs are generally between $7,000 and $18,000. Getting a solar battery might be strategic if net billing rates continue to decline in Wyoming. That way, you can store energy at home instead of tapping into the local grid when you need to.
  • Potential roof leaks: The installation process involves drilling holes into the roof to anchor the panel mounting systems. If not done correctly, this can lead to leaks or structural damage.
  • Energy production varies: Solar panels are dependent on weather conditions and seasonality. Solar panels still work on cloudy days, but less available sunlight does affect how efficiently they produce energy. Snow cover may also temporarily reduce efficiency until it's removed or melts off.

» MORE: Solar energy pros and cons

Find solar companies in Wyoming

A good solar company helps you navigate local incentives, permitting and net metering policies. Compare our picks for the top solar companies in Wyoming to learn more.

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Wyoming solar FAQ

Does Wyoming really pay for solar panels?

No, Wyoming does not pay for solar panels.

Do solar panels increase property taxes in Wyoming?

Possibly. If a solar panel system increases the value of your property, your property taxes could go up. There is no property tax exemption on solar equipment in Wyoming.

Can I get a power purchase agreement in Wyoming?

Power purchase agreements (PPA) are not available in Wyoming at this time.

What solar scams are common in Wyoming?

Solar scams are not common in Wyoming, fortunately. The most common solar panel scams include door-to-door high-pressure sales tactics as well as misleading information about tax credits and electricity savings.

» FREE SOLAR PANELS: Are they really free?

Does Wyoming have any community solar programs?

In April 2024, the Environmental Protection Agency awarded a $30 million grant to the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to expand community solar in Wyoming. This project will prioritize low-income, tribal and disadvantaged communities, lowering upfront solar costs and potentially facilitating the development of community solar projects.

How much can I save with solar panels?

On average, Wyoming homeowners with solar panels avoid $85,447 in total utility costs over 25 years. 

» EXPLORE: Where solar savings go the furthest

Bottom line: Is going solar in Wyoming worth it for you?

Going solar in Wyoming might be easier than you think. The main obstacle to going solar is the high upfront cost of purchasing and installing solar panels, inverters and other equipment. For a lot of homeowners, it ends up being worth it as long as their cost savings over time outweigh the initial investment. Others are happy to go solar for the environmental benefits alone.

Solar costs vs. savings: Wyoming and nearby states

*For 100% usage offset; **Over 25 years

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. DSIRE, "Wyoming Solar Programs." Accessed March 29, 2024.
  2. Solar Energy Industries Association, "Wyoming." Accessed March 29, 2024.
  3. SolarReviews, “How much do solar panels cost in Wyoming?” Accessed March 29, 2024.
  4. United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Biden-Harris Administration announces Bonneville Environmental Foundation to receive $30.2 million to deliver residential solar in Wyoming, lowering energy costs and advancing Environmental Justice.” Accessed May 9, 2024.
  5. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, "Homeowner's Guide to the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics." Accessed May 6, 2024.
  6. United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Solar Power Purchase Agreements.” Accessed May 6, 2024.
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