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Cost of solar panels in Kentucky

How much is it to go solar in 2023?

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The average cost to install solar panels is $25,740 in Kentucky ($18,018 after the federal tax credit). You can get a 6-kW home solar system for a little under $10,000, but many households need a bigger system to cover all their energy needs.

Your upfront costs might be higher than solar owners pay in other states, but your money goes further when converting to solar. At $2.34, The Bluegrass State has the lowest cost per watt for solar panels (the national average is currently $2.66).

Key insights

  • If you pay cash, the average payback period is 12 years.
  • The average cost per watt is $2.34.
  • Over 25 years, estimated net savings equal $20,247.

How much do solar panels cost in Kentucky?

Installing residential solar panels can cost from $10,000 to $30,000 or more, although individual costs vary significantly. The total capacity, measured in kilowatts (kW), of the solar panels you install are the main cost determinant.

In Kentucky, the typical system size is 11 kW. Given that the national average is a 6-kW system, it’s understandable why the average cost in Kentucky is higher.

Larger systems with more panels are more expensive. On the high end, a solar customer in Vine Grove told us he paid around $87,000 for his system last year.

Average cost by system size in Kentucky

8 kW9 kW10 kW11 kW12 kW13 kW14 kW
After federal tax credits $13,104 $14,742 $16,380 $18,018 $19,656 $21,294 $22,932
Before federal tax credits $18,720 $21,060 $23,400 $25,740 $28,080 $30,420 $32,760
Approximate roof size 1,100 sq. ft. 1,300 sq. ft. 1,500 sq. ft. 1,750 sq. ft. 1,900 sq. ft. 2,100 sq. ft. 2,300 sq. ft.
Source: EcoWatch

Are solar panels worth it in Kentucky?

Kentucky doesn’t receive as much sun as Southwestern states, but it still gets enough sunlight to make solar panels productive. Switching to solar “pays for itself in no time at all,” according to Angela in Manchester.

Angela went solar a few years ago, and upfront costs have fallen since then. The cost to go solar in Kentucky has fallen 54% over the last 10 years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Over 25 years, solar panels can save you $20,247.

Like many people, Jessie in Lexington said, “The high cost of electricity is what brought me to looking into solar energy.” Since installing panels, their electricity bill has been “quite low.”

It’s a common misconception that solar panels eliminate your monthly power bill, but this isn’t always the case. On the bright side, many people who still have a bill after going solar pay significantly less than before.

Ultimately, whether solar panels are worth it for you depends on a combination of factors related to costs, incentives, energy savings and individual circumstances.

[Going solar] pays for itself in no time at all.”
— Angela in Manchester

Beyond the economic factors, many people choose solar because of environmental concerns and a desire to reduce their carbon footprint. Kentucky’s traditional reliance on coal means that shifting to solar can have a positive environmental impact.

» GUIDE: Solar panel installation guide

Solar costs: Kentucky vs. nearby states

Average cost per wattTypical system sizeAverage upfront cost*Payback period**25-year savings**
Kentucky $2.34 11 kW $18,018 12 years $20,247
Tennessee $2.49 12 kW $20,916 13 years $19,688
Ohio $2.56 9.5 kW $16,128 12 years $19,272
Virginia $2.75 11 kW $21,175 12 years $21,692
West Virginia $2.64 11 kW $20,328 13 years $19,893
Indiana $2.68 9.5 kW $17,822 12 years $21,994
North Carolina $2.54 6 kW 13,815 13 years $20,035
*Before ITC federal tax credit; **When you pay cash

Cost factors of going solar in Kentucky

How much you pay for your solar panels depends on the size of your system, the quality of your equipment and the condition of your roof. There's also a permit fee for compliance; design for optimal sunlight exposure; labor for safe installation; and maintenance to ensure peak performance.

  • System size: The total capacity (measured in kilowatts) of the solar panels you install is a primary cost factor. Larger systems with more panels are more expensive.
  • Equipment costs: Quality and efficiency of the solar panels and inverters vary. High-efficiency solar panels or premium brands usually cost more. Adding a battery system for energy storage increases your total cost.
  • Labor costs: This includes costs associated with the professional installation of the system, which might involve site assessment, system design and actual installation. Labor rates vary based on your location within Kentucky and the installer’s experience.

» COMPARE: Most efficient solar panels

Condition of your roof

The installation might be more expensive if your roof is steep, has an irregular shape or requires significant modifications. Similarly, ground-mounted systems also vary in price depending on the complexity.

Solar panels typically last 25 years.

If you live in an older house, make sure that your roof is stable enough to support solar panels. Quality solar panels should last 25 to 30 years, so you want your roof to last at least as long. We hear a lot of complaints from solar customers who have to pay to remove panels, fix their roofs and then reinstall the panels. It’s a frustrating and expensive process — avoid it if you can.

» BE SURE: Should you replace your roof before going solar?

Permits and fees

Depending on your local municipality, there may be fees associated with permitting and inspections. In Kentucky, some utilities may charge a fee to connect your solar system to the grid. If you finance your solar system, interest and financing fees can add to the total cost over time.

Other cost factors

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

» MORE: Why are solar panels so expensive?

Solar incentives in Kentucky

The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is the biggest factor in reducing the cost of going solar in Kentucky. If you install a residential solar panel system by the end of 2032, you can deduct 30% of the system’s total cost — including equipment, labor and permits — from your federal taxes.

The average ITC value in Kentucky is $7,722 in 2023. The credit drops to 26% in 2033 and 22% in 2034.

» EXPLORE: Kentucky solar incentives

Compare solar installation companies in Kentucky

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

» TIPS: Tips for getting the best solar quotes


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    Can I get free solar panels in Kentucky?

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

    » MORE: Free solar panels: Are they really free?

    How does net metering work in Kentucky?

    When you generate more energy than you consume, your utility company gives you credits toward your next bill. These credits are given at the same rate that the utility would charge for electricity, known as the retail rate. Credits earned don’t expire and roll over to the next billing period indefinitely. However, you can’t transfer these credits to another person or account.

    » MORE: What is net metering?

    How many solar panels do I need for my house?

    The number of solar panels you need depends on how much electricity your household uses. In Kentucky, the average monthly energy consumption is 1,084 kWh, which would likely need 20 to 30 panels to generate (depending on efficiency and system size).

    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 PPA (power purchase agreement), always ask:

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

    Bottom line

    Kentucky may not be the top state for home solar systems in the U.S., but getting panels can still be worth it — especially considering long-term benefits, environmental impact and potential changes in energy prices and policies.

    » STILL NOT SURE? Solar energy pros and cons

    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 Kentucky.” Accessed Aug. 9, 2023.
    2. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “Homeowner’s Guide to the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics.” Accessed July 12, 2023.
    3. Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE), “Kentucky Programs.” Accessed Aug. 9, 2023.
    4. Solar Energy Industries Association, “Kentucky Solar.” Accessed Aug. 9, 2023.
    5. Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, “Solar Energy in Kentucky.” Accessed Aug. 9, 2023.
    6. The Kentucky Solar Energy Society, “Incentives for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.” Accessed Aug. 9, 2023.
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