Cost of solar panels in Nebraska

How much is it to go solar in 2024?

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The average cost to install solar panels is $29,716 in Nebraska before the full federal solar investment tax credit (ITC). The price drops to $20,801 after the ITC.

Going solar in the Cornhusker State is about 24% more expensive than the national average. The out-of-pocket investment might be higher than in other states, but Nebraska offers low-interest solar loans and tax exemptions to help make going solar more affordable.


Key insights

  • The average cost per watt is $2.83 in Nebraska.
  • The average payback period in Nebraska is 12 years if you pay for your system in full upfront.
  • Nebraska residents who go solar receive an estimated average net savings of $13,421 over 25 years.

How much do solar panels cost in Nebraska?

Installing residential solar panels can cost between $10,000 and $30,000 or more. On average, residents of Nebraska pay $29,716 before tax credits for their system.

Your system's size is a big factor in how much you pay overall. Systems that generate more power are typically more expensive. The average size of solar energy systems in Nebraska is 10.5 kW.

You can easily determine what size system you need. First, find out the amount of electricity you used in the last year in kilowatt-hours (kWh). You’ll find this information through your electric account dashboard online. Then, divide your annual kWh by 1,200 to find the necessary system size.

For example, the typical Nebraska household uses 12,060 kWh per year. Using this formula, the typical household would need a 10-kW system.

» WATT’S THE DIFFERENCE? kW vs. kWh

Average cost by system size in Nebraska

Source: EcoWatch

Are solar panels worth it in Nebraska?

Solar panels can be a worthwhile investment in Nebraska. The state gets a decent amount of sunlight, particularly during summer, which is great for solar energy production.

Nebraska receives an average of 4.5 to 5 peak sun hours daily.

However, you should consider your typical energy consumption, current utility bills and location within the state.

In urban areas like Omaha and Lincoln, where electricity rates tend to be higher, solar panels offer significant long-term savings on energy bills. Net metering policies also let you earn credits for the extra electricity your panels produce, potentially further reducing your energy costs.

If you live in a more remote or shaded area — or if your energy consumption is really low — the upfront costs might not outweigh your savings over time. It's best to evaluate your situation and compare a few quotes from reputable solar installers to see if solar panels are worth it.

» STILL NOT SURE? Solar energy pros and cons

Cost factors of going solar in Nebraska

Going solar is a big decision, and the cost can vary depending on many factors. From the size of your solar system to the quality of your panels, the price tag isn't one-size-fits-all. Let's dive into the various cost factors of going solar in Nebraska.

Solar equipment costs

The first thing you should consider is the cost of the solar panels themselves, along with any additional equipment like inverters, solar batteries and mounting hardware.

The quality and brand of your panels can significantly impact the cost per watt. High-efficiency, top-of-the-line panels will cost more upfront but may offer better performance and longevity.

Besides your panels, you may also need to purchase an inverter, monitoring system or batteries. Here’s an idea of what you may pay for solar equipment:

» MORE: How many solar panels do I need for my house?

Labor and installation costs

Installation probably isn't something you want to do yourself unless you have experience working with electricity. Labor costs vary depending on the company you choose, the complexity of your installation and where you live. Always get multiple quotes and check reviews to make sure you're getting the best deal and quality work.

» GUIDE: Solar panel installation 

Condition of your roof

Quality solar panels last 25 to 30 years. Here's the catch: Your roof needs to last just as long. If your roof is nearing the end of its life, you may need to remove the panels to fix or replace the roof and then reinstall the panels. It's as expensive and frustrating as it sounds. Make sure your roof is in tiptop shape before installing your panels by getting an inspection beforehand.

» SHOULD YOU: Replace your roof before going solar?

How you pay

There are many different ways to pay for a solar panel system:

  • Upfront purchase: Paying for solar panels upfront will get you full ownership at a lower price, but most people don’t have that kind of money on hand.
  • Solar loans: Solar loans allow you to finance your solar panel purchase through a lender. While you need to pay interest, you’ll typically be able to offset the interest with the savings from solar.
  • Solar leasing: Leasing solar panels is like renting from a solar provider. Leases usually have little to no upfront payments, but you won’t own the system or be eligible for the federal solar investment tax credit.
  • Power purchase agreement: A third-party company owns and installs the solar panels on your property if you enter a power purchase agreement (PPA). You purchase the electricity generated by the panels at a fixed rate.

If you're torn between leasing and buying, consider your long-term plans. Leasing requires less upfront but may cost you more over time. Buying means higher initial costs, but you own the system, which could increase your property value. You also won’t have to worry about transferring the lease if you sell the house.

» MORE: Lease vs. buy

Local permits and fees

Don't forget about the bureaucratic side of things. You need various permits to install your solar panels legally, and these come with fees. The costs and types of permits you need can vary by location, so check with your local government to get the specifics.

Other cost factors

Solar panels don't require much upkeep, but they're not entirely maintenance-free either. Over time, you may have to swap out an inverter or give the system a good cleaning. These extra expenses can accumulate over the life span of your solar setup, so keep them in mind when budgeting.

Solar incentives, tax credits and rebates in Nebraska

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

The average ITC value in Nebraska is $8,915 in 2023.

Nebraska also offers some incentives. The state has a sales tax rebate to help you save even more on your solar system. There are also two solar loan programs that offer low interest rates.

» EXPLORE: Nebraska solar incentives

Compare solar installation companies in Nebraska

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

Do you own or rent?

FAQ

Can I get free solar panels in Nebraska?

While you can lease or enter a PPA with little to no upfront costs, 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 much can I save with solar panels?

When you pay cash, the average 25-year savings with solar is $13,421 in Nebraska.

How are solar costs trending in Nebraska?

The cost to go solar in Nebraska has fallen 43% over the last 10 years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

How does net metering work in Nebraska?

If you don't have a solar battery to store your extra energy, it goes straight to the electrical grid. Through net metering, you can get compensated for that energy.

In Nebraska, electric providers are required to source at least 1% of their electricity from local residents. You accumulate credits for this electricity, which you can then redeem for cash at year's end. To be eligible, your system needs to have a capacity of 25 kW or less.

Will hail damage my solar panels?

Hail can damage solar panels, but you shouldn’t let that deter you from installing them. The cost of fixing any damage that does occur may be covered by your homeowners insurance. Plus, most solar panels are designed to withstand smaller hail sizes common in most areas.

Bottom line

Before taking into account the federal solar investment tax credit, you're looking at an average installation cost of $29,716 for solar panels in Nebraska. The ITC can take $8,915 off that, and the state's tax breaks can help even more. With an estimated $13,421 in savings over 25 years, it can be worth your while to go solar in Nebraska.

Solar costs: Nebraska 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, “How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Nebraska?” Accessed Oct. 14, 2023.
  2. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “Homeowner’s Guide to the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics.” Accessed Oct. 14, 2023.
  3. Solar Energy Industries Association, “Solar State By State.” Accessed Oct. 14, 2023.
  4. Solar Energy Industries Association, “Nebraska Solar.” Accessed Oct. 14, 2023.
  5. DSIRE, “Nebraska Programs.” Accessed Oct. 14, 2023.
  6. U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Electricity.” Accessed Oct. 14, 2023.
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