Solar Panels in Iowa: Is It Worth the Investment? (2023)

Solar Panels in Iowa: Is It Worth the Investment? (1) Why You Can Trust CNET

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See what incentives, prices and installers are available if you're considering solar panels in the Hawkeye State.

Solar Panels in Iowa: Is It Worth the Investment? (2)

Saltanat Berdikeeva

Solar Panels in Iowa: Is It Worth the Investment? (3)

Saltanat Berdikeeva

Saltanat Berdikeeva is a CNET contributor and a writer for our sister publication who has published extensive work on energy and security issues in the US, Eurasia and the Middle East over the past decade. Her articles have been featured in Energy Digital, Inside Arabia, European Energy Review, National Geographic, Platts, Oil and Gas Journal, Insight Turkey, ISN, local newspapers and other publications. Saltanat also appears on syndicated TV and radio stations in the US, providing commentary and analysis on energy issues. With a passion for clean energy technologies, she focuses on providing clear and straightforward information in simple language on all things energy. Saltanat holds a master's degree in security studies from Georgetown University.

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Iowa residents currently pay some of the lowest electricity rates in the country, but prices have been rising. Could solar panels help you fight those higher bills?

While the Hawkeye State isn't a top solar state -- it's ranked 27th in total installed solar capacity, according to theSolar Energy Industries Association -- it provides net metering and other incentives to solar customers.

The average cost of an 8-kilowatt solar panel system in Iowa is over $25,000, but you can reduce that with incentives.

Here's a look at how investing in solar panels can help you gain energy independence and reduce your energy bills.

Iowa solar panel cost

Labor costs, permitting fees and the type and size of solar panels are some of the main factors that determine the cost of going solar. Your average annual energy consumption and your roof orientation will influence the system's size and total solar cost. Find Energy estimates that an average Iowa home needs an 8-kilowatt solar system to satisfy most of its electricity requirements. The average price per installed watt is $4.25 in Iowa, which is higher than the national average price of $3.67.

Average cost of solar panels in Iowa vs. the whole US

System size (kW)Price per wattInstalled cost
US 8$3.67$31,558
Iowa 8$4.25$33,960

Solar financing options in Iowa

There is more than one way topay for solar panels in Iowa. Let's look at the benefits and drawbacks of each one.

Cash: A cash payment is the most direct way to pay for solar panels. Even though the upfront cost is high, you can take advantage of the federal residential clean energy credit and state incentives to decrease the cost. You also don't have to worry about any interest or loan fees.

Solar loan: Once you pass a credit check, getting a solar loan is relatively easy. You don't need to pay a hefty sum upfront when you take out the loan. However, interest and loan fees will apply and add to the total cost of solar, though the residential clean energy credit applies to loan purchases too.

Lease: With a solar lease, you enter a contract with a solar company that installs solar panels on your home. You pay a flat monthly price for the electricity produced by the panels. Since the solar company retains the ownership, it will claim all the tax credits, rebates and other incentives.

Power purchase agreement: Under a power purchase agreement, a solar company provides the solar system for you but owns, operates and maintains the solar panels. The company charges you a fixed amount per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by solar panels. Like solar leasing, all incentives go to the solar company since it owns the panels.

Power purchase agreements and solar leases are viable options for those who can't get a loan or have no upfront capital. Cash payment or a loan can provide a better monetary value over the long term because you will qualify for different incentive programs to lower the cost of solar. After that, you fully own the solar panels and continue to save on your electricity bill.

Best Solar Companies of 2023 See at Cnet

Iowa solar panel incentives or rebates

You have access to several solar incentives to help lower the cost of solar. The residential clean energy credit, a federal solar tax credit program formerly known as the investment tax credit, is one of the most generous solar benefits for US homeowners. With the clean energy credit, you can deduct 30% of the cost of a solar system from your federal income tax burden. This tax credit is available between 2022 and 2032. It decreases to 26% in 2033, 22% in 2034 and expires in 2035.

Iowa residents can apply for additional state and local incentives.

Program Description
Net metering Net metering is the process by which you can sell surplus electricity produced by your solar panels back to the grid for credits on your bill. Iowa has a robust net metering policy but it doesn't extend to municipal utilities and electric cooperatives. Two major investor-owned utilities -- MidAmerican Energy and Interstate Power and Light -- allow solar customers with a system less than 1 megawatt to participate in net metering.
Property tax exemption The property tax exemption for renewable energy systems in Iowa exempts your new solar system from property taxes for five years.
Sales tax exemption Under Iowa's renewable energy equipment exemption, you don't have to pay the 6% sales tax on your solar system and installation costs.
Solar easement and access laws Iowa's solar easement and access laws allow you to enter a voluntary easement agreement with your neighbors to ensure your panels get direct access to sunlight. Or you can request a solar access easement order from the solar access regulatory board.

Iowa solar panel companies

The Solar Energy Industries Association lists 72 solar companies in Iowa, including 30 installers. SunPower, one of thebest solar companies researched by CNET, is included on this list, but there are additional installers in Iowa worth considering.

ADT Solar

ADT Solar (formerly Sunpro Solar) is one of the largest solar and battery installers in the US. The company provides a complete installation process, including solar system design, permitting paperwork, installation and inspection. The company also offers a solar monitoring service after installation. Systems include 25-year warranties for solar panels, solar inverters, quality of work and production.

Solar Panels in Iowa: Is It Worth the Investment? (5)

Watch this: New Solar Shingles You May Not Even Notice

Eagle Point Solar

Eagle Point Solaris a major solar installer in the Midwest. It provides full-service installation services in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. You will get a five-year quality of work warranty and a 25-year product warranty. The company offers power purchase agreements and leasing options, but only for commercial customers.

Energy Consultants Group

Energy Consultants Groupis a full-service solar company based in Anamosa, Iowa. It installs solar panels, batteries, EV chargers and generators. The company can also monitor your system 24/7 to ensure its performance. Energy Consultants Group offers a 10-year quality of work warranty and a 25-year product and performance warranty on parts and components of a solar system. While the company provides a solar financing option, it's unclear if it offers solar leases and power purchase agreements.

Solar Panels in Iowa: Is It Worth the Investment? (6)

GRNE Solar

GRNE Solaris a full-service installer servicing Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Colorado, Michigan and Nebraska. You can get solar panels, batteries, electric vehicle chargers, energy monitoring and maintenance. It offers solar leasing in some of its locations. The company doesn't currently have information on warranties.

SunPower Solar

SunPowerprovides installation services through its nationwide network of certified installers. SunPower Solar customers get a 10-year battery warranty and a 25-year guarantee for performance, product and quality of work. The company can help you finance your solar panels or give you the option to enter a solar lease or PPA.

Installation factors to consider

Many factors can determine whether the benefits of going solar outweigh the costs. An experienced solar panel installer can help you figure this out.

Insurance: Many home insurance companies can cover solar panels in their policies. Ask your insurance company if your policy covers them.

Location: The amount of shading around your house impacts the generation from solar panels.

Rent or own: Installing solar panels is challenging for renters since they don't own the property. Enrolling in acommunity solar program is one of the best ways for renters to get clean and renewable energy.

Roof:Most homeowners install solar panels on their rooftops. It's essential to find out if your roof is in good shape before you get a solar system. Repairing or replacing your roof before installing solar panels saves you more money than dealing with it after installing them. Your installer should complete a roof inspection and communicate any necessary repairs before installation.

Iowa solar power FAQs

What are the benefits of solar power to the environment?

As a clean and renewable energy source, solar generation doesn't emit harmful greenhouse gas emissions to the environment. Energy production from fossil fuels uses a lot of water and releases pollutants. TheUS Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy believes improved air quality from solar energy could prevent avoidable health care costs and save over 25,000 lives.

Do solar panels impact my home's value?

Solar panels add value to your home. According to the Appraisal Journal, ahome's value can increase by $20 for every $1 decrease in yearly utility bills.Zillow found that sustainable homes, including those with solar panels and energy-efficient features, sold faster than others in 2022.

How long do solar panels last?

Solar panels are designed to last at least 30 years. It doesn't mean that after 30 years they will stop working, but their output will decrease over time. Panels will continue to generate energy and reduce electricity bills even after 30 years. Upkeep of the panels and timely maintenance of any issues can slow down their degradation rate.

More solar advice

  • Solar Cheat Sheet: Your Complete Guide to Getting Solar Panels at Home
  • How Long Does It Take for Solar Panels to Pay for Themselves?
  • How Your Solar Panels Work When the Sun Isn't Out
  • Solar Panel Scams: 7 Red Flags to Avoid


Are solar panels a good idea in Iowa? ›

Electricity Bill Savings

The most appealing benefit of going solar in Iowa is the savings you'll enjoy on your electric bills. The average homeowner in Iowa pays around $107.78 per month for electricity, so the annual savings your solar panels can provide can be as high as $1,293.

Do you really save money with solar panels? ›

Besides the federal tax credit, solar panels increase property values while lowering utility bills. Compared to gas or electric heating systems, solar panels save you much more in the long-run. Your solar panel system can pay for itself in three years!

How do I know if solar is worth it for me? ›

If you experience higher electricity rates, switching to solar will likely be a good investment. However, if your home does not require a lot of energy consumption to operate day-to-day, you may not save enough to balance the installation cost.

Is solar worth it financially? ›

Electricity Bill Savings

Most Californians pay around $116.94 each month for power, so you'll save just over $1,400 annually if you can eliminate your energy bill. The average lifetime savings enjoyed by California solar customers is around $29,734, and that's after the upfront expenses of going solar are recuperated.

Is there a downside to having solar? ›

Disadvantages of solar energy include a high initial cost, an inability to work on every roof type, and sometimes difficulty in finding a reputable and local installer (depending on where you live).

Does Iowa have solar tax credit? ›

Applying Online with GovConnectIowa. To request a Solar Energy System Tax Credit, you are required to complete an application. The application must be received by May 1 following the year of the installation of the solar energy system or the application will be denied.

How long do solar panels take to pay for themselves? ›

The most common estimate of the average payback period for solar panels is six to ten years. This is a pretty wide range because there are many factors that will influence the number of years it can take to pay off your panels and the monthly savings you can expect.

Why are my solar panels not saving me money? ›

Many homeowners use more power after going solar

If you start using more power after going solar than you were before going solar, you may not be saving money on electricity. Keep in mind that your solar system is designed to produce the amount of electricity your household was using before you went solar.

Do the pros outweigh the cons of solar panels? ›

Pros and Cons of Solar Energy
Advantages of Solar EnergyDisadvantages of Solar Energy
Decreases use of non-renewable resourcesHigh upfront costs
Reduces power billSunlight dependent
Energy independenceSpace constraints
Long-term savingsEnvironmental impact of manufacturing
5 more rows
Jan 5, 2023

How long do solar panels last? ›

The industry standard for most solar panels' lifespans is 25 to 30 years. Most reputable manufacturers offer production warranties for 25 years or more. The average break even point for solar panel energy savings occurs six to 10 years after installation.

Do solar panels void roof warranty? ›

In most cases, solar panels will not void a roof warranty. However, you have to be cautious of some companies that may install solar panels without considering the consequences of some actions, such as drilling holes in your roof.

How many solar panels are needed to run a home? ›

An average home needs between 17 and 21 solar panels to fully offset utility bills with solar. The number of solar panels you need depends on a few key factors, including your geographic location and individual panel specifications.

Is going solar better than electric? ›

Although solar equipment can be more expensive initially, the main reason that people choose solar power instead of electricity is the cost savings. Solar energy is very efficient and able to pay back the cost of installation over a number of years.

Do solar panels work on cloudy days? ›

You don't need direct sunlight for your solar panels to work. Even on a dark, cloudy day, hues reflected from the sky are being absorbed by solar panel cells to create power.

How many solar panels does it take to run a house off the grid? ›

How many solar panels do I need to go off-grid?
Average Monthly Electric BillSolar System SizeNumber of Panels (Based on 200W Panels)
$605 kW26 panels
$12010 kW52 panels
$24020 kW105 panels
$60050 kW255 panels
2 more rows

Do solar panels affect homeowners insurance? ›

Most rooftop solar energy systems are covered by standard homeowners policies, which doesn't change your insurance plan. However, you may need to increase the amount of coverage on your home to account for the cost of the system which can then raise your premium.

What is 1 bad thing about solar power? ›

The one environmental downside to solar technology is that it contains many of the same hazardous materials as electronics. As solar becomes a more popular energy source, the problem of disposing the hazardous waste becomes an additional challenge.

Can you sell power back to the grid in Iowa? ›

Iowa offers a net metering program, which lets consumers sell back excess solar energy to the power grid in exchange for credit. This federal solar tax credit offers 30% back on taxes to consumers who purchase and install a residential solar system from 2022 to 2032.

What are the solar incentives for Iowa 2023? ›

Iowa offers a personal tax credit equal to 50% of the federal solar tax credit of 26%. So, for an average 6-kW solar energy system installed for $18,000, you are eligible for $4,680 from the Federal government (26% * $18,000), and an additional $2,340 (50% of the Federal credit).

What happens after I pay off my solar panels? ›

Once you pay off your loan or buy your system outright you will essentially be getting energy for free. When it comes to payment, those who are using solar energy will still get a monthly utility bill. This will show how much energy you produced versus how much energy you used for the month.

How do you pay off solar panels? ›

There are three primary ways to pay for solar: with a cash purchase, with a solar loan, or with a solar lease/power purchase agreement.

Do solar panels need batteries to work? ›

Most people rely on electricity from the power grid to supplement their solar-generated power. But residential solar energy systems paired with battery storage—generally called solar-plus-storage systems—provide power regardless of the weather or the time of day without having to rely on backup power from the grid.

Why is my solar true-up bill so high? ›

Increased Usage

If your electricity use increased from that initial 12-month usage estimate – for example, maybe you've installed a pool or switched from working in an office to working from home – you may be surprised with a larger True-Up Bill as a result.

Can a house run on solar power alone? ›

Can a House Run Completely on Solar Power? The short answer: Yes, you can use solar energy to power your entire house. In fact, some people have used expansive solar panel systems to go off the grid completely, turning their homes into self-sustaining ecosystems (at least as far as energy is concerned).

Do solar panels survive hail? ›

While solar panels can stand up to hail and hurricanes, it doesn't necessarily mean they'll provide power after the storm. If your solar panels are grid-connected and there's a power outage, your panels will shut off even if they're in perfect working condition.

Why do people oppose solar panels? ›

Many people are against them because they think they take up too much space, they can be an eyesore, and they can impact property values. In addition, solar farms can interfere with farming and other land uses, be a danger to wildlife, and create a lot of heat – both in the daytime and at night.

What are the benefits of solar panels in 2023? ›

Increase Property Value

Not only does it limit your dependence on traditional sources of power, but installing a solar panel system can also dramatically reduce your electricity bills – meaning that more money goes into your pocket at the end of each month.

Why aren't we using more solar panels? ›

Because our current, aging electrical grid can't presently distribute renewable energy over long distances, solar isn't available everywhere. Fortunately, this is all changing. It's becoming more cost-effective to build new renewable energy sources rather than adding capacity to existing fossil fuel plants.

What happens after 25 years of solar panels? ›

The industry standard for the lifespan of solar panels is 25-30 years. However, a solar panel won't die after 25-30 years – rather, its power output will decrease a significant amount below what the manufacturer projected.

How long do solar panels last without maintenance? ›

The estimated operational lifespan of a PV module is about 30-35 years, although some may produce power much longer. While few systems are entering the waste stream right now, more systems will come to the end of their useful life in the next few decades.

How many solar panels does it take to power a house for a year? ›

How many solar panels do you need to power a house? While it varies from home to home, the US households typically need between 10 and 20 solar panels to entirely offset their average annual electricity consumption. Obviously, electricity use, peak sun hours, and panel wattage will be different for everyone.

Will my roof leak with solar panels? ›

Roof Leaks

Solar panels, by nature, disrupt the flow of water along your roof, which can create leakage issues over time. If panels are installed incorrectly, leakage can also occur around the areas where the panels were bolted in and attached to the roof.

Do solar panels tear up your roof? ›

Solar panels can cause roofing materials to deteriorate faster due to the extra weight, and they can also create an extra load on your home's cooling system. However, if installed and maintained properly, solar panels should not damage your roof.

Do solar panels prevent roof leaks? ›

Photovoltaic mounting components are specifically designed for rooftop solar installations, and thus guard against roof leaks. Special flashing is installed around every rooftop penetration to help water flow safely away. To ensure a watertight seal, the holes are filled with high-quality silicone.

How many solar panels do I need for a 2000 square foot house? ›

Thankfully, we've got the answer for you! A 2000 square foot house will need 28- 34 solar panels, which comes out to an average cost of \$3.50 per watt. Not only will installing solar panels save homeowners money on their electric bill, but they can also increase the value of their home.

How many solar panels do I need to run an air conditioner? ›

Solar Panels for AC Unit
Air Conditioning UnitNumber of Solar Panels Required
Central air30 x 100W solar panels
Large window unit20 x 10W solar panels
Medium window unit10 x 10W solar panels
Small window units5 x 10W solar panels
Apr 4, 2023

How big of a solar system do I need for a 2000 square foot house? ›

So, a 2,000 square foot home would be allowed a solar array of 4,000 watts. Depending on the type of panel that you choose, a system of this size would be anywhere from 12-18 solar panels. Keep in mind, this formula to estimate consumption varies depending on who provides your electricity.

How do you decide if solar panels are worth it? ›

  1. Review your electric bill.
  2. Evaluate your sunlight exposure.
  3. Estimate and compare the cost of solar panels for homes.
  4. Take advantage of government incentives.
  5. Keep an eye on trade policy.
Apr 17, 2023

At what point is solar power worth it? ›

If you experience higher electricity rates, switching to solar will likely be a good investment. However, if your home does not require a lot of energy consumption to operate day-to-day, you may not save enough to balance the installation cost.

What is more efficient than solar energy? ›

Oil, coal, and natural gas have a higher energy density (the amount of stored energy per unit volume) than solar power, which is why many customers prefer them. Investing in a solar storage battery, on the other hand, allows you to access energy even when the sun isn't shining and provides predictability.

Can heavy rain damage solar panels? ›

Rain itself will have no effect on your solar energy system. Solar panels are waterproof, so moisture won't damage them. And, in fact, rain is helpful in that it will wash off some of the dirt and debris that accumulates on the panels over time.

Will solar panels charge in rain? ›

But if you have solar or are thinking about installing panels on your home, you may wonder what happens to the energy your solar system produces when it rains. The short answer: your solar panels will work just fine in rainy or overcast weather.

How long does a solar battery last at night? ›

How long can a solar battery power a house? Without running AC or electric heat, a 10 kWh battery alone can power the basic operations of a house for at least 24 hours, and longer with careful budgeting.

How many solar batteries are needed to power a house? ›

A 400 amp-hour 6 volt battery can provide around 2.4 kilowatt hours of power. A three-day battery bank planned to provide 90 kilowatt-hours of electricity to an average American household. The previous example battery can provide2,4 kilowatt hours, while 38 batteries would be needed.

How many batteries do you need to go off the grid? ›

If you want to keep the power on when the grid is down, you'll usually just need one solar battery. If you want to go off-grid completely, you'll need far more storage capacity, more along the lines of 8-12 batteries.

How many solar panels does it take to charge a Tesla? ›

It takes roughly eight to 10 solar panels to charge a Tesla. This is only an estimate though; in reality, the number of panels depends on several factors, such as the solar panel's efficiency, the model Tesla being charged, and what the power output of the connection being used.

What is the potential for solar energy in Iowa? ›

Iowa ranks 16th in technical potential for solar photovoltaic (PV) energy production and has the potential to build over 4,000 GW (GW) of solar – enough to power half a billion homes annually and meet Iowa's current electricity needs 150 times over.

How much does solar energy cost in Iowa? ›

Average cost of solar panels in Iowa vs. the whole US
System size (kW)Price per watt
Apr 28, 2023

What direction should solar panels face in Iowa? ›

In Iowa, the sun is visible in the southern sky. As such, a solar array should be oriented to the southern sky so that it is as nearly perpendicular to the sun's rays as possible. For a stationary array located in Iowa, orienting the solar array due south will provide the highest energy output.

What are the solar tax breaks in in Iowa? ›

Iowa solar tax credit

Iowa offers a personal tax credit equal to 50% of the federal solar tax credit of 26%. So, for an average 6-kW solar energy system installed for $18,000, you are eligible for $4,680 from the Federal government (26% * $18,000), and an additional $2,340 (50% of the Federal credit).

Will solar be cheaper next year? ›

Solar costs are very likely to decrease in 2023, making rooftop renewables affordable for more homeowners. In November 2022, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) published its analysis of the cost of solar and energy storage (battery) system installations for the first quarter of 2022.

How much money do solar panels give you? ›

Local electricity rates: The rate of electricity in your area will determine how much you save by going solar. For example, if you pay 15 cents per kWh for energy usage and your panels generate 1,000 kWh in a month, you can expect to see $150 in power bill savings.

Does Iowa have net metering? ›

Iowa's net-metering subrule, adopted by the IUB in July 1984, applies to customers that generate electricity using alternate energy production facilities (AEPs). Net metering is available to customers of Iowa's two investor-owned utilities, MidAmerican Energy and Interstate Power and Light (IPL).

What is the current price of solar system? ›

5kW (Off-Grid) Solar System with Battery
Solar System ModelSelling price*Price per watt*
5kW Solar SystemINR 3,52,199INR 70.43
6kW Solar SystemINR 4,45,256INR 74.20
7.5kW Solar SystemINR 5,17,999INR 69.07
10kW Solar SystemINR 6,41,099INR 64.11
4 more rows

Do solar panels affect home insurance? ›

Most rooftop solar energy systems are covered by standard homeowners policies, which doesn't change your insurance plan. However, you may need to increase the amount of coverage on your home to account for the cost of the system which can then raise your premium.

What is the downside of solar panels on your roof? ›

The downside to using solar power is that it requires large amounts of land or rooftop space to install enough PV panels for it to be effective as an energy source. This means that depending on your location, you may need hundreds or even thousands of acres in order to generate enough electricity for your needs.

Which side of my house should I put solar panels on? ›

Advantages of South-Facing Solar Panels

However, solar panels should be facing geographic or “true” south, rather than magnetic south. Solar panels facing south will generate more energy throughout the course of the day, but peak production does not always coincide with peak usage.

Where is the best place to put solar panels? ›

The roof is the best place for solar panels because it receives the most uninterrupted sunlight throughout the day. If your roof doesn't face south, you're not out of luck. Some solutions for roofs without a southern face include: Adding more or larger panels on the east or west side to compensate.


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