Tag Archives: Solar panels

What are the most efficient solar panels on the market?

most efficient solar panels on the market energysage

For those looking for the most efficient solar panels for their PV system, the first thing you need to know is how to compare efficiency metrics for different manufacturer brands. Simply put, efficiency (expressed as a percentage) quantifies a solar panel’s ability to convert sunlight into electricity. Given the same amount of sunlight shining for the same duration of time on two solar panels with different efficiency ratings, the more efficient panel will produce more electricity than the less efficient panel.

In practical terms, for two solar panels of the same physical size, if one has a 21% efficiency rating and the other has a 14% efficiency rating, the 21% efficient panel will produce 50% more kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity under the same conditions as the 14% efficient panel. Thus, maximizing energy use and bill savings is heavily reliant on top tier solar panel energy efficiency.

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How much do solar panels cost in Chicago in 2017?

solar panels chicago

The United States has experienced dramatic solar growth over the past decade and it can be attributed to a number of factors. The state of Illinois has seen a 64% decline in the cost of an installed solar system over the past 5 years with price drops even more significant in populated areas like its famous windy city, Chicago. Chicago is seeing some of the most significant solar growth by any city in the nation and this article we’ll explain why and what you should expect to pay for a solar panel system in 2017.

How much do solar panels cost in Chicago?

As of the first half of 2017, the average price for a solar panel system in Chicago was $3.48 per watt. Thus, since the typical system size in the U.S. is 5 kilowatts (5,000 watts), the average cost of a solar panel system in Chicago is $17,421 before any rebates or incentives.

The cost of solar is dropping across the state of Illinois. See prices in your area and get free solar quotes on the EnergySage Marketplace.

Though this price may already look attractive, it’s missing a major incentive that bolsters the economics of solar in the U.S.: the federal tax credit for solar energy systems. The solar ITC signifies a huge price reduction thanks to a hefty 30% rebate offered to both residential and commercial markets. Check out this data table that shows the cost of solar at different system sizes with the ITC factored in:

Chicago solar pricing table: average system cost and net savings

System size Average solar system cost
3 kW $8,877
5 kW $12,195
7 kW $16,349
10 kW $23,386
12 kW $27,281

*Note – prices in this table have the 30% Federal solar subsidy already included

The above table shows the discounted price for a solar panel system in Chicago after the solar ITC is included. The data draws from real quotes submitted to homeowners on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace between the second half of 2016 and first half of 2017. Keeping in mind the typical system size for a U.S. homeowner is 5 kilowatts (5,000 watts), a solar panel system will cost just over $12,000 in 2017.

Chicago net metering and other solar power incentives

One major reason for the popularity of solar power in Chicago is centered around the great solar incentives in the state of Illinois. Every major state utility offers net metering – a “make or break” factor for the economics of solar.

Net metering is a major benefit for homeowners connected to the grid who have a solar system installed. These homeowners will receive credits on their utility bills whenever their solar panel system sends electricity back to the grid. In a sense, net metering allows you to use the grid to “store” your energy for free – when your solar panels are not producing enough electricity, you can use your net metering credits instead of buying electricity from the utility.

This is what makes solar a truly efficient and pragmatic option: with net metering, you can cover 100 percent of your energy needs even during nighttime when your system is not generating energy. Without net metering, most homeowners have to opt for another storage option like a solar battery.

Additionally, Chicago homeowners benefit from the incentive of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs). Illinois’ renewable portfolio standard (RPS) now requires the state to source 25 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2025. That’s an ambitious goal, and to make it happen, the state has a program that rewards homeowners that help Illinois reach that target. For each megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity your solar system produces, you will be granted one Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) that you can then sell on the market, putting cash in your pocket on top of the savings you’re already generating with solar.

How Chicago homeowners can save big with solar

Though Chicago residents will see some of the cheapest solar prices in the country with continued cost declines expected over the next five years, low prices aren’t necessarily the biggest selling point. When it comes to going solar, the long term ROI and savings from avoided bill payments is often the biggest deciding factor – and the figures can be staggering even in states where utility rates are reasonable. In 2016, solar quotes received by Chicago homeowners yielded 20-year savings estimates of over $15,000 on average. Checkout the breakdown of average net savings by solar system size:

Chicago net 20 year savings from solar

System size Average net solar savings over 20 years
3 kW $6,867
5 kW $13,946
7 kW $17,194
10 kW $26,767
12 kW $28,234

And even though these numbers may be enticing, what isn’t captured in a savings figure is the control you have as a solar shopper on the final quote you’ll receive for your solar energy system, bringing us to our…

Three tips for solar shoppers in Chicago

  1. Homeowners who get multiple quotes save 10% or more

    As with any big ticket purchase, shopping for a solar panel installation takes a lot of research and consideration, including a thorough review of the companies in your area. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recommended that consumers compare as many solar options as possible to avoid paying inflated prices offered by the large installers in the solar industry.

    To find the best solar contractors in Chicago that typically offer lower prices, you’ll need to use an installer network like EnergySage. You can receive free quotes from vetted installers local to you when you register your property on our Solar Marketplace – homeowners who get 3 or more quotes can expect to save $2,000 or more on their solar panel installation.

  2. The biggest installers typically don’t offer the best price

    The bigger isn’t always better mantra is one of the main reasons we strongly encourage homeowners to consider all of their solar options, not just the brands large enough to pay for the most advertising. A recent report by the U.S. government found that large installers are $2,000 to $5,000 more expensive than small solar companies. If you have offers from some of the big installers in solar, make sure you compare those bids with quotes from local installers to ensure you don’t overpay for solar.

  3. Comparing all your equipment options is just as important

    National-scale installers don’t just offer higher prices – they also tend to have fewer solar equipment options, which can have a significant impact on your system’s electricity production. By collecting a diverse array of solar bids, you can compare costs and savings based on the different equipment packages available to you.

    There are multiple variables to consider when seeking out the best solar panels on the market. While certain panels will have higher efficiency ratings than others, investing in top-of-the-line solar equipment doesn’t always result in higher savings. The only way to find the “sweet spot” for your property is to evaluate quotes with varying equipment and financing offers.

For any Chicago homeowner in the early stage of shopping for solar that would just like a ballpark estimate for an installation, try our Solar Calculator that offers up front cost and long term savings estimates based on your location and roof type. For those looking to get quotes from local contractors today, check out our quote comparison platform.





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How much do solar panels cost in Texas in 2017? Case study, incentives and pricing

solar prices and solar panel installation in texas

Until just recently, Texas was not even among the top 10 states for solar energy, thus many were surprised when the Lone Star State was ranked #3 in the U.S. for solar jobs in 2016. Texas is adopting solar at one of the fastest rates in the country, and for good reason. Prices dropped 20 percent last year, and a number of utilities across the state launched or extended major incentive programs for solar PV systems. In this article we’ll break down Texas solar prices and use a case study to explain how comparison shopping can help homeowners get a better deal.
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Why are solar panels so expensive? Understanding the cost of a solar panel system

The Cost of a Solar Panel System

While the most expensive part of going solar is paying for the equipment, it still only represents 25 percent of the overall expense. Soft costs, or the outlays that installers spend just trying to find you and appeal to you, also contribute a significant percentage. Here’s a breakdown so that you can understand the cost of a solar panel system, plus tips on how you can save money!

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What to Know About a Solar Panel Warranty

What is a solar panel warranty?

A solar panel has two warranties: a performance and equipment guarantee. A solar panel’s performance warranty will typically guarantee 90% production at 10 years and 80% at 25 years. An equipment warranty will typically guarantee 10-12 years without failing. SunPower offers the best warranties.

A solar panel’s product warranty insurance covers the integrity of the panel itself, and protects you against problems such as manufacturing defects, environmental issues, premature wear and tear etc. As with most warranties, a longer period is generally more advantageous to you, if you own your solar panel system. When evaluating a solar panel warranty and its manufacturer, the two most important factors on which you should focus are:

1. Product (or materials) warranty, and
2. The performance warranty
We’ll address both of these in this article as we break down our process for finding the best solar warranties offered by manufacturers.

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What is the power output of a solar panel?

power output of a solar panel

Power output or wattage is an important factor to consider when comparing solar panel options. You may hear your solar installer say, “it’s a 255 Watt panel” or “the panel I am recommending is has a wattage of 300.” Or, when you are reading a quote from a solar installer, you might see numbers like 245W, 300W, or 345W next to the name of the panel. They are all referring to a solar panel’s wattage, capacity and power output. So, what is the typical output of solar panels?

All solar panels are rated by the amount of DC (direct current) power they produce under standard test conditions. Solar panel power output is expressed in units of watts (W), and represents the panel’s theoretical power production under ideal sunlight and temperature conditions. Most home solar panels on the market today have power output ratings ranging from 250 to 400 watts, with higher power ratings generally considered preferable to lower power ratings. Pricing in solar is typically measured in dollars per watt ($/W), and the total wattage of your solar panels plays a significant part in the overall cost of your solar system.

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What Solar Energy Equipment Do I Need to Go Solar?

solar energy equipment basics EnergySage

If you’re considering installing a solar panel system, you’ve probably spent some time researching financing, tax breaks, and solar installers. However, you should also educate yourself about the solar energy equipment your system needs to get up and running. While the components of a PV system are simple, the different product options and brands can make the equipment selection process fairly complex. We’ll break down all things solar power equipment in order to best prepare you to select your solar hardware. In order to go solar, you’re going to need the following equipment: 

  • Solar panels
  • Inverter
  • Racking
  • Performance monitoring
  • Storage option (battery or grid connection)

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How do I choose my solar panels? Guide to choosing your solar equipment

how solar panels connect to the grid EnergySage

Installing a home solar energy system is a smart financial investment for many homeowners. As you evaluate offers from solar companies, there are many different factors to consider – the equipment that you choose for your system, your financing options, and the installer that you select all have an impact on your solar savings. This guide will help you evaluate the different solar panels and inverters available so that you can choose the best equipment for your home.  Continue reading

Do solar panels work in the winter? Solar snow performance explained

do solar panels work during winter graphic

In some cases, the bitter cold months are actually the best time to go solar. EnergySage solar shoppers often see the lowest price on solar quotes during winter months

Memories of cold, snowy winters past can be discouraging even for the hardiest homeowner. If you’re considering going solar, you might be wondering whether solar panels and snow are a bad combination. On the contrary, EnergySage marketplace data has indicated that solar shoppers can often find the lowest quotes during winter months when competition is reduced. After all, if you look at solar as an investment, then it should be able to generate returns throughout the year as other investments do. Luckily, plenty of people have both solar panels and snow, and some of the most popular regions in the U.S. for solar have snowy winters. Don’t let winter weather discourage you from going solar!

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New York’s Third Industrial Revolution: State puts focus on distributed energy with Reforming the Energy Vision initiative

new york solar

New York is aiming to fundamentally reshape the way electricity is generated, distributed and marketed in the state. Under Governor Andrew Cuomo, the state government has set out to answer the pressing question of how to bring the state’s electricity system into the 21st century. The Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative is a decision-making process whose proceedings will ultimately result in the overhaul the state’s retail electricity markets – while also finding ways to better integrate renewables and energy efficiency into the system

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