The U.S has witnessed a remarkable growth in solar over the past decade. Colorado was an early proponent of community solar and is home to strong state government and local programs, so it’s no wonder that the Centennial State is a great state for solar. Colorado is currently ranked 11th in the nation for solar and with an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, Denver is ripe for more solar development thanks to multiple solar incentives. In this article we’ll explain why Denver, Colorado is a great spot for solar power and how homeowners in the Mile-High City can maximize their solar savings.
How much do solar panels cost in Denver?
As of mid-2017, the average price for solar panels in Denver was $3.30 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 Denver is $16,500 before any rebates or incentives.
While this price is competitive for the overall state of Colorado, it is also very competitive in terms of the national average. Prices for solar panel systems have dropped by over 64% in Colorado over the past 5 years and homeowners are taking notice. Check out this comparison table of Denver and U.S. average pricing for various system sizes:
Solar pricing table: Denver compared to U.S. average costs
|System size||National average cost|
|Denver average cost|
The above table, which uses pricing data from solar quotes received by homeowners on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace over the last 12 months, offers a comparison of prices nationwide and in Denver for solar energy systems. As the data illustrates, typical solar prices in Denver, Colorado are significantly lower than the rest of the country.
When looking at the solar industry as a whole, it’s well known that Colorado is a pragmatic places to install solar. But when you zero in on Denver’s market and compare it to the rest of the country, the advantage for homeowners is even clearer. The good news for most Colorado homeowners is that these low costs do not even incorporate the added benefit of net metering, offered throughout the Centennial State.
Colorado’s net metering and other incentives
Like most states, Colorado offers a comprehensive net metering program. Homeowners are paid for any extra energy their solar panel systems generate. Colorado is also one of the earliest proponents of community solar which allows residents to subscribe to an off-site solar array for those who do not own property or do not have a suitable roof for solar.
Other state incentives include tax breaks for solar. The Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Renewable Energy Equipment means there is no sales tax on the purchase of a solar system. The Property Tax Exemption for Residential Renewable Energy Equipment keeps homeowners for having to pay any additional taxes on the increased value of their home.
For new homeowners or those in the market, the State of Colorado will help pay the mortgage if energy efficient upgrades and a renewable energy system are installed within the first 120 days of purchasing a new home. Depending on the house’s improved rating on the Home Energy Rating System Index, homeowners could receive between $750 and $3,000 from this loan program.
How Denver homeowners can save big with solar
Though Denver residents are already seeing low solar prices 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 2017, solar quotes received by Denver homeowners yielded 20-year savings estimates of over $39,426 on average. Checkout the breakdown of average net savings by solar system size:
Denver net 20-year savings from solar
|System size||Average solar savings over 20 years|
Three tips for solar shoppers in Denver
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 smaller contractors 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 save thousands on their solar panel installation.
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.
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 Denver 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.