Almost two thirds of Iowa’s net electricity generation in 2022 came from renewable resources, but very little of that was solar. As any Midwesterner can tell you, there’s plenty of wind to harvest — and only Texas produced more electricity from those big turbines.
But that doesn’t mean the sun can’t power your own home. Solar panels can help homeowners find independence from rising electricity prices. And, if you get the right equipment, they can power your home through power outages.
Solar panels are expensive, costing $10,000 or more, but an expanded federal tax credit is making them more affordable.
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Here’s what to know before going solar in Iowa.
Best national solar panel companies in Iowa
The Solar Energy Industries Association lists 72 solar companies in Iowa, including 30 installers. Here are some national installers in Iowa worth considering.
Local solar panel companies in Iowa
While there are some national players to choose from, you can also get your solar panels installed by a local company. Here are a few we identified.
How to determine which solar company in Iowa is best for you
You have a lot of choices when it comes to finding a solar installer. You’ll want to start by gathering a list of as many options as you can. Search online, talk to neighbors and peers, ask around.
Once you have a list, ask several companies for quotes. This is like any other major home improvement project, and you should consider it as a long-term investment. Get detailed quotes to compare, and make sure they’re looking at your home in detail and considering your needs. Then choose the company that best fits what you want and offers the best price, reputation and warranties.
Average cost of solar panels in Iowa
Here’s a look at the average cash price for a 5-kilowatt system before factoring in tax credits and incentives, according to data from FindEnergy.com. Your cost may be higher, especially if you get a solar battery.
Iowa solar panel costs
|System size (kW)||Price per watt||Total cost|
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.
|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.|
Read more: Want something smaller than a whole-home solar system? See our picks for the best portable solar panels and solar generators.
Solar financing options in Iowa
There is more than one way to pay 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.
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 a community 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.