How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?
The American national average solar panel cost is $3.05 per watt although it is possible to pay as little as $1 per watt (or even less) for budget models.
Consider these facts.
- The average size of a solar system in the United States is 6 kW.
- A system of this size costs roughly $12,810 after tax deductions.
- On average, solar panel costs are declining by roughly 2% per year, and this rate is set to accelerate further.
Precisely how much money you are going to pay for your solar panels depends entirely on how much electricity you produce and the area that you live in. Still, current price trends mean that soon enough everybody will be able to access solar technology.
Table of Contents
1. Solar Panel Costs Are Declining Over Time
2. Solar Panel Cost Calculator
3. Solar Panel Price by State
4. Solar Panels for Home Cost Depending on Panel Type
5. Solar Panel Installation Cost Breakdown
6. How Much Does Solar Panel Installation Cost?
7. Solar Panel Installation Costs per Area
8. Additional Costs for Upgrades to Solar Panels for Home
9. How Much Do Solar Panels Cost to Maintain?
10. Are Solar Panels Worth It?
11. How Much Do Solar Panels Save? Do You Really Save Money With Solar Panels?
12. How Much Do Solar Panels Cost to Lease? Should I Buy or Lease Solar Panels?
13. What Do You Need Before Installing a Solar Panel?
14. How Many Solar Panels Are Needed to Power a House?
15. Roof vs Ground Mounted Solar Panel Systems
16. How to Save Money on the Cost of Solar Panels
17. Questions to Ask About the Cost of Solar Panels and Installing Solar Panels
18. Residential Solar Panels vs Commercial
19. Why Are Solar Panels Not Worth It?
20. Tips to Save More Money When You Buy Solar Panels
21. Frequently Asked Questions
Solar Panel Costs Are Declining Over Time
As solar panel costs are declining by roughly 2% per year, this means that they are slowly becoming more and more affordable.
At one time, going solar was financially unfeasible for the vast majority of people. The market has changed so much that we are nearly at a point where virtually everybody will be able to afford solar technology.
The following chart shows how rapidly the cost of solar has fallen over the past decade.
Solar Costs over Time Chart
As you can see, costs have come down to less than half of what they were in 2010. In order to determine how much you will have to pay based on your electricity needs, you can make use of a solar panel cost calculator.
Solar Panel Cost Calculator
As of 2018, the average solar panel system size in the US was 5 kW, carrying an after-tax cost of $10,990. Here are a range of solar panel prices by size.
- 10 kW costs $21,980
- 8 kW costs $17,585
- 6 kW cost $13,188
Though you can get a rough idea about how much you should expect to pay for your system based on the above information, specific calculations are always best to get your pricings exactly right.
To calculate your exact solar panel requirements based on your electricity consumption, you can do the following.
- Multiply the wattage rating of each individual item you own by the number of hours it is used for each day. For example, a 100-watt bulb might be on for 8 hours per day, yielding 800 watt-hours per day.
- Divide the total number of watt-hours per day for your combined household items by 1,000, which represents 1 kW because a kilowatt is equivalent to 1,000 watts.
- Now multiply this number by 30 to calculate your total energy expenditure per month in kilowatts.
- This will determine the size of the solar panel system that you need to use.
Using the above solar panel cost calculator process will allow you to determine precisely what size solar panel system you require to power your home.
For more extensive information on solar panel cost calculations, refer to our previous guide titled How Many Solar Panels Do I Need? This guide contains comprehensive calculations covering every aspect of solar panels.
Solar Panel Price by State
Here is how much you can expect to pay for a US average 6 kW solar panel system in 2021 depending on the state you live in.
Solar Panel Costs By State
|US State||Base Solar Panel Cost for a 6 kW System||Cost Per Watt Average||2021 Tax Credit Reduction Value (22%)||Cost After Tax Deduction|
|District of Columbia||$15,720||$2.88||$3,458||$12,262|
As you can see, the costs vary dramatically depending on the area where you live. To determine the costs of several other system sizes, simply follow this process.
- Add 25% to the total value after tax deductions to calculate the costs of an 8 kW system.
- Add 50% to the total value after tax deductions to calculate the costs of a 10 kW system.
- Add 75% to the total value after tax deductions to calculate the costs of a 12 kW system.
The above percentages will allow you to calculate the average costs of a system of any size regardless of where you live.
Solar Panels for Home Cost Depending on Panel Type
When performing your solar panel system calculations, it is important to understand that different panel varieties carry different price tags.
Here is what you can expect to pay for the three most popular varieties of solar panel currently available. Please note that these cost estimates do not include installation costs.
#1 Monocrystalline Solar Panels
This is the most efficient variety of solar panel, and it is crafted using a single sheet of silicon crystal, giving it the most conductive structure possible. On average, mono panels cost roughly $1–$1.50 per watt. They have the longest life span of all panel types and often include excellent extended warranties.
#2 Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Polycrystalline panels are slightly less efficient than monocrystalline panels as they have been created using a combination of several different pieces of silicon crystal that have been melted and formed together, thus leading to natural breaks in their structure that make them less efficient. On average, you can expect to pay $0.70–$1.00 per watt for these panel types.
#3 Thin Film Solar Panels
Thin film panels are the least efficient of all solar panel varieties, but they are incredibly flexible and can often be installed without professional help.
You should expect to pay between $1–$1.50 per watt depending on the manufacturer. Another huge benefit of thin film panels is that they have an incredibly high heat tolerance. The average life expectancy for these three popular solar panel varieties is as follows.
Solar Panel Varieties
|Solar Panel Variety||Solar Panel Life Expectancy|
|Thin Film||14–17 years|
You should also factor the cost of solar panel mounts into your overall calculations. There are three main varieties of solar panel mounts available. The cost will vary by type.
Solar Panel Mount Costs
Fixed mounts keep each panel in a static location (usually fixed in a south-facing position) whereas adjustable mounts can be manually adjusted based on the sun’s location. Tracking mounts are the most expensive type because they follow the trajectory of the sun throughout the day to maximize photon ray uptake.
Here are the average cost ranges (excluding mounts) of different sizes of solar panel systems based on a low-range figure for polycrystalline costing $0.70 per watt and a high-range figure for monocrystalline and thin film costing the maximum $1.50 per watt.
Solar Panel System Cost Ranges
|Wattage Rating||System Cost Ranges|
|2 kW System||$5,000 – $7,000|
|3 kW System||$7,500 – $10,500|
|4 kW System||$10,000 – $14,000|
|5 kW System||$12,500 – $17,500|
|6.2 kW System||$15,500 – $21,500|
|8 kW System||$20,000 – $28,000|
|10 kW System||$25,000 – $35,000|
Solar Panel Installation Cost Breakdown
In this section, we are going to break down the installation costs for the average solar panel system. First, we will take a look at the average installation cost ranges.
How Much Does Solar Panel Installation Cost?
The average cost range for solar panel installation is between $9,240–$28,000. How much you pay will depend on a wide variety of different factors.
The most impactful variable in solar installation costs is the area that your home resides in. This factor can negatively or positively impact your installation costs more than any other.
The following table highlights low-end solar panel installation costs versus high-end costs.
Solar Panel Installation Cost Ranges
|Solar Panel Installation Cost Range||Solar Panel Installation Cost|
Solar Panel Installation Costs per Area
Let’s take a look at the average installation costs per area in the US.
Mid-Atlantic Solar Installation Labor Costs
|System Size||Average Installation Costs in This Area|
|2 kW System||$6,300 – $7,300|
|3 kW System||$9,500 – $10,500|
|4 kW System||$12,500 – $14,200|
|5 kW System||$15,800 – $17,800|
|6.2 kW System||$20,000 – $22,500|
|10 kW System||$31,500 – $35,500|
New England Solar Installation Labor Costs
|System Size||Average Installation Costs in This Area|
|2 kW System||$6,500 – $7,300|
|3 kW System||$9,500 – $11,300|
|4 kW System||$13,000 – $14,500|
|5 kW System||$16,500 – $18,200|
|6.2 kW System||$20,000 – $23,000|
|10 kW System||$33,000 – $36,000|
Southern Solar Installation Labor Costs
|System Size||Average Installation Costs in This Area|
|2 kW System||$5,900 – $6,800|
|3 kW System||$9,000 – $10,200|
|4 kW System||$12,000 – $13,500|
|5 kW System||$15,000 – $17,000|
|6.2 kW System||$18,500 – $21,000|
|10 kW System||$30,000 – $34,000|
West, Midwest, and Southwest Solar Installation Labor Costs
|System Size||Average Installation Costs in This Area|
|2 kW System||$6,000 – $7,000|
|3 kW System||$9,000 – $10,500|
|4 kW System||$12,000 – $14,000|
|5 kW System||$15,000 – $17,500|
|6.2 kW System||$18,500 – $21,500|
|10 kW System||$30,000 – $35,000|
This is what the cost breakdown per area looks like for an American average 6 kW solar panel system installation.
Average Solar Panel Cost Breakdown
|Area||Percentage of Overall Costs||Costs Based on a 6 kW System Costing $3/kW|
|Permit /Inspection Fees||3%||$540|
|Other (Mktg, Overhead)||33%||$5,940|
And here is the breakdown of solar panel costs from another perspective based on a commercial system that costs $3 per watt.
Solar Panel Cost Breakdown Based on $3 Per Watt
Provided you have everything else in place (all of the physical components), here are the average labor costs for a wide range of different system sizes.
Solar Panel Labor Costs
|System Size||Labor Costs|
|2 kW System||$1,000|
|3 kW System||$1,500|
|4 kW System||$2,000|
|5 kW System||$2,500|
|6.2 kW System||$3,100|
|10 kW System||$5,000|
Here is a list of the cheapest locations in the U.S to install solar systems.
|Least Expensive US Locations to Install Solar||Average System Cost|
|Arizona||$10,332 – $12,096|
|Maryland||$10,332 – $12,768|
|Florida||$9,198 – $11,970|
Here is a list of the most expensive locations in the U.S to install solar systems.
|Most Expensive US Locations to Install Solar||Average System Cost|
|New York||$12,264 – $16,044|
|Rhode Island||$13,104 – $15,792|
It is actually cheaper to install solar panels onto an already existing roof than it is to install a roof that has solar panels woven into it.
To highlight this, here are the average costs of installing solar panels onto a variety of existing roof types versus installing these roof varieties with solar panels physically woven or embedded into the roof.
Solar Panel Roof Costs
|Type of Roof||Without Solar Panels Already Installed||With Solar Panels Woven into the Roof|
If you have an intermediate to advanced level of technical prowess and DIY skills, then you might want to consider installing your own solar panels.
DIY solar systems are considerably cheaper than professionally installed systems. Provided you have the expertise to wire them in and connect them to the grid effectively, they are also every bit as efficient as a commercial system.
For comparison, here are the costs of installing DIY systems of various sizes versus installing commercial systems of the same size.
DIY Solar Panel Costs
|System Size||DIY Installation Costs||Professional Installation Costs|
|2 kW System||$2,000 – $4,000||$5,000 – $7,000|
|3 kW System||$3,000 – $6,000||$7,000 – $10,500|
|4 kW System||$4,000 – $8,000||$10,000 – $14,000|
|5 kW System||$5,200 – $10,000||$12,500 – $17,500|
|6.2 kW System||$6,200 – $12,400||$15,500 – $21,700|
|10 kW System||$10,000 – $20,000||$25,000 – $35,000|
Additional Costs for Upgrades to Solar Panels for Home
As well as your installation and material costs, you should consider that there are potential additional optional costs associated with having a solar system too.
- A solar monitoring system
- Built-in antifreeze technology
- A separate battery
- An upgraded inverter
Let’s take a closer look at these upgrade options for solar panels and see how much they are likely to add on to your final solar system bill.
A Solar Monitoring System: $150–$1,000+
Realistically, though solar monitoring is optional, it probably should not be. Through the use of a solar monitoring system, you will be able to get live feedback on your system’s performance and efficiency.
This will allow you to detect and resolve any hardware issues promptly. Generally, it is going to let you squeeze every ounce of efficiency out of your panels, meaning that you will save more money over time.
Built-In Antifreeze Technology: $150+
Solar panels with built-in antifreeze capabilities actively pump an antifreeze solution around the panel housing to ensure that ice and snow cannot build up and block access to the sun’s photon rays.
You may have to pay extra for solar panels that have these capabilities built-in, but some actually have this design feature as standard depending on the manufacturer.
At the very least, you will have to pay in excess of $100 every time you top up your antifreeze solution. This is a small price to pay for guaranteed, year-round access to the sun.
A Separate Battery Bank: $8,000–$15,000+ (for a Hybrid Inverter and Battery)
The reason why you might want to consider getting either a separate solar battery or a hybrid battery and inverter is that it will allow you to store excess solar energy, meaning that you will never have to dip into the grid for power.
Sometimes, there may rarely be periods when you cannot store up enough power throughout the day. You will still have to use the grid in at least a small capacity. With a separate battery bank, you will always have reserve power to rely on independently of the grid.
An Upgraded Power Inverter: $1,000+
Upgraded inverters can allow you to get more energy out of your solar panel system, meaning that over time you will save more money.
Sometimes, the cost of upgrading your inverter is worth it because it might spare you thousands over the course of several years. Try to determine whether your current or intended inverter is going to allow you to maximize your cost savings. If it is not, consider spending a little more to make a little more.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost to Maintain?
Sadly, once your solar system is in place, you are still going to have to pay a little money per year to keep it running efficiently. Here are some solar panel maintenance costs.
- Solar panel cleaning
- Component repair work
- Annual solar inspections
Let’s examine what each area entails and how much you can expect to pay for each type of maintenance.
Solar Panel Cleaning: $300–$600 Per Year
It costs an average of $150 per clean to have your solar panels thoroughly cleaned. Considering that your system will lose roughly 1% efficiency every month when they are cleaned by rainwater alone, this means that solar panel cleaning costs are a worthwhile investment.
You should aim to get them cleaned quarterly or at the very least once per year. You could always clean them yourself, however.
Component Repair Work: $100–$1,000+ Per Year
If your system is under warranty, then this is not an area that you will need to worry about. However, if you are paying to have repair work carried out yourself, this can become incredibly costly depending on which component is damaged.
Through using a solar monitoring system, you can easily spot issues before they become a major problem and swiftly remedy them. This will stop you from having to spend thousands when problems get out of hand.
Annual Solar Inspections: $200–$400+ Per Year
How much your solar inspection is going to cost depends entirely on how large your system is and who performs your inspection.
An annual inspection is the best way to determine that your solar system is still operating at maximum efficiency based on its age and whether any work needs to be carried out to bring it back up to an optimal standard.
This can seem like an unnecessary expense, but it is well worth paying for if it guarantees the future longevity of your system and the savings that come with it.
Are Solar Panels Worth It?
Solar panels are only going to be worth it if you use them properly. Your solar panel cost will be completely wasted if you do not adhere to the following rules.
- Your solar panels must be south facing.
- Your solar panels must be angled optimally.
- Your solar panels must be placed onto a roof that has been deemed to be completely structurally safe.
- Your solar panels should ideally cover 100% of your energy costs.
It is important to understand that going solar is not a viable option for people who want to make immediate returns on their investment. Instead, it will save you a considerable amount of money over time but only if your panels have been installed properly. We will now look at the above areas in greater detail.
Why Solar Panels Need to Be South Facing
Solar panels rely on sun access in order to provide energy. They must face south because this places them directly in line with the sun, meaning that their photon ray uptake capacity is then optimized.
This in turn will optimize your potential savings capacity. If they do not face south, they are quite literally going to be virtually useless.
Why Your Solar Panels Should Be Placed at a 30–45-Degree Tilt Angle
Again, this one is about maximum sun access. Not only do your panels need to face south, but they also need to be positioned at a 30–45-degree tilt angle in order to absorb as many potential incoming photon rays from the sun as possible.
The winning combination of a south-facing 30–45-degree tilted panel will always guarantee that you are using your investment to its maximum capacity.
Make Sure That Your Roof Can Support a Solar System
Never leave this aspect to chance. It is very unlikely that you are going to be able to determine whether your roof is structurally sound enough to be able to support a solar system without some kind of external assessment from a qualified professional.
If you do not get your roof inspected prior to installation, you might find that it then collapses under the weight of the system over time, thus wasting every dollar that you have spent when your system is destroyed in the process.
Aim to Cover 100% of Your Energy Costs
If you perform your solar calculations correctly based on the formula that we shared previously, then there is no reason why you should not be able to cover 100% of your energy costs with your solar system.
Otherwise, you are going to have to spend on grid energy to make up for the missing deficit. This might not be too bad if you are covering 90% of your costs with solar, but any lower than that and this starts to defeat the entire purpose of going solar in the first place.
Provided all of the above steps and considerations have been made and taken, then going solar is definitely worth it for anybody that can afford to do it.
How Much Do Solar Panels Save? Do You Really Save Money With Solar Panels?
You will definitely save money through having solar panels installed. The average American monthly energy bill is $115. If your solar system is able to cover 100% of your energy requirements, then you will be able to save roughly this amount per month.
Here is a table illustrating some savings estimates based on a range of lower percentages of energy coverage.
Solar Panel Savings
|System Coverage||Savings Per Month||Savings Over 20 Years|
As you can see, even if you are only able to afford a system that covers 50% of your energy requirements, you will still make some considerable savings over the course of the lifetime of the system.
To further assist with giving you an idea of the kind of cost savings you can make per area, here is a table that illustrates the average savings across ten states where solar panels are popular.
Solar Panel Savings: Top Ten States
|State||Average price for a 6 kW Solar System In This Area||Average electricity rate in this area per kWh||20-year savings in this area|
The above figures give you a well-rounded idea of how much money you can save through going solar in the USA. The figures clearly show that going solar is definitely worth the money.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost to Lease? Should I Buy or Lease Solar Panels?
Buying solar panels will always be far more advantageous than leasing them for a wide number of reasons.
- Solar leases and loans have built-in escalation clauses that mean you will be paying significantly more over time to use your panels than you would if you purchased them outright.
- You will never own the panels if you lease them unless you pay a hefty balloon payment at the end of your solar agreement.
- Solar leasing can prove to be problematic for those who wish to move and can lead to additional costs being incurred. Your home value may also be negatively affected.
The only benefit of leasing is that you do not have to pay for the installation of your solar panels yourself. Compared to buying though, you are simply not going to see the same level of savings through leasing. We have covered this topic in comprehensive detail in one of our other posts if you would like to take an in-depth look at this subject.
What Do You Need Before Installing a Solar Panel?
There are a few boxes that will need to be checked off before you can install solar panels, some of which may carry additional fees. These areas must all be addressed prior to solar panel installation.
- Residents’ association approval – In some areas, the homeowners’ association must give you permission to proceed with the installation. You may need to become a member of the residents’ association yourself in order to gain approval, which may carry a small membership fee.
- Respect the established customs of neighborliness and agreement – If your solar system is in breach of these rules, you may face issues that then lead to its removal or alteration. This could cost you anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
- Electrical and building permits – There are certain changes to existing buildings that require approval by your local government. You must obtain permits before any work can commence. This is likely to cost in the region of several hundred dollars.
- Certified solar system units – Since the community will most likely connect to the local power source, you should use certified solar system types to ensure that your panels will not negatively affect the local power grid or cause the power lines to malfunction during installation. If you opt to use a different type of unit, this could lead to you having to replace all of your components or, even worse, completely removing your solar system. This could cost thousands of dollars in expenses.
How Many Solar Panels Are Needed to Power a House?
We have talked about costs in terms of system power capacity so far, but what about the actual number of solar panels that you will need to reach this capacity?
Here, you can find how many solar panels a wide range of different sizes of systems are likely to consist of along with their associated costs.
Number of Solar Panels Needed
|Solar system size||Number of panels needed||Estimated cost|
|10 kW||32||$25,000 – $35,000|
|12 kW||38||$35,000 – $40,000|
|14 kW||44||$40,000 – $45,000|
|4 kW||13||$10,000 – $14,000|
|6 kW||19||$14,000 – $18,000|
|8 kW||25||$20,000 – $24,000|
Obviously, you will need to make sure that you have the available roof space to accommodate the number of panels that is relevant to your system size.
Roof vs Ground-Mounted Solar Panel Systems
When you choose to go solar, you can opt for ground-mounted solar panel systems instead of roof-mounted systems.
Here are some positives of ground-mounted systems to consider.
- The racking and frames are often stronger and more durable.
- The panels are not restricted to the size of the roof, meaning that your solar array will be as limitless as your available space.
- Ground-mounted systems can be easily accessed and tilted at the perfect angle.
And now, here are some negatives.
- Ground-mounted panels cost more than roof-mounted solar panels.
- Ground space is usually more valuable than roof space.
- Installation for ground-mounted panels can take significantly longer than for roof-mounted panels and often comes at a higher cost.
If you have almost limitless ground space available, then using a ground-mounted system might prove to be more viable than a roof-mounted system. On the whole though, roof-mounted systems are often the preferred type of solar system as they are cheaper and easier to work with.
How to Save Money on the Cost of Solar Panels
There are a number of ways that you can save money on the cost of solar panels. Here are some of the best ways to enhance your solar panel cost savings.
- Get multiple quotes: Do not just stop at the first quote you see. Compare a wide array of different quotes for the solar system you want because you will often be able to save thousands through using smaller local companies.
- Shop based on efficiency and quality, not based on a brand name: Focus on getting the solar panels that are going to be able to meet your energy requirements while standing the test of time. This does not always mean going with a well-known brand name. Read the manufacturer’s specification thoroughly to determine whether a panel is going to meet your requirements or not. If it does and costs less than you would expect, that is not a bad thing.
- Consider buying used or reconditioned panels: The efficiency of used panels is likely to be a little lower than that of new solar panels. If you get professionally reconditioned panels or even used panels that have been tested for efficiency and they pass with flying colors, then you are going to save a considerable amount of money by buying used or refurbished instead.
- Call on friends and family: Consider calling on your existing friend and family connections to see whether someone you know might be able to carry out a significant amount of the labor for you when installing your new solar system. It is always surprising how many people know people who have the expertise you need to get a job done, so before paying lots of money for commercial installation, you should first take the time to find out if you already have someone close to you who can help. You might save thousands.
Questions to Ask About the Cost of Solar Panels and Installing Solar Panels
There are a number of different questions that you should ask about the cost of solar panels prior to making a purchase decision.
These questions will help you to save the most money possible when acquiring a new array of solar panels.
- Do you offer any financing options?
- How much am I expected to save each year?
- What will be my monthly electric bill costs?
- How many solar installations have you done before?
- Is there room to expand my system if my energy requirements increase?
- What warranties do you provide?
- Are there any references that I can contact about your work?
- Do you offer a performance guarantee?
- Can you assist me in claiming rebates and incentives so that I can make further savings?
- What certifications and licensing do you have?
- Will my roof need to be strengthened?
These questions will all help you to determine whether you are using the right solar installer or not and whether there may be any additional savings that you can make or additional financial outlays that you need to consider prior to getting started with your solar installation.
Residential Solar Panels vs Commercial
Residential solar panels are slightly different from commercial solar panels owing to the fact that residential panels are often called upon for slightly less demanding work.
Here are the main differences between residential vs commercial solar panels.
- Commercial solar panels are larger than residential solar panels. They are usually 78 by 39 inches and have a total of 96 cells compared to 65 inches by 39 inches and 72 cells for residential panels.
- Commercial solar panels are roughly 2% more efficient than residential solar panels due to their larger size. This means that a system that consists exclusively of commercial solar panels will be capable of producing more energy.
- It is significantly faster to install residential solar panels, taking an average of two days. On balance, commercial solar installation usually takes around a month as the size of commercial systems is larger and there is considerably more “red tape” to cut (more permits required and more advanced health and safety requirements).
- Though it is not a rule, commercial panels are typically white whereas residential panels are often black. Customers can request either color based on their preferences, however.
Despite these solar panel varieties being designated for use in different sectors, it is completely possible and sometimes even more viable for a person to request commercial solar panels for installation on their home.
This would actually allow a person to produce more energy over time with the only negative aspects being the fact that commercial panels are more expensive and take up more space.
The Price of Small Solar Panels
Small solar panels are a great option for those who do not want to take up an enormous amount of space or who perhaps have a limited space to work with. They cost less than traditional, larger panels.
Here are the facts about small solar panels.
- They typically cost between $50–$300 per panel depending on their efficiency and power output capacity.
- They take up much less space than traditional solar panels.
- They offer a perfect solution for those who have limited space to work with.
- They are an excellent choice for meeting the energy requirements of workshops, sheds, and vehicles.
- They are very convenient for establishing independent solar systems for smaller buildings so that you do not have to take up any space on the roof of your main property.
It is important to remember when working with small solar panels that what you gain in physical space, you are going to lose in overall efficiency and power output due to their smaller size.
You will need to perform your calculations very carefully in order to ensure that you are able to meet your household energy requirements through the use of small solar panels if this is how you intend to use them.
Small panels can be a great option if you are planning to mount your panels onto a shed or other small building. Because space is limited in these locations, it can prove more feasible to use smaller panels.
If you are able to meet your household energy requirements by installing small solar panels onto your shed roof, your primary house roof will remain untouched. This may prove desirable in terms of safeguarding your property value and making future moves easier.
Why Are Solar Panels Not Worth It?
In reality, it is probably never fair to say that a solar system is not worth it provided it has been installed professionally, covers 100% of your energy costs, and you can comfortably afford to pay for the installation costs.
Here are a few examples of why solar panel costs might not be worth it for you, however.
- You live in an area that does not have many peak daylight hours per day.
- Your roof or property is not south facing, and it is not possible to place your panels in a south-facing position.
- You cannot comfortably afford the installation costs without stretching yourself financially.
- You are planning to move soon, and solar panels reduce property values in your area.
If one or more of the above points resonate with you, then it is fair to say that going solar might not be worth it for you.
What Are the 2 Main Disadvantages of Solar Energy?
The main disadvantages of solar energy are that the installation costs are very high up front and that the panels take up a considerable amount of physical space.
Consider the following factors.
- It will take you roughly 10 years to start seeing a return on your solar system investment.
- If your property exterior is distinct and has been designed meticulously, solar panels may potentially diminish its appearance unless you can install them through some other means like a ground-based system, for example.
- Solar panels may reduce your property value. Alternatively, in some areas, they may also increase it.
- If you cannot comfortably afford the installation costs in full, taking out a solar loan or solar lease will prove to be a very inefficient way to access solar energy.
If the physical space and costs are not an issue, then installing a solar system is only ever going to be a positive move for the majority of people.
Tips to Save More Money When You Buy Solar Panels
Here are a few tips to help you make some great savings when you buy solar panels.
- Buy new. Second-hand panels do not function at maximum efficiency. They also are not covered by warranties, meaning that you might have to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for repairs over the years.
- Check out the reviews. Sometimes, you might see a solar panel and not like the price, but the price might be higher because in the long run it will save you considerably more money. Check through reviews carefully for each one of your solar panel options and do not just shop on price alone. Sometimes, it is worth spending more to get more back.
- Consider the hardware. If you can afford them, then monocrystalline panels are always going to offer the highest efficiency standards. However, if you have performed your solar panel calculations accurately and can get away with using a lower efficiency model while spending less in the process, then it only makes sense to do this.
- Pay attention to the warranties. Solar panel vendors may offer 10–12-year warranties on equipment and 25-year warranties on performance. Look for these warranties when you buy panels to increase their longevity. Otherwise, you might find yourself spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on repairs over the lifetime of your system.
- Get the installation process right. If your panels are not properly installed, then your money is going to be completely wasted. Make sure that you are going to be able to get 100% of the efficiency you require out of your panels by getting them professionally installed.
- Use solar monitoring. Solar monitoring does cost money to install, but it also saves you lots of money too. Using monitoring will allow you to spot problems before they become major (and more costly) problems, and you will also be able to tweak your system to achieve optimum efficiency and therefore gain access to a higher savings yield.
- Make use of federal and state tax and solar incentives. You can save a considerable amount of money by making use of federal and state solar incentives that will allow you to get back as much as 22% of the cost of your system in some areas. Check to see what incentives are available in your area and be sure to apply for them. You will pocket thousands of dollars if you do.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most frequently asked questions about solar panel costs.
Q: What is the cost of solar panels for a 3-bedroom house?
A: You can expect to pay anywhere between $15,000–$40,000 for a solar system to meet the energy requirements for a 3-bedroom house depending on the size of the property, your average monthly family energy consumption, and the brand of the panels.
Q: How much do solar panels cost for a 2,500-square-foot house?
A: The average cost of a solar system to meet the energy requirements of a 2,500-square-foot house is $18,000–$55,000 depending on the brand of panels used and the individual energy requirements of your family.
Q: How much do solar panels cost for a 1,500-square-foot house?
A: The average cost of a solar system to meet the energy requirements of a 1,500-square-foot house is around $18,000 depending on the brand of panels used and your individual family’s energy consumption.
Q: How much do solar panels cost for a 2,000-square-foot home?
A: The average cost of a solar system that is capable of meeting the energy requirements of a 2,000-square-foot home is anywhere from $15,000–$40,000 depending on the brand of panels used and the individual monthly energy consumption of your family.
Q: How much do solar panels cost monthly?
A: If you pay for your panels using a solar lease or solar loan, you can expect to pay between $50–$250 per month to use your system.
You should exercise extreme caution before entering into a solar lease agreement because built-in escalation clauses mean that you will progressively pay more over time for your panels as their efficiency reduces with age. This is why buying solar outright is a much better option.
Q: How much do solar panels cost to own?
A: Throughout this guide, you will see a wide variety of different solar panel prices depending on your individual circumstances. On average, a 6 kW solar system in the U.S. will cost anywhere from $13,000–$18,000.
Q: How much do solar panels cost per square foot?
A: Per square foot, solar panels cost an average of between $4–$10 to install.
Q: How much should I pay for solar panels?
A: Where possible, you should aim to pay between $1–$1.50 per watt for monocrystalline and thin film solar panels and anywhere from $0.70–$1.00 per watt for polycrystalline solar panels.
Q: Do solar panels last forever?
A: The typical life cycle of a solar panel system is between 20–25 years, after which their efficiency rating is likely to diminish to the point where they are no longer viable.
Q: How much does it cost to maintain solar panels?
A: On average, it will probably cost around $400 per year to properly maintain your solar panels. You will make savings if you are able to clean them yourself.
Q: Are DIY solar panels cheaper?
A: DIY solar panels are definitely cheaper than purchasing brand new panels, but installing and constructing them is a complex process. Even if you are able to complete this process, your panels may not operate at the same efficiency standards as commercially sold panels. This means that you might not make the savings that you are looking for through using DIY panels.
Q: Is it cheaper to buy second-hand solar panels?
A: It is definitely cheaper to buy second-hand solar panels, but the measuring rod for solar functionality is efficiency. Second-hand panels may be damaged and worn to the extent that their efficiency rating is considerably lower than that of a new series of panels.
If this is the case, then any money saved on their purchase price will be irrelevant as they will not allow you to save a significant enough amount of money over time to make their acquisition worthwhile.
Q: How long does it take for solar panels to pay for themselves?
A: On average, it takes between 9–12 years for solar panels to pay for themselves. If you refer to our previous table in this guide, you will see just how much money you can save over the lifetime of a wide variety of systems past this point.
Q: Do you really save money with solar panels?
A: Provided that your panels are properly installed and maintained, then it is impossible not to save money through installing solar panels. In a best-case scenario, they will cover 100% of the costs of your monthly energy bills.
Q: How many solar panels are needed to power a house?
A: We have given a more comprehensive breakdown of this subject in a previous section of this guide, but on average, you will need between 28–34 solar panels to meet the energy requirements of an average American house.
Q: What is the lifespan of a solar panel?
A: The lifespan of a solar panel is roughly 20–25 years before it will need to be replaced.
Q: Can a house run on solar power alone?
A: Yes, a house can run on solar power alone. You will simply need to ensure that your system is capable of covering 100% of your energy requirements first, however. You can do this via effective solar energy calculations by following the advice we laid out on this subject towards the beginning of this guide.
Though going solar is undoubtedly a positive move for the environment and your wallet, you will need to perform a great deal of research prior to making it. To recap, here are the average costs of installing solar panels.
Average Solar Panel Installation Costs
You should follow all of the guidance in our previous section on tips for saving money before committing to a solar installation as this will help to establish the right foundation for you to achieve maximum savings over time and during the installation process.
Provided that your panels are installed properly, you are able to purchase them outright, and you acquire the best panels you can afford, then you are set to make enormous long-term savings while reducing your carbon footprint in the process due to solar being a green energy source.
When careful thought and consideration are applied to the solar buying process, it is very rare that a person will ever look back once their system has been installed. By following the advice in today’s guide, you are likely to be the next satisfied person to enter a family of millions of people who are already enjoying being a part of the solar revolution.