How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

how-much-do-solar-panels-cost

Although solar energy can significantly reduce your electricity costs, it is important to know how much solar panels cost. A simple way to determine the average cost of a solar panel is to calculate the cost of solar energy in dollars per watt. This method is used throughout the United States.

Currently, the national average cost of solar panels is $3.05 per watt. The size of a solar panel system averages relatively 6 kilowatts in the United States. This means that the after-tax cost of a solar energy system is about $12,810 today. The cost is up to 2% less than the cost of solar panels for homes in previous years. Currently, the cost of the solar system is steadily declining.

The cost of solar panels for businesses and homes is determined by the total amount of electricity that homeowners want to produce. If you choose a larger solar panel system, the higher the cost of the solar panels will be, because you will need more money to buy the equipment and more labor costs for installation.

In 2018, for example, the average size of a solar panel system in the United States was 5 kW, and the after-tax cost of the solar energy system was $10,990. The cost of solar energy per watt was $3.14. Below is an illustration of solar panel prices by size.

  • 10 kW costs $21,980
  • 8 kW costs $17,585
  • 6 kW cost $13,188

The above solar panel prices are obtained after subtracting the 30% federal tax on the price of the sun. Companies and authorities in the individual states can grant discounts that further reduce the cost of solar energy.

Cost of Solar Panels for Homes in the US

In many houses, the solar panels are mounted on the roof, which means that they hardly move at all. This extends their life and they can last up to 25 years. However, inverters that convert direct current into alternating current have a shorter life span, between ten and fifteen years. In the United States, the cost of solar panels for the home varies depending on the number of appliances you use.

An average home uses about 1 kW per hour. If you consider that there are almost 730 hours per month and the cost of solar energy per kWh is $0.10 on average, the monthly bill is about $73 for a total of 730 kWh of electricity. A variety of factors can affect the amount of energy you use in your home, which further influences the cost of solar energy.

These include the extended use of plasma TV screens, computers or even game consoles. Your cost of solar energy is likely to increase during the summer, when the use of air conditioning becomes unavoidable. The cost of solar energy varies across the United States of America, which means residents of West Virginia will pay about $0.07 per kW, while residents of Hawaii will pay $0.24 per kW.

The cost of solar panels varies depending on their size. For example, if you want a 250 W solar panel, the cost of a single solar panel will be $187.50. Assuming you are considering buying more than one.

For solar panels for use as components of the solar system, you will pay $1.00 for each watt. The average cost of solar panels, in this case, will range from $0.85 to $1.25 per watt, and the electricity output will be between 150 and 350 kW.

To get a better idea of the costs associated with solar systems and what they may be after tax incentives, please refer to the list below. 

System Size (kW) Average Cost Before Tax Credit Average Cost After Tax Credit Total Savings after Tax Credit
4 kW $14,878 $11,010 $3868
5 kW $17,766 $13,147 $4619
6 kW $20,374 $15,07 7 $5297
8 kW $25,710 $19,025 $6685
10 kW $30,507 $22,575 $7932
12 kW $35,408 $26,202 $9206
20 kW $55,652 $41,183 $14,473

Average Cost of Solar Panels by State

The costs associated with owning (or renting) a solar panel may depend on where you are in the world. If you are in a tropical country with two seasons, the costs are unlikely to change that much because of the relatively warm and sunny temperatures.

On the other hand, if you live in the United States, you may experience four seasons. The length and extent of the effect of these seasons will also depend on the state you are in. 

Another factor to consider is the difficulty of generating electricity in your area. Remote areas that are further from the source or difficult to transport may have higher energy costs than cities where resources are readily available. 

Another factor that may contribute to the difference is the cost of electricity in your state. If you live in a state with a high demand for electricity, the cost per watt will also be higher. With higher costs per watt, you can also expect higher installation costs. Of course, you can recoup your investment after a few years, and the larger the system you install, the more savings you can make. 

So that you don’t have to think about these factors, the table below provides you with rough estimates of solar panel costs by state.  

State Cost per watt ($) Average Cost (6kW)
Arizona 2.76 12254.5
California 2.94 13,054
Colorado 3.18 14,119
Connecticut 3.05 13,542
Delaware 2.87 12742.50
Florida 2.72 12077.00
Georgia 3.01 13364.50
Idaho 2.99 13275.50
Illinois 3.21 14252.50
Indiana 3.21 14252.50
Iowa 3.39 15051.50
Louisiana 2.94 13053.50
Maine 2.86 12698.50
Maryland 2.84 12609.50
Massachusetts 3.22 14297.00
Michigan 3.24 14385.50
Minnesota 3.22 14296.50
Montana 2.95 13098.00
Nevada 2.8 12432.00
New Hampshire 3.27 14518.50
New Jersey 2.88 12787.50
New Mexico 3.15 13986.00
New York 3.1 13764.00
North Carolina 2.84 12610.00
Ohio 2.79 12387.50
Oregon 2.8 12432.00
Pennsylvania 3.06 13586.50
Rhode Island 3.36 14918.50
South Carolina 3.13 13897.00
Texas 2.79 12387.50
Utah 2.82 12520.50
Vermont 3.18 14119.00
Virginia 2.91 12920.50
Washington 2.69 11943.50
Washington D.C. 3.27 14,519
Wisconsin 3.22 14297.00

The states with the most affordable panels for a 6kW system are Washington, Florida and Arizona due to the lower cost per watt, while the states with the most extravagant panel costs are the District of Columbia (DC), Rhode Island and Iowa. Differences may be due to a variety of factors.

For example, since DC is the capital of the United States, it is expected to be more urban and may have more expensive power. Florida, on the other hand, may have cheaper electricity because of its higher percentage of natural gas and cleaner fuel use. 

At this point, you may want to consider whether it makes sense to acquire and build a solar power source in your area based on the list. You should also consider whether you are going to live permanently in the state, as the solar panels are expected to operate for about 20 to 30 years, and it will be a loss of investment if you do not use them during that time. 

How Much Do Solar Panels Save?

A solar panel can save you many years of expensive electricity bills, despite the cost of installing the solar panel. The amount of savings you can achieve depends on the condition of your home. If you live in the Boston area, for example, you can save up to $43,000, $17,000 if you live in the Portland area, and $50,000 if you live in Los Angeles. 

Over the course of a lifetime, you can even save more than $100,000 if you choose this green alternative. Of course, the savings will only be maximized if you own the signs and are eligible for a tax credit. For example, used panels may not qualify for tax credits because they require more maintenance and are less efficient than new ones. 

Leased panels may not be considered or may qualify for lower tax credits than purchased panels. Savings will be greater if you have high-quality, modern panels that are installed and maintained by professional or accredited solar companies.  

How Much Does It Cost to Install Solar Panels?

When calculating the cost of installing solar panels, you must include the cost of permit inspection fees and labor costs related to solar energy. Again, the place of residence plays an important role in determining the cost of installing solar panels. The cost of installing solar energy will range from $2,000 to $5,000. 

Usually, design and installation accounts for only 10% of the total cost of the panels. Since this is not a large percentage, you must rely on professionals or certified installers to do the work. Although you may choose to do the installation yourself, it is not necessarily wise to be unfamiliar with it. 

Web pages and videos can help, but they don’t always work as expected. It is therefore advisable to invest wisely in the actual installation to ensure that your panels will be flawless and functional. After all, cells are very expensive, and you don’t want this to get lost simply because of poor installation. 

What You Need Before Installing a Solar Power Panel?

In addition to asking how much solar energy costs, there are a number of other factors to consider, as outlined below. You need to make sure that these conditions are met in order to legally and successfully switch to a solar energy source. 

  • Residents’ association approval – The homeowners’ association in your village must give you permission to proceed with the installation. As this involves noise and the residents are not part of the village during installation, this can be a source of concern for the residents. Raising their awareness and obtaining their consent could save you all these problems. 
  • Respect the established rules of neighbourliness and agreement – If you have the permission of the residents’ association, then you will most likely be in compliance with it.
  • Electrical and building department building permits – There are certain limits on changes to the village or subdivision, set by your local community or state. Although most states are committed to the use of solar panels, it is advisable to check the building code to make sure you are within the legal limits. 
  • Certified Solar System Units – Since the community will most likely connect to the same source, you should use certified solar system types to ensure that they will not affect or cause the power lines to malfunction during installation. 

Each solar panel system has the following features:

  • A controller to secure the solar panel battery and to regulate the flow of electricity.
  • A panel that converts solar energy into electricity.
  • Inverter which draws energy from the battery and transforms it into a voltage for supplying various electronic devices
  • Batteries for storing electricity

How Many Solar Panels are Needed to Power a House?

You have therefore decided to opt for solar panels, and you are aware of the installation and panel costs. The next thing you need to know is how many solar panels you would need for your home. 

This number will actually depend on your consumption. In other words, how many appliances do you have? How many rooms and users use electricity? If you only plan to power certain appliances individually, you can opt for a portable solar charger. But if you want to power your whole house, you will need several panels to do so. 

In the United States, the average home with 250-watt panels will need about 10,400 kWh per year to power the entire house. Compared to the industry average, you’ll need about 20 to 30 panels to cover your roof and be completely independent of fossil fuel-generated electricity.

You don’t really need to do manual calculations and check all your appliances to determine how much you consume month after month. Just look at your electricity bill, and it will give you a better idea of how many panels you might need.

Of course, if you get a quote from the solar system suppliers, you don’t even have to do all of this because they will calculate it for you. The solar suppliers’ websites also allow you to enter specific data about your energy consumption to calculate how much you could actually spend to switch to solar energy. 

Tips to Buy Solar Panels

The next thing you need to decide when you get into solar energy is what type of panels you will buy. There are a lot of major brands and types of panels, and they may not be cost-effective. A typical 200-watt panel will cost about $200 as well. You can buy them online or through the solar system supplier of your choice. To help you with your purchases, here are some recommendations for buying solar panels:

  • Buy new. Second-hand panels are often cheap (almost half the price), but you can’t always guarantee their quality or functionality. Their guarantees may be non-existent or short term, and you want your panels to last 2 to 3 decades. That’s why it always makes sense to buy them new. 
  • Check out the reviews. One of the advantages of buying online is that you can see what people think of the product. Take the time to read customer reviews, as they will probably only evaluate the seller if the product is good or bad. 
  • Consider the hardware. Monocrystalline panels are the most durable of all types of solar panels. Thin-film panels are more versatile, however. Polycrystalline is in the middle range and is cheaper than monocrystalline, so it may also be a good choice. 
  • 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 the longevity of your panels. 

Final Words

Since many people are switching to solar energy to save on electricity costs, it is important to do some research before buying it. Keep in mind that buying the ultimate solar panel is not necessarily a money-saving idea. Always check several quotes before choosing the one that best suits your needs. 

Talk to your local vendors and get as many quotes as possible so you can compare prices. If the seller has a website, check customer reviews to see how the business is doing in terms of after-sales service. Remember that buying solar panels is a quarter-life commitment and that you want to invest in businesses that can deliver on their promises, and more. 

Opt for high-quality panels, especially if you live in hurricane-prone areas. Panels naturally lose their effectiveness over time, but if you start with a lower quality panel, you can’t expect them to reach their average life expectancy. You may also want to pay close attention to the sign installation process. Improper installation can lead to faulty connections and limit the power your system can deliver. 

Finally, don’t let yourself be blinded by cheap prices or the names of domestic solar companies. Always do your own investigation before making your decision. After all, you want your solar panels to last longer, not only to save you money but also to help save the planet from depleting resources. 

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