How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?


What is the Current Cost of Solar Panels?

If you’re considering solar panels for your home, your first question is likely “what’s the cost?” Solar is a great idea for many people, since it cuts down on utility bill costs, raises the overall value of your house and contributes to green, renewable energy. However, homeowners still need to calculate the total cost of installing solar panels, and whether that works for their budget.

The good news is that the cost has fallen by a lot, and they’re much cheaper than they were even a decade ago. Home solar has been consistently growing over the past three years, with annual growth rates over 50 percent from 2012 to 2014.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, as of 2013, it cost a little over $20,000 to install panels (a lot has changed since 2013), half of what it used to cost in 2005. But when you ask, “how much do solar panels costs?”, what you’re really asking is how much it costs to put them on your roof.

So How Much Do Solar Panels Really Cost?

Solar panels vary in type and efficiency, but for residential solar installation, it’s pretty standard. The solar panel system itself is not what costs a lot. Rather, it’s the cost of installation.

Depending on where you live, prices can range from less than $3 per watt to around $7 per watt. The Solar Energy Industries Association says the national residential system costs at $3.48 per watt as of late last year, which is a 3.3 percent decrease from the previous quarter. Although installation, permitting and other soft costs still make up 60 percent of the cost of your solar system, there have been enormous efforts to reduce costs and install solar systems in more efficient ways.

So How Much Will Solar Panels Cost on MY Roof?

The cost of a solar system for your home depends on a lot of variables. That’s because the total price will take into account the size of your roof and your electricity needs, along with the type of panels you purchase. The best way to figure out the total cost for your home specifically is it get some initial quotes from reputable local installers. We always recommend speaking with at least 2 installers. Quotes are free and because each solar project is custom for each customer, you really need to speak with professionals.

Through solar leasing companies and bank loans, you can install a solar system for close to $0 down. If you’re buying panels outright, there are tons of federal tax rebates, as well as state incentives depending on where you live. And remember that the average solar homeowner will save about $20,000 over 20 years from going solar!

Still, it’s best to get a quote, do the math and see if it makes sense to install solar panels on your home. Given how much the costs have dropped (and electricity costs have risen), if you decide to wait until later in the year or next year, it may be even cheaper! But be careful, since it makes about as much since to get solar and start saving money now as it does to wait for the price to drop further.

How much does solar cost in total, from panels to installation, in your state? Tell us in the comments!

Image Credit: Mark Moz under a Creative Commons license

  • by Nadia Osman
  • |
  • March 18, 2015
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