How Much Does a Sunpower Panel Cost?


Searching for Sunpower solar panels prices?

Sunpower makes some of the best solar panels in the world. They’re ultra-efficient, highly durable, and put out more electricity than any others. Are you interested in installing Sunpower solar panels on your roof, but can’t find any info on how much a Sunpower panel cost?

You’re not alone! Sunpower is a unique solar panel manufacturer. You can’t just go out and buy one of their solar panels online or even through a distributor. You can only get your solar panels through pre-approved installers.

This leaves us with a problem. The only way you can get price estimates for Sunpower solar panels is by talking to one of their installers, but what if you’re not at that point yet? Maybe you’re in the first stage of the process, cruising the web for info on different installers and companies, wanting to compare costs and products without the hassle of salespeople. We’ve all been there, and it’s frustrating when you can’t find the information you need.

Lucky for you, we’ve scoured multiple sources to estimate how much a Sunpower solar panel costs, how their higher cost affects your total installation cost (spoiler: not that much), and most importantly, are they really even worth it?

Sunpower doesn’t publicize their prices

As we mentioned above, Sunpower is unique among solar panel manufacturers. Most panel companies simply make the panel and then sell them to whoever wants them, no matter the buyer (though of course, they might have minimum order requirements, so in practice they might really only be available to installers or distributors).

Sunpower works differently, though. Instead of simply putting their panels on the market, they only sell their panels to pre-approved installers who’ve completed training workshops on Sunpower products and installation.

While this ensures you’re getting the best possible installation if you choose to go with Sunpower, it does present a little bit of a problem if you simply want to know how much Sunpower panel costs.

Finding the cost of most other solar panels is easy. Just Google the model you’re interested in and you’ll have your answer. Sunpower, on the other hand, is a bit more mysterious. Since you can’t just purchase the panels by themselves, there’s very, very little publicly-available data on how much they cost.

Even still, we’ve scoured all the resources we’re aware of and came up with a pretty good estimate for Sunpower solar panel prices. Let’s dig in.

Sunpower Panel Costsunpower-solar-panels

Looking at cost and savings estimates from a myriad of sources, we find that Sunpower panels cost about 75% to 100% more than ‘standard’ solar panels. Case in point: one installation company based in Austin, TX, comes to very similar findings in their pricing example for Sunpower vs a more standard offering.

With the average solar panel costing about $0.64 per kW in 2016 (p.10), at this rate, you can then expect to pay around $1.12 (175% of $0.64) to $1.28 (200%) per kW for Sunpower solar panels.

At this rate, 5kW worth of standard solar panels (a very average installation size) costs about $3,200. 5kW worth of Sunpower panels would then run between $5,600 and $6,400.

Of course, with Sunpower only offering their solar panels to select installers, you’ll need to actually talk to a few installers to see real costs, but the above should give you a good cost estimate to compare to other manufacturers.

How panel costs affect total installation costs

Believe it or not, solar panels are only a small portion of the total installation cost. According to the 2016 NREL benchmark linked to above (pg. 13), panels typically only account for 22% of the total install. Other equipment, like the inverter, make up 20%, installation costs account for 10%, and a whopping 36% goes to sales, marketing, overhead, and profit.

Even if your solar panels are 2x as expensive as the typical panels, your actual total installation costs will only mildly increase. Let’s run through a quick example:

Let’s say you installed a 5kW solar system with standard panels. At this rate, you’d pay:

  • Standard Panels: $3,200 (22% of total cost)
  • Other equipment: $2,880 (20%)
  • Installation: $1,490 (10%)
  • Supply chain, sales tax, inspecting, and permitting: $1,787 (12%)
  • Sales, marketing, overhead, profit: $5,212 (36%)

All this adds up to a total installation cost of about $14,560.

Now, let’s say you’ve decided to install Sunpower solar panels. Yay! Let’s even say that they’re twice as expensive as standard brands.

Since you’re not actually changing anything except the panels, all costs would stay the same except for the panels themselves:

  • Sunpower Panels: $6,400
  • Other equipment: $2,880
  • Installation: $1,490
  • Supply chain, sales tax, inspecting, and permitting: $1,787
  • Sales, marketing, overhead, profit: $5,212

With Sunpower solar panels, your total installation cost jumps to $17,760 – a 22% increase in your total installation cost. Not a huge jump.

All of a sudden, Sunpower panels don’t seem that expensive, do they?

Are Sunpower panels worth it?sunpower pv installation

Industry analysts agree Sunpower panels are the best money can buy. Of course, you need a lot of money to buy these panels. Are they worth it? We think yes, but only if your situation fits one (or both) of the following criteria:

  • You have limited roof space and you’re not able to physically fit enough standard solar panels on your roof to meet your energy needs. While it still might be better financially to just have a smaller installation, the increased production Sunpower panels can dish out might be worth it.
  • You want the absolute best, USA-made panels money can buy. Sunpower knows they’re that good, and backs them up with a 25-year product warranty and a 25 year, 87% output guarantee – unheard of from any other manufacturer.

If you’ve got plenty of roof space and don’t mind shorter warranties, the readily-available standard panel options will likely be your best bet to save the most money possible. If you’re up for the additional costs, though, you really can’t go wrong with Sunpower panels.

Want to know why Sunpower panels are so great? Check out our article Sunpower: Great Products, Hurting Company. Already have Sunpower panels installed? We’d love to hear about your experience with them!

Image Credits under CC License via Flickr – 1, 23

  • by Ryan Austin
  • |
  • September 12, 2017
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