Sunpower Solar Panels Cost


Trying to find out how much Sunpower solar panels cost?

Are you interested in installing Sunpower panels on your roof, but can’t find any info on how much Sunpower solar panels cost?

Well, that’s no surprise! 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 their solar panels through a pre-approved installer.

For those of us who are just in the researching phase, this leaves us in a pickle. 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’re really only available to installers or distributors).

Sunpower works differently though. Instead of simply putting their panels on the market, they only sell 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 a general understanding of Sunpower solar 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.

How Much Do Sunpower Solar Panels Cost?sunpower-solar-panels

Looking at cost and savings estimates from a myriad of sources, we’ve found that Sunpower panels cost about 75% to 100% more than ‘standard’ solar panels.

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

At this rate, 5,000 watts of standard solar panels costs about $3,200, but 5,000 watts of Sunpower panels would run between $5,600 and $6,400.

Of course, with Sunpower only offering their solar panels to select installers, the above information is only so useful. If you really want to know how much Sunpower solar panels cost, your best course of action is to simply talk to a few installers in your area. Installers are always more than happy to come out, assess your roof and your energy needs, and provide equipment recommendations and cost estimates.

How Does Panel Cost Affect Total Installation Costs?

Believe it or not, solar panels are only a small portion of the total installation cost. According to the NREL report linked to above, panels typically only account for 22% of the total install cost. Other equipment makes up a further 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 solar panels’ cost doesn’t seem that much higher now, does it?

Are Sunpower Panels Worth It?sunpower pv installation

Industry analysts agree Sunpower panels are the best money can buy. Of course, you’ll need to dish out a few thousand extra to buy these panels, so the question remains: Are they worth it?

You might be shocked, but for most of us, the answer is likely no. The amount of additional electricity Sunpower panels create simply isn’t enough to justify their higher cost. They just aren’t as effective as ‘standard quality’ solar panels.

However, there are instances where Sunpower’s higher prices are justified. if your situation fits one (or both) of the following criteria, they might make sense for you:

  • 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, standard quality panels from companies like Hanwha, Trina, and Canadian Solar are likely your best bet to save the most money. If you’re up for the additional costs, though, you really can’t go wrong with Sunpower panels. The best course of action? Talk to a few installers in your area. They’ll be able to tell you exactly how much Sunpower solar panels cost in your area, as well as if your roof is a good candidate for this premium option.

Image Credits under CC License via Flickr – 1, 23

  • by Ryan Austin
  • |
  • November 25, 2018