The number of solar panel installations in the United States surpassed 2 million in 2019, three years after reaching the one million mark. This may not seem like a significant achievement until you realize that it took four decades to get to one million installations.
Americans are now making the switch to solar in larger numbers than ever before. By 2023, about 2.5 percent of all U.S. homes will be powered by solar.
If you’re considering joining the solar revolution, one of the top questions you may be asking yourself is, “How much do solar panels cost?”
The truth is that solar panel prices can vary depending on a number of factors. In this comprehensive guide, we give you all the information you need to determine how much you’re likely to spend when installing solar panels in your home.
Should You Make the Switch to Solar?
Solar panels are a big-ticket purchase, and you need to be sure whether this investment is worth it before starting to talk to solar companies near you.
What benefits of solar make them so desirable to Americans today? Here are three of them.
Solar Energy Can Save You on Energy Costs
The average US household spends over $2,000 per year on utility bills, with a big chunk of that money going to electricity costs. Investing in solar can help you cut your power costs and significantly reduce your utility bills.
How much you stand to save depends on several factors, including your current electricity consumption and the electricity rates in your area.
Solar Panels Increase Property Value
Installing solar panels is considered an upgrade, similar to finishing your basement or renovating the kitchen. Properties that have solar energy systems generally sell faster and for a better price than those without. If you plan to sell your home at some point, investing in solar panels now will serve as a huge selling point when the time comes.
You Get to Protect the Environment
Climate change is a real threat, and it pays to play your role in protecting the environment. One way to do so is by going solar. A typical residential solar system can eliminate several tons of carbon emissions per year.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?
Now that it’s clear how solar energy can benefit you, it’s time to talk about solar panel cost. As we mentioned earlier, prices vary depending on several factors, including:
- The size of the system
- The state you reside in
- Manufacturer brand
Let’s examine each of these factors closely.
The Impact of System Size on Solar Cost
The size of the solar panel you buy determines how much you get to spend. Bigger systems require more equipment and more labor to install. As a result, you’ll pay more for these systems.
In 2021, a 2kW solar panel costs $4,159 on average after tax credits, according to EnergySage. A 3kW panel goes for $6,238, while a 6kW panel will set you back $12,476 after tax credits. Those who opt for a 25kW solar panel will spend $51,985 after tax credits.
Note that some states and local governments also offer certain rebates besides the federal tax credit. This reduces the cost of solar panels. Head to the relevant page online to find out which incentives your state or local authorities offer.
The decision as to what size of solar panels to invest in will depend on how much power you need. A more extensive system may cost you more initially, but it can save you more in the long run. If what you need is an 8kW solar energy system for all of your electricity use, it may mean paying more initially, but you’ll drastically cut your monthly utility bills as a result.
Thankfully, homeowners can access zero-down solar loans that charge low interests. This way, you can buy the best solar panels for your home and maximize your energy savings.
What Is the Cost of Solar Panels by State?
Generally, the cost to install solar panels can significantly vary based on where you live. There are many reasons why this happens, but one of the main ones is the size of the system you’ll need to install.
Typically, households that need to use the AC more consume more electricity on average compared to those that don’t. In such homes, larger solar panel systems are necessary. Currently, homeowners living in Arizona, Florida, and other sunny, warm states need generally purchase some of the nation’s largest solar panel systems.
As you’d expect, the larger the solar panel system you purchase, the more the overall solar panel installation will cost. That being said, warmer states have a lower $/watt pricing than colder states, where the solar panel systems are generally smaller.
What are the actual solar panel system prices per state? In Arizona, a 10kW solar panel system costs between $21,500 and $25,300, according to EnergySage. The system costs between $24,100 and $32,100 in California.
In Connecticut, a 10kW solar panel system will set you back up to $30,800, while you’d pay up to 41,400 in Washington D.C. for the same network. Residents of Utah can expect to spend anywhere between $23,000 and $29,800 for a kW system. Note that all these prices are before deducting the solar panel federal tax credit.
How Does the Cost of Solar Panels Differ Based on Manufacturer Brand?
Solar panel prices can also differ based on the brand. A 6kW solar panel from Axitex costs between $13,740 and $17,220 in 2021, according to EnergySage. The same unit from Boviet costs $15,180, while Hyundai charges up to $21,360 for it.
A 10kW solar panel from Canadian Solar Inc. costs between $24,000 and $31,400. Buying a similar panel from Heliene would set you back between $25,300 and $33,500, while LG Solar charges between $24,000 and $31,200 for their 10kW panels. All of these prices are before the 26 percent federal tax credit.
Generally, the solar panel prices charged by a brand reflect the panel quality to some degree. For instance, SunPower charges the highest prices for their panels, and the brand is famous for durable and high-efficiency solar panels.
Which Factors Determine the Actual Cost of Panel System Installation?
Besides the cost of buying solar panels, you’ll also need to think of the costs associated with installing the system on your roof. Typically, a residential solar quote includes the price of installation as well. You’ll notice that installers charge varying prices for solar installation.
In this section, we examine some of the factors that impact what a solar installer will charge you for the overall project.
Solar panel system equipment, including batteries and inverters, are not created equal. Some are more efficient than others. Higher quality equipment generally has a higher price tag.
Of course, the benefits that come with better quality equipment make it worth the extra cost. Higher quality hardware can produce more elevated amounts of energy using the same amount of sunlight. Such equipment tends to have a more extended, more comprehensive warranty.
Before you install solar, you’re required to obtain appropriate permits from the local government. You’ll generally need to file a building or structural permit as well as an electrical permit. You may also need to get a dedicated PV permit.
The authorities require you to give precise specifications on your proposed solar panel equipment as well as system design. The process of obtaining these permits involves certain costs.
Labor costs are also a significant factor you need to take into account. Solar panel installation requires a considerable amount of manpower. You’ll need professionals to design the system, coordinate a site visit, and mount the solar panel system.
When choosing a solar panel installer, opt for someone with enough experience to get the job done right. Beware of contractors who charge rock-bottom prices for solar installation as that may mean poor services. If possible, find an installer who guarantees their service.
Your home’s characteristics can also impact the total cost of your solar panel system installation project. A south-facing roof with a gentle slope makes solar installation an easy and quick job, which keeps costs low.
Conversely, a multi-level roof that contains dormers and skylights requires extra effort to install a solar panel system. That translates to higher costs.
Pay the Right Amount for Solar Panel System Installation
Hopefully, you now have a comprehensive answer to the question, “How much do solar panels cost?” As you’ve seen, there are various factors that determine solar panel pricing, including the size of the system, where you live, and which brand of solar panel you choose.
Would you like to read more great content? Check out our blog, and while you’re there learn what solar can do for you.