How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?
In recent decades, many homeowners across the US have looked for ways to live greener lifestyles. Some choose to follow smaller daily steps, like using a recycling system or using more energy-efficient products. Others, however, want to do something bigger.
This motivation is why solar panels remain the most popular way to make a house more eco-friendly. Many people like the idea of buying solar panels, but one thing keeps them from taking the step.
What’s the objection? People wonder, “How much do solar panels cost?”
In the past, solar panels have been costly purchases. However, in the last ten years, solar panel systems have become more affordable and more efficient.
However, for all their progress, they remain a considerable investment. But, there’s good news! In this solar panels cost guide, we’ll give you all the information you need about solar panels’ installation cost.
Average Solar Panels Cost
On average, solar panels cost between $15,000-$25,000 to install. To reach this figure, experts measure the cost in dollars per watt.
Typically, a residential system costs between $3-$5 per watt. Since most standard residential systems are 5-kW, it amounts to the average seen above.
However, several other factors could affect the total cost of solar panel installation. We’ll explore some of these factors in the following few sections.
Federal and State Tax Incentives
One of the critical factors in solar panels’ installation cost is tax incentives. The first and largest of these comes from the federal government, which offers a 26% tax credit for solar panel system costs.
Through 2022, this tax credit will remain at 26%. However, in 2023, this credit will decrease to 22%.
The federal government’s tax credit reduces your solar panel cost by 26%. What does that mean for you?
In practice, it means that the price you see on your solar panel system may be much higher than what you pay. Often, a federal tax credit alone can bring the average cost of installation down significantly. The median range could become something like $11,000-$15,000.
In addition to federal tax credits, many state governments also provide tax incentives for solar installation. These credits vary from state to state. Check online today to see if your state offers any additional tax credits and how long they last!
Effects of Location on Solar Costs
Solar panels operate by converting solar energy into electricity through photovoltaic panels. As you may imagine, regions with hotter climates have more solar energy to work with than regions with colder climates.
For example, states like Arizona and Florida have ideal climates for solar panels. Because they receive so much sunlight throughout the year, solar panels in these states can save homeowners significant amounts of money
These states have traditionally offered tax incentives for solar panels to encourage this greener energy’s use. Between the tax benefits and the money you save on electricity, you can finance solar panel installation easily in these states.
However, other states aren’t so fortunate in their climates. If you live somewhere like Washington or Oregon, you receive much less sun on average throughout the year.
Since your solar panels can’t function at peak capacity in these climates, the long-term cost could be less manageable. You aren’t likely to save as much on electricity there.
How Many Panels You Need
Your climate also affects how many panels you may need. On average, most American homes need somewhere around 30 panels to supply 100% of their electricity needs.
If you live in a climate that gets less sun, you may need more panels to generate that electricity. Alternatively, climates with lots of sun could mean you need fewer panels.
Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be guesswork. You can calculate how many panels your system will need by following these steps:
- Multiply your average hourly energy requirement by the peak sunlight hours in your region
- Divide this figure by the panel’s wattage
Keep in mind, however, that you need enough space on your roof to hold your system. We’ll talk more about this below.
Roof Repairs and Replacements for Solar Panels
Another factor to consider when purchasing solar panels is the condition of your roof. A solar panel system weighs on the roof.
If you have problems with your roof’s structure, such as missing shingles, dips in the structure, or other issues, you’ll need to repair them. Unfortunately, roof repairs are often expensive.
If your roof is in rough shape all around, you may need more than repairs. Instead, it may be time for a replacement.
Roof replacements often cost significant amounts of money, ranging from $5,000 to $15,000. As such, replacing a roof and installing solar panels could cost as much as $30,000.
Manufacturers and Brands
Another contributing factor to solar panel costs is the brand you buy from. Not all solar panels are of equal quality.
Instead, different manufacturers have varying processes and materials they use for their products. Take your time researching the manufacturer and their prices before you make the purchase!
Choice of Panel Styles
In addition to brands and manufacturers, different types of solar panels also exist. The version you choose could result in you paying more for your system.
The two most common types of panels are monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Of the two, monocrystalline systems are more efficient and more expensive. If you have a smaller roof, these may be the best option for you.
Installation Company Costs
Finally, the company you choose to install your panels can affect the cost. Different companies have varying installation rates.
Several factors could affect those rates. Labor, materials, and the system they install all affect the price of their operation. Fortunately, you can find a solar panel installation company using our search tool!
Discover the Best Solar Panel Buying Deals
As you can see, the question, “How much do solar panels cost?” can be complex. Each of the factors in this article could affect that price.
Fortunately, there’s a way to simplify your search process. By using our cost calculator, you can determine how much your best system will cost.
Our calculator is accurate and straightforward to use. Best of all, it’s free! So, try it out today to decide if you can afford a solar investment.