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Are Solar Panels Worth It? (2023 Guide). Average house solar system

Are Solar Panels Worth It? (2023 Guide). Average house solar system

    How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in 2019?

    In 2019, a typical residential solar system may set you back between 11,200 to 14,400 to install after tax credits and rebates.

    Solar energy is a long-term investment. To budget correctly, you must look at costs and savings over 20 years and determine the payback period and payback amount. The right calculation includes:

    • The cost of photovoltaic panels and other components
    • What your solar installer charges
    • Your current and electricity bills
    • Any applicable federal, local, or state tax credits
    • Projected savings on your energy bills

    Put it all together and you can calculate the actual solar panel cost for your home. If you want to skip all the math, we advise getting a free quote from a solar power professional. If you’d like to figure out the costs yourself, then keep reading and learn how the math works.

    Breaking Down the Cost of Solar Panels

    The standard way to evaluate a solar panel system cost is cost-per-watt or dollars-per-watt. This measurement is calculated by taking the total cost to install the system (parts and labor) and dividing by how much power it produces in kilowatts (electrical output). For reference, the average U.S. home would use a 4kW-7kW solar system.

    Solar panel price will also vary based on the state you live in, the installation company, and any rebates and incentives you collect. In 2019, someone in California can expect their cost-per-watt to range anywhere from 4.39 for a small system to 3.56 for a vast system.

    At the time of this writing, solar panel installation costs range between 7-9 per watt. So a 5kW system would cost around 25,000-35,000 before rebates. While that cost is a stiff pill for many households to swallow, it’s common for utility companies to offer incentives or subsidies to offset solar system costs.

    For example, a system that costs 18,000 has a payback period of about 20 years. The cost of a solar panel today is around 3 per watt, and the extra cost of installation brings expenses up to 5- 6 per watt. Installation costs for PV systems include both labor and the electronics needed to tie the solar array into your existing electrical system.

    Homeowners interested in solar roofs should note solar shingle systems are more expensive than the traditional roof installation. Energysage estimates solar roofs can range from 4.15 cost per watt to as much as 8.14 for the more advanced offering from Tesla’s Solar City.

    Estimated Savings with Solar

    The rule of thumb is that the average U.S. household consumes electricity at the rate of one kilowatt per hour (kWh). There are about 730 hours in each month, and the national average price of a kWh of electricity is 0.10. So an average monthly bill would be around 73 for 730 kWh of electricity.

    The average electricity bill can vary considerably if you have non-standard items, such as a hot tub, or some electrical appliances running continuously. Extended computer use, plasma screen TVs and video games consoles can also make an impact. Your usage will also increase significantly in months when you run an air conditioning unit or heater. Finally, the cost of electricity varies widely across the USA, from as low as 0.07/kWh in West Virginia to as much as 0.24/kWh in Hawaii. To get a precise estimate, you’ll want to adjust our estimated calculations to fit your electricity usage patterns.

    A conservative value to use as a solar panel’s generating capacity is 10 watts/sq. ft. This value represents a panel conversion efficiency of about 12 percent, which is typical. This means that for every kW you generate, you need about 100 sq. ft. of home solar panels. If the sun shone 24 hours a day, you could put up 100 sq. ft. of panels and have enough energy to power the average home.

    The average sunshine across the country varies. In Seattle, Chicago, and Pittsburgh you’ll likely get up to three hours of direct sunlight. In states like Colorado and California, you’ll probably absorb five or six hours of sunlight. Homes in sunny Arizona can get nearly 7 hours of sunlight per day.

    The amount of average sunshine means that the size of the panel array required can vary, anywhere from 400 sq. ft. to 800 sq. ft. (i.e., 4 kW to 8 kW), depending on where you live. You’ll need more panels if you live in a location that gets less sunshine per day, and fewer panels if you live in a location that gets more sunshine.

    How Utility Companies Affect Solar Power Costs

    If your utility company allows you to have net metering — that is, they supply you with a special meter that will spin backward when you generate more electricity than you use — your annual bill can average out at zero. Because of shorter days in the winter, you’ll likely be a net purchaser of electricity in that season and a net producer in the summer months. A grid-tied system like this is different than off-grid systems used in remote locations with no electrical service; those require batteries, which can significantly increase overall system costs.

    Standard Solar System Components

    As we mentioned earlier, equipment is another factor to consider when calculating how much it costs to install solar panels. Each standard residential solar array uses four components:

    Solar panels – captures the sun’s energy and converts it to electricity Controller – protects batteries by regulating the flow of electricity Batteries – store electricity for later use Inverter – converts energy stored in a battery to voltage needed to run standard electrical equipment

    The entire system, plus installation, is what drives solar panel costs. Plus, equipment like batteries sometimes need to be replaced over time.

    The good news is that the costs for solar panels are expected to continue to drop as thin film panels from companies like First Solar, Nanosolar, and AVA Solar become available to the residential market, which could drop to 1-2 per watt — and at volumes that are several times today’s total output.

    solar, panels, 2023, guide, average, house

    Assuming that installation and auxiliary equipment costs can be reduced to around 1 per watt, then a 5 kW system in upcoming years may cost as little as 10,000, with a payback period of about 10 years. This makes the future of PV solar installations much more attractive.

    How much solar panels cost vary across a multitude of factors. Want to get an idea for how much you can save? Try our solar savings calculator or give us a call to find out!

    Are Solar Panels Worth It? (2023 Guide)

    In most cases, installing solar panels on your home is worth it. Get connected with a trusted solar professional today to determine if solar is right for you.

    Join the 9,540 people who have received a free, no-obligation quote in the last 30 days

    Faith Wakefield is a writer based in North Carolina. She holds economics and English degrees from UNC Chapel Hill, and her work has been featured on EcoWatch, The World Economic Forum and Today’s Homeowner. In her free time, she loves to binge-watch personal finance videos on YouTube, collect books and spend time in nature.

    Tori Addison is an editor who has worked in the digital marketing industry for over five years. Her experience includes communications and marketing work in the nonprofit, governmental and academic sectors. A journalist by trade, she started her career covering politics and news in New York’s Hudson Valley. Her work included coverage of local and state budgets, federal financial regulations and health care legislation.

    Karsten Neumeister is an experienced energy professional with subject-matter expertise in energy policy and the solar and retail energy industries. He is currently the Communications Manager for the Retail Energy Advancement League and has prior experience writing and editing content for EcoWatch. Before EcoWatch, Karsten worked for Solar Alternatives, curating content, advocating for local renewable energy policy and assisting the solar engineering and installation teams. Throughout his career, his work has been featured on various outlets including NPR, SEIA, Bankrate, PV Mag and the World Economic Forum.

    In most cases, installing residential solar panels is worth it. Solar panels typically last 25 years or more and can dramatically reduce or even eliminate your electricity bills — you can save an average of 1,346 annually on energy bills by going solar.

    Solar is a large upfront investment. But the cost of installing a system has decreased by more than 50% over the last 10 years, and incentives like the 30% federal solar tax credit can lower your cost even further.

    However, certain conditions and roof features can mean solar isn’t worth it for you. For instance, if your roof is shaded, does not have enough space or is oriented north, your panels may underperform. Additionally, if you live in an area that experiences many cloudy days and has few solar incentives, you may see fewer savings over the lifetime of your panels.

    Every roof and solar project is different. Before completing your solar project, your solar installer will survey your home and determine if your property is suitable for solar panels. Get connected with a trusted professional today to see if solar is worth the investment.

    Offers a range of financing options 24/7 customer service line Panel insurance protects against theft and damage

    Packages include 24/7 system monitoring 25-year warranty guarantees power production, product performance and workmanship Installation process is handled 100% in-house

    When Are Solar Panels Worth It?

    For instance, if you live in a state that receives a lot of sunlight and has ample solar incentives, in addition to having a large, south-facing roof, the savings you’ll see from solar will be very high. On the other hand, if you live somewhere with less sunlight, fewer solar incentives and a steep roof, solar may still be worth it for you, but your overall energy savings will likely be lower.


    The location of your home plays a vital role in the value of a solar power system. If you live in a part of the country that gets lots of sunlight exposure throughout the year, you will get more out of using solar panels than others.

    The data analysis site Stacker determined the following 10 states receive the most exposure to sunlight in the U.S.:

    Though sunny states like Florida, Texas, California and Arizona are excellent regions to install a solar system, your panels may not generate enough energy to offset the upfront cost if your home experiences a lot of shade from trees or buildings. But if your roof is unshaded or faces south, southwest or west, your panels will receive more direct radiation from the sun and generate more solar energy.

    As mentioned, locations that see more extreme weather events and power outages are also better suited for solar systems with independent power storage. You can use a solar battery to store excess energy during the day to use during blackouts, at night or on cloudy days.

    Your Home’s Roof

    The size, shape and slope of your roof are also important factors to consider. According to Garrett Nilsen, the deputy director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, roof structures can be one of the biggest roadblocks to going solar.

    “If there are trees near your home that create excessive shade on your roof, rooftop panels may not be the most ideal option,” he said. “Solar panels perform best on south-facing roofs with a slope between 15 and 40 degrees, though other roofs can be suitable too. Installers can model roofs to determine if the orientation and slope are suitable for energy generation.”

    Steep roofs make installation challenging and can increase labor costs or require additional mounting equipment. Roofs with plenty of surface area and few obstructions — such as skylights and chimneys — are ideal. You can still add solar panels to smaller roofs but should choose more efficient panels, such as monocrystalline panels, that generate more power using less space.

    Solar tax incentives and rebates are available at the federal and state levels. The federal tax credit. formally called the solar investment tax credit (ITC), allows you to claim 30% of your total system cost as a credit toward your federal tax burden.

    It’s worth mentioning that if you don’t owe thousands of dollars in taxes each year, you won’t be able to make as much use of the ITC. You may need to work with a tax adviser and re-evaluate your withholdings to fully capitalize on the credit.

    Other solar incentives vary from state to state. Many state governments and local utility companies offer solar rebates, credits, sales and property tax breaks, net metering and more that can make solar more affordable. We encourage you to use the Database of State Incentives for Renewables Efficiency to learn what other rebates and solar tax credits are available in your state.

    Before installing solar, you should take stock of your monthly energy consumption. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average household uses around 893 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per month. On average, a residential solar setup can produce between 350 to 850 kWh per month. Therefore, going solar can help you save as much as 95% off your utility bill.

    If you live in a state with high electricity rates, switching to solar will likely be a good investment. However, if your home does not require a lot of energy consumption to operate day-to-day, you may not save enough to offset the installation cost. Residential solar systems can cost anywhere from 15,000 to 25,000 or more.

    You should also contact your local utility company to see if it offers an established net metering program. Many states mandate net metering, which can help maximize your energy savings. Net metering allows you to send the excess energy your solar system produces back to the grid in exchange for billing credits. Your utility company will deduct any credits from your monthly electricity bill, saving you money by providing clean energy for your home.

    How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

    According to our 2023 survey of 1,500 homeowners with solar, respondents reported paying an average of 15,000 to 20,000 for their solar panel systems. However, every solar installation is different, and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports that a solar installation can cost upwards of 25,000.

    The total cost of your solar panel system can vary depending on where you live and the solar provider you choose. You can compare average price points for some of the top solar providers in the U.S. below. Cost figures represent the total cost of a solar panel system with installation.

    Cost figures are based on results from our 2023 survey of 1,500 homeowners with solar. Your costs may vary depending on individual factors.

    The state you live in can also factor into how much your solar panel installation will cost:

    In addition to your location and the provider you choose, other factors can influence the cost of your solar system, including:

    • Your home energy needs
    • Your solar system size
    • The type of panels you install
    • Additional equipment like solar batteries or inverters
    • Other related services, such as tree removal, energy efficiency audits, electric vehicle (EV) chargers, etc.

    The only way to know exactly how much your solar panel system will cost is to get a quote from a trusted solar installer in your area. To get matched with a top provider, click here for a solar estimate today.

    How Much Can You Save With Solar?

    The average payoff period for a solar panel system in the U.S. is around 8.5 years. After paying off your solar system, you’ll enjoy significant savings by drastically reducing or eliminating your energy bill. Considering the average solar system lasts 25 years or longer, that’s over 16 years of net savings. Most people who install solar on their homes will save thousands of dollars in energy costs over the lifespan of their solar energy system.

    There are, however, some instances when solar panels may not yield as high of returns as you want. According to Nilsen, local electricity rates, your total system cost and whether you pay up-front, take out a loan, or lease your system can all affect your return on investment (ROI). Changing compensation patterns with your local utility or an unexpected lapse in your system’s performance may cause your payback period to take longer.

    In these rare instances, Nilsen advises contacting your solar installer about your system’s expected production and any discrepancies with the current output.

    In addition to offering protection against rising electricity prices, a solar installation with a storage system provides a valuable backup during power outages. If you live in an area prone to severe weather or blackouts, installing solar panels with a backup battery can be more worthwhile.

    How Many Solar Panels Does It Take to Power a House?

    Renewable energy is a growing industry and is key to transitioning away from fossil fuels. Solar energy is the most popular and abundant renewable energy source. In fact, residential solar power installations rose by 34% from 2020 to 2021. However, solar is still far behind the nonrenewable energy sources in production; only 3% of all utility-scale electricity comes from solar, a far smaller share than natural gas (38%) or coal (22%).

    There are many tax incentives and other benefits for homebuilders and homeowners who install solar panels. For example, If a homeowner in Washington State installs a solar panel system of at least 100 kW, their system is exempt from state and local taxes.

    But can you install solar panels on your roof? How many solar panels does it take to power your house? How much money can you save by using a solar system? Whether you live in a craftsman-style home in Boston. or a split-level house in Round Rock, TX, read on to learn everything you need to know about adding solar panels to your house.

    How many solar panels does it take to power a house?

    Calculate how many solar panels your home needs by dividing your yearly electricity usage by your area’s production ratio, and then dividing that number by the wattage of your solar panels.

    Here’s the formula that many professionals use to calculate a home’s solar system needs:

    • Annual electricity usage ÷ production ratio ÷ panel wattage = # of panels
    • Using nationwide averages : 11,000 kWh ÷ 1.6 ÷ 300 = 23 panels

    On average, a 2,500 sq. ft. house will need between 20-25 solar panels to provide 100% of the home’s electricity needs. You can use this formula to calculate how many solar panels you need to power any size of home.

    Let’s break these variables down to better understand the formula.

    Annual electricity usage

    Your annual electricity usage is the amount of electricity you use in your home in one year. This is usually measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). The average U.S. household uses around 11,000 kWh every year.

    Factors that can affect electricity use include:

    Production ratio

    A solar panel system’s production ratio is the ratio of its estimated energy output over time (in kWh) to its actual system size (in kWh). A typical ratio is 1.4, or 14 kWh ÷ 10 kWh. Production ratios heavily depend on your local climate and sunlight hours – cloudier climates will have smaller energy outputs, while sunnier climates will have larger outputs.

    Break these inputs down to determine how many solar panels you need to power your house.

    Solar panel wattage

    Panel wattage is the energy output of one solar panel under ideal conditions. Wattage is measured in watts (W), and most solar panels generate between 300-400 W of power. Some panels have a higher power rating, but are more expensive.

    An experienced solar installation company will handle this process for you, including calculations, product selection, electricity needs, and solar compatibility. They also assess your roof to see if you require any specialized panel types or more powerful cells. Either way, this formula is here if you need it.

    Other factors to consider before investing in solar

    Investing in a solar system is a big commitment. Here are two additional factors to keep in mind before making the switch.

    Panel cost

    Solar panels can be an expensive initial investment; the average installation for a 10 kW system costs 20,020. which is enough to completely cover the electricity needs of most homes. Remember, if you live in a cloudy region. you will need more solar panels to generate the same amount of electricity compared to a sunny region.

    The payback period for a solar system is typically around ten years. meaning energy savings and rebates will usually exceed the initial cost of installation within ten years. There are also numerous city, state, and federal tax credits for installing solar panels.

    Solar panels also often come with either a product warranty or performance warranty. and sometimes both. These warranties typically last 10-25 years, depending on the manufacturer and installation company.

    Connection to the power grid

    Do you want to be tied to the power grid or not? Most homes with solar panels are still connected to the primary power grid. This offers many benefits, including being able to use electricity during bouts of bad weather, and receiving credits on excess power your system generates. However, if the primary power grid system fails, it triggers an automatic power shut-off in homes connected to the grid, including homes with solar panels. This prevents current from flowing to the broken or damaged line. This means that if your solar system is tied to the grid, you can’t generate electricity during a power outage.

    Some people want the ability to disconnect from the power grid, or at least have the option to do so on command. You may want to do this in certain circumstances, like during a power outage. These are called off-grid or hybrid solar systems. This requires a larger investment, primarily for the large batteries and power converter. Batteries can cost between 200 and 15,000 depending on the size of your system. Talk with a professional to determine your budget and specific needs.

    Are solar panels right for my house?

    Before you invest in solar panels, there are three important factors to consider:

    • Household energy consumption : Determine how much electricity your house uses. This way, you have an idea of how big your solar array will need to be. In 2021, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,632 kWh. an average of about 886 kWh per month. If your home uses more than the average, solar energy may not be able to cover your electricity needs.
    • Roof space : The average size of a residential solar panel today is about 65 inches x 39 inches (5.4 ft. by 3.25 ft), although they can be much larger and smaller. If your home has a small or unusually-shaped roof, you may not be able to fit very many solar panels on it; some roofs may not be able to fit them at all.
    • Hours of sunlight : Direct sunlight is critical; solar panels don’t function optimally in the shade. Take your local climate into account when deciding. For example, it takes fewer solar panels to generate the same amount of energy in a home in Fresno than it does in a house in Seattle. which receives an average of 226 cloudy days per year.

    Depending on your power needs and roof size, you may need more panels than your roof can accommodate to entirely switch to solar energy. To meet electricity needs, you may need to invest in smaller, more energy-efficient panels if possible, or install a ground-mounted system. Make sure to thoroughly research your energy consumption, roof space, local climate, and budget before switching to solar.

    How many solar panels to power a house: final thoughts

    Figuring out how many solar panels you need to power a house can be complicated. If you want to remove most of the hassle, an experienced solar installation company will handle this whole process for you, including calculations, product selection, electricity needs, and solar compatibility. They will also assess your roof to see if you need any specialized panel types or more powerful cells. Using a company can be expensive, but could save you money down the road because of calculation errors.

    Installing solar panels can be a great option to lower your carbon footprint and reduce your electric bills. Consider your needs and budget and decide if investing in solar is right for your home.

    Frequently asked questions about solar panels

    How many solar panels does the average house need?

    The average house requires between 20-25 solar panels, depending on the home’s size, energy use, and local climate. Because solar panels can’t consistently generate electricity, it’s usually best to budget for 25% more generation and storage than you think you’ll need.

    How many solar panels does it take to power a tiny house?

    A typical tiny home needs around 15 solar panels to power it completely. However, most tiny homes can only fit a few solar panels on the roof. To compensate for the lack of roof space, you can install a ground-mounted solar array with solar panels lined up adjacent to the house. This option isn’t right for everyone, and requires significant outdoor space.

    Can I run my house using only solar energy?

    You can run your house using entirely solar energy, but it is a significant investment. Solar panels cost 2.86/W on average, and the total cost of an installation averages 20,000 for a 10 kW system (after accounting for the 30 percent federal solar tax credit ).

    Can I put too many solar panels on my house?

    You can put as many solar panels on your roof as you want. However, there is a limit to how much energy you can generate and store if you use a grid-tied system. Check with your solar installation company or local electric company to learn more about your specific limits.

    How to use solar panels during a power outage

    Even if you are tied to the power grid, you can use solar panels during a power outage. Your system needs large-scale solar batteries and an inverter to convert D.C. power to A.C. power. Then, follow these steps:

    • Disconnect the solar system from the grid
    • Flip solar power breakers to “on”
    • Wait for solar power to begin flowing through the inverter
    • The system should become operational after a short period

    Keep in mind that some HOAs and local ordinances in some areas don’t allow homeowners to detach from the power grid.

    Redfin does not provide financial or environmental advice. Individual energy needs, use, and capabilities may vary. Always consult a professional and take your individual circumstances into account before installing solar panels.

    If you are represented by an agent, this is not a solicitation of your business. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional advice from a medical provider, licensed attorney, financial advisor, or tax professional. Consumers should independently verify any agency or service mentioned will meet their needs. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines here.

    How Much Does It Cost To Install Solar Panels In Maine?

    To help you make the most informed decision about solar, we designed this free solar calculator. Input details like the exact location of the property, your current electrical usage, and information about your roof’s orientation, shade, and pitch to receive an estimated price and potential energy cost savings for your custom system.

    What Type Of Solar Electric Systems Are Available?

    The average system costs noted above are for a grid-tied, roof-mounted solar electric system. Grid-tied, rooftop solar systems are our most common type of solar electric system installed throughout Maine.

    However, other solar system options are available, such as grid-tied, grid-tied battery backup, off-grid battery-based systems, and ground mounts. To ensure you get the information you need to make an informed decision about what type of solar system will work best for you, we have outlined the options available below.

    These are the most common type of solar electric systems in Maine. With this system, your home can be powered by the sun when it is shining. You are still connected to your utility provider (often called the grid), so you still have power when sunlight is unavailable. Net Metering allows the electricity generated by your solar system to offset the electricity used from the grid during the night or on a cloudy day. This ensures that all of the electricity your system produces offsets your usage and ultimately your electric bill. However, if the grid goes down, your system will shut off, and you will lose power. Grid-tied systems are the less expensive option due to not needing batteries and other additional equipment.

    Installing a grid-tied solar electric system is an excellent step towards energy independence. However, during a power outage, your system does not provide power. By pairing a grid-tied solar electric system with battery backup, you can bank the energy you produce for times when you need it, like when the grid goes down. Although whole-house backup is achievable, most grid-tied battery backup systems are designed only to power “critical” electrical loads. If you are thinking about going solar now but want to add batteries in the future, we can design your system to accommodate your future battery needs. These systems are more costly than grid-tied alone.

    Many people like the idea of installing an off-grid solar system because of its independence. However, it could require a lifestyle change to reduce energy consumption as you cannot rely on the grid. These systems tend to be most popular in rural locations such as camps or where the nearest power line may be miles away. You will need batteries to store your energy, must monitor the battery health, and be aware that you have a finite amount of energy you can collect and store on a daily basis. These systems have special design and operation requirements making them more challenging to install and service than a more common grid-tied system. They also require more components and usually cost more. Maine Solar Solutions has a design and installation team experienced with off-grid solar systems if you would like to learn more.

    Rooftop Solar Versus Ground Mounted Solar

    There are two common types of solar panel installations for grid-tied solar systems: roof-mounted and ground-mounted.

    Most of the solar electric systems installed in Maine feature rooftop solar arrays. But sometimes aesthetic concerns or heavily shaded roofs make consideration of a ground-mounted solar array advisable. Ground-mounted solar arrays typically cost between 15 – 25% more than rooftop solar arrays. The expense of ground anchors, racking, and trenching accounts for this higher cost. Although a ground-mounted solar array costs more than an equal-sized rooftop array, many of our customers have found that a ground-mounted array provides the best balance of cost, aesthetics, and value. Our experienced solar consultants can show you the relative costs of both options and help you determine what makes the most sense.

    The Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar In Maine

    This free resource is packed with answers to the most common questions we receive about solar energy installations in Maine.

    What Factors Affect The Cost Of A Solar Electric System?

    During your free solar site assessment, we gather information about your home that we use to design your system. We prepare a proposal based on your electricity usage and we show a couple of different solar panel options. Below is the information that we gather that helps us get you a fixed-cost system price.

    • Electricity Usage:We review your electric bills and calculate the amount of electricity you use over the course of a year.
    • Roof Information: People often ask, “Is my roof good for solar? Does my house face the right way for solar panels? What’s the ideal roof angle for solar?” To answer those questions our solar consultants will measure the angle or pitch of your roof and determine the orientation of your home towards the south. Roofs that face towards the southeast or southwest may require an additional panel or two to produce the same amount of power as a roof that faces directly south. People are often surprised to learn that even if their roof faces directly towards the east or west, annual solar production can still make installing a solar system an affordable investment.
    • Shading Measurements: For electricity production, the more exposed your roof is to sunlight throughout the day, the better. Your roof does not need to have full sun all day to be a good candidate for solar, and a partially shaded roof may only require a few additional panels to match the production of an unshaded roof.
    • Solar Panel Type:Solar panels account for the greatest equipment cost for a solar electric system. We offer several different solar panels to choose from. There are many solar panel manufacturers, and each manufacturer offers multiple solar panel models. Solar panels differ in size, wattage, efficiency, appearance, and warranty. Each of these specifications impacts the solar panel’s cost and factors into their relative value. Our customers find it helpful when we present a range of solar panel options and take the time to educate them about the differences in panel features, performance, cost, and value.

    What Incentives Are Available For Installing Solar?

    The primary incentive available to homeowners installing solar in Maine is the Federal Solar Tax Credit (ITC). Solar electric systems installed between 2022 and 2032 qualify for a 30% federal tax credit. This tax credit is scheduled to fall to 26% in 2033 and 22% in 2034. It is currently set to expire in 2035. There’s a lot of information about the ITC out there, so to help, we gathered answers to some commonly asked questions about the federal tax credit here.

    What’s Included In My Solar Electric System Costs?

    Once your system is designed, and you have chosen which solar panels and optional add-ons you would like to include in your system, we prepare a fixed-cost installation contract that includes all of the equipment and labor required to install a safe, code-compliant system. Your fixed-cost solar electric system includes the following:


    • Solar Panels
    • Inverter system
    • Power Optimizers
    • System monitoring so that you can watch the entire array and each panel’s output information on your desktop or your phone
    • Racking and roof attachment equipment
    • Roof-specific attachment points
    • Electrical components required for a safe, code-compliant installation


    • Installation labor by Maine Solar Solutions qualified electricians and installers
    • Maine Solar Solutions 10-year Workmanship warranty


    • Assistance with all required paperwork, utility, and permitting
    • Utility interconnection application fee
    • Electric and building permits and associated fees

    What Are The Additional Costs Involved To Go Solar?

    During our site evaluation, we may determine that your electric service or breaker panel will need to be upgraded to accommodate the solar installation. Your solar proposal will detail the cost of any additional electrical work, and the final system cost will include these costs.

    What Add-ons Or Options Are Available When Installing A Solar Electric System?

    Battery Backup Systems:A grid-tied solar electric system will not provide backup power during a power outage. We offer battery systems for customers seeking to add a backup power source to their grid-tied solar electric system. The most popular battery backup system is the Telsa Powerwall. Battery systems are eligible for the 30% federal tax credit. If you’re curious about batteries, your solar consultant will review options with you. Even if you aren’t ready for batteries during your initial solar installation, your solar electric system can be designed to allow for the easy addition of batteries later.

    Electric Vehicle (EV) Chargers:With the growing popularity of electric cars, many of our solar customers are requesting the installation of an electric car charging station at their homes. Combining an electric vehicle with a solar electric system in your home allows you to fix the cost of operating your electric car and truly enables you to operate your EV as a carbon-free, renewable energy vehicle.

    Is Going Solar A Good Return on Investment (ROI) In Maine?

    Owning a solar electric system is one of the few investments that truly pays for itself in savings over time. A properly sized and designed solar electric system can eliminate nearly your entire annual electric bill. For most Maine homeowners, the solar electric system will pay for itself in as few as 7-10 years. Customers choosing to finance the purchase of their system may see longer payback times.

    Once the system has paid for itself, a typical Maine solar system owner will only have to pay their fixed utility service charge – currently around 15 per month. Whether you pay for your solar system out of or choose to finance the purchase you have essentially fixed your cost of electricity and protected yourself from ever-increasing electricity price increases!

    For someone in their 50’s, I looked at installing solar panels as saving for my 401K. Because when I am 70, who knows what the price of electricity will be. I am fixing the cost of most of my electricity for life!

    – Cathy G., Gorham, ME

    What Are The Ways To Pay For Solar Electric Systems?

    Most customers choose between paying upfront for their solar electric system or financing the purchase and paying a monthly payment.

    Direct Purchase: Choosing to pay for a solar electric system out of will give you the highest return on your investment. You’ll own your solar panels immediately and not have to pay any interest. Many of our customers have taken advantage of low-interest rates and increasing home values to pay for their solar systems with home equity loans or when refinancing their mortgages.

    Solar Loans: Financing the purchase of a solar electric system allows you to fix your cost of electricity for the lifetime of your loan. Your fixed monthly payments may at first be higher than your monthly electric bill, but over time as electricity rates go up, your monthly payments will stay the same. Maine Solar Solutions offers solar financing through Mosaic. Mosaic offers no money down, low-interest rates, and a variety of term lengths with no prepayment penalties. Additional financing options may be available through your local bank or credit union.

    Other Considerations

    Cost should not be the only factor when choosing a solar installation company. A solar electric system will last more than 25 years; it’s important to consider a qualified, experienced company that will provide guidance and support throughout the entire system life span. From initial consult, through installation, with ongoing support and consultation, choose a company with a proven track record. Keep in mind that solar electric systems are installed to meet the requirements of the National Electric Code and as such need to be installed by licensed electricians and qualified technicians under their supervision.

    Free Solar Site Assessment

    Curious to see what a solar electric system would cost for your home?

    At Maine Solar Solutions, our goal is to give you the information you need to make an informed decision. Schedule an informative, free, no-obligation solar consultation with one of our knowledgeable solar consultants today and begin your path towards energy independence.

    Solar Panel Cost

    Affiliate Disclaimer: All products and services featured are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

    Solar panels are a considerable investment—not just for the sake of your community and planet, but for your home’s value. Various factors influence how much a solar system costs. including the panels you choose, your home’s energy needs. and applicable state and federal tax incentives.

    We have conducted in-depth research on the best solar companies in the United States and the industry overall. This guide breaks down the significant factors that influence what solar panels cost, as well as the national average for a solar energy system.

    Compare Solar Companies

    Available in 50 states Has been in the industry since 1985 Provides its own monocrystalline solar panels

    Available in 23 states 25-year warranties for the product, labor, and inverter Power protection guarantee

    25-year workmanship and product warranty Perks for new construction homeowners Available in 20 states

    How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Each State?

    Solar panel costs can vary according to your state’s energy rates and access to solar technology. Check the table below to get an idea of what solar panels might cost you in your state.

    This cost data was based on the national average from multiple sources including EnergySage, SolarReviews, and Ecowatch.

    Solar Panel Cost Breakdown

    The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) estimates that the national average cost for a typical 6-kilowatt (kW, or 6,000 watts) residential rooftop solar system is roughly 18,000 before any federal tax credits or local incentives. Overall, you should expect to pay anywhere between 10,000 and 24,000, depending on your system size and location. The total cost of a solar system includes solar panel. which vary in price by brand and type, installation labor, and additional equipment. A solar installation company will charge a combination of labor costs and a price per watt for each solar panel. Based on a May 2019 report

    Types of Solar Panels

    • Monocrystalline: The most popular solar panel on the market today, monocrystalline panels offer the highest efficiency rate, at an average of 24%. However, they are also the most costly. The average cost for monocrystalline solar panels is 1 to 1.50 per watt. Therefore, a standard 6kW system costs between 6,000 and 9,000.
    • Polycrystalline: Polycrystalline panels are a more cost-effective option up front. However, they feature a lower efficiency rate than mono panels, at an average of 20%. The average cost for polycrystalline solar panels is 0.90 to 1 per watt, or 5,400 to 6,000 total.
    • Thin-film: Thin-film solar panels are less popular for residential solar systems. They tend to cost around 1 to 1.50 per watt.

    Solar Panel Installation Cost

    Installation costs range between 100% and 200% of the cost of the solar panel system itself. So, for example, if you purchase a 6kW monocrystalline solar panel system for 9,000, then a solar installation company will likely charge approximately 18,000 to 27,000 for the system and the installation, combined. The installation of a larger system will naturally increase labor costs.

    Additional Equipment

    Residential solar systems also typically require a battery to store energy and an inverter, which converts the variable direct current (DC) output of your PV solar panel s into alternating current (AC). Most solar companies will include these components in your solar system’s design. However, if you request specific brands of inverters or batteries, they may come at a premium.

    Other Factors to Consider About Solar Panel Costs

    In addition to the cost per watt for each solar panel, other factors influence the overall cost of a solar power system. We have listed some of the most critical factors for you below.

    Energy Needs

    Take note of your current cost of electricity. as switching to solar may or may not save you money on your energy costs. The larger your home and higher your monthly electric bill. the more benefits you are likely to see from switching to solar. A solar system can eliminate a homeowner ’s electricity bill in some instances.

    On the other hand, if you already have relatively low utility bills. you may not see enough savings to justify the expense of installing a home solar system.


    The location of your home plays a vital role in how much money solar panels can save you. Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the data analysis site Stacker determined that the following 10 states are the sunniest in the continental United States:

    Roof Type

    You can use a solar panel system even if you don’t live in these blue-sky states. Most solar panel installers use photovoltaic (PV) panels, which can absorb both direct and indirect sunlight. However, these solar panels generate the most energy on angled roofs that allow maximum sun exposure. On the other hand, a flat roof will require the construction of angled platforms, which will add to your labor costs and increase the overall cost of your solar system installation.

    Additionally, south-, west- or southwest-facing roofs get more sun exposure. For example, a home that experiences less shade and has a south-facing roof with a slope between 15 and 40 degrees will receive the most sunlight. Therefore, these homes receive and retain more solar energy. On the other hand, a home with trees around it or in a less sunny region, like the Pacific Northwest, may not save as much money as a homeowner in Arizona or California.

    solar, panels, 2023, guide, average, house

    Your roof’s age and structural soundness will also influence the overall cost of solar panel installation. Repairing your roof or upgrading your roofing material to support panels will come at an additional expense ahead of installation and affect your total cost.

    Solar Incentives

    Both state and federal governments provide solar incentives to help offset the up-front costs of switching to solar. Namely, the federal solar tax credit, or solar investment tax credit ( ITC ), plays a significant role in helping to make residential solar panels a better investment. This tax credit provides 30% off your total price of solar panel installation.

    Local incentives vary by state. For example, some states allow you to earn and sell credits for the electricity your solar system produces through a net metering program. Others offer solar rebates. We recommend using the Database of State Incentives for Renewables Efficiency to see what rebates and state tax credits you can receive.

    Payment Options

    Solar providers offer various payment methods that influence how cost-effective your investment in solar is. Here are the four payment options you can choose from with most solar companies :

    • Purchase: Paying for your solar system up-front is the most cost-effective payment method for a solar system. Not only will you avoid paying interest over time, but you will also be eligible to file for the federal tax credit at your next income-tax filing.
    • Solar Loan: Solar companies understand that not every homeowner is willing or able to pay for their system up-front. so they partner with a lending company to provide loan options. As with all bank loans, your interest rate will depend on your credit score.
    • Solar Lease: Some homeowners may elect to lease their solar panel systems. With this arrangement, the solar company still owns the system, and you pay a set monthly amount for the installed solar panels. This option is not as cost-effective over time as purchasing or financing your system, as you are not eligible to receive state or federal incentives. However, you avoid paying hefty up-front sums.
    • Power Purchase Agreement (PPA): A solar PPA lets you pay little to nothing for the actual installation of the PV system. Instead, you pay monthly payments to a utility company based on the energy generated by the system. Think of this as if you are paying for your usual electricity bill. As with a lease, you don’t own the system and are thus ineligible for tax incentives.

    Our Recommendation

    Residential solar panels help you cut both your electricity costs and carbon emissions. To ensure switching to solar is a sound investment for you, pay attention to your current utility rates. If you notice that your utility bill tends to be on the mid to upper end of your state’s average, you are nearly guaranteed to save money with solar in the long run.

    In addition, if you can purchase or finance your solar system. you are making a more cost-effective decision than if you lease or sign a PPA.

    We suggest using the tool below to see which solar installation companies service your zip code and get a sense of what a solar provider near you charges for installation.

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