Bring Jackery’s 200W SolarSaga solar panel on your summer vacation at 559 (140 off) in New Green Deals
Are you getting ready for summer camping trips? Be sure to bring Jackery’s SolarSaga 200W portable solar panel with you so that way you can live off the land and enjoy life off the grid. This solar panel is foldable, portable, and even waterproof. Plus, right now you can score it for 559, which is 140 below its normal price and marks a 2023 low that we’ve tracked. We break down all the reasons why this is a great travel companion below. And, we also have a wide selection of Tesla and e-bike discounts in today’s New Green Deals, so you won’t want to miss that either.
Head below for other New Green Deals that we’ve found today and of course Electrek’s best EV buying and leasing deals. Also
Jackery’s SolarSaga 200W portable solar panel now 140 off
Jackery’s official Amazon storefront is offering its SolarSaga 200W Portable Solar Panel for 559 shipped. Normally 699, today’s deal comes in with a full 140 off the normal going rate and is the first discount we’ve seen in months here. It’s also a new 2023 low that we’ve tracked, as the last mention was just over 559 back in April.
Designed to power your on-the-go lifestyle, this solar panel can collapse when not being used, and is ready to deploy in minutes. The solar panel can output up to 200W of power, which means that on a good day with five full hours of sun, you’ll get 1kW of electricity. This is enough to power your entire campsite with 500W of power and then deliver another 500W of power to keep an external battery charging, like the new Explorer 2000 power stations that launched earlier this month. It connects to your portable power stations through its included DC cable, and can also be hooked up to other battery chargers as well. The solar panel itself is waterproof, meaning it’s ready to be left out in the rain without worrying that it’ll get damaged. And, you can string multiple panels together to get even more power every day. For example, three of these could deliver up to 3kW of electricity to your off-grid setup in a single five hour period. Of course, it helps you to be less reliant on the grid as well since you’ll be generating your own electricity, which is always a good thing.
Segway’s Ninebot F40 electric scooter has never sold for less with 360 discount to 440 low
Amazon now offers the new Segway Ninebot F40 Electric Kick Scooter for 439.56 shipped. Arriving at its best price ever, today’s offer lands from the usual 800 going rate with 360 in savings attached. This is well below our previous mention from back in March that was 604. Segway’s latest electric scooter arrives as the flagship of the F series lineup. It sports an 18.6 MPH top speed and can handle going 25 miles on a single charge all thanks to the 350W motor. This time around there are also new 10-inch pneumatic tires that pair with improved shock absorption for a smoother ride, as well as a front-wheel drum brake to complement its typical regenerative breaking features. You can learn all about the new folding scooter in our launch coverage right here, too.
Rare deal drops Rachio’s 12-zone Wi-Fi Smart sprinkler controller to new low of 125
Through the end of the day, Woot is offering the Rachio 3 12-zone Wi-Fi Smart Sprinkler Controller for 124.99 Prime shipped, with non-Prime members being charged a 6 delivery fee at checkout. You’d typically spend 200 for this same sprinkler controller at Costco, and overall, this is a pretty rare discount. We often see the 8- and 16-zone controllers drop in price, with the last sale being back in May at 128 for the 8-zone model. The Rachio 3 takes just about any sprinkler system and makes it Smart, adding compatibility with most of the modern Smart home platforms, including Alexa and Assistant. You’ll also be able to check in on, change settings, and start watering from a mobile app as well. Rachio doesn’t just bring voice control to your sprinkler system, but also helps you save money and water. This comes from the brand’s “weather intelligence plus” which will automatically skip “unnecessary watering” thanks to rain, wind, freeze, and other skip functions.
New Tesla deals
After checking out the Jackery SolarSaga 200W portable solar panel on sale above, if you keep read, you’ll find a selection of new green deals that will make your Tesla experience better in multiple areas. From storage to keep recordings on to phone mounts, car chargers, and anything else we can find, it’ll be listed below. Each day we’ll do our best to find new and exciting deals and ways for you to save on fun accessories for your Tesla, making each trip unique. For more gift ideas and deals, check out the best Tesla shop. Keep reading on for e-bike, Greenworks, and other great deals.
- Spigen All-in-One Cable Holder Wall Mount for Tesla Model 3/Y/X/S: 24 (Reg. 30) | Amazon
- SimpleTire offers up to 20% off thousands of tires
- Discount Tire offers up to 100 off or more on Cooper, Bridgestone, and other tires
- Model 3 CupHolderHero: 12 (Reg. 14)
- Spigen OneTap MagSafe car mounts now up to 38% off starting at 27 via Amazon
- Bring MagSafe to your ride with iOttie’s premium Velox car mount at 42.50
New e-bike deals electric scooter discounts
If you’re looking to get out and enjoy the sunshine still after using your new electric mower, than we recommend you experience it than on another e-bike or electric scooter you just got at a fantastic price through one of our deals and sale below. You can use it for fun, exercise, or even transportation to and from work or the coffee shop. We have several people here that will regularly commute to coffee shops or offices on their e-bike, as it cuts down on fossil fuel usage as well as allows them to enjoy some time outdoors on nice sunny days. Below, you’ll find a wide selection of new e-bike deals and electric scooter deal in all price ranges, so give it a look if that’s something you’d be interested in picking up. As always, the newest e-bike deal and electric scooter discounts and sales will be at the top, so shop quick as the discounts are bound to go away soon.
- Segway’s flagship electric SuperScooter GT2 sees 700 summer discount to 3,300 low
- Save 700 on Rad Power’s RadRover 6 Plus eBike at 1,399 low
- Segway’s Ninebot P65 electric scooter has never sold for less with 33% discount to 1,000
- Juiced e-bikes 0% APR financing available
- Micah Toll’s favorite low-cost folding electric bike, the Lectric XP 2.0: 999 (Reg. 1,099)
- Kent Electric Pedal Assist Mountain Bike: 698 (Reg. 998)
Additional New Green Deals
After shopping the Jackery SolarSaga 200W portable solar panel on sale above, be sure to check out the other discounts we found today. These new green deals are wide-ranging from outdoor lawn equipment to anything else we find that could save you money in various ways, be that cutting gas and oil out of your life or just enjoying other amenities that energy-saving gear can bring. As always, the newest deals will be at the top, so shop quick as the discounts are bound to go away soon.
- Google’s latest Nest Smart Thermostat hits new 50 low in Geek Squad Cert. Refurb condition
- Renogy’s 400W solar panel kit with 30A charge controller powers your summer RV trips at 391
- Jackery’s Solar Generator 1500 includes a panel and power station for 1,589
- Greenworks spring sale takes 1,500 off electric riding mowers, self-propelled models, more
- Cruise the beach on Swagtron’s EB-11 fat-tire e-bike at 300 off, now 700
Stay up to date with the latest content by subscribing to Electrek on Google News. You’re reading Electrek— experts who break news about Tesla, electric vehicles, and green energy, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow Electrek on and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our YouTube channel for the latest reviews.
California Solar Incentives and Rebates: How to Maximize Your Solar Savings
With abundant sunshine and some of the nation’s highest electricity prices, it’s no wonder why over a million California homeowners have gone solar.
Rooftop solar is already a worthwhile investment in California, but a wide-range of federal, state, and local incentives can make the deal even sweeter. In this article, we’ll dig into:
California solar and battery incentives
For many California homeowners, going solar is already a slam dunk. However, there are federal, state, and local incentives that can maximize your solar savings.
The incentives fall into two broad categories: tax incentives and rebates. Let’s start by digging into the tax incentives.
Pro Tip: If you plan on moving out of California anytime soon, check out our list of other states incentives and rebates!
California solar and battery tax incentives
The following California solar incentives come in the form of tax credits, exemptions, and exclusions. Consult a licensed tax professional for advice regarding tax incentives.
Federal solar and battery tax credit
The first tax incentive to mention is the 30% solar investment tax credit – also known as the ITC or Residential Clean Energy Credit.
This federal tax credit is worth 30% of the cost of installing solar and battery storage systems. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, the ITC will remain at 30% until 2032 and beginning on January 1, 2023 applies to battery storage that isn’t hooked up to solar.
Property tax exclusion
Studies by Zillow and Berkeley Lab found that solar panels increase home values by up to 4,000 per kW. And Californians know better than anyone else that higher property value means higher property taxes.
But thanks to California’s Active Solar Energy System Exclusion, rooftop solar systems installed before January 1, 2025 won’t be assessed in property valuations, and therefore won’t increase your property tax.
According to the California State Board of Equalization, this tax exclusion applies to solar systems “where the energy is used to provide for the collection, storage, or distribution of solar energy.”
It does not apply to solar swimming pool heaters or hot tub heaters.
Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE)
Upfront cost is often the biggest hurdle to going solar, but the PACE program – known as the Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (Hero) program in California – is one way to go solar with zero money down.
Through the Hero program, your state or local government teams up with a local lender to fund the upfront cost of your solar project. Then you pay the project off through an increase to your property tax bill over an agreed upon term, typically 5 to 20 years.
The savings come when the increase to your property taxes is lower than the energy savings provided by your solar system.
California solar and battery rebates
California also has solar incentives in the form of rebates, which can help reduce the upfront cost of solar and battery storage projects. We’ve listed a few below, but we strongly encourage you to check for local rebates through your utility, city, or municipality.
Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP)
With frequent power outages and Time-of-Use rates, home battery storage is an opportunity for both energy independence and savings.
Through SGIP, eligible Californians can be reimbursed for 150 to 1,000 per kWh of battery storage installed – which, in some cases, covers the entire cost of the project.
The incentive amount depends on your utility, your wildfire risk, and special circumstances like having a life threatening illness, medical equipment, and an electric pump for well water.
Disadvantaged Communities – Single-Family Solar Homes (DAC-SASH)
DAC-SASH is an upfront rebate to reduce the cost of going solar for qualifying low-income households.
To be eligible, you must meet all of the following criteria.
- Receive electrical service from
- Pacific Gas Electric (PGE)
- Southern California Edison (SCE)
- San Diego Gas Electric (SDGE)
DAC-SASH is scheduled to run through 2030. Visit GRID Alternatives to check your eligibility.
In addition to state rebate incentives, California also has several local rebates that can further maximize your solar savings.
For example, Rancho Mirage Energy Authority has a Residential Solar Rebate Program that offers a one-time 500 incentive for installing or expanding a residential solar system.
Similarly, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) offers a 150 stipend for residential solar system installations.
Cost of going solar in California
While there are a variety of solar incentives in California, most homeowners will only qualify for the federal solar tax credit – and that’s okay. Even without incentives, the cost of going solar in California is already much cheaper than grid energy.
But, for many homeowners, the goal of going solar is to maximize your energy savings, so let’s see how the cost of going solar in California compares tobuying electricity from a utility provider.
Cost of solar vs grid electricity in the Los Angeles metro area
The figures below are from a real quote presented to a solar.com customer in Buena Park, Cali. for a 6.4 kW solar system under NEM 3.0 solar billing.
|Contract price (cash purchase)||27,306|
|30% Residential Clean Energy Credit||-8,192|
With California’s abundant sunshine, a 6.4 kW solar system can be expected to produce:
- An average of 9,770 kWh of electricity per year
- A total of 244,250 kWh of electricity over 25 years
If you divide the net cost of the project by the lifetime production, the cost per kilowatt-hour of home solar for this Los Angeles-area customer comes to:
- 7.8 cents per kWh with the 30% solar tax credit
- 11.2 cents per kWh without the solar tax credit
Now, let’s compare the cost per year electricity from home solar to the cost of grid electricity:
|Source of electricity||Cost of electricity (cents/kWh)||Cost per year for 9,770 kWh of electricity|
|Solar with tax credit||7.4||723|
|Solar without tax credit||11.2||1,094|
|Grid – LA metro average||25.1||2,452|
Even without the 30% federal tax credit, grid electricity is 118% more expensive per year than home solar – and that’s before factoring in the constantly rising cost of grid electricity
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average cost of grid electricity has increased by over 6% per year since 2017 in the Los Angeles metro area – but let’s use a 4% annual increase to be conservative.
Here’s how the cost of solar versus grid energy in Los Angeles compares over the 25-year warrantied life of a solar system:
Even NEM 3.0 solar billing, this solar.com customer near Los Angeles is looking at a payback period around 9 years and over 60,000 in energy cost savings over 25 years.
Is going solar worth it in California?
Whether your goal is energy cost savings, contributing to the clean energy transition, or providing backup power for grid outages, going solar is absolutely worth it in California – even under NEM 3.0 solar billing.
California is notorious for having some of the nation’s highest utility electricity rates and there is plenty of reason to belive they will continue increasing. Home solar is an affordable alternative to buying electricity from a utility provider and a hedge against rising energy costs.
California Solar Incentives FAQ’s
How much do solar panels cost in California?
Based on real binding quotes generated by solar.com, a 6.4 kW solar system (slightly larger than average for California) has a net cost around 19,000 after claiming the 30% federal tax credit.
That breaks down to around 3 per Watt for the system, and around 7.8 cents per kWh for the electricity it produces. For comparison, grid electricity rates ranged between 25.1 cents/kWh in Los Angeles to 40.9 cents/kWh in San Diego in 2022.
How does the California solar tax credit work?
California no longer has a state solar tax credit. However, the federal solar tax credit is worth 30% of the installed cost of a solar and/or battery system. This credit can be used to decrease your federal tax liability and increase your tax refund.
On a 15,000 solar system, the federal solar tax credit can be used to lower your tax liability by 4,500. If you don’t have enough tax liability to use at all it once, the tax credit can be rolled over into future years.
Consult a licensed tax professional for advice regarding applying the solar tax credit.
Can you get free solar panels in California?
There are a few programs in California that can drastically reduce or completely cover the cost of going solar. These niche programs are reserved for low-income and disadvantaged communities that meet strict eligibility criteria.
The Disadvantaged Communities/Single-Family Solar Homes (DAC-SASH) offers an upfront rebate for low-income homeowners in disadvantaged communities identified here.
California’s Low-Income Weatherization Program provides no-cost solar systems and energy efficiency upgrades for eligible farmworker households and other low-income housing types.
Tennessee Solar Panel Incentives
As solar panels become increasingly accessible and affordable, it may be time for you to invest in them for your home or business. Solar power uses clean energy from the sun, so installing solar panels on your home will help reduce greenhouse gases and other harmful emissions, lower or even eliminate your energy bills, and give you the chance to earn tax credits and rebates.
Tennessee is a great state for solar power because of its nice weather. This area has more sunny days than most states, so Tennessee residents can acquire a greater amount of solar energy and will experience fewer cloudy days. This higher chance of sun means that solar-powered homes will have adequate energy throughout the year.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) monitors solar power regulations and supports programs to facilitate the development of the solar industry. There are tax codes and credits that can help support the cost of switching to solar power. Here is a look at incentives in Tennessee, via a state resource page.
If you install solar panels and take advantage of clean energy programs in the state and federal options, which are often more beneficial, you will see a return in your investment (ROI) through both the savings on your electric bill and the financial incentives available to you.
Residential Solar Power Incentives in Tennessee
On top of the environmental impacts and opportunities to save money, state incentives make residential solar power an attractive option. Although each state offers different incentives and rebates, solar panels are a worthwhile investment for your home that will save you money in the long run. Here are some of the residential solar power incentives in Tennessee:
Green Energy Property Tax Assessment
Tennessee offers a property tax assessment for certified green energy that is proportionate to the facility’s value. For solar panels, the incentive has a maximum return of 12.5% of the initial installed cost. Simply put, your property appraisal will tell you the worth of the facility based on the clean energy technology and the energy produced, giving you a return on a percentage of its deemed worth. To get this certification, you can’t install a battery with your solar system.
Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit
This incentive is a federal one, meaning that you can receive it regardless of the state you live in. The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) returns up to a certain percentage of your solar panel purchase, reducing the cost.
Currently the ITC for solar panel systems has increased to 30%. The percentage off is for the entire cost of the system, including the flat rate of the solar panel equipment, labor costs and permit requirements.
Sales Tax Exemptions
When purchasing a solar panel system to install in Tennessee, it is exempt from all sales tax. Depending on the sales tax where you reside, this exemption can reduce the starting cost by about 7%.
Dispersed Power Production Program
Tennessee currently doesn’t have a net metering program where utility companies credit solar energy system owners for the electricity they do not use and instead add to the grid. However, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) offers a similar program but with less of a return.
While not exactly net metering, this TVA solar incentive allows residential customers to earn money from any unused renewable energy they produce, which the TVA buys. The TVA sets its rates annually and offers five-year agreements. Since this program costs homeowners more to participate than it awards, we don’t recommend choosing this option.
Although Tennessee does not offer rebates from the state for solar panel installations, they do not prohibit manufacturers from offering rebates. You can look for a solar energy system that has discounts or money-back incentives.
Commercial Tennessee Solar Incentives
There are also benefits directed toward commercial businesses installing solar panels. Some of the commercial solar power incentives in Tennessee include:
Green Energy Property Tax Assessment
The Green Energy Property Tax Assessment works in the same way for multiple facility sectors, including residential, commercial, industrial and municipal utilities. While this solar power tax incentive amount depends on the building’s sector, it has a maximum of 12.5% of the installation cost.
Sales Tax Credit for Clean Energy Technology
Sales tax is Tennessee’s primary source of state tax revenue. Use tax, the counterpart to sales tax, is what the state requires you to pay when the seller doesn’t collect the sales tax or you have other taxable items shipped from out of state. However, clean energy technology is exempt from these taxes.
If your company wants to install solar energy equipment, you, along with your solar panel contractor, must file a tax-exempt application to become a certified green energy production facility, which will reduce the tax cost of your installation to zero.
United States Department of Agriculture Rural Energy for America Program Grants
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers financial incentive grant programs and loans to encourage commercial and agricultural businesses to implement renewable energy systems into their facilities. Their Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides this financial aid to eligible businesses and projects.
As of the 2018 fiscal year, the USDA had a budget of 600 million, allowing them to offer renewable solar panel grants between 2,500 and 500,000, efficiency grants of 1,500 to 250,000, and a loan and grant combination with an amount exceeding 1,500 for the grant portion. The maximum incentive you can receive within this range is 25% of the total project cost and is anticipated to increase in the near future to 50% of allowable project costs per updated federal programs.
Cost of Solar Panels After Tennessee Incentives
These incentives and rebates can help you exponentially reduce the cost of your solar panel installation. Because of the increasing need for green energy and renewable resources, many state and federal resources exist to aid in the transition from traditional electric to solar panels.
For example, if you plan to install a 15,000 solar panel system on your residential home, you won’t have to pay sales tax because it’s green energy equipment. Then, qualifying for the federal solar investment tax credit, you can get 30% back, significantly reducing your overall cost.
Between these incentives and any additional rebates or programs you elect to participate in, you significantly reduce the overall cost of your solar panel installation. These panels can pay off themselves in about seven to 20 years and enable you to profit, helping you earn money in a way that also conserves the environment.
Since Tennessee does not implement net metering, there is a need for systems designed for profitability rather than all-out performance. Paying attention to these details allows for a cost-effective system. If you live in Knoxville, Tennessee, we can provide you with a profitable system to produce power for your home.
Get Started With Solar Power
If installing solar panels on your home or business seems like the right thing for you, check out Solar Alliance. Serving the southeastern United States, we are happy to help you with any of your commercial, industrial and residential solar needs.
At Solar Alliance, we take pride in being a fully licensed solar energy company that you can trust. We offer affordable pricing to give you the best value on your solar panel system. Our top priorities are helping you save money, increasing your property value and providing you with eco-friendly power.
Every state is different, and every utility is different. Understanding the rules is the first step to successfully installing a profitable solar system — so check references carefully when you’re choosing a solar installer and, hopefully, you’ll pick us.
Contact us today to learn more about our solar solutions for your home or business.
The Cost of Solar Panels: Is It Worth It?
Do the benefits of solar panels outweigh their costs?
Nathaniel Riley brings 28 years of experience in financial services, including merger-arbitrage trading, hedge funds, and alternative investments.
Somer G. Anderson is CPA, doctor of accounting, and an accounting and finance professor who has been working in the accounting and finance industries for more than 20 years. Her expertise covers a wide range of accounting, corporate finance, taxes, lending, and personal finance areas.
Skylar Clarine is a fact-checker and expert in personal finance with a range of experience including veterinary technology and film studies.
What Is Solar Power for the Home?
Homeowners who install solar power systems can receive numerous benefits: lower electric bills, lower carbon footprints, and potentially higher home values. But these benefits typically come with significant installation and maintenance costs and the magnitude of the gains can vary widely from one house to another.
This article will help homeowners make the financial calculations required to determine the viability of solar power in their homes.
- Those seeking to go green may want to consider equipping their home with solar panels.
- Not only is solar power good for the environment, but you can earn money selling back excess power to the grid.
- While costs have come down over the past years, installation and maintenance of solar panels can be quite expensive.
- Solar panels are best suited for homes that receive ample sun exposure throughout the year.
- Before committing to solar power, be sure to understand both the social and economic factors.
Understanding Solar Power
In principle, working out whether it makes financial sense to install solar power for your home is simple. You will need to calculate:
- The cost of a solar power system
- How much energy it will produce
- What you would otherwise pay for the same amount of energy
- How many years it will take for your upfront investment to pay for itself in saved energy costs
- Whether the system will pay for itself in five years
If it does and you have the upfront capital, it’s probably a great idea. If you’ll have to wait longer for savings or take out a loan to afford the system, you’ll need to think the decision through carefully.
In practice, however, things are not this simple. There is a large variation in each of these factors, and that can make the costs and benefits of installing solar power for two homes—even if they are neighbors—radically different.
There are some tools that can help, though. Solar Reviews offer a calculator that will quickly provide you with representative costs and savings for a solar power system in every part of the U.S. Calculators like this are a good place to start if you are new to solar energy and want to understand the basic cost model.
In the rest of this article, we’ll take you through each of the key factors you should consider when calculating the costs and potential savings of solar power for your home.
Before getting solar panels, get quotes from several reputable installers to compare.
The Cost of Solar Power for Homeowners
First, let’s look at the cost of installing a solar power system for your home. The average, upfront cost of a residential solar power system is between 3,500 and 16,000.
Why the huge range of costs? Well, a lot of the variation depends on the size of the system you’d like to install and the type of panels you want to use. Whatever system you use, keep in mind that solar power is capital intensive and the main cost of owning a system comes upfront when buying the equipment. The solar module will almost certainly represent the largest single component of the overall expense.
There are some additional costs, as well. Other equipment necessary for installation includes an inverter (to turn the direct current produced by the panel into the alternating current used by household appliances), metering equipment (if it is necessary to see how much power is produced), and various housing components along with cables and wiring gear. Some homeowners also consider battery storage. Historically, batteries have been prohibitively expensive and unnecessary if the utility pays for excess electricity that is fed into the grid (see below). The installation labor cost must also be factored in.
In addition to installation costs, there are some further costs associated with operating and maintaining a PV solar array. Aside from cleaning the panels regularly, inverters and batteries (if installed) generally need replacement after several years of use.
While the above costs are relatively straightforward—often a solar installation company can quote a price for these for a homeowner—determining subsidies available from the government and/or your local utility can prove more of a challenge. Government incentives change often, but historically, the U.S. government has allowed a tax credit of up to 30% of the system’s cost.
details on incentive programs in the U.S., including programs within each state, can be found on the Database of State Incentives for Renewables Efficiency (DSIRE) website. In other countries, such information is often available on government or solar advocacy websites. Homeowners should also check with their local utility company to see whether it offers financial incentives for solar installation and to determine what its policy is for grid interconnection and for selling excess power into the grid.
The U.S. installed 19.2 gigawatts of solar PV capacity in 2020 to reach 97.7 GWdc of total installed capacity, enough to power 17.7 million American homes.
Calculating Your Energy Production
The second factor you’ll need to consider in your calculations is the amount of energy your system will produce and when it will do that. This can be a very complicated calculation to make, even for experienced solar engineers. However, let’s run through the basics.
One of the most important considerations is the solar irradiation levels available in the home’s geographical location; in other words, how sunny it is where you live. When it comes to using solar panels, being closer to the equator is generally better, but other factors must be considered. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) produces maps for the U.S. showing solar irradiation levels and the tools on its website provide detailed solar information for specific locations within the U.S.
Equally important is your home’s orientation: For rooftop arrays, a south-facing roof without trees or other objects obstructing sunlight maximizes the available solar energy. If this is not available, panels can be mounted on external supports and installed away from the house, incurring additional costs for the extra hardware and cables.
And then you must factor in the size of your system. Solar panel size is quoted in terms of the theoretical electrical output potential in watts. However, the typical output realized for installed PV systems—known as the capacity factor—is between 15% and 30% of the theoretical output. A 3 kilowatt-hour (kWh) household system running at a 15% capacity factor would produce 3 kWh x 15% x 24 hr/day x 365 days/year = 3,942 kWh/year or roughly one-third of the typical electricity consumption of a U.S. household.
How Much Will You Save?
Once you know how much a solar power system will cost upfront, and how much energy it will produce, you can (theoretically) predict how much you can save in energy costs per year.
This is another tricky calculation, however, because a lot depends on how you pay for electricity at the moment. Utilities often charge residential consumers a flat rate for electricity, regardless of the time of consumption. This means that instead of offsetting the expensive cost of peak electricity production, homeowners’ solar power systems merely offset the price they are charged for electricity, which is much closer to the average cost of power production.
However, many utility companies in the U.S. have introduced pricing schemes that allow homeowners to be charged at different rates throughout the day in an attempt to mirror the actual cost of electricity production at different times: This means higher rates in the afternoon and lower rates at night. A PV solar array may be very beneficial in areas where this sort of time-varying rate is used since the solar power produced would offset the most costly electricity.
Exactly how beneficial this is for a given homeowner depends on the exact timing and magnitude of the rate changes under such a plan. Similarly, utilities in some locations have pricing schemes that vary over different times of the year due to regular seasonal demand fluctuations. Those with higher rates during the summer make solar power more valuable.
Some utilities have tiered pricing plans in which the marginal price of electricity changes as consumption rises. Under this type of plan, the benefit from a solar system can depend on the electricity use of the home; in certain areas subject to rates that increase dramatically as consumption increases, large homes (with large energy needs) may benefit most from solar arrays that offset high-cost marginal consumption.
For some homes, it might even be possible to make money by selling solar power back to the grid. In the U.S., this is done through net metering plans, in which residential consumers use the power that they put into the grid (when the rate of electricity generation from the solar array is greater than the rate of household electricity consumption) to offset the power consumed at other times; the monthly electric bill reflects net energy consumption. The specific net metering regulations and policies vary across regions. Homeowners can refer to the DSIRE database and should also contact their local utilities to find more specific information.
Calculating Solar Power Costs
At this point, you will be in a position to make a final calculation, and an assessment of whether solar power makes sense for you.
The overall cost and benefit of a solar system can theoretically be evaluated using the discounted cash flow (DCF) method. Outflows at the beginning of the project would consist of installation costs (net of subsidies) and inflows would arrive later in the form of offset electricity costs (both directly and through net metering).
However, rather than using DCF, the viability of solar power is usually evaluated by calculating the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), then comparing it to the cost of electricity charged by the local utility. The LCOE for household solar will typically be calculated as cost/kilowatt-hour (/kWh or ¢/kWh)—the same format commonly used on electricity bills. To approximate the LCOE, one can use the following equation:
LCOE (/kWh) = Net Present Value (NPV) of the Lifetime Cost of Ownership / Lifetime Energy Output (kWh)
The useful life of a PV solar module is generally assumed to be 25 to 40 years. The cost of ownership includes the maintenance costs, which must be discounted to find the NPV. The LCOE can then be compared to the cost of electricity from a utility; remember, the relevant price is that which occurs during times at or near peak PV solar production.
Is Solar Power Worth It?
Once you’ve worked through all of these calculations, you’ll likely end up with a single number—the number of years it will take for a solar system to pay for itself in savings from your energy bills. If you live in a sunny part of the country and have high utility bills at the moment, you could be looking at a system that will reach this point in five years. Other homeowners may have to wait 10 or 20 years to reach this point.
In other words, most homeowners will eventually see a benefit from a solar power system; it might just take decades for this to be realized. Whether it is worth installing such a system therefore often comes down to a number of much less technical factors than those we’ve listed above: how long you are going to stay in your home, the subsidies available in your area, and simply whether you want to do your bit for the environment.
Pros and Cons of Solar Panels for Your Home
Like most things, solar power has its benefits and drawbacks. At the same time, some economic costs may be defrayed by the social benefits to the environment and lowering your carbon footprint, which may be more important to you than a purely monetary evaluation.
- Green energy that lowers your carbon footprint
- Net metering allows you to sell back excess energy produced
- You may be eligible for certain tax breaks
- Installation and maintenance costs are still high
- Solar only works when the sun is out
- Parts of the system need to be replaced every few years
- Some tax breaks may have expired or will be expiring
Can a House Run on Solar Power Alone?
Practically, it is not often possible. This is because solar only works when the sun is shining—when it is cloudy or nighttime, they do not generate electricity. There are some battery solutions to provide power during these times, but they still tend to be quite expensive. Most homes with solar panels still rely on the grid from time to time.
Do You Really Save Money With Solar Panels?
Depending on where you live, it is possible that the system can pay itself back and more over time. This is because you won’t be spending as much money buying electricity from your utility. If net metering is in place, you could reduce your bills even further.
How Much Does a Solar Panel Cost?
have been coming down steadily over the years. The total cost will depend on how many kilowatts of power your array will generate. According to consumer reports, after solar tax credits are accounted for, the cost for a solar panel system on an average-sized house in the U.S. in 2021 ranges from 11,000 to 15,000.
How Long Will It Take To Recoup the Initial Cost?
Depending on where you live and the size of your system it can take, on average, anywhere from 10 to 20 years to break even on a solar installation.
The Bottom Line
Determining whether to install a PV solar system may seem like a daunting task, but it is important to remember that such a system is a long-term investment. In many locations, solar power is a good choice from a financial perspective.
Even if the cost of solar power is found to be marginally more expensive than electricity purchased from a utility, homeowners may wish to install solar power to avoid future potential fluctuations in energy costs, or may simply wish to look beyond their personal financial motivations and use solar for green living.