Solar Panel Cost
The cost of solar panels has declined dramatically over the last several decades and, with a sharp rise in utility electricity rates in 2022, home solar now offers more cost savings potential than ever before.
In fact, the 2023 Heatmap Climate Poll found that 46% of US adults want to power their homes with solar panels in the future while 13% already do.
So, what’s standing in the way of American homeowners and solar panels? The biggest hurdle is often the cost of solar panels. And like a monster in a horror movie, the cost of solar panels is far less intimidating once you shine some light on it and understand how it works.
In this article, we’ll explore:
As always, our goal is to give you the resources and knowledge to make educated decisions during the solar process.
Is the price of solar panels falling?
The price of solar panels has declined substantially over the last decade as the industry has matured and reached production at the largest global scale.
Since 2010, solar panel have fallen by roughly 90% while global solar deployment has grown by over 400%, and this incredible growth rate along the entire global solar supply chain has dramatically reduced prices.
Just like computers, big-screen TVs, and cell phones, the economies of scale that solar panels now enjoy have produced a dramatic cost curve that has fundamentally changed the energy industry.
Utility-scale solar installations are now cheaper than all other forms of power generation in many parts of the world and will continue to replace older, dirtier power plants run on coal and natural gas.
Additionally, homeowners are now able to own their power production more cost-effectively than ever before.
Price per Watt vs cost per kWh
There are two main ways to calculate the cost of a solar system:
- Price per watt (/W) is useful for comparing multiple solar offers
- Cost per kilowatt-hour (cents/kWh) is useful for comparing the cost of solar versus grid energy
Let’s dive a little further into each measurement.
What is solar price per watt?
A fully installed solar system typically costs 3 to 5 per watt before incentives like the 30% tax credit are applied. Using this measurement, 5,000 Watt solar system (5 kW) would have a gross cost between 15,00 and 25,000.
Price per watt for larger and relatively straightforward projects are often within the 3-4 range. Claiming incentives like tax credits and rebates can bring the PPW even lower.
However, the following factors may push your solar price per watt into the 4 to 5 range.
- Smaller system size
- Unusual roof material or layout
- Premium panel and inverter models
- Multiple arrays versus a single array
- Additonal work like panel box upgrades, trenching, or roof repair
How to calculate solar price per watt
Calculating the price per watt for a solar system is very straightforward — it’s simply the system cost divided by the number of watts in the system.
Price per watt (/W) allows for an apples-to-apples comparison of different solar quotes that may vary in total wattage, solar panel brands, etc.
Pro tip: It can helpful to know your solar price per watt before and after claiming the 30% tax credit.
Ultimately there are many factors that figure into the price per watt of a solar system, but the average cost is typically as low as 2.75 per watt. This price will vary if a project requires special adders like ground-mounting, a main panel upgrade, EV charger, etc.
|Solar Price Per Watt
|Solar Price Per Kilowatt-Hour
|GROSS system cost / Total system wattage
|NET system cost / Total lifetime system production
|Useful for comparing solar quotes against one another
|Useful for comparing solar versus utility bill
|Pertains to the POWER of a system
|Pertains to the PRODUCTION of a system
Cost Per Kilowatt-Hour (kWh)
Another measure of the relative cost of solar energy is its price per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Whereas the price per watt considers the solar system’s size, the price per kWh shows the price of the solar system per unit of energy it produces over a given period of time.
Net cost of the system / lifetime output = cost per kilowatt hour
You may also see this referred to as levelized cost of energy (LCOE).
What is a kWh?
A kilowatt-hour is a unit of energy and is equivalent to consuming 1,000 watts – or 1 kilowatt – of power over one hour. For reference, an energy efficient clothes dryer uses around 2 kWh of electricity per load, while central air conditioning uses around 3 kWh per hour.
While price per watt is most helpful comparing the relative costs of solar bids, solar energy cost per kWh is best used to illustrate the value of solar relative compared to buying your power from the electric utility.
For example, the average cost of a solar system purchased through solar.com is 6-8 cents per kWh, depending on the size of the system, type of equipment and local incentives.
Let’s compare that to grid electricity in major metro areas for April 2023 to the average cost per kWh of home solar energy:
|Grid electricity (cents/kWh)
|Solar.com electricity (cents/kWh)
|New York City
Based on this prices, it costs around 43 cents to dry a load of laundry using grid electricity in New York and only 14 cents to dry a load using solar power.
How do I calculate the cost of solar panels?
There are a few ways to get a rough estimate for how much solar panels will cost without sitting through a sales pitch. These include:
- Online calculators
- Hand calculations based on your electricity usage
- The average cost of solar panels for comparable homes
Let’s start with the quickest method: online calculators.
Using a solar panel cost calculator
First, you can use an online solar cost calculator, like this one powered by solar.com. Simply punch in your address and your average monthly electricity bill, and the calculator will give you a side-by-side comparison of the cost of solar versus paying for utility electricity.
But before you use any solar panel cost calculator, it’s important to understand that there are dozens of variables that affect the cost of solar panels, and solar calculators work by making assumptions about those variables.
For example, your solar savings depends largely on how much utility rates increase over 25 years. Most calculators assume 3-5% annual inflation based on historical averages – but nobody can know for sure where will go over the next 25 years.
Solar savings is also geographically sensitive, since every state has different incentives, electricity rates, sun exposure, and net metering policies.
For example, a solar panel cost calculator for California would have drastically different assumptions than a cost calculator for New York.
How to calculate the cost of solar panels by hand
If you’d rather make your calculations offline, there are a few simple steps to estimate the cost of your solar system based on your electricity usage.
- Dig up some recent electricity bills (the more the better!)
- Average them together to get a baseline for your monthly electricity consumption
- Divide your monthly consumption by 30 to get your daily electricity consumption.
Once you have your average daily electricity use, follow the steps in the graphic below. Here are a few tips:
- You’ll have to assume the price per Watt (PPW) you can get from a local solar installer. This typically ranges between 3.50 and 5 before incentives
- Pro tip: Run the high and low PPW scenarios to get a range of solar costs
If hand calculations aren’t your thing, you can get a quick-and-dirty estimate based on the cost of solar for comparable homes.
How much do solar panels cost per square foot?
The third – and least accurate – way to get an idea of how much solar panels will cost for your home is to see how much solar panels cost for homes similar to yours.
Now, we absolutely encourage you to talk to friends, family, and neighbors that have installed solar systems to get a sense of the pros, cons, and cost. However, we’ve done a lot of that legwork for you.
We analyzed thousands of systems sold on solar.com in 2022 to find the average cost of solar panels for homes based on their square footage of living space and number of bedrooms.
On average, solar panels cost 8.77 per square foot of living space, after factoring in the 30% tax credit. However, the cost per square foot varies based on the size of the home.
For example, the post-tax credit cost of solar panels for a 2,500 square foot home is around 20,000 for a rate of 7.96 per square foot.
But how much do solar panels cost for a 1,500 square foot home? The average system cost only drops by 1,000 and the cost per square foot increases to 12.83.
|Square footage of living space
|Solar cost per square foot (after tax credit)
Based on systems purchased on solar.com in 2022. Square footage per Zillow.
If you don’t know your home’s square footage, you can either look it up on Zillow or get a rough estimate using the number of bedrooms.
What’s the cost of solar panels for a 3-bedroom house?
The average pre-incentive cost of home solar is 29,161 for a three-bedroom house, or 20,412 after applying the 30% tax credit.
However, as shown in the chart below, the number of bedrooms isn’t a great indicator of the size and cost of a solar system – and neither is living space, for that matter.
Solar systems are typically sized based on electricity consumption – not square footage or number of bedrooms. That’s because a two-bedroom house with two EVs and an electric heat pump would likely use more electricity than a four-bedroom house with no EVs and gas heating.
So, you can use this method to get in the right ballpark, but keep in mind that the previous two methods are more accurate.
Once you have a rough cost estimate for your solar system, it’s time to compare it to the cost of buying electricity from a utility provider to get a sense of how much you can save by going solar.
Do you really save money with solar panels?
Yes, homeowners across the US can save money on energy costs by powering their home with solar panels instead of purchasing electricity from a utility. This is especially true following the Rapid rise in grid electricity rates in 2022.
Home solar is essentially a way to buy electricity in bulk – similar to buying a giant can of coffee grounds from Costco instead of 50 individual cups at Starbucks. The 25 can of grounds costs more upfront but pays for itself after just 9 Grande Lattes at 3 each and nets 125 in savings over its lifespan.
It’s the same concept with home solar, just on a much larger scale.
How much money do you save a month with solar panels?
Exactly how much money you save a month with solar panels depends on a few main ingredients:
- Utility electricity rates
- Electricity consumption
- How you finance your system
- Your energy goals
These factors vary from household to household, so let’s take a look at the average monthly electric bill with solar panels and without solar panels.
- By paying cash for a solar system, you can enjoy maximum lifetime savings – often north of 50,000 – but it can take several years to reach a payback period
- By taking out a solar loan, you can front-load your cost savings by making solar loan payments that are less than your average electricity bill, but interest payments eat into your lifetime savings
Adjusting the size of your solar system and how you finance it gives you control over your essential electricity costs – something you’ll never have by purchasing electricity solely through a utility company.
How long does it take for solar panels to pay for themselves?
The payback period for solar panels is typically 6-11 years, depending on factors like your utility rate, electricity consumption, and how you financed the system.
With a solar loan, many homeowners are able to achieve “Day 1” savings by having a loan payment that’s lower than their average electricity bill. However, interest payments on the loan eat into the long-term energy cost savings.
By paying cash for solar, homeowners maximize their lifetime savings potential, but typically need to wait 6-11 years to recoup the upfront investment.
Is solar worth it financially?
As a hedge against energy inflation, home solar is considered a safe and steady investment with a rate of return similar to real estate and 401k. Remember, home solar allows you to replace your electricity costs with lower, more predictable monthly payments on your solar system.
Why is it financially beneficial to pay for solar rather than utility electricity?
The chart below shows the steady rise of utility electricity from 5 cents per kWh to 16.5 cents per kWh over the last 44 years.
For non-solar owners, this trend is a nightmare because it shows that utility rate hikes are about as certain as death and taxes. But if you have a home solar system, utility rate hikes are the fuel for your energy costs savings over the 25-year warrantied life of your solar system.
Home solar also acts as a time machine, of sorts. Instead of paying the current utility rate for electricity, the cost per kilowatt-hour of home solar is typically around 6-8 cents – roughly what utilities were charging 40 years ago.
So, are solar panels worth your money?
Solar panels are worth your money if you want to want to:
- Take control over your essential electricity costs
- Hedge against energy inflation
- Reduce your carbon emissions
- Increase your home value
- Provide backup power for grid outages (when paired with battery)
However, if you have a hunch that grid electricity are suddenly going to plummet below 8 cents per kWh and stay there for 25 years, then don’t buy solar panels.
How much does solar panel installation cost?
Installation labor accounts for around 5.5% of the total cost of a residential solar project, according to a 2022 report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
That amounts to 1,375 for a 25,000 solar project.
This figure often seems surprisingly low to homeowners that are used to labor being a bigger chunk of the cost for car repairs, landscaping work, and other home upgrades.
It’s worth noting that installation costs vary from project to project based on the local minimum wage and scope of the project. For example, labor for specialized electrical work typically costs more than general labor for panel installation. This variability is why it’s tough to find a solar installation cost estimator online.
Overall, labor costs have fallen in the last decade as technology has improved and the labor force has matured. The chart below shows the solar panel installation cost breakdown since 2010.
- The overall cost of residential solar fell by 64% in the 2010’s
- Solar module, inverter, and labor costs have come down substantially in the last decade
- Non-labor soft costs and electrical hardware have been more stubborn
At the end of the day, the installation labor makes up a very small chunk of the total cost of a solar system – and it’s well worth having professionals install a system that you want to last for 25 years or more.
Can I install solar panels myself?
Some homeowners with advanced knowledge and experience in construction, circuitry, and local permitting guidelines (not to mention a good amount of time on their hands) are able to successful install solar panels up to inspection and interconnection standards.
However, it’s important to consider that DIY solar installation may void the manufacturer warranties on the equipment and does come with workmanship warranties.
So, if there are problems with the equipment or the installation, like a panel broken during installation or a leaky hole in the roof, you are on your own to solve and pay for them.
It’s also worth noting that full-service installers typically handle permitting, interconnection, and applying for incentives — which can be complicated and time consuming.
How much does one solar panel cost?
The average cost for one 400W solar panel is between 250 and 360 when it’s installed as part of a rooftop solar array. This boils down to 0.625 to 0.72 per Watt for panels purchased through a full-service solar company.
At a retail vendor, such as Home Depot, you can buy a single 100W solar panel for 100 or a pack of 10 320W solar panels for 2,659, which boils down to 0.83 to 1 per Watt.
Given the relationships with panel manufacturers, full-service solar companies are able to offer a much lower cost per solar panel than retail establishments.
How long do solar panels last?
Today’s solar panels typically have 25-30 year performance warranties that guarantee a certain level of production (usually 85-92% of its Day 1 capacity) during that time. However, the panels themselves can last and generate a meaningful amount of electricity for much longer.
For example, the first modern solar cells were created in 1954 and are still producing power from their display case in a museum. Similarly, a solar panel installed in 1980 on a rooftop in Vermont is still producing at 92% of its original capacity.
Based on manufacturer warranties, it’s safe to assume today’s solar panels will produce at a high level for at least 25-30 years. The real question is how far will they overshoot that warrantied lifespan.
How can I lower the cost of solar panels?
Although home solar is already more affordable than paying for utility electricity, there are a few ways to reduce the cost of your system and maximize your energy cost savings.
First, there are solar incentives offered by federal, state, and local governments, in addition to utility providers.
The most notable is the federal solar tax credit worth 30% of what you pay for solar panels. So, if your all-in cost is 25,000, you can claim a tax credit worth 7,500 on your federal income tax return for the year your system was deemed operational.
Next, many states have additional incentives like tax credits, tax exemptions, and rebates for residential solar systems. For example, New York has all three with its NYSERDA rebate, 25% state tax credit, and sales and property tax exemptions for solar installations.
At the local level, many city governments, municipal utilities, and investor-owned utilities have incentives for solar panels, battery storage, and other energy efficiency home upgrades.
- The Austin Energy solar rebate worth 2,500
- California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program with battery rebates up to 1,000 per kWh of capacity
- Massachusetts’ handful of municipal utility rebates
It’s well worth spending 5-10 minutes searching for solar incentives through your state, county, city, and utility provider.
Compare multiple quotes
The next way to reduce the cost of solar panels is to shop for the lowest price like you would for cars or a new pair of hiking boots.
In most areas of the US, there are at least a handful of solar installers willing to compete for your business. Getting quotes from at least three reputable installers gives you a sense of a fair price, weeds out scammers, and gives you leverage to negotiate for a lower price.
Admittedly, it takes time and effort to research installers, set appointments, and sit through sales pitches in order to gather quotes. Solar.com simplifies this process by instantly generating dozens of quotes from our network of trusted installers so you can easily compare quotes in a pressure-free environment.
However you choose to do it, comparing multiple quotes is crucial to lowering your solar cost and setting yourself up for a long-lasting and productive solar installation.
Can I get free solar panels?
Despite what the ads on and YouTube say, it is not possible to get free solar panels from Tesla, Home Depot, or the US government. This is a common scam used to gather personal data and/or trick people into signing long-term solar lease agreements that are far less favorable than owning solar panels.
For example, in February 2023, a page called “Solar Panel Rate” ran multiple ads claiming Elon Musk was paying homeowners 2,500 to test out new solar technology. Further inspection revealed that the account was run by three individuals in Indonesia and the ads were designed to collect personal information.
There are also dozens of YouTube ads claiming that the “US government is giving away free solar panels.” While it’s true that the federal government strengthened the solar tax credit and created new home electrification incentives by passing the Inflation Reduction Act, it is not “giving away” solar panels.
The falling cost of solar panels coupled with the recent spike in grid electricity have made home solar a reliable means of reducing your essential energy costs.
While the five-figure price tag for home solar often gives people sticker shock, it’s important to remember that going solar is like buying 25-years worth of electricity in bulk. It may cost more upfront, but it is much more affordable than buying electricity at the retail rate from a utility.
Plus, there are zero-down solar loans that can spread out the cost of solar panels and, in many cases, provide instant energy cost savings.
Installation accounts for roughly 5.5% of the total cost of solar projects. However, non-labor soft costs like permitting, inspection, interconnection, and general overhead makeup around half of the cost of home solar.
There are a few ways to reduce the cost of going solar. First, research federal, state, and local solar incentives to make sure you’re not leaving money on the table. Second, shop around for the best price by getting multiple quotes from vetted local installers. (Solar.com makes this quick, easy, and pressure-free).
Finally, neither Elon Musk nor the US government are giving away free solar panels. And if they were, they wouldn’t be advertising it on and YouTube.
Steer clear of free solar ads to avoid giving away personal information or ending up in a long-term solar lease.
Frequently asked questions
Is one solar panel enough to power a house?
One solar panel is not enough to power a house. Home solar systems typically feature 10-20 panels in order to produce enough power to offset 100% of the average household electricity consumption.
It’s also worth mentioning that installing one solar panel at a time isn’t very efficient, as there are soft costs associated with designing, permitting, inspecting, and interconnecting solar systems. Homeowners typically get the most bang-for-their-buck by installing at once as many solar panels as they’ll need to offset current and near-future electricity needs.
How long can a house run on solar power alone?
According to the NREL, a small solar system with 10 kWh of battery storage can power the essential electrical systems of a home for three days in parts of the US and in most months of the year.
Essential electrical systems do not include electric heating or air conditioning, which require massive amounts of electricity.
However, it’s worth noting that solar systems need to be paired with battery storage in order to provide backup power during outages. Solar-only systems are automatically shut off during outages as a safety precaution to protect the technicians repairing the grid.
What is the main downside of solar energy?
The main downside of solar energy is that it’s intermittent. In other words, solar panels need sunlight to produce electricity, and when the sun goes down production stops.
This intermittence poses challenges to grid operators because it creates an influx of energy during the middle of the day, when consumption is down, and a lack of energy in the evening, when consumption is peaking.
The most obvious solution to this challenge is various forms of energy storage including batteries, pumped hydro, compressed air, and thermal technologies.
In fact, residential solar and battery systems in California provided around 340 MW of power during a heatwave in September 2022 to help prevent power outages.
Is it worth it to get solar panels in California?
Given its abundant sunshine and high utility electricity rates, California is one of the best states to save money with home solar.
In fact, even after reducing the value of solar exports through NEM 3.0 solar billing, Californian’s can still save more money with solar than homeowners in most other states. Under NEM 3.0, it’s much more beneficial to pair solar systems with battery storage in order to use as much of your own solar production as possible instead of exporting it onto the grid.
Many installers are offering less expensive “arbitrage” battery systems that allow solar owners to store and use their own electricity, but don’t provide backup power during outages (hence the price decrease).
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You’ve heard it on the news and you’ve read the latest reports. Solar power is projected to become cheaper than coal in about 10 years. Just consider the significant drops in the cost of going solar – since 2009, solar have dropped 62%! What was once a far-reaching solution to lowering your home energy bill has now become a reality in the life of many homeowners. In fact, DIY residential solar kits are appearing on the shelves of big box stores. As a homeowner, you’re ready to get in on the action! And with a DIY kit, how hard could it be to start saving money on your monthly electric bill? In this article, we’ll cover what you’ll do to install a home solar energy system and the pros and cons of the DIY method versus hiring the professionals.
Residential Solar Energy Systems: The Basics
The majority of residential solar energy systems are still connected to the grid. This allows you to still have power when the sun is not shining (cloudy/rainy days and at night) and you’ve run out of solar energy generated by your own system. Besides always having power available, when you’re still connected to the grid, you’re eligible for net metering. Net metering is when any unused energy generated by the solar panels installed in your house is fed back into the grid. The utility company then credits you back for the solar energy you are feeding into the grid. Essentially, if your credit is the same or more than what you use from the grid, your bill from the electric company can be 0. In addition to net metering, when you install a residential solar power system, you are also eligible for federal and local tax incentives and rebates that can result in major savings off the top.
Equipment Needed for DIY Residential Solar System Installation
Solar panels: these are responsible for collecting energy from the sun and transforming it into direct current (DC). Solar Inverter: very important piece of equipment that converts DC current into alternating current (AC) – which the current needed to run household appliances. PV Disconnect: This piece of equipment allows you to power off your system for maintenance and repairs. Electrical Panel: Your breaker box – how the solar energy you gather connects to your establishment. Net Meter: Device that connects your home to the grid to monitor the amount of power in and out of your house.
You Know the Basics, But How Do You Know How Much and What Types to Buy?
There are multiple types of solar panels, some more efficient, some better for smaller spaces, some better for people with more land, crystalline, thin-film, cheaper, expensive. The options are vast. So, where do you start?
You start by monitoring your energy consumption. You need to have a good idea of how much energy you consume on the average day to determine how big of a solar energy system you’ll need. On top of that, you’ll also need to know how much money you have to spend – keeping in mind that the most expensive solar panels might not be the most cost effective for your needs.
Crystalline solar panels (both monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are more efficient than thin-film solar panels. But, they’re also more costly because they are more pure. Monocrystalline solar panels have been found to capture about 18-21% of the sun’s rays, where thin-film solar panels average around 15%. All panels have an average life span of 25 years; crystalline silicon solar panels have lifespans up to 40 years. Intuitively, the more efficient the panels, the less you’ll need to buy.
Where Do You Install the System?
Depending on the size and type of residential solar system to decide to purchase, the location of installation can vary. In most cases, homeowners choose to install solar panels on the roof of their home. It’s a great space saver, if you don’t have a lot of land, and can receive great contact with the sun’s rays. But, what if you the majority of your roof is under shade from large trees? Maybe it’s better to mount your solar panels in the yard instead. This is also a good option when you need a larger amount of solar panels, that your roof might not be able to accommodate.
Keep in the mind the costs associated with mounting your solar energy systems. You’ll need racking equipment to attach the solar panels to your roof and you’ll need the correct mounting system for your yard as well. And also keep in mind you need to really research the best positioning of the system to maximize the amount of sunlight you capture, taking into account the location of the sun during peak sunlight hours in addition to the location of any shade inhibiting objects (e.g., trees, buildings). Even one panel that is blocked from the sun due to a shade tree can inhibit the efficiency of the entire solar energy system.
This is a substantial piece of equipment for the entire residential solar energy system. Why? This is how you get to use the solar energy you capture in the solar panels to power your home energy needs. As stated above, the solar inverter is what converts DC power to AC power – the type of power of your home appliances, computers, and other residential power runs off of. Make sure you match up the capacity of your solar inverter with the size and type of your system (based on number of kW and grid or off-grid systems).
Net Metering and Batteries
If you’re connected to the grid, the net meter you need for your solar energy system is a big component to your energy savings. It monitors how much unused solar power you’re feeding into the grid and how much grid energy you are using to power your home. Regardless of the number, the installation of solar panels will drastically decrease the amount of energy you’re drawing from the grid overall; and hopefully, with careful planning, your utility bills will hover near 0 based on the credit you’ll receive back from contributing to the grid.
The last piece of equipment you’ll need to consider when considering a DIY solar energy kit is whether you intend to have battery backup or not. Your system does not have to have a battery, but, if you do, you can use the battery to store unused energy (instead of feeding it back into the grid). That way, you’re even less dependent on the grid for energy, for even when the sun is not shining or during blackouts, you can draw on your stored energy in the battery to continue to power your home.
The Final Hoops
Now that you know the pieces of the DIY solar power kit that you’ll need, don’t forget about the installation, permits, and regulations involved in residential solar energy systems. Even though you’re doing it yourself, you need backup from the professionals – electricians, roofers, engineers, and others to determine if the system you’re installing is functional, appropriate, and safe and whether your home is suitable for the installation of the solar system.
Once all is checked out, it’s time to install your system. Some estimates suggest you can save up to 40% from buying a kit and doing it yourself. Seems too good to be true? It just might be.
Pros and Cons of DIY Home Solar Energy Kits
Pros Overall, the main reason people choose DIY solar panel installation is the potential cost savings. There are two ways to save costs – buy the solar power kit and install it yourself or buy the kit and get a professional to install it. The cost savings are pretty substantial when you think of it – you might be able to reduce your purchase price of the solar panels from 4 per watt to 2 per watt. For a common 5 kW solar energy system, that could mean a cost savings of 10,000 right off the bat. That’s a 50% discount and seems pretty good, right? Well.maybe.
Most homeowners are going to need to hire licensed solar installers to install even DIY kits. Not only are they the professionals, they know the ins and outs of these systems, and are specifically trained in their installation. Let’s face it, how comfortable are you with playing around with your home’s electricity? What’s the drawback of this? Most of cost you’re going to pay an installer is going to significantly decrease the actual amount of savings you will accrue from going the DIY route. Most licensed electricians will charge you 3,000 to 5,000 on average to install your home solar panels. But, wait – there’s more. Let’s assume after installation, you’re saving about 5,000 from buying a DIY kit. But, this is before applying the 30% federal tax credit, reducing your savings to about 10% overall (you’re going to save about 2100, on average, to purchase a DIY kit. Doesn’t seem like much considering all the steps involved in DIY systems.
Cons It will take a lot of your time researching the components of residential solar energy systems, equipment needed, what the equipment does, calling roofers to see if your roof can handle the weight of solar panels, calling engineers to determine the best positioning of your solar panels, calling an electrician to install the system, calling the utility company to assess the safety of connecting your solar system to the grid, and the list goes on. With a cost savings of about 10% – and that’s just monetary savings.what about your valuable time – hiring professionals might be more logical.
You’re installing everything and then you hit a snag. Or something doesn’t work. Or something goes wrong. Guess what? The fault’s on you. On the contrary, if you went with a licensed installer, if something goes wrong, the fault’s on them. Let’s be realistic. We’re talking about electricity. Are you comfortable doing simple electrical work at your house? Most people are not. If you aren’t trained in this type of work, it can be extremely dangerous to work with.
Lastly, you might not be eligible for all the rebates and incentives a residential solar energy system provides if you are installing it yourself. Many of the rebates and incentives are only valid if your system has been installed by a professional. You can essentially lose out on thousands of dollars in savings by going the DIY route.
DIY: Yay or Nay?
Because residential solar energy systems are a big investment, you’ll want the system installed correctly and to full functionality. With this type of investment, it seems more effective to rely on the professionals who do these types of installations daily. Most residential solar systems can be installed in about two days. And solar consultants will monitor your energy usage and recommend the best system for your needs and the best placement to optimize solar energy conversion. Overall, is saving 2,000 worth it to go through the headache of DIY installation? Perhaps you enjoy the challenge of a good home improvement project and have the time to devote to the scale of this project. Then DIY residential solar energy installation might be for you. For the most of us though, it’s easier and it’ll give you better peace of mind if you turn to the professionals.
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How To Find Cheap and Free Solar Panels
Updated June 22, 2022 Solar
How to get solar panels for free and save big time on your photovoltaic project.
Imagine, one of the most expensive parts of your solar project, just disappearing. This is essentially what happens when you can get free or really cheap solar panels. Getting solar panels for free makes solar powering your home a lot more affordable and allows you to build a bigger, more powerful solar energy system for less.
Ok, great! But how do you get free solar power panels?
How To Get Free Solar Panels
Getting free solar PV panels is a popular topic. people than ever before are seeking out and finding free solar power panels consistently. Why do you think there are so many people on eBay selling groups of used solar panels so often?
Most of these people just got them for free from people and companies that were upgrading to newer solar modules.
See, free solar panels are out there. It’s inevitable. Very often, old or used solar panels end up in the trash, with many people even paying good money to have them hauled away and disposed of.
Believe me, almost all of these people would probably rather have you take them away for free than pay money to a trash or rubbish removal company for the same thing. If you’re really smooth, you could even end up getting paid to take way free PV panels.
It’s just a matter of knowing how to find the people and companies that are upgrading to newer solar panels and asking for them.
Getting Free PV Panels From Solar Installers
One pretty easy and direct way of getting free solar power panels is to contact solar installers. If they think you’re a potential customer who may later use their services, they will generally be very cooperative and try to get you onto the whole solar thing, just so you can be dependent on their services later.
Anyway, without making this method too sneaky, ask the solar installer if they know of anybody who wants to get rid of their old solar panels and will let you take them away for free.
If you want to, you can even offer to help the installer remove them from the home, that’s free labor that the installer would normally have to pay someone for.
Odds are, if you do this a dozen times, you could end up with a good score of free photovoltaic panels, more than once.
If this was to happen, you would be able to eliminate a huge portion of the cost and expense of solar power in your home. Plus, you would also be able to build a bigger system that can harvest more power.
How To Get Solar Panels With Want Ads
Another way to get free PV panels that works for some people is to use want ads in newspapers (or on websites) that reach a wide audience of people who might have what you are looking for. Renewable energy newspapers, websites, or even solar-themed blogs and online forums are great for this. Consider inviting your neighbors to take part a fund raiser – many forums offer non profit event ideas that could lead to a donation of used solar panel.
In your ad (whether newspaper or online), say something like: Free Solar Panel Removal, or maybe something like: We Remove and Recycle Old Solar Panels Free.
You never know, with more and more people getting into solar power these days, you could get many interested people who want to take you up on this. You might end up with more free solar power panels than you can take.
Solar Panels For Free From Traffic Sign Rental Contractors
Many people also get solar panels that are damaged from highway equipment rental companies for free.
These sign rental contractors usually have some slightly cracked solar panels that got hit and damaged by vehicles on the road. When this happens, they have to declare them unsafe even though they still work and end up throwing them out / replacing them.
All you have to do to get solar panels for free is look for those blinking highway signs and get the telephone number off the sign itself. Then, call and ask the shop maintenance manager if they have any free damaged solar panels.
Sometimes, it helps to get your kids to call and say they are for a school project. Also, going to their location in person can bring better results as they see you are serious about taking them now.
You really can end up getting some expensive and powerful solar panels for free using this method. Some of the free solar panels reportedly obtained can cost up to 2400 and more! Although most of these panels will only output about 50%. 75% of their normal capacity, it’s still an outstanding value for free.
Roof Space Required
One thing you should be aware of when using free PV panels is that due to the fact that some of these panels may not be producing at full capacity, you may require more roof space to make the same amount of power.
For example: If your 500 watt panel is only producing 250 watts, then you’ll need to use two of them (double the space) to get the same power.
Repairing Damaged Free Solar Power Panels
Sometimes the free solar power panels you end up with need some repair. Since solar panels don’t have many complicated moving parts, this is sometimes very easy to do.
Cracked solar panels can often be repaired by doing something as simple as applying some clear silicone to seal the cracks.
A simple soldering iron can repair broken connections in free PV panels and you can always use a multimeter to check their output, just to be sure they’re working.
Buying Cheap Solar Panels
If you don’t feel like doing all of the work involved in the methods for getting free solar panels listed above, you can opt to buy cheap solar panels from people who did use the above methods to get them and now want to make a small profit from them.
You can find these exceptional offers on websites such as ebay.com or craigslist.com, start a free account and buy as many cheap solar panels as you want.
Although this method involves you dishing out some of your own money, it also eliminates a lot of the hard work of getting free solar power panels. Since these people probably got their solar panels for free, they are usually more than happy to get rid of them for very cheap and you end up getting them for practically free.
One of the advantages of this approach is that, unlike free solar panels, the panels you get have usually already been tested and proven to work. You don’t have to end up with 47 useless solar panels in your garage. Always get a receipt for what you buy, just in case of foul play.
In essence, you are trading a little bit of money for the luxury of having a lot of the leg work done for you. That works for me.
Solar Energy for Low Income Groups
Historically, solar has largely been seen as a technology mostly used by hard core environmentalists and rich individuals. High solar installation costs, coupled with unclear policies, have put solar out of reach of the majority of people. But in recent years falling prices, tremendous development in solar technology, government incentives in the form of tax credits, and creative financial approaches have made solar accessible to a large portion of the population.
So, there is a critical need now to promote solar energy in the low income group as we cannot create a truly sustainable future by alienating some people from access to clean living techniques and renewable energy.
Melissa Giorgi, Environmental Ethics Fellow at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics sums it up when she says. If solar is to be a real contributor to a sustainable future, then innovation and investment must FOCUS on improving equality rather than increasing divisions.
According to the American Department of Health and Human Services, low income groups pay 9.2% more on their average electricity bill as compared to the average household. These communities are also more susceptible to the hardships resulting from extreme weather disasters and climate change due to their limited resources and lack of economic stability. Solar energy can tremendously help these disadvantaged communities by reducing their electricity bills, thereby improving their quality of life.
Strategies for Low-Income Solar Programs
Certain enterprising organizations have adopted different types of approaches to promote solar in low-to-moderate-income communities. These are group discount programs, affordable leases, and community solar installations.
Currently, homeownership and credit scores are the barriers that prevent low income communities from taking full advantage of the solar programs. Community solar installation programs have been designed to include tenants and property owners whose houses are not suitable for solar panels.
Group Discount Programs
In this program, community members form a group and make a bulk purchase to save on the total cost of going solar. This process can be structured in two ways. In the first approach, a group of house owners purchase the solar systems together and select a single contractor to install the solar system in each of their buildings, thereby saving on the cost. Each participant has his own contract with the installer and they own their system.
In the second approach, solar panels are bought directly from the manufacturer in bulk, and then participants complete the installations themselves by helping each other or giving the contract to the installer to install the panels.
These approaches provide economies of scale by enabling installers to install the panel for less, drive down the by increasing the competition, more bids due to the larger size of the project, and more negotiating power due to a larger project. This process also saves time as you do not have to navigate multiple bids and scenarios independently and can share work with group members.
Solar panels need a large upfront investment for outright purchase and installation. Many middle class families can afford this, given the long term energy saving, but it is difficult for low income communities to make a large upfront investment.
To overcome this problem, a solar leasing company called PosiGen, has developed its model in Louisiana, which is now expanding to New York and New England. PosiGen focuses on low-to-middle-income homeowners and takes a whole-home approach by including both renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The company offers a solar lease product with no credit checking and guarantees a certain percentage of energy savings. They negotiate with the bank on the client’s behalf to provide favorable leasing terms. PosiGen’s solar leasing receives special consideration from banks as banks are given points by their regulators for participating in community redevelopment projects.
PosiGen’s approach has had a very high success rate in Louisiana, where over 400 systems have been installed per month. PosiGen also leverages tax credits when they are available as the third party ownership model for low-income homeowners is creating tremendous opportunity.
Community Solar Installations
Homeownership is the primary requirement for installing solar panels. So, community solar offers an affordable alternative. It is ideal for low-income individuals who rent single-family and multi-family homes or tenants who want to reduce their electricity bills.
Community solar doesn’t require a personal solar installation and offers the residents the option of buying solar power that is produced by a large array of solar panels somewhere else. For this purpose, communities are building large solar arrays in former brownfields. In Lowell, Mass, a US solar array has even been planted on a former landfill.
Low-Income solar programs and initiatives
There are a number of organizations that offer solar pilot programs and creating initiatives to make solar accessible for low-income consumers.
These organizations face many obstacles, such as high initial costs, poor or non-existent credit history of end users, and uncertain policy framework. There are also issues of splitting incentives between the tenants and the building owners who finance the solar installation.
Some popular organizations include:
Grid Alternatives is a non-profit solar installer in California, which installs solar electric systems exclusively for low-income homeowners, providing them with much needed energy savings, preparing workers for jobs in the fast-growing solar industry, and reducing carbon emissions.
2) Renewable Energy and Electric Vehicle Association (REEVA)
REEVA is located in Fincastle, VA, and is a Do-It-Yourself club that helps members to do solar/wind installations and build electric vehicles at home. This initiative removes the labor cost thus reducing the cost of a project. They create jobs in rural communities by providing solar installation training and also installing solar systems on community buildings.
Solarize Richmond is a non-profit organization founded in 2006 in Richmond, California. It offers staffing services leading to temporary and permanent employment, free solar training, and green business ownership opportunities for low income and under-employed residents. They promote solar and inclusive green economic development in Richmond and the Bay Area and also serve as a solar and green-jobs advocate.
Citizens Energy is a non-profit in Imperial, CA, which installs solar systems on the homes of low-income groups of the electric utility Imperial Irrigation District (IID). Citizen Energy has co-develop the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line to provide additional power to the Imperial Valley in CA by partnering with San Diego Gas and Electric. Revenue received from the transmission line project is used to fund the low-income solar installations.
Founded in 2000, RREAL has been pioneering the use of solar energy to address low-income fuel poverty throughout the Midwest.
To promote solar energy in low income group, we should consider following:
1) Distributed solar generation should be encouraged by implementing policies that support the deployment of solar with energy storage at critical facilities that provide services to low-income communities.
2) Existing bond financing tools should be utilized to finance solar on public buildings and non-profit-owned facilities.
3) Public funding of solar PV in low-income communities should be integrated with workforce development funds and job training programs.
4) Bulk purchasing programs that combine a consumer purchasing co-op model with energy consumer education should be encouraged.
5) Enact state legislation that advances distributed solar generation benefiting low-income communities. It can also create an innovative public benefits fund to leverage private investment in renewable energy projects benefiting low-income communities.
The Power To Make a Difference
The Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to making solar energy accessible to communities of all income levels. Founded in 2000, RREAL has been pioneering the use of solar energy to address low-income fuel poverty throughout the Midwest.
RREAL accomplishes its mission primarily through our Solar Assistance program which provides residential solar energy systems to low-income families on public energy assistance as a lasting, clean and domestic solution to low-income fuel poverty.
A nationally unique solution, RREAL has provided more than 350 solar electric and solar thermal energy systems to low-income households at no cost in partnership with community action agencies, the State of Minnesota, Housing and Redevelopment Authority agencies, Habitat for Humanity affiliates, affordable housing providers and tribal communities.
Through RREALs most recent 2-year project completed in 2015, Project Standing Sun, 62 households were equipped with solar energy systems in 4 states, providing a total of 99kW of clean, reliable, affordable, and locally-produced solar power. This effort included 22 funders and partners, and work was also completed in three tribal communities.
By making renewable energy accessible to people of all income levels, RREAL is:
The board of trustees of the McKnight Foundation recently awarded a grant to RREAL to be used to implement Community Solar for Community Action: A New Model of Energy Assistance. RREAL will plan and build the first Community Solar garden for Community Action in the nation and provide a transformative, broadly relevant model of a long-term, climate-appropriate solution to low-income energy assistance.
A new, paradigm-shifting model for low-income energy assistance, this project will assemble a coalition of stakeholders to implement a low-income community solar garden project in partnership with a rural community action agency in Minnesota.
This emerging community solar garden model provides opportunities for utility rate-payers of any income level to invest in solar energy by purchasing shares and rights to the energy production in a larger solar electric array sited elsewhere. For those who don’t own their residence or have a poor solar site, community solar is a great model for making solar energy more accessible and affordable to a much broader audience.
Community Solar for Community Action allows the energy assistance provider to own the means of production, control the costs, be insulated from political volatility in funding, and reduce carbon emissions while providing the service of energy assistance for decades rather than months! Rather than the carbon-intensive temporary solution that energy assistance is today, Community Solar for Community Action is a practical, economically wise, lasting, and climate-appropriate solution.
RREAL has also broadened its range of services by creating Skip the Grid, an international initiative focused on bringing solar power to health care systems and other critical infrastructure in West Africa. Most clinics and many hospitals around the world are off the grid, relying on generators where fuel is difficult and costly to deliver. Hospitals often must shut down their power system for periods of time to conserve fuel. Vaccines are jeopardized and operations become riskier with intermittent or no power.
Without consistent and reliable power, rural communities face an uphill battle in managing very real health challenges. PV microgrids represent a sustainable, long-term solution that would free up capital for direct health care initiatives, as well as mitigate numerous untold environmental, social, and health costs.
The Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America have partnered with the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) to propose the construction of a photovoltaic solar array to serve the energy needs of Phebe Hospital. By investing funds in a photovoltaic microgrid, Phebe Hospital and its staff will not only be empowered to achieve self-reliance through solar power, but serve as a powerful model for rebuilding critical infrastructure in a resilient manner.
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.