Includes local incentives

 

How much will solar panels really cost for your home?

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Current average cost of installed solar systems offered by solar companies through solar-estimate.org

Showing results in Virginia for May, 2017

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$3.16 per watt

Cash purchased solar system
Before 30% solar tax credit

$3.62 per watt

Financed solar system
Before 30% solar tax credit

N/A

Lease/PPA
Av. 15 year term, 2.5% price escalator

6.8 years

Av. Pay-back Period
 

$28,900 savings

Av. Lifetime Savings
 

Solar panel cost

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How much do solar panels cost?

Solar power system information by system size

solar panel kits stacked in piles

Cost of solar panel kits

The cost of solar panel kits ranges from around $1.30 for a solar panel and inverter that are probably better used as boat anchors than installed on your house right through to around $2.00 per watt for premium brands of panels and high quality inverters. Here is a link to our relevant pages that discuss the prices of solar panel kits and the pros and cons of installing DIY solar panels.

 

Find out the cost of installing solar panels on your home

 

Why do we use cost per watt ($/watt) when discussing the cost of a solar system

At the risk of stating the obvious the cost of a solar install changes with the size of the system. The more solar energy you want to produce the more solar panels you need.

There is a cost associated with the purchase of each solar panel and there are also additional labour costs installers need to charge for the installation of each additional panel.

Because of this it is difficult to compare system costs for different homes that need different sized systems unless we have a way to measure relative cost that takes away the effect of size on the overall price of the installed solar.

$ per watt gives us a cost system that allows for better comparison of systems of different size.

 

The solar estimator is able to estimate the size of solar system you need

 

solar installer affixing solar panels to roof
couple discussing the installation of solar panels on their home

What is included when we talk about the installed cost in a quote from a solar company?

  • Solar Panels and associated warranties from the manufacturer, usually for 25 years.
  • Solar Inverter/s and associated warranties from manufacturer, usually for 5 or ten years.
  • Racking and mountings to secure the solar panels to your roof.
  • Sundry electrical equipment such a cabling, conduit, junction boxes and fixings used in the installation.
  • Building approval from your authority of jurisdiction including the lodging of a permit application and an inspection.
  • Obtaining an approval from your utility and preparing a net metering agreement with your utility company. Possibly also a utility inspection depending on where you are located.
  • A warranty, usually 10 years, on the installation labor from the solar company itself.

 

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What is the relationship between solar costing and system size?

The overall cost of solar will usually increase as the size of the system increases but the cost per watt will usually fall.

Usually there is a premium in the cost per watt for small systems of 3 kW or less because there is a fixed overhead for a solar company to deal with any client regardless of system size. Where the size of a system is small prices for the install need to reflect this and typically the cost per watt will be higher.

For these small systems cost per watt is still usually over $4 per watt before incentives.

Solar power system cost will usually fall on a $ per watt basis as the system gets larger. For a standard residential sized solar energy system of around 6kw the cost per watt for a cash purchase is now as low as $3 per watt for some reasonable quality systems.

Where you can see some really dramatic changes in price is for those who use an amount of energy large enough to require a system in the range of 100kW to 200kW. Systems over 100kw are currently being sold for as little as $2.40 per watt fully installed. These systems are usually ground mounted arrays in a field but are sometimes also mounted on the roofs of large companies who are looking to save a significant amount of money by installing solar power.

 

Find the best system size for your home

 

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Solar financing options

 

Includes local incentives

 

Best prices on cash purchase installed solar power systems for your home in Virginia

 

 

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What factors affect the cost of a fully installed solar system for my home?

 

Solar is a relatively new industry and there are still vastly different prices being offered by different solar companies for solar systems.

How much should I pay for solar panels? There is no simple answer to this question but understanding these factors will allow you to do a better job of ranking the solar quotes that you get back.

many solar panels against blue sky

How many solar panels do I need?

If you know your average power bill and your utility enter it above and the solar panel calculator (which includes rates for each utility) can work out how many kilowatt hours of power you use per month. From your address the solar panel calculator also knows how much solar irradiation there is in your area (how many kilowatt hours per year will be generated per kilowatt of solar panels) and so with this information it will tell you the size of system you need in DC peak capacity.

Obviously, the cost of a solar system will generally increase as the size of system you require increases.

 

Calculate how many solar panels you need

 

The effect of solar panel quality and inverter quality on the cost of solar

For a discussion on choosing the best brands of solar equipment visit our top solar tips page.

In terms of pricing tier 1 solar panels will usually cost around $0.40 - $0.50 cents per watt more than a second or third tier solar panel. Here is another good discussion on the pros and cons of choosing a tier 1 solar panel over a tier 2 or 3 solar brand.

 

See how solar panel and inverter choice effects solar prices

 

choosing excellent quality option
trees reflected on solar panels

Difficulty of installing solar panels on your home

The features of your home can affect the price you will pay to go solar in a number of ways including:

  • The proximity of your home to the office of the solar companies that quote you can affect their price. This is why it is often better to seek out local installers.
  • Some local city and county offices also impose regulations that can add some cost to an installation. The fire and asbestos inspections in the Boroughs of NYC are an example where these costs can be significant;
  • Whether your roof is such that the solar panels need to be installed in many different sub-arrays will add to the cost of an installation. For example if some panels need to go west, and some south and some on an eastern roof, this will add to cabling and conduit.
  • The pitch of your roof will affect the cost of installing solar. If your roof if steeper it will make installation more difficult
  • The number of stories of your house can also have an affect on cost as it can add to safety requirements and may require lifting gear

 

Get local installers to give a fixed quote for your home

 

The location of your home will affect how much you pay for your solar panels

The residential solar panel installation market has developed differently in each state and even today there are some significant differences in the prices charged for installed solar systems from state to state. Here are the ways in which your location will affect the cost to install solar panels on your home:

  • Whilst the 30% solar tax credit affects everyone equally various state, county and utility incentives may or may not be available where you live. Visit our Solar Panels 101 guide for your state to see what solar incentives are available in your city
  • Various locations have different amounts of sunlight meaning solar panels will produce more or less energy. As such location affects how many solar panels you need and the cost of the installation
  • Market prices tend to vary based on the cost of acquiring new residential solar customers in an area. It can cost a solar company in Texas or Florida as little as $300 in lead generation costs to attract a new job but in other markets like California or Massachusetts in can cost on average around $3,000 worth of lead generation and marketing cost to win a new solar customer. These prices tend to be fed back into the prices charged by installers.

 

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sun and city skyline above solar panels