How Much Does it Cost​ to Install Solar Panels?

Average range: $15,000 - $21,000
Low
$7,000
Average Cost
$18,000
High
$70,000
(6kW grid-tied system installed on a roof in a moderately sunny area)

Get free estimates from solar energy contractors near you
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How Much Does it Cost​ to Install Solar Panels?

Average range: $15,000 - $21,000
Low
$7,000
Average Cost
$18,000
High
$70,000
(6kW grid-tied system installed on a roof in a moderately sunny area)

Get free estimates from solar energy contractors near you
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Reviewed by Adam Graham. Written by Fixr.com.

In recent years, the price of solar panels has become far more affordable. Solar panels make electricity by using the sun’s energy. The panels are made up of many photovoltaic cells that are linked together and work in unison. Sunlight shines onto the panels, and the cells within the panels convert the light into usable energy. The energy is then sent to an inverter, which converts it into electricity.

Solar panel installation varies in terms of size, cost, and placement, depending on where you live, how much sun you get, and what your energy needs are. Sunny locations can often use fewer panels, while areas that do not see as much sun may require more. This creates a wide range of costs for the average homeowner. The national average cost of installing solar panels on your home is between $15,000 and $21,000, with most homeowners paying around $18,000 for a 6kW grid-tied system installed on a roof in a moderately sunny area. The low cost for this project is around $7,000 for a 1.9kW grid-tied system installed on a roof in a very sunny area. This project’s high cost is around $70,000 for 10kW installed in a fully off-grid home in a moderately sunny area with excessively high energy needs.

Solar Panel Installation Cost

Solar Energy Cost
National average cost$18,000
Average range$15,000-$21,000
Minimum cost$7,000
Maximum cost$70,000


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Solar Panel Installation Cost by Project Range

Low
$7,000
1.9kW grid-tied system installed on a roof in a very sunny area
Average Cost
$18,000
6kW grid-tied system installed on a roof in a moderately sunny area
High
$70,000
10kW off-grid system in a moderately sunny area on a home with excessive energy needs

Solar Panels for a Home Cost

There are essentially two ways you can use solar energy to power your home. The first is known as a grid-tied system. In this system, you connect to your state’s power grid, but your solar panels offset the costs you pay each month. The second system is known as off-grid. In this system, you are entirely independent of the state electrical system. Both types have a range of costs, system sizes, and other attributes to consider.


Cost to Install Grid-Tied and Off-Grid Solar Panels for a Home

Cost to Install Grid-Tied and Off-Grid Solar Panels for a Home


TypeAverage Costs (Installed)
Grid-Tied$15,000 - $21,000
Off-Grid$30,000 - $60,000


Grid-Tied Solar System Cost

The average cost of a grid-tied solar system is between $15,000 and $21,000. This system ranges in size greatly. The idea is that you reduce your dependency on the power grid but not completely eliminate it. Therefore, you can reduce your needs by a little or a lot. The more panels and the bigger the system, the lower your energy bills will be overall. In some systems, there may even be times when you produce so much energy that some goes back to the grid. When this occurs, you receive a credit against future charges for when you do need grid power.

Off-Grid Solar System Cost

The average cost of an off-grid solar system ranges from $30,000 to $60,000. This system needs to be large enough to handle all your system’s needs without any backup from the electrical grid. This means that in many instances, the system needs to be almost oversized so that sudden fluctuations or increases do not overload it. In this system, you need batteries for when the sun goes down. You also need a backup system, such as a generator, for times of prolonged stormy weather or instances where the sun’s rays may not be as bright. Like the grid-tied system, this system will be at least partially sized to your home’s size and energy needs.


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Solar Panel Cost per Watt

Solar panel systems are typically sold and installed by the kilowatt and priced by the watt. A kilowatt is 1,000 watts, so when you see the cost per watt of $2.50 to $3.50, multiply this number by 1,000 to get the cost per kilowatt.

These costs are for the systems installed but do not include extras, such as batteries, that are needed for an off-grid system. Panels produce a wide range of watts, with 250 to 600 being a common range. So, the number of panels you need can vary tremendously, depending on the panel size and type.


Cost to Install a 2kW, 3kW, 4kW, 5kW, 6kW, 8kW, 10kW, 12kW, 15kW, and 18kW Solar Panel System

Cost to Install a 2kW, 3kW, 4kW, 5kW, 6kW, 8kW, 10kW, 12kW, 15kW, and 18kW Solar Panel System


System SizePanels NeededAverage Costs (Installed)
2kW3 - 8$5,000 - $7,000
3kW5 - 12$7,500 - $10,500
4kW6 - 16$10,000 - $14,000
5kW8 - 20$12,500 - $17,500
6kW10 - 24$15,000 - $21,000
8kW13 - 32$20,000 - $28,000
10kW16 - 40$25,000 - $35,000
12kW20 - 48$30,000 - $42,000
15kW25 - 60$37,500 - $52,500
18kW30 - 72$45,000 - $63,000


Solar Panel Cost per Square Foot

It is possible to use your home size to estimate the average cost of how much your solar panels will cost. Keep in mind that household energy needs vary a lot, regardless of the size. If you use many high-powered appliances, your energy needs could be higher even if your house is smaller.

In addition, the placement of the panels, which direction they face, and how much sun they receive also play a big role in your costs. The panel type and how many watts they produce also factor in. For this reason, you can have an enormous range of costs for this project, regardless of the home size.

As such, home size should only be used as a very general indicator of cost. A better way is to look at your region and your electric bill to determine how many watts you use each month. Then, you can determine how much you want to lower that by. The more you reduce your dependency on the grid, the higher the cost of your initial installation.


Cost to Install Solar Panel for a 1000, 1500, 2000, and 2500 sq ft House

Cost to Install Solar Panel for a 1000, 1500, 2000, and 2500 sq ft House


House SizeAverage Costs (Installed)
1,000 sq.ft.$5,000 - $28,000
1,500 sq.ft.$7,000 - $32,000
2,000 sq.ft.$15,000 - $40,000
2,500 sq.ft.$18,000 - $55,000


Solar Panel Cost for a 1,000 Sq.Ft. Home

Solar panels for a 1,000 sq.ft. home range from $5,000 to $28,000 in total costs. If you have gas heating, no central air conditioning, and are away from home during the day, your needs could be very low. If you use electric heating, central air, or are home during the day, your needs will be higher. The shape and slope of your roof and the region you live in also play a role in determining your total costs. Sunny regions see more energy output from a smaller number of panels than regions that do not see as much sun. This means your total range can be very wide.

Solar Panel Cost for a 1,500 Sq.Ft. Home

Solar panels for a 1,500 sq.ft. home cost between $7,000 to $32,000. Like smaller homes, your total energy needs vary by household. The more electric-based appliances you have, the more panels you need. And, the more these appliances are used, the more panels you need. If you only want to reduce your dependency slightly to lower your bills, you can get by with fewer panels. If you want to reduce your dependency by a larger amount, you need more.

Solar Panel Cost for a 2,000 Sq.Ft. Home

The average cost range for installing solar panels for a 2,000 sq.ft. home is between $15,000 and $40,000. Your costs are determined by how much electricity you use each day. They are also determined by how much you want to reduce your dependency on the grid. While the average cost of installing solar panels on a home this size is around $18,000, your costs can be much higher or lower. Having any type of electric HVAC system raises the number of panels you need. In addition, the amount of time people spend each day using electricity in the home also impacts total installation costs.

Solar Panel Cost for a 2,500 Sq.Ft. Home

The cost range of installing solar panels for a 2,500 sq.ft. home ranges from $18,000 to $55,000. Many different factors determine the number of panels and cost. Homes this size require more panels than smaller homes even for basic needs. If you add in any major electrical systems, such as HVAC, your costs will be higher. If you want to reduce your dependency on the grid by a significant amount, your costs will be higher as well. If you have relatively low energy needs, your costs could be even lower than the average.

Average Cost of Solar Panels by Number of Bedrooms

The number of bedrooms a home has is not a good indicator of its energy needs. But it can be a good gauge of the home’s general size. If you are unsure of your size and want a very general understanding of what the costs would be to install solar energy, this can be useful information.

But every household has very different needs. The best way to determine your energy needs is to look at your electric bill for the month. Then decide how much you want to reduce your dependency on the grid to get a more accurate sense of the size and cost of your system.


Average Cost to Install Solar Panels for a 2, 3, or 4 Bedroom Home

Average Cost to Install Solar Panels for a 2, 3, or 4 Bedroom Home


Number of RoomsAverage Costs (Installed)
2 Rooms$5,000 - $28,000
3 Rooms$15,000 - $40,000
4 Rooms$15,000 - $50,000


Cost of Solar Panels for a 2-Bedroom House

The cost range for installing solar panels for a 2-bedroom home is between $5,000 and $28,000. The average size of a 2-bedroom home in the U.S. is just over 1,100 square feet. With 2 bedrooms, it is reasonable to assume that 2 to 3 people live in this home. The costs to install are similar to that of a 1,000 sq.ft. home. Your costs can be higher or lower, depending on your energy usage. The more electricity you use each month, the higher the installation cost.

Cost of Solar Panels for a 3-Bedroom House

The cost range for installing solar panels on a 3-bedroom home ranges from $15,000 to $40,000. The average 3-bedroom home in the U.S. comes in at around 2,000 sq.ft., but some homes may be larger or smaller. With three bedrooms, it can be assumed that 2 to 4 people occupy the house. At this size and occupancy, your costs will be similar to that of any other 2,000 sq.ft. home. Your costs can be higher or lower, depending on your total energy usage.

Cost of Solar Panels for a 4-Bedroom House

The cost range for installing solar panels for a 4-bedroom home averages $15,000 to $50,000. 4-bedroom homes in the U.S. have a wider range of sizes. The average falls between 2,000 and 2,400 sq.ft. Assuming occupancy of 2 to 5 people, this puts your total energy costs between homes of 2,000 and 2,500 sq.ft. Your costs can be higher or lower, depending on your total energy usage. The more occupants and the more energy you use, the higher your total costs.


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Cost per Solar Panel

There are many different types of solar panels and different panel sizes. Therefore, the cost per panel varies greatly, depending on several factors like the company that makes it, overall size, and where it will be installed.

Keep in mind that you are unlikely to purchase a system by the panel because many solar panel systems are priced for the entire package - and not by the number of panels being used.


Cost to Install 1, 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, 24, or 30 Solar Panels

Cost to Install 1, 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, 24, or 30 Solar Panels


Number of PanelsAverage Costs (Installed)
1 Panel$250 - $600
8 Panels$2,000 - $4,800
10 Panels$2,500 - $6,000
12 Panels$3,000 - $7,200
16 Panels$4,000 - $9,600
20 Panels$5,000 - $12,000
24 Panels$6,000 - $14,400
30 Panels$7,500 - $18,000


1 Solar Panel Cost

A single solar panel installed ranges from $250 to $600 on average. This is just the cost of the installed panel. It does not include the cost of the inverter, any batteries, framing, or other needs you may have. The cost is largely dependent on how many watts the panel produces. Solar panels have an average cost of $1 per watt, with a range of 250 to 600 watts per panel.

8 Solar Panels Cost

The cost to install 8 solar panels is between $2,000 and $4,800. The costs do not include any additional components needed for the job. The cost is dependent on how many watts each panel produces. It is possible to use fewer panels that produce more watts or more panels that produce fewer watts. The number of panels, panel size, and their placement impact the final project costs.

10 Solar Panels Cost

The cost to install 10 solar panels averages $2,500 to $6,000. These costs are just for the panels. It does not include other components like inverters, framing, and batteries. Your total costs are dependent on how many watts each panel produces. Premium panels cost more, but they also produce more watts. So, you may need fewer to produce the same amount of energy.

12 Solar Panels Cost

The average cost to install 12 solar panels ranges from $3,000 to $7,200. These costs are for the panels and their installation only. This price does not include any additional components needed for the job or their installation costs. Total costs are dependent on the number of watts produced by each panel. Panels that produce more watts have a higher cost, but you may need fewer panels to produce the same energy.

16 Solar Panels Cost

The cost range of installing 16 solar panels is between $4,000 and $9,600. This price is for the panels and their installation, not the inverters, framing, batteries, or other components. The cost you pay for your panels is dependent on how many watts each panel produces. A premium panel costs more but produces more watts. In theory, this means you could use fewer panels to produce the same amount of energy as lower-priced panels.

20 Solar Panels Cost

The cost for installing 20 solar panels ranges from $5,000 to $12,000. These prices are for the panels and their installation only. They do not include the material or installation costs for the rest of the system. Panels have a range of different watts and costs. Choosing a panel that produces more watts has a higher overall cost. However, this means you can use fewer panels to produce the same amount of energy.

24 Solar Panels Cost

The cost to install 24 solar panels is between $6,000 and $14,400. These prices are for the panels and their installation and do not include other system components or their installation. The cost of each panel ranges based on how many watts it produces. A premium panel may produce 600 watts, while a standard panel produces only 250. Therefore, you pay more per panel but get more energy out of fewer panels by choosing one that produces more watts.

30 Solar Panels Cost

The cost to install 30 solar panels averages $7,500 to $18,000. These prices are for the panels and their installation. These costs do not include any other components or materials needed for the project or their installation. The total cost depends on the number of watts produced by each panel. A panel that produces 600 watts costs more than a panel that produces 250. This means you need fewer panels with the 600-watt version, while getting more energy.

Solar Panel Price by Cell Type

Depending on the company you contract with, you may have a choice of solar cell types. There are three main types - polycrystalline, thin-film, and monocrystalline. Of the three, thin-film solar cells (TFSC) have become the most common. For many homes, you may not notice much of a difference between them, but in terms of cost and total energy output, there are variations.


Cost of Polycrystalline Silicon, Thin-Film, and Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Cells

Cost of Polycrystalline Silicon, Thin-Film, and Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Cells


Type of CellsAverage Costs  per Watt (Material Only)
Polycrystalline Silicon Solar Cells$0.50 - $1
Thin-Film Solar Cells (TFSC)$0.50 - $1
Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Cells$0.60 - $1.20


Polycrystalline Solar Panel Price

Polycrystalline solar panels cost between $0.50 and $1 a watt uninstalled. The biggest benefit of this panel type is its low cost. Many people choose not to use this type because it is large and not very aesthetic when mounted on the roof. String ribbon solar cells are a type of polycrystalline panel. You may see that name on the panel. Polycrystalline panels are made up of cells that are constructed of many fragments of silicon crystal. The fragments make it less expensive, but it is the least efficient panel type when producing electricity.

Thin-Film Solar Panels

The cost of thin-film solar panels ranges from $0.50 to $1 per watt uninstalled. This is the most common type of solar panel. It is inexpensive and highly aesthetic. They are also portable, lightweight, and flexible. This makes them very fast and easy to mount, so installation costs are often less. You are also more likely to find installers who work with this panel type. They are not as efficient as monocrystalline, but most people find their other benefits outweigh this. They can be made from a wide range of different materials, which are arranged in thin films on the surface.

Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Cells

The cost of monocrystalline solar panels averages $0.60 to $1.20 a watt uninstalled. This is the most expensive but most efficient solar panel type. It is highly aesthetic and works well in a variety of applications. This panel type is made up of cells that are formed from whole silicon crystals. The whole crystal, rather than the fragments that make up polycrystalline, makes these panels much more efficient. It also makes them longer-lasting in some applications.

Solar Inverter Cost by Type

Your solar panels may be good at producing electricity from the sun’s energy, but they are not enough on their own to power your home. Solar panels produce direct current or DC electricity. Most homes use AC or alternating current electricity. Therefore, an inverter is required to convert the energy from DC to AC so that your home can use the energy.

There are several types of inverters, each with attributes and costs to consider.


Cost of String Inverter, Power Optimizer, Micro Inverter, and Battery-Based Solar Inverter

Cost of String Inverter, Power Optimizer, Micro Inverter, and Battery-Based Solar Inverter


TypeAverage Costs (Material Only)
String Inverter$85 - $105
Power Optimizer$125 - $150
Micro Inverter$125 - $150
Battery-Based$2,000 - $2,300


Solar String Inverter

The cost of a solar string inverter averages $85 to $105 per inverter. For this inverter type, you need one inverter per panel. This means that if you have 20 panels, you need 20 inverters. This inverter type links all your panels together in a chain or string. Central inverters are a type of string inverter. In most strings, if you lose one string, you lose the power to those panels. This makes them less efficient. In central inverters, if you lose a string, you lose all power, which makes them less popular.

Power Optimizer Cost

A power optimizer costs between $125 and $150 per inverter. These are a newer inverter type. You use one inverter per panel, but the panels do not connect to one another. Instead, they operate individually. This means that if a panel goes down, it does not affect the others. Power optimizers can adjust to how much power is being produced versus what your home needs. This makes them very efficient and can boost your total energy output.

Micro Inverter Cost

Micro inverters average $125 to $150 per inverter. Micro inverters are designed to be used with one inverter per panel. While more expensive than string inverters, they are more reliable. They do not connect with one another - only to the panel they are installed on. This means that if shade or snow covers one panel, you still have full output from the others. They are easier to install than string inverters as well. So while you pay more per inverter, you save on labor costs later, keeping overall costs equal.

Battery-Based Inverters

Battery-based inverters cost between $2,000 and $2,300. These inverters are for use in off-grid situations. In this scenario, your solar panels are charging batteries, and you get energy from the battery as needed. The inverter converts the energy as it comes off the battery, not off the solar panel. Depending on the battery type and number, you may only need a single inverter, rather than one per panel like other non-battery types.

Solar Inverter Price by Wattage

Each non-battery solar panel needs one inverter. So when calculating your inverter costs, you need to know the number of panels or number of watts you intend to produce. Keep in mind that panels produce a wide range of watts, so the number of panels and inverters can vary.


Cost of a 1kW, 2kW, 3kW, 5kW, 6kW, or 10kW Solar Inverter

Cost of a 1kW, 2kW, 3kW, 5kW, 6kW, or 10kW Solar Inverter


WattageNumber of InvertersAverage Costs
1kW2 - 4$170 - $600
2kW3 - 8$255 - $1,200
3kW5 - 12$425 - $1,800
5kW8 - 20$680 - $3,000
6kW10 - 24$850 - $3,600
10kW16 - 40$1,360 - $6,000


1kW Inverter Price

The cost of inverters for a 1kW system is $170 to $600. For a 1kW system, you need 2 to 4 solar panels. This means you need 2 to 4 inverters. Depending on the inverter type, they cost $85 to $150 per inverter. They can be string, micro, or power optimizer in type. A system of this size is enough to reduce your dependency on the grid slightly.

2kW Inverter Price

The cost of inverters for a 2kW system ranges from $255 to $1,200. For a system this size, you need 3 to 8 solar panels and 3 to 8 inverters. The actual number of panels and inverters varies, depending on the number of watts each panel produces. Each inverter costs between $85 and $150. This does not include battery inverters, which are used for larger systems.

3kW Inverter Price

A 3kW system averages $425 to $1,800 for the inverters. A 3kW system requires 5 to 12 solar panels and 5 to 12 inverters. The number of panels and inverters varies depending on how many watts the panel produces. Each inverter has a total cost range of between $85 and $150, depending on the type. This includes string, micro, and power-optimizer inverters.

5kW Inverter Price

A 5kW system costs between $680 and $3,000 for the inverters. A 5kW system requires between 8 and 20 solar panels, meaning you need between 8 and 20 inverters. The exact number depends on how many watts each panel produces. This does not include battery inverters, which are used for larger systems. The inverters cost between $85 and $150 each.

6kW Inverter Price

A 6kW system ranges from $850 to $3,600 for the inverters. A 6kW system requires between 10 and 24 panels. This means you also need between 10 and 24 inverters. The number of panels and inverters you need for your project varies depending on how many watts each panel produces. These inverter costs do not include battery inverters, which are used for larger systems. The cost of each inverter ranges from $85 to $150.

10kW Inverter Price

A 10kW system averages $1,360 to $6,000 for the inverters. A 10kW system needs between 16 and 40 panels and 16 and 40 inverters. Each panel produces a wide range of wattage, which can make the total number vary. At this size, you could also consider batteries, which would need a battery inverter at a cost of between $2,000 and $2,300 plus the batteries themselves. This system size can be used to go off-grid in some homes.


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Solar Panel Installation Cost Breakdown

Many components go into installing a solar panel system. This includes calculating your power needs and surveying your home to make sure your roof can handle the load. Then the site is blueprinted 1, and the panels are mounted onto a frame on your roof. They are then connected to the inverters, which are installed on the outside of your home on the other side of your electrical panel.

Most installers quote a single price for the materials and labor for this project. However, the labor generally breaks down to between $3,000 and $5,000 for the average 6kW system, or between $0.50 and $1.20 a watt for installation costs out of the total $2.50 to $3.50 a watt costs for the total system. Your labor costs are influenced by various factors, including the roof pitch, roofing materials, inverter type, and panel type. Thin-film panels with micro inverters are faster and easier to install than monocrystalline panels with string inverters. So, labor for the first example would be lower than for the second.

The following is the percentage breakdown of the total cost:


Solar Panel Installation Cost Breakdown: Solar Panels and Materials, Installation, Sales and Marketing...

Solar Panel Installation Cost Breakdown: Solar Panels and Materials, Installation, Sales and Marketing...


Project BreakdownPercentage
Permitting and Inspections5%
Inverter10%
Racking and Balancing of System10%
Installer Margin (profit)10%
Sales and Marketing15%
Installation24%
Solar Panels and Materials26%


Average Solar Installation Cost by Brand

The field of solar energy continues to grow every year. This means you will have more and more options for materials and brands as time goes on. There are several reputable brands for solar panels today. All produce good results, but some may give you better efficiency, better aesthetics, or both. Some are better for batteries, while others may be easier to install. Below are some of the most popular brands and their average costs for an installed 6kW system.


Cost to Install LG, Solaria, Hyundai, Tesla, S-Energy, CertainTeed, and SunPower Solar Panels

Cost to Install LG, Solaria, Hyundai, Tesla, S-Energy, CertainTeed, and SunPower Solar Panels


BrandAverage Cost per Watt (Installed)Average Costs 6kW System (Installed)
LG$2.76$14,400 - $18,720
Solaria$2.80$14,820 - $18,780
Hyundai$3.02$14,880 - $21,360
Tesla$2.74$14,940 - $17,940
S-Energy$3.21$15,000 - $23,520
CertainTeed$2.72$15,360 - $17,280
SunPower$3.30$18,480 - $21,120


LG Solar Panels Price

LG solar panels cost $2.76 a watt. This translates to $14,400 to $18,720 for a 6kW system fully installed. Installation varies by panel type, roof pitch, and other factors. LG makes 4 different groups of solar panels. Each can be further broken down into different types for your location and needs. They have high-efficiency panels and ones that maximize your energy even in the shade.

Solaria Sonal Panels Price

Solaria solar panels cost $2.80 a watt. This translates to $14,820 to $18,780 for a 6kW system fully installed. Several factors influence your final installation costs, including location, roof pitch, and inverter type. Solaria specializes in panels that are all black in color, which improves their appearance and aesthetics on your roof. Their panels are also highly efficient and designed to work in many circumstances.

Hyundai Solar Panels Cost

Hyundai solar panels cost $3.02 a watt. This translates to $14,880 to $21,360 for a 6kW system fully installed. Many factors impact the total installation cost. This includes your location, amount of shade, roof pitch, and inverter type. Hyundai has a very large range of solar panels, including watts up to 405 per panel.

Tesla Solar Installation Cost

Tesla solar panels cost $2.74 a watt. This translates to $14,940 to $17,940 for a 6kW system fully installed. Several factors impact the installation costs. These include your location, how much shade your property gets, roof pitch, and the panel and inverter types. Tesla makes a wide range of different panels and, in recent years, has aggressively pushed the market to make panels more widely accessible. They also carry a full line of batteries for those wanting to go off-grid.

S-Energy Solar Panels Price

The cost of S-Energy solar panels is $3.21 a watt. This translates to $15,000 to $23,520 for a 6kW system fully installed. Installation varies depending on many factors, such as roof pitch, panel type, and inverter. S-Energy has been manufacturing panels for 23 years and has a long track record with a wide range of panels. Their focus is on durability, longevity, and performance.

CertainTeed Solar Panels Cost

The cost of CertainTeed solar panels is $2.72 a watt. This translates to $15,360 to $17,280 for a 6kW system fully installed. Like all systems, installation costs vary tremendously. Factors like roof pitch, location, shade, and panel type all impact the final costs. CertainTeed focuses on integrating solar into the roof of the home. This means they also have solar shingles 2, which can improve the look of your home and provide solar energy.

SunPower Solar Cost

The cost of SunPower solar panels is $3.30 a watt. This translates to $18,480 to $21,120 for a 6kW system fully installed. Several factors impact the installation cost. These include location, shade, roof pitch, and panel type. SunPower makes many different panels, including flexible monocrystalline panels that can be used in more locations. They also focus on making panels that deliver the highest amount of energy in all types of scenarios.

Average Solar Installation Cost by Location

While most people picture solar panels on the roof, this is not the only place they can be installed. They can also be mounted on the ground using a frame. This can be beneficial if your roof cannot support the panels or is predominately in the shade. Both installation types have several factors to consider, including installation costs.


Average Cost to Install Solar Panels on the Roof or on the Ground

Average Cost to Install Solar Panels on the Roof or on the Ground


LocationAverage Costs (Installed)
Roof$15,000 - $21,000
Ground$18,000 - $25,000


Cost to Install Solar Panels on a Roof

The average cost of installing solar panels on the roof of your home is between $15,000 and $21,000 for a 6kW system. Roof installations are the most common. They do not take up additional space and cost less to purchase and install. They are difficult to access and clean, however. And if you need to replace your roof, you must have the panels reinstalled. They are also difficult to expand over time, so if you need more panels, you may run out of space.

Ground-Mounted Solar Panels Cost

Ground-mounted solar panels range from $18,000 to $25,000 for a 6kW system. Ground installations are less common for most grid-tied scenarios. They take up considerably more space, so you need to have room in your yard. They also cost more to purchase and install. However, they are easy to clean and more efficient because they do not get as hot. If you have the space, it is also easy to add onto your system in the future.


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Solar Panel Installation Cost by Type of Mounting System

Another component you may not give much thought to in your solar installation is the mounting system 3. This is what your solar panels attach to. If you have a roof installation, the mounting system type is dependent on your roof material. If you cannot penetrate the roof to install it, then a ballast method must be used. However, nearly all residential roof installations are known as a fixed mount. If you have a commercial installation, you need a tilt mount or an adjustable mount. If you have a ground installation, you have even more options. Costs will not impact your total installation very much because the racking only makes up roughly 10% of your total costs. However, the solar mount type you choose can impact how it looks and works.


Cost to Install Fixed, Ballasted, Pole, Adjustable, or Tracking Solar Panels

Cost to Install Fixed, Ballasted, Pole, Adjustable, or Tracking Solar Panels


Mounting SystemInstallation TypeAverage Costs (Material Only)
FixedRoof, Residential$10 - $15
BallastedRoof, Residential$30 - $50
PoleGround, Residential$40 - $90
Adjustable (Tilt)Roof, Comercial$200 - $500
TrackingGround, Commercial$500 - $1,000


Fixed Solar Mount

A fixed solar mount costs between $10 and $15 per panel on average. This is what most roof solar panels use. Most roofs have a natural pitch that is enough for the panels to be properly angled. All they need is to be fixed in place. Fixed mounts use small brackets to hold the panels in place. They screw into your roof, so they are for use with shingles that can be penetrated, such as asphalt shingles.

Ballast Solar Mount

The cost of a ballast solar mount ranges from $30 to $50. This is what you use when your roof cannot be penetrated, such as for metal, slate, and tile roofs. In this case, the mount hooks over the peak of your roof and distributes the weight down the other side. It helps balance the panels and hold them in place. This is an easier installation and will not impact your roof in any way.

Pole Solar Mount

The cost of a pole solar mount averages $40 to $90. This is what most people use for ground installations. The pole is designed to hold the panels at the correct angle. You do not necessarily need tall poles or many of them because many systems are designed to hold the panels in place at the correct angle in rows. This is the most cost-effective method of mounting a ground panel. While other methods exist, they are very expensive and mostly used for commercial purposes.

Adjustable Solar Panel Mount

An adjustable or tilt solar panel mount costs between $200 and $500. This is the mount type you need for a flat roof. It is mostly used in commercial settings, but if you have a residential home with a flat roof, you could also use this method. The rack is adjustable, so you can precisely catch the perfect angle of the sun. Since not all flat roofs are completely flat, the adjustable tilting feature allows you to get a better fit no matter what your slope is. Most have a range where they are adjustable and where they cannot go past.

Tracking Solar Panel Mount

A tracking solar panel mount 4 averages $500 to $1,000. This mount type is mostly designed for ground use on large properties. It is most often used in commercial settings rather than residential. These mounts follow the position of the sun throughout the day. In theory, it allows you to get the most sun and energy for your installation. However, some experts say that if you have this much space, it would be cheaper to turn a few arrays in another direction to maximize the energy rather than relying on the tracking mount.

Solar Panel Monthly Cost

If you purchase your solar panel system, they have no ongoing monthly costs. However, if you do not want to purchase the system upfront, you have the option of leasing your panels monthly. This costs between $50 and $250 a month, depending on the system size. It is only advisable if your electric bill is considerably higher than these figures to offset your monthly energy costs. Otherwise, you may find that purchasing gives you a better overall return on your investment.

Solar Panel Maintenance Cost

Solar panel systems usually require very little maintenance. Two or three times a year, they should be inspected by a solar panel company. A general solar panel maintenance averages $400. Some warranties require twice-a-year inspections, while others require more frequent maintenance. The panels need to be inspected and cleaned on a fairly regular basis. The technician will also inspect all the components to ensure everything is functioning properly.

Also, there may be other maintenance required on an as-needed basis. This can include replacing brackets or fixing the glass on the panels if it breaks.

Cost to Add Solar Panels to an Existing System

The cost of adding solar panels to an existing system is around the same as a new installation - about $2.50 to $3.50 a watt installed. The key is whether you can expand the existing system. Typically, roof-mount systems cannot be expanded much. Ground systems can be expanded if you have the space. This is a common situation in off-grid setups or when switching from grid-tied to off-grid. In these cases, you need to expand your system.

A 6kW or 8kW grid-tied system on most homes is not easily expanded because it will already take up most of the available space on the roof.

In some instances, you may be able to upgrade your existing panels to those with higher wattage. This has a cost closer to $3.50 a watt because these panels cost more.

Solar Panel Return on Investment

The ROI on solar panels varies from project to project. The system size and cost of electricity in your area play a role in how fast you recoup your costs. In general, most people find a return on investment of 20% the first year and a full recoup within 7 to 10 years. There are often local and federal incentives, which can lower your overall costs and help you realize a 100% ROI much faster. These vary by region and installation type, so contact your local authorities to find out more.


Photovoltaic Panels on a Roof


Cost to Move Solar Panels

If you need to move your solar panels or remove them to have work done on your roof before reinstalling, this can cost between $4,000 and $8,000. Moving panels is difficult and requires carefully unmounting them, removing them, taking them to their new location, and then completely setting them up and rewiring them. This takes time, and like the initial install, it has a range of costs depending on things like the roof type, pitch, and location.

Leasing vs Buying Solar Panels

Solar leasing has become relatively popular as more people hope to save on their energy bills without having to pay a huge amount of money to purchase a solar panel system. However, leasing and buying both have pros and cons. You often pay more over time for solar leasing, with costs of between $50 and $250 a month. This makes the most sense if you have higher-than-average energy bills. This could be due to higher electricity costs in your area or because you use a lot of electric-based appliances, such as an HVAC system.

With leasing, monitoring and maintenance are included. This may give you peace of mind. With owning, you get a full return on your investment within 10 years. This can actually save you more money long-term than it would have with leasing.

Solar Thermal Panels vs Photovoltaic Panels

You may find that in addition to the many other choices you have when it comes to solar, you also have two panel types to choose from. Solar thermal and photovoltaic are the two main types of solar energy. For most homes, photovoltaic is the most common type, while solar thermal is typically used for larger commercial settings.

Solar thermal panels use heat, which it then converts to energy. This means it could store the heat from the day and then produce energy at night. Photovoltaic cells produce electricity from light. This is the most common cell because they can be installed with or without batteries, and they do not overheat. Some thermal panels lose efficiency as they heat up, making them not as good a choice for mounting on top of a home or in very sunny climates. Both have a similar cost per watt, depending on the manufacturer.


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Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Solar Panel Roof Tiles Cost

Solar panel roof tiles have a cost per watt of $2.72 on average. These are also known as photovoltaic shingles. They blend seamlessly into your roof rather than mounting on top of your roof. Therefore, they are more aesthetically pleasing, but they have slightly higher-than-average costs to install and require an entirely new roof.

Solar Hot Water System Cost

If you want solar energy to heat your water, install a dedicated solar hot water system. These cost between $8,000 and $10,000. They are separate from complete solar electricity systems. You can use a solar electricity system to heat water in an electric hot water heater if you choose.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Permits are needed to install solar panels. Some cities also have specific regulatory codes. The property owner can submit all necessary solar plans to obtain the permits, or the licensed solar contractor can gather the needed permits. Permit fees vary widely by city, county, and state. Generally, the cost of the permits is included in the overall cost of the solar panel installation fees charged by the contractor.
  • Solar panels frequently have tax breaks, rebates, and tax subsidies. Normally, these programs help reduce the cost of purchasing and installing solar panels by 30% to 50%. Some states also offer additional credits and subsidies. Cash rebates are commonly offered by state, city, and utility companies. Rebates can reduce costs by an additional 10% to 20%.
  • In over 40 states, utility companies buy excess power from solar panel users. In some regions, the utility company gives the solar panel owner a credit on their energy bill. The process is known as net metering.
  • When choosing a contractor, always ensure that they are licensed and insured. Solar panel contractors typically have general contracting, electrician, and home performance contracting licenses. You should also look at their work record, expertise, and reputation in the area.
  • It is recommended that you get several bids from licensed solar panel contractors before choosing. Make sure that the bids clearly state the maximum generating capacity of the system being installed. Measure the information in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW). Ideally, the bid should also state the system capacity in AC Watts (alternating current) as outlined under a standard set of test conditions. The output should be measured at the inverter. You may also want to request a general estimate of the amount of electricity the unit is forecast to produce on an annual basis. That information is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh).
  • Many solar rebate programs require that a system be covered by a 2-year parts-and-labor written installation warranty. This warranty is in addition to any manufacturer’s warranties on specific components of the system, such as the inverter or module warranties. In some cases, the installer may offer even longer warranties.
  • Some solar panel installation companies provide system monitoring software for smartphones or computers to ensure that it continues to function at peak performance. This also allows homeowners to track the system’s energy production/efficiency.
  • Once a solar array is installed, it makes working on a roof difficult. So before installation, ensure your roof is in top condition, and the roofing material does not need to be replaced or repaired.
  • When choosing a solar panel contractor, make sure they have accreditation from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). The NABCEP guarantees that all members have adequate knowledge and experience for solar panel installation.

FAQs

  • Can solar panels work at night?

Solar panels require the sun to shine to function. The panels cannot generate electricity in darkness.

  • Do clouds affect solar panels?

Solar panels do not produce as much electricity on cloudy days.

  • Can you install your own solar panels?

Installing solar panels requires working with high-voltage wiring, which can be extremely dangerous. Most states require a licensed electrician to legally wire and install solar panels.

  • How do you hook up solar panels to your home?

Hooking solar panels up to your home is a difficult task that involves high-voltage wiring. Most states require a licensed electrician to perform the work. However, solar panels and all accessories can be purchased by the homeowner. Solar panels need to be mounted in a sunny location, and then all the panels must be connected with cables. After the panels are connected, they need to be hooked up to an inverter to create the needed electricity.

  • How much does it cost to get solar panels?

Solar panels typically cost from $15,000 to $21,000 to install on the average home using a 6kW panel.

  • How much does SolarCity really cost?

SolarCity, which has been bought out by Tesla, costs $2.74 per watt installed. However, this is not necessarily the entire cost because they have several manufacturers, locations, and other factors that may influence the final project cost.

  • How much do batteries for solar panels cost?

Solar batteries range from $5,000 to $7,000.

  • How do you install a solar panel?

Installation of a solar panel requires a licensed solar panel contractor. A solar panel must be mounted so that the panels receive adequate sunlight. Ideally, they should be placed facing south or west. You need to decide if you will install the panel on the roof or with a ground mounting bracket.

  • How much can you save with solar panels?

Over the course of 20 years, solar panels can save from $7,000 to $28,000, depending on what area of the country you live in.

  • How long does it take to set up a solar panel?

It normally takes two days for a solar panel company to install solar panels on a typical residence.

Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
glossary term picture Blueprint 1 Blueprinted: A technical drawing of an architectural design. Traditionally these were made using a printing process that produced a white line on a blue background. They can also be made with CAD software and a large-scale printer
glossary term picture Shingle 2 Shingles: A smooth, uniform, flat piece of construction material, available in a wide variety of materials and laid in a series of overlapping rows, used to cover the outside of roofs or walls to protect against weather damage and leaks.
3 Mounting system: (Also known as Mounting) A support on which something is attached or hung
glossary term picture Solar Panel Mount 4 Solar panel mount: A support system used to attach a solar panel array to a surface such as a building facade, roof, or the ground

Cost to install solar panels varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

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The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources
Professional Installing Static Solar Panels on a Roof
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Cost to install solar panels varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources