How Much Does It Cost​ to Install Solar Panels?

National Average Range:
$16,500 - $20,100
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Reviewed by Mark Hagerty, solar energy expert. Written by

In recent years, the price of solar panels has become far more affordable. Solar panels make electricity using the sun’s energy. The panels are made up of many photovoltaic cells that are linked and work in unison. Sunlight shines onto the panels, and the cells within the panels convert the light into usable energy. The energy is sent to an inverter, which converts it into electricity. Solar panel installation varies in size, cost, and placement, depending on where you live, how much sun you receive, and your energy needs. Sunny locations often use fewer panels, while areas that do not see as much sun 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 $16,500 to $20,100, with most homeowners paying $18,750 for a 6 kW grid-tied system installed on a roof in a moderately sunny area. This project’s low cost is $5,500 for a 2 kW grid-tied system installed on a roof in a sunny area. The high cost is $65,000 for 10 kW 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$18,750
Average range$16,500-$20,100

Solar Panel Installation Cost by Project Range

2 kW grid-tied system installed on a roof in a sunny area
Average Cost
6 kW grid-tied system installed on a roof in a moderately sunny area
10 kW off-grid system in a moderately sunny area on a home with excessive energy needs

2023 Notice: Federal Solar Tax Credit

Most American homeowners who install solar panels can take advantage of the 30% federal solar tax credit. The solar tax credit reduces how much you owe in federal income taxes, potentially saving thousands of dollars. For solar systems installed between 2023 and 2032, the tax credit is equal to 30% of solar installation costs. For example, a homeowner who spends $20,000 on a solar installation will receive a tax credit of $6,000.

To qualify for the tax credit, the solar system must be installed on your primary or secondary U.S. residence, you must have a taxable income, and you must be the owner of the solar system. After 2032, the value of the solar tax credit drops. The tax credit for solar panels installed in 2033 will equal 26%. Systems installed in 2034 receive a credit equal to 22% of installation costs. The solar tax credit expires completely for residential solar installations in 2035.

These credits can be of particular use now because in 2022, the cost of solar panels rose nearly 30% for hard costs due to supply chain problems and stopping the use of panels produced in certain parts of China. This is expected to slow down into 2023, with most predictions showing that market growth will remain steady and new incentives will continue to drive demand. This should help costs remain steady or slow going into 2023.

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Solar Panels for a Home Cost by Type of System

There are two ways you can use solar energy to power your home. The first is 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 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. Below are the average costs to install solar panels on a home using both systems, with the most common size for each system of 6 kW for grid-tied and 10 kW for off-grid.

Cost to install a grid-tied and off-grid solar panel system

Cost to install a grid-tied and off-grid solar panel system

TypeAverage Costs (Installed)
Grid-Tied$16,500 - $21,000
Off-Grid$45,000 - $65,000

Grid-Tied Solar System Cost

The average cost of a grid-tied solar system is between $16,500 and $21,000. This system greatly ranges in size. The idea is to reduce your dependency on the power grid but not completely. 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. 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 need grid power.

Off-Grid Solar System Cost

The average cost of an off-grid solar system ranges from $45,000 to $65,000. This system needs to be large enough to handle your system’s needs without backup from the electrical grid. This means the system should 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 situations where the sun’s rays may not be as bright. Like the grid-tied system, this system is partially sized to your home’s size and energy needs.

Solar Panel Cost per Watt by System Size

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 $2.75 to $3.35, multiply this number by 1,000 for the cost per kilowatt. These costs are for the systems installed but do not include extras that are needed for an off-grid system, such as batteries. Panels produce a 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.

Number of panels needed and cost to install a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, and 18kW solar panel

Number of panels needed and cost to install a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, and 18kW solar panel

System SizePanels NeededAverage Costs (Installed)
2 kW5 - 8$5,500 - $6,700
3 kW8 - 12$8,250 - $10,050
4 kW6 - 16$11,000 - $13,400
5 kW12 - 20$13,750 - $16,750
6 kW15 - 24$16,500 - $20,100
8 kW20 - 32$22,000 - $26,800
10 kW25 - 40$27,500 - $33,500
12 kW30 - 48$33,000 - $40,200
15 kW38 - 60$41,250 - $50,250
18 kW45 - 72$49,500 - $60,300

Solar Panel Cost by State

Like many materials and home improvement projects, your exact costs vary depending on the state you live in. This can be due to several factors, including which materials may be more common in your area, the amount of sun or shade your area gets, and the average cost of labor in your region. There can also be differences, depending on the company you choose. However, most companies do not report on every state, only those where they do business or where solar is most common. Individual state information can be found in the table below and the costs per state per watt, per 6 kW system, and your average Federal tax credit.

StateStarting Cost for 6 kW SystemAverage Cost per Watt2023 Federal Tax Credit Value (30%)
Alabama$13,260 - $16,200$2.21 - $2.70$3,978 - $4,860
Alaska$12,960 - $15,900$2.16 - $2.65$3,888 - $4,770
Arizona$14,220 - $17,400$2.37 - $2.90$4,266 - $5,220
Arkansas$14,220 - $17,340$2.37 - $2.89$4,266 - $5,202
California$14,460 - $17,640$2.41 - $2.94$4,338 - $5,292
Colorado$13,500 - $16,560$2.25 - $2.76$4,050 - $4,968
Connecticut$15,240 - $18,840$2.57 - $3.14$4,572 - $5,652
D.C.$15,540 - $19,020$2.59 - $3.17$4,662 - $5,706
Delaware$14,280 - $17,460$2.38 - $2.91$4,284 - $5,238
Florida$13,920 - $16,980$2.32 - $2.83$4,176 - $5,094
Georgia$12,600 - $15,420$2.10 - $2.57$3,780 - $4,626
Hawaii$14,400 - $17,580$2.40 - $2.93$4,320 - $5,274
Idaho$13,620 - $16,620$2.27 - $2.77$4,086 - $4,986
Illinois$13,860 - $16,920$2.31 - $2.82$4,158 - $5,076
Indiana$14,760 - $19,080$2.46 - $3.18$4,428 - $5,724
Iowa$13,680 - $16,680$2.28 - $2.78$4,104 - $5,004
Kansas$12,900 - $15,780$2.15 - $2.63$3,870 - $4,734
Kentucky$12,660 - $15,480$2.11 - $2.58$3,798 - $4,644
Louisiana$12,840 - $15,720$2.14 - $2.62$3,852 - $4,716
Maine$15,540 - $18,960$2.59 - $3.16$4,662 - $5,688
Maryland$14,760 - $18,060$2.46 - $3.01$4,428 - $5,418
Massachusetts$15,540 - $18,960$2.59 - $3.16$4,662 - $5,688
Michigan$14,340 - $17,520$2.39 - $2.92$4,302 - $5,256
Minnesota$14,760 - $18,060$2.46 - $3.01$4,428 - $5,418
Mississippi$14,280 - $17,400$2.38 - $2.90$4,284 - $5,220
Missouri$16,200 - $21,960$2.70 - $3.66$4,860 - $6,588
Montana$13,080 - $16,020$2.18 - $2.67$3,924 - $4,806
Nebraska$15,300 - $18,660$2.55 - $3.11$4,590 - $5,598
Nevada$14,100 - $17,220$2.35 - $2.87$4,230 - $5,166
New Hampshire$15,300 - $18,660$2.55 - $3.11$4,590 - $5,598
New Jersey$15,000 - $18,360$2.50 - $3.06$4,500 - $5,508
New Mexico$13,200 - $16,140$2.20 - $2.69$3,960 - $4,842
New York$15,480 - $18,900$2.58 - $3.15$4,644 - $5,670
North Carolina$13,440 - $16,380$2.24 - $2.73$4,032 - $4,914
North Dakota$13,080 - $16,020$2.18 - $2.67$3,924 - $4,806
Ohio$13,500 - $16,500$2.25 - $2.75$4,050 - $4,950
Oklahoma$14,160 - $17,280$2.36 - $2.88$4,248 - $5,184
Oregon$13,500 - $16,500$2.25 - $2.75$4,050 - $4,950
Pennsylvania$12,840 - $15,720$2.14 - $2.62$3,852 - $4,716
Rhode Island$14,250 - $17,760$2.42 - $2.96$4,275 - $5,328
South Carolina$14,160 - $17,280$2.36 - $2.88$4,248 - $5,184
South Dakota$12,900 - $15,780$2.15 - $2.63$3,870 - $4,734
Tennessee$13,440 - $16,380$2.24 - $2.73$4,032 - $4,914
Texas$15,000 - $18,300$2.50 - $3.05$4,500 - $5,490
Utah$14,340 - $17,520$2.39 - $2.92$4,302 - $5,256
Vermont$15,360 - $18,780$2.56 - $3.13$4,608 - $5,634
Virginia$14,340 - $17,520$2.39 - $2.92$4,302 - $5,256
Washington$15,000 - $18,300$2.50 - $3.05$4,500 - $5,490
West Virginia$14,280 - $17,400$2.38 - $2.90$4,284 - $5,220
Wisconsin$14,040 - $17,160$2.34 - $2.86$4,212 - $5,148
Wyoming$13,860 - $16,920$2.31 - $2.82$4,158 - $5,076

Average 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. Monocrystalline panels are the most common. Polycrystalline panels have the lowest cost, while thin-film panels are the least common on residential projects. You may not notice much of a difference for many homes, but there are variations in cost, energy output, and appearance. Below are the average costs per watt for the three types.

Cost per watt of a polycrystalline, thin-film, and monocrystalline cell solar panel

Cost per watt of a polycrystalline, thin-film, and monocrystalline cell solar panel

Type of CellsCost per Watt (Materials Only)
Polycrystalline$0.90 - $1
Thin-Film$1 - $1.50
Monocrystalline$1 - $1.50

Polycrystalline Solar Panel Price

Polycrystalline solar panels cost $0.90 to $1 a watt uninstalled. The biggest benefit of this panel type is its low cost. Many people do not use this type because the installation is larger than with a monocrystalline system and uses more space on the roof. String ribbon solar cells are a polycrystalline panel. You may see that name on the panel. Polycrystalline panels are made of cells constructed of many silicon crystal fragments. The fragments make it less expensive, but it is the least efficient panel type when producing electricity.

Thin-Film Solar Panels Cost

The cost of thin-film solar panels ranges from $1 to $1.50 per watt uninstalled. These panels are inexpensive and highly aesthetic. They are also portable, lightweight, and flexible. This makes them fast and easy to mount, so installation costs are often less. They are not as efficient as monocrystalline, but some homeowners prefer their appearance, particularly if they have a large roof they are covering in panels. They can be made from a range of materials arranged in thin-films on the surface.

Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Cells Price

The cost of monocrystalline solar panels averages $1 to $1.50 a watt uninstalled. This is the most expensive and efficient type. It is highly aesthetic and works well in various applications. This panel type is made of cells formed from whole silicon crystals. The whole crystal makes these panels much more efficient rather than the fragments that make up polycrystalline. It also makes them longer-lasting in some applications. Depending on where you install this panel, you may also opt for a bifacial option, which has the cells on both sides to maximize energy.

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Solar Panel Cost per Square Foot

You can use your home size to estimate the average cost of how much your solar panels cost, but this is only a general estimate because household energy needs vary. If you use many high-powered appliances, your energy needs could be higher, even if your house is smaller. For this reason, you can have an enormous range of costs for this project, regardless of the home size. Home size should only be used as a very general cost indicator. A better way is to look at your region and 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 grid dependency, the higher the installation cost.

Cost to install solar panels in a 1,000, 1,500, 2,000, and 2,500 sq.ft. home

Cost to install solar panels in a 1,000, 1,500, 2,000, and 2,500 sq.ft. home

House SizeAverage Costs (Installed)
1,000 sq.ft.$5,500 - $26,800
1,500 sq.ft.$6,700 - $27,500
2,000 sq.ft.$16,500 - $33,000
2,500 sq.ft.$20,100 - $50,250

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

Solar panels for a 1,000 sq.ft. home range from $5,500 to $26,800, with system sizes ranging from 2 to 8 kW. If you have gas heating, no central air conditioning, and are away from home during the day, your needs could be very low. Your needs are higher if you use electric heating, central air, or are home during the day. Your roof’s shape and slope and the region you live in also influence 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 $6,700 to $27,500, with system sizes ranging from 2 to 10 kW. Like smaller homes, your total energy needs vary by household. The more electric-based appliances you have, the more panels you need. 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 $16,500 and $33,000, with system sizes ranging from 6 to 12 kW. Your costs are determined by how much electricity you use each day. They are also determined by how much you want to reduce your grid dependency. While the average cost of installing solar panels on a home this size is $18,750, your costs can be much higher or lower. Having any electric HVAC system raises the number of panels you need. 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 $20,100 to $50,250, with system sizes ranging from 6 to 15 kW. Many factors determine the number of panels and cost. Homes of this size require more panels than smaller homes, even for basic needs. Your costs are higher if you add major electrical systems, such as HVAC. If you want to significantly reduce your grid dependency, your costs are higher. 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

Home size does not directly correlate with energy usage or solar panel needs. The number of bedrooms a home has does not perfectly equal a solar panel system but can be used for a general idea of your system cost. If you are unsure of your home’s exact size and want a general understanding of the costs of installing solar energy, this can be useful. However, every household has different needs. The best way to determine your energy needs is to look at your electric bill. Decide how much you want to reduce your grid dependency for a more accurate sense of your system size and cost. Below are the general cost ranges you can expect based on the number of bedrooms a home has.

Cost to install solar panels in 2, 3, and 4 rooms

Cost to install solar panels in 2, 3, and 4 rooms

Number of RoomsAverage Costs (Installed)
2 Rooms$5,500 - $26,800
3 Rooms$16,500 - $33,000
4 Rooms$16,500 - $50,250

Cost of Solar Panels for a 2-Bedroom House

The cost range for installing solar panels for a 2-bedroom home is $5,500 to $26,800. The average size of a 2-bedroom home in the U.S. is just over 1,100 sq.ft. 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, with system sizes ranging from 2 to 8 kW. 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 $16,500 to $33,000. The average 3-bedroom home in the U.S. is 2,000 sq.ft., but home sizes and energy needs vary. With 3 bedrooms, it can be assumed that 2 to 4 people occupy the house. At this size and occupancy, your costs are similar to other 2,000 sq.ft. homes, with system sizes ranging from 6 to 12 kW. 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 $16,500 to $50,250. 4-bedroom homes in the U.S. have a wider range of sizes. The average falls between 2,000 and 2,400 sq.ft. While the home may have 4 bedrooms, typical occupancy for homes of this size ranges from 2 to 5 people. This can mean your energy usage for a home this size starts at around 6 kW, while you could go as high as 18 kW for a very busy 4-bedroom home with 5 occupants and extremely high energy needs, but this is unlikely.

Solar Panel Price by Quantity

There are many solar panel types and sizes. The cost per panel varies greatly, depending on factors like the manufacturer, size, and location. You are unlikely to purchase a system by the panel because many panel systems are priced for the entire package and not by the number of panels being used. Solar panels come in several wattages, ranging from 250 to 600 watts per panel. Because systems are priced by the watt at $2.75 to $3.35, this makes 1 solar panel cost $687.50 to $2,010 installed. Some companies offer discounts for the more panels you purchase, meaning your cost per watt can decline for larger systems. However, this depends on the panel type and how many watts each uses because a panel with 600 watts is more costly than one with 250 watts, but you need fewer panels with 600 watt systems. This may mean that while 12 solar panels cost less than 16 solar panels cost or 24 solar panels cost, you may pay slightly more per watt, depending on the varying factors. Below are the average costs ranges per panel installed, depending on the system type.

Cost to install 1, 8, 10, 12, 18, 20, 24, and 30 solar panels

Cost to install 1, 8, 10, 12, 18, 20, 24, and 30 solar panels

Number of PanelsAverage Costs (Installed)
1 Panel$687.50 - $2,010
8 Panels$5,500 - $16,080
10 Panels$6,875 - $20,100
12 Panels$8,250 - $24,120
16 Panels$11,000 - $32,160
20 Panels$13,750 - $40,200
24 Panels$16,500 - $48,240
30 Panels$20,625 - $60,300

Solar Panel Installation Labor Cost by System Size

Labor to install your solar panel system consists of several things, including the panel installation and racking and balancing the system. Installation and labor also include setting up inverters, connecting panels, and connecting the system to your home’s electrical supply. Out of the $2.75 to $3.35 per watt in total costs, expect to pay between $0.94 to $1.14 in labor per watt. The larger the system, the more watts involved and the higher your labor costs. Some things that may impact your total labor costs include the inverter type and location, how many inverters your system requires, and if the system is mounted on your roof or the ground, with roof installations needing less labor to install. Below are the average labor costs you can expect to pay for systems of varying sizes.

Labor cost to install a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, and 18kW solar panel system

Labor cost to install a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, and 18kW solar panel system

System SizeAverage Labor Costs
2 kW$1,880 - $2,280
3 kW$2,280 - $3,420
4 kW$3,760 - $4,560
5 kW$4,700 - $5,700
6 kW$5,640 - $6,840
8 kW$7,520 - $9,120
10 kW$9,400 - $11,400
12 kW$11,280 - $13,680
15 kW$14,100 - $17,100
18 kW$16,920 - $20,520

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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 ensure your roof can handle the load. The site is blueprinted, and the panels are mounted onto a frame on your roof. They are then connected to the inverters, installed outside 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 $5,640 and $6,840 for the average 6 kW system or between $0.94 and $1.14 a watt for installation costs out of the total $2.75 to $3.35 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 is lower than for the second. The following is the percentage breakdown of the total cost.

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

Average Solar Installation Cost by Brand

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

Cost  per watt and for a 6kW system to install a Tesla, S-Energy, CertainTeed, Solaria, Hyundai, and SunPower solar panel

Cost  per watt and for a 6kW system to install a Tesla, S-Energy, CertainTeed, Solaria, Hyundai, and SunPower solar panel

BrandCost per Watt (Installed)Cost 6 kW System (Installed)
Tesla$2 - $2.75$12,000 - $16,500
S-Energy$2.23 - $3.26$13,380 - $19,560
CertainTeed$2.47 - $2.91$14,820 - $17,460
Solaria$2.46 - $3.04$14,760 - $18,240
Hyundai$2.48 - $3.56$14,880 - $21,360
SunPower$3.12 - $3.74$18,720 - $22,440

Tesla Solar Installation Cost

Tesla solar panels cost $2 to $2.75 a watt. This translates to $12,000 to $16,500 for a 6 kW 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 range of panels and has aggressively pushed the market to make panels widely accessible. They also carry a full line of batteries for backup systems.

S-Energy Solar Panels Price

The cost of S-Energy solar panels is $2.23 to $3.26 a watt. This translates to $13,380 to $19,560 for a 6 kW 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. They currently carry two lines of monocrystalline panels and one line of polycrystalline. Their focus is on durability, longevity, and performance.

CertainTeed Solar Panels Cost

The cost of CertainTeed solar panels is $2.47 to $2.91 a watt. This translates to $14,820 to $17,460 for a 6 kW system fully installed. Like all systems, installation costs vary tremendously. Factors like roof pitch, location, shade, and panel type impact the final costs. CertainTeed focuses on integrating solar into the home’s roof. This means they also have solar shingles, which can improve the look of your home and provide solar energy.

Solaria Solar Panels Price

Solaria solar panels cost $2.46 to $3.04 a watt. This translates to $14,760 to $18,240 for a 6 kW system fully installed. Several factors influence your final installation costs, including location, roof pitch, and inverter type. Solaria specializes in monocrystalline panels that are all black, improving their appearance and your roof’s aesthetics. Their panels are highly efficient and designed to work in many circumstances.

Hyundai Solar Panels Cost

Hyundai solar panels cost $2.48 to $3.56 a watt. This translates to $14,880 to $21,360 for a 6 kW 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 large range of monocrystalline solar panels, including watts up to 405 per panel.

SunPower Solar Cost

The cost of SunPower solar panels is $3.12 to $3.74 a watt. This translates to $18,720 to $22,440 for a 6 kW system fully installed. Several factors impact the installation cost. These include location, shade, roof pitch, and panel type. SunPower makes many panels, including flexible monocrystalline panels that can be used in more locations. They also focus on making panels that deliver the highest energy in all scenarios.

Average Solar Panel 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.

Cost to install a 6kW solar panel system in the roof and ground

Cost to install a 6kW solar panel system in the roof and ground

LocationCost for a 6 kW System (Installed)
Roof$16,500 - $20,100
Ground$25,500 - $30,300

Cost to Install Solar Panels on a Roof

The average cost of installing solar panels on the roof of your home is between $16,500 and $20,100 for a 6 kW system. Roof installations are the most common. They do not use additional space and cost less to purchase and install. However, they are difficult to access and clean. You must reinstall the panels if you replace your roof. They are also difficult to expand, so you may run out of space if you need more panels.

Ground-Mounted Solar Panels Cost

Ground-mounted panels range from $25,500 to $30,300 for a 6 kW system. Ground installations are less common for most grid-tied scenarios. They use considerably more space, so you need 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. It is also easy to add to your system in the future if you have the space.

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. They produce direct current or DC electricity or a one-directional flow of energy, meaning the current moves steadily in one direction from the panels through the wires to your home’s system. Most homes use AC or alternating current electricity, which occasionally changes direction with voltage, resulting in less energy and heat loss and a better, efficient current for your home and appliances. An inverter is required to convert the energy from DC to AC so that your home can use the energy. There are several inverters types, each with attributes and costs to consider.

Cost of a string inverter, power optimizer, micro inverter, and battery-based solar inverter

Cost of a string inverter, power optimizer, micro inverter, and battery-based solar inverter

TypeAverage Costs (Unit Only)
Power Optimizer$125 - $150
Micro Inverter$150 - $215
String Inverter$1,000 - $2,000
Battery-Based$2,000 - $2,300

Power Optimizer Cost

A power optimizer costs between $125 and $150 a piece.. These are not inverters, but they work with string inverters to give you better output. . You use one optimizer per panel, attached to the panel, rather than to the string inverter. Power optimizers can adjust the output of a panel based on how much sun it’s getting. If you have a complex roof where areas are in shade, the power optimizer can help the system adapt. . This makes them very efficient and can boost your total energy output.

Microinverter Cost

Microinverters average $150 to $215 per inverter. Micro inverters are designed to be used with one inverter per panel. While more expensive than string inverters in total, because you need one inverter for each panel, 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.

Solar String Inverter Price

The cost of a solar string inverter averages $1,000 to $2,000 per inverter. For this inverter type, you need one inverter or the system. Groups of panels are connected together into strings, and the strings are connected to the inverter. 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 one of the panels in that string has an issue with its output, all of the panels in that string will lower their output to match it. This means the entire string produces less electricity, even if the issue is confined to one panel.This makes them less efficient. In central inverters, if you lose a string, you lose all power, which makes them less popular.

Battery-Based Inverters Price

Battery-based inverters cost between $2,000 and $2,300. These inverters are for use in off-grid situations. In this scenario, your 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 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.

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Solar Inverter Price by System Wattage

Inverter types function differently. Some inverters require you to purchase one per panel, while others cover multiple panels at once. When calculating your inverter costs, you need to know the number of watts you intend to produce. The average cost per watt for most inverters falls between $0.75 and $1.15 a watt, depending on the inverter type and your location. Because most 2,000 sq.ft. homes use 6 kW of energy, you need inverters for 6 kW, costing $4,500 to $6,900, depending on the inverter type. Some inverter types require more inverters and labor than others, so a 3 kW inverter price ranges considerably, with micro inverters costing the most and string inverters costing less. A 5 kW inverter price can range greatly, but string inverters can handle many panels per inverter, so costs can be lower per watt in some cases, depending on how the system is set up. Below are the average costs for the inverters based on the system size.

Cost of a 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 10kW solar system inverter

Cost of a 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 10kW solar system inverter

System WattageCost (Unit Only)
1 kW$750 - $1,150
2 kW$1,500 - $2,300
3 kW$2,250 - $3,450
5 kW$3,750 - $5,750
6 kW$4,500 - $6,900
10 kW$7,500 - $11,500

Solar Panel Mounting System Cost by Type

Another component you may not give much thought to in your solar installation is the mounting system. This is what your solar panels attach to. If you have a roof installation, the mounting system type depends on your roof material. If you cannot penetrate the roof to install it, a ballast method must be used. However, nearly all residential roof installations are known as a fixed mount. They use small brackets to hold the system in place. However, if your roof cannot be penetrated to use the brackets, you can use a ballasted system to hold your panels on the roof. This system uses weights on either side of the roof to balance and hold the system. If you have a commercial installation, you need a tilt or adjustable mount. These allow you to move and adjust the panels for more sunlight over the day. If you have a ground installation, you have even more options, including a basic pole mount and the adjustable and tracking options for off-grid setups that need more sunlight. Costs do not impact your installation much because the racking only makes up roughly 10% of total costs. However, the mount type can impact how it looks and works. Below are the average costs for the different mounting systems per panel.

Cost of a fixed, ballasted, pole, adjustable, and tracking solar panel mount

Cost of a fixed, ballasted, pole, adjustable, and tracking solar panel mount

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

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?

Solar panel systems come in a large number of sizes, including varying panel sizes. While the average panel produces around 400 watts, there are smaller panels that produce just 250 watts and larger panels that can produce up to 600 watts. This means the number of panels you need will be based partly on the total number of watts you need for your home and the panel size and type. For example, the average 2,000 sq.ft. home will use a system of around 6 kW or 6,000 watts. For a system of this size, you may need 10 panels if using large 600-watt panels or 24 smaller 250-watt panels. Most homes typically need around 15,400 watt panels. But the brand, panel type, and how they are laid out all impact the total number of panels you need. The best way to determine this is to find your average energy usage, determine how much of this you want to offset by the panels, and speak to your local solar companies to find the best setup for your needs. Your total size will be calculated by the installer to best fit your home’s energy requirements.

How Much Do Solar Panels Save?

Solar panels will save you monthly on your electric bill, but the exact amount varies depending on where you live, the number of hours of sunlight, and the system size. The average 400-watt solar panel can produce 1.8 kWh of electricity over the average day with 4.5 hours of sunlight. With a 6 kW system, you will produce 27 kWh daily. Over a month, that produces 810 kWh. The average household typically uses 893 kWh per month, meaning you will save more than 90% on your electric bill with solar panels, assuming an average 2,000 sq.ft. home in an area with average sunlight. If you live in an area with more sunlight, have lower energy needs, or invest in a larger system, you could save up to 100% on your monthly electricity needs. This means that most solar panels will see a 100% return on investment in between 9 and 12 years after they are installed, with some seeing this much sooner if you have higher-than-average amounts of sunlight.

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 can lease panels monthly. This has a wide range of monthly costs based on your area and things like the system size, averaging $50 to $250 per month, depending on the size and company. 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. Getting a loan can also be an option for those who cannot afford such a large payment

Solar power might appear expensive, but you are paying for power anyway. The difference is after several year with solar your system is paid for. After several years of paying your electric bill, month after month, with power costs going up year after year, the only thing you have earned is the right to continuing doing it for the rest of your life.

Mark Hagerty, solar energy expert
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Pros and Cons

Solar panels have numerous benefits for most homeowners. They can dramatically lower your monthly energy costs, and many states have additional benefits to help you gain even more. If your state has net metering, you may get credits on your energy bill for any additional energy you produce that goes to the grid. You may also be able to sell credits for extra energy produced, which can become a small income source. These things can all greatly offset the cost of the panels, allowing you to reduce your monthly expenditures. Solar energy is also more environmentally friendly so that eco-conscious homeowners can feel better about their energy choices.

However, solar panels are a costly upfront purchase, even with credits, rebates, and state incentives. Credits come when you file your taxes, so even with lowered costs, you still need to pay or finance the full amount upfront. Solar panels are also very obvious on the roof of the home, and many people dislike their appearance. It can also be difficult to maintain your roof with the panels in place because they need to be removed and reinstalled to repair or replace the roofing material. While many believe the positives of solar panels offset these negatives, consider them before purchase.

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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, with many inspections also involving cleaning to ensure the panels are working at optimum levels. Solar panel annual maintenance costs average $400 a year, including the inspections and cleaning, with some also covering minor repairs. Additional repairs may have extra costs. Some warranties require twice-a-year inspections, while others require more frequent maintenance. 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. These costs are not factored into the yearly costs because they are less common, with repair costs averaging $400 to $1,000.

Cost to Add Solar Panels to an Existing System

Adding solar panels to an existing system is around the same as a new installation - about $2.75 to $3.35 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 6 kW or 8 kW grid-tied system on most homes is not easily expanded because it will already take up most of the available space on the roof. Sometimes, you can upgrade your existing panels to those with higher wattage. This costs closer to $3.35 a watt because these panels cost more.

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 averages $2,800 to $4,800. Moving panels is difficult and requires carefully unmounting them, removing them, taking them to a 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.

Photovoltaic panels on a roof

Leasing vs Buying Solar Panels

Solar leasing has become relatively popular as more people hope to save on their energy bills without paying a huge amount to purchase a solar panel system. However, leasing and buying have pros and cons. You often pay more over time with solar leasing than you would by purchasing the solar panels outright with cash or a loan. With a loan, monthly payments will eventually pay off the system while the lease payments are ongoing. This makes the most sense only 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. You will get higher solar savings in the long run by purchasing - even with a loan - than you will with a lease.

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 save you more money long-term than it would have with leasing.

Solar Thermal Panels vs Photovoltaic Panels

In addition to the many other choices you have when it comes to solar, you also have two panel types to choose from. 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 can 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 it 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 of $2.75 to $3.35, depending on the manufacturer.

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Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Solar Panel Roof Tiles Cost

Solar panel roof tiles cost $21 to $25 per sq.ft. installed 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 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, you can also 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, but a separate system may be more efficient for homes with high hot water needs.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Permits. Permits are needed to install solar panels. Some cities also have specific regulatory codes. The property owner can submit all the 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.
  • Taxes. Solar panels frequently have tax breaks, rebates, and tax subsidies. Normally, these programs reduce the cost of purchasing and installing solar panels by 30%. 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%. If your state participates in the Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) market, you may be able to sell additional solar energy for credits, further offsetting the system cost.
  • Excess power. In over 40 states, utility companies buy excess power from solar panel users. In some regions, the utility company gives the panel owner a credit on their energy bill. The process is known as net metering.
  • Licenses. When choosing a contractor, always ensure 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.
  • Bids. It is recommended that you get several bids from licensed solar panel contractors before choosing. Ensure the bids clearly state the maximum generating capacity of the system being installed. Because companies may state the capacity differently, ask for one consistent output, such as wattage or kilowatt hours, whenever possible.
  • Warranty. 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.
  • Monitoring software. Some solar panel installation companies provide system monitoring software for smartphones or computers to ensure it continues functioning at peak performance. This also allows homeowners to track the system’s energy production/efficiency.
  • Roof condition. Once a solar array is installed, working on a roof is difficult. So before installation, ensure your roof is in top condition and the roofing material does not need to be replaced or repaired.
  • NABCEP. When choosing a solar panel contractor, ensure they have accreditation from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). The NABCEP guarantees that all members have adequate knowledge and experience in solar panel installation.
  • Financing. Solar panels are expensive, but there are ways you can pay for them in addition to simply paying upfront in full. Solar loans and solar leases are available from many companies, enabling you to make fixed monthly payments. Loans qualify you for incentive programs like the tax credit, but leasing does not. Power purchasing agreements let you pay just for the energy you use rather than the entire system. This can fluctuate each month like an electric bill, but it is often less expensive and greener. The company maintains the ownership of the panels, and you do not qualify for any additional solar incentives.


  • Can solar panels work at night?

Solar panels require the sun to shine to function. The panels cannot generate electricity in darkness. If you want them to power your home at night, you need batteries to store excess energy during the day for use when the sun goes down

  • Do clouds affect solar panels?

Solar panels do not produce as much electricity on cloudy days. Most still produce enough electricity to offset the majority of your electricity needs, but you may notice higher bills during cloudier months.

  • 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 much does it cost to get solar panels?

Solar panels typically cost from $16,500 to $20,100 to install on the average home using a 6 kW system. A system of this size would be used on a 2,000 sq.ft. home. If your home is larger or smaller, you may have different costs.

  • How much do batteries for solar panels cost?

Solar batteries range from $8,500 to more than $10,000 on average, including all installation and setup. Your costs vary depending on the battery type and how many you need for your home.

  • How do you install a solar panel?

Hooking solar panels up to your home is a difficult task involving high-voltage wiring, so 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. 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. The entire process takes roughly 2 days to complete.

  • How much can you save with solar panels?

Solar panels typically save you more than 90% of your electric bill each month. The larger your system, the more it may offset your electric bill. Most systems pay for themselves in 9 to 12 years.

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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