Loading, please wait...
Cost to install solar panels varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). Get free estimates from solar energy contractors in your city.
Cost to install solar panels varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
Get free estimates from solar energy contractors in your city.
The average cost of installing solar panels is $18,000.
In recent years, the price of solar panels has become far more affordable. Solar panels effectively make electricity by utilizing 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 onwards to an inverter which converts it to electricity.
An average household in the United States consumes about 1 kW per hour (kWh) of electricity. Each 30-day month has 720 hours and the average price of 1 kW is $0.10. A solar panel has the capability of generating 10 kilowatts per square foot. For every kW generated, you will need 100 square feet of solar panels to power 100 square feet of home space. Solar panels typically cost $7-$9 per kilowatt. An average 6 kW solar panel system costs around $18,000 to power a 2,500 square foot home.
Prior to purchasing a solar panel system to power your home, there are several things to consider.
The roof where the solar panels are going to be installed must receive direct sunlight. Ideally, this should be during the day between 10am and 2 pm, when the sun is at its strongest. Many things such as tall buildings, trees, or chimneys can prevent the solar panels from receiving adequate sunlight.
The location you live in also has a bearing on the efficiency of solar panels. A home located in Las Vegas, Nevada will more readily generate energy than a home located in Chicago, Illinois. This phenomenon has to do with the positioning of the Earth and is known as “insolation”. The region that you live in determines how much solar radiation reaches the ground. A solar installation company can help you determine your region’s insolation.
You will need to determine your home’s monthly kilowatt usage by looking at your monthly energy bill. Generally, a household uses 1 kW per hour of electricity or 24 kWh per day. Solar panels differ but in general a 250 W solar panel will produce 1 kW per day if the panel receives 4 hours of direct sun. This means that you will need 24 panels to produce 24 kWh per day.
The roof spaced needed to install a solar panel is typically 100 square feet of roof space for every 1 kW of conventional solar panels. Ideally, the roof should have a 45-degree pitch, but solar panels will function with a pitch as low as 10 to 15 degrees and only experience a 4 percent drop in energy creation.
Solar panels are fully automated and designed to be safe. You should never alter, work on, or repair your system because you could inadvertently expose yourself to harmful electrical currents. Plus, working on the system yourself will normally invalidate any manufacturer’s warranty. The panels should never be touched or disturbed. If your system has an inverter, it should be kept away from pets and children.
Off-grid solar systems do not have the benefit of having electrical backup. They must depend on batteries to store electricity at night or during times when the panels do not receive adequate sunlight. Grid-tied solar systems do not require a battery backup system because at night or during cloudy days when the solar panels do not produce energy, you can rely on the utility company’s electricity.
No bill from a power company
No need to install costly power poles
No need to have a power company close by
Batteries must be installed to store up ample power for the days when there is no direct sunlight
Cannot rely on a power company as a backup power source
The power company is always available as a backup power source
Power can be sold back to the power company, which is a process known as net metering
Fewer upfront costs
Requires no batteries
Fewer panels can be used to only produce a portion of the power instead of 100 percent
Additional panels can then be installed at a later date
It cannot function if the grid does not function such as during a power outage
It can be costly to install the necessary power poles to tie into the grid
Sizing your home’s solar panels will help guarantee that you are able to access adequate power to meet your family’s needs. Ensuring adequate power is extremely important for stand-alone, off-grid systems. Ultimately you will have to determine your family’s exact power needs each day. Your system installer will be able to provide you with precise information after they visit your home and calculate all of the varying factors that fit your unique situation. However, the common rule of thumb states that it will take 100 square feet of roof space for every 1 kW of conventional solar panels.
Solar power systems are all classified by their rated power output. This is the peak power that the system will output when exposed to sufficient sunlight. All solar panel systems have a nameplate that states the panel’s power rating under industry standards. Residential solar panels normally rate between 250 to 300 wants. This is commonly referred to as a high efficiency rating. A high rating means that the panel will produce more power per square inch of panel space than a panel with a lower rating. A panel with a high power output rating requires less surface space to produce power and can be sized smaller than a panel with a lower rating. Typically a panel with a higher power rating costs more to purchase. Solar panels cost around $0.75 per watt so a panel rated 250 watts would cost $187.50.
Numerous factors such as the home’s energy needs, roof space, temperature sensitivity, degree of shading, and tilt required in the region to optimize the sun’s light all must be considered when installing a system and not the simply the panel’s peak power efficiency. These key considerations are what ultimately determine the overall price of the unit and installation, as each home is unique and must undergo precise evaluations to tailor the specific solar power system to meet its individual needs.
There are four main types of solar panels. Solar panels are generally classified according to their cell type. In the following table you can find a summary of their pros and cons.
Monocrystalline silicon solar cells
($99.80 per 100 watt panel)
Made from grade silicon
Efficiency rating of 15 to 20 percent
Require very little space
Can produce four times the electricity as other panels
25 year warranty
Perform better in low light than other solar panels
If the panel is partially covered by leaves, snow, or other debris the entire circuit can break down
More efficient in warm weather
The manufacturing process wastes silicon
Polycrystalline silicon solar cells
($119.99 per 100 watt panel)
|Wastes less silicon during manufacturing|
Efficiency is only 10 to 13 percent
A larger surface area needs to be covered by panels in order to achieve adequate energy creation
Not aesthetically pleasing
String ribbon solar cells
($164.89 per 100 watt panel)
|Uses very little silicon|
Efficiency is only 13 to 14 percent
Considered to be the least efficient of all solar panels types
Thin-film solar cells (TFSC)
($184.99 per 100 watt panel)
Tolerates some shading and high heat
Difficult for most residential settings because of their size
Support structures and cables are expensive
There are three types of solar mounts 1 1: static, adjustable, and single/dual axle tracking. A static mount 1 1 is non-adjustable and must stay in a fixed position after installation. An adjustable mount 1 1 allows the angle and tilt of the solar panel to be manually adjusted to receive adequate sunlight. A single/dual axle tracking mount 1 automatically powers itself to move and track the sun’s light so each panel receives ample light exposure. The panels tilt and slide on a single/dual axle tracking mount 1.
Works well in regions of the country that receive ample sunlight
Designed for regions of the country with little or no snow
Produces less energy than tracking or adjustable mounts 1
Can be adjusted with the changing seasons
Can be lowered during wind or heavy snowfall
The mount 1 allows the panel to be laid flat to not obstruct views
Does not rotate
Requires manual adjustments
Not ideal for large panels
A wide array of sizes are available to fit numerous application
Dual axles rotate and allow greater movement of the panel than a single axle tracking mount 1
Requires more maintenance
More site preparation required than with other mounting systems 1
There are four main types of inverters commonly used with solar panels: string 2 inverters, central inverters, microinverters, and battery-based inverters with chargers. String 2 inverters and central inverters convert power from multiple panels while microinverters only convert power from one panel. A battery-based inverter features built-in 3 batteries so the unit functions successfully off-grid or on-grid. All inverters function by converting the DC output of the solar panel to usable AC.
The prices of inverters vary and depend on the region of the country, the size and number of solar panels, and the watts needed.
Can be paired with power optimizers
Less expensive than other inverters
10 year warranty that can be extended to 25
Do not work well in shaded locations
If even one panel is shaded, the string inverter’s performance will be greatly reduced
Can support more string panels
Fewer component connections
Requires an additional pad and combiner box
Not suitable for residential homes
Works well in the shade
25 year limited manufacturer’s warranty
Monitors the performance of each panel
Often sold already integrated into the panel
Can be used on grid or off-grid
Provides continuous operation
Requires a battery to operate
Solar thermal and photovoltaic are two very different things. With solar thermal the sun’s heat is used to operate a heat engine that flows into and turns a generator’s mechanisms. The generator can then make heat and creates electricity. Solar thermal is used to power large steam engines, turbines, and other commercial applications. Photovoltaic is used to operate residential solar panels. The term photovoltaic refers to the conversion of sunlight into energy by solar panels.
Prior to installing solar panels you will want to take into consideration the site. Will the panels be mounted on the roof or ground-mounted? Ideally, wherever you place the solar panels the site should be free of shading between the hours of 10 am to 2 pm. Facing the panels south is the perfect positioning. If mounting the panels on a roof, then the roof should have a 45-degree pitch, although the pitch varies depending on the region. For example, in Hawaii, the roof pitch should be a 20-degree pitch. The roof must be in optimum condition with no leaks before mounting the solar panels.
Prior to installing the solar panels a solar installation company will perform a site survey. During a site survey, they will collect the home’s historical electricity usage to determine the size of the solar panel system that needs to be installed. They will then measure the roof and determine how much sun the area receives each day. The solar technicians will access the home’s current electrical system to determine its compatibility with a solar panel system. They will also verify the roof’s structural stability. The site survey is a very important part of having solar panels installed because it normally validates the manufacturer’s warranty. The cost of the site survey is typically included in the entire price of the solar panel installation package price. The solar installation company creates a blueprint 4 of your home and the work that will be done to install the system.
Upon completion of the blueprint 4, the installation process begins. The installation crew will mount the solar panels, tie the panels into an inverter, and hook the inverter to the home’s electrical system. From start to finish, the price of installing solar panels into a 2,500 square foot home generally costs around $18,000-$20,000 for a typical residential solar system with a tracking mount system 1.
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 $150. Some warranties require twice-a-year inspections while others require more frequent maintenances. The panels will be inspected and cleaned. The technician will also inspect all components to make sure everything is functioning properly.
Solar leasing has become relatively popular as more people hope to save on their energy bills without having to pay out a huge amount of money to purchase a solar panel system. However, leasing and buying both have their pros and cons.
No yearly maintenance bills
Do not need to pay for possible repairs
Contracts last typically 20 to 25 years
Monthly lease payments
Won’t own the solar panel system
Unable to collect tax incentives
Own the systemIncreases the value of your home
Can collect tax incentives
Yearly maintenance costs
Solar panels require the sun to be shining in order to function. The panels cannot generate electricity in darkness.
Solar panels do not produce as much electricity during cloudy days.
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.
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. The solar panels will need to be mounted in a sunny location and then all of the panels must be connected with cables. After the panels are connected, they will need to be hooked up to an inverter to create the needed electricity.
Solar panels typically cost from $25,000-$35,000 to have installed.
SolarCity costs $3.18 per watt.
Solar batteries range from $5,000-$7,000.
Installation of a solar panel requires a licensed solar panel contractor. A solar panel must be mounted so the panels receive adequate sunlight. Ideally they should be placed facing south or west. You will need to decide if you will be installing the panel onto the roof or onto a ground mounting bracket 1.
Over the course of 20 years, solar panels can save from $7,000-$28,000 depending on what area of the country you live in.
It normally takes two days for a solar panel company to install solar panels on a typical residenc
Cost to install solar panels varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). Get free estimates from solar energy contractors in your city.