sunny view of home with solar panels on it

How Much Are Solar Panels? 7 Facts to Make a Great Decision

Solar energy is one of the most renewable energy sources on Earth, ranked second only to geothermal energy. While only four percent of American homes have solar panels installed today (PV Magazine USA), the industry is expected to grow by 15.4% per year from the current year through 2030 (Grand View Research). About 13-14% of US homes are expected to have a few solar panels installed by 2030.

Industries that grow by 5-10% annually are doing well, so the solar panel industry is moving at an excellent pace by comparison. Considering adding solar panels to one’s house leads many people to ask, “How much are solar panels?”

The cost might not be as much as you think, but it may be more depending on what your residential solar energy goals are. Get all the insights you need to make a clear decision about home solar panel use in this blog post.

closeup of solar panels

How Much Are Solar Panels?

The cost of solar panels depends on the brand you choose, the size of your system, and the installation costs associated with it. The average cost per watt ranges from $2.35 to $2.90 depending on the state you live in.

A standard 5kW to 6kW system usually costs between $10,000 and $40,000, with most homeowners paying between $13,000 and $16,000 for a two- to three-bedroom home. With a solar federal tax credit, many buyers only end up paying between $9,000 and $12,000.

Your total expenses also include the panel technology you choose. Monocrystalline solar panels are both more efficient and more expensive to produce because–as the name implies–they’re produced from single silicon crystals. Polycrystalline solar panels are less expensive but also less efficient because they’re made by blending silicon from multiple sources.

If you’re investing in solar energy for the long haul, monocrystalline panels are usually the right choice. You’ll get the greatest value for your money and only need to maintain your panels and replace them if completely broken.

If you’re trying solar energy for the first time, consider polycrystalline panels. You’ll save money upfront and know after a few weeks to months how well things are working.

End-to-end solar panel system installations cost thousands of dollars not because of the panels, but because of the labor, fees, and specialized equipment costs associated with them. Solar energy systems require compatibility with electrical boxes and most of the time, it’s best to leave your panels’ configurations to experienced professionals.

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Solar Panel Installation Cost

When it comes to solar panel installation cost, the most important factor is the complexity of the project. If you want to install a small system that only covers a few square feet of roof space, then installation costs should be relatively low. However, if you’re looking to install a larger system that covers more roof space and requires additional hardware, then installation costs can quickly add up.

Another factor that affects installation costs is whether all of your panels will be installed on your roof or if any will be ground-mounted. If you’re installing a ground-mounted system, then installation costs are usually higher due to the additional hardware and labor required. Some jurisdictions have different permit requirements for utility systems installed on land.

Finally, the installation labor cost varies greatly by region. The company you choose and their professionalism, reliability, and speed all dictate the final price. Some homeowners pay $3,000 whereas others may pay as much as $4,500 or more. Keep in mind solar installers almost always include the labor as part of the total installation price.

Average Cost of Solar Panels

The average cost of solar panels ranges from $2.35 to $3.50 per watt. For a 5kW system, this averages to a total expense range of $11,750 to $17,500, if no tax credits or discounts are applied.

The total cost of a complete solar energy system depends on where you’re installing it, local laws and regulations, the company you hire, and any variables with your home electrical system. US states like Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin have higher average installation rates and states like Kentucky, Florida, and Alaska have lower average installation costs.

sunny view of home with solar panels on it

How Much Does It Cost to Install Solar Panels?

Solar panel installation costs without equipment or advanced configurations typically range from $2,000 to $4,000. This price range is only the labor required to get solar panels properly positioned and available for operation.

Residential Solar Panel Cost

If you’re wondering how many solar panels to power a house and how much they cost, the answer varies widely.

The cost of residential solar panels varies noticeably from state to state, but most American homeowners are paying about $2.55 per watt. This means that a 5kW system would cost $12,750 and a 6kW system costs $15,300.

How Much Do Ground-Mounted Solar Panels Cost?

Ground-mounted solar panels are more expensive and complex to install, so their average cost per watt ranges from $2.50 to $4.00. With a normal 5kW system for most homeowners, this costs between $12,500 and $20,000.

aerial view of several solar panels

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Solar Panel?

The cost to build your own solar panel or system depends on the crystal type and total size as well as other electrical components you’re using. If you’re on a smaller budget, you can still build a solar energy system for as little as $1.00 to $2.00 per watt. With a standard 5kW system you’ll end up shelling out between $5,000 and $10,000.

Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Panel Costs

It’s not easy to navigate the seemingly endless complexities of the solar panel market, given how relatively new it is. If you have more questions than answers, don’t worry because that’s completely normal.

We researched several of the most frequently asked questions about solar panel expenses and whether or not such costs justify the decision. Check out what we found and our answers below:

home with solar panels on the roof

How Much Is 1 Panel of a Solar Panel?

The solar panel brand and size chosen dictate the cost of one solar panel, but most individual panels run about $200 to $330. Bear in mind that one panel is made up of 32 to 96 cells, which is contingent upon the solar panel brand.

Is Buying a Solar Panel Worth It?

Life-changing decisions like upgrading your home electricity source can’t be distilled down to a one-size-fits-all answer, but many homeowners find that solar energy was worth the investment. If you’ve saved the money necessary for some or all of your residential electricity costs to come from solar panels, chances are you’ll see a return quickly.

Instances where people may regret investing in solar panels include regions that don’t have a lot of sunlight or improper installation and maintenance. It’s crucial to know what you’re getting yourself into with solar panels so you don’t end up spending more than you anticipated, or scrapping the endeavor altogether.

What Are the 2 Main Disadvantages to Solar Energy?

Two of the main disadvantages of solar panels include the fact that solar energy storage is costly and not all days have perfect sunlight. In fact, over 80% of the US’ 25 sunniest cities are on the Pacific Coast. If you don’t live in that area, your chances of optimal year-round sunlight are already limited.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use solar panels or will never see cost savings from them. It does mean you should think carefully about what solar panels you want and ensure you get them installed professionally for maximum efficiency.

Is Solar Worth It In My State?

The state you live in and its average annual sunny weather determines whether or not switching to 100% solar energy will be worth your time. Look up your state’s average number of sunny days per year to see what you can expect. If the result is promising, solar energy is a sound investment. If not, you may consider replacing only part of your monthly electric bill with solar panels.

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

Solar panels made by an excellent manufacturer can last 25 years or longer, as long as they’re maintained and cleaned according to the same manufacturer’s instructions. Residential solar panels that were installed decades ago are still operational, and solar panel longevity will only increase as manufacturing processes and original equipment become more efficient.

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The Bottom Line

Solar panels are a great way to reduce your energy costs and take advantage of a renewable and sustainable energy source. Once you’ve saved enough money for the upfront expenses, you may see a return on your investment within the same year, as long as you’re using your panels as often as possible.

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