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Published on February 4th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan

169

What Is The Current Cost Of Solar Panels?

February 4th, 2014 by  

If you’re considering solar, and you’re like most people, one of the first questions you may ask is: How much do solar panels cost? Solar is a great idea for many people, not only to cut their utility bills but also to reduce their dependence on their utility, while also cutting their own personal footprint. The cost of solar is one major element in the decision to go solar, however.

I can very easily answer the question “How much do solar panels cost?” (see below), but I think the real question you’re asking is “How much will it cost to put solar panels on my roof?” That’s a more complicated question to answer, but I’ll explain in more detail and provide some useful perspective on that in the article below.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost Today?

Solar panels themselves are now a global product. There’s tremendous variation in the cost of solar panels based on the type and efficiency of the solar panels. However, the type of panels used for residential solar installations is quite standard and the costs are basically set globally. That cost has fallen tremendously within the past few years — they’re now about half the price they were in 2008, and about 100 times lower than they were back in 1977. The latest US Solar Market Insight report (from Q3) put the price at $0.70/watt. A report from REC Solar shows that the price in Q2 as a bit higher — about $0.73/watt. Still, the price is very low compared to 2008 or 2009, and insanely low compared to 2000.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost… On My Roof?

But when you ask “How much do solar panels cost?,” what I think you really want to know is how much it costs to put solar panels on your roof, right?

The bulk of the price of going solar is now the “soft costs” (installation, permitting, etc.) rather than the solar panel cost. Again referencing the latest US Solar Market Insight report, the average installed cost of a residential solar panel system was $4.72/watt. However, prices vary tremendously by region. “Common residential system prices ranged from less than $3.00/W to just above $7.00/W,” the Solar Energy Industries Association writes. The total price of a system, of course, varies tremendously based on the size of your roof and your electricity needs.

So, the key is really just to get an initial quote and then get a closer look at your situation from a local installer, who can give you a more specific quote.

How Much Does It Cost To Go Solar? & How Much Will I Save?

But when it comes down to it, what you probably really need to know is how much it will cost you to actually go solar. And a related question would be how much you will save in the long run.

In many places now, you can go solar for $0 or close to $0 down through solar leasing companies or through simple bank loans. Then you’re just paying monthly payments like you would on a house, car, or college loan. However, in this case, your payments are likely to be less than the amount of money you’re saving on your electricity bill. So, really, you’re not paying any more than you’re already paying for electricity… you’re saving money!

solar power savings How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

Studies have found that the average solar homeowner will save about $20,000 over 20 years from going solar. In three of the four most populous states in the country, that 20-year total is actually $30,000In Hawaii, it’s up above $60,000! And that’s just the average.

But, again, the financing options and the savings really depend on where you live and some personal circumstances (like how much you’re spending on electricity right now). So, what you really need to do is get a solar quote if you’re interested in finding out how much solar panels cost for you.

How-Much-Does-Solar-Power-Cost 
 
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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) one letter at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of EV Obsession, Gas2, Solar Love, Planetsave, or Bikocity; or as president of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, energy storage, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media: ZacharyShahan.com, .



  • Itsme!

    PLUS, if you need to re roof your house….before you have solar installed, then you start wondering….I find it odd, so many are concerned about energy usage, wanting us to save energy…why in the hell do the panels cost so much, a lot of us cannot afford it.

  • Fox Fetterworth

    This is a totally biased website produced by people who clearly have a “green” crap agenda. Just take a look at the “About” page and the people behind this site.

    The major problem with trying to get unbiased information on these so-called “renewables” is that ALL the websites are pushing a point of view.

    • Bob_Wallace

      This site is highly fact based.

      Sounds like you’d be happier on a site that relies on fantasy. Do avoid sites that push facts, you may find them inconvenient….

  • JuanCarlos

    Hi Fellow
    Really interesting all the comments.
    Someone with the initial capital is invite me to produce solar panel, what are you recommendations?

    Thank you in advance.

  • http://turbulencex.org/ Nicholas Littlejohn

    Hgtv is not your least cost option by far.

  • SAMURAI36

    I feel like the direct question of “how much does solar panels cost” never gets answered directly. I know even less about the price of solar panels after reading this article, than before.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “how much does solar panels cost”

      That is a question that cannot be answered. It’s too general.

      What size solar panel? How many are you going to buy at once? Where are you located? Do you want silicon or thin film? Do you want high efficiency in order pack more watts into a given area or do you have plenty space to spread them around?

      Are you talking about buying just solar panels or you talking about an installed solar system? What size system? Where are you located? What sort of roof slope, material?

      Are you going to buy today or perhaps month from now when the price is likely to be down?

      Try to ask a specific question and we’ll see what we can find for you.

  • eveee

    Subsidies per watt generated is a BS argument. If you took oil in the first years of development or any other new technology it would also show unfavorably. Thats because volumes have not yet had time to reach peaks while costs fall. Thats how it works. Any new technology will show the same thing.

    Lets turn it around. Subsidies are for new industries are growing and lowering costs, to get them kickstarted.

    Does that apply to oil? No. Oil is milking the taxpayer, not lowering costs. Its old tech that is only getting worse.

    How about wind and solar?

    Costs are dropping rapidly. Thats where subsidy pays off.

  • kay

    really who wants to finance 45k for 30 years plus interest not worth it when the life
    expectancy is 79.5 years and when your in your 60’s. you’d be way over
    your head…and who wants’ to die in debt … when we had our estimate in 2014 that;s what it was for a
    1600 sq ft home in SO. CA .and that was after subsidies. So government
    wants people to convert and solar companies jack the prices up so high
    that only the rich can afford them…kinda stupid when it’s suppose to
    be good of the environment. I have one decided to stay outa debit…if
    it had been under 20k including interest I might of went for it…but
    like I said at my age I like being debt free.

  • Francis

    May I know why the use of solar Energy is not introduced to Nigeria where there is soo much sunlight

  • Epicurus

    And the crops that have the biggest lobbies get the biggest subsidies. Hey corn lobby, thanks for the ethanol boondoggle and high fructose corn syrup. Corn farming isn’t even economical without federal subsidy (see the documentary “King Corn”).

    Subsidizing cotton and tobacco? Outrageous..

  • Douglas Card

    I live in So Cal and my bill comes in at about .30 per kWh. A 4kW system installation would cost about .18 per kWh over a 20 year amortization and pay for itself in 8 years of less. If you live in an area/city where the electricity cost is less than .18 per kWh you won’t save as much. The devil is in the details, but for a lot of us it makes perfect economic sense even if you don’t care about cutting FF emissions.

    • Epicurus

      .30/kWh? How does the utility justify that price? What’s the primary source? Nuclear?

      Paying .11/kWh in N. Tx (quoted rate .06 with .05 added in taxes and fees).

      • http://turbulencex.org/ Nicholas Littlejohn

        It’s to encourage conservation.

        • Epicurus

          And maybe to raise revenue for the monopoly so it can build more plants.

  • tftillman

    This article is a bit misleading. The cost of panels is about right, at about .72 per peak watt, retail cost. However, comparing this to total cost at 4.72 a watt seems to indicate that installation and permitting are 4.00 a watt. Actually, the inverters cost about as much as the panels. Then you have racks and wire, swtiches, etc. You can get systems for around 2.00 a watt or less. this would include all the parts to do it if you were to mostly self install.(Get an electrician to connect it.) Count up a 30% federal tax credit and a 25% state credit (in AZ) and your cost is cut in half. Of course, you have to owe taxes to get a tax credit.
    This still puts dealer installed system labor at well over 2.00 a watt. That, in my opinion is way too much. If you are careful at what you buy, and self install, you can see a payback time of as little as 2-3 years, based on about .12 / kwh here in AZ
    I see this article as of today, 3/19/15 is about a year old. Things have changed since then, but the article is popping up on my news feed as if it were current. hmmm…

  • kjfghdhtyi8o7yutjfghdxgftjruk7

    i farted

  • Richard Ilaner

    Why pay a huge amount like $1000’s for utilization of solar or wind power when you can have the opportunity to build your own home made solar system for less than $200. You can Learn more on w w w . i n p l i x . c o m

  • Menomuna

    Actually while this is often repeated, it really depends on your goals. If the economical optimization is the main thing, yes. At the same time, as an environmentalist, I would not mind producing more energy than I consume; the excess in grid-connected system will still be used by someone. Just because I don’t get paid for excess does not mean it would not be good in grand scheme of things.
    So I would consider possibility of trying to maximize the size of the system; or at least not be limited by usage as the ceiling.

    But this would be based on different criteria than what many americans seem to use.

  • stationone123

    It depends on the person too. How many traffic lights you get stuck at verse a person with a 100,000k career. A disabled person
    Is likely to be faced with constant clouds, birds dropping stones, strong winds and many other (life defying odds) that would make a frugal living disastrous. I’d look at your lifestyle before spending a dime on solar panels. I’ll just stick with my regular electric company who threatens to shut my power off when my payments are late.

  • WTeel

    I just installed a “plug and play” solar system on my house for $2.89/watt, a 4410 watt system. The payback is calculated at 12 years without the subsidy and 9 years with the federal tax subsidy. Is it worth it? That depends on how you play the economics of the system. If it last 30 years I would say emphatically yes.

    • tftillman

      Did you self install 100%?

    • Epicurus

      I have read they last more than 30 years with some minor loss in productive capacity.

      Where do you buy a plug and play system?

  • Andre Qeen

    you will learn about it on ” i n p l i x . c o m “

  • Bullfrog

    Update on solar quotes in Texas:
    I got two additional quotes for my home, this time for a smaller 5 kW system. Solar City said they no longer install in my area because there aren’t enough subsidies to make it economically feasable, but will call me if/when the situation changes.

    The next quote came in at $14,500 for 5KW system after subsidy, with subsidy going to the installer. They said in N Texas with south-facing panels I should expect about 7500 kWHr of power per year. That would provide about half of my annual power consumption and occupy 400 square feet of roof space.

    7500 kWHr at 8 cents per kWHr would save me $600 a year off my utility bill. To recoup the $14,500 installation and 5-year finance cost would take 27.4 years. After including the 30% federal income tax credit then the ROI would be 19 years.

    8 cents per kWHr might go up over time so let’s call it 11 cents per kWHr and a 15-year ROI.

    Bummer. Even with the energy subsidy and the tax credit still can’t make this work. Problem I guess is that cheap energy rates in Texas are hard to compete with.

    • Bob_Wallace

      At 8c/kWh you are way lower than the national average of 12c-13c.

      At $14,500 for 5kW that’s $2.80/watt installed which lower than the national average ($3.74/W – 2nd Qtr 2014 – GMT).

      There’s an article on the site about residential solar reaching parity in all states by 2016(?). It might be that you’ll need to jump in during the latter part of 2016 before the subsidies decline.

      Might want to start sending Christmas cookies to a few installers so that you get a place in line during the 2016 rush…. ;o)

      eta: That’s $2.80 after subsidies. Just caught that. About $4/W before subsidies and a bit higher than national average.

      Might want to use next year to see if you can get your electric use down and reduce the size of the array you would need.

      • Steve Nelson

        Why do you suppose the national average of 12c-13c exists, and it’s not in the 8c-9c region?

        • Bob_Wallace

          Why? Because some grids have a lot of paid up coal, nuclear and hyddro generation that lowers their cost. Other grids have much more expensive sources.

          Do remember that those paid off coal and nuclear plants will not last forever. Even those that are not closed because they can’t compete in the market will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. If all the places that enjoy lower priced electricity were to replace their coal and nuclear plants with new coal and nuclear plants they would have the highest cost electricity in the country.

          The average lifespan for a coal or nuclear plant is 40 years. Take a look at how old our coal and nuclear fleet is. We’ve got a lot of thermal plants that won’t be with us long.

          If you live in a 8c-9c area (that isn’t getting its low electricity price from hydro) then you might want to be pushing for more wind and solar so that your prices don’t go through the roof later on.

        • Idaho woman

          I just checked mine and it’s 6c to 9c — our electricity is hydro-generated.

          • Epicurus

            And hydro is the cheapest electricity there is from what I have read, except for wind perhaps.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The question is how much power from a new dam would cost, if you could build a new dam. Not very likely to happen in the US.

            We will convert (are converting) existing dams but the cost of electricity will be based on the cost of turbine and transmission, not on dam costs since those are already in place.

            Right now, in the US, wind is cheapest. Utility solar and natural gas are basically tied for second lowest.

          • Epicurus

            “. . . in the US, wind is cheapest. Utility solar and natural gas are basically tied for second lowest.”

            That is really fantastic. These facts seem to be lost on Republicans. Many are still repeating their mantra that clean energy is so expensive that it will break us.

      • Epicurus

        The rates quoted on the Texas PUC website (powertochoosedotorg) don’t include 15 additional charges for taxes and fees (like decommissioning the nuke plant). After the taxes and fees are added, a quoted rate of 6.24c/kWh turns into almost 11c/kWh. I would be surprised if his 8 cent price includes the taxes and fees.

    • Epicurus

      I live in a condo in N.Tx, and the management negotiated a contract at a little over $.06 per kWh two years ago. However the quoted rate is before the dozen or so taxes and fees that get tacked on. After the taxes and fees, the price actually paid per kWh is almost $.11. Is the $.08 you pay the quoted rate before taxes and fees? If it includes taxes and fees, that’s a helluva deal.

      Did you buy your plan on the powertochoosedotorg PUC website?

    • Epicurus

      Do you ever answer anyone’s questions?

    • Epicurus

      “cheap energy rates in Texas are hard to compete with”

      Thanks in large part to wind and, increasingly, utility-scale solar. That must really grind your gears.

  • Bob_Wallace

    You’re doing the wrong math, Mr. frog.

    Subsidies come in two flavors. One type is an investment intended to make things better in the future. The other is type lowers the price so that people will use/consume.

    In the case of nuclear, wind and solar the subsidies were intended to be investments. They are monies spent up front in order to help a new promising industry to get a toehold in the market.

    We spent over $185 billion to help nuclear. That money was not wisely invested. Nuclear never reached the point at which it competed in the energy market.

    We’ve spend something much less than $81 billion on wind and solar. I think you’ve rolled biofuels (corn money to corporate farms) into that number. It’s more like $25 billion.

    The money invested in wind and solar have paid off incredibly well. Wind has fallen in price by over 7x and the price of solar panels have fallen over 100x.

    The coal and oil subsidies are support subsidies. They lower the price to consumers. We pay the extra with our taxes but most don’t realize that.

    I’m not going to worry about Ivanpah getting a few hundred million. This is very early in thermal solar game and we’ve got to spend some money up front to see if it’s going to be viable technology. Half a million is chicken feed compared to the $185 billion we spent on nuclear and got no return.

    We spend $150 to $242 billion a year paying for the external costs of coal. That’s pretty much one Ivanpah a day. That’s where you should direct your anger. At where we are really getting screwed.

    • Bullfrog

      I got another estimate today, this time with SolarCity as some he re commended. They told me solar panels in my zip code are no longer available thru their company right now, pending more government subsidies, will call me back if that changes. I have an appointment with another company tomorrow afternoon, will post their quote in full.

  • Bob_Wallace

    $4.59/watt for residential is out of date.

    End of second quarter, 2014 the price of residential solar fell to $3.74/Wdc in Q2 2014, versus the revised modeled costs for Q1 2014 of $3.83/Wdc – a 2.4% quarter-over-quarter cost reduction.

    Flat-roof non-residential system averaged $2.39/Wdc, representing a 5% decrease quarter-over- quarter.

    Utility systems in Q2 2014 averaged $1.81/Wdc, a 2.2% drop from Q1 2014. Costs for systems installed in Q2 2014 came in as low as $1.60/Wdc and as high as $2.05/Wdc. Low pricing reflects strong competition in new markets that has pushed component and EPC margins significantly downward. High pricng reflects systems with legacy PAs and higher-cost components like single-axis tracking.

    http://www.greentechmedia.com/research/ussmi

    Watch your salt intake if you have high blood pressure….

    • Bullfrog

      I asked for a non-advocate source of information. Thanks, I’ll wait for reply.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Advocate source?

        Anyone who publishes data you don’t want to believe is an advocate?

        • Bullfrog

          You’re disputing “Green Tech Media” is not a green advocate? Seriously?

  • http://www.sunupzerodown.com/ Solar power

    Today nearly 75% of electricity is produced unsustainably from fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas. A solar system on your roof will greatly reduce the amount of pollution caused by people’s everyday activities. An average 10kw solar system is equal to planting 6000 trees, taking 50 cars off the road for a year, and recycling over 80 tons of waste. One of the best things about solar energy in terms of environmental benefits is that it produces almost no carbon emissions. This helps to rank it among the cleanest forms of energy on earth.

  • sheffezen

    hate when you read your writing play with SEO. just make it natural as normal. You are in the biggest authority site ever lol

  • Havel

    It is 7k in hong kong.

  • Ned

    Can you do this analysis again the same time next year? I want to see how much it’s come down since.

  • Andrew Zimmerman

    Wow, a whole article without the REAL COST of owning a solar panel. Also let’s forget about the government incentives: our tax dollars funneled into the pockets of people who pay for it!

    • Epicurus

      I would like to forget the REAL COSTS of coal: over 13,000 premature deaths per year, $100 BILLION in health care costs, environmental disasters like coal ash spills, AND the tax subsidies like percentage depletion.

  • ian

    my idea is use sea water pumped along a large pipe with solar energy charging the pumps & solar stills to produce desalinated water . each person or organisation using the taps to be responsible to maintain them …. ceo yobrain

    • Epicurus

      California needs to start doing something.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Here are some current numbers from the Greentech Media 2nd quarter, 2014 solar review.

    Residential solar – average installed w/o subsidies = $3.74/W.

    That’s down from $4.91/W for Q1, 2013. Down 24% in 15 months.

    Utility solar – average installed w/o subsidies = $1.81/W.

    That’s down from $2.14/W in Q1 2013. Down 15% in 15 months.

    Solar panel prices averaged from the mid-70 cent/W range for retail sales to the mid-60 cent/W range for large purchases (solar farms).

    file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/US%20SMI%20Q2%202014%20Exec%20Summary.pdf

    • A Real Libertarian

      Bob, the link.

  • John Brian Shannon

    Hi Zachary,

    Let’s say that a utility company in a certain region of the country (Denver or LA, for example) foresees a need for 2.2GW of electricity within 10 years (due to residential and commercial / industrial growth).

    At these low solar rates, wouldn’t it be cost competitive for the utility company to simply offer distributed solar installations at very advantageous rates, not only applying gov’t subsidies, but perhaps applying their own discount, or offering zero interest solar system loans — as opposed to building a $14 billion dollar Vogtle-sized (#3+#4) nuclear power plant rated at 2.2GW?

    I realize that solar produces no power at night, but I note that peak demand happens in the daytime anyway.

    If 3.0GW of distributed solar was added to the grid, and even if the utility company was giving out once-in-a-lifetime rooftop solar installation deals, it should cost far less than the $14 billion (and 10 years of construction time) required for the 2.2GW Vogtle #3 and #4 reactors.

    And, no expensive fuel rods to replace every 3 years, and no nuclear security concerns to spend even more money on, and no spent fuel that must be babysat and cooled for the next 20,000 years.

    Not that I hate nuclear, but the tipping point must already be long passed IF we factor all costs into the equation.

    Wouldn’t you agree?

    By the time all the costs are totaled, not only could a utility have installed free rooftop solar for everyone in the city, they could also have bought everyone a new Tesla — IF all of the costs of nuclear power plant construction, nuclear security, fuel rod costs, operating costs, maintenance costs, labour costs and spent fuel storage costs are factored in. (I’m joking about the Tesla thing, btw)

    Obviously, I’ve deliberately left nuclear disaster/contamination, earthquake/reactor SCRAM costs out of the equation, as it’s too difficult to predict.

    Utility companies should be giving panels away for free (as long as they get installed in their territory, of course) rather than building $14 billion dollar nuclear power plants with their ultra-high running/security/spent fuel storage costs. IMHO!

    Cheers, JBS

    • Epicurus

      Perhaps the utility is afraid people will decide to install their own panels instead of letting the utility own them. Utilities realized distributed energy is an existential threat to their business model.

      In this context, like some others, self-interest and the duty to maximize profits work against the public interest.

  • patb2009

    with that sort of savings, why doesn’t everyone in Hawaii put solar up?

    • Kim Magnuson

      They are putting up solar as fast as they can, but they are also constrained by the utility company who loves to overcharge. They don’t want more solar users tied to the grid, as their monthly revenue drops considerably..even though their cost of producing the power drops during the daylight hours. It makes the utility (ours aren’t coops or govt. owned utilities) have a more difficult time getting rate increases from the PUC, because they can’t justify costs. They turn down lots of folks from getting on the grid and don’t allow grid tie. Hopefully, in the next couple of decades, things like the Edison battery, that last 60-80 years will make off grid so easy and trouble free that folks won’t need their electric company at all and will be independent, but politicians are being lobbied to slow the process down. Battery cost is the only inhibitor now, as nickel iron batteries would cost you about $10K for just an average house and you would have to get them from China or pay twice as much. Standard deep cycles require maintenance and last only about 5 years max.

      • Bob_Wallace

        That seems to have been resolved. The Hawaii utilities just announced a goal of 65% renewables by 2030.

        That’s an outstanding goal.

        • EVFest

          Bob, do the utilities want the rate payers to have the Solar installed, so their customers save money on power, or are they looking for themselves as the owner, so they can lower their costs, but keep charging for Electricity in ever increasing increments?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I would imagine most, if not all, utilities would prefer selling solar-produced electricity and making some profit rather than being cut out by end-user solar. But that may not hold 100%.

            It might make more financial sense for some utilities to encourage end-user solar as a way to decrease grid expenses. I think this is something utilities in Australia are looking at. It may be cheaper for them to set up remote customers as stand-alone systems than to string wire to them.

            At this point I think few utilities are acting rationally. If they were to provide low cost installation and financing for solar to end-users and pay them average wholesale rates for the power they sent back they could make money on installation, selling systems, financing, and reselling the extra power to other customers. They could avoid permitting fees, real estate costs, insurance, maintenance, and taxes on systems they owned.

            IMO a smart utility would be assisting customers to install solar.

            And they would be pushing EVs and PHEVs as this is market share they can take away from oil companies.

            They’d be installing outlets in work, school and apartment parking lots and using the plugged in vehicles as dispatchable loads.

            They might even be brokering shares in wind farms. Making it easy for their customers to own a small percentage of a wind farm, thus raising cash for wind expansion on their grids.

            The smart move, I think, would be to set aside the ‘us vs. them’ attitude and look for a blended model of operation in which everyone could benefit.

  • jules rosen

    am waiting for the gov / utilities to prepay for home systems and give you a ful rebate so they don’t have to invest in new plants

  • jules rosen

    Keep in mind some municipalities also figure solar cells as a capital improvement- that adds valueto your home and is TAXED yearly ( 1 percent average = $200 – 400 )

  • Frank T

    I am a bit confused on how to calculate the Return on Investment…

    Say I’m planning to use:

    35x of Yingli’s Panda 270W module which costs $448.4 per panel ($15,696.45 for all 35 panels), Which will be rated as a 9.8KW (STC) system or 6.8145KW at NOCT ( http://store.energymatters.com.au/yl270c-30b ). 1 year at 98% of the minimal rated power output, 10 years at 92% of the minimal rated power output, 25 years at 82% of the minimal rated power output.

    Additional info from my calculations:

    NOCT Pmax: 119.19W/m2

    Fill Factor: 77.66% @ NOCT, 76.4% @ STC

    Solar Cell Efficiency based on VocIscFF/Pin at NOCT: 7.6854% (Does this mean my actual module efficiency will be lower once the cell temperature hits the nominal 46C?)

    The reason why I choose 35 panels at NOCT is due to the amount of power I use, which is around 30.1kWh per day. I live in Southern California, Rowland Heights, 91748 to be specific. The solar insolation levels in LA (I’m assuming mine is the same) is 5.4KWh/m2/day. With 5 hours of peak sunlight every day. The cost of electricity being $0.215/Kwh during May 2014

    Based on the 2014 Q1 average US Average Residential System Price of $4.56 per Watt, the modules will cost roughly 16.8% of the entire system, so the total cost being $44,688 minus the 30% tax incentives equalling $31,281.6 for the entire system.

    Given those conditions…what is the best way to accurately calculate the amount of years it’ll take to break even and start generating profits?

    • Tired

      You are throwing a lot of numbers around that really aren’t necessary, and leaving out some that are.
      1. Are you financing the system, or paying full in cash?
      2. What power output do you need? I assume from your 30.1kWh/day statement that you are needing to produce that much power to break even. But you are asking when you start generating profits which is a term that could mean that you are looking to generate more power than you use. If that is the case, then you are looking for a whole different answer. If you are just wanting to know when the amount you have paid equals the amount saved, see below.
      3. What profits are you looking for exactly?
      4. What is your average cost per kWh over the entire year?

      Given that the above described system meets all of your needs at 92% power, and you pay in cash, then you should break even right around year 13 (actually month 10 of year 12 if everything is perfect). All I did to calculate that is divide what you paid overall for solar by what (I assume – 30.1*365*.215) you pay per year currently (factoring in that you sell 6% per year to the electric company at their going rate). If financed, you would need to factor in the interest rate of your loan (or compare how much you will be paying monthly).

      The question then could become about how much you could earn if you invested that same $31,000 in something else. But, as it sits, that discussion then becomes about future returns based on past performance which we all know may or may not come to fruition.

      The problem here is that we don’t know what calculations you are looking for. I am not sure what you want by “profit”, so it is hard to answer your question. Good luck to you, and I hope that helps.

  • Bob_Wallace

    The AU market is more mature. With AU’s very expensive electricity there was much more incentive to install solar. That created a large market and strong installation companies.

    Electricity in the US is not nearly as expensive and people in many markets don’t save nearly as much by installing solar. We’re just now seeing real competition in the installation business and our prices should come down fairly quickly.

    A lot of the cost of a solar system in the US is “customer acquisition”. Many people have to be sold. In places like Germany where solar is more popular customers call up and order a system,

    Another US cost is paperwork and inspections. Many of our local building departments are not yet efficient when it comes to permitting a solar system.

  • Bullfrog

    I got a quote for my 2,000 square foot house in the Dallas area and it was $85,000 installed. Financed over 30 years that comes out to $509/month. My electric bill is about $140/month on average. So over 30 years solar would cost over $100,000 more than electricity from the grid (gas, coal, wind).

    That’s WITHOUT subsidies. All the articles include the subsidies but I’m less interested in what will it cots ME as how much will it cost US. Somebody has to pay those subsidies, right? That “hidden” cost comes directly out of our paychecks in the form of federal and state taxes.

    Just FYI, for those that care about cost after subsidies, my $85K price tag was reduced to $48K with federal and local subsidies. Still over $250/month on a 30-year loan. But I refuse subsidies on principle.

    • Bob_Wallace

      $85k for how many watts of panels?

      What principle would cause someone to not take advantage of subsides?

      After all, those subsidies were created as a way to bring down the cost of solar so that it became affordable for all.

      If subsidies make solar affordable (seemingly not in your case) then by accepting them and installing solar you help others by helping to build and mature the solar industry.

      • Bullfrog

        You realize subsidies are real costs, in full, right? The principle of not taking subsidies is not having my neighbors pay for my power consumption. And the economic principle of cost analysis. Hiding the cost doesn’t make it cost effective, except to the person taking the subsidy. It raises the cost to society overall. Those are solid principles.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Your neighbors aren’t paying for your power consumption. They are investing in cheaper electricity for all.

          The way we get the price of solar systems down is to build the industry and that means that we have to help some people afford a system. As more are installed the industry becomes stronger and more efficient. And cheaper.

          $85k for a 10kW system is a joke. A very bad joke.

          US average (non-subsidized) price at the end of 2013 was $4.59/watt. $45,900 for a 10kW system.

          $32,130 after the federal 30% subsidy.

          • Bullfrog

            Sorry Bob but you sound like a salesman. My experience trying to go PV is that its more expensive by about $400/month compared to my regular electric bill. I appreciate your enthusiasm for solar though. I’d love to have panels on my house providing free renewable energy.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Bullfrog – I can assure you that I’m not a salesman in the sense that I work for a company and make money by getting people to purchase stuff.
            I am a salesman in the sense that I’m very concerned about the future of our planet, about what we’re doing to our children’s and grandchildren’s lives and do what I can to move us away from fossil fuels. I’m hawking a better future.

            The prices you have been quoted for solar are very much higher than the national average. The price I gave you is from Greentech Media which has a major research division. And their numbers are very close to the prices produced by other organizations.

            There are a few places in the country where solar is very high, perhaps you live in one of those. Places where the industry is very underdeveloped and there’s not enough competition to bring prices down.

            I’d suggest you shop a bit harder.

            And I’d suggest you rethink subsidies. We, taxpayers, subsidize all sorts of emerging technologies. The money generally goes to companies, not individuals, so we’re not so used to seeing them up close and personal. Let’s take a look at energy subsidies…

            Over the first 15 years of these energy sources’ subsidies, oil and gas got 5 times what renewables got (in 2010 dollars) and nuclear energy got 10 times as much. (Most of the renewable subsidies went to corn farms for ethanol, not wind, solar and other renewable electricity technologies.)
            Between 1918 and 2009 oil and gas received average annual subsidies of $4.86 billion. (92 x $4.86 billion = $447 billion)

            Between 1947 and 1999 nuclear received average annual subsidies of $3.50 billion. (53 x $3.50 billion = $185.6 billion)

            Between 1980 and 2009 biofuel received average annual subsidies of $1.08 billion. (29 x $1.08 billion = $31 billion)

            Between 1994 and 2009 renewables received average annual subsidies of $0.37 billion. (15 x $0.37 = $5.6 billion)
            http://www.dblinvestors.com/documents/What-Would-Jefferson-Do-Final-Version.pdf
            Now, it’s not clear that the subsidies for oil, gas and nuclear have done us all that much good. Their prices keep rising. Perhaps subsidies kept prices from rising faster and higher.

            But the subsidies that renewables have received have been wildly successful. Thirty years ago wind-electricity was $0.38/kWh – it’s now less than $0.05/kWh. Thirty years ago solar panels were around $100/watt – now they are less than $1/watt.

            You, as an individual, are in a better position than are many Americans. You’ve got either the capital or the credit to install solar on your house. With a subsidy (and finding a better price) you can put panels on your roof and pay less per month for your electricity.

            If a lot of people in your position install solar then the price will come down and people who are less well off can also afford a system.

            Right now our residential solar price is averaging $3.59/watt. Rooftop solar is being installed in the UK, Germany and Australia for around $2/watt. We’ve got some cost cutting to do and that will take more people installing and building the industry.

          • TonyEdwards2

            Bullfrog, you pay an average of $140 month or $1680 annual for electricity. You can have your electricity paid for free (in a way) by just simply taking $21,000 and putting it into an S&P Index fund preferably a 401k or SEP, IRA. Just want to show there may be better ways to invest your money.
            Over the next 30 years using historical data, you should return roughly 8% average compounded interest, thus your electricity is paid for plus you will $211,000 left in the bank when you retire just from this one investment alone! Minimum rate of return first few years average is $1680 then goes up from there as interest accumulates. This compared to your paid out of pocket for electricity, even with rate hikes, would likely be around $100,000. I realize the investment is a savings calculator without any real capital, but if you look at it as your solar fund that you do not touch, then it can be visualized differently. Remember other $ amounts can be used. A $15,000 S&P investment would yield $150,000 in 30 years!

          • jules rosen

            But its all taxed and utilities ONLY go up in cost .

          • TonyEdwards2

            Taxes or not you still come out ahead on a long term investment vs Solar. Plus, my scenario was using a tax sheltered investment such as IRA, SEP. Even if your utilities double in cost your investment fund would be substantially better. I’m not discounting the fact that if solar comes down another 30 to 50% in cost it will then be worth it. Which I believe will happen within 5-10 years.

          • Cbish

            Tony, One important thing you neglected to calculate is the federal and state tax liability on the 8 per cent return on invested capital compared to the tax free benefit on the savings on electricity- there is zero tax liability for the electricity savings. The savings from solar is just like tax free income.
            The old adage a penny saved is a peeny earned should be rephrased a penny saved is a penny and a half earned.

          • TonyEdwards2

            If you consider the monthly after tax money you need to pay your standard utility bill then compare it what you lose from one lump sum for solar, then the numbers are very close after 30yrs of compounding. I would still like to see a 30-50 pct reduction in solar cost. When the utility companies starting charging higher access fees to solar users your going to need that extra savings to make up for the investment loss..

          • eveee

            Not everywhere. The numbers change by state. Texas has low cost wind energy. And does not have much TOU. If the utilities were to reflect the wholesale costs of energy with TOUs, afternoon rates would soar due to air conditioning. Then you would see an entirely different calculation for solar.
            Texas utility rates are too low to justify much solar for residential.

          • Burnerjack

            Great idea, but one point should be made here: Concerning investing, it is wise to keep in mind that “Past is not prologue”.
            There are many forces in play concerning investments.
            Your time horizon is key in deciding what to do. If you were planning on retiring in 2008 or 2009 you would have had to make major adjustments with little room to recover. However, in general you are correct. The key difference is the Solar Scenario is fairly fixed. You know what you bought, what you paid and what the results should be. With investing, you hope your fund managers deliver, while most don’t even reach market parity (of course you STILL pay for their time and overhead). You also hope the markets don’t take a catastrophic crap. With the advent of “Quantitative easing”, There will be another shoe to drop. The question is “when”. “Bird in the hand worth two in the bush”?

          • eveee

            I call BS on your 8% historical IRA rate. Citations or quit the nonsense.

            ” a check for the top rates in the country right now showed the best you can do on a one-year IRA CD is 1.35%. That’s not even enough to keep pace with the loss of purchasing power from inflation, let alone provide any real return.”

            “the best IRA interest rates right now don’t stand a chance of matching the long-term results of more aggressive investment strategies that go beyond FDIC-insured bank accounts.”

            To get 8% you have to go into high risk where you stand to lose your investment.

            http://www.fool.com/retirement/iras/2014/02/10/even-the-best-ira-interest-rates-cant-beat-this-st.aspx

          • Burnerjack

            I think you intended your post for Tony Edwards2. I never quoted any rate of return. In fact, I cautioned one against assuming a productive market will continue to do so (past is not prologue). As far as how you view return rates, please take this into consideration: 3% annual return, consistent for 20 years will yield a 100% total return.

          • Bob_Wallace

            24 years.

          • eveee

            Right. My bad. Sorry. I got it one comment late.

          • Kim Magnuson

            Bullfrog.
            I don’t know why, in TX, where wages are not famous for being high, somebody quoted you $85K for a solar system for a 2000 sq ft. house. My house in Hawaii is 1800 sq ft and I have three quotes all very close to $20K before subsidies. If you have electric hot water, then the most prudent thing is to do solar hot water, and this will probably drop your bill by 30% to just over $100/mo. Could you post your kwh cost? You almost sound like you work for an oil company. Even for a 10kw system, which is far more juice than most people use, you were quoted $8/watt. Mine is 5kw system at $20K or $4 watt grid tie turn key. I am in the process of changing heated water to solar and that will drop considerably. We have the most expensive rates in the nation for juice here. Also, your calculations were based on the fact your utility company won’t raise prices for 20 years, but your solar array will still pump out the kwh as long as the sun shines. Anyhow, if you can, get more bids, because you were way overcharged.

          • belay

            I live in Arizona I own 2300 Sq ft home. My total cost to install solar panels was 34500 before federal and state tax . my electric bill is Zero. I do not understand what you are talking about. Burger king just move their headquarter to Canada to avoid US tax but when the average middle tax payer gets a tax credit for doing good for our planet and country you have a morality issue.

          • Bullfrog

            Three things:
            –$35,000 financed over ten years is $399 per month. (my electric is about $140/month on avg)
            –You still have an electric bill
            –You spent taxpayer money on your own property

            Those are all problems for me. I am getting another two quotes next week. One from a leasing company. We’ll see if they can come close to a 15 year roi.

          • Michael

            I’m not selling in your area so don’t think this is a sales pitch, BUT, we regularly sell systems with a payback under 7 years and a ROI of over 13%. You need to get more quotes.
            And, by the way, that is based on all American made panels and figured without subsidies. We sometimes can get to 4.1 year payback including subsidies.

          • Bullfrog

            Thanks for the reply. My intention is to get more quotes and eventually have panels.

            A couple questions:
            1. What’s a decent pre-subsidy price for a true 10kW system installed on a standard asphalt shingle roof? Roof is inverted V-shaped with front slope facing South and large trees obstructing about 30 degrees of sky to the West.

            2. Is it better to buy now or wait ~5 years for the prices to come down?

            3. Will golf ball to baseball size hail and high wind damage the panels? We get that about once per ~three~ years in Dallas area. If so then insurance costs a significant factor?

          • Bob_Wallace

            The national average for a residential solar system was

            $3.74/watt at the end of the 2nd quarter, 2014. According to Greentech Media, who does a lot of price researching.

            That doesn’t mean you’ll find someone in your area that will install for that amount. It may be that there’s not enough competition where you are to bring the price down. Yet. I’d shop. And get some installers bidding against each other if the prices seem too high. The installers in your area are paying about the same for components are are the installers in the lowest cost areas.

            If you wait five years you’ll be five years further from payoff. And, short term, the federal subsidy probably makes it better to get a system and a discount. Perhaps the industry will have adjusted to the subsidy going away five years from now, but I’d bet we’re going to see a temporarily leveling off of costs for a while when the subsidy disappears. To wait? Hard call.

            I’d talk to your insurer and see what they have to say. And if what you hear is not good then talk to installers and see if there’s a company that might be a bit more solar friendly.

            You might want to check out the videos on this page that show stress, load and impact testing. The big hail stone one is impressive.

            http://southcoastsolar.com/news/article/how-do-solar-panels-hold-up-to-wind-and-hail

          • Bullfrog

            Solar city today told me they cannot make leases in my area until more subsidies become available. I called them for panels and they said no. They took my number and might call back if govt funds are available in the futur

          • Louie

            You keep making up ridiculous numbers:

            1) $8.50/W for your system is RIDICULOUSLY HIGH
            2) Your 2000 sq ft house doesn’t need a 10kWh system
            3) You are comparing a 15yr financing rate on a system that will last for 30 years
            4) You ignore the fact that electricity rates and your monthly bill will increase every year

            In short I can only assume one of three things, a salesman tried to sell you a system that was far larger and far more expensive than you needed or two you are making stuff up to make solar look bad or three you simply don’t understand.

            You don’t mention what utility you are using or what your annual kWh consumption is but from your average bill and state you probably only need a 5kWh system and at $4/W installed that is $20k before subsidies and $14k after the federal tax credit.

            Finally, when you get a tax credit you aren’t spending TAXPAYER money on your home, you are KEEPING your OWN tax dollars and spending them on your home.

            Have a nice day

          • Menomuna

            Regardless his comment on cost of 10kW installation is spot-on: 85k$ is completely ridiculous quote. With more typical $4/watt it would be twice what you should be quoted. Even if there were other complicating factors, price just should not go anywhere that high.

          • TonyEdwards2

            Bob Wallace, I am all for going Solar, but if I invested $32,000 in an S&P index fund I would have over $150,000 in 20years, or $322,000 in 30 years. How is solar a good deal if I am only saving a 10k or 20k over 20years then have to buy a new system? Index historically returns 8pct or more.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If you can shelter the earnings from tax and if you don’t consider inflation.

            Furthermore, I don’t know why one would need to purchase a new system after 20 years. Our oldest solar panels are now 40 years old and were producing over 95% of original output at age 35. (Panels mounted in high UV areas such as high deserts will degrade faster but still should be well over 80% at age 40.

            Worst case, a new inverter and those are rapidly dropping in price.

          • Louie

            You neglect the stream of money you are paying in electric bills in your calculations as well as ignoring the fact that you don’t have to take $32k out of your savings, you can finance the system. Comparing an uncertain rate of return in the stock market is dishonest, compare it with the cost of money which is fixed and far below the numbers you are using.

          • kay

            really who wants to finance 45k for 30 years plus interest the life expectancy is 79.5 years and when your in your 60’s. you’d be way over your head… when we had our estimate in 2014 that;s what it was for a 1600 sq ft home in SO. CA.and that was after subsidies. So government wants people to convert and solar compactness jack the prices up so high that only the rich can afford them…kinda stupid when it’s suppose to be good of the environment. I have one decided to stay outa debit…if it had been under 20k including interest I might of went for it…but like I said at my age I like being debt free.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’m wondering about your math. What was the quoted price and for how may kW of solar?

            What do you pay for electricity from the grid?

          • joseph

            I used to sell solar and $45K for a 1600sqft home is high, I worked in SoCal, you should check out petersondean because their solar cost is way cheaper than $45K. not trying to sell you just trying to help you. good luck.

        • Dropandgiveme20

          rebates and incentives amount to 45% of the costs

        • Jarod Sholtz

          You removed the cost of solar subsidies for your calculation, but neglected to remove the cost of coal subsidies. The difference is where the subsidy is applied, which doesn’t matter if you are considering total cost before subsidies.

          • Bullfrog

            That’s almost a good point, except solar plants get huge subsidies for construction and operation too, in addition to subsidies on the consumer side. In fact, Solar plants get a much larger percentage of their construction costs subsidized than coal and gas plants.

          • Bob_Wallace

            A solar farm gets 2.5 cents per kWh for their first ten years of operation. Given that the farm might operate for more than 40 years the subsidy is in the neighborhood of a half penny per kWh.

            The external costs for burning coal, which we taxpayers cover, are in excess of ten cents per kWh.

            1/2 a penny vs. more than 10 pennies.

            BTW, by the end of 2016 solar farm subsidies will likely have disappeared as will rooftop solar subsidies. The taxpayer subsidies for coal will keep on going year after year after year….

          • Bullfrog

            Solar farms get subsidies for construction, approximately half the cost of construction in grants and tax exemptions, and the rest is funded with government guaranteed loans. $13B since 2009. Ivanpah has already used up over a billion of government money and is asking for another half billion.

            They also get rate setting benefits by the states, especially in California. So another portion of the costs are paid by consumers.

            My point being that the solar industry gets more govt subsidies per watt than coal or gas, by a wide margin.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Solar farms get subsidies for construction, approximately half the cost of construction in grants and tax exemptions, and the rest is funded with government guaranteed loans”

            Link?

            “My point being that the solar industry gets more govt subsidies per watt than coal or gas, by a wide margin.”

            That may be your point, but it’s clearly incorrect.

          • Joe

            We just installed a 7K system in CT and it cost us 16k after all federal and state rebates. And that is a ground mount not on a house. That was going local. Before that I was getting quotes around 60k to 45k for the same exact setup. SHOP around not all places are the same and also negotiate on the price. Its not a final price just because they tell you. We presented our bill and told them you have to beat this price or its not worth our time.

          • eveee

            Citations. There is a loan. Not a freebie. It gets paid back.

            Here is a point by point rebuttal of some of the claims.

            http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/brightsource-energy-versus-la-times

            Here is an explanation of how oil, nuclear, and other industries got far more than wind and solar during their formative years, and yes, still get subsidies even though they don’t deserve any. And rationally after becoming the largest and most powerful industries on the planet, what do we want to give a huge financial gift to them for? Because they bought Congressmen with lobbying?

            http://breakingenergy.com/2011/12/20/dbl-investors-oil-subsidies-far-higher-than-federal-renewables/

        • Offgridman

          Mr Bullfrog,
          If your policy of refusing subsidies is sincere then that means that you need to turn off your grid supplied electricity. Because all of the fossil fuels that are used to produce that electricity accept them in order to make your bill for the power so inexpensive.
          You also need to quit buying gasoline for your vehicles and food from the grocery stores because both of these industries accept subsidies and tax rebates in order to survive.
          Even the vehicle that you drive in, the roads that you use, your home, your income, have all been subsidized in some way by the society that you live in.
          If you truly are going to live without using any of the subsidies that being a part of a society provide then you need to go live in a cave and capture or grow all of your own food and make all of your own clothes and tools.
          Being a part of a society or community provides many benefits, just starting with the prior knowledge of the best way to do things.
          To try and say that you live without taking any subsidies means that you are seriously deceiving yourself and denying all of the benefits that our society has provided you.

          • Bullfrog

            OK I’m listening because this really matters to me. If I get solar panels how much subsidy for the year? And if I’m on the grid how much subsidy for this year? Please be very specific, down to the cent and don’t chang the subject or dodge the question. I use about 1200 kw-hr per month.

          • Offgridman

            Thank you for listening, and I am happy to hear that this is important to you. So I don’t mind trying to explain the basics of what you want to know, but as to figuring the specifics of pennies per Kwh that will have to be up to you because only you know all of the details of your situation.
            On the solar side (your installation) it is relatively easy to figure out because of just taking the total tax credits, federal and state or local if applicable and dividing by the twenty to forty year usage that you will be able to get out of the system. Of course to be truly accurate you need to contact your local utility to find out the energy mix of your power source to see how much coal, natural gas or whatever will not have to be burned to provide your electricity (because it will be coming from the solar) and give yourself credit (decrease the subsidy amount per year or month) because of the reduced fuel costs for the utility and the avoided pollution from the power plants. Also to your credit (reducing the costs of your subsidies) is the influence of your power generation on the grid in your locale. There have been several studies done in Nevada showing how rooftop solar reduces grid maintenance costs and makes energy costs less expensive for your neighbors due to solar providing power at the time of peak air conditioning use. But getting the utilities to recognize that and give credit for it is still an issue.
            On the other side figuring the subsidies for your grid provided electricity gets even more complicated. There are the tens of billions of dollars provided by the governments every year for exploration and development of fossil fuel sources, along with the discounts when getting it from public lands. Then the entire grid system itself would not be so expansive and available to so much of our population without government support, which was paid for by your or others taxes. Also the multiple tax and production credits that not only have been used by the solar and wind industry, but have been part of the fossil fuel financing for over a hundred years now. Another subsidy making your power from the utility cheaper has been the policy of not making the fossil fuel power plants accountable for their pollution which makes medical costs billions or possibly trillions of dollars more expensive every year.
            To actually figure out how much your electricity is subsidized by all of the variables of being a member of our modern society is something that would take several accountants a good amount of work. Perhaps Bob Wallace might have more information on this as he does a lot of tracking of this type of information. Or one of the new personal CO2 monitoring applications could give you an approximation of the benefits and costs of home solar produced power as compared to grid supplied.
            I will agree with Bob that the one quote you got for a home solar system seemed very high, and when considering getting one it is a good idea to get at least 3-4 bids from different companies for comparison, this also gives you the ability to bargain with the different companies by discussing the other offers.
            One final aspect to consider, though I don’t know if this applies for you or not, is that the use of solar on your home isn’t just a dollars and cents and subsidy based consideration. It also involves what type of world do we want to leave for our children. This goes way beyond pollution from fossil fuel generation factor, because it also means returning personal power to people by being able to generate their own electricity and not have to be totally reliant on the whims of the corporate behemoths and their monopolies. It also means greater independence for our country if we are able to rely on our own ability to generate power and not have to fight wars over getting fossil fuels from other countries.
            I don’t know if any of this will help you come to a decision but hopefully you can understand that getting solar for your home involves a lot of other factors than just deciding if you want to take advantage of the current tax rebate. If you do it will be necessary to get started within the next year or so as it begins tapering down in 2016, and if you don’t the continuing reductions in the costs of home solar installations mean that in most parts of the country your cost for solar produced electricity is still going to be cheaper than what the utilities will charge you over the long term.
            May you have a great new year and just personally I hope that you do decide to go solar.

          • Bullfrog

            Too long and lots of opinion but no dollar amount. I knew you would avoid that.

            If I use grid in 2015 my subsidy is $0.
            If I use solar PV in 2015 my subsidy is $6000.

            See the difference? This is money for which I could show you a receipt, documented actual dollars.

          • Bob_Wallace

            So what’s the issue?

            You can use the subsidy and install solar. Or not.

            A solar system will save you money over time. Or not.

            The subsidies are there in order to build a viable solar installation industry. Not to redistribute wealth.

            Probably your best use of time is to make some phone calls and find the best prices in your area. And then do some math.

          • Bob_Wallace

            In 2013 US homeowners installed 4754 MW of solar panels. The median price was $4.19/watt. At a 30% subsidy rate that comes to just under $6 billion.

            In 2013 US taxpayers spent somewhere between $140 billion and $242 billion paying for treatment of coal-produced health problems.

            That $6 billion spent in 2013 to bring new solar on line, and more importantly, lower solar prices, will eat into the very large amount of money we’ve been spending on the external cost of coal year after year after year.

            What would be very wise would be to take a year or two of what we spend on coal’s external costs and subsidize wind, solar, other renewables and storage so that we could stop the bleeding of tax dollars that coal is creating.

            A trillion dollars spent on renewables to close coal would be paid back in 5 to 7 years. And then we’d save another trillion over the next 5 to 7 years.

          • Offgridman

            There’s no way that I can give you a specific dollar amount because I don’t have the details of where you live, which utility company you use, the purchase plan you have with them, and multiple other variables that were explained in part.
            If you want to assume that the power lines that your electricity comes from, the power plants that produce it, and the company running it have no costs and were set up for free then yes your grid supplied power comes with no subsidies.
            Have fun living in your fantasy world where the society that you live in does absolutely nothing to subsidize the lifestyle that you enjoy.

          • Offgridman

            Also if you get a solar system you will not just use it in 2015, but for twenty to forty years after that as I explained previously. So take that six thousand dollar amount and divide it by the useful years of the system to get the per year amount.
            If you can’t understand this basic application of math and do it for yourself it is no wonder that you have to ask someone else to work out the practical value of a solar system.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Too long and lots of opinion but no dollar amount. I knew you would avoid that.”

            None of us can do that for you. System costs, subsidies, electricity rates, feed in policies and all sorts of stuff varies from place to place. Your roof slope and orientation are variables in the total picture.

            Contact every installer in your area. Get each of them to bid your system and explain the economics in your particular case.

            In some places end-user solar makes a lot of sense. In some places it doesn’t.

        • R

          I guess you have no issues with the subsidies being paid to the gas and oil manufactures for decades? You seem happy to use energy that is being generated by fossil fuels, sources that are without question, harming our environment. Un less you are one of the mindless climate deniers, one must factor into any equation, the costs to our planet when it comes to energy production. Bob’s point is well made; it seems you are of the political mindset that is unable to see government’s use of money to stimulate industry, something that has been done for over 100 years and something that government should do. Think of it this way; when government reduces “effective” tax liabilities on the wealthiest Americans and corporate America, it is no different than giving them a subsidy.

        • http://turbulencex.org/ Nicholas Littlejohn

          Society pays for increased air pollution from coal. That’s why we have subsidies.

    • Me Oh My

      They’re trying to cheat you. Get 2 more bids.

      • DallasTexas

      • Bullfrog

        Nope. That’s what they cost. I’ll get another bid but don’t expect it to be any different. You realize this is cost WITHOUT subsidy, right?

      • Bullfrog

        I just checked another site, Home & Garden TV and they quote a 13kW system in LA having a pre-subsidy cost of $94K which is right in line with the quote I have, mine is a little less. Articles like the one above are not honest. If so everyone would have these systems on their roof. I want one but its too expensive.

        • Bob_Wallace

          $7.23/watt in LA? Something is very stinky.

          LA as Los Angeles or as in Louisiana? If SoCal you should be finding installers at or below the national average of $4.59/watt. There’s a community group in the area that was doing group buys and installing for (IIRC) under $3/W.

          • Me Oh My

            My neighbors in Los Angeles just had panels done – 1 by SolarCity and the other by SunPower.

            Both were a bit over $4 before tax credits. 20 panels and 24 panels.

          • KR

            My friend just had his house in Huntington Beach (south of LA) done with SunPower panels for $32k BEFORE incentives… $22k after. His estimate shows a projected solar cost of $281 vs. $2600 electric for 1 year. His last month’s bill was $.93 and that is WITH A PLUGIN ELECTRIC car being charged. @jeffbullard:disqus it does seem like your are getting screwed.

          • Bob_Wallace

            $32k for how many watts?

        • http://turbulencex.org/ Nicholas Littlejohn

          This guy is an oil troll.

    • Techngro

      I assume you pay a decent amount in taxes every year. I think you should see the subsidy as a way of getting back some of your hard earned money.

      Look at it this way. There are plenty of people who don’t pay taxes at all and get subsidies in the form of social services (welfare, section 8, etc.). So I don’t think you should feel bad, as a person who actually pays taxes, in getting a tax break or subsidy to save yourself some money in the long term.

      • http://fare.tunes.org/ Faré

        You don’t understand, @Techngro — getting the subsidy is one thing, financing an intrinsically lossy operation is another thing, and intrinsically immoral: you’re pouring hard-earned taxpayer money directly into a sinkhole. @Bullfrog is right that, whether he takes the tax credit or not, he should not make an intrinsically bad economic decision.

        • A Real Libertarian

          financing an intrinsically lossy operation is another thing, and intrinsically immoral: you’re pouring hard-earned taxpayer money directly into a sinkhole.

          Does that include the subsidies for coal, oil, nukes and gas?

          Because that $140 per month is going to be a lot higher when taxpayers don’t prop up the utility system.

          Add in the fact that $8.50 per Watt is double what the average price is in America, and that America pays double what other countries (Australia, Germany) do…

          You can see the problem here, right?

        • Bob_Wallace

          “financing an intrinsically lossy operation is another thing, and intrinsically immoral: you’re pouring hard-earned taxpayer money directly into a sinkhole.”

          You’ve got that right!

          We pour millions of dollars every day into the sinkhole that is coal.

          The external cost of burning coal is extremely high. Simply tallying public health impacts, coal costs the United States economy $140 billion to $242 billion a year.

          http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/tallying-coals-hidden-cost/

          Thank goodness that our investments in wind and solar are paying off and giving us very affordable alternatives to the fossil fuels which are robbing taxpayers blind.

    • Dropandgiveme20

      did the guy tell you any thing about EFFICIENCY? thats always the thing you should do. newer more efficient appliances, TVs, Replace light bulbs with LED. less power you need the smaller the system, motion sensors to turn off lights when you leave the room, 2,000 ft2 of house means nothing it is how much you are using and how much you can produce…..

    • EVFest

      10 kW Roof instaaled Solar in Ontario, Canada runs about $29,995 – $31,400 per ads I have seen, and this sites breakdown:
      http://www.solacity.com/pvinstall.htm

      Another site to review has more info here:
      http://350orbust.com/action-not-apathy/ontarios-microfit-program-the-nitty-gritty-on-going-solar/

      Ontario, does not, to my understanding, give installation cost grants or rebates, but instead, arranges to buy your produced Electricity for a 20 Year contract, at a set price determined by when you are approved.

      At the time Ontario began this, it did cost about $85,000 for a 10 kW system, but not today! It did about 3-4 years ago, but things change.

    • Idaho woman

      Thanks for posting this @bullfrog. Those figures saved me the time of having to investigate myself. I’m up north — snow area with cool summers — and only pay $140 month for heat, as we have abundant water-powered electricity. 100,000 more than electricity stopped me right in my tracks and turned me into a “I’ll check back in a few years” consumer. I’m with you re the subsidies. Seems like everyone is comfortable moving our nation into a Democratic Socialist state, where we all pay for others’ expenses. I’m going into town to go grocery shopping this weekend. Anyone want to chip in?

      • Bob_Wallace

        Sure. We’re on it.

        We’ve got the roads you’ll need in place, paid for with Democratic Socialist state money. We’ve got the traffic lights and signs in place. Hopefully our Democratic Socialist paid for police will be on hand to keep a drunk from crashing into you.

        If our Democratic Socialist safety net fails to catch all the freedom thinking “I’m the only person who matters” who do chose to drive drunk and one hits you our Democratic Socialist state emergency responders will hopefully be able to get to you in time and save you.

        You’ll likely be taken to a Democratic Socialist emergency room and treated by doctors and nurses who have received their training at a Democratic Socialist university. You can be reasonably sure that the treatments and drugs you receive will be helpful and safe thanks to Democratic Social regulations and oversight.

        I think I failed to point out that you will have a much better chance of survival thanks to Democratic Socialist requirements that vehicles be built with things like effective brakes, crumple zones, side impact protection, seat belts and airbags.

        If you get to the store without incident you’ll find the lights on thanks to the Democratic Socialist grid. You’ll find the food being sold safe to eat thanks to Democratic Socialist regulations and inspections. You’ll find the business able to operate because it can hire employees who were educated in Democratic Socialist schools.

        Enjoy those out of season cherries? Flow to you by airplanes developed with Democratic Socialist funds. Flown safely thanks to Democratic Socialist flight regulations and monitoring.

        The reason solar probably doesn’t pencil out for you is because you live in Idaho which has very large amounts of cheap electricity from Democratic Socialist dams.

        Look, Pretend John Wayne Idaho Woman, we’re all in this together. It makes to sense take the 100% independent route. If it did you’d be living in a log cabin somewhere you built by yourself with a stone ax. You’d be scrounging for your own food and hoping you could find some herb that would cure you when you are sick.

        What makes sense is for all of us to put some of our money into a common poll so that we can afford things which very, very few of us could afford if we went it alone.

        None of us likes to pay more than what we consider to be ‘our fair share’ but let’s face it. The ones who pay more are the ones lucky enough to have more. And none of us got to that place except for all the contributions of those who preceded us and helped us out along the way.

        • Idaho woman

          Boy, easily annoyed are we this evening? down boy.. it’s just a post from someone who does not think like you. we all live together — tolerance for all, please.

          • Bob_Wallace

            How about a little common sense from you?

            Take two sheets of paper. Throughout your day write down everything you’ve used that was provided solely by your personal efforts. On the others write down everything you’ve used that took advantage of pooled funds as well as contributions from those that came before you.

            See how “independent” you are at the end of the day.

            You’ve got 6 cent/kWh electricity because pooled money built the dams to make it possible.

            The system that works best is one in which individual effort is rewarded but costs for shared services and products are spread as widely as possible. One which allows people to get ahead with hard work or reasonable risk taking, but not one that allows a tiny minority to own everything. One that asks all able bodied citizens to contribute but provides safety nets for those who need them and for able bodied people whose labor we don’t need at the moment.

            Pure socialism does not work. Pure unregulated capitalism does not work. We need a mixture of the two and that mixture will never be perfect. At any point some of the “haves” and/or some of the “have nots” will not be treated fairly. But until we put aside our Glen Beck/Ayn Rand foolishness and start working to fine tune our system we will not maximize the benefits for all.

          • Epicurus

            Every western economy is a mixed economy. These idiots never took a college level introductory economics course.

      • Epicurus

        “moving our nation into a Democratic Socialist state, where we all pay for others’ expenses.”

        Do you care about the quality of the air you and your fellow citizens breathe or that air pollution from coal plants results in over 13,000 premature deaths a year and $100 billion in health care expenses? Google it.

        “just a post from someone who does not think like you”

        Right. Some people don’t have the capacity for empathy.

      • Epicurus

        A tax credit is YOUR money which would otherwise go to the federal government to be spend on welfare recipients and wars. You and all right wingers should be thrilled to spend your own money on yourself.

      • eveee

        Buy some of that agricultural subsidy corn while your are at it. Take the bus and enjoy that transportation subsidy. Wave to the Democratic Socialist state policeman. Watch the shiny fire department truck get washed by those lazy socialist firemen. Pay your bills by that socialistic notion of the Post Office. And drive those socialistic streets with the street lights, and signs, and stop lights.

        Yes. The country is going to heck in a hand basket with all this socialism.

        Why can’t it be a real every man for himself crapshoot like the great old days of the Wild West? You know, the real ones. With the mud in the streets and the flies from all the road apples. The drinking and regular deaths from boozing, gunslinging single lonely men.
        True libertarianism. Now those were the good old days.

    • Robert Middleswarth

      Something doesn’t add up here. Unless your electric cost are being subsided in some way at $140 a month the National avg cost per kWh is 13 cents you are talking about around 1,100 kWh a month way below avg. Even is you are one of the lucky ones at 8 cents you are still talking around 1750 kWh. 1750 a month is about right when not really using AC. No reputable installer is even going to suggest a 10KV system for that. 2kv would likely get you at 80+ percent and 10K at 85,000 seems really high the national avg is puts 10K systems in the 40,000 to 50,000 range. Sounds like someone was attempting to ripe you off to me.

      • Epicurus

        “Something doesn’t add up here.”

        He’s just a right wing, climate-denying blowhard who likes to post lies in order to make his political agenda seem rational.

        • Robert Middleswarth

          I am a Right Winger who believes Man Made Climate Change is a crock. However just because Climate Change is BS doesn’t mean that Solar power isn’t an viable option for people to use. I have been following Solar Power for a while and watching as the number of years for payoff has gone down. I remember when the payoff dates was in the 30 to 40 years range and really didn’t make since unless you were in an area were connecting to the grid would cost a hell of a lot and help offset the cost of solar. I have watched as the cost per Kilowatt has gone down from solar at the same time the cost of power from the grid has gone up. That has made solar power mainstream. In some areas you have to be a moron not to be looking at solar with payoff in the 1 to 2 year range in part thanks to Federal, State, and Local Tax Incentives and the huge cost of power in the area’s. Other area’s were the cost of power is lower and they just don’t get a lot of sun the cost can get pushed out to 10+ years. I see no reason not to expect the cost of solar to continue to decline. Especially with micro inverters improving output and the continue drop in cost of the parts. That doesn’t mean solar isn’t without it problems. Right now those lower RTI are being pushed by tax incentives what happens 2017 when those go away at the federal level?

          • Epicurus

            It’s no use arguing about anthropogenic climate change (ACC), but you must admit that it’s quite extraordinary that every–EVERY–national scientific organization like our National Academy of Sciences and Britain’s Royal Society of London have accepted ACC as scientific fact. That’s quite some conspiracy, isn’t it? Much more pervasive than the CIA/mob conspiracy to kill JFK.

            Even a quasi-scientific, petroleum industry dominated organization like the American Association of Petroleum Geologists is “divided” on the issue even though there was heavy political pressure to reject the notion of ACC.

            Anyway, glad to hear about your interest in solar. I don’t know how anyone could be against clean air.

            The “free market” cost of electricity doesn’t include the external costs of coal like over 13,000 premature deaths per year, $100 BILLION in health care costs, environmental disasters like coal ash spills, and the cost of its tax subsidies like percentage depletion. A Harvard study calculated that you would have to add 13 cents per kWh to coal generated electricity to account for the externalities. At that price, coal can’t compete against solar and wind (or anything else).

    • Epicurus

      Where did you get this ridiculous estimate? Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck?

      BTW, a credit against your income tax is YOUR money. The credit allows you to spend your money to benefit yourself instead of going to the federal government to be spent on others. Spending your money on yourself instead of on others (welfare recipients, wars, etc.) should thrill you and all right wingers.

    • eveee

      You refuse subsidies? So what about your home loan? Are your refusing the home mortgage subsidy? Doubt it. Hypocrisy.

  • james braselton

    hi there i found some solar power that can provide 15 kw too 51 kw expenceive

  • whammami

    I was a bit disappointed in the beginning to see that the Author Mr Shahan did mention only the cost of the installation and not the cost of the Panel. He did mention the savings ranging from 10k to 60k but we really don’t have a clear picture on really how can a panel go for with what efficiency. The title did not reach its objective.

    • dcard88

      Installed cost would ALWAYS ( and did) include the cost of the panels and everything else one would need to connect to the grid.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “The latest US Solar Market Insight report (from Q3) put the price at $0.70/watt. ”

      Not only did you fail to read this sentence, apparently the ten people who uprated your comment also failed.

  • mearme

    are solar panels available for business property. if so, are there tax rebates?

  • Dave Nantz

    If you lease the system you lose the tax deduction

    • Bob_Wallace

      The subsidy goes to the owner/leasing company. That lets them offer you a cheaper lease price.

      • Burnerjack

        Is that really true Bob? Or do they offer a competitive price regardless and pocket (hopefully for them) the difference. Not saying your wrong, but I’ve witnessed a false cost/price relation in marketing for many decades. Example: the phone companies used to tell people if they stopped using 411 their cost would go down. Fact: The phone rates were set regardless, if they could get rid of a large number of phone assistance operators, the profit margin increases while the rates remain on the same trajectory.
        I just wonder if its the same sort of scenario here.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I’m assuming some competition in the market.

          If there’s competition then companies can’t pocket an unreasonable amount of profit.

          We’ve still got some markets without adequate competition and installers are charging as much as $8/watt.

    • Mr.X

      Technically, it’s a tax credit, not a deduction. It’s not refundable, but its unused portion carries forward until an offsetting tax occurs.

  • disqus_l4zSoQqrpI

    Seems like in the U.S. all the barriers to going solar exist past the hardware.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Yes, we’ve got two areas where savings could be made. One is “customer acquisition”, the amount spent on selling the product. We’re still in a situation in the US where solar has to be sold. It’s cheap enough in places like Germany and Australia that people call up and ask to buy.

      Another is permitting costs. We (depending on the location) require a lot more paperwork and inspections than are required in less expensive places.
      Customer acquisition costs will go down as demand grows. Permitting costs are being addressed and some states have already cut costs

  • pvcalc

    In order to get a quite good idea of the financial aspects of an installation see for example the calculator http://pvcalc.org/pvcalc . It’s sophisticated enough to be used for valuation of solar power installations.

  • fudfighter

    The real question is “Is it worth switching to solar generated power?” The answer depends greatly on your situation, economically, geographically, and politically. It’s still a significant up-front investment, whether that comes out of your own pocket or you find a bank that may, possibly, with much convincing, lend it to you. The payback period – more accurately, the break-even point – or how long will it take to recuperate the cost of ownership, varies extremely. In sunny climates where electricity prices are rising, switching to solar basically locks in your electricity price and the system can pay for itself in a few years. But if you’re still connected, i.e. a grid-tied system, your utility company may charge you more for using less, unless they have buy-back agreement, which most in my area do not. Also with grid-tied, if the grid goes out, you can’t use your array anyway, unless you have a means of completely isolating it from utility power.
    So, is it worth switching? Although the price of the components have dropped over the years, this is still a very complicated question.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan
    • Tony Reyes

      SMA has inverters that lets you use some of the power your array is generating (1500 Watts) even when the grid goes down. There is a physical switch on the inverter that lets you isolate your home from the grid while still complying with NEC code safety requirements. Surprisingly, the cost of the inverter is nearly the same as a standard inverter. I expect this feature to become standard across all residential inverters soons.

    • Jim Seko

      I live in St. Louis which has 75% as much Sun hours as Los Angeles. The cost of our mostly coal supplied electricity is low. The local solar installers know they must install at a lower cost and manage to beat the US average installed cost by wide margin. It also helps that Ameren Missouri pays $1.50 per Watt in addition to the federal 30% tax credit. Most Ameren customers are not aware of these rebates and tax credits which will expire 12/31/2016. I commend Zachary Shahan for writing this article because informing the public about money saving solutions to climate change is super important. The best way to see what you can save in dollars is to get a few quotes.

    • Dropandgiveme20

      the systems pay for themselves in 8-10 years, many have warranties lasting up to 30 years and require very little maintenance. Then you have rebates from both the federal government and the state, and some utilities offer rebates as well. paying for about 45% of the cost for a residential install. then deciding to go grid tied will also help, Utilities will either pay you for or bank the excess electricity you produce to of set the time when you use more than you produce . in any case you save money.

    • Johnny tuenmo

      Hey fudfighter In the most part you have to look at the rate you are paying for utility in your area and the size and orientation of your roof. where do you live? I work in the solar industry. do you want me to help you check it out for you?

    • rabak omaba

      Why pay a huge amount like $1000’s for utilization of solar or wind power when you can have the opportunity to build your own home made solar system for less than $200. You can Learn more on ” i n p l i x . c o m “

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