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Published on February 4th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan

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What Is The Current Cost Of Solar Panels?



Originally published on Cost Of Solar (with updates made to prices).

I think one of the first questions people ask when they think about going solar is: How much do solar panels cost? Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to that question… that is, if you want me to answer the question you’re really asking. 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.

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he's the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • 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.

  • 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.

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