Clean Power

Published on April 25th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


97% of Americans Overestimate Cost of Installing Solar Panels

April 25th, 2012 by  

A new study commissioned by Sunrun finds that a whopping 97% of Americans overestimate the upfront cost of installing rooftop solar panels. Meanwhile, of course, 8 out of 10 of those without solar say they would install it if cost weren’t a factor.

The study was conducted online by Harris Interactive® in February 2012. 2,211 U.S. adults participated in the study, and 1,475 of them were identified as homeowners.

“While only 3% accurately understand that installing solar can cost less than $1,000 upfront, 4 out of 10 U.S. Adults (40%) think it requires $20,000 or more in upfront costs, grossly overestimating the true cost of installing home solar,” Sunrun, the country’s largest home solar company, writes. Here are more statistics from the poll:

While people are concerned about rising utility prices, most do not realize that solar can chip off a big chunk of those costs and that solar essential means more money for them in the long run (and, if they decide to go the solar leasing option Sunrun is focused on, perhaps even immediate savings).

“The vast majority of Americans are concerned about rising home energy costs from utility companies — 95% of U.S. adults who do pay and/or are aware of their utility costs cited their rising utility rates as a concern — yet homeowners remain paralyzed by misconceptions about what it costs to install solar.”

“When it comes to money matters, ignorance is rarely blissful. When it comes to solar money myths, misinformation actually prevents U.S. homeowners from making smarter financial decisions,” said Manisha Thakor, Harvard MBA and former portfolio manager turned bestselling author and financial literacy advocate. “Solar power service has become something any homeowner should now consider as part of a modern investment portfolio, if it’s available to them. Among other benefits, it offers homeowners the unprecedented ability to plan and predict one of their largest household expenses for years to come: energy. Consumers can direct any savings from solar to other top financial priorities like paying off debt or investing in retirement.”

It seems that for this reason, and probably largely because of good marketing as well, most people going solar in California (the #1 state for solar power) are going solar via a third-party service (i.e. a solar lease or a solar PPA).

No matter how you go solar, though, I think the point of the matter very simply is that there are a variety of options available these days, and they all offer good financial returns for a large number of people, probably most people. If you’re thinking of going solar, certainly don’t assume it’s too expensive and do look into the options available to you.

Source: Business Wire

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Tim Corliss

    Stupid article.  You picked the cheapest part of solar installation.  As another mentioned; $50k for a 5kw system connected to the grid.  Did a politician write this stupid article?

    • ” the cheapest part of solar installation ” sorry, what are you referring to here?

      nope, not a politician.

      and thanks for the compliments, always appreciated 😀

  • This article needs a lot more information. What is your $1000 paying for?

  • Installation cost is probably the biggest issue home owners bring up when solar panels are mentioned. Thankfully, solar power is gradually growing in popularity. As more knowledge about solar power is promoted, solar panel companies can focus more on advertising the low cost options involved in installation, especially when compared to the future saving home owners are sure to have.

  • Jim

    Yes, you can have just one panel installed, but what is the cost to go zero-net energy? I believe that is where the public confuses the numbers.

  • Dcard88

    Lets not forget that there are many installers still attempting to get over $10 per watt. Thats $50 for a 5kW system and even after rebates you can still end up with over $30K for a mid size resi system.

    Someone has to pay for the sales guy’s Benz.

  • Pingback: Green News Daily: Thursday, April 26th, 2012()

  • dmtk

    Clearly solar installers must invest a lot more into marketing and advertisment

    • Definitely!!

    • I think we all need to invest more in education. Marketing and advertising don’t convince people. FACTS do.

      • Facts can convince people, but marketing and advertising often do a much better job of it.

        • Cesar Orlando Pallares Delgado

          The think is how you show those facts to people, and that`s a bit of marketers work. If Companies want to have a demand, then they should promote their products, it’s the only way

          • I agree – being in marketing and all – but people are rightly dubious of spin, we need to back up any marketing and advertising with education and fact.

            Clean energy shouldn’t be a hard thing to sell, but it can be because of negative spin (aka the forces of evil) working against us.

          • Agreed. See what you were referring to now.

  • Cost isn’t the only misconception about solar! Check out 87 Solar Myths for 86 other things people misunderstand about solar:

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