Published on February 4th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan193
What Is The Current Cost Of Solar Panels?
February 4th, 2014 by Zachary Shahan
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, naturally.
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.
[Updated July 15, 2016] This article has been updated to reflect current prices and add more context.
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 more than 100 times lower than they were back in 1977.
The average weekly spot price for polysilicon solar modules this week is $0.49/watt. For a thin-film solar modules, it’s $0.52/watt. For residential solar modules, which are typically of a higher efficiency than solar modules used in utility-scale solar farms, the figure would be a bit higher. But how much does this solar cost info really help you?
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost… On My Roof?
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. Referencing the latest US Solar Market Insight report, the average installed cost of a residential solar panel system is just under $3.50/watt. (For commercial rooftops, it’s just under $2.00/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 wrote in 2014 regarding 2013 figures. The story hasn’t changed much since then, even though prices on both ends have come down.
The total price of a system, of course, varies tremendously based on the size of your roof and your electricity needs as well.
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, you can now go solar for $0 or close to $0 down through solar leasing companies or through simple bank loans, the latter of which would generally be my preference. Then you’re just making 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!
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 $30,000. In Hawaii, it’s up above $60,000! And that’s just the average.
Furthermore, solar panels are likely to pump out electricity to a similar degree as when new for well over 30 years, perhaps even well over 40 years.
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 your situation/home/business.
For a little more of a look at how prices and savings can vary by state, below is an infographic based on 2011 research. Obviously, the story has gotten much better since then. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any comprehensive studies like this since 2011.
I hope that infographic and article helps you in considering the many factors at play that influence the cost of solar power. In the end, you can go buy solar panels on Amazon.com if you like, but if you want someone to come and install solar panels on your roof (the way most people go solar), you need to get quotes from as many solar panel installers as you can and choose the one that seems to offer the best value for the money. Every installer is likely to answer “How much do solar panels cost?” in a different way — with different solar panels, a differently sized installation, different warranties and services, etc. Drop us a note if you want some help comparing offers.