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The cost of solar panels has dropped drastically over the last decade, but that doesn’t mean that they come cheap—the average cost of a solar system is now about $15,000, with those in sunnier states paying closer to $20,000. But that’s only assuming you pay full price. Quite often, people who want to go solar can obtain free solar panels (old systems), or heavily discounted ones if they do a little legwork. That said, let’s take a look at how many solar panels cost across the US. Technology has made it possible to turn sunshine into electricity more efficiently than ever before. But expensive solar installation costs can make going solar a risky investment for homeowners. Governments have the ability to encourage environmentally friendly practices by making installing solar panels more affordable and accessible.

Latest Average Price

You should expect quotes for installation of a solar panel system to vary in price from $17,760 to $23,828 after the solar tax credit, and most costs will range between $2.40 and $3.22 per watt for the solar panels.

How does system size impact the cost of solar?

Knowing the average cost per watt is helpful, but what does $2.81/watt actually mean for you? The cost of installing solar depends primarily on how much electricity you want to generate – a bigger system will cost more because you’ll need to buy more equipment and more labor will be needed to install it. A 2.5 kW system, for example, will produce about 5,000 kWh of electricity per year.

Solar power systems cost money to install, but they will save you money over the long run. For example, a 10kW solar energy system will cover all of your household’s electricity needs, and you’ll have one less utility bill to pay each month. As an increasing number of home and business owners buy solar panels, the need for loans that support the purchase of these systems has also increased.

Price By State

It’s helpful to understand the average cost of a solar panel system installed in each state before deciding whether or not solar panels are a worthy investment. Just as the location and size of your home can make a big difference in the price of electricity, each state has different average costs for solar installation, and they fluctuate year over year.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Association (EIA), across the country, states where homeowners use more electricity per day typically have larger solar panel systems per capita. A recent report by EIA found that the largest solar installations are in Arizona and Florida, with California following close behind. As one might expect, sunny areas like Arizona and Florida require air conditioning more frequently than other states, which means that many of those homes will be using their solar panels throughout most of the year. The prices charged by solar installers will go down the more you buy. Think of it like bulk shopping at Costco – if you pay a higher price for something at first, you’ll pay a lower price on average if you buy it in bulk.

Solar panel prices are highly dependent on the weather. The cost savings you enjoy by installing solar panels in a warm state may be negated by higher installation costs in a cold state. Sizing a solar system to the needs of your home requires more than just looking at the total number of watts you need. It’s not enough to look at wattage output alone; instead, we recommend considering cost per watt instead.

Though prices are still relatively high compared to other forms of energy, they remain below the national average. The most important finding to note is that California, a state that has almost half the solar capacity installed of any other state in the U.S., has an average price for solar energy that is less than half the national average.

What impacts the cost of a solar panel installation?

A solar quote is the total all-in cost you’ll pay to get a complete solar energy system on your house. It can be based on a fixed or variable payment schedule. It may also include such items as installation costs, one-time fees, and hardware.

Solar equipment is comprised of a solar panel and an inverter. The solar panel converts sunlight into direct current (DC), while the inverter converts it to alternating current (AC), which is what most electronic devices require. An efficient solar panel will produce more electricity with the same amount of sunlight. A more efficient piece of equipment can often be justified with the timesaving benefits that come from getting your energy faster, which could lead to lower costs in the long run.

While equipment costs make up the majority of your solar energy system quote, permit, and labor costs also play a significant role. Typically, you will need to pay a fee to have your solar energy system connected to the grid.

Solar is a growing trend. Being one of the first to bring it to your neighborhood can be lucrative, but the costs and logistics of installing and marketing a solar program are high. Designing a system, coordinating a site visit, filing permits, and installing the solar panels all take time and cost money.

You have to take several things into account when calculating your costs for solar panels. For example, whether the property is commercial or residential can be very important. Also, If you have a south-facing roof that slopes at a 30-degree angle, installing solar on your home will be very easy because there are no additional accommodations to be made. However, multiple levels, dormers, and skylights require additional effort to finish the installation. The cost may slightly increase.

Your solar energy system may have a steeper upfront cost than other, fossil-fueled options. Certain features can also drive up the cost of your solar electricity, including marketing and advertising spending.

So, Are Solar Panels Worth It

Solar is a smart investment for homeowners. Once you break even, you are essentially saving money and keeping more in your pocket each month. You can “break even” in as few as 7 or 8 years. From that point on, you’re essentially generating free electricity and racking up the savings.

Although the average installation cost varies by state, it’s best to get an idea of your potential savings with something called a “payback period.” In general, the most expensive places to live (California, New York, Massachusetts for example) will have the shortest payback period.