How much do solar panels cost?
One of the most common questions while on the search for solar information is about how much solar panels cost. We’re here to break it down for you.
Ok, ok… you want to do your part to save the environment, but let’s be real, you’ve got mouths to feel and a life to live! How often have you wondered or even asked a solar company, “How much does solar cost….,” and been left wondering why you can’t just get a straight answer? How can you know if you’re “interested in solar” if you can’t even get a ballpark cost on a system. So frustrating!
While there are a lot of variables that go into that question, we really do want to help. We would love for everyone to go solar, but we also understand that for some people it just doesn’t work, and cost is always a part of the equation. Going solar is in some ways like buying a car. “How much are solar panels” is a lot like asking “how much is a car?” Naturally, we have to start with how fancy is the car you are looking for: do you want luxury or bang for your buck? Similarly, to answer how much gas will that car use, we first need to know how much/far do you plan to drive it?
Just like buying a car, there are many factors and options involved in the solar-buying process. Rooftop Solar is a specialized solar company that customizes systems for customers. Every customer is different and uses energy differently. Before we can answer your questions “How much are solar panels?”, “How much does it cost to install solar panels?” or “Is solar worth it?”, we have to look at some of the following variables.
Solar Panel Costs
The technology of solar panels (photovoltaic) are relatively similar regardless of which panel you choose, but there are a few things that can affect the cost of solar panels:
- Efficiency of a Panel: Over the years solar panels have gotten more efficient, which basically means the same size solar panel is producing more today than it was a few years ago. Most panels are priced at a “price per watt.” So that means if you want the latest version of your solar panel, you’ll pay a little bit more. If you have a lot of room on your roof, this might not matter because you can add on a couple more panels and still get the same amount of energy for less cost.
- Brand Names vs International Solar Companies. No big surprise here but sometimes you are going to pay for the brand name. Is it worth it? Well that depends on the brand. Brands like Sunpower used to be the best quality in the industry and you paid for it, now the technology has evened the playing field. Companies like LG or Panasonic make great panels. However, some of the best in the industry are bigger internationally and make similar quality modules if not better. (check out REC, Hanwha, Solaria, etc.). Rooftop Solar can help you sort through your options!
- How Many Solar Panels Do You Need? This is probably the biggest determining factor for the cost of your system. If you use a lot of energy, then you’ll need more panels to offset that energy. If you need more panels then your system will cost more because there are more panels. This is why many companies ask for your energy usage before being able to give you a price.
Solar installation costs
The cost of installation is another factor in your overall cost. This includes the actual labor, construction manager, and project manager. Installing solar energy can help lower your electricity bills by creating your own power for less than the cost of buying energy from utility companies. With state and federal tax credit (and in some jurisdictions, local rebates) a homeowners electricity savings and average cost make for a great investment!
- How much does solar labor cost? This cost can vary depending on your location and local wage rates. Installation isn’t easy and turn over can be high in the industry. Rooftop Solar has invested in the best quality teams by offering a competitive working wage. If our installer is happy, you’re going to be happy!
- Different Roofing Types for Solar. Different roofing types require different types of materials. There are several different roof types including asphalt shingles, clay and concrete tile, metal, flat, foam and more. Some roofs are more complicated than others and it’s important to have a solar company who knows the nuances of each roof and the appropriate flashing/racking used. (This is NOT the place you want to cut corners or cost!)
- Inverters and “BOS” (Balance of System). There are a few types of inverters. You can learn more about inverters here. For years, the industry mainly used the “String” or “Central” inverter. Today most companies use either micro-inverters or optimizers (with a string inverter). There are differences in cost and one of our specialists can help determine which is best for you. Flashing, racking, wiring, conduit and other components are parts that don’t get a lot of attention but are important. Your solar system is going to last 30+ years so make sure the equipment holding it in place will last that long too.
One final piece that can affect the cost of solar panels is financing. Just like a car or a house, often times there are closing costs associated with the financing of your system. While many solar companies tout a “low interest rate for solar,” many times those low fees are made possible with higher closing costs. Keep an eye out for expensive “dealer fees.”
Cash is the fastest way to lower your monthly electric bill dramatically and for a long time. However many of our customers prefer to use their cash for other house projects. Since you are already paying a monthly electric bill, the idea of saving on your monthly utility bill to pay off your system sounds pretty good. You may not want to pay anything out of pocket and invest the money you’re paying the electric company into your own house. Rooftop Solar can help explore your options and help you decide if going solar is worth it for you!
Find out if solar makes sense for you
If you’d rather speak directly to one of our team members, get a free quote by calling (800) 786-7080.