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Home » » Just How Much Does Solar Panel Installation Cost?

Just How Much Does Solar Panel Installation Cost?

Written By kar yati on Saturday, July 21, 2012 | 11:57 AM

Before you undertake a solar energy project, it makes sense to find out what factors influence solar panel installation costs. If you have already found a few of the generic "resources" for solar energy pricing, and discovered that the range of anticipated costs can vary by tens of thousands of dollars, than you are probably looking for a detailed explanation of what determines prices. The question at hand is how can one source suggest that installing a solar energy system can cost $30,000 to $40,000, while another source suggests it will cost just a fraction of that?

To begin with, unless a company is given a detailed description of the job at hand, including the amount of wattage required, the type of installation involved, the specific products you want and much more, they cannot give you an adequate estimate. This does not mean that are not reliable ways for you to determine the approximate cost of the project you want to undertake, but it does mean that generic estimates are often less than helpful.

Determine the Size of Your Project First

When discussing the size of a solar energy installation project, the most important factor to consider is the amount of wattage the solar panels need to provide, in order to power your home efficiently. The average home requires between 900 and 1400 watts of solar power to operate entirely off the grid. Determine the amount of energy you need to get from your system by using a home energy calculator, such as the one provided by the US Department of Energy at energy.gov.

Project Size and Cost

The per watt price of solar panel installation can be anywhere between $2.90 and $9.80 per watt. The size of the project has a direct bearing on the per watt price of the solar panels themselves. Large projects, which require the system to provide over 5,000 watts of power, have a lower per watt cost than small projects. According to a study funded in part by the United States Department of Energy, solar energy systems which provide more than 5,000 watts of electrical power generally cost between $3.80 and $4.40 per watt. Prices for this type of solar energy system, however, were as little as $2.90 per watt, and as much as $6.20 per watt.

Less that 10 kw

An average homeowner can expect to pay anywhere from $6.30 to $8.40 per watt of installed solar power. There are many variables when it comes to estimating the cost of a project under 10 kw, however. The report "Tracking the Sun IV: A Historical Summary of the Installed Cost of Photovoltaics in the United States from 1998 to 2010," by Galen Barbose, Naim Darghouth, and Ryan Wiser, states that prices are higher in states where solar energy is less common, due to lack of competitive pricing on both products and installation. The report also states that installation is less expensive in new construction, as compared to the cost of installing solar panels in exiting homes and buildings.

The type of solar panels installed also has a bearing on price. Cadmium telluride solar panels have a lower installation cost than silicon panels. Studies suggest, however, that these panels have a lower efficiency rate, therefore making them less cost effective over time.

The final factor that can affect the price of solar panel installation is rebates and incentives. While costs can be off-set by federal, state and local green energy incentives, the amount of money a homeowner can recoup from these types of programs varies heavily from project to project.

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  2. It can be a tough notion to come to a conclusion on if you want to install solar panels or not. I would first collect info from the various solar companies that are local and ask for different estimates and rates on my roof.

    -Sharone Tal
    Solar MA

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