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Installation Cost of Solar Panels

Monocrystalline solar panels on the roof

The installation cost of a solar panel system in the U.S. depends on the size of the system and the technology used by the panels to turn the sunlight into clean electricity.

What is a Solar Panel System?

Today, a solar panel system with higher efficiency will cost more, but will also require a smaller surface on your rooftop, which means that you can install more power (more generation capacity) even if the surface available on the rooftop or in the yard is not very large.

If you want to install solar tiles you will pay even more because besides the fact that the tiles are producing clean electricity you will also pay for the improved aesthetics of your rooftop.

Let’s see how much would cost to install a solar panel (PV) system on your rooftop or on your business building or even in the yard, to understand if going solar can help you save some money on electricity bills.

The cost of the solar panel system installed on your rooftop will depend on the size of the system, the components used by the system and the difficulty of the installation.

If you live independently (off the grid) you will install a PV system that will produce energy for a small number of appliances used inside your home.

However, if we are talking about the average U.S. household, a grid-connected solar PV system would be a better choice, and will include: solar panels, an inverter, a battery system for energy storage, mountings, electrical items, the installation work, and all the paperwork required for approvals.

Monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient but more expensive

The average price for a solar PV system that uses high quality components is between $2.90 and $3.20 per watt.

The overall cost of the PV system will depend pretty much on your monthly electricity usage and on the size of the system that needs to reduce or even to eliminate your energy bill.

The 30% federal tax credit that is still available today can reduce the cost of the solar PV system and you can reduce the investment even more if you qualify for any local incentives.

There is also a possibility to get solar with no upfront investment and a monthly repayment that could be lower than your monthly energy bill.

Solar works well in many U.S. states

In 30 U.S. states there is also net metering, which provides full retail value for each kWh of electricity produced by your solar PV system.

In states such as California, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut, a solar photovoltaic system can pay for itself in power savings in a time period of only 5 years (these states receive many hours of sunlight per year), which means that you will get 20 years of free power after the first five years of usage of the system.

In other states, the solar PV system can pay for itself in 8 to 10 years (these states receive less sunlight per year), but even so, giving the fact that a good quality solar PV system comes with a warranty of 25 years for the panels, the system will produce free and clean energy for the owner after the first decade of usage.

Installation Cost Of An Off-grid Solar Panel System

When living off-the-grid you don’t pay energy bills, so you need to find a way of producing your own energy (preferably clean) to power the appliances that are providing the comfort of your home.

You can choose to install a small solar panel system (that can power small things such as a light bulb, a laptop, your mobile phone, a coffee machine etc.).

To power some of the appliances you will need a medium size system, and to power the entire household (everything that uses electricity in your household) you will need a large production system.

An off-grid solar PV system will include the following components: solar panels, charge controller, a battery system for energy storage, and an inverter.

Small Off-Grid Solar PV System

To power a light bulb, your laptop, your smartphone, a coffee machine, etc., you don’t need a large number of solar panels.

You can start by investing in a small solar panel (10 W or 20 W panel) that will cost you between $2 and $3 per watt.

The small charge controller (20 amp) used for your solar panel will cost you around $20.

A small SLA battery (8ah) can cost you another $20 to 25$.

The inverter used in your solar PV system will be a small one (400 watt inverter), and will cost you about $25.

Finally, you will pay around $30 for mountings, wires, connectors etc.

You will invest between $120 and $140 with your small solar PV system, but you will get a free source of clean power to charge your gadgets.

Medium Size Off-Grid Solar PV System

For a medium size system that can power all your gadgets, all the light bulbs in the house, the TV, your boat, the RV etc. you need to buy larger solar panels.

A 100W solar panel can cost you between $1.50 and $2.50 per watt and you will need about four of these to build your medium size system.

With this system you will use a PWM medium charge controller (60 amp) that will cost you about $200.

The batteries used to store the power produced by the medium size system will be deep cycle batteries (these are not renewable energy batteries).

You will pay around $100 for each battery, and you will need two batteries for your solar PV system.

A medium inverter (600 watt sine wave) will be enough for your medium size system and will cost you around $200.

$100 will be spent on wires, connectors and mountings.

The medium size system can cost you about $1,300, but will provide you with some energy freedom.

Large Production Off-Grid Solar PV System

A large size solar PV system can produce enough energy to power your entire household with clean electricity.

For this system you need to buy larger solar modules (250 W or even 300W panels) for which you will pay between $1 and $2 per watt, depending on the brand and the technology used (monocrystalline or polycrystalline cells).

To power the entire household with solar energy you will need at least 12 large solar modules that will cost you around $3,000.

You will also need a large charge controller that uses the MPPT technology, which will cost you at least $1,000, but will provide you with great safety for the system.

The large PV system will require a battery system used to store the renewable energy produced by the panels.

Such batteries are heavy and expensive, so you will pay between $2,500 and $3,000 to store the clean electricity produced by your system.

You will also need a large inverter (3 KW sine wave inverter), which will cost you another $1,000.

For wires, connectors and mounts you will pay about $800.

The large solar PV system can cost you around $9,000, but will power the entire household.

Installation Cost of A Grid-tied Solar Panel System

When you decide to install a solar panel system that is connected to the grid you know that you will have access to energy only when the grid is working and there is no outage.

During the day when the solar system produces clean power you can use the electricity produced by your panels.

During the night you need to use energy provided by the grid.

Because an outage of the grid will automatically shut down your solar PV system you need to consider buying a battery system, an additional off-grid-only inverter and a charge controller to use the energy stored in batteries in case of an outage.

You can start by contacting a solar company for a free quote and during the negotiation, be sure that you will be the one that will receive the 30% federal tax credit and any local incentives for the solar PV system installed on your rooftop or on the building of your company and not the company that will install the system.

Conclusion

Solar energy can provide energy-freedom for all of us, so be sure that you install your solar PV system as long as the federal tax credit is still available.

You will save much more money on long-term using your solar PV system compared to the money invested today in the panels mounted on your rooftop.

Article written by:

I write about the renewable energy sector, electric cars and climate change issues. I love nature and good food, so I travel all over the world to see new places and meet new people. Magda Savin

2 Comments

  1. Marcela Preston

    Thank you for telling me how much I have to pay if I want to install a solar panel system at home. I truly appreciate your efforts to show what type of solar PV system I need, and how many years I have to use it to recover the investment.

  2. Khaled

    Thanks at all
    How about battery banks in off grade system.
    Specially with supercapacitor battery banks (life +coast)

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