How Much Does It Cost to Solar Power Your Home?
5 Factors that Affect the Cost of Solar, and the 1 Way to Eliminate All Doubt
The cost to solar power their home is the most common question people ask about. The answer is complicated by many factors.
There’s only one way to know for sure what it will cost to put solar panels on your home – get a quote so you can see your numbers in front of you.
Other than having an actual quote, the next best thing is to look at averages and the various factors that can put your solar panel costs above or below those averages. So, let’s start with the averages.
Average Costs for Solar Panels and Installation
According to Energysage, the 2018 prices for solar range from $2.71 to $3.57 per watt. To put that in perspective, in 2006 solar cost $9/Watt, and in 2010 it was down to $7. So today’s prices continue the trend toward historic lows.
Combined with the 26% federal solar investment tax credit, there has never been a better time to go solar.
For a typical 6kW home solar system after the tax credit, this comes to between $11,000 and $15,000. For most locations, you can expect to recover those costs in less than ten years, because power prices continue to climb year after year. And you can further blunt the costs by getting solar financing.
That bears repeating: power costs are climbing, and solar costs are fixed once you install your system. So your savings increase each year, and you will likely pay for your system in less than ten years.
That’s where costs for solar panels stand at the moment. Now, let’s look at the complications.
5 Factors Affecting the Cost of Solar Power for Homes
There are five main factors that affect your costs for solar power. But there’s a sixth factor you must consider in addition to all these – quality.
Not all solar panels are the same. Neither are all solar installers. Buying the cheapest panels, as with most products, usually means a less reliable product. You want your solar power system to last 20 or more years. If you buy cheapo panels made somewhere with no customer service, and they have problems after a couple years, then the couple thousand dollars you saved up front loses all its value, and then some.
So when you look at the other factors that affect the cost of solar power, remember to consider all of them within the bounds of quality. And for the record, Coastal Solar uses top-notch equipment with warranties up to 25 years!
Cost Factor 1: Number of Solar Panels Purchased
The more panels you buy, the more it costs. Obviously. But this matters because you have a choice in how big of a solar power system you buy.
The larger your system, the higher the percentage of your power bill will be canceled out by your solar power production. So, more kilowatts of installed solar equals more savings on your power bill, but a higher upfront cost (or a higher monthly cost if you do solar financing).
The average US home installs a 6kW solar power system. But you can install just 3 or 4 kW for a lower cost. Your power bills just won’t go down as much as they would have. The point is – you can afford solar. The question is, how many solar panels can you afford?
You also have to consider the differences between a single panel and a bulk purchase. Your solar installer likely gets a lower price per panel than you could on your own. So whereas a panel might cost you $250, it might only cost your installer $200.
Cost Factor 2: Type of Solar Panels
Better panels produce more energy more efficiently, saving you more money for more years. But they might cost more up front.
Thin film solar panels cost less than crystalline ones, but aren’t as durable and have lower solar efficiency. So you’ll need more thin film panels to produce the same amount of energy as a lower number of crystalline ones, and you’ll need to replace them sooner. Compare thin film to crystalline panels head to head.
And even within these two categories, there are higher and lower quality panels. As with any product, ‘cost’ isn’t as simple as the sticker price. But especially when thinking 20-30 years out like you should with solar power, cost is not a one-time event. But in terms of upfront costs only, a low-quality thin film solar panel will be your cheapest option.
Cost Factor 3: Ease of Installation
If you’ve got a simple flat roof, or an angled roof that faces in the ideal solar absorbing direction for your location, installation is faster and therefore less costly. Houses with irregular rooflines, skylights, and challenging angles can make installation more complicated.
Also, are you installing a ground mounted or a roof mounted system? In general, ground mounted solar panels cost more. But on the other hand, if your roof is old and needs to be replaced before you install your solar panels, a roof mounted system will cost more.
Cost Factor 4: How Quickly You Reach the Break-Even Point
If you’re thinking about cost over the next 20-30 years and not just a one-time event, this is the most important factor. Better solar panels that produce more energy and last longer will save you more money over time.
A lot more.
Plus, power costs go up every year, so your savings increase annually. This is also affected by where you live. If you live in a place with higher power costs, your savings will be greater. If you live in a place with ideal solar conditions, your panels will produce more energy and therefore save you more.
The faster you start saving money and the sooner you recover your solar costs, the less costly they are over their lifetime. So, a 10-year break-even point is very different from an 8-year break-even point. That’s two additional years you’ll be realizing monthly savings from solar power.
Cost Factor 5: Choice of Solar Installer
Unlike in most industries, in solar the bigger companies actually charge more than the smaller ones most of the time. But again, it’s not that simple. A shoddy installation job can cost you tons of money in lost savings as well as new expenses later on.
So you want a happy middle – an installer who knows what they’re doing but who doesn’t charge what the big companies charge.
Your best guarantee of quality installation is the warranty and service history. Coastal Solar is not a big national company, but our service is second-to-none and our equipment comes with warranties that last up to 25-years. You’re getting the ideal combination of experience, quality, and cost when you go with a solar company like us.
Residential Solar Power Costs You Can Afford
As you saw at the beginning, the very best (and only) way to really know the costs of solar power for your home is to get an actual quote.
Request your free quote from Coastal Solar today, and see what great customer service looks like.