How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?
$17,904 - $34,205
$17,904 - $34,205
Updated January 15, 2021Written by HomeAdvisor.
Installing a solar panel system costs an average of $25,651 and dropping. Most homeowners pay between $17,904 and $34,205. Expect to pay $2.50 to $3.50 per watt with most systems in the 3kW to 10kW range. Until the end of 2021, you can deduct 22% of the installation costs with the federal investment tax credit (ITC).
With energy prices on the rise, this may be the perfect time to go solar. Especially considering that improvements in this field of technology have made it more cost-effective and easier to set up. As solar technologies expand in popularity, innovations make them cheaper to produce, meaning system installation costs slowly lower over time.
Homeowners have several options available to them which weren't on the market in decades past and which fit a variety of budgets. Here are a few things to consider that will affect how much you pay.
Let's calculate cost data for you. Where are you located?
Where are you located?
|Typical Range||$17,904 - $34,205|
|Low End - High End||$3,713 - $50,000|
Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 1,940 HomeAdvisor members.
|Type||Price per Watt*||Life Expectancy**|
|Mono||$1 - $1.50||25 - 35 years|
|Poly||$0.70 - $1.00||23 - 27 years|
|Thin-Film||$1 - $1.50||14 - 17 years|
*Material price only. Does not include labor or any other overhead for installation.
**Solar panels still function past this time but have a significantly reduced rate of energy production.
You’ll pay anywhere from $0.70 to $1.50 per watt to purchase a solar panel. With labor and other factors, solar panel installation costs a total of $2.50 to $3.50 per watt. There are three types common in the residential market. Each one has its own pros and cons, from price to efficiency. It is important to understand their differences when deciding which will work best for your home and energy needs.
On average, monocrystalline panels cost $1 to $1.50 per watt for the panel. This technology will get you the most energy efficiency while taking up the least amount of space. Their solar cells are made up of high-purity silicon which is very efficient at converting the sun's light into electricity. A sheet of silicon is cut to form solar cells, which are arranged to create panels. These have the longest life expectancy and often come with a 25 to 35-year warranty.
Polycrystalline solar panels cost between $0.70 and $1 per watt for the panel alone. These have a lower efficiency than monocrystalline, but they fit better into smaller budgets without taking up a lot more space. In the manufacturing process, multiple crystals of silicon are melted and poured into molds to form the solar cells. This makes the silicon less pure and less efficient, but it cuts down on waste and production cost. The resulting modules are blue in tint.
Thin-film panels cost between $1 and $1.50 per watt on average for the panels alone. These are extremely flexible and versatile, made by layering photovoltaic material on metal or glass. They cost less, but they will require a lot more space in order to power residential homes. They also have a shorter lifespan, lasting an average of 14 to 17 years. Therefore, they come with shorter warranties. One benefit of thin-film technology that has the others beat is its high tolerance to heat.
The efficiency of thin-film technology will depend on the photovoltaic material used. Amorphous silicon, for example, will only operate at 7% to 9%. CdTe and CIS/CIGS operate at about 10% to 14%.
|2kW||$5,000 - $7,000|
|3kW||$7,500 - $10,500|
|4kW||$10,000 - $14,000|
|5kW||$12,500 - $17,500|
|6.2kW||$15,500 - $21,500|
|8kW||$20,000 - $28,000|
|10kW||$25,000 - $35,000|
|Size||Average Cost for Region|
|2kW||$6,000 - $7,000|
|3kW||$9,000 - $10,500|
|4kW||$12,000 - $14,000|
|5kW||$15,000 - $17,500|
|6.2kW||$18,500 - $21,500|
|10kW||$30,000 - $35,000|
|Size||Average Cost for Region|
|2kW||$6,500 - $7,300|
|3kW||$9,500 - $11,300|
|4kW||$13,000 - $14,500|
|5kW||$16,500 - $18,200|
|6.2kW||$20,000 - $23,000|
|10kW||$33,000 - $36,000|
|Size||Average Cost for Region|
|2kW||$5,900 - $6,800|
|3kW||$9,000 - $10,200|
|4kW||$12,000 - $13,500|
|5kW||$15,000 - $17,000|
|6.2kW||$18,500 - $21,000|
|10kW||$30,000 - $34,000|
|Size||Average Cost for Region|
|2kW||$6,300 - $7,300|
|3kW||$9,500 - $10,500|
|4kW||$12,500 - $14,200|
|5kW||$15,800 - $17,800|
|6.2kW||$20,000 - $22,500|
|10kW||$31,500 - $35,500|
Although the per-watt price of installing solar ranges from $2.50 to $3.50, it varies regionally You'll see the greatest difference between the Southern and New England regions. This does not necessarily mean that it is less cost-effective in New England as opposed to other regions. Different states, even different counties, will have varying returns on investment dependent on other factors.
These factors include:
State and local incentives.
Average electricity bills.
Amount of sunshine expected per day.
Below you will find the average rates of having your system professionally installed, according to region and wattage. These figures do not include any tax credits or incentives. Consider that the average size is 5kW. Hawaii, included in the Western region, has a high rate per watt at $2.85 on average. Georgia, in the Southern region, has a lower rate at $2.53 on average.
"In addition to being kind to the planet and reducing your utilities, adding solar to your house may be 'future-proofing' it as well. In 2020, cities across the nation, including Hawaii, California and Maine, implemented mandates to go all-electric to reduce their carbon footprint. California has mandated solar installs on all new homes. This trend toward renewables and all-electric living shows no sign of abating."
Cati O'Keefe, Expert Home Building & Sustainability Contributor.
Considering that the average price of labor per watt is $0.50, the following chart reflects the average cost of labor for the various system sizes.
|Expense||Percentage||Example: 5kW @$3/kW|
|Permit /Inspection Fees||3%||$450|
|Other (Mktg, Overhead)||33%||$4,950|
The costs of your system break down into roughly:
49% equipment including solar panels, batteries, inverter, mounting hardware and wiring.
35% Installation permits and labor costs.
18% Operational costs including overhead, maintenance and monitoring.
When you are shopping around, do your research and get multiple quotes. You may be surprised by the difference in offers. This is owed to the significant chunk of "soft costs" integrated into the overall rate. As you can see above, the "other" category takes up about a third of your total project budget.
Buyers who explore the market thoroughly could save thousands of dollars on their installation by getting multiple quotes from both large and small installers. Expect a higher budget if the surface of your roof is more difficult to work with.
It costs about half as much to install a roof plus solar panels as it does to install a solar tiled roof or anywhere from $40,000 to $80,000. Actual costs vary by location, size of home and how much sun your get.
|Roof Type||Without Solar||With Solar|
|Tesla Solar Roof (with battery storage)||N/A||$40,000 - $80,000|
|Shingle Roof Installation Cost||$5,200 - $10,700||$21,000 - $40,000|
|Tile Roof Installation Costs||$8,000 - $24,000||$23,000 - $52,000|
|Wood Shingle Roof Costs||$3,600 - $120,000||$19,500 - $150,000|
|Roof Replacement Costs||$5,400 - $11,000||$21,500 - $41,000|
Solar panel mounts cost anywhere from $10 to $3,000 each, depending on if it’s fixed, adjustable or a motorized tracking mount. Similar to the panel types, the least expensive option is the least efficient and the more expensive options are more effective.
Fixed: $10-$15 each. These are completely stationary and cannot be adjusted to capture more or less sunlight depending on weather and season. They are the least expensive type of mount. Installing this mount is optimal in regions where continuous sunlight can be expected, as adjustments wouldn't be as necessary in order to maximize on energy production.
Adjustable: $50 each. These can be tilted depending on the intensity of the sun or the season. They are more expensive than the fixed mounts but will have more energy efficiency. Adjusting the panels to soak up more sun in varying seasons will equate to greater energy production. These adjustments can also be useful when the weather turns, as you can lay them flat to avoid damage from wind.
Tracking: $500-$3,000+ each. Follows the arch of the sun and provides maximum efficiency. The amount of energy you will be able to generate depends not only on panel construction and mounting, but your location. Though the initial cost for tracking is higher than other mounts, these can often get you the highest return on investment, as they make the most of every ray of sunlight. Track mounting may add 45% energy production.
Expect higher maintenance demands to keep moving parts working well. The typical expense for maintaining and repairing solar panels is $200 to $1,200, without factoring in the mount. Where fixed and adjustable mounts will simply need their bolts tightened every now and then, those that track will need more attention. You could find yourself spending up to $2,500 in repairs and maintenance.
You’ll save between $650 to $1,500 annually. Over a 25-year period, you’ll save between $15,000 to $40,000 in energy costs. Cost ranges vary by regional differences in the cost of electricity and how much sun you’ll get. Don’t expect to save as much in a darker northern climate as you would in southern California, Florida or Hawaii.
A great first step in determining which products are right for your home is to conduct a Home Energy Audit. A home auditor will do a detailed inspection of your usage and areas where you can improve to help you determine if you would benefit from a solar system. From there, a pro can help you to select the right location, size, mounts, and panels to maximize on savings.
Although you may hesitate to spend the money on the most expensive types of panels and mounts, it is good to remember that you will save money on the other side with decreased electricity bills. It could be that what you spend up front will pay for itself very quickly in your reduced monthly bills.
In Washington, for example, the average savings for a solar-powered home is only $7,500, where the average cost is $14,600. This is partially due to Washington’s low electricity rate compared to most other states. It is also owed to the fact that Washington gets a lot less sun than the rest of the country.
Massachusetts, on the other hand, continues to be the top-performing solar state. The average spent is just over $14,000, while the savings over 25 years is over $30,000. Again, this is due in part to the electricity rate, which is higher than average for the country. Massachusetts is also ahead of the curve in terms of policies. The average recoup time on a 5kW system in this state is only four years.
You can enhance your savings by selecting products with higher efficiencies and investing in track mounting. Track mounting will ensure that your system absorbs all the light it can, and high-quality panels will be able to capture and convert that light at a greater rate.
|Federal 2020||26% deduction|
|Federal 2021||22% deduction|
|State||varies by state|
Thanks to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which created the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), sometimes called the federal solar tax credit, homeowners can deduct 26% of the price of a system and install.
In 2020, you could deduct 26%.
In 2021, you can deduct 22%.
Individual states and cities offer their own policies, incentives and credits, as well. Some utility companies will even offer 10 to 20% rebates on your installation. With these incentives, combined with the ITC, you may be able to save as much as 50%.
Washington: Utility companies offer rebates up to $2,000
Massachusetts: Utility companies which offer rebates of $0.50/watt and up to $625/kW.
New York State: Tax credit of 25% for PV systems.
Florida: Permanent sales tax exemption for solar energy products. Also several utility companies offering $500 rebates on solar water heating systems, which cost an average of just over $3,500.
DIY kits fall around $1 to $2 per kilowatt. Considering that having the entire process handled by a professional contractor averages around $2.50-3.50 per kilowatt, you may not be looking at a lot of savings.
|2kW||$2,000 - $4,000||$5,000 - $7,000|
|3kW||$3,000 - $6,000||$7,000 - $10,500|
|4kW||$4,000 - $8,000||$10,000 - $14,000|
|5kW||$5,200 - $10,000||$12,500 - $17,500|
|6.2kW||$6,200 - $12,400||$15,500 - $21,700|
|10kW||$10,000 - $20,000||$25,000 - $35,000|
*Pre-tax credit cost.
Going with a professional has many benefits and the price difference is often insignificant. A professional will be able to help you with design, will be able to get higher quality products and materials at a lower rate, and will also be useful in acquiring permits and tax credits.
The cost of DIY solar panels runs $2,000 to $20,000 for a kit ranging from 2kW to 10kW. These kits include everything you need to install your own solar array. However, you may even look to building your own panels.
The costs to make your own system and build it from scratch is going to vary quite a lot depending on you level of skill. It’s a highly technical and specialized field. If you have a high level of electrical skills, you may be toying with the idea of building your own solar panels. The cost of solar cells and the silicon wafers used to create them are available to purchase individually. To build your own, you would typically put 60 of these wafers onto a backing and wire each of them. You would then need to connect this to an inverter.
Consider, however, that there are several risks associated with building your own, including:
You can't be sure of the quality of solar cells purchased.
Homemade panels are often a fire hazard.
Many tax credits and incentives will not apply when systems are constructed outside of approved facilities.
Most solar kits are designed for off-grid systems, which wouldn't demand as much energy as the average home, such as tiny houses or sheds. A typical off-grid PV system costs about $2.50 per watt.
Grid-tied packages range from $2.00 to $3.50 per watt. The grid can be very useful, providing electricity at night or in times of low sunlight. Being connected requires more components, such as meters and safety equipment. You will need to consult your local utility company about regulations and hire a licensed electrical contractor to connect you.
The size of your panel installation and the needs of your home will affect your costs. An average-sized system (roughly 5 kilowatts) will cost between $25,000 and $35,000. Larger installations will require more hardware, planning and construction time. This can further increase costs. While solar panels are expensive, they have distinct benefits:
Savings: An average-sized system (5 kilowatts) can reduce up to 50% of your monthly electricity bill. Over a period of 20 years, these savings can add up to $30,000, based on your location and energy usagae. Federal tax incentives are also making it easier to purchase systems.
Flexible payments: Solar purchase power agreements (PPAs) allow homeowners to purchase their panels with little to no money down. PPAs give homeowners immediate access to utility savings.
Increased Home Value: Lower utility bills improve the value of your home. In fact, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) concluded that homes with solar panels sold for 17% more than homes with conventional utilities.
Solar panels normally retail for around $.70 to $1.50 per watt and range between 150 and 350 watts per panel, making the average cost of a single panel between $100 and $650. If you're installing one panel, high-quality, high-output options are ideal. Here's a look at the efficiency of common panel types:
Monocrystalline panels: 17%-24% efficient
Polycrystalline panels: 15%-20% efficient
Thin/film panels: 7%-14% efficient
Many retailers sell panels individually and as part of a larger system. It’s important to factor hardware and installation costs into your single-panel project as well. This portion of your installation can make up as much as 30% of your overall cost.
They are rarely sold by the square foot. Instead, most retailers and pros sell panels by the watt. You can expect to pay between $.70 and $1.50 per watt.