How Much Do Solar Panels Cost and Are They Worth It?

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost and Are They Worth It?

One of the first questions solar shoppers ask when researching solar, how much do solar panels cost and are they worth it? The truth is solar makes sense for most homeowners. Nobody doubts whether the technology works. Most just never looked into it.

For most homes you can determine the cost of solar by the amount of electricity you have to offset. If you are moving into a new home or building an addition, you might not have any historical information to gauge the cost of electricity. If that is the case, you can create a solar panel cost estimate based on the square footage of a home.

While installing a solar power system for your house should be viewed as an investment, the initial price may be prohibitive for some homeowners. Not only does solar equipment appear to be rather pricey, but many individuals are concerned that installation fees and other associated expenditures would soon add up.

We’ll look at how much solar panels cost for a 1,500 square foot house to help you understand how much it would actually cost to put solar panels on an average-sized home. Then, we’ll look at the factors that influence the cost of solar panels, as well as the overall cost of a home solar power system.

We hope that after reading this guide, you will understand that installing solar panels is significantly less expensive than you would expect.

So, How Much Would Solar Panels Cost for a 1,500 Square Foot House?

Solar panels for a 1,500 square foot house cost roughly $18,500, with average pricing in the United States ranging between $8,000 and $25,000. According to Modernize, “Solar panel installation costs proximately $18,500 for a 6kW solar panel system for a 1,500 square ft. home, and the price per watt for solar panels can range from $2.50 to $3.50. Residential solar panels are typically 3kW to 8kW in size and may cost between $9,255 to $24,552 in total installation expenses.”

Naturally, you’re asking why there’s such a wide range in the estimations. Prices for solar panels and other components vary greatly. Energy and watt power requirements differ from one home to the next. The actual demand and supply statistics are determined by geographical area, exposure to sunlight, family members, and so on. The cost of installing solar panels varies by state. Furthermore, the kind of installed panels and labor prices in your location have a significant influence on this cost.

Rebates and incentives from federal and state energy departments may also have an influence on the overall cost of installation.

Solar Panel Installation Costs by Size

Solar Panel SizeAverage Solar Installation Costs
2 kW$6,015
3 kW$9,225
4 kW$12,035
5 kW$14,893
6 kW$18,500
7 kW$21,008
8 kW$24,552

How Much Will the Whole Installation Cost me?

While knowing the price per solar panel can be beneficial, the true cost comes from the total solar power system and installation. Aside from the cost of solar panels, there are several expenditures associated with a full-scale solar installation on your house. Here’s a short rundown of all the fees associated with an installation:

  • 25% – Solar Panels
  • 10% – Inverter
  • 10% – Installation
  • 10% – Balancing of System
  • 45% – Operational Costs (Design, Permitting, Connecting, etc)

A 5 kilowatt (5kW) system is the average installation on an American home. In the United States, the average cost per watt of solar systems in 2020 is $2.96 cents.

So let’s get to work! If we multiply 5,000 watts by $2.96, we will get $14,800

But wait, there’s also the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit to consider! This credit is set at 26 percent for 2021 and 2022 and will allow you to save 26 percent of the total cost of solar installation through a tax credit. When we subtract this 30% credit from $14,800, we get $10,952. After applicable tax credits, the average cost ($2.96 per watt) of a solar system (5 kW) in the United States is roughly $10,592.

Cost of Solar Panels by State

StatePer Watt6 kW System10 kW System
Alabama$2.02 – $2.85$12,120 – $17,100$20,200 – $28,500
Alaska$2.23 – $3.13$13,380 – $18,780$22,300 – $31,300
Arizona$1.88 – $2.35$11,286 – $14,118$18,810 – $23,530
Arkansas$2.42 – $2.74$14,520 – $16,440$24,200 – $27,400
California$1.82 – $2.29$10,926 – $13,758$18,210 – $22,930
Colorado$1.96 – $2.39$11,730 – $14,310$19,550 – $23,850
Connecticut$1.99 – $2.49$11,994 – $14,994$19,990 – $24,990
Washington D.C.$1.75 – $2.57$10,518 – $15,450$17,530 – $25,750
Delaware$1.95 – $2.13$11,742 – $12,810$19,570 – $21,350
Florida$1.48 – $2.09$8,880 – $12,552$14,800 – $20,920
Georgia$1.91 – $2.14$11,448 – $12,852$19,080 – $21,420
Idaho$2.03 – $2.22$12,162 – $13,314$20,270 – $22,190
Illinois$2.01 – $2.52$12,078 – $15,162$20,130 – $25,270
Indiana$2.07 – $2.49$12,444 – $14,940$20,740 – $24,900
Iowa$2.20 – $2.38$13,200 – $14,268$22,000 – $23,780
Kansas$1.49 – $2.06$8,940 – $12,360$14,900 – $20,600
Kentucky$2.35 – $3.04$14,100 – $18,240$23,500 – $30,400
Louisiana$1.77 – $2.33$10,644 – $13,980$17,740 – $23,300
Maine$1.85 – $2.35$11,100 – $14,100$18,500 – $23,500
Maryland$1.67 – $2.16$10,026 – $12,942$16,710 – $21,570
Massachusetts$1.94 – $2.37$11,628 – $14,376$19,380 – $23,960
Michigan$1.99 – $2.50$11,976 – $14,976$19,960 – $24,960
Minnesota$2.01 – $2.37$12,000 – $14,244$20,000 – $23,740
Mississippi$1.98 – $2.75$11,880 – $16,500$19,800 – $27,500
Missouri$1.71 – $2.42$10,260 – $14,520$17,100 – $24,200
Montana$1.86 – $2.34$11,148 – $14,064$18,580 – $23,440
Nebraska$1.74 – $2.88$10,440 – $17,280$17,400 – $28,800
Nevada$1.92 – $2.13$11,526 – $12,762$19,210 – $21,270
New Hampshire$1.97 – $2.55$11,796 – $15,300$19,660 – $25,500
New Jersey$1.76 – $2.35$10,530 – $14,118$17,550 – $23,530
New Mexico$2.02 – $2.73$12,102 – $16,362$20,170 – $27,270
New York$1.80 – $2.64$10,824 – $15,840$18,040 – $26,400
North Carolina$1.73 – $2.27$10,380 – $13,632$17,300 – $22,720
North Dakota$1.39 – $1.97$8,340 – $11,820$13,900 – $19,700
Ohio$1.79 – $2.29$10,740 – $13,740$17,900 – $22,900
Oklahoma$1.88 – $3.34$11,280 – $20,040$18,800 – $33,400
Oregon$1.63 – $2.20$9,804 – $13,224$16,340 – $22,040
Pennsylvania$1.80 – $2.60$10,782 – $15,630$17,970 – $26,050
Rhode Island$2.08 – $2.44$12,492 – $14,652$20,820 – $24,420
South Carolina$1.92 – $2.38$11,544 – $14,292$19,240 – $23,820
South Dakota$1.88 – $2.93$11,280 – $17,580$18,800 – $29,300
Tennessee$1.30 – $1.97$7,800 – $11,820$7,800 – $11,820
Texas$1.75 – $2.15$10,494 – $12,906$17,490 – $21,510
Utah$1.83 – $2.41$10,950 – $14,454$18,250 – $24,090
Vermont$1.79 – $2.58$10,716 – $15,480$17,860 – $25,800
Virginia$1.69 – $2.11$10,134 – $12,630$16,890 – $21,050
Washington$1.71 – $2.19$10,278 – $13,110$17,130 – $21,850
West Virginia$2.17 – $3.38$13,020 – $20,280$21,700 – $33,800
Wisconson$2.11 – $2.42$12,666 – $14,490$21,110 – $24,150
Wyoming$2.39 – $2.78$14,340 – $16,680$23,900 – $27,800

How many Solar Panels Do You Need?

To determine how many solar panels you’ll need for your home, evaluate everything that consumes energy. Examining your electricity bill might also give you a fair sense of how many you may need.

How much power do you use?

You should be able to see the kilowatt-hours on your electricity bill (KWH). The KWH for a home can vary substantially depending on where it is located. A residence in the south is more likely to need a lot of electricity from air conditioners.

Finding the average daily energy use can help you in calculating your solar requirements. Once you’ve calculated your usage, you can calculate how much watts you’ll need to power everything.

Peak Sunlight Hours

Keep in mind that solar panels only operate when they are directly exposed to sunlight. They stop creating energy after the sun has stopped shining on them. Peak sunshine hours are when your panels are directly exposed to the sun and might vary depending on where you live.

Multiply your home’s hourly energy use by the peak sunshine hours in your area, then divide by the wattage of a solar panel. This may be done with both high and low wattage panels to get a sense of what you would require.

Most respectable solar providers can also assist you in determining this if you provide them with this basic information!

The Type of Solar Power System You Plan on Running

The type of system you plan to run is another aspect that will influence the overall cost of your solar panels.

When installing a household solar power system, you have the option of being grid-tied, grid-tied with storage (hybrid system), or completely off-grid. The sort of solar power system you select will have a significant impact on the final cost.

Grid-Tied Systems: Maintain access to the utility grid, which means you may simply lower your power bill while still having access to grid electricity when needed. These are often less expensive since you do not need to offer enough power to run your entire home at all times. You also don’t have to invest in an expensive solar battery bank system to store solar energy.

Grid-Tied plus Storage: It works in the same way as Grid-Tied Systems, but with the addition of a backup battery bank. You may receive electricity from the grid, feed power into the grid for rebates, store power for later use, or supply power directly to your house. Naturally, this is more expensive than strictly grid-tied systems, but it is still feasible.

Off-Grid Systems: Because you do not have access to the utility grid, the solar panels and accompanying equipment must be capable of fulfilling all of your power requirements. Depending on your individual power requirements, you will want a large and powerful solar panel array, as well as a high-capacity solar battery bank capable of storing enough power to suit your needs. These are often expensive systems, but they eliminate the need to pay a utility provider for electricity.

As you can see, having access to a utility grid can help you save money on your solar panels. This is because you do not require a system with a high enough power rating to meet all of your electrical demands. Because you must fully cover your electrical demands, an off-grid solution will almost always cost more money upfront. Again, the more electricity you need to create and store, the more solar panels you will need, and the more efficient/expensive those panels will be.

What You Need to Know and Consider When Going Solar

You need an Electric Bill. The Higher, the Better

The first consideration when thinking about installing solar panels is whether or not you will save money. The benefit of solar panels is that you are provided an option outside of your local utility company. California utility companies are known to have some of the highest electricity rates in the country, making alternative clean energy options attractive. With substantial rate hikes, like the proposed 14.4% increase by Southern California Edison (SCE), the benefit of solar has never been more pronounced for California residents. This means that SCE monthly electricity costs could rise by 14.4% in 2021 alone. This theme of increasing already high electricity prices makes solar energy an excellent alternative for most homeowners.

This alternative form of clean energy is cheaper for most homeowners than how much you would typically pay for electricity. The more that you pay for electricity, the greater the chance solar electricity will benefit you. Plus, you even can sell back the excess power that your solar system generates.

More Sunshine Equals More Savings

Solar systems are heavily dependent on sunlight—the more sunshine your panels are exposed to, the more energy output your solar power system can generate. The silicon solar cells in the solar panels capture sunlight and convert it into useable electrical power that you can use to power your home. The amount of sun can also determine how many solar panels you will need to offset the amount of energy your home consumes. In California, the best roof planes are your south-facing roof planes, then West, East, and then North.

*Pro Solar Tip: We rarely put solar panels on the North facing roof. We find that there is virtually no benefit due to the lack of exposure to the sun.

peak sun hours forme solar 1024x663 1

Solar is a wonderful renewable energy source that converts sunlight into electricity.  If the area you are considering doesn’t have many trees or shading from other buildings between the hours of 9 am – 4 pm, the chances are high that your solar panels will provide a decent ROI. If your home is exposed to considerable shading, you may be faced with the choice to either remove the obstruction or not install solar. If sunlight is or will be an issue, the benefit of solar will be heavily muted.

Have Enough Roof for Rooftop Solar?

Suppose you have excellent exposure to the sun with minimal to no shade. In that case, it is crucial to have enough room to install the correct number of solar panels you need to offset your energy consumption. High electricity consumption means that more solar panels will be required to offset that consumption. This means that you will need a larger surface area to house all of the solar panels that are needed adequately. As a general rule of thumb, if you have a large south-facing roof without lots of obstructions, you have an ideal situation for solar. Read more, How Many Solar Panels do I Need?

Define Your Goals for Going Solar

Going solar is a significant decision, and so it is clear to have a strong understanding of your goals for going solar. Common reasons for going solar can range from cost savings, regulations like Title 24, sustainability, and protection from a power outage. These reasons are a fantastic catalyst to going solar but can impact what kind of solar energy system you build. By defining your goals for going solar, you can create the right solar energy system for your needs:

  • Are you looking for the absolute lowest cost of solar possible?
  • Lowest Initial Purchase Price of Higher Solar Panel Efficiency for long-term?
  • Do you want to add a battery backup to protect against a power outage?
  • Are you looking to satisfy the minimum requirements for New Construction or Title 24 for Solar?

One significant aspect of solar is that it is scalable in its design. If your goals change, so can your solar energy system. It is easy to add on additional panels, monitoring, and battery backup in the future if you desire when you desire.

Other Considerations Before Going Solar

Following are some other areas of consideration before going solar:

Do you own your home or building?

You need to own the property that you are trying to install solar panels. If you lease or rent, you cannot install solar panels without express written consent by the property owner.

How long will you live in your home?

Will you be living in your home for the next five (5) to ten (10) years? If so, you will see a return on your investment. Not only will you be able to recoup the cost of going solar by offsetting your existing electricity costs, but your home will also sell for more. This means that when you sell your home, you will receive more for your home than if your home didn’t have solar. Read more about how solar impacts home value. There were two identical homes on the market, but one had a lower monthly operating cost vs. the other. Wouldn’t you be willing to pay more for the home that came with a significantly smaller electricity bill?

How is the condition of your roof? Will it last ten years?

If your roof needs to be repaired in the next ten (10) years, we recommend that you fix your roof before installing solar. Solar panels come with a 25-year warranty and can last up to last 40 years. Be smart and replace your roof first!

Read More: Solar + Roofing

Purchase vs Lease Solar?

Just like a car, there are multiple ways to finance solar energy. Some homeowners choose to purchase their system and break even on their investment after a few years. Others prefer to lease their system by trading their electric bill for a solar power purchase agreement (Solar PPA). Instead, you don’t own the system but pay monthly payments that cost less than their current and future monthly electric bill.

Read More: Own Vs. Lease Solar

Am I eligible for the Federal Solar Tax Incentive?

For those looking to maximize their Return on Investment (ROI), it is vital to know any existing incentives and tax credits you are eligible for. The most significant tax credit is the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), commonly referred to as the Solar Tax Credit. The Federal ITC is a step-down credit that will slowly decrease over time. It is currently at 26% for 2021, and this savings can play a significant role in your financial payback. However, there are some exclusions to the Federal ITC. As long as you have a federal tax liability and are purchasing the system, you should be eligible for the Solar Tax Credit.

Read More: Federal Solar Incentives

Does your neighborhood HOA have any restrictions?

If you live in a neighborhood with strict restrictions, such as a Homeowners Association (HOA), you may have specific requirements or regulations. Check with your HOA to ensure that solar panels are permitted and have any particular needs. Some HOAs will require solar skirts, additional setback restrictions, and mounting equipment. Do your homework! Some solar companies will handle the HOA process. Here at Forme Solar Electric, our trained solar experts will help you through the HOA solar requirements.

Things to Remember

Solar panels are an excellent way to save money while also going green. However, they are only effective when the right products and installation are used.

You want to make sure to utilize high-quality solar panels and solar equipment. Using low-cost or knock-off brands will not yield as many results as using high-quality ones.

A solar system’s correct installation is critical. Inadequate installation might result in ineffective panels, failure, or fires. Always have a professional business perform the installation for your home.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve figured out how solar panels operate and how many you’ll need, it’s time to go green and start saving money. Contact a professional solar company to get a quote for installing a solar system in your house.

Our focus is to provide quality solar installation services. We are solar panel agnostic and happy to customize the best solution for you across leading solar panels from LGRECPanasonicQ CELLTesla and more! With a comprehensive solution that assesses shading conditions and sunlight across 365 days for 25 years, we will provide a comprehensive proposal that maximizes your investment. 

If you are considering solar for your home or business, you will make an undeniable impact by going solar. As one of the leading American Companies focused on renewable energy, we can be your perfect companion when making the switch over to renewable energy. We use the highest efficiency panels across both monocrystalline panels and polycrystalline panels. Give us a call for a free energy consultation to see if solar is right for you! Call (714) 694-2262 or request a FREE Online Solar Analysis today!