If you want to reduce your carbon footprint and move your home toward clean energy, then solar panels are a good place to start. Many government programs are pushing solar panels for homes, too. While there is a high up-front cost, you can save as much as 100 percent on your energy bill each month with the right system. Using a solar panel cost calculator can help you determine the exact cost and savings for installing a system on your house. The following offers a breakdown of costs and describes the average cost for solar panels across the U.S.
Average Cost of Solar Panels
The average cost of installing solar panels on a home in the U.S. is between $3 and $4 per watt. The average size solar panel systems range between 4 kilowatts and 8 kilowatts. Homeowners typically spend between $15,000 and $29,000 for the entire system, including parts, labor and installation costs. Prices for solar panel systems continue to decrease each year, and many federal, state and local government programs offer rebates and tax incentives for people to make these upgrades. The federal program alone reduces the cost by 30 percent. Other incentives vary by location.
Components of Solar Energy System for a Home
While you can purchase solar panels on their own, they're not the only part of the system. You won't be able to use the panels without the other components. The total cost of a solar system includes: Solar panels - captures energy from the sun to convert to electricity Controller - regulates the flow of electricity to protect the battery Battery - stores electricity to use later Inverter - converts the energy stored in the battery to the proper voltage.
Location of Home
The location of your home affects the cost of your solar system. As stated earlier, some state and local governments offer incentives for installing this green energy alternative. Additionally, the amount of sun your home gets affects how many panels you need to generate enough electricity to power your home. If you live somewhere that has a lot of cloud cover or rainy weather, then you may need more solar panels than a place that sees lots of sunshine year-round.
Amount of Electricity a Home Uses
If your home uses more electricity, then you'll need more solar panels. You can use your energy bills to determine how much power your home uses on a monthly basis. Larger homes have more lights and require more energy to heat and cool, thus requiring more solar panels than a home with less square footage.
Type of Solar Panels
Not all solar panels are the same. There are many different brands, including SunPower solar panels, which are regarded as some of the best. SunPower solar panels cost as much as $5,000 more than other brands. Other top brands include Panasonic, LG, Canadian Solar and REC Solar. Be sure to read the product descriptions and reviews of each brand to determine if they're worth the investment over more affordable models.
Ease of Installation
The final factor that affects the cost is solar panel installation. Unless you know how to install a solar panel yourself, you should expect 35 percent of the total cost of your solar panels to go toward labor and permits to complete the job. However, the cost is lower for smaller homes with a single story. Wiring for solar panels on a three-story homes with a 45-degree pitch roof is more difficult — and has more risk — so labor takes longer and comes at a higher cost.