Many households around the globe have switched to solar energy to go green. The same is the case with businesses. And it’s not a bad idea either. Solar panels can generate power using sunlight, which you can use at your home. But before installing solar panels, you must know how many solar panels you need. Also, you must choose a suitable location to make them work better. However, one question that roams in most peoples’ minds is, “How much does it cost to install solar panels?”. The question is tricky, and the answer depends on various factors.
First, you must calculate the number of panels to install at home. If your area gets enough sunlight, you may only need a little of them. The existing panels will manage the load and power your place.
Let’s examine how much it will cost to install solar panels and what factors affect it.
Factors Affecting the Cost of Solar Panels
Certain factors affect the cost of solar panels you are planning to install. These include your energy needs, panel selection, and location of your home. Here is an explanation of some of these:
The location matters the most when you are installing solar panels. The reason is that a good place receives enough sunlight during the daytime. It will decide the number of panels as well. The greater the amount of sunlight, the fewer the panels, and vice versa. If you live in a super sunny area, you’ll have more peak sun hours than in less sunny places. It will result in a need for fewer panels, reducing your investment quite a bit.
It also depends on the cost of energy in your area. In areas where energy prices are higher, switching to solar is the best option. It is because you can save some money on your energy bills. So, solar isn’t worth it if you aren’t living in an area with more sunlight. These factors can affect your capital cost by increasing or decreasing it. Let’s look at the size of the solar system which will tell us how much it costs to install the solar panels.
Size of Solar System
The cost of a solar system increases with its size. The greater number of panels means more cost to buy and install the system. For choosing an ideal size, you must consider the size of the roof, location, and energy usage. All in all, the size of the solar system depends on your household’s energy consumption. For example, the annual energy production of a 4kW solar system is 5500 kWh. The average cost for this system is $11,400. But this much energy is only suitable for small homes with lesser energy usage. If the number of residents is more, the consumption will increase. As a result, you’ll need more panels, and the capital cost will also increase.
Moreover, if you look at a 6kW system, its annual production is 8400 kWh. And you’ve to spend around $17,000 to install it. It is not a small investment, but it can bring a significant change in your annual spending on bills. Then comes an 8kW solar system, the yearly production of which is 11,000 kWh. The investment needed for this setup is around $23,000.
If your energy consumption is much more than usual, consider 10kW or 12kW solar systems. Both systems generate as much as 14,000 kWh and 17,000 kWh. As a result, the capital cost for both systems is $28,000 and $34,000. So, with such a hefty amount, you can either pay your bills or invest in something beneficial. The better option is to go for solar, which has a lot to offer in return.
The average household energy usage in the US is around 11,000 kWh a year. It means people use about 900 kWh per month for their homes. For workplaces, consumption will increase to a large extent depending on the usage. But certain factors affect the energy needs and its consumption. One of them is the size of your home. The bigger the size of it, the more the energy usage will be. It also depends on the number of residents at home. More residents mean more use of household appliances such as air conditioners, washing machines, and ovens. It will increase the usage to a large extent.
Another important factor is whether you own an electric vehicle or not. It is an interesting but important factor. Most people nowadays own EVs, which they cannot charge on grid-tied systems. The reason is that the cost of electricity bills increases. So, even if you’re keeping the environment clean, you must pay the price anyway. So, for such people, solar is a good option to consider. Once installed, solar panels can generate enough electricity to power your home. Moreover, you can also charge your vehicle with that power. So, this one-time investment can save you a lot of money.
All in all, you must figure out how many appliances you will use. Also, consider your monthly and annual power usage and see how many panels you should install.
Type of Solar Panels
The cost of your solar panels is the cost of your entire system. The final cost of the system will depend on the panel type and its manufacturer. Three common types of panels are monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film. The solar panel manufacturers will offer you a selection of products. And each of them will have a different wattage. For example, monocrystalline panels have an efficiency of 20%. And their average cost per watt ranges between $0.8 and $1.5.
Similarly, the polycrystalline panels have an efficiency of 17%. And their average cost per watt ranges between $0.4 and $0.8. Last but not least, the efficiency of thin-film panels is low, i.e. 12%. So, their cost is also low. All in all, the type of panel will affect the cost of the system to a great extent.
Installation Cost by System Size and Panel Type
As mentioned earlier, the panels’ cost depends on the panel type and its manufacturer. Taxes, different permits, and administration fees are also a part of it. Let’s consider the costs of panels based on system size and panel type.
The average cost of a 6kW solar system after federal tax credit (30%) ranges from $5000 to $8000. In comparison, the average price of an 8kW system is between $6000 and $10,500. At the same time, a 10kW solar system costs you around $13,300 after a federal tax credit. A 12kW system will cost you no less than $15,000.
Now, take the type of panel into account. A 6kW solar system consisting of monocrystalline panels costs between $6000 and $9000. They have a lifespan of almost four decades, meaning that even two generations can survive on it. In comparison, a solar system of the same size will cost between $4500 and $6000. The only difference is that the latter comprises polycrystalline panels. This type of panels is affordable but less efficient than monocrystalline panels. Their lifespan is also lesser, i.e., 25 to 30 years. Thin-film solar panels are least efficient and cost you between $4000 and $5500. They only last 10 to 20 years, and their performance may remain unchanged after some time. So, the choice is all yours! However, maximizing the output of solar panels can help in the cost of installation of solar panels.
How to Maximize the Output of Your Solar Panels?
There are various ways of maximizing the output of your solar panels. First, you must install efficient solar panels that need less roof space without worrying about cost. Also, install them at a place where there are more sun hours. It will increase their efficiency. Moreover, please keep track of your solar system to analyze its performance. You can do it on your smartphone as well. Just install the app asked by the manufacturer and control the system the way you want.
Besides that, cleaning the panels on a regular basis enhances their performance. For example, if you leave them for some days, dust will accumulate on them. That dust will act as a barrier between sunlight and the panels. It will also restrict the transfer of heat, as a result of which the power generation will be reduced. So, you must clean the panels and keep them shiny. Don’t allow any shade to come above the panels. So, you can take certain measures to enhance the life of solar panels.
Solar panels are worth it because you don’t have to pay electricity bills for the rest of your life. Or you can extract the maximum out of them before your panels stop working. The average payback period of good quality solar panels is between 8 and 9 years. And with a system having a lifespan of 40 years, the investment is worth it. Though the capital cost is high, the return on investment is as big. You can also add value to the environment by using green and clean energy. So, analyze the number of panels and size of the system you need for your home. After that, you can know what options to go for.