Investing in Home Solar? Read This First

Published on December 2nd, 2014 | by

investing in home solar? Read this first!

Across the United States, investing in solar energy generation is on a roll. Cumulative PV and concentrating solar power (CSP) operating capacity has exceeded 15.9 gigawatts (GW), enough to power more than 3.2 million homes.

On the International highway to a clean energy future, global warming mitigation milestones are being reached more regularly these days. A major milestone in the U.S. solar market was reached in the second quarter of this year. According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) Q2 2014 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, the U.S. installed 1,133 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) in the second quarter of 2014.

Thinking About Investing in Solar For Your Home/Business?

Accounting for nearly half of all solar PV installations in the second quarter, more than half a million homes and businesses are now generating solar energy. The residential market has seen the most consistent growth of any segment for years. The Q2 Solar Market Insight Report also claims that its momentum shows no signs of slowing down.

What this may mean for you is that the time has finally come for investing in solar energy generation for your home or business. The following article, What Is The Current Cost Of Solar Panels?, was originally published by Zachary Shahan, Director, Chief Editor, and Mastermind of CleanTechnica.com.

Being one of the more popular articles of the year on the subject of home/business solar investing, we are running it here to share with InspiredEconomist readers, too. Full of technical analysis and practical advice, Zachary’s expertise is always welcome.


What Is The Current Cost Of Solar Panels?

February 4th, 2014 by Zachary Shahan 

If you’re considering solar, and you’re like most people, one of the first questions you may ask is: How much do solar panels cost? Solar is a great idea for many people, not only to cut their utility bills but also to reduce their dependence on their utility, while also cutting their own personal footprint. The cost of solar is one major element in the decision to go solar, however.

I can very easily answer the question “How much do solar panels cost?” (see below), but I think the real question you’re asking is “How much will it cost to put solar panels on my roof?” That’s a more complicated question to answer, but I’ll explain in more detail and provide some useful perspective on that in the article below.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost Today?

Solar panels themselves are now a global product. There’s tremendous variation in the cost of solar panels based on the type and efficiency of the solar panels. However, the type of panels used for residential solar installations is quite standard and the costs are basically set globally. That cost has fallen tremendously within the past few years — they’re now about half the price they were in 2008, and about 100 times lower than they were back in 1977. The latest US Solar Market Insight report (from Q3) put the price at $0.70/watt. [ editor’s note: read the Q2 2014 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report for even more encouraging figures] A report from REC Solar shows that the price in Q2 as a bit higher — about $0.73/watt. Still, the price is very low compared to 2008 or 2009, and insanely low compared to 2000.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost… On My Roof

But when you ask “How much do solar panels cost?,” what I think you really want to know is how much it costs to put solar panels on your roof, right?

The bulk of the price of going solar is now the “soft costs” (installation, permitting, etc.) rather than the solar panel cost. Again referencing the latest US Solar Market Insight report, the average installed cost of a residential solar panel system was $4.72/watt. However, prices vary tremendously by region. “Common residential system prices ranged from less than $3.00/W to just above $7.00/W,” the Solar Energy Industries Association writes. The total price of a system, of course, varies tremendously based on the size of your roof and your electricity needs.

So, the key is really just to get an initial quote and then get a closer look at your situation from a local installer, who can give you a more specific quote.

How Much Does It Cost To Go Solar? & How Much Will I Save?

But when it comes down to it, what you probably really need to know is how much it will cost you to actually go solar. And a related question would be how much you will save in the long run.

In many places now, you can go solar for $0 or close to $0 down through solar leasing companies or through simple bank loans. Then you’re just paying monthly payments like you would on a house, car, or college loan. However, in this case, your payments are likely to be less than the amount of money you’re saving on your electricity bill. So, really, you’re not paying any more than you’re already paying for electricity… you’re saving money!

Studies have found that the average solar homeowner will save about $20,000 over 20 years from going solar. In three of the four most populous states in the country, that 20-year total is actually $30,000. In Hawaii, it’s up above $60,000! And that’s just the average.

But, again, the financing options and the savings really depend on where you live and some personal circumstances (like how much you’re spending on electricity right now). So, what you really need to do is get a solar quote if you’re interested in finding out how much solar panels cost for you.

Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletterelectric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter


About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he's the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.