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  • Writer's pictureValley Voltage

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

If you’re thinking of getting solar panels installed on your home, you’re not alone. The number of homes with solar power systems grew by about 50% from 2017 to 2018, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.


Solar power is one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S., and it’s not hard to see why. While it might be more expensive upfront than paying for electricity from your utility company, solar panels can save homeowners money over time. If you live in a sunny climate and use more electricity during peak hours — when rates are highest — a solar panel system could cut your bill by hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year.


When it comes to solar panel installation, the cost can vary widely depending on where you live and the design of your system. Solar panels aren’t cheap. On average, they cost between $15,000 and $25,000, according to the latest information from the Center for Sustainable Energy.

Solar panel costs depend on a number of factors including:


Review your electric bill

If you're considering a solar panel installation, start by looking at your last few months' worth of bills to see how much power you use and how much it costs. Pay special attention to peak times when demand for electricity is highest and prices are highest (typically in the afternoon).


Evaluate your sunlight exposure

More sun means more energy produced and a greater potential to save with solar. Certain states, like Arizona and California, average more sunlight hours per day than other places in the country. The amount of sun you receive in your area is known as insolation. Insolation is measured in kilowatt-hours per square meter per day, which can be converted to kilowatts (kW) by dividing by 1000w/m2/day. For example: 10kWh/m2/day = 1kW.


Choose a system size based on your home's needs

System sizes range from 4kW to 5kW or larger for commercial properties such as schools and medical facilities. A typical home will require between 3kW and 4kW worth of panels. A grid-tied system allows homeowners to sell excess power back to their utility company while still receiving power from the grid when needed.


Take advantage of government incentives

State incentives: Federal tax credits for residential solar installations ended on January 1, 2020 but many states offer incentives (known as net metering) for both residential and commercial solar installations. Net metering allows households or businesses with rooftop solar systems to sell unused energy back to their utility company at retail rates — which can be more than double what they pay for electricity from the grid.


Solar prices vary greatly by location, so it's best to get quotes from at least three installers in your area before making a decision about where and when to buy. 💡


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