How much does an off-grid solar system cost?
Ashburn, VA

How much does an off-grid solar system cost?

Ashburn, VA

How much does an off-grid solar system cost?

$40,000 – $80,000average total cost

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$40,000 – $80,000 average total cost


Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Tara Farmer
Written by
Tara Farmer
Edited by
Kristen Cramer
Fact-checked by
Tamatha Hazen

Average cost of an off-grid solar system

An off-grid solar system costs $40,000 to $80,000 installed, with most homeowners spending about $60,000 for a 5- to 10-kW solar energy system. The cost of an off-grid solar system depends on the system size, type, complexity, location, and the type and quality of the components included.

Off-grid solar system cost by size
System size Average total installed cost
3kW $30,000 – $35,000
4kW $35,000 – $40,000
5kW $40,000 – $45,000
10kW $70,000 – $80,000
15kW $85,000 – $100,000
20kW $100,000 – $120,000
30kW $120,000 – $150,000

  • The average home uses 900 to 1,000 kWh per month in electricity. Most homes need a 5- to 10-kW system to generate enough energy for a standalone solar power system.

  • For comparison, a 5- to 10-kW grid-tied solar panel system costs $15,000 to $45,000 installed on average.

Get free estimates from solar panel installers near you.

What are off-grid solar systems?

Off-grid solar systems are solar panel systems with no connection to a public electrical grid. Going completely off-grid means you depend solely on solar and renewable energy for your electricity needs. Off-grid systems are ideal for homes in remote areas or where the grid power is lacking or unstable.

An off-grid solar system in Montana (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Energy)
An off-grid solar system in Montana (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Energy)

Off-grid solar system installation costs

Several factors affect the cost of going off-grid, including:

  • Home & system size – Homes with high energy demands need more panels and larger power storage systems, increasing the cost.

  • Climate – If you live in an area with lots of year-round sunny days, you may be able to get by with fewer panels than in areas with long winters or lengthy periods of low or no sunlight. Conversely, homes in areas with little sunlight may need extra power sources and battery storage.

  • Equipment brand & quality – Components from highly rated and well-known brands typically cost more but often have longer warranties.

  • Payment method – Paying in full up front is the most cost-effective route if your budget supports it. Other options like solar loans allow you to pay for the system over time but at a higher total cost.

  • Incentives – Most solar energy system installations qualify for a tax credit of up to 30% with the federal Residential Clean Energy Credit. Depending on your location, you may qualify for other incentives or rebates as well. Some incentives require connection to the grid, while others do not.

System components

Off-grid solar systems need several components to function, including solar panels, inverters, battery storage, and charge controllers. In addition to these necessary parts, some homeowners install other components like wind turbines, backup generators, and monitoring systems for extra safety and better performance.

Cost of off-grid system components
Component Average cost*
Solar panels $0.80 – $1.80 per watt (panels only)
Solar inverter cost $1,500 – $3,000+
Solar battery storage cost $17,500 – $40,000+ (batteries only)
Charge controllers $100 – $1,000
Backup generator (optional) $6,000 – $11,000

*Prices before tax credits or incentives

  • Solar panelsSolar panels cost $0.80 to $1.80 per watt installed on average for monocrystalline or polycrystalline models. The number of panels and total cost depends on your location, energy needs, and mounting method.

  • Charge controller – MPPT and PWM charge controllers regulate the power sent to the battery. MPPT charge controllers cost more but are more efficient. PWM charge controllers are only suitable for smaller systems.

  • Inverters – Solar inverters are necessary for most off-grid systems. This component converts the direct current (DC) energy collected by the solar panels into usable alternating current (AC) that most homes require. Some backup generators come with an inverter.

  • Solar batteries – For an off-grid system to supply emergency power for several days or weeks, calculate your average daily energy usage and purchase your total battery storage accordingly. Lithium-ion solar batteries cost more but are safer, more efficient, and have a longer lifespan than the lead-acid variety.

  • Generator – Off-grid homes are solely reliant on their own system to supply sufficient energy year-round. Consider installing a gas-powered backup generator for times when your solar panel system is not producing enough power for your home's energy demands. A whole-house generator costs $6,000 to $11,000 installed.

Labor

Labor makes up 7% to 10% of the total cost to install an off-grid solar system. The total labor cost depends on the system size and complexity. With most homes needing 5kW to 10kW, you can expect to pay $3,000 to $8,000 on average for the labor.

System types

Going off-grid can be accomplished in several ways. Your location, home size, and electricity needs determine which system will work best for you. AC systems are the most popular but also the most expensive. DC systems have no backup power source, so they only provide electricity when the sun is shining.

Off-grid solar system cost by type
System type Average installed cost Details
AC solar only $32,000 – $70,000
  • Costly but reliable
  • Requires several panels, adequate battery storage, and an inverter
AC solar with backup generator $42,000 – $80,000
  • Most common choice
  • Backup power from generator if needed
AC solar with wind turbine cost $35,000 – $90,000
  • Solar panel system with wind turbine(s) for supplemental power
  • Good choice for homes in areas with fewer days of sunlight
DC solar only cost $6,500 – $11,000
  • No battery or inverter
  • Only works for very low energy needs
  • No electricity at night or in bad weather
Mixed solar DC & AC cost $11,000 – $60,000
  • Includes battery storage for powering bigger appliances
  • Best tiny homes or for low-energy demands

Maintenance

Maintaining your off-grid solar system is essential to ensure consistent and reliable energy. Inspect the entire system at least once or twice per year.

  • Some companies include an annual inspection and cleaning service with a solar system installation.

  • Solar panel cleaning costs $10 to $20 per panel on average when not included in your installation contract.

Solar panels installed as part of an off-grid solar system (Photo by John Englart)
Solar panels installed as part of an off-grid solar system (Photo by John Englart)

Off-grid solar system pros and cons

Off-grid solar systems have many advantages, like eliminating your electricity bill and reducing your carbon footprint by providing renewable energy from the sun. Still, installing an off-grid system requires a large upfront investment and leaves you without a backup energy source during times of low sun.

Get free estimates from solar panel installers near you.
Pros and cons of off-grid solar systems
Pros Cons
  • No more electricity bills
  • Energy efficiency & independence
  • More freedom & design flexibility
  • Allows for living in more remote location
  • Environmentally conscious
  • Expensive upfront cost
  • No backup power from the public grid
  • Need battery storage and/or a backup generator
  • Disqualified from some renewable energy incentives

Off-grid solar system FAQs

Is an off-grid solar system worth the cost?

Whether an off-grid solar system is worth the cost depends on your location, energy needs, climate, and budget. Off-grid systems cost more since they require extra components like battery storage to provide power during times of low sun. The investment in 100% energy independence, however, may still be worth it.

  • The breakeven or payback period for an off-grid solar system is highly variable based on the size of the system and the quality of its components.

  • According to The Appraisal Journal, a home's value increases $20 for every $1 your solar energy system saves you on utility costs.

How many solar panels do I need to go off-grid?

To be fully solar powered, an average home requires 15 to 25 solar panels, depending on the panel type, size, and output. The number of solar panels you need to go off-grid depends on your specific energy needs. Solar panel wattages range from 250 to 400 watts per panel.

How does an off-grid solar system work?

An off-grid solar system uses a combination of components that work together to generate, store, and distribute power for everything in the home. At a minimum, most off-grid systems contain an array of solar panels, batteries, an inverter, and a charge controller to regulate the energy storage.

How long does an off-grid solar system last?

Off-grid solar systems are made up of several different components with varying lifespans, so some parts of the system will need replacement before others. Inspect the entire system at least once or twice per year to help you avoid unexpected outages due to worn-out or broken parts.

  • The average lifespan of most solar panels is 25 to 30 years.

  • Lead-acid solar batteries last 3 to 5 years. Lithium-ion solar batteries last 10 to 15 years.

  • Solar charge controllers last 5 to 15 years.

  • Solar inverters last 10 to 25 years, depending on the type.

Getting estimates for off-grid solar system installation

When searching for a solar contractor near you to install your off-grid system, be sure to:

Questions to ask an off-grid solar system contractor

Ask the following questions to help you select the best solar contractor for your off-grid system installation:

  • Are you a member of any solar industry associations?

  • How long have you been in business?

  • What type of off-grid solar system do you recommend for my home?

  • What size solar system do I need to go completely off-grid?

  • How do you calculate what size system I'll need?

  • How much battery storage do I need?

  • Does the estimate include all required components, labor, and cleanup?

  • What optional components are available, and what do they cost?

  • How soon can you install the solar system?

  • How long will the installation take, and do I need to be home for it?

  • Does this installation require a permit, and will you obtain it?

  • Will the solar panel system void my roof warranty?

  • Is this off-grid system eligible for any rebates or tax credits?

  • How long is the warranty, and what exactly does it cover?