How much do solar panels cost?
Ashburn, VA

How much do solar panels cost?

Ashburn, VA

How much do solar panels cost?

$3.00 – $4.50average cost per watt installed (before incentives)
$12,600 – $31,500total cost after tax credit (6- to 10-kW system)

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

$3.00 – $4.50 average cost per watt installed (before incentives)

$12,600 – $31,500 total cost after tax credit (6- to 10-kW system)


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

Solar panels cost by system size

Solar panels cost $3.00 to $4.50 per watt installed on average, with homeowners spending about $3.75 per watt before factoring in available solar incentives. A 6- to 10-kW solar panel installation costs $12,600 to $31,500 after the 30% federal tax credit. Solar panel prices depend on the size, type, and quality.

Average cost of solar panels by system size
System size
(in kilowatts)
Average installed cost
(before incentives)
Average final installation cost*
(after 30% tax credit)
3 kW $9,000 – $13,500 $6,300 – $9,500
4 kW $12,000 – $18,000 $8,400 – $12,600
5 kW $15,000 – $22,500 $10,500 – $15,800
6 kW $18,000 – $27,000 $12,600 – $18,900
8 kW $24,000 – 36,000 $16,800 – $25,200
10 kW $30,000 – $45,000 $21,000 – $31,500
12 kW $36,000 – $54,000 $25,200 – $37,800

*Total cost may be lower with additional state and local incentives.

Get free estimates from solar panel installers near you.

Cost to install solar panels by state

Residential solar panel prices vary from state to state. Your estimated installation costs and potential savings depend on the local electricity rates, your household electricity usage, and the incentives available in your area.

Cost of solar panels by state
State Average cost per watt* Average total cost for 6- to 10-kW system* Average total cost for 6- to 10-kW system*
(after 30% tax credit)
Alabama $2.02 – $2.85 $12,100 – $28,500 $8,500 – $20,000
Alaska $2.23 – $3.13 $13,400 – $31,300 $9,400 – $21,900
Arizona $2.53 – $4.31 $15,200 – $43,100 $10,600 – $30,200
Arkansas $2.67 – $3.06 $16,000 – $30,600 $11,200 – $21,400
California $2.50 – $3.45 $15,100 – $34,500 $10,500 – $24,200
Colorado $2.82 – $4.60 $16,900 – $46,000 $11,800 – $32,200
Connecticut $2.68 – $4.20 $16,100 – $42,000 $11,300 – $29,400
Delaware $2.62 – $3.80 $15,700 – $38,000 $11,000 – $26,600
Florida $2.60 – $3.30 $15,600 – $33,000 $10,900 – $23,100
Georgia $2.60 – $3.74 $15,600 – $37,400 $10,900 – $26,200
Hawaii $2.41 – $2.79 $14,500 – $27,900 $10,100 – $19,500
Idaho $2.93 – $3.46 $17,600 – $34,600 $12,300 – $24,200
Illinois $3.16 – $3.76 $19,000 – $37,600 $13,300 – $26,300
Indiana $2.82 – $4.10 $16,900 – $41,000 $11,800 – $28,700
Iowa $3.01 – $4.01 $18,100 – $40,100 $12,600 – $28,100
Kansas $2.39 – $3.34 $14,300 – $33,400 $10,000 – $23,400
Kentucky $2.34 – $3.65 $14,000 – $36,500 $9,800 – $25,600
Louisiana $2.64 – $3.80 $15,800 – $38,000 $11,100 – $26,600
Maine $2.92 – $3.80 $17,500 – $38,000 $12,300 – $26,600
Maryland $2.93 – $3.54 $17,600 – $35,400 $12,300 – $24,800
Massachusetts $3.54 – $4.31 $21,200 – $43,100 $14,900 – $30,200
Michigan $2.93 – $4.06 $17,600 – $40,600 $12,300 – $28,400
Minnesota $2.98 – $4.03 $17,900 – $40,300 $12,500 – $28,200
Mississippi $2.64 – $3.14 $15,800 – $31,400 $11,100 – $22,000
Missouri $2.82 – $3.37 $16,900 – $33,700 $11,800 – $23,600
Montana $2.42 – $2.84 $14,500 – $28,400 $10,200 – $19,900
Nebraska $2.83 – $3.07 $17,000 – $30,700 $11,900 – $21,500
Nevada $2.51 – $3.80 $15,100 – $38,000 $10,500 – $26,600
New Hampshire $3.10 – $4.22 $18,600 – $42,200 $13,022 – $29,500
New Jersey $2.95 – $4.50 $17,700 – $45,000 $12,400 – $31,500
New Mexico $2.38 – $4.60 $14,300 – $46,000 $10,000 – $32,200
New York $2.77 – $4.31 $16,600 – $43,100 $11,600 – $30,200
North Carolina $2.63 – $4.70 $15,800 – $47,000 $11,000 – $32,900
North Dakota $2.42 – $2.54 $14,500 – $25,400 $10,200 – $17,800
Ohio $2.72 – $3.41 $16,300 – $34,100 $11,400 – $23,900
Oklahoma $2.56 – $3.13 $15,400 – $31,300 $10,800 – $21,900
Oregon $3.02 – $3.70 $18,100 – $37,000 $12,700 – $25,900
Pennsylvania $3.05 – $3.55 $18,300 – $35,500 $12,800 – $24,900
Rhode Island $2.87 – $5.80 $17,200 – $58,000 $12,100 – $40,600
South Carolina $2.66 – $3.45 $16,000 – $34,500 $11,200 – $24,200
South Dakota $2.39 – $2.50 $14,300 – $25,000 $10,000 – $17,500
Tennessee $2.79 – $3.58 $16,700 – $35,800 $11,700 – $25,100
Texas $2.60 – $3.00 $15,600 – $30,000 $10,900 – $21,000
Utah $2.62 – $4.80 $15,700 – $48,000 $11,000 – $33,600
Vermont $3.01 – $3.85 $18,100 – $38,500 $12,600 – $27,000
Virginia $2.85 – $3.59 $17,100 – $35,900 $12,000 – $25,100
Washington $2.82 – $4.30 $16,900 – $43,000 $11,800 – $30,100
Washington, DC $3.29 – $3.99 $19,700 – $39,900 $13,800 – $27,900
West Virginia $2.84 – $3.39 $17,000 – $33,900 $11,900 – $23,700
Wisconsin $2.88 – $3.41 $17,300 – $34,100 $12,100 – $23,900
Wyoming $2.57 – $2.81 $15,400 – $28,100 $10,800 – $19,700

*Total cost may be lower after tax credits, rebates, and other incentives.

Solar resource map of the US (Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory)
Solar resource map of the US (Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

Solar panel cost by type

Solar panels come in three types. Monocrystalline, made from high-grade silicon, costs the most but is the most efficient. Polycrystalline, made from silicon fragments, offers mid-range cost and efficiency. Thin-film, made from non-crystalline silicon layers, is the cheapest but requires more space for less efficiency.

Solar panel prices by type - Chart
Solar panel prices by type - Chart
Solar panel prices by type
Solar panel type Average cost per watt
(before installation)
Efficiency
Monocrystalline $1.00 – $1.80 17% – 22%
Polycrystalline $0.80 – $1.00 15% – 17%
Thin-film $0.50 – $1.00 11% – 14%

Solar panels on the tile roof of a house
Solar panels on the tile roof of a house

Solar cost per kWh

Residential solar panel systems cost $0.09 to $0.11 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) installed on average, though prices vary greatly depending on the type of panels and how much daily sun they receive. In comparison, the residential electricity rate in the US averages $0.14 to $0.16 per kWh.

  • While a kilowatt is a measure of power, a kilowatt-hour is a measure of energy.

  • Solar panel systems are typically priced per watt. However, when calculating the energy cost savings, people usually consider the cost per kilowatt-hour, with most homes in the US using 900 to 1,000 kWh per month.

Get free estimates from solar panel installers near you.
Calculating kwh energy production from solar panel system - map
Calculating kwh energy production from solar panel system - map

Solar panel installation cost factors

Several factors affect the cost of solar panel system installation, including:

  • Energy usage / system size – Homes with higher energy needs require larger solar panel systems. A larger system residential or commercial system costs more in total to install but often costs less per watt than a smaller installation.

  • Location – Electricity rates and solar incentives vary by city and state. In general, homeowners in areas with high electricity rates stand to save more money over time with solar panel installation.

  • Climate – Local weather conditions and the amount of sunlight your roof receives affect how many solar panels you need to become energy independent. Areas with long winters or periods of harsh weather typically need more panels than an area with sunny days year-round.

  • Installation difficulty – Installing solar panels on a simple, easy-to-access roof with a standard 20- or 30-degree pitch takes less time and costs less than installations on a complex or difficult to reach roof.

  • Shade – Trees shading the roof may need trimming for your solar panels to get optimal sun exposure.

  • Roof age & condition – Since most solar panels last 25+ years, consider replacing an older roof before installing a new solar panel system.

  • Brand & installation company – Prices, options, and warranties vary by company and manufacturer. Well-established and highly rated companies often charge more but you'll have peace of mind that they'll be in business through the life of your solar panel warranty.

  • Purchase method – If your budget supports it, paying up front for the entire system is the most cost-effective option. A solar loan lets you make payments over time with little to no money down, but the total cost typically ends up being higher.

  • Time of year – Solar panel installations during the winter months may cost less due to the decreased demand.

  • Labor & soft costs – Soft costs, or all the non-material costs involved with solar panel installation, typically make up more than 50% of the total cost. Installation labor accounts for 10% to 20% depending on local rates and licensing requirements. Other soft costs include permit & interconnection fees, marketing, and operational costs.

Solar equipment

Materials make up 35% to 45%+ of the total cost for most solar panel system installations. Brand and equipment quality impact the total. Besides the solar panels themselves, most solar energy systems require mounting structures, an inverter, and sometimes an electrical panel upgrade.

  • Mount type – Fixed panel mounts cost the least but cannot be moved. Adjustable mounts cost more but may be moved as needed for the best sun exposure. Self-adjusting mounts cost the most but significantly increase the system's efficiency.

  • InverterSolar inverters cost $1,500 to $3,000 installed on average.

  • Electrical panel – Experts recommend a 200-amp electrical panel at minimum when installing a solar panel system. Upgrading to 200-amp electrical panel costs $1,300 to $2,500.

Solar batteries, inverter, and electric vehicle charging station in a home garage.
Solar batteries, inverter, and electric vehicle charging station in a home garage.

Grid-tied vs. off-grid solar systems

Grid-tied, off-grid, and hybrid solar systems each have different components and costs.

  • Grid-tied systems connect to the public electrical grid and do not require battery storage.

  • Hybrid systems are tied to the grid but also have backup battery storage. Adding a solar battery storage system costs $5,600 to $11,200 installed on average (after tax credits), depending on the capacity, type, and brand.

  • Off-grid solar systems cost $40,000 to $80,000 installed and typically have battery storage and a backup generator to supply power when the solar panel energy is not sufficient. By itself, a generator costs $900 to $4,000 for a connected portable unit or $6,000 to $11,000 total for a whole-house standby generator.

Solar tax credits & incentives

Incentives and rebates to help reduce the cost of solar panel installation vary by state. The table below details several of these potential incentives. Check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) to confirm the available incentives in your area and their qualification requirements.

Solar incentives
Incentive type Description
Residential Clean Energy Credit
(formerly Solar Investment Tax Credit or ITC)
A 30% federal tax credit is available on most solar systems installed between 2022 and 2032.
Property tax exemptions or exclusions If the solar panel installation increases the home's value, the added value is exempt from property tax.
Sales tax exemption Solar panels and solar energy system components are exempt from sales tax in many states.
Net metering Homeowners receive electric bill credits for the excess energy they send back to the public grid.
Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) The utility or solar company owns, installs, and maintains the equipment; the homeowner pays a guaranteed fixed rate for the electricity used during the contract term (typically 10 to 20 years).
Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) In some states, homeowners can earn additional money–$1 for every MWh—for the electricity their solar systems generate.
Solar lease Like a PPA, the solar company owns, installs, and maintains the equipment. The homeowner pays a monthly fee to power their home with the energy generated.
State, local government, & utility company incentives Solar tax incentives and rebates vary by location.

Additional costs

Additional costs to consider when installing solar panels include:

  • Maintenance Solar panel cleaning costs $10 to $20 per panel or $150 to $500 total on average. Some installation contracts include an annual inspection and cleaning service. If you have a solar lease, the provider typically covers the maintenance and repairs.

  • Insurance – Your homeowners insurance premiums may increase after installing a new solar panel system.

  • Roof repairs – Solar panels should be installed on a roof in good condition. Unexpected repairs during the installation increase the total cost.

  • Monitoring system – Some solar companies offer a monitoring system for a $10 to $20 monthly fee. If you install your own monitoring system, don't forget to factor it into your total cost.

Buying vs. leasing solar panels

If your budget supports it, paying up front for the entire system is the most cost-effective option, providing the most benefits and highest long-term savings. You can take advantage of tax credits and incentives and participate in your utility company's net metering program.

Other payment options include solar loans and leasing:

  • A solar loan lets you make payments over time with little to no money down, but the total cost typically ends up being higher than buying the panels outright.

  • Leasing solar panels costs more than buying them or financing them with a solar loan, which reduces the lifetime savings. When leasing, you also aren't eligible for solar incentives or net metering, and you don't own the panels when the lease ends.

Solar panels vs. solar shingles

Get free estimates from solar panel installers near you.

Solar panels are the most popular choice for solar energy, but they are not the only option. If your budget allows, solar shingles cost $4 to $14 per watt and look like traditional roof shingles, blending in better with the surroundings and offering a sleeker alternative to standard solar panels.

Solar panels vs. solar roof shingles
Factor Solar panels Solar roof shingles
Average cost per watt
(installed)
$2.50 – $4.50 $4.00 – $14.00
Pros
  • Cheaper than solar shingles
  • Adjustable options for maximum sunlight exposure
  • 25 to 30+ year lifespan
  • Clean, renewable energyIncreases home value
  • Better looking than panels
  • Suitable for roofs that can't support the weight of standard panels
  • Clean, renewable energy
  • Increases home value
Cons
  • An eyesore to some
  • Take up significant space
  • Not suitable for all roofs
  • Not easily transferrable
  • Expensive
  • Non-adjustable mount
  • Lifespan not yet confirmed
  • Less efficient than panels
  • Only works with string inverter

Solar panel FAQs

Are solar panels worth it?

Solar panels are worth it for most homeowners, especially those dealing with high electricity rates. Solar panels can reduce or eliminate your electric bill for 25+ years. With a 6-to-10-year average payback period, this means 15+ years of free electricity—a reduced carbon footprint and significant long-term savings.

Solar panels may not be worth it if:

  • Your payback period is longer than your solar system's estimated lifespan.

  • Your roof type, pitch, or direction is not suitable for solar panels.

  • Your monthly solar loan payment is higher than your electric bill.

  • There are few state or local incentives in your area.

Solar panel savings estimator - map
Solar panel savings estimator - map

Do solar panels increase home value?

Solar panels increase home value in most cases. A home with well-maintained solar panels that significantly reduce or eliminate the electricity bill is an attractive selling point to potential buyers in most markets. The increase in value may be higher in areas with high electricity rates.

How long does it take to install solar panels?

Installing solar panels takes 1 to 3 days on average for the actual installation, depending on the system size, complexity, and weather. However, the entire process typically takes 1 to 3 months. This includes research, consultations, site evaluations, system design, permit applications, installation, and inspections.

How many solar panels do I need?

Most homes need 20 to 30 panels, depending on the type and size. The exact number of solar panels you need depends on your energy usage, available roof space, the amount of sunlight your roof receives, and the panel's wattage and efficiency. Solar panels range from 250 to 500 watts per panel.

How long do solar panels last?

Solar panels last 25 to 30 years on average with proper installation, depending on the location, climate, panel type and quality, and maintenance frequency. Other parts of your solar system, like the inverter that converts the sun's energy into usable electricity, typically need replacement before the solar panels.

Getting estimates from solar panel contractors

When searching for a solar panel installer near you, remember to:

  • Look for contractors accredited by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) and members of relevant professional organizations, such as:

  • Review their profiles and customer feedback on HomeGuide and Google.

  • Ask for local references with contact information.

  • Compare 3+ quotes from reputable solar companies detailing all parts of the installation, the number of watts per panel, the cost per watt, and any incentives or rebates factored into the estimate.

  • Hire a licensed, bonded, and insured solar contractor who has been in business for 5+ years.

  • Have a contract and warranty in hand before the installation begins.

  • Beware of the extremely low prices as this can often indicate lack of experience or lower-quality work. Solar panels should last two or more decades so proper installation is essential.

Questions to ask a solar panel installer

Ask the following questions to help you select the best company for your solar panel installation:

  • How long have you been in business?

  • Are you accredited by the NABCEP?

  • Are you a member of any other professional organizations?

  • Is my home a good candidate for a solar panel system?

  • What type of solar panels do you recommend for my home, and why?

  • What size solar system do I need to eliminate my electricity bill?

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

  • Is my roof in good enough condition to add solar panels?

  • Is my electrical panel sufficient for a new solar panel system?

  • Is there room to add more panels later if the energy needs change?

  • Does the estimate include all necessary components, installation, permit and interconnection fees, and cleanup?

  • What extra features are available, and what do they cost?

  • How soon can you complete the installation?

  • How long will the installation take, and should be home for it?

  • Will installing solar panels void my roof warranty?

  • Is this system eligible for any rebates or incentives, and will you help me obtain them?

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