Ashburn, VA

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

$0.08 – $0.10 Per kWh
$1.77 – $2.20 Per Watt
$10,626 – $13,230 6 kW System

Solar panels cost $1.77 to $2.20 per watt and a 6 kW solar panel installation for the average home costs from $10,626 to $13,230 after the 30% federal solar tax credit. Solar energy costs $0.08 to $0.10 per kWh to produce on average, depending on your location. Get free estimates from solar installers near you or view our cost guide below.

Solar Panel Cost

The average cost to install solar panels is from $10,626 to $17,640 (after tax credit) for a 6kW to 8kW system to power an entire house. The average solar panel payback period is 7 to 12 years, and solar energy saves $600 to $2,000 per year on electricity costs.

Most solar panels last for 50 years, have a 25-year warranty, and start generating a return on investment after 8-years. Solar panels generate electricity approximately 30% cheaper than utility electricity over their lifetime. Over 20 years, solar panel savings range from a low of $10,000 to over $30,000, depending on your location and the cost of electricity.

Average Solar Panel Installation Cost Chart

Solar Panel Installation Cost
National Average Cost $14,168
Minimum Cost $3,500
Maximum Cost $35,000
Average Range $10,626 to $17,640

Use our solar calculators below to assess your total costs based on your location and current energy consumption, or get free estimates from solar installers near you. We’ll also show you exactly how much you'll save by going solar.

Table of Contents

  1. Solar Panel Cost
  2. Solar Panel Cost Calculator
  3. Solar Savings Estimator
  4. Solar Panel Installation Cost Factors
  5. Federal Solar Tax Credits & Incentives
  6. Frequently Asked Questions
  7. Tips For Hiring A Solar Panel Installer
  8. Solar Installers Near Me

Solar Panel Cost Calculator

The first step to calculating your solar panel costs is to estimate the system size you need. The average residential installation is 3 kW to 10 kW depending on your home's size, location, and energy needs.

Prices below include the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which reduces your overall costs by 30%. Additional solar incentives and rebates are available from individual states, utilities, and local governments, which further reduce your total costs.

Solar Panel Cost Calculator
System Size Before Tax Credit After 30% Tax Credit
2 kW $5,060 – $6,300 $3,542 – $4,410
3 kW $7,590 – $9,540 $5,313 – $6,615
4 kW $10,120 – $12,600 $7,084 – $8,820
5 kW $12,650 – $15,750 $8,855 – $11,025
6 kW $15,180 – $18,900 $10,626 – $13,230
7 kW $17,710 – $22,050 $12,397 – $15,435
8 kW $20,240 – $25,200 $14,168 – $17,640
10 kW $25,300 – $31,500 $17,710 – $22,050
12 kW $30,360 – $37,800 $21,252 – $26,460
15 kW $37,950 – $47,250 $26,565 – $33,075
20 kW $50,600 – $63,000 $35,420 – $44,100
25 kW $63,250 – $78,750 $44,275 – $55,125
Get free estimates from solar installers. View Pros

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?

The average family uses 11,000 kWh per year and needs 26 to 33 solar panels to power the whole house. One solar thermal panel generates enough energy to power a hot water heater for a family of four. The number of panels needed depends on your location and roof size.

Most states have a solar production ratio of 1.3 to 1.6, which means an 8kW system produces 30% more energy, or 10,600 kWh annually on average. To calculate how many solar panels you need, look at your annual kWh (kilowatt-hours) usage on your utility bills and referenced the table and map below.

Solar Panels Needed To Power A House
System Size Panels Needed Average kWh Produced Annually
2 kW 6 – 8 2,652
3 kW 10 – 12 3,978
5 kW 16 – 21 6,630
6 kW 20 – 25 7,956
8 kW 26 – 33 10,608
10 kW 33 – 41 13,260
12 kW 40 – 49 15,912
15 kW 50 – 61 19,890
18 kW 59 – 73 23,868

Table based on 250 watt panels at average solar production ratios of 1.3 to 1.6.

Where you live is a significant factor when estimating how many solar panels you need to power your house. Regions with less sunlight require larger systems to produce 100% of their energy needs.

Using the map below, take the number written in your shaded region and multiply by the estimated size of your system in kW. Then, multiply this number by 0.78 to account for inefficiencies and energy conversion losses.

Calculating kWh Energy Production From Solar Panel System Map

Map source

For example, let's say you live in Texas with a score of 1700, and you believe you'll need an 8 kW system. This formula calculates a good estimate on how much electricity (kWh) your 8 kW system will produce annually.

1700 × 8 kW × 0.78 = 10,608 kWh

Below are the rough calculations which estimate the system size needed in each region to produce 11,000 kWh for the average home.

Solar System Size Needed To Produce 11,000 kWh Annually
Region System Size (kW)
1200 11.75 kW
1300 10.85 kW
1400 10.07 kW
1500 9.40 kW
1600 8.81 kW
1700 8.30 kW
1800 7.84 kW
1900 7.42 kW
2000 7.05 kW
2100 6.71 kW

Solar Panel Cost Per Watt

Residential solar panels cost $2.53 to $3.15 per watt, with most homeowners spending $2.70 per watt on average before any tax credits or incentives. Commercial solar costs $1.83 per watt on average. Solar systems have ratings based on the electricity produced annually in average conditions.

Solar Panel Cost Per Watt Chart

Solar Energy Cost Per kWh

Residential solar energy costs $0.08 to $0.10 per kWh on average, and commercial or utility-scale solar power costs $0.06 to $0.08 per kilowatt-hour. Prices include the Federal Solar Tax Credit (ITC) and vary drastically based on the amount of sunlight and type of solar panels installed.

Solar Panel Cost Per Watt & kWh
Unit Residential Commercial
Per kWh $0.08 – $0.10 $0.06 – $0.08
Per Watt $2.53 – $3.15 $1.06 – $1.83

These figures represent the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE), which is the average revenue per unit of electricity generated that would be required to recover the costs of the solar panels over their life expectancy.

Consult with solar installers to calculate savings. View Pros

Cost of Solar Panels Per Square Foot

The cost of solar panels to power your house are $4 to $10 per square foot. However, most installers estimate solar costs by the amount of energy needed, at $2.53 to $3.15 per watt before any tax credits or incentives.

Below are cost estimates based on home size. Overall costs depend on the type of solar panels, the size and design of your roof, and your energy needs.

Cost To Install Solar Panels On House
Home Size (SF) Average Cost
1,000 $4,760 – $5,950
1,500 $7,140 – $8,925
2,000 $9,520 – $11,900
2,500 $11,900 – $14,875
3,000 $14,280 – $17,850

Residential Cost of Solar Panels By State

The average cost of solar varies significantly per state but overall is affordable. The local cost of electricity influences the cost of solar per watt in your area. Below are the average prices per watt and by system size across the United States, including the 30% federal solar rebate.

Cost of Solar Panels By State
State Per Watt 6 kW System 10 kW System
Alabama $2.02 – $2.85 $12,120 – $17,100 $20,200 – $28,500
Alaska $2.23 – $3.13 $13,380 – $18,780 $22,300 – $31,300
Arizona $1.88 – $2.35 $11,286 – $14,118 $18,810 – $23,530
Arkansas $2.42 – $2.74 $14,520 – $16,440 $24,200 – $27,400
California $1.82 – $2.29 $10,926 – $13,758 $18,210 – $22,930
Colorado $1.96 – $2.39 $11,730 – $14,310 $19,550 – $23,850
Connecticut $1.99 – $2.49 $11,994 – $14,994 $19,990 – $24,990
Washington D.C. $1.75 – $2.57 $10,518 – $15,450 $17,530 – $25,750
Delaware $1.95 – $2.13 $11,742 – $12,810 $19,570 – $21,350
Florida $1.48 – $2.09 $8,880 – $12,552 $14,800 – $20,920
Georgia $1.91 – $2.14 $11,448 – $12,852 $19,080 – $21,420
Idaho $2.03 – $2.22 $12,162 – $13,314 $20,270 – $22,190
Illinois $2.01 – $2.52 $12,078 – $15,162 $20,130 – $25,270
Indiana $2.07 – $2.49 $12,444 – $14,940 $20,740 – $24,900
Iowa $2.20 – $2.38 $13,200 – $14,268 $22,000 – $23,780
Kansas $1.49 – $2.06 $8,940 – $12,360 $14,900 – $20,600
Kentucky $2.35 – $3.04 $14,100 – $18,240 $23,500 – $30,400
Louisiana $1.77 – $2.33 $10,644 – $13,980 $17,740 – $23,300
Maine $1.85 – $2.35 $11,100 – $14,100 $18,500 – $23,500
Maryland $1.67 – $2.16 $10,026 – $12,942 $16,710 – $21,570
Massachusetts $1.94 – $2.37 $11,628 – $14,376 $19,380 – $23,960
Michigan $1.99 – $2.50 $11,976 – $14,976 $19,960 – $24,960
Minnesota $2.01 – $2.37 $12,000 – $14,244 $20,000 – $23,740
Mississippi $1.98 – $2.75 $11,880 – $16,500 $19,800 – $27,500
Missouri $1.71 – $2.42 $10,260 – $14,520 $17,100 – $24,200
Montana $1.86 – $2.34 $11,148 – $14,064 $18,580 – $23,440
Nebraska $1.74 – $2.88 $10,440 – $17,280 $17,400 – $28,800
Nevada $1.92 – $2.13 $11,526 – $12,762 $19,210 – $21,270
New Hampshire $1.97 – $2.55 $11,796 – $15,300 $19,660 – $25,500
New Jersey $1.76 – $2.35 $10,530 – $14,118 $17,550 – $23,530
New Mexico $2.02 – $2.73 $12,102 – $16,362 $20,170 – $27,270
New York $1.80 – $2.64 $10,824 – $15,840 $18,040 – $26,400
North Carolina $1.73 – $2.27 $10,380 – $13,632 $17,300 – $22,720
North Dakota $1.39 – $1.97 $8,340 – $11,820 $13,900 – $19,700
Ohio $1.79 – $2.29 $10,740 – $13,740 $17,900 – $22,900
Oklahoma $1.88 – $3.34 $11,280 – $20,040 $18,800 – $33,400
Oregon $1.63 – $2.20 $9,804 – $13,224 $16,340 – $22,040
Pennsylvania $1.80 – $2.60 $10,782 – $15,630 $17,970 – $26,050
Rhode Island $2.08 – $2.44 $12,492 – $14,652 $20,820 – $24,420
South Carolina $1.92 – $2.38 $11,544 – $14,292 $19,240 – $23,820
South Dakota $1.88 – $2.93 $11,280 – $17,580 $18,800 – $29,300
Tennessee $1.30 – $1.97 $7,800 – $11,820 $13,000 – $19,700
Texas $1.75 – $2.15 $10,494 – $12,906 $17,490 – $21,510
Utah $1.83 – $2.41 $10,950 – $14,454 $18,250 – $24,090
Vermont $1.79 – $2.58 $10,716 – $15,480 $17,860 – $25,800
Virginia $1.69 – $2.11 $10,134 – $12,630 $16,890 – $21,050
Washington $1.71 – $2.19 $10,278 – $13,110 $17,130 – $21,850
West Virginia $2.17 – $3.38 $13,020 – $20,280 $21,700 – $33,800
Wisconson $2.11 – $2.42 $12,666 – $14,490 $21,110 – $24,150
Wyoming $2.39 – $2.78 $14,340 – $16,680 $23,900 – $27,800

Average Solar Panel Installation Costs By Brand

Below are total installation costs for 6kW and 10kW residential solar systems by brand which includes the 30% tax credit. Most solar manufacturers offer similar pricing, however, the price you pay is typically reflective of panel quality.

Solar Panel Installation Cost By Brand
Manufacturer Per Watt 6 kW System 10 kW System
Axitec $1.57 – $2.10 $9,450 – $12,642 $15,750 – $21,070
Astronergy $1.85 – $2.35 $11,130 – $14,154 $18,550 – $23,590
Canadian Solar Inc. $1.65 – $2.26 $9,954 – $13,566 $16,590 – $22,610
CertainTeed Solar $2.06 – $2.48 $12,390 – $14,910 $20,650 – $24,850
Hanwha Q CELLS $1.73 – $2.31 $10,416 – $13,860 $17,360 – $23,100
Heliene $1.71 – $2.28 $10,290 – $13,692 $17,150 – $22,820
Hyundai $1.87 – $2.14 $11,256 – $12,894 $18,760 – $21,490
JA Solar $1.72 – $2.29 $10,374 – $13,776 $17,290 – $22,960
JinkoSolar $1.98 – $2.58 $11,928 – $15,498 $19,880 – $25,830
LG Solar $1.89 – $2.47 $11,340 – $14,868 $18,900 – $24,780
LONGi Solar $1.69 – $2.07 $10,164 – $12,474 $16,940 – $20,790
Mission Solar Energy $1.52 – $2.06 $9,156 – $12,390 $15,260 – $20,650
Panasonic $1.89 – $2.45 $11,340 – $14,700 $18,900 – $24,500
Peimar Group $1.86 – $2.24 $11,172 – $13,440 $18,620 – $22,400
Phono Solar $2.10 – $2.49 $12,642 – $14,952 $21,070 – $24,920
REC Group $1.92 – $2.32 $11,550 – $13,944 $19,250 – $23,240
RGS Energy $2.31 – $3.47 $13,860 – $20,874 $23,100 – $34,790
Renogy Solar $2.10 – $2.39 $12,642 – $14,364 $21,070 – $23,940
S-Energy $1.77 – $2.35 $10,668 – $14,112 $17,780 – $23,520
Seraphim Solar $1.85 – $2.24 $11,130 – $13,482 $18,550 – $22,470
Silfab Solar $1.70 – $2.45 $10,206 – $14,700 $17,010 – $24,500
SolarTech Universal $1.72 – $2.21 $10,374 – $13,272 $17,290 – $22,120
SolarWorld $1.73 – $2.15 $10,416 – $12,936 $17,360 – $21,560
Solaria $2.06 – $2.35 $12,390 – $14,154 $20,650 – $23,590
SunPower Corporation $2.01 – $2.77 $12,096 – $16,674 $20,160 – $27,790
Trina Solar $1.72 – $2.22 $10,374 – $13,356 $17,290 – $22,260
Tesla $2.33 – $3.10 $13,986 – $18,606 $23,310 – $31,010
Winaico $1.92 – $2.21 $11,550 – $13,314 $19,250 – $22,190
Yingli Solar $1.70 – $2.21 $10,206 – $13,272 $17,010 – $22,120

Prices include 30% tax credit and reflect installation costs from solar contractors. Total costs depend on the location, installers experience, inverter, and other equipment.

How Much Does One Solar Panel Cost?

One 150 to 300-watt solar panel costs $112 to $450 on average, or between $0.75 to $1.50 per watt depending on the type of panel, energy-efficiency rating, and size. Solar companies that purchase in bulk typically spend $0.75 per watt, whereas homeowners spend $1 per watt.

Most distributors only sell solar panels to local contractors at bulk wholesale prices. Hiring a solar installer will drastically reduce your overall equipment costs. These prices are for the panels only, additional fees for installation includes inverters, batteries, mounting hardware, wiring, and more.

Solar Panels For Home Cost Per Panel
System Size Average Cost
14 Panel System (4.2 kW) $2,600 – $4,200
16 Panel System (4.8 kW) $3,000 – $4,800
18 Panel System (5.4 kW) $3,350 – $5,400
20 Panel System (6.0 kW) $3,750 – $6,000
24 Panel System (7.2 kW) $4,450 – $7,200
28 Panel System (8.4 kW) $5,236 – $8,400
32 Panel System (9.6 kW) $5,984 – $9,600
36 Panel System (10.8 kW) $6,732 – $10,800

Solar Panel Lease Cost

A solar panel lease costs $100 per month on average, with most spending between $50 and $250 per month depending on their location and energy needs. Leasing solar panels is cost-effective and typically saves $50 to $100 per month on your electricity bills with little to no down payment.

Solar leasing companies are responsible for the installation and maintenance fees for the duration of your contract. If you decide to move, expect to pay additional charges to end your leasing agreement because transferring the lease to another buyer can be difficult.

If you own your solar system outright that generates 100% of your power, the monthly cost is less than $10 per month for minor grid-tied connection fees. An off-grid system has no monthly costs other than general maintenance.

Tesla Solar Roof Cost

A Tesla solar roof costs $22 to $45 per square foot, which includes the solar roof tiles, a Powerwall, roof and site repairs, and complete system installation. A 9.45 kW solar system installed on a 1,800 square foot roof costs between $39,600 and $81,000.

On average, solar shingles cost up to $8,000 more than installing a new roof with traditional PV solar panels. Glass-faced solar shingles mimic the appearance of a tiled roof and cover more surface area than mounted PV panels to catch more sunlight.

Solar tiles have a lower efficiency rating in producing electricity. They may not last as long as PV panels because their design doesn’t allow much room for ventilation, which can lead to overheating.

Commercial Solar Panel Cost

A 10 kW to 2 MW commercial solar panel system costs $1.83 per watt before any tax rebates or incentives. Larger fixed-tilt or one-axis tracking utility-scale systems greater than 2 MW cost $1.06 per watt on average.

Commercial solar installation costs for small and mid-sized businesses range from $43,000 for a 25 kW system up to $175,000 for a 100 kW system. Businesses recover about 45 percent of solar panels costs within the first year through tax credits and rebate programs.

Commercial Solar Panel Cost
System Size Average Cost Before Tax Credits
25 kW $43,500 to $56,000
50 kW $87,500 to $113,000
100 kW $175,000 to $225,500
250 kW $437,000 to $563,500

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Solar Savings Estimator

The solar payback calculator below covers the average break-even period, which is when your power supply becomes free, and the projected savings over 20 years.

Solar Panel Return On Investment (ROI)

The average solar panel payback period is 7 to 12 years, depending on where you live and the cost of electricity. On average, upfront costs are $11,000, with savings of $1,400 per year on foregone energy bills. You'll break-even after 8-years and start generating a return on your investment.

Solar Payback Calculator In Years Chart

How Much Do Solar Panels Save?

Over 20 years, solar panel savings range from a low of $10,000 to over $30,000, depending on your location and the cost of electricity. Solar energy saves $600 to $2,000 per year by reducing your electricity bills and from selling solar renewable energy credit (SREC).

Solar Panel Savings Calculator
Location Savings Over 20 Years Payback Period (Years)
Albuquerque, NM $17,576 – $25,109 15.06
Austin, TX $14,627 – $20,896 7.04
Baltimore, MD $16,349 – $23,356 6.90
Boston, MA $17,449 – $24,928 9.66
Charlotte, NC $15,035 – $21,479 8.20
Chicago, IL $14,591 – $20,844 11.85
Denver, CO $15,035 – $21,479 13.30
Honolulu, HI $34,104 – $48,720 6.55
Houston, TX $14,627 – $20,896 7.57
Indianapolis, IN $11,637 – $16,625 14.60
Jersey City, NJ $18,349 – $26,214 9.95
Las Vegas, NV $13,918 – $19,883 9.05
Los Angeles, CA $25,414 – $36,306 11.99
New York, NY $17,247 – $24,639 10.58
Philadelphia, PA $13,689 – $19,556 9.35
Phoenix, AZ $18,325 – $26,179 7.50
Portland, OR $11,351 – $16,216 11.66
San Francisco, CA $14,700 – $21,000 11.34
Seattle, WA $6,863 – $12,805 11.26
Washington, DC $21,840 – $31,200 6.78

*6kW system powering 70% to 100% of your energy needs.

Solar Panel Savings Estimator

Consult with solar installers to calculate savings. View Pros

Here's a more granular look of solar savings on power bills per year by location.

Solar Panel Savings On Electricity Bills
Location Average Savings Per Year
Albuquerque, NM $1,349
Austin, TX $782
Boston, MA $2,196
Charlotte, NC $805
Chicago, IL $1,059
Jersey City, NJ $1,762
Los Angeles, CA $2,477
New York, NY $1,404
Philadelphia, PA $1,006
Portland, OR $864
San Francisco, CA $1,822
Seattle, WA $633
Washington, DC $1,127

Are Solar Panels Worth It?

Solar panels generate electricity approximately 30% cheaper than utility electricity in most locations, making them worth it over their lifetime. What makes solar more affordable is the 30% federal solar tax credit and state incentives.

The average residential electricity rate from utility companies is 13.19 cents per kWh, depending on where you live. An average 8 kW solar system costs $15,000 and generates 11,000 kWh annually or $880 to $1,100 worth of energy. Over the lifetime of the solar panels, this equates to 8 to 10 cents per kWh, which makes solar panels worth it after getting through the hefty upfront cost.

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Solar Panel Installation Cost Factors

The cost to convert a house to solar power depends on your location, energy needs, type of solar panels, inverter and equipment options, permits, inspection, tax credits, and labor costs.

Use the national averages in the following table to calculate a cost-benefit analysis for solar PV installation.

Solar Panel Cost Analysis Chart

Cost To Convert House To Solar Power
Item Percent Average Cost
Solar Panels, Inverter & Parts 30% $3,188 – $3,969
Balance of System 20% $2,125 – $2,646
Labor 15% $1,594 – $1,985
Permits and Inspection 15% $1,594 – $1,985
Operational 20% $2,125 – $2,646
Total for 6 kW System
After 30% Tax Credit
100% $10,626 – $13,230

Cost of Solar Panels Over Time

The average cost of solar panels has fallen 65% from $7.34 per watt in 2010, to $2.53 per watt in 2019. A standard 6 kW residential solar system has dropped from $44,000 down to $15,200 over the past decade (not including the federal solar tax credit).

Cost of Solar Panels Over Time Chart

Cost of Solar Panels Over Time
Year Cost Per Watt
2010 $7.34
2011 $6.44
2012 $4.55
2013 $3.97
2014 $3.49
2015 $3.23
2016 $3.02
2017 $2.84
2018 $2.70
2019 $2.53
2020* $2.34
2021* $2.22

*Estimates are based on the average rate of decline.

Labor Costs To Install Solar Panels

The average labor cost to install solar panels is $0.27 per watt, or around 15% of the total cost of your system. A standard 6 kW system with 20 to 25 panels costs about $1,600 for solar installation labor before applying the 30% federal solar rebate.

Labor costs increase if your home has multiple stories, skylights, dormers, or a problematic 45° roof pitch. Contractors may need to design a unique system to make sure the panels receive enough sunlight to be efficient.

Get free estimates from competing solar companies. View Pros

Solar Equipment Options

When installing your new solar system, you can choose between options such as on-grid vs. off-grid backup power, three different panel material types, and three different mounting types.

On-grid vs. Off-grid Solar Power Systems

Storing energy off-grid requires spending 30% to 40% more, or around $15,000 on backup power supplies, charge controller, generator, batteries, and installation costs.

Types of Solar Panels

Solar panels are constructed from three different types of materials; monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin film.

Types of Solar Panels
Type Efficiency Description
Monocrystalline 15% – 22.5% Monocrystalline panels are made from high-grade silicon and are the most efficient, meaning you'll need fewer panels to support your energy needs. Monocrystalline panels generate up to an industry record of 22.5% of sunlight into energy typically come with a 20 to 25-year limited warranty.
Polycrystalline 13% – 16% Polycrystalline panels are more affordable than Monocrystalline because they're made from fragments of silicon, which have lower energy efficiency.
Thin-film 11% – 14% Thin-film panels are the least expensive and typically last 15 years. The panels are layered with photovoltaic materials that take up more space and provides a lower efficiency.

Solar Panel Mounts

There are three different ways to mount solar panels, which affect the overall cost.

Solar Panel Mounts
Type Average Cost Description
Fix-mount $15 Fixed-mounts are the least expensive and less efficient than other mounts because they are stationary and can't be moved to capture more sunlight. These mounts are best in states with consistent sunlight.
Adjustable-mount $50 Adjustable-mounts generate greater energy efficiency because they can be tilted towards the sun to maximize energy production. They can also be tilted flat during storms to avoid wind damage. Adjustable mounts are more expensive but are optimal in regions with seasonal climates.
Tracking-mount $500 – $3,000 Tracking-mounts automatically follow the position of the sun to produce up to 30% more solar energy in climates with little to no snow. Solar trackers are more expensive, and there is more maintenance and on-site preparation involved. Most professionals recommended buying additional panels instead.

Sometimes it’s cheaper to install solar panels on rails in your backyard, such as when your roof surface is too steep, if your roof is mostly in the shade, or if you do not have a roof facing south to catch the most sunshine.

Solar Inverter Cost

A 5 kW solar inverter for a home system costs $1,000 to $2,000 for a single-phase model, and $1,500 to $3,000 for a premium 3-phase model. Inverter prices depend on the size, quality, and features. An inverter converts the current from the panels into an electric voltage that’s compatible with your home.

Solar Panel Cost Analysis

Below is a solar panel cost analysis for a complete residential installation based on a 6.2 kW system at an average cost of $2.70 per watt. Use this data to compare to quotes provided by solar installers.

Solar Panel Cost Analysis
Item Cost Per Watt
Panels $0.47
Inverter $0.21
Structural BOS $0.10
Electrical BOS $0.21
Supply Chain Costs $0.30
Sales Tax $0.09
Installation Labor $0.27
Permitting, Inspection, Interconnection $0.06
Sales & Marketing (Customer Acquisition) $0.34
Overhead (General & Admin.) $0.32
Net Profit $0.33
Total $2.70

Analysis provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Solar Panel Permits & Inspection Fees

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), solar panel permits and inspection costs $0.06 per watt or $360 for a 6 kW system and $600 for a 10 kW system.

Solar Panel Maintenance & Repairs

Solar panel maintenance and repairs cost $11.50 per kW per year without including the inverter, and $23/kW/yr including inverter repairs. Solar panel cleaning costs $3 to $10 per panel and produces 3.5% more electricity than if left uncleaned. An annual inspection costs $100 to $150.

Solar Panel Maintenance & Repairs
Repair Average Cost
Panel Cleaning $150 – $250
Broken Glass Panels $20 – $350 + labor
Cracked Panel $100 – $400
Loose Connection $100+
Panel Replacement $2,000+
Micro Inverter Replacement $100 – $250
String Inverter Replacement $1,200 – $2,500
Panel Removal $400 to $600
Annual Inspection $100 to $150
Solar panel insurance coverage is typically included in most policies and are largely considered a permanent attachment to the home.

Marketing and Sales

Larger companies tend to spend extra on advertising to attract more business. However, that cost is baked into their installation services, and you’ll find better prices from smaller, more localized solar contractors.

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Federal Solar Tax Credits & Incentives

There are various tax breaks and tax incentives offered by the federal government, local governments, states, and utility companies. Also, low-interest solar loans and $0 down installations are making it easy to buy a solar panel system.

How Does The Federal Solar Tax Credit Work?

The federal solar tax credit allows you to deduct 30% of the total cost of installing a solar energy system from your federal taxes. The investment tax credit (ITC), applies to both residential and commercial solar systems without a limit. Those leasing solar panels are not eligible for federal tax credits.

Solar Tax Credit Calculator
Year Residential Commercial
2019 30% 30%
2020 26% 26%
2021 22% 22%
2022 0% 10%

Solar Incentives

In addition to the federal tax credit, homeowners are also eligible to receive solar incentives and rebates from local governments, utility companies, and solar-incentive programs.

Solar Incentives
State Incentive
Alabama Loans from $2,500 to $15,000 with a 1 percent interest rate.
Alaska Building materials loan up to $100,000. Net-metering programs to buy-back surplus power generated.
Arizona 25% Credit up to $1,000. Sales Tax Exemption. Incentives of $0.05 per watt, up to 50 kW, capping at $2,500.
Arkansas State utility company buys back surplus energy in a net-metering program.
California Property Tax Exclusion. Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) Financing Program.
Colorado City of Boulder Solar Grant Program. Financial incentive between $200 and $750 per kilowatt. Energy Smart Rebate Program up to $1,000 in Eagle County.
Connecticut Solar Investment Program of $0.51 per watt. Up to 10 kW. Property Tax Exemption.
Delaware Delmarva Power Green Energy Program Incentives of $0.50 per watt up to 50 kW, with a limit of $3,000. Upfront Purchase Program of $450 per kilowatt (up to 50 kW) in exchange for the first 20 years of solar renewable energy credits created by the solar panel system.
Florida Rebate of $500 per year.
Georgia Rebate of up to $4,500, plus a rebate of $450 per kW with a limit of 10 kW. An incentive program will purchase 100% of the output at the retail electricity rate.
Hawaii State Income tax credit of 35 percent of the equipment and installation cost. Limit of $5,000. City and County of Honolulu 0% Solar Loan Program.
Idaho Income tax deduction of 40% of the cost when installed and 20% deduction yearly for three years after. Maximum deduction of $5,000 a year. State Energy Loan Program at 4 percent interest for amounts between $1,000 and $15,000.
Illinois Buy-back program with advance payments of up to 15 years of solar renewable energy credits.
Indiana Value of the solar panel system is exempt from property taxes. State Sales and Use Tax Exemption.
Iowa Tax credit equal to 50% of the federal credit, up to $5,000. Five-year property tax exemption for the market value added to a property by a solar panel system. 100% sales tax exemption for solar equipment.
Kansas Tax Exemption of the value of the solar panel system from property taxes for ten years.
Kentucky Sell electricity to participating energy companies.
Louisiana A 50 percent refundable tax credit. Tax Exemption from Ad Valorem taxes for solar energy arrays.
Maine Loans at 4.99%.
Maryland A $1,000 incentive per solar panel system ranging from 1 kW to 20 kW systems. A one-time tax credit of 50% of the total cost up to $2,500. Also, a 100% sales and use tax exemption.
Massachusetts Rebate of $0.50 per watt, up to $2,500 per solar installation. Rebate of $625 per kilowatt, up to $3,125. Rebate of $1.50 per watt, up to $4,500.
Michigan Loans up to $30,000 at 4.25% interest rates.
Minnesota Rebate of $0.50 per watt, up to $5,000. Rebate of $0.94 per kilowatt-hour up to 20 kW. Cap is either $20,000 or 60% of installation costs. One-time rebate of $0.50 per watt for a 5 to 10 kW system.
Mississippi Incentive of general retail electric rate for power generated by a solar array.
Missouri Rebate of $0.50 per watt. Solar Property Tax Exemption.
Montana $500 tax credit. Exemption from property taxes for solar arrays, up to $20,000. Loans up to $40,000 with a 3.25% interest rate.
Nebraska Generation rebate starting at $375 per kW. Loans up to $125,000 with interest 2.50% to 5%.
Nevada Upfront incentives of $0.15 per watt.
New Hampshire Rebate of $0.50 per watt, up to $2,500 or 30% of the total cost. Property tax exemption of the total cost of the solar panel system.
New Jersey 100% exemption from state sales tax. Incentive rebates up to $24,250.
New Mexico PNM Performance-Based Solar Energy Program—A per-kWh payment for systems up to 100 kW for renewable energy credits. Property Tax Exemption for Residential Solar Systems.
New York Incentives up to $0.40 per watt for up to 25 kW. Tax credit of 25% of total cost up to $5,000. 100% of local sales tax exemption in select areas.
North Carolina TVA Green Power Providers—Payment of the general retail rate for every kWh generated by a renewable energy system. (May expire by the end of 2019). Property tax exemption equal to the cost of the total system. 100% exemption of the total solar system cost.
North Dakota Property Tax Exemption for the first five years.
Ohio Loans up to $50,000 at 3% below market rate. Exemption from personal property taxes for arrays up to 250 kW.
Oklahoma Varying amounts of state tax credits, plus net-metering program to sell back surplus power.
Oregon Incentive of $0.40 per watt, up to $2,500. Rebate of $0.50 per watt, up to $7,500 per solar system. Tax credit of $1,500 or up to 50% of total costs per year for up to 4 years for a maximum of $6,000. Rebate of $600 for the first 3 kW and $300 per kW for any additional capacity, up to 50% of total system costs or $8,400.
Pennsylvania Earn a solar credit for every 1 MWh, which can be sold for market price.
Rhode Island 100% property tax exemption.
South Carolina Tax Credit up to 25% of the total cost. An incentive of $1.60 per watt up to $9,600.
South Dakota Property Tax Exemption up to $50,000 or 70% of the property value.
Tennessee TVA Green Power Providers program (expires end of 2019) buys the energy generated by your renewable energy system. Bristol Tennessee Essential Services Energy Savings Loan Program—Financing of up to $10,000 for a 10-year term, with varying interest rates.
Texas Incentive of $1.00 per watt, with a cap of $4,000. Buy-back program for surplus energy. Rebate of $0.80 per watt up to $25,000 or 50% of project expenses.
Utah Tax credit of 25% of the system costs, up to $2,000.
Vermont Net metering program with a premium of more than $0.05 per kilowatt-hour for systems up to 15 kW. 100% sales tax exemption.
Virginia TVA Green Power Providers program (expires end of 2019) buys the energy generated by your renewable energy system. Partial or Full Tax Exemption for costs of the system.
Washington A 100% sales and use tax exemption.
West Virginia $2,000 tax credit for the installation of a solar energy system.
Wisconsin Rebate of up to 12 percent of solar costs, not exceeding $2,000. A 100% sales and use tax exemption.
Wyoming Net metering benefits of monthly roll-over power credits, plus annual rebate for surplus power.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does A Utility-Scale Photovoltaic Array Cost?

A utility-scale photovoltaic array greater than 2 MW costs $1.06 to $1.36 per watt before applying for the federal solar tax credit. This equates to $0.04 to $0.06 per kWh after using the tax credit.

How Much Does DIY Solar Cost?

Installing solar as a DIY project is difficult, and will cost more because solar companies buy wholesale directly from the manufacturers. Also, each solar installation needs to pass an inspection, according to state and federal laws.

How Much Does Solar Energy Cost Per Year?

Purchasing a 6 kW system ($12,600) on a 5-year payment plan costs about $2,500 per year or $210 per month. Once you own the system outright, solar energy costs $100 to $150 per year for maintenance and inspections. Another option to convert to solar is a lease at $600 to $3,000 annually.

How Much Does A Small Solar Panel Cost?

A small solar panel typically costs $2 to $4 per watt for residential use. A small 25-watt panel costs $40, while a 200-watt portable solar panel with a power station and outlets costs $250 to $300. A 45-watt solar battery bank can charge laptops, phones, tablets, and other smart devices.

How Much Does A Solar Heating System Cost?

A solar water heating system costs $3,250 for a 2-person household and up to $6,000 for a 4-person home. Solar heating panels, or solar thermal collectors, are different from photovoltaic (PV) solar panels because they only capture heat. Solar heating systems can heat your water supply, your air, or both.

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Tips For Hiring A Solar Panel Installer

When searching for reputable solar companies, always get at least three quotes in writing from both big and small contractors, ask plenty of questions, check their credentials, and don’t sign any agreements until after an on-site consultation.

Get Multiple Solar Quotes

Homeowners who shop around often pay 10% to 20% less with savings up to $5,000 by getting at least three solar quotes from competing companies. Always ask for an on-site evaluation and request a detailed price quote in writing. Be sure to check the online reviews from HomeGuide and Google.

The largest solar installers typically quote inflated prices based on their brand and reputation. Always compare bids from the national brands to local installers to be sure you get the best deal. It's not uncommon to save thousands of dollars from smaller solar companies.

  • Experienced installers will always ask the age of your roof. The roof's condition is critical to address before installation, as most solar panels last for up to 50 years.
  • Not every electrician is licensed to install solar, and they may not fully understand the legal requirements. Always hire companies whose sole focus is solar installations.
Get free quotes from solar installers. View Pros

Questions To Ask Solar Energy Companies

When you get a solar panel estimate, ask the contractor these questions:

  1. What certifications or licensing do you have?
  2. Do you offer any financing options?
  3. Do you have any references I can contact?
  4. What warranties do you provide?
  5. Is there a performance guarantee?
  6. Will you assist me in claiming rebates and incentives?
  7. How do you calculate, size, and design a system for me?
  8. Is there be room to expand my system if my energy needs increase?
  9. How many solar installations have you done before?
  10. How much am I expected to save each year?
  11. What will be my monthly electric bill costs?

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