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Cost > Solar Panel Cost: An Overview

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and cost 

If you're reading this, chances are you're at least a little bit interested in learning more about solarpower for your home or business. You may have heard that solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are expensive. This is true. But in some instances, solar panels can save you a lot of money. With the right mix of federal and state incentives, a well planned solar PV system can provide a great return on investment. To see why, let's briefly cover a few of the main topics that relate to cost and system performance:


Location and orientation

  • First things first, an unobstructed, south-facing roof is ideal for mounting solar panels -- it ensures that the system gets as much exposure to the sun as possible. (There are also minimum load-bearing requirements, but most roofs are sturdy enough for the job.) Generally speaking, lots of direct, quality sunshine means you can get more juice out of each panel. Better system performance, in turn, means you can get away with installing fewer panels. This saves you money.

  • While the American Southwest enjoys the most sunshine in the country, the majority of places get enough sun to make solar energy a reasonable option. For details, check out this solar radiation map from the National Renewable Energy Lab.

  • Our qualified solar installation partners have local expertise, and can help you determine the expected performance of your desired system. 


Your utility bill

  • Take a look at your electricity bill. If you're paying on average more than 14 cents per kilowatt hour (kwh), you should definitely take a harder look at solar. Why? By reducing the amount of money you pay to your utility each month, your PV system will "break-even" sooner than it would, for example, if you were only paying 8 cents/kwh. Simply put, the more money you save each month using solar, the better your return on investment over time.

  • Electricity price inflation: As conventional electricity prices continue to rise over time, your monthly savings grow. 

  • Energy efficiency: often, simple steps—like installing LED lights, or buying energy-efficient appliances—can drastically improve the ROI on your solar PV system. In short, such steps enable you to meet more of your electricity demand with solar, further shrinking your monthly utility bill. Adding so-called negawatts to the mix will save you cash over the long haul and make each kilowatt from your solar panels go further.


Solar incentives

  • To promote the adoption of renewable energy, the federal government offers a 30-percent tax credit to homeowners and businesses who install solar energy systems. By lowering up front costs, such incentives dramatically improve the return on investment for solar.

  • Many states, municipalities and utilities offer tax credits and solar rebate programs, too. Check out solar incentive map for details, or visit the DSIRE database.


Your system specifications

  • Not every solar panel is created equal. Single crystalline panels, for example, are more expensive to manufacture but offer high efficiency rates and a proven, long-term track record. Poly- or multi-crystalline panels, by contrast, are less expensive but are also less efficient. Ultimately, you'll want to balance upfront costs with expected efficiency to attain a low levelized cost of energy over the lifetime of your system.

We're happy to help you sort out these topics as they relate to your own situation. Get started by filling out our solar Web form for a free consultation. 


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