Solar panels cost – a guideline based on averages

How much do solar panels cost?

The cost of electricity keeps going up, which makes the solar option make much more sense. This is why in the last few years, installing a solar system has become much more popular. But what factors determine your solar panels cost? A system is designed specifically for the individual needs of the home or business it will be serving. You may decide to only take the sting off of your power bill. This is done by offsetting the kilowatt usage in high price brackets. You you may want to offset your bill completely. Others might have specific devices that the solar panels will power. Since some homes are being sold with a solar system included, it makes sense for prospective purchasers to have an idea of what they system is worth. In this way they can more easily compare it to a home or business without a solar system. (For more on increased home value read this article: How Much Do Solar Panels Boost Home Prices)
Here are the main factors that will determine your solar panels cost:
1) How much does it cost currently to manufacture a solar cell.
2) How large of a solar system are you interested in.
3) The type and numbers of inverters used
4) How the cells will be affixed to the property home or business
5) Labor rates of installers in your area.
6) Incentives and Rebates
Solar Cell Manufacturing Cost
This is by far the most important factor in determining the solar panels cost. Here are the items that influence the costs of solar cells.
Life Expectancy
Quality
Type of Technology Utilized
Some cells will not last long. As time goes on, they will only produce a fraction of the energy that they once did. Manufactures will give life expectancy information on their websites. It is recommended to compare two different solar panels cost by ignoring overall costs and comparing them on price per watt. High quality cells may cost more, but produce more electricity per dollar. Descriptions of the technologies used is beyond the scope of this article (but if your interested read this article: Solar Panels Cost In US). Just know that there are multiple technologies, and your climate, sun exposure, and purpose, will determine their benefits. It is possible to utilize bulk sales of broken solar cells and solder them together in order to make a panel by yourself, but this would only be a viable option for an extreme do-it-yourself enthusiast, with many hours of time available to dedicate to the project. Manufactured cells can cost between $3.40 per watt to $7.40 per watt.
Solar System Size
Your monthly usage during the last year will give you an idea of how big your solar panel system should be, and thus your solar panels cost. Also ask yourself if you intend to take other measures first. Your energy usage and needed size will change if you plan on taking one or more of the following actions:

  • Turning lights of when you leave the room
  • Replacing incandescent bulbs with energy efficient bulbs
  • Replacing electric cook tops with gas
  • Turning down the thermostat
  • Replacing inefficient windows

If none of these factors will be changing you have a good idea of what your electrical requirements are. You’ll now need to determine if you just want a system to keep you out of the higher cost energy brackets, or offset your entire bill. In some instances its possible to generate more than what you use, and get paid by your electric company for overage.

Number of Inverters
Recently, solar panels cost has been impacted by significant developments in inverter technology. Traditionally one inverter services the entire system. The downside is that if a single panel fails, the entire system won’t work. Recently, inverter technology has reduced the cost of inverters so that each panel may have its own. When an individual panel fails, only that panels output is disrupted.

Installation Method
A portion of your solar panels cost will be determined by your installation location. It is much more costly to install panels on the roof rather than the ground. Ground installation is rare because of the space required, and minimum distances from other objects or utility systems.

Labor Rates
Do it yourselfers may keep their solar panels cost low by only using an electrician for final hookup, or a roofer to only mount the brackets. It has been estimated that hiring a pro will average $6 per watt in labor costs alone. However this is highly dependent on the labor market and employment regulations in your area. Some areas with high unemployment, and inexpensive workers compensation can get the job done much cheaper than areas that are experiencing industry booms (like oil exploration). Cost of living also sets wage rates on the coasts as compared to more interior rural areas.
Incentives and Rebates
Local, state, and federal governments each have varying discounts, credits, and rebates. Some local municipalities also give discounts for reducing your energy usage by a certain % each year. State incentives are the most lucrative; however, you might want to speak with your accountant to fully understand the impact. State tax credits may not benefit you if you regularly pay little or no state tax. There are a handful of states that do not have state income tax.

What is a HERS rating, and is it important?

A Home Energy Rating (HERS) is an essential component of the home energy audit, something to assist your home in meeting ENERGY STAR Efficient Recommendations. Why so much interest for photo voltaic installations?

Going solar is definitely an exciting thing to explore, however, you must take some preliminary measures before you decide to use a system. A power audit is among the individual measures and perhaps the most crucial. Lowering your energy usage implies that a solar power system will offset a larger portion of that usage: you’ll spend less on electricity over time, as well as your home photo voltaic system covers itself more rapidly. Some states even encourage energy audits by rewarding home owners that do one with a greater rebates.

The HERS rating is basically a complete analysis and proper diagnosis of how energy-efficient a home’s construction plan is. What results from the HERS inspection is an index number, that is established through the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET).

The index score (-100) is offered by evaluating the home to a HERS Reference Home: the HERS Reference Home will bare a score of 100 (least energy-efficient), while a net-zero energy home will have a score of 0. A reduction of one point is equivalent to a 1 percent decrease in energy consumption in comparison to the reference home. For instance, if your home has a HERS score of 70, that would tell you that your home is 30 % more energy-efficient compared to HERS Reference Home.

A power audit that provides your house a HERS rating is a vital key to take before choosing to invest in an alternative energy system because when you receive your initial score, the auditor works along with you to create energy efficiency enhancements-the low your score following the enhancements, the greater energy-efficient your property is and also the better prepared you’re for photo voltaic. And by the way, a photo voltaic installation or any other on-site energy generation will now lower your HERS score.

Factors which will determine solar panels cost

The ever-increasing cost of energy has become a significant worry for the home owner. The most viable option is to use solar power and estimating solar panels cost. Its green and also better for the future with depleting reserves of fossil fuels. The quest for alternatives has been pursued nearly since the invention of electricity itself. The public is struggling to determine what their solar panels cost will be because it is such a complex subject. It is however, interesting to have an alternative that gives you more control over what or who you must pay for the convenience of having electricity in your home.

The usage of solar energy reverses the situation allowing you to exercise your cerebral cortex and exercise discretion to choose the solution that suits your requirement. Its not surprising that there are many different components to choose from and many of them have diverse benefits, which is going to have an impact on what your overall solar panels cost. Would you want more watts per panel, or simply more panels? Would you want a single converter or multiple converters given your situation? The best place to start, and what might dictate the rest of the decision is to figure out how much your current usage is or will be.

It is very crucial to note that you might be looking into a system to get a specific quantity of wattage in order to totally offset your electrical cost eliminating the purchase of energy from your local utility company or staying within a certain tier pricing that is the smallest rate. Alternatively you might just be interested in heating your water or possibly only using solar to heat your house to a comfortable level. These choices will dictate which solar device you should acquire and thus determine your solar panels cost. You will also benefit from tax rebates on the federal and state level. There are some cities and counties that also offer rebates or subsidies to reduce your solar panels cost.

So what are the factors that decide what size of panel you would be interested in buying? Once you decide this, you should also compare the cost of doing a solar lease, which can often mean no out of pocket expense. In some areas you will find option such as pay-as-you-go solar system, battery bank back up systems and full blown grid-tie systems. Some of the items determining the cost for your specific installation are:

The current manufacturing costs of solar cells, note higher priced, although higher quality cells generate more electricity

How much of your electrical requirements are you expecting to offset.

If you will be choosing solar thermal panels for only hot water heating or photovoltaic solar panels for all electrical usage

Its not only about saving planet. Its about saving money and cutting the ties to the utility providers.