How Much Do Solar Panels Cost? A Full Guide – The Advocate

how much are solar panels for home

The United States is now home to over two million solar installations. The State of California takes the lead, with its more than 972 thousand solar PV systems. However, all 50 states now have homes and commercial buildings that rely on solar power.

If you’re thinking of jumping on the bandwagon, you may be wondering, how much are solar panels for home? Is there anything you can do to bring your project costs down?

This guide will answer all those burning questions, so be sure to read on!

What Exactly Are Solar Panels?

Solar panels are devices designed to transform light energy into electricity. You may have also heard of them referred to as “solar photovoltaic” (PV) panels. The term “photovoltaic” here means “light-electricity.”

Each PV panel (also known as “solar module”) contains about 60 to 72 solar cells. These modules collect sunlight and transform them into usable energy, such as electricity. The more sunlight that hits these cells, the more DC electricity they can generate.

A typical single solar panel isn’t enough to power up an entire home, though. That’s why the average solar-powered residential property uses a 5 kW solar array. An array is a collection of PV panels, which, in standard homes, consist of between 10 and 20 modules.

It’s vital to know these terms as they’ll affect the cost of your installation.

How Much Are Solar Panels for Home?

The average solar panel installation cost ranges from $15,000 to $40,000. That price is for a whole-house set-up, though. Meaning, your expenses will depend on how big your home is and how many solar PV panels you can fit in your property.

However, that price range already signifies as much as a 73% decrease from 2010. What’s more, experts say that the price of solar panels will continue to drop as more innovations roll in. So, you can expect these devices to cost even less in the years to come.

In addition, solar PV power has become cheaper than other types of fossil fuel sources. Even without subsidies, you can save more with solar energy.

Diving Deeper Into Solar Panel Cost

As you’ve noticed, there’s a $25,000 difference in the average cost of solar modules. Aside from the size of your home and the number of panels you need, where you’ll install them also affects the price. You also need to account for the specific type of panel you want to get for your home.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these cost-driving factors below.

Total System Size

The more panels you buy, the higher your overall initial overhead expenses will be.

At the same time, the more modules you invest in, the more sunlight you can convert into electricity. That’s more “free” energy that you can use to power your home.

Besides, investing in a PV system takes you one step closer to making your home greener. Aside from being better for the environment, a green home is also healthier.

Moreover, many homebuyers now prefer green homes, which often include solar PV installations. If you decide to sell your home, your PV system may help boost its resale value.

PV Panel Type

The answer to your question, “how much are solar panels?” also depends on the specific type of PV module you’ll get. There are three main types: thin-film, polycrystalline, and monocrystalline.

Thin-film modules cost the least, but they also produce the least solar power. That’s why you’d need more of them to compensate for their lack of energy generation power.

Monocrystalline panels are the most expensive, but they have the highest conversion rate. That’s because these modules have pure silicon crystal cells. It’s also thanks to their construction that they require the least amount of space.

In between these two are the polycrystalline PV panels.

Polycrystalline panels generate more power than thin-film, so they also cost more. They do cost less than monocrystalline, as they use cut silicon instead of pure crystals. However, that also means they produce less power than the monocrystalline kind.

Set-Up Location

Where exactly you’ll install the panels will also influence the cost of your PV system.

For instance, if you want to set up the panels on the roof, you may have to alter your roofing system first. Depending on the condition of your roof, it may not be able to support the extra weight of the modules.

After all, an average 60-cell solar module weighs around 40 pounds. If you were to install ten panels, that would sum up to about 400 pounds of extra weight! So, unless you have a strong, sturdy, and stable roof, then you need to get your roof fixed or updated first.

Bringing Down the Cost of PV Installation

If you set up your solar PV system this 2020, you may qualify for a federal tax incentive. For starters, there’s the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). With this, you can get a 26% tax incentive, so long as your PV installation starts this December 31, 2020.

Installations that commence after this date (up to December 31, 2021) will only have a 22% ITC. The program will expire after this date unless the government renews it.

Aside from the ITC, your state (or even your city) may also have their very own solar incentive programs. The City of Glendale in California, for instance, has a cash-based incentive to go solar.

With that said, be sure to check with your city or state government. You may be able to qualify for one or more programs that can help cut your solar PV installation costs.

Harness the Power of the Sun Now

There you have it, the ultimate guide that answers your question, “how much are solar panels for home?” Now that you have an idea, it’s time to start doing the math. Better yet, have a solar PV installer assess your home to help you determine the costs of your project.

What’s crucial is to commence your installation before the year ends. This way, you can still take advantage of that 26% tax incentive.

Looking for more solar PV-related guides like this? Then be sure to check out this post we have on making the most out of residential solar panels!

Samantha Gaines wrote this article on behalf of Free Up. Free Up this the fastest-growing freelance marketplace in the US. Free Up only accepts the top 1% of freelance applicants. Click here to get access to the top freelancers in the world.


Stamford Advocate and Hearst partners may earn revenue when readers click affiliate links in this article.


July 16, 2020 susan ward