Solar Panel Cost Calculator

How much do solar panels cost? Our solar calculator takes a few key pieces of information (your location and current energy consumption) and estimates what size system you might need to zero out your electric bill.

Which type of system are you buying?


off grid power storage cabin house
Off-Grid Solar
I have NO access to the utility grid. My primary goal is to live where the grid is NOT accessible.
Click to go to Off-Grid Calculator.

Select Grid-Tie Option

Not sure? Check out our Getting Started Guide.

Enter your zip code.

Enter your ZIP code to get started. We’ll look up the cost of electricity and average energy usage in your area, and populate those values on this form.

Enter your monthly energy usage.

The default value is based on the average energy consumption in the United States. Make sure to enter your own usage to get an accurate estimate.

monthly kwh use bill
You can find this information on your latest electric bill.

Verify your cost of electricity.

The default rate (13 cents per kilowatt-hour) is based on average cost of electricity in the United States. Feel free to find the rate on your power bill and enter it here.

cost for kwh on electric bill
You can find this information on your latest electric bill.

How much of your power bill would you like to offset?

Most people want to offset 100% of their power bill for maximum savings. However, you can always start with a smaller system and expand later.


Are you claiming the Federal Tax Credit?

When you install your solar system, 26% of your project expenses apply toward a credit to offset any taxes you owe that year. This federal tax credit is a major incentive to go solar, but it is being phased out by 2022.

Most people are eligible to claim this credit (you must owe federal taxes to be eligible).

Your results:

Affordable DIY Solar vs Expensive "Turnkey" Solutions

"Turnkey" installation options are convenient, but you’ll pay an unnecessary premium, especially on labor (typically higher than the equipment itself!). These costs will severely delay your payback period.

Most people don’t realize DIY solar is an option, and that you can save thousands buying direct from a supplier like Wholesale Solar, then installing yourself or with help from a local contractor.

Estimated System Size & Utility Savings

Estimated System Size*:

Estimated Utility Savings:

Added Battery Storage Expenses:

Solar energy battery storage solutions are invaluable for emergency power backup during utility outages or shutdown. However, battery storage has the highest cost impact to any solar energy system and is a major expense impacting results here.

Comparison: Big Solar vs Wholesale Solar

InstallerEstimated System Cost*Average System Payback Period
Big National Installers:
Large Regional Installers:
Wholesale Solar (DIY):
*Includes 26% Federal Tax Credit
*Includes Additional Cost for Battery Storage

Big Solar = High Costs & Low Returns

High Costs:

Long Payback Period (ROI):

Wholesale Solar's DIY Solar Savings

Estimated System Cost*:

Average System Payback Period:

*Includes 26% Federal Tax Credit
*Includes Additional Cost for Battery Storage

Estimated System Size:

Estimated Utility Savings:

Savings Summary:

Not sure if DIY Solar is for you? No problem! We’ve been helping DIYers like you since 2002 and have one of the largest Solar Information Resource portals on the internet.

Important Disclosures on Calculator Results:

Estimated Solar Costs for national and regional installers are based on industry price studies, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, or NREL (https://www.nrel.gov) and published competitive price/watt data from major solar advertisers such as Tesla, Sunrun® and others.

Please note, prices can vary widely depending on promotions, location, tax credits, local incentives and other factors. Wholesale Solar offers these results as an example average savings of DIY Solar solutions over turnkey offers from national and regional installation companies.

Estimated Utility Savings is based on an average 25 year manufacturer warranty on solar panels (ie, your current utility costs over a 25 year period). Please note: Most utility companies raise their average cost per watt annually, so your estimated utility savings will likely be much higher than estimated here.

Estimated Payback Period is the time it takes for energy savings and incentives (such as the Federal Tax Credit) to pay off your initial investment into your system (and labor if using a "turnkey" installer). We divide your system cost by your average utility bill to get this result.

About Wholesale Solar:

Wholesale Solar does not install solar power systems and/or components. We sell system kits and equipment direct to consumers & local contractors at a substantial savings for DIY* Solar installation purposes.

*Most "grid tie" solar system installations require final hookup by a licensed electrician, and may require local permitting and inspections. Speak with our knowledgeable design techs to learn more.

Ready to take the next step?

diy solar

I'm interested in saving money by buying direct.

I want to learn more about DIY Solar.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do solar panels cost?

Solar energy cost has plummeted in the past decade. The average cost of solar panels is less than half what it was ten years ago.

As of the time we updated this page (May 2019), most solar panel prices fall in the range of 50 cents to 70 cents per watt. Premium panels can climb above $1 per watt depending on their size, quality, and where they are manufactured. Our solar panel calculator uses standard size panels to estimate the cost of your system.

How much does it cost to install solar panels?

The cost to install solar panels through a national solar installer is steep: they mark up the installation at 100-200% of the cost of equipment. A large solar installer might charge up to $30,000 to install a system you could get for $10,000 from a distributor.

Your solar panel installation cost depends on how much work you are willing to take on yourself. To keep project costs low, consider buying your system directly from a distributor and performing a DIY installation (or bringing in a local contractor to help out).

If you choose the DIY solar route, we have instructional videos and a brilliant tech support team to walk you through the process. Some people spend less than $1000 installing their own system (labor costs included).

Even if you hire a local contractor, they’ll charge you somewhere between 75 cents and a dollar per watt. They’d install the system above for around $6000-7000, which is less than half the amount you’d pay to a turnkey installer.

What size solar system do I need?

That’s why you’re here! Our solar power calculator takes the information you provide about your energy usage patterns and returns our best guess about how much solar energy you might need to generate.

We must stress that this is just an estimate. Several more factors will impact your efficiency, like shade, roof material, temperature, mount angle, and so on.

While we provide the most accurate figure we can, it’s impossible to provide an exact number until we know every detail about your project. Consult with a solar design technician to build a system that accounts for the inefficiencies and obstacles unique to your project.

Is solar energy a sound investment?

It usually is. Between the tax incentives and the reduction of your energy bill, you tend to earn more money over the life of the system than you spent on it up front.

Here’s a simple way to approximate your solar ROI (return on investment):

  • Start with your estimated system price, which this calculator provides you.
  • Divide that number by the cost of electricity from your local utility company. The national average is $0.13 per watt, but that can fluctuate dramatically. A Google search for “electricity rates (your location)” will likely surface your local rate.
  • Divide the result by your annual electricity usage in kilowatt hours. You entered your monthly usage in step two; multiply that number by 12 to get a rough estimate of your yearly usage.

All done? You should have a one- or two-digit number. That number is your payback period, measured in years. That’s the time it takes to break even on the initial investment in your system.

Here’s a concrete example, using national averages for energy rates and consumption:

$10,000 system price ÷ $0.13/kWh ÷ 10932 kWh/year = 7.04 Years

Most solar panels are warrantied for 25 years. You can divide the final number (in this case, 7.04) into 25 to calculate the total payoff of your investment into solar. In this case, our example system would pay for itself 3.55 times over the warrantied life of the system.

How Does the Federal Tax Credit Work?

When you install a solar power system, the federal government rewards you with a tax credit for investing in solar energy.

A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of the income tax you owe. $1 credit = $1 less you pay in taxes.

For example, let’s say you owe $5,000 in federal taxes this year. If you claim a $3,000 tax credit, that pays off part of your liability. You would be left to pay just $2,000 in taxes after the credit is applied.

It’s different than a refund, because you have to owe taxes to claim the incentive. But since most people owe taxes, most people end up being eligible.

Check out this video or read our article explaining the tax credit to learn more.