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.
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.
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 (September 2018), most solar panel prices fall in the range of 70 cents to $1 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.
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.
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.
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):
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 ÷ $0.12/kWh ÷ 10932 kWh/year = 7.62 Years
Most solar panels are warrantied for 25 years. You can divide the final number (in this case, 7.62) into 25 to calculate the total payoff of your investment into solar. In this case, our example system would pay for itself 3.28 times over the warrantied life of the system.
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.