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How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

The addition of a solar sytem will vary widely in its price. There are some basic factors that influence both what the customer ends up paying and the system itself; from the technology of the panels to your local climate. While many homeowners consider a generation system to be a sizable, fixed investment, many panels and components offer increased rates of efficiency with upfront costs declining - some of which, might provide the opportunity for a shorter financial recoup period.

Panels for Heating/Thermal Systems

With solar being installed for different purposes, thermal panels for heating water such as the hot water in a house should run, based on needs, in the vincinity of $900 to $3,800. Although this seems a broad range, consider that hot water requirements often comprise a large portion of the home electricity bill for many consumers.

Putting in panels for a swimming pool, on the low end, can bottom around $2,300 but easily go to $6,000 to $8,000 at the upper end.

Generating Electricity

Here, the proposed expenditure will fluctuate especially due to the size and capabilities of the system. For a small home, a $9,000 panel system making about a kilowatt is realistic to provide some of the basic needs. A two kilowatt system will rise considerable in price, easily doubling this at around $18,000. For dwellers with heavy needs however the price can surpass $50,000 to $60,000. Retrofits on existing homes depend on a number of elements like roof pitch, if it is a mount on a first or second story, the placement on the ground and whether the sysemt is off-grid or a grid-tie. Where the grid-tied system presents the chance of selling excess generation, in some cases, back to the electric company.

Those looking for a total solution, to supply all energy requirements will fall in the highest price category and certainly if they happen to reside in an aged structure, where costs can go $175,000 to over $230,000. Noting that typically most total placements cover far less than 100% of the energy.

The prices for off-grid, ground installs are among the least. These are often more practical for isolated needs, such as for a remote outbuilding, cabin, to power an emergency phone as we've all noticed along the highway, or other. There too, are more modest panels that act as a battery maintainer or trickle charger and these are relatively inexpensive by comparision, down as low as $200 to $300 and even less.

Quality & Type of Panels

The average solar photovoltaic, or PV panel, is about 12% efficient using crystalline silicone modules. Current trending though is pushing this number up with the benefit of technology, and prices should continue to fall. Possibly, in-turn, decreasing the approximate payback period of ten to fifteen years for many homeowners.

Ways to Lower Solar System Costs

  • If possible, plan for the system in a new passive home. Mounting systems onto existing homes are generally more costly and challenging.

  • Reduce the long term cost by looking for multiple warranties including an output warranty and a factory warranty on the system, thereby minimizing potential downtime and repair costs.

  • Some outfits offer lease as well as a purchase option. Under certain scenarios, evaluating lease vs outright purchase makes sense. Some dealers also offer 0% financing for promoting certain systems.

  • Check out Federal tax credits on residential solar/electric generation and whether they continue in force. Set at 30% to 2019, which is scaled off in 2020 at 26% and then 22% for the following year, dropping to 10% in 2022.

  • Investigate tax abatements for Green Buildings (renewables/efficiency), the borrowing at low interest rates via HIP (Home Improvement Program), energy efficiency rates through power companies and other federal, state and local incentives and grants. For more information see DSIRE.

  • Utilize SREC's = Solar Renewable Energy Credits - register the system to receive SREC's for generating electricity at intervals of 1000 kwh based on the state, to be traded or bought by power utilies.

  • Monitoring the system can help with the efficiency of the system.

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