how much are solar panels
By now you’ve heard plenty of talk about how clean energy is the future of electrical power. You may have even considered putting solar cells on your own roof. But how much are solar panels? The potential expenses worry a lot of homeowners who are otherwise on board with being energy independent and putting an end to their reliance on fossil fuels. The answer to how much solar costs is somewhat complex -- but the overall trends are promising. Many states, including California, are promoting the addition of solar panels on all new homes. In fact: California will mandate that most new residential properties have solar panels as of 2020. The price of solar will be baked into the sale price of those homes. For the rest of us, there is still good news about how much solar costs now and what the costs are likely to be looking forward. Let’s break down some of the things that affect the costs of solar panels in the current market and what the future looks like. How Demand is Changing the Game Solar power is nothing new. Believe it or not, it dates back to the 1800s in California (though a PV panel was a long way out). In the 1970s, activists including Jane Fonda promoted solar as an alternative to energy monopolies. While solar has enjoyed popularity among environmentalists for a long time, logistics like funding and efficiency kept it out of the mainstream. Fossil fuels have had a stronghold on the grid for a very long time. The demand for solar, however, has seen a noticeable spike in the 21st century. Including for the average homeowner. According to data from Statistica, global demand for solar energy has jumped dramatically in the last 11 years. In 2007, there was a need for just 2.5 gigawatts of solar energy worldwide. By 2018, the demand for solar has reached a whopping 86 gigawatts. The company projects that by 2022, the global demand for solar power energy will reach more than 110 gigawatts. That’s a lot of green energy power! An increase in demand translates to more efficient manufacturing. This, in turn, can lower the costs of PV panels for the average consumer. As the head of the Solar Energy Technologies Office in the U.S. Department of Energy explains, solar accounted for just 0.01% of the U.S. electricity supply in 2006 but that figure reached 1.5% by the end of 2017. She explains that an increased availability of solar and lowered costs have allowed solar to turn a corner -- and predicts the trend will continue. How Solar Storage Makes Clean Energy Affordable Solar panels only capture energy when the sun is out, but that doesn’t mean you’re in the dark when the sun goes down. Solar energy can be stored and used later. When you have batteries onsite, your home will pull from saved energy when the sun isn’t out. Some batteries have enough storage to power your home for days or weeks if it’s particularly cloudy (though panels can still collect up to 25% of their regular energy even when cloud cover exists). Perhaps best of all, solar batteries mean your lights will still be on if there is a blackout in the community. But how does storage factor into solar costs? The advent of batteries for home solar has grown the potential for the industry. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s 2017 report regarding expected U.S. energy trends, “the availability of low-cost battery storage can significantly alter the expected buildout and operation of the grid.” If the costs of batteries continue to fall, solar will become even more accessible to all parts of the country and drive down costs per unit. How Laws and Tax Codes Affect Cost Answering the question “How much are solar panels?” also requires an evaluation of government tax credits and local laws. As of 2018, an extension of the federal Solar Tax Credit means homeowners can deduct up to 30% of the costs of their solar panel system from their next year’s tax returns. This offsets a considerable amount of the cost to buy and install a solar system! In future years, the amount of the credit is slated to taper off. By 2022, only commercial property owners will still get a tax credit for installing a new system. Of course, a new tax credit could always be implemented to create an incentive for residential homeowners to add solar panels to their property. Your local laws may also help dictate the ultimate cost of solar panels for your home. While states like Hawaii and California offer incentives like property tax exemptions and net metering for homeowners who go solar, some states are not seeing the light. The residents of Georgia, for instance, where solar is otherwise thriving, only have access to the federal tax credit. As more lawmakers see the potential in clean energy for their economy and energy efficiency -- the net cost to consumers could begin to drop for people in every state. How Different Solar Cells Could Impact Price You might think a solar panel is a solar panel… but you would be wrong! There are different types of PV panels, and the type of panel you choose could ultimately inform how much you pay for solar. What’s more, as innovation delivers even more options, future costs of solar could continue to decline. As for what is on the market today, there are two primary types of solar panels. A third type, thin-film solar cells, are currently less efficient and often take up too much space to be used on a residential roof. They are quite affordable, so if you have the space you may want to consider them. For most folks, if you’re looking for solar at home you’ll probably choose between: Monocrystalline panels: To make these panels, pure silicon is cut into bars and then cut into wafers. Because they use single-crystal silicon, they are more efficient than other panels. The solar energy that is collected has a lot of room to move around. This type of panel is more expensive than its counterpart, but you’re rewarded with the need for fewer panels. Polycrystalline panels: A polycrystalline panel is created using fragments of multiple bits of silicon to make the wafers. More crystals means less energy efficiency, but you’ll also pay less for these panels than for monocrystalline panels. If you have room for more panels, you can reduce your costs by going with polycrystalline solar cells. The long and short of solar panel options is that as efficiency becomes greater, the costs of all panels will likely decline. Remember how much a laptop used to cost? As tiny processors became the norm, the cost for all units reaped the benefits. How Solar Panel Lifespan Changes Cost Outlook Solar panels manufactured after 2000 only degrade at a rate of about 0.4% per year. That means after 20 years, your solar panels will still operate at 92% of their original capacity. Why does this matter? A single set of solar panels can survive for your entire tenure in the property -- and beyond. The panels will remain valuable to the next buyer, and still increase the value of your home even if they are not brand new. In the long term, this retained value ultimate cuts down on the cost of the solar panels per year. When you factor in how much you’ll save on energy costs, you’re bound to net a profit. Regular maintenance aside, your solar panels costs are extremely limited after the system is installed. Has all of this talk about solar got you curious? Maybe it’s time to get serious about turning to solar at home. Installing solar panels on your roof gives you energy independence and can set off a chain reaction in your neighborhood. It’s true: If you get solar panels, your neighbors are more likely to do the same. Contact Semper Solaris today to learn more about the costs of installing solar on your home. There’s no pressure. Let’s have a conversation about the costs of solar and how panels can fit into your lifestyle.
Going solar is not just a popular trend — as of 2020, California is requiring most new home builds to include solar panels (also called PV panels). Solar creates jobs, uses clean energy, and saves homeowners big time on their long-term costs. Semper Solaris is also inviting veterans to become a part of our workforce — a whopping 11.1% of people working in solar are veterans! But how much are solar panels really worth to homeowners who will have to install their own systems after they move in? As it turns out, quite a lot! We’ll look into finding out how installing PV panels on your home will not only increase your property value, but pay for itself by way of monthly energy savings and additional income. Solar Panels and Home Value The addition of solar panels tends to add significant value to a home. At least one study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBL) shows that you don’t even have to live in a bright southwestern state to reap financial rewards from solar panels. In California, homeowners will see about a $4 increase for every watt of solar power installed, but homes in other states still see a $3/watt increase in value on average. To put it another way, a homeowner in California can instantly increase their home equity by $20,000 by putting in 5,000 watts of solar power. You may also increase the value of your home by leasing a solar panel system rather than buying, though not all buyers will want to take on a lease responsibility. But does this value really last? If you’re in your forever home it’s normal to be concerned that the immediate value of your solar panels will wear off only to be replaced by high maintenance costs, or that within a few years your solar panels won’t harness the same amount of energy. The news is good in this department, too. Over the life of your homeownership, EnergySage estimates that you can save about $20,000 over the course of 20 years with just energy savings alone. Combined that will the surge in your home’s value, and you can realize a big return even if you don’t sell your home soon while the PV panels are brand new. Lifespan of a Solar Panel But, how long will your solar panels last? If you live in your home for 25 years, should you expect them to go kaput? While the average warranty on a solar panel is 20 years -- that doesn’t mean their life expectancy is exactly two decades. According to a meta-analysis of solar studies conducted by The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, solar panels may be effective for far longer than previously thought. Most estimates of PV panels predicted that after 20 years, solar panels would still produce 80% of the energy that they did in the beginning. What the analysis by NREL found was that this figure is wrong -- which is actually promising for homeowners. PV panels have been performing well beyond expectations! In fact, the degradation rate for PV panels is just 0.4% per year for panels manufactured after 2000 (and only 0.5% for older panels) and not the 1% per year that had been assumed. What that means is that after 20 years, you can expect your solar panels to operate at 92% of the original power. The improved degradation rate figure benefits you in a few ways. First, it increases the value for you as a long-term homeowner. You will continue to enjoy lower utility costs for many years. Slow degradation also means that when you sell your home you can promise the future owner -- in good conscience -- that the PV panels will continue to yield financial benefit. Selling Energy to Local Grids The value of your PV panels lies not just in an increase in home value and reduced utility bills, but also in their potential for earning you a monthly check from your energy company. If you’re in one of the 40 states that allow net metering, you could earn a monthly check by sending your unused energy credits back to the utility company. How does this work exactly? Your PV panels collect energy from the sun, even when your lights are all off and you’re not at home. If you use other energy saving techniques, such as energy efficient appliances, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to use all of the energy your panels capture. The solar energy is stored on the local energy grid, and you draw from it each time you start using power. Solar power is stored and utilized in kilowatt-hours (kWh) units. You’re only billed for your net energy use. That is, you’re not billed for the gross amount of energy that is generated at by your panels using the regional grid, only what you actually use. This scheme typically results in 20-40% of your energy being sent to the grid -- and you’ll be financially compensated. Excess energy is used by the utility company for other customers. Net metering payments have no expiration period. Meaning an energy company won’t stop buying back your energy units once the PV panels reach a certain age or once you’ve maxed out on a finite number of kWh. Even after a few years, you can continue to take advantage of net metering so long as it remains legal in your area. Selling Solar Panels If you decide you don’t want to keep your PV panels you can sell them so long as you own the panels and are not leasing. Just as if you were selling a used appliance or hot water heater, you will likely sell the panels at a reduced cost. Some companies specialize in purchasing used PV panels, or you can advertise your panels and accept the best honor. Their worth will depend on how much power they continue to generate and their general condition. Keeping up with regular maintenance, such as proper cleaning that avoids scratching the panels while removing smog residue or other dirt. How Much are Solar Panels Worth in the End? Deciding whether solar panels are a good investment for your home depends on myriad factors. They are typically a good financial decision, and they allow you to reap the benefits of energy independence. As you weight whether to get PV panels installed at home, here are some things to consider: Does your state allow you to use net metering and make money by selling back your energy? In California, you are able to use net metering if your system’s peak output is 1,000 kW or less. You must apply and receive approval from your utility company to take advantage of net metering. How long will you be in your home? If you’re only having solar panels installed to increase the home’s value, you won’t realize as great a financial return as if you stay in the home and reduce utility costs over the course of many years. Do you have tax incentives available for installing solar panels and other green energy initiatives at home? The federal investment tax credit (ITC) lets you deduct 30% of the cost of solar installation from your taxes the following year. Some states also offer additional incentives for going solar. Is your roof ideal for solar panels? You may want to consider a roof replacement if the current tiles are not in good condition. If your roof is heavily shaded by trees, consider trimming them back to allow more direct sunlight onto the PV panels. How much are solar panels worth in the long haul? Given their potential to improve your home’s resale value and the ability to slash your energy costs, they can be worth quite a lot. Aside from their financial benefit, solar panels are also worth a lot in regards to improving your way of life. Installing PV panels at home is an investment that frees you from dependence on fossil fuels and reduces your negative footprint on the environment. You’re also helping to create jobs in one of the most promising energy markets in the world! If you’re ready to get serious about adding solar panels to your home, it’s time to schedule a free energy analysis with Semper Solaris! There’s no pressure and we’ll never send you any spam. Contact us today for more information.
The first question almost every homeowner wants to know when they’re thinking about going solar is – how much are solar panels? A solar power system is a big investment, and cost can be a deciding factor for many homeowners. Solar power system costs will depend on a number of aspects, including the size of the system, the solar panel brand, and where you live. Why does location matter? Which states are the cheapest to go solar, and which are the most expensive? Let’s take a look at how state policies affect solar costs and where California lands on the solar cost spectrum. How Much Are Solar Panels in California? California is known as “The Golden State,” but it could just as easily be dubbed “The Solar Panel State.” California is the number one solar state in the country, producing enough solar energy in 2016 to power almost five million homes. Since California loves solar so much, you’d think that the cost of a solar system in the state would be among the lowest in the country. You’d be wrong. According to SolarReviews.com, the average cost of a 5kw (kilowatt) system in the United States is $10,800 after taking the federal tax incentive into consideration. (In this article, we’ll stick with the 5kw size in order to maintain consistency when comparing costs.) How does California stack up against the average? The average cost of a 5kw system in California with the tax incentive is $11,130. That places California above average for solar costs when compared to other states. Not exactly something California homeowners want to see! In contrast, the three cheapest solar states are: Georgia: $9,730 for a 5kw system Arkansas: $9,940 for a 5kw system Alabama: $10,150 for a 5kw system Of course, things could be worse for California residents. The two most expensive solar states are: Hawaii: $11,970 for a 5kw system Connecticut: $11,830 for a 5kw system What is behind these big pricing disparities in solar power system costs? Why does it cost almost $1,500 MORE to install the same sized system in California than it does in Georgia? The answer, it turns out, has to do with wages, living standards, and the specific rules and regulations in each state. Worker Wages If you or a close friend or family member owns a business, then you know that one of the most significant costs for almost every company is employee salaries and hourly wages. Solar panel installation companies are no different. A successful solar panel installation company relies on a big team of people, including installation specialists, site survey technicians, warehouse technicians, customer service representatives, office managers, and more. Each of these people represents a big investment by the company. And throughout the United States wages vary greatly. For example, California’s statewide minimum wage in 2018 is $11.00 an hour, one of the highest state minimum wages in the country. Additionally, local cities can set their own minimum wage. Two of the top five cities with the highest minimum wage in the country are in California: Oakland at $12 an hour and San Francisco at $15 an hour. Unsurprisingly, the minimum wage in Hawaii and Connecticut is also relatively high at $10.10 an hour for both states. How about the three cheapest solar states: Georgia, Arkansas, and Alabama? Of the three, only Arkansas has a state minimum wage above the federal minimum wage at $8.50 an hour. Employees in Georgia and Alabama must rely on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Average Household Income Minimum wage is only one factor to take into consideration in understanding solar cost differences between states. Many of the workers employed at solar installation companies have specialized skills. When the job market is incredibly tight, as it is right now (the unemployment rate in April 2018 was 3.9%), employers have to pay more to keep good employees. These employees expect to be paid a salary that is in line with norms for their area. Median salaries, like minimum wages, are drastically different across the country. Anyone who has lived in California for any length of time knows that the cost of living is high in our state. As a result, incomes also tend to be higher than average. The median income in California is $64,500. It’s even higher in the most expensive solar states. In both Hawaii and Connecticut, the median income is over $70,000. Contrast that with our cheapest solar states. In Georgia, the median income is just over $50,000. It’s less than $45,000 in both Arkansas and Alabama. In high cost-of-living states, like California, Hawaii, and Connecticut, employers have to pay their employees more in order to stay competitive and build a great team. These costs and are often passed, in part, onto customers. While this may mean more money out of your pocket if you invest in solar panels in California, Hawaii, or Connecticut, here’s a better way of thinking about it. The extra money you’re paying goes into the paychecks of the people installing the solar panels on your roof so that they can afford to live and raise their families in your town. This is why we always encourage homeowners to work with a local installation company. Keep your dollars in your community! Licensing Requirements Licensing requirements also vary from state to state and can affect how much solar panels are in your state. In some states, solar installers must get a separate, specialized solar contractor’s license, which requires additional costs. In other states, solar installers must have certain voluntary certifications in order to qualify for local incentive programs. California requires solar installation companies to have a contractor’s license, such as the C-46 Solar Contractors License as well as specialty licenses for PV and solar thermal installation. Contractors must also maintain their license by investing in ongoing training and education, which requires time and money. Not every state demands such strict requirements. For example, Georgia does not require solar contractors to hold any state licenses, and solar companies are not regulated by the state licensing board. This means that anyone in Georgia can call themselves a solar installation company and install panels on your roof. Sure, the cost of solar panels in California may be higher than in Georgia, but at Semper Solaris, we think our customers appreciate the fact that fully trained and licensed contractors are working on their roof! Solar Panels Are an Investment Some California homeowners get a bad case of sticker shock when they find out how much solar panels are, especially compared to other states. Our hope is that this article explains where those extra costs come from. The extra costs you pay go, in large part, right into the paychecks of the company’s workers so that they can earn a fair wage. Additionally, some costs are used to maintain the contractor’s training and education so that they can remain fully licensed. We think those are good investments and hope you do too. At Semper Solaris, we recognize that solar panels are a significant investment for many of our customers. We do our best to mitigate these costs by offering special discounts, including savings for veterans and first responders. We also offer multiple finance options, including zero-down financing. Don’t let the cost of a solar panel system scare you away from solar. Solar panels will save you money in the long run by cutting your energy bill costs. Ready to learn more about your options? Schedule a free energy analysis of your home today!
If you’re ready to buy solar panels for your home, there are a few questions you should ask. While you are indeed making the smart decision to go solar, you still need to do your due diligence in order to make this transition to renewable energy a successful one. From questions that can help reinforce your choice to switch to solar and understanding exactly what solar energy can be used for, to finalizing the details of costs, installation and which solar panels you should buy—there’s a lot to know about installing a solar power system. Here are five crucial questions you should be asking before installing a home solar power system - with answers to match - so you can go solar with full confidence. 1. Why go solar? There’s a long list of benefits to going solar that should make you feel comfortable in changing your home energy source. For starters, using solar energy reduces your carbon footprint. Unlike fossil fuels and gas, solar is considered a clean source of energy, meaning it doesn’t pollute the air with harmful emissions. So, while you’re doing good for the environment, what’s in it for you? The bottom line is, going solar will save you money in the long run. Based on the average household electricity usage, solar energy has been shown to save $10k - $30k over a course of 20 years, when compared to what’d you pay for a traditional electric bill. Furthermore, you will never have to deal with unpredictable electricity bills again. Once you have a system installed, the cost of solar energy is fixed and free, since you are essentially getting power from a free energy source (the sun, that is). 2. What can solar energy be used for? Solar panels for home energy can be utilized in a multitude of ways. The primary use most people think of is using the energy collected from your panels to power everything in your house, from the electricity to the heating and cooling. Here’s how it works: The solar panels installed on your roof capture particles of sunlight (aka, photons). These photons are then converted into electrons of direct current electricity. This current then flows through a solar power system that converts it to alternating current power, which is the type of electricity that comes from the wall outlet that connects to your TV, computer, lamps and kitchen appliances. On top of solar panels providing your home with electricity, you can also opt to heat your water through a solar collector that heats water directly or via a “working fluid” that is used to heat water. 3. How much are solar panels going to cost? It’s easy to ask the question, how much do solar panels cost? But when it comes to solar systems, they are not one-size fits all, and an easy answer isn’t always easy to find with a quick Google search. That’s because there are many factors that come into play when determining how much solar panels will cost to install. The size of your home and the amount of electricity needed to power it are the major factors in determining many of the initial costs. To give you a rough idea, this 2018 year, homeowners will pay between $2.71 to $3.57 per watt to install solar, with the average U.S. system calling for 5000 watts. What it boils down to is around $9,485 to $12,495 (after tax credits) for a total system. Don’t be alarmed by these numbers because we’ve seen solar systems pay for themselves relatively quickly. If you’re looking at it from a big-picture perspective, the tax credits you get for going solar and the overall amount of utility savings make the actual value of the panels great. They will pay for themselves and even help you save money over time. For an exact idea of how much solar panels will cost for your home, we’ll give you a free energy analysis that can determine exactly how much energy your home needs and how many panels should be installed. 4. What are the best solar panels for my home? When it comes to installing solar panels on your home, you want to make sure they are the most efficient on the market. The top-rated solar panels, according to SolarReviews, is Enphase Energy. These ratings are based on homeowner reviews, but keep in mind that you should also consider your specific energy-saving goals and how much you're willing to invest upfront. Getting the most trusted name in solar panels is key to ensuring satisfaction in your switch to home solar energy and that’s exactly what our team at Semper Solaris looks for in solar panel manufacturers. 5. Who are the best solar providers near me? While using the best panels the solar industry has to offer is a must, choosing the right solar energy system provider to install them is just as important. You want to look for a company that has had proven experience and expertise in the solar roofing field. Word-of-mouth can be one of the best ways to find out who does solar in your area. You can also opt to do a quick internet search. From the list of providers that pop up, be sure to do your research. We recommend looking for testimonials from homeowners that have used that company’s services. You also want to make sure that you receive personal attention from the solar company you choose to hire. Open communication between contractor and customer builds trust. Knowing that your solar needs are the top priority for the company you are working with will help to keep your mind at ease while you are installing your new system. If you reside in California, Semper Solaris provides solar power services up and down the state, installing only the best solar panels for homes. Making the decision to go solar is a big one that can lead to endless benefits in home energy usage. Understanding what exactly solar energy can power in your home along with the kind of financial investment it will take, can inform your decision on what solar panels to buy and have installed on your home roof.