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Naturally, one of the first questions we’re asked is how much do solar panels cost.

Unfortunately, a solar panel system is not a one-size-fits-all solution. This is a difficult question to answer without knowing your site details and other information. We discuss several variables (system size, location, equipment, etc.) below that will impact the final installation cost.

While we may not be able to provide an exact price for your particular site, this blog offers estimated numbers for the average-sized commercial and residential systems. These estimates will give you a general idea of what to anticipate as you begin researching your solar investment. 


What Goes Into The Cost of installing Solar Panels?

Selecting the Installation Method: Rooftop, Ground, or Carport

There are two main installation methods for solar: roof mounts and ground mounts. The third, less common method is a carport.

Solar-Panels-At-New-Holland-VeterinaryRoof mounts are attached to your existing roof structure. They generally cost less than ground mounts or carports due to lower labor and fewer components. 

Solar can be installed on metal, shingle, and flat roofs. Each one requires different components and varying levels of labor. Shingle roofs require a specific flashing piece to attach the panel racking to the roof. For a ribbed or standing seam metal roof, the racking is attached directly to the metal. Panels are installed on a flat roof using a ballast mount - a tray held in place by a concrete block.

Solar Panel Ground Mount at Fort Lewis Lodge In VirginiaGround mounts and carports are great options for homes and businesses without suitable roofs for solar panels. In most cases, this type of system can be installed at a location that offers optimal sunshine for the best performance. 

The trade-off is ground mounts, and certainly, carports tend to cost more than installing solar panels on your roof. This is mainly due to the increased amount of labor and the additional structure needed to hold the panels.

However, there are instances where a ground mount, being situated in the perfect location, may require fewer solar panels, ultimately balancing out the cost.

Type of Equipment You Select

Solar Panels - Where the Power Comes From

There are two basic variables with solar panels: power density and color. Power density is the amount of power that a solar panel can produce per unit of size. For example, a solar panel of the same size may produce between 300 and 400 watts, depending on the power density. Generally speaking, the more power-dense the panel, the higher the cost per watt.

Color is the other variable with solar panels. The basic panel has a blue cell, white back sheet, and silver frame.  Modules with a black frame, black back sheet, or black cell are generally more expensive.  

The different types of solar panels: Blue vs Black

Solar Inverters: The Brains of Your System

There are three types of solar inverters: String Inverters, Microinverters, and String Inverters with Power Optimizers. 

SolarEdge String Inverters At NY FarmString Inverters link solar panels together in one or multiple groups. String inverters tend to be more cost-effective than other types of inverters.

Microinverters are installed on each individual panel. Although this type of inverter has its benefits, they tend to be the most expensive type of inverter.

Power optimizers have many of the benefits of micro-inverters.  They are generally more expensive than string inverters but less expensive than micro-inverters.

Your Energy Consumption

Our goal is to design your solar panel system to offset as much of your electricity consumption as possible while ensuring the highest possible return on your investment. The higher your electricity bill is, the more solar panels, inverters, and equipment the system will require.

The Amount of Shading on Your Solar Panels

The amount of shade that a system will experience has a direct impact on the placement and quantity of solar panels. It can also impact the type of inverter that is used.

If a system is installed in an area with shading, it may require additional panels and microinverters to meet the customer’s energy coverage requirements. On the contrary, a system in full sun could produce the same amount of energy with fewer panels and string inverters.

Your Local Weather Patterns

Weather patterns in each region are different. Some locations receive more sun than others. Other regions receive more snow.  Our systems are designed using local weather data. This data will impact the system size and the necessary equipment.

The Utility Interconnection Cost

Interconnection is the process of connecting the solar system to the power grid. Each local utility has specific requirements that must be followed. Some of these requirements could impact the type of meter you need or whether transformer upgrades are required.

The interconnection cost is different for each project, depending on how much solar is already in your area, the age and strength of the equipment on your line, and the size of the solar panel system.

The Distance from the Solar Panels to the Interconnection Point

Since the power produced by the solar system must be transported to the utility meter, the farther the solar panels are from the interconnection point with the utility, the higher the installation cost will be.  This is due to the conduit installation or trenching required, as well as the size of the wire required (the farther the distance, the larger the wire is required to be).

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What Incentives Are Available for Solar Panel Installations?

When evaluating the cost of a solar panel system, it is crucial to take into account the numerous incentives available for solar panel owners. These incentives can significantly impact the overall cost and make solar panel installation a more financially viable option.

The readily available incentives for a solar system investment are:

  • Reduced monthly electric bills - that's sustainable savings that you can bank on
  • Protection from rising energy rates and independence from your utility company - You're in control
  • The 30% federal tax credit can be used to recover owed taxes from the prior three years and also carried forward 22 years for businesses and 12 years for homeowners.
  • Businesses and farms can utilize accelerated depreciation to quickly offset additional tax liability.
  • Farmers and other rural businesses may qualify for a 50% USDA Reap Grant
  • There are many local government and utility incentives
  • It’s sustainable and good for the environment

The Cost of Solar Panels For A Business

Ontario-Orchards_Solar-SystemThe average size of a commercial solar system is between 50 kW ($600/mo. electric bill) and 200 kW ($1,200/mo. electric bill). The average cost of a commercial solar system between 50 kW and 200 kW will be $135,000 to $430,000 before any tax incentives or grants are utilized. 

With the available state and federal incentives, most commercial solar owners could receive 60-90% of the system’s cost back within the first few years after energizing the solar panel system. After incentives, a business can expect to pay between $65,000 and $210,000 for a system in this size range. 

Average Electric Bill
Solar System Size
Cost Before Incentives
Federal Tax Credit
Cost After Incentives
50 kW
100 kW
200 kW

The Cost of Solar Panels For Homeowners 

Kreider_House-with-Solar_PAThe average size of a residential solar system is between 5 kW ($60/mo. electric bill) and 10 kW ($120/mo. electric bill). Solar panels for a home will cost between $25,000 and $50,000 before incentives are utilized.

After utilizing the 30% federal tax credit, homeowners can expect to pay between $18,000 and $38,000 for solar panels. 


Average Electric Bill
Solar System Size
Cost Before Incentives
Federal Tax Credit
Cost After Incentives
5 kW
10 kW
15 kW

It's important to note that these figures represent the average costs of installing a solar system on your roof (here's what it costs to install a ground-mounted solar system). The installation cost will vary depending on your specific site and requirements. 

How Much Will It Cost To Install Solar Panels At Your Home or Business?

The best way to determine the cost of your solar panel system is to request a free custom quote. With a custom quote, we will provide you with the complete installation cost, all available incentives, an ROI breakdown, and a 30-year cash flow so you know exactly what to expect.  

If you're not ready for a quote, try our solar savings calculator. Based on your location and average electric bill amount, it will provide you with the estimated installation cost, potential savings, ROI, and cash flow.  

Last updated: May 2024