One of the first questions anyone has when they’re considering installing solar panels is how much they’ll cost. But solar is not a one-size-fits-all option, and that can make finding an answer to that question difficult.
It’s easy to assume that houses of similar sizes would need similarly sized solar systems. However, residential solar systems aren’t based on the sizes of homes. They’re based on how much electricity these homes use (or what portion of that usage they’d like solar to cover).
So giving an accurate estimate for the cost of a solar system based solely on the size of the home would be very difficult, as there are several factors that impact the cost of a solar system.
We’ll share what those factors are, but we won’t leave you high and dry as to how much solar will cost for your home. For general estimates on solar pricing, scroll down to the bottom of this blog.
Why Solar System Prices Aren’t Determined By Home Size
An appropriate solar system for one 1,000-square-foot home may be very different from another 1,000-square-foot home. Here are a few reasons why.
While it’s often true that larger homes mean larger electric bills, it isn’t always the case. Electric bills vary, even among houses that are the same size and design.
Let’s look at an example. House A is a 1,000-square-foot home with electric heat and two people who work from home. They love to play video games and watch TV, and they run the dishwasher or laundry at least once a day.
Then, there’s House B. This one is similar in size and design, however, it is home to just one person who travels to an office for work each day. House B has gas heat, and the homeowner partakes in outdoor activities as opposed to being inside.
Both House A and B are looking to go solar, but the system each house would need is very different because House A uses more electricity than House B.
In most instances, the best size solar system for homeowners is one that produces enough electricity to fully cover what they use. A smaller system may have a longer payback. A larger system may be prohibited by the utility.
So really, a better way to ask that question is to grab your electric bill, find out what you pay on an average month, and ask “how much do solar panels cost for a $200 electric bill.” For that answer, scroll down to the next section.
The Roof Space and Material
Your solar panels will be installed either on your roof as a roof-mounted system, or somewhere on your property as a ground-mount system. Because roof-mounted systems tend to be less expensive and don’t take up room in your yard, they are often more popular. However, not all roofs can fit the same amount of solar panels - even if the house has the same square footage.
For example, a 1,000-square-foot rancher will have a very different roof than a 1,000-square-foot, two-story house. The rancher’s roof may be large enough to fit all the necessary solar panels required to cover 100% of the home’s electricity usage, whereas the two-story house may not.
This doesn’t mean the two-story house shouldn’t go solar, but the cost of the system that suits their needs will be different from the rancher’s system.
Additionally, the type of roof the system is being installed on could also have an effect on the price of your system. Solar can be securely installed on metal roofs, shingle roofs, flat roofs, and more. But the equipment and labor needed to mount your solar panels will vary depending on the roofing type.
The Roof’s Orientation and Local Weather
As a general rule of thumb, you want to install your panels in an area with the most exposure to the sun. South-facing roofs work best, but west- and east-facing roofs can be suited for solar as well. Additionally, the area should be free from shade from surrounding trees or buildings.
Another point to consider is the orientation of the roof itself. A 5 kW solar system with 16 330W panels would produce more electricity on a south-facing roof as opposed to a west- or east-facing roof. In order to make up for this lost production, a few extra panels could be added to the system, which may modestly increase the price of your solar system.
Additionally, the local weather in your area can have an impact on the size of the system you need, meaning the price can fluctuate depending on how much sunshine your area gets.
A system in the Northwest United States may require a few more panels to make up for the cloudier weather, while a solar system in the Southwest United States could produce the same amount of electricity with fewer solar panels. Despite this, solar can still be a valuable investment, even in the cloudiest areas.
Equipment Costs and Interconnection
Lastly, the choices you make regarding which equipment is installed as part of your solar system will have an impact on your system’s price. The type, quality, and brand of your solar inverters and solar panels will impact the price.
Additionally, the location of the solar system in relation to the utility interconnection can have an impact on the price of your system.
How to Really Tell What Solar Would Cost for Your Home
The best way to get a good idea of what solar would cost for your home, regardless of size, is to reach out to trusted solar installers and get competitive quotes. While a quote from Paradise Energy Solutions is always obligation-free, and our solar consultants won’t take a pushy, high-pressure sales approach, we understand you may not be ready to take that step.
While we may not be able to give you a good idea of the cost of solar panels for your home based on size, you can get a general idea based on how much electricity you use.
So grab your electric bill and take a quick look at how much free electricity for 25 - 30+ years would cost you. For help on how to read your electric bill, check out this blog.
|Solar System Size||
Total Installed Cost
|Cost After the 26% Federal Tax Credit|
|$60||5 kW (16 330W panels)||$21,870||$16,184|
|$120||10 kW (32 330W panels)||$31,900||
|$180||15 kW (48 330W panels)||$45,465||$33,644|
Keep in mind these estimates don’t take into account the intricacies of your roof, the equipment you choose, or the incentives available to you. These are just average numbers for systems installed in the mid-Atlantic region of the US.
Available Incentives and Grants
Incentives vary from state to state and utility to utility. Depending on where you live and the system you install, you likely can shave a significant portion of the costs with incentives.
One popular incentive available to many homeowners is the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Upheld by the federal government, you’ll be credited 26% of your solar system’s cost on your owed federal taxes, as long as you owe taxes and own your system, as opposed to a solar lease.
However, this incentive won’t be around forever. In 2021, it drops to a 22% credit. In 2022, this incentive goes away entirely for homeowners.
For a more accurate picture of how much money solar panels would cost for your home, along with home much money the solar system would save you, its ROI, and payback, request your free quote today.