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Until money starts growing on trees, every purchase we make, big or small, will be driven by the cost. We spend time examining the cost versus the benefits and debate whether the purchase will put us in a better spot.


Investing in solar energy is no different. It’s critical that you weigh the cost versus the benefits that it will provide you. The first step to finding out if solar is an option for you is gaining an understanding of the cost. This blog is a guide to help you determine the potential cost of installing your solar system.


What Does A Solar Panel Cost?

There are many options when it comes to selecting solar panels for your system. Each of these options come with a different price tag. The options are:

  • The type of panel - polycrystalline (lower efficiency, but more budget-friendly) vs. monocrystalline (higher efficiency, but fewer panels and space is needed)
  • The size of the panel (power output)
  • The brand (tier 1 manufacturer versus tier 2 or 3)


The cost of solar panels continues to drop thanks to product improvements and manufacturing efficiencies. As of January 2019, the average cost for solar panels is as follows:

  • Polycrystalline panels - $0.40 - $0.60 per watt
  • Monocrystalline panels - $0.60 - $0.90 per watt

*The most common size panel is 330 watts.



Other Costs to Consider When Going Solar

We discussed the cost of a solar panel in the paragraph above, but there is much more that goes into the final cost of a solar electric system. A complete system has panels, inverters, wiring, and racking. Each solar system is custom to meet the owner’s needs, which means the type of components and the quantity needed will vary based on the system’s final design.


These are the factors that will impact the final price of your solar system:

  • The energy consumption that needs to be covered
  • Type of installation - roof mount or ground mount
  • Roof type - metal, shingle, or flat
  • The type (string, micro or power optimizers), brand, and quantity of your inverters
  • Shading and weather patterns in your local area
  • Interconnection cost - This will vary based on your local utility company. There are also costs that will vary based on the distance of the system to your interconnection point


Check out this blog for a more detailed look at each of these factors.


The Cost For Installing a Complete Solar Power System

The good news is the cost of solar continues to decrease. According to a recent report by NREL, the price for residential and commercial solar has dropped 61.3% since 2010, and it continues to decrease as processes and equipment increase in efficiency.


The average total install cost of a solar system in the mid-Atlantic region was $2.19 per watt as of January 2019. This is the average from both residential and commercial installations. The per watt price will decrease the larger the system is, and likewise, the price will typically go up for smaller systems. Are you considering waiting for pricing to continue to drop?  Don’t! Now is the time to go solar. The Investment Tax Credit of 26% decrease to 22% at the end of the year.  



Average Monthly
Electric Bill
Solar System Size Total Installed Cost
(Before Incentives)
Cost After Incentives
$60 5 kW (16 330W panels) $20,610 $15,251
$120 10 kW (32 330W panels) $30,600 $22,644
$600 50 kW (157 330W panels) $112,500 $83,250
$1,200 100 kW (438 330W panels) $211,300 $156,362
$2,400 200 kW (556 330W panels) $389,500 $288,230




The Avoided Cost of a Solar Energy Investment

It’s important to consider the avoided costs of a solar investment. If you have a monthly electric bill of $150, you will save over $30,000 in payments to your electric company and nearly $9,000 in taxes with the Federal Solar Tax Credit. Likewise, a $575 average monthly electric bill will save $172,349 on their electric and $32,400 in taxes. Plus, businesses can take advantage of accelerated depreciation the year the system is placed into service. That’s real money that you will have to pay without solar.


  Average Monthly
Electric Bill 
Solar System Size Total Installed Cost Federal Tax Credit Depreciation  Net Cost ROI 30 Year Savings
Residential $60 5 kW  $20,610 $5,358 $0 $15,251 5.8% $6,349
Residential $120 10 kW  $30,600 $7,956 $0 $22,644 8.16% $20,556
Commercial $600 50 kW  $112,500 $29,250 $21,532 $61,717 15.47% $154,283
Commercial $1,200 100 kW  $211,300 $54,938 $40,443 $115,919 15.77% $316,081
Commercial $2,400 200 kW  $389,500 $101,270 $74,550 $213,680 17.24% $650,320


Some states provide additional grants and tax credits. Check with your installer to confirm available incentives in your region.


The costs that are listed above are averages. Although they are good for setting a reference point, your system cost could be more or less depending on your electric usage and other factors at the installation site.


Find out for sure how much your system would cost by requesting a free solar quote. This will start a simple process that will give you the tools to decide if solar is right for your home or business


Download our solar buying guide.




Andy Schell

Andy has been working in the solar industry for over three years and has completed Solar PV101 training through Solar Energy International. He serves as the Marketing Manager at Paradise Energy Solutions, working from our corporate headquarters in Paradise, PA.

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