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CostHelper > Home and Garden  > Electrical, HVAC & Energy Efficiency > Solar Panels

Solar Panels Cost


How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

 
 average costMedium: Varies Based on Project 

Most solar systems work alongside existing power lines, and can be used to heat water, provide light, heat the air in a home or generate electricity.

Typical costs:

  • Installing a solar-powered swimming pool heater ranges from $2,500-$7,000, but averages $3,000-$4,000. Extremely low operating costs will repay that expense in 1.5-7 years, depending on local fuel prices. Solar pool heating is the most cost-effective use of solar energy for many climates, according to the US Department of Energy, which gives a detailed description of solar pool heaters and selection tips.
  • Solar-powered home water heaters cost $1,000-$3,500 (including installation) but have extremely low monthly operating costs and can be used in any climate, according to the US Department of Energy.
  • The cost for a solar heating system can vary widely. A simple do-it-yourself window air heater collector to heat one room can be made for several hundred dollars. Depending on the type, size and configuration, having a contractor install a complex system to heat several rooms or an entire house can be $25,000-$100,000 or more. The most cost-effective solar heating systems usually provide 40-80% of a home's heating needs; it's often impractical to supply 100 percent of the heat needed and most building codes and mortgage lenders require a back-up heating system, according to the US Department of Energy.
  • To provide electrical power, a small-scale solar energy system producing about 1 kilowatt costs $10,000-$15,000, and provides a fraction of the average home use; a 2 kW system meeting most of the power needs of an energy-efficient home is $16,000-$20,000; and a 5 kW system providing all the energy needs of most conventional homes runs $35,000-$45,000. Prices vary based on building and system configuration, the type of equipment selected and other factors. Generally it costs less to install a system in a new home rather than remodeling an existing one, although it can be practical to install a solar system while replacing the roof.
  • Completely remodeling a traditional non-energy-efficient home to convert it to all-solar-systems (lights, heat, water and electricity) can run $100,000-$200,000 or more and is rarely done on older houses.
Related articles: Home Addition, Vinyl Siding

What should be included:
  • The Department of Energy describes different types of solar systems, with selection tips.
  • Many solar modules now look similar to roof shingles, blending in with a home's exterior; This Old House[1] gives an overview.
  • Generally, large solar systems are better suited to warmer climates with a high solar fraction, which is the typical percentage of daylight hours with a cloudless sky. The Southwestern US typically has a solar fraction of 80 percent; in the Northeastern US it's about 50 percent.
  • Check with your local building department; usually a permit is required to install a solar heating or energy system, even a solar water heater.
Discounts:
  • As an incentive, the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 allows homeowners a tax credit of 30 percent or up to $2,000 of the cost of a solar system; often there are also state or local tax credits or rebates.
Shopping for solar panels:
  • Nextag.com[2] compares prices for do-it-yourself solar pool heater kits.
  • The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Associations provides a guide for hiring a solar contractor.
  • Search for solar installers[3] through the American Solar Energy Society or search the member directory[4] of the Solar Energy Industries Association to find contractors, distributers or manufacturers by state.
  • Get written estimates from at least two companies. Find out how long they've been in business, and what training or certification they have. Ask to see pictures of previous projects; request and contact references.
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What People Are Paying - Recent Comments
Solar electric system
Amount: $26,000.00
Posted by: BaileyW in Rochester, NY.Posted: April 10th, 2013 07:04PM
Type of Panels: 28 x 250 Watt Suniva polyContractor: Qwiksolar
With 25 year micro inverters
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solar system
Amount: $56,000.00
Posted by: Carol in SoCal in Julian, CA.Posted: May 8th, 2012 07:05AM
Type of Panels: 28 250watt panels w/battery packContractor:
This was a quote from a contractor. I'm trying to get other estimates as this seems high.
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Solar Panel
Amount: $19,000.00
Posted by: H.V. in Culver City, CA.Posted: February 25th, 2012 03:02PM
Type of Panels: PVContractor: Sungate
1.5kW - 6 PV panels
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solar panel
Amount: $28,000.00
Posted by: J.K. Verma in jammu, IN.Posted: October 8th, 2009 11:10PM
Needed cost prize of solar power generation systems of 1MW in J&K.
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External Resources:
  1.  www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,1205726,00.html
  2.  www.nextag.com/solar-home-heating-system/stores-html
  3.  www.findsolar.com/
  4.  www.seia.org/directory
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