Solar Panels: How Much Are They?

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

On average, homeowners can pay around $10,000 for a 6 kW solar system, and for 12-kilowatt systems, the price can be upwards of $25,000.

If you want to reduce your monthly electric bill, it is a wise idea to upgrade to solar panels. You will not be alone, either, as over two million U.S. homes have them; solar panel installations have skyrocketed since 2011. Since renewable green energy is the wave of the future, this trend will only continue.

Before installing new solar panels, though, it helps to understand the costs involved. We will break down the various solar panel options and the different prices for each one.

Solar Panel Calculator
The simplest way to estimate your solar panel costs is to use an online calculator. Fortunately, we have found one for you. All you do is enter your address, some contact information, and you will receive a free estimate. From there, you can talk to solar panel installers about your costs and options.

To get started, click here to be directed to the solar panel calculator. When using a solar panel calculator, keep these elements in mind:

  • Energy Usage. How much electricity do you use on average?  Knowing this monthly number will help you calculate how many solar panels you need. On average, a single panel can generate up to 250 watts per hour. When looking at your electric bill, you will have to convert that number into kilowatt-hours (kWh). One thousand watts per hour is a single kilowatt-hour.
     
  • Sun Hours. Based on your geographic location, you may get a large amount of sunlight or not. To calculate your solar panel output, multiply the peak sunlight hours by the panel rating. For example, a 250-watt panel with five hours of sunlight will produce 1250 watts per day. That is 1.25 kilowatt-hours.
     
  • Roof Space. A larger roof can accommodate more panels and generate more power. That said, a higher number of solar panels will cost more to install.
     
  • Obstructions. If your roof is mostly covered in the shade, you cannot get a lot of solar energy. Your panel output can also get cut by your home's position, hence the solar panel's position, in relation to the sun. For example, some homes may get sunlight for only two hours per day, while others get six to eight hours.

Solar Panel Cost for an RV
Overall, you can expect to spend about $3,000 to $4,000 on your solar panel project for a 25-35-foot RV. If you travel in a smaller rig, you can spend a lot less.

One of the primary challenges of RV living is getting access to power. If you like to boondock, you will not be able to plug in anywhere. Unfortunately, RV batteries can only last a couple of hours, and they need recharging. Solar energy solves that problem. It allows you to use solar inverters and batteries so that you can travel off the grid.

When talking about costs for solar panels, you cannot just look at the panels themselves. When installing this system on an RV, you need multiple components to make it work. Here is a quick overview of the different pieces:

  • Solar Panels. You can buy two types of solar panels: polycrystalline and monocrystalline. The better option is monocrystalline panels as they convert solar energy to electricity more efficiently. However, they cost more than polycrystalline models.
     
  • Charge Controller. This piece regulates the amount of energy going into the battery. Without this device, you could overload the system and damage it.
     
  • Battery. You can either connect your panels to your RV's deep cycle battery or buy a separate unit. Either way, make sure it is a deep cycle version, which works more efficiently.
     
  • Inverter. Electricity can be a direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC). Appliances use AC power to prevent surges and electrical damage. Your solar battery uses DC energy. An inverter converts DC power to AC so you can use your various devices.

With these components, you must determine whether you want mounted solar panels. Mounting them will cost more, but you have less versatility. Flexible solar panels are not as efficient, but they are more cost-effective.

Are Solar Panels Worth the Cost?
Yes. Whether you install solar panels on your home or RV, the system is worth the investment. If you use the solar panel cost calculator linked above, you can see that financing options allow you to pay the same or less than your current monthly electric bill. This makes the investment a no-brainer.

Also, residential solar panels can cut your utility monthly bill by up to 70 to 100 percent. On average, a solar power system will have a payback period of seven or eight years. If you file for federal solar tax credits, you can save even more.

When choosing solar panels, be sure to talk with installers about your options. Professional installers can help you determine the best choice based on your circumstances.

Solar Panels Lease Cost
Because solar panels are expensive, some homeowners choose to lease them. In this case, a leasing company will charge little upfront and collect payments over time. Typically, a solar panel lease lasts for 20 years.

The average price of a solar lease (aka power purchase agreement) depends on the company. They will charge per kilowatt-hour, and they may increase costs annually.

Overall, we recommend using a solar loan instead of a lease. A loan allows you to spread your payments over time while retaining ownership of the system. Otherwise, you could ultimately pay more for leased panels than you would by buying them outright.

Solar Panels Installation Cost
On average, homeowners can pay around $10,000 for a 6 kW system, and for 12-kilowatt systems, the price can be upwards of $25,000. These costs include both the solar panel system and installation costs.

As we have discussed, many factors can affect the installation cost of new solar panels. While you can mitigate those expenses with government tax incentives, the price tag is steep.

Solar Panel Maintenance Cost
Buying and installing solar panels is not a one-and-done situation. Once the panels are in place, you must take care of them. The average annual maintenance cost can range from $150 to $1,000 per site visit.

Why do you have to maintain your solar panels? Here are a few reasons:

  • Storm Damage. Rain and hail can damage your roof, along with anything attached to it. If cells get broken, you must replace them.
     
  • Wear and Tear. Solar panels degrade over time, so you might have to swap some out as they wear down.
     
  • Inspections. As we mentioned, a solar power system is not just a few panels. You need to make sure that the wires, batteries, and inverters are working correctly. You must have licensed solar inspectors come out to check your system regularly. Otherwise, there could be a problem, and you will not know until you get your next electric bill.
     
  • Cleaning. As dirt and debris collect on the panels, they stop working as efficiently. Cleaning your solar panels is somewhat inexpensive. You can have a team come out for a few hundred bucks to keep your panels clean and shiny.

Also, you must factor in maintaining your battery bank. Solar batteries can wear down as well, leading to an inefficient system.

Bird-Proofing Solar Panels Cost
Along with storms and falling objects, your solar panels can get damaged by birds. No, not from birds flying into the units, but nesting underneath. You could spend $500 - $3,000 for professional bird-proofing installation. BTW, home insurance does not cover bird damage or cleaning.

Solar panels provide shade and protection from predators, making them an ideal home. To protect your investment, you can install bird-proofing measures. These installations can be either wire mesh or plastic solar siding. Installers will put these elements between the panel and the roof. Afterward, birds and other critters cannot get in.

That said, some animals can chew through the mesh. So, you might have to replace sections occasionally. The costs for bird-proofing your solar panels varies based on:

  • Location. Some areas have more birds than others.
  • Panel Size. Larger panels require more materials.
  • Company. If your neighborhood has many bird-proofing companies, they will compete for your business.

Solar Panel Inverter Cost
Whether you install solar panels on your home or RV, you need an inverter to convert DC power to AC. For residential installations, inverters get hardwired into the electrical system. On average, inverters account for 10 percent of the total installation cost. So, if you pay $11,000 for a solar system, about $1,100 will go to the inverter.

In some situations, you might have to upgrade or swap out your old inverter. If that happens, you still want to use a professional installation service. Since the inverter connects to your home's electrical grid, doing it yourself is dangerous.

Do Solar Panels Increase Home Insurance?
Yes. As we have seen, solar panels represent a considerable investment. Once you install these panels, you need to make sure that your insurance covers them. Otherwise, replacing them after a disaster can be costly.

Unfortunately, while they lower your utility bill, solar panels will raise your home insurance premiums slightly. This increase is because homeowners insurance companies will adjust your monthly rate based on replacement costs. So, if it costs $15,000 to install new panels, you must increase your coverage limit accordingly. Thankfully, the amount you save on electricity should offset any premium increases.

Get Your Insurance Quote
If you are ready to upgrade to solar, now is the time to talk to your insurance agent. Let Young Alfred help you find the best coverage and rates for your new investment. We can compare policies and companies to make it even easier. Click the button below to get started!

Hope that helps!

Online Solar Home Insurance Quotes

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Young Alfred