Before you undertake a solar energy project, it makes sense to find out what factors influence solar panel installation costs. If you have already found a few of the generic “resources” for solar energy pricing, and discovered that the range of anticipated costs can vary by tens of thousands of dollars, than you are probably looking for a detailed explanation of what determines prices. The question at hand is how can one source suggest that installing a solar energy system can cost $30,000 to $40,000, while another source suggests it will cost just a fraction of that?
To begin with, unless a company is given a detailed description of the job at hand, including the amount of wattage required, the type of installation involved, the specific products you want and much more, they cannot give you an adequate estimate. This does not mean that are not reliable ways for you to determine the approximate cost of the project you want to undertake, but it does mean that generic estimates are often less than helpful.
Determine the Size of Your Project First
When discussing the size of a solar energy installation project, the most important factor to consider is the amount of wattage the solar panels need to provide, in order to power your home efficiently. The average home requires between 900 and 1400 watts of solar power to operate entirely off the grid. Determine the amount of energy you need to get from your system by using a home energy calculator, such as the one provided by the US Department of Energy at energy.gov.
Project Size and Cost
The per watt price of solar panel installation can be anywhere between $2.90 and $9.80 per watt. The size of the project has a direct bearing on the per watt price of the solar panels themselves. Large projects, which require the system to provide over 5,000 watts of power, have a lower per watt cost than small projects. According to a study funded in part by the United States Department of Energy, solar energy systems which provide more than 5,000 watts of electrical power generally cost between $3.80 and $4.40 per watt. Prices for this type of solar energy system, however, were as little as $2.90 per watt, and as much as $6.20 per watt.
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How to Install Solar Panels
I recently installed a 6.24KW solar panel array on my roof. This video documents the install, (including a time-lapse portion showing the entire roof install). Watch as the sun and clouds duke it out. Watch to find out who wins in the end.