How much do solar panels cost?

Solar panels are sized by the amount of power they produce, measured in watts. The more wattage a panel produces, the more it costs. Keep in mind that you need more than just solar panels. You’ll also need an inverter, the mounting racks, wiring and a breaker for your system. Currently, the installed cost of solar panels is around $3.05 per watt. The average size of a solar system in California is 6 kW. That would put the price of the system at $18,300. That price is before the savings that can come from the Federal tax rebate and other incentives.

Prices for solar panels vary by state, but not by that much

The price for a 6 kW system varies from around $9,100 in Florida to over $13,000 in Rhode Island, according to a survey by Energysage. Those price ranges are after the 30% Federal tax credit for solar and don’t include state-level incentives.

The price of solar panels continues to drop, as does the cost of home batteries. But there’s a good reason not to wait. The Federal tax credit begins to sunset at the end of this year. Starting next year, it will drop from 30% of the price you paid for your system to 22%. Also, the longer you wait, the longer you’ll continue to pay high electric bills. You can also count on the fact that utility rates will continue to rise.

The high cost of doing nothing

What happens if you decide not to go solar? You get to continue paying electric bills. When you go solar, you swap your electric bill for a solar system payment. That payment is less than you’d pay if you stuck with the utility company. Your savings vary by state and even by which utility company serves your area. Here are the average savings from a 6 kW system over 20 years in states served by Freedom Forever:

  • Arizona – $16,866
  • California – $29,424
  • Colorado – $14,216

As you can see, the savings add up! Keep in mind that these savings are average for each state listed. Your savings will vary depending on which utility serves your area as well.

Will you still have an electric bill after going solar?

That depends on you. If you increase your electric usage after you go solar, you’ll have to pay the utility company for any electricity you use beyond what your system produces. If you live in an area served by Time-of-Use (ToU) rates, then what you get charged by the utility company depends on when you use electricity, not just on how much you use. In general, if you live in an area served by ToU rates, you should try to minimize your electrical usage during peak rate hours.