One of the first questions we are often asked is how much it would cost to install solar panels (or photovoltaic “PV” panels) on a house, which is quickly followed by a question about the number of panels it would take to power a typical house. Since these questions are inter-related, we’ll tackle them together. There are plenty of websites around that try to help answer these questions, but they’re complicated and use a lot of industry jargon. We strive to make solar easy for you and that starts with cutting through the noise and laying it all out on the table. So let’s break it down.
The first step in calculating an answer is to look at how much electricity is being consumed. We see electric bills that range from $50/month into the hundreds of dollars, but for this example we’ll use an average bill of $100/month, which equates to 770 kWh per month at $0.13/kWh. Because everyone consumes electricity differently and electric rates vary across the Midwest, we look at every home as a custom project. (Our Solar Consultants review actual usage from utility bills as part of a solar evaluation to determine energy consumption.)
Now that we know the household electricity consumption, we can calculate the size of the system needed to meet its needs. During this step, we would take a look at the roof (or available space for a ground-mount) for the direction it faces, condition, complexity and shadiness. For this example we will assume there are no large trees that shade the roof during peak sunlight hours, and that the roof is almost facing south. In most parts of the Midwest such a roof would need about 24 panels to offset about 90% of the home’s electrical load.
So – we’ve narrowed in on a system size of 24 panels, or approximately 6.72kW*. So the next step is to determine how much this system would cost. Just as there are many types of roofs, each home has unique factors that impact the system budget; in this case we will use some assumptions and walk through the math for a typical home:
6,720 watts X $3.25/watt = $21,840
We’re not done yet… most of our residential clients take advantage of the 30% federal tax credit (ITC), reducing the price to $15,288. Remember that there is quite a range in options – your specific cost could be lower or higher than the example shown here.
Our Solar Consultants are ready to walk you through the options and help you calculate the economics and payback. With Smart Solar Financing, many of our clients are able to go solar for zero money down and have payments that are less than their old electric bills. Some clients treat solar as an investment with a stable and predictable return – every client is different and we look forward to helping you evaluate your options and harness the clean, free energy of the sun.
To start the free evaluation process with one of our Solar Consultants and get a more precise quote for your specific household, you can call us during regular business hours at: 877-696-7652 or you can complete our online form HERE.
* You will often hear us talking about system sizes in terms of “watts” or “kilowatts (kW)”- this is a more accurate measurement as various solar panels come in different wattages. In the example discussed here we are using 280-watt panels, so 24 of them would equal a 6,720-watt solar array, or a 6.72 kilowatt (kW) array.