Several factors determine the cost of a solar panel system. In this article, we hope to outline the many factors that will determine what solar panels cost.
Solar panel costs vary from region to region and from project to project. Different manufacturers have different types of solar panels, using different technologies with different efficiencies, all of which affect pricing.
If you talk to multiple installers, there will be multiple price points for a full system installation. There are good reasons for this, however. Different installers even have different preferences on all of the required solar panel mounting equipment that most customers never see. These racking, mounting, and electrical wiring choices can affect system performance and solar installation cost.
Solar Panel Mounting Equipment
As shown in the image above, a quick search on Google and you will find that there are several types of solar panel mounting equipment, that is just a very small sampling! In our opinion, it is typically not a good idea to reduce costs by installing lower quality mounting solutions… A poorly mounted system can also be detrimental should a windy day occur. Or simply how it’s mounted to a roof, which could cause leaks resulting in further damage to your home.
As you may be starting to understand, when asking, “How much do solar panels cost?”, there really are many factors to consider.
Price and cost are not the same…
Lower quality equipment choices, or lack of experience of the solar installer, may reduce your overall price – yes; but the overall and lifetime cost may be exponentially higher as you may end up with a system that doesn’t produce enough power, or worse, the equipment causes your roof to leak which causes other very expensive damage…
We always recommend customers dive deep into the technical aspects of what they are purchasing and understand what they are being proposed – beyond just the solar panels and the inverters, and even more so – the experience of the solar installer.
Solar Tax Credits
Solar tax credits also vary and can affect system pricing a lot. Furthermore, residential &
commercial projects have a wide range of electricity bills that customers are trying to
offset, so it is always recommended to look at these projects on a case by case basis.
Why Do Similar Sized Solar Panel Systems Differ in Cost?
The cost of two solar PV systems of similar size can vary for several reasons. Factors influencing the cost include the slope and materials of the roof, the overall size of the system, the length of the wiring required, and the specific combination of solar components used. These components can range from the panels and wiring to the solar inverter, battery backup options, and other related equipment.
- Roof pitch:
In general, when a roof has a steep incline, it requires more meticulous work. Roofs with a high pitch tend to result in increased labor expenses because technicians must proceed with extra care to prevent accidents, which, in turn, extends the labor duration of the solar panel installation project and impacts the overall cost.
- Roof material:
The choice between solar mounting brackets designed for shingle roofs and those for metal roofs can have a significant impact on the hardware and cost of solar panel installation. For instance, the IronRidge mounting system commonly used on shingled roofs is not compatible with metal roofs, and conversely, the S5 clamping system designed for metal roofs is not suitable for shingle roofs. These distinctions can alter the pricing of a solar panel system based on the complexity of installation and how well it matches your specific roof material.
- Size of system:
Typically, the larger the system, the larger the materials cost, and the longer it takes to install it. Both solar panel installers in Phoenix and electricians in Phoenix will spend more time on site on a larger system as opposed to a smaller system and therefore the labor costs go up in addition to increased hardware costs. A larger system typically means a higher solar power system cost, but inadvertently you may end up saving a lot more in the long run as you’re saving more on electricity with a lower cost per Watt!
- Length of electrical runs:
If a Solar PV system is installed right next to the main electrical panel, the length of conduit runs will be shorter. If however, your solar panels are far away from your main electrical panel, the electrical wire and conduit runs will be a lot longer, taking longer to install and requiring more wire and other parts. This increases labor and material costs and adds to the total solar panels cost. The same goes for trenching, if a ground-mounted solar system is being installed, then trenching can add significant time, labor and expense to a project thereby increasing the solar panel installation cost.
- Solar PV Technology:
There can be a marked difference in solar panels cost when using a completely different technology. For example, using a SolarEdge power-optimizer based system vs an Enphase micro-inverter based system may affect pricing. Different Solar PV architectures have different component requirements and different installation guidelines which can affect pricing of components and labor required to install. Installation cost can therefore change if a different technology is desired.
Other factors of Solar Panels Cost
- Financial Incentives available:
Different areas and regions have different incentives available. Different utility companies have different incentives that they offer. All of this can affect your total solar panel cost. From federal, state and utility incentives, Watt Masters is well versed in navigating them all and we will help take care of all of them for you so that you are saving as much money as possible on your solar panel installation costs.
- Roof-top vs. Ground Mount vs. Standalone Structure Mount:
How and where the Solar PV array is installed can have a dramatic influence on solar system cost. Each option comes with its pros and cons. Rooftop installations have to follow separate design and installation considerations than stand-alone solar panel carport structures which have different considerations than ground mount systems. Depending on your preference, these different installation configurations carry different costs and can affect the prices of the specific solar panels used for that application.
Which Solar Panel System is Best for My Project?
The following bullet points below will give you a brief overview of other factors to consider when choosing a solar panel system.
But as you may have already gathered, not all solar panels are suitable for all applications. Your best bet >>> Contact us to get a free site analysis and quote for your solar panel system. We would be delighted to answer any and all of your questions, address any concerns, and even lay out all of the possible options you could have.
- Household electrical demand:
This ties back to system size, the more you prefer to offset your electrical usage, the larger the Solar PV system needs to be and the more the costs will be for both labor and material.
- Choice of solar panels:
Different solar panels come in different efficiencies and sizes. Typically the higher the production per unit area, the higher the cost of solar panels. This can affect the pricing of the system. In certain situations, if you have very limited roof space you might want panels with the highest specific output. This system might have different solar panels cost factors in comparison to a system that utilizes slightly lower efficiency modules because of greater roof space. In addition, solar panel tariffs introduced recently have bumped up pricing for all solar panels in general. And of course, different solar panels are produced in different areas of the world and carry different warranties. All of these factors can affect the pricing for the best residential solar panels.
- Off grid vs. Battery backup system vs. grid tied systems:
Based on your energy profile and your needs, we can help you design a system that is completely off grid or is grid connected with a battery backup or simply grid connected. Each system has a vastly different topology and requires different components and adheres to separate code requirements. All of these factors affect pricing. The same system size might have a wide variance in pricing based on the type of system it is. Typically, if we were installing a 10 kW grid connected system it would end up costing significantly less than a 10 kW grid connected battery backup system simply because of the addition of batteries and additional labor and engineering required.
- Permitting, inspections & interconnections:
Based on the area where you live and the utility that serves you, the costs associated with permitting, inspections and interconnections can vary widely. Different cities have different requirements for permitting. Similar different utilities have different rates for interconnection applications. All of this brings variability into pricing.
In conclusion… As I’m sure you can see at this point, there truly are LOTS of factors that will determine the price for your solar panel installation project.
There really is only one way to provide an accurate quote, and that is having a qualified and well experienced solar installation company come to your home to conduct a thorough analysis of your property, roof structure, length to panel, your preferences on installation type and various equipment.
Anyone who is giving away free quotes online, or by aerial view photo, cannot accurately quote your project – don’t fall for that!
We will send one of our experienced solar installation experts to your home or business to conduct a thorough analysis. And we will also review past electricity bills and more, to ensure that the quote we give you is 100% accurate.
And we don’t use high-pressure sales tactics or “limited-time only” sales schemes to pressure you into ANYTHING. We are real people, just like you. And our friendly staff treats every customer with the utmost respect. After all, we not only want your experience to be a happy one, but we would also love for you to eventually tell all of your friends and family about us, too! 😉
Unlike many other fly-by-night solar contractors, we do this to ensure there are no “surprises” or “unknowns” that pop up along the way which result in additional costs and extended timelines (believe me, we hear these horror stories all the time!)
So what are you waiting for?? Let’s “go solar” today!