Wondering how much solar panels cost? The simple answer is you can buy them for as little as a dollar per watt, or as much as $9.80 per watt. What's more, experienced do it yourself types say that you can build them for even less, under a dollar a watt. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but let's take a look at some of the determining factors.
How Many Watts Do I Need?
An average home would need a system that provides between 900 and 1400 W of power, to remain completely off the grid. Your home may need more or less available power. The best way to determine this is to use an energy calculator. Visit the US Department of Energy's web-site to access one for free.
Installed Solar Panels
The average home-owner can expect to pay somewhere between $6.50 and $8.50 per watt, for installed solar panels. These numbers are rough estimates, and can vary depending on the state you reside in, the type of installation project you are doing and even the time of year you opt to shop for solar panels.
Actual prices are always subject to change. If you can find an “off-season” rate, or a special sale, you may find you can pay less than $6.00 per watt.
Assembled Solar Panels
You can buy solar panels, and choose to install them yourself. This can save you as much as half the er watt price, because you are not paying for labor. On the other hand, you will need more than just the panels to complete the job. You will also need to purchase the mounting assembly, junction box, wiring and other materials necessary to complete the installation.
Build Your Own Solar Panel Kits
These kits generally cost between $3.00 and $5.00 per watt. The kits come complete with manual, instructions and all of the necessary installation parts, including mounting and junction box. While kits like these can save you money, they also require a great deal of time and energy to assemble and install.
Build Your Own Solar Panels
It is possible to build your own solar panels, starting with ready made solar cells. Single or 2 watt cells are available both new and used. Cells can range from less than a dollar per watt, to $3.00 per watt, depending on the condition, wattage power, material used to create them and other factors. Once you have purchased cells, they must be soldered together and placed on a frame, in order to produce a solar panel. You will also need standard installation materials in order to get home-made solar panels running.
The Bottom Line
For those looking to install solar panels in their home or small business, there are multiple options. Each option has it's benefits and drawbacks. There are many incentive and rebate programs available to help off-set the cost of solar energy. The Federal Government offers incentive programs, in the form of tax rebates and green energy credits. Sustainable energy incentives are overseen by the US Department of Energy. Your state or local utility company may also help cover some of the cost of solar panel installation.