Solar energy is one of the most cost-effective options to power your household in the long run. However, to no one’s surprise, it requires quite a hefty investment. In fact, setting up a full solar panel installation can end up costing an astonishing $30,000, depending on your regional prices. But why is solar so expensive? Is it worth the hassle? Let’s find out!
Solar Expenses Breakdown
At first glance, you might believe that the price of solar panels is what makes solar systems so expensive. Yet, there are many other factors that affect the cost, such as additional equipment and installation. So, in order to figure out if solar is worth your money, we need to break down each and every part of the final price.
As noted earlier, solar panels have always been quite expensive. However, there’s some good news! The prices for solar panels have dropped by almost 60% since 2010. As a matter of fact, you will now have to pay between $4,000 and $16,000, or approximately 30% of the total solar budget. Just remember that the price can vary based on the material, the size, and the total number of panels needed.
But besides the price tag of solar panels, you can also calculate the total cost of going solar by comparing the price of panels to how much energy they generate. This equation is known as the cost per watt. You can use this factor to decide which solar panels are better for your home’s energy needs, as the most expensive ones are not always the best.
Inverters are designed to convert electricity from solar panels into energy that can be used by appliances. These pieces of equipment make up about 10% of total solar costs. On average, you will have to spend about $3,000 on an inverter. But there is a silver lining: the price of solar inverters should drop in the near future.
But before you write a $3,000 check, you should know that there are two types of inverters: micro-inverters and string inverters. The former is more expensive and replacing it requires some work. However, they are installed at the back of each panel, allowing for maximum performance of your solar energy system. They also last longer than string inverters.
On the other hand, string inverters are more affordable and easier to maintain since they are not installed on each panel. Unfortunately, poor performance by one panel can affect the efficiency of the others. And, while they are initially cheaper, they have a shorter lifespan than micro inverters.
Contrary to popular belief, installers don’t nail solar panels directly to your roof; instead, they connect them using a roof rack or mounts. Both mounts and racks allow installers to place solar panels at convenient sun-friendly angles.
You’ll also need to get performance monitoring and tracking systems. These allow you to observe the amount of energy you produce, which helps you figure out if you need to upgrade your installation in the near future. Lastly, solar batteries are a great way to store extra energy. You can use this energy during winter or at night when your panels become less effective.
All of this additional equipment will add up to around $10,000. However, the prices vary depending on the manufacturer and specifications of each device. That’s why you should consult a professional when looking to buy solar equipment.
What’s so interesting about solar panels is that the installation method is similar to the original one from the ‘50s. But that doesn’t mean the installation process costs the same as it did back then. Actually, you’ll have to pay up to $5,000 for the actual labor, plus permits and inspections, depending on the area you live in. And luckily, experts believe that these prices will only get lower as time goes on and more brands pop up on the market.
The final part of the overall solar price involves the cost of operation. It includes repair, maintenance, overhead costs, monitoring, and insurance. However, with proper care, you’ll avoid having to pay extra for repairs and other maintenance operations, reducing the needed investment.
So, Are Solar Panels Worth it?
It’s true that solar energy can be quite expensive. However, they have the potential to save you thousands of dollars over their lengthy lifespan. Not only that, but solar panels will also provide you with independence and ecologically renewable energy. But don’t forget about the many solar incentives that you can use to further reduce the cost of your solar installation. And with prices expected to fall every year, it’s clear that solar will become more accessible than ever.
So if you plan to install solar panels, make sure to get a savings and cost estimate to see if the math is in your favor.