Solar panels have become the go-to technology for homeowners looking to save money on utilities. However, before installing panels on their roofs or in their yards, homeowners need to understand what affects the cost of solar panels for sale.
Before setting a price for solar panel installation, homeowners and installation experts work together to design an array that fits the homeowner’s needs. Each home has different variables that providers need to consider before quoting a price. If you’re looking to go green without spending your fistfuls of your hard-earned green, consider these seven significant factors affecting the cost of solar panels.
Before installers can quote solar panels, they have to evaluate the home’s electrical needs. When working with their contractors, homeowners can help by looking into their electric bills and figuring out how many kilowatt-hours they use each month. Solar panel installers can then recommend a system that meets or exceeds the average kWh used per month.
Some homeowners want solar panels that will cover their entire monthly electrical use, while others only need them to supplement a percentage of their utility costs. Varying electrical needs are a top reason why solar panels do not come with a standard installation price.
Roofing style and direction
The size, shape, and slope of the roof affect the price of installation. A roof that faces north or east requires more panels and installation measures than a roof that faces south or west. Ideally, you want to pick a south-facing top because they receive the most sunlight throughout the day and year-round. This way, you can save money on the number of panels you need to slash your energy bill effectively.
Struggles with roof geometry can increase the cost of installing the panels while simultaneously decreasing the effectiveness of collecting solar energy. Installers often need to use more mounting hardware to create optimal conditions, which increases the cost of installation.
If possible, mount the panels on a roof with a 30 to 40-degree angle to absorb the maximum sunlight. This way, you can save on mounting costs and extra equipment to create that 30 or 40-degree angle.
Amount of available sunlight
How much sunlight each home receives can also be critical in determining your quote. For example, homes covered partially by trees often need more panels in more locations to collect solar energy. Conversely, buildings with full sun need fewer panels.
It isn’t only about shade, though. The surrounding environment and weather conditions can affect the cost of installation. Consider the year-round weather and how many sunny days you have—the more sunny weather, the fewer panels you need to install to produce sufficient energy.
Solar panels come in different configurations. Homeowners can choose from monocrystalline or polycrystalline cells, and they can also select thin-film alternatives. Installation experts will suggest the best type of solar panels for your home’s needs and environment.
The cost of panels depends on the power density and the color. Arrays with black panels and frames cost more than arrays with blue panels with silver edges because black absorbs more light than blue. Inverters also affect the price of installation. String and micro-inverters group solar panels in different ways, which can affect the price. Don’t worry if the technical mumbo-jumbo has your head spinning–your solar panel provider should answer your questions about terminology and your quote.
Another factor that affects the price of solar power is labor. Solar panel installers do not work for free. Labor expenses include transporting the solar panels and placing them on roofs, garages, or yards. As you might imagine, installing solar panels involves more steps than just screwing the frames into support beams.
In some situations, contractors have to pull local permits because they have to work with the electrical systems. If you opt for a ground installation, workers will need to comply with all local regulations for digging to ensure no power lines sustain damage. You’re paying for labor and expertise, so quotes will likely vary with contractor experience.
Connecting to the grid
When installing solar panels, contractors often have to connect the system to the municipal power grid. Utility systems have varying requirements for solar panel installation and how to connect panels to the utility meters and community transformers.
Costs vary based on the distance to the interconnection point, your home’s age and electrical equipment, and the number of solar panels already in your area. Connecting to the grid can involve installing conduits and digging trenches to the interconnection point.
Most of the items in this list involve factors that drive up the cost of your solar power. Incentive opportunities do the opposite. Federal and state tax credits can reduce the cost of solar panel installations as a reward for consumers who choose sustainable options.
Some utility companies also offer rebates and incentives to homeowners who turn to renewable energies, like solar or wind power. Often, tax credits and refunds are awarded after proof of installation. To get tax incentives and rebates, you might have to install specific types and brands of solar panels. Consult your local power authorities and save any receipts for your tax and energy experts.
Solar panel installation costs have several variables. The environment around your home, the geometry of your roof, the distance from your home to the interconnection point, and labor expenses can increase installation costs. By working with your solar provider and your local energy company, your home can have its day in the sun.