How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

Typical Range:

$17,996 - $34,351

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 2,049 HomeAdvisor members. Embed this data

How We Get This Data

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

  • Homeowners use HomeAdvisor to find pros for home projects.
  • When their projects are done, they fill out a short cost survey.
  • We compile the data and report costs back to you.

Updated October 21, 2022

Written by HomeAdvisor.

Installing a solar panel system costs an average of $25,986, and that price has been falling over time. Most homeowners pay between $17,996 and $34,351. Expect to pay $2.50 to $3.50 per watt, with most systems in the 3kW to 10kW range.

You can deduct 26% of the installation costs with the federal investment tax credit (ITC) in 2022, 22% in 2023, and the tax credit expires in 2024 unless renewed by Congress.

Solar Panel Installation Cost Calculator

Let's calculate cost data for you. Where are you located?

Where are you located?

National Average $25,986
Typical Range $17,996 - $34,351
Low End - High End $4,500 - $50,000

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 2,049 HomeAdvisor members.

Solar Panel Cost Factors

Here are some of the main cost factors that affect the price of having a solar panel system installed.

ExpensePercentageExample: 5kW @$3/kW
Labor15%$2,250
Permit /Inspection Fees3%$450
Electrical System15%$2,250
Other (Mktg, Overhead)33%$4,950
Panel34%$5,100
Total100%$15,000

Electrical System and Equipment

You should expect to pay $2,250 on average for the electrical system and equipment, like the inverter and mount.

Panel Types

Solar panels make up about a third of the cost of a solar panel system. You can choose from three types of panels: mono, poly, and thin-film. Poly will be the cheapest of the three in most cases.

TypePrice per Watt*Life Expectancy**
Mono$1 – $1.5025 – 35 years
Poly$0.70 – $1.0023 – 27 years
Thin-Film$1 – $1.5014 – 17 years

*Material price only. Does not include labor or any other overhead for installation.

**Solar panels still function past this time but have a significantly reduced rate of energy production.

Home Location

If you have a good, easily accessible location to install your solar panels (like the roof of your home), you should be able to keep costs relatively low. However, if you have to install a foundation on which to place the solar panels, the cost of the project may go up.

Labor

Expect to pay $0.50 per watt on labor. That means that for a 2kW system, you are likely to pay about $1,000 on labor alone, whereas for a 10kW system it would be more in the area of $5,000. Overall, labor typically makes up about 15% of the total cost of your project.

Permits and Inspections

Permits and inspection fees are not a significant cost for this project, but you should account for them. You'll pay about $500 on average for these.

Get the Best Price on Solar Panel Installation
Get Quotes

Additional Solar Panel Cost Factors

Here are a few other cost factors you should consider in addition to the main ones listed above.

Roof

It costs about half as much to install a roof plus solar panels as it does to install a solar tiled roof or anywhere from $40,000 to $80,000. Actual costs vary by location, size of home and how much sun you get.

Roof TypeWithout SolarWith Solar
Tesla Solar Roof (with battery storage)N/A$40,000 – $80,000
Shingle Roof Installation Cost$5,200 – $10,700$21,000 – $40,000
Tile Roof Installation Costs$8,000 – $24,000$23,000 – $52,000
Wood Shingle Roof Costs$3,600 – $120,000$19,500 – $150,000
Roof Replacement Costs$5,400 – $11,000$21,500 – $41,000

Purchasing Options

The type of financing you choose will affect the price. You can save money over the life of the project by paying in cash, but if you can't afford the steep price tag up front, you can get a solar loan or lease solar panels. In the latter case, you won't have to pay maintenance costs, but you also won't own the system.

Government Incentives

Thanks to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which created the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), sometimes called the federal solar tax credit, homeowners can deduct 26% of the price of a system and installation. Individual states and cities offer their own policies, incentives and credits, as well. Here are a few examples:

  • Washington: Utility companies offer rebates up to $2,000

  • Massachusetts: Utility companies which offer rebates of $0.50/watt and up to $625/kW.

  • New York State: Tax credit of 25% for PV systems.

  • Florida: Permanent sales tax exemption for solar energy products. Also several utility companies offer $500 rebates on solar water heating systems, which cost an average of just over $3,500.

Solar Panel Cost by State

Here are the average costs for the largest city in each state based on HomeAdvisor data (where data is available):

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: $26,552

  • Anchorage, Alaska: $21,000

  • Atlanta, Georgia: $37,250

  • Baltimore, Maryland: $24,167

  • Boise, Idaho: $22,400

  • Boston, Massachusetts: $28,646

  • Bridgeport, CT: $20,500

  • Burlington, VT: $21,000

  • Charleston, SC: $37,260

  • Charlotte, NC: $38,140

  • Chicago, IL: $23,279

  • Columbus, OH: $24,966

  • Denver, CO: $20,416

  • Detroit, MI: $15,000

  • Honolulu, HI: $45,828

  • Houston, TX: $34,262

  • Indianapolis, IN: $26,000

  • Jackson, MS: $22,800

  • Jacksonville, FL: $27,314

  • Kansas City, MO: $35,103

  • Las Vegas, NV: $27,014

  • Little Rock, AR: $18,115

  • Los Angeles, CA: $26,291

  • Louisville, KY: $26,850

  • Manchester, NH: $39,000

  • Milwaukee, WI: $27,912

  • Minneapolis, MN: $21,877

  • Nashville, TN: $80,000

  • New Orleans, LA: $18,863

  • New York City, NY: $25,626

  • Newark, NJ: $25,626

  • Oklahoma City, OK: $29,000

  • Omaha, Nebraska: $19,000

  • Philadelphia, PA: $30,542

  • Phoenix, AZ: $27,959

  • Portland, OR: $22,166

  • Providence, RI: $27,430

  • Salt Lake City, UT: $21,865

  • Seattle, WA: $23,312

  • Virginia Beach, VA: $35,500

  • Washington, DC: $25,718

  • Wichita, KS: $30,000

  • Wilmington, DE: $30,542

Compare Solar Panel Quotes for the Best Price
Compare Quotes

Solar Panel Cost by Square Foot

They are rarely sold by the square foot. Instead, most retailers and pros sell panels by the watt. You can expect to pay between $.70 and $1.50 per watt.

Solar Panel Prices Per Watt

You’ll pay anywhere from $0.70 to $1.50 per watt to purchase a solar panel. With labor and other factors, solar panel installation costs a total of $2.50 to $3.50 per watt. There are three types common in the residential market.

  • Monocrystalline: On average, monocrystalline panels cost $1 to $1.50 per watt for the panel. This technology will get you the most energy efficiency while taking up the least amount of space.

  • Polycrystalline: Polycrystalline solar panels cost between $0.70 and $1 per watt for the panel alone. These have a lower efficiency than monocrystalline, but they fit better into smaller budgets without taking up a lot more space.

  • Thin Film: Thin-film panels cost between $1 and $1.50 per watt on average for the panels alone. These are extremely flexible and versatile, made by layering photovoltaic material on metal or glass. They cost less, but they will require a lot more space in order to power residential homes.

Solar Panel Installation Process

The solar panel installation process involves the following steps:

  • The contractor conducts a consultation and works up a design of the system and settles on a location.

  • The contractor acquires the necessary permits and orders equipment and materials.

  • The contractor installs the solar panels.

  • The solar panel system is hooked up to the grid.

Leave Solar Panel Installation to the Pros
Hire Local Pros

Cost of DIY Solar Panels

You can install solar panels yourself using a kit. However, there are a few things you should know about the costs before you go this route.

Solar Panel Kits

The cost of DIY solar panels runs $2,000 to $20,000 for a kit ranging from 2kW to 10kW. These kits include everything you need to install your own solar array. However, you may even look to building your own panels.

The costs to make your own system and build it from scratch is going to vary quite a lot depending on your level of skill. It’s a highly technical and specialized field. If you have a high level of electrical skills, you may be toying with the idea of building your own solar panels. The cost of solar cells and the silicon wafers used to create them are available to purchase individually. To build your own, you would typically put 60 of these wafers onto a backing and wire each of them. You would then need to connect this to an inverter.

Consider, however, that there are several risks associated with building your own, including:

  • You can't be sure of the quality of solar cells purchased.

  • Homemade panels are often a fire hazard.

  • Many tax credits and incentives will not apply when systems are constructed outside of approved facilities.

Connecting to Grid 

Most solar kits are designed for off-grid systems, which wouldn't demand as much energy as the average home, such as tiny houses or sheds. A typical off-grid PV system costs about $2.50 per watt.

Grid-tied packages range from $2.00 to $3.50 per watt. The grid can be very useful, providing electricity at night or in times of low sunlight. Being connected requires more components, such as meters and safety equipment. You will need to consult your local utility company about regulations and hire a licensed electrical contractor to connect you.

DIY Installation 

DIY kits fall around $1 to $2 per kilowatt. Considering that having the entire process handled by a professional contractor averages around $2.50-3.50 per kilowatt, you may not be looking at a lot of savings.

SizeDIY*Professional Installation*
2kW$2,000 – $4,000$5,000 – $7,000
3kW$3,000 – $6,000$7,000 – $10,500
4kW$4,000 – $8,000$10,000 – $14,000
5kW$5,200 – $10,000$12,500 – $17,500
6.2kW$6,200 – $12,400$15,500 – $21,700
10kW$10,000 – $20,000$25,000 – $35,000

*Pre-tax credit cost.

Going with a professional has many benefits and the price difference is often insignificant. A professional will be able to help you with design, will be able to get higher quality products and materials at a lower rate, and will also be useful in acquiring permits and tax credits.

Have More Questions About Solar Panel Installation?
Ask Local Installers

FAQs

When is the best time to install solar panels?

Fall is usually the best time to install solar panels, as there are not as many people looking to install a system and therefore contractors will be easier to find and more likely to offer discounts.

Are solar panels worth it?

Solar panels will save you money in the long run if you can absorb the initial cost of installation. Keep in mind the size of your panel installation and the needs of your home will affect your costs. An average-sized system (roughly 5 kilowatts) will cost between $25,000 and $35,000. Larger installations will require more hardware, planning and construction time. This can further increase costs. While solar panels are expensive, they have distinct benefits:

  • Savings: An average-sized system (5 kilowatts) can reduce up to 50% of your monthly electricity bill. Over a period of 20 years, these savings can add up to $30,000, based on your location and energy usage. Federal tax incentives are also making it easier to purchase systems.

  • Flexible payments: Solar purchase power agreements (PPAs) allow homeowners to purchase their panels with little to no money down. PPAs give homeowners immediate access to utility savings.

  • Increased Home Value: Lower utility bills improve the value of your home. In fact, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) concluded that homes with solar panels sold for 17% more than homes with conventional utilities.

How long does it take for solar panels to pay for themselves?

Expect it to take between five and 15 years for you to recoup the costs of installation of a solar panel system through energy savings. This may seem like a long time, but keep in mind that these panels will last another 10 to 20 years on average, and you'll be reaping the benefits for that long.

How long do solar panels last?

Mono and poly solar panels can last anywhere from 23 to 35 years, while thin-film panels will last 14 to 17 years. They may last longer, but their efficiency will decrease past that time frame.

Can I run my whole house on solar alone?

Yes, you can run a house entirely on solar energy thanks to modern advancements in power storage technology that allow you to use solar power even when the sun isn't shining. It may take more of an investment up front for a solar system that can do this, so you may opt to save on installation costs by keeping some of your conventional power running.