How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

Solar for Homeowners | 5 min read
73 kW Roof Mounted Solar System at Cherry Crest Farms.

One of the first questions potential solar system owners want to know when they speak with us is: How much do solar panels cost?

This can be a difficult question to answer without knowing the specific requirements of your project because a solar system is not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are several variables (system size, location, equipment, etc.) that we get into below that will impact the final system cost. 

However, we do provide you with our best ballpark pricing to help you make an informed decision about your solar investment. In this blog, we cover the following:

Factors that Impact the Cost of a Solar Panel Installation

Type of Installation

There are two main installation methods for solar: roof mounts and ground mounts. Roof mounts are attached to existing roof structures. Ground mounts and carports require additional posts that must be anchored into the ground. This often results in higher labor and component costs.


Type of Equipment

Solar Panels:

There are two basic variables with solar panels:  power density and color.  Power density is the amount of power that a solar panel can produce per unit of size.  For example, a solar panel that is the same size may produce between 300-400 watts, depending on the power density.  Generally speaking, the more power-dense the panel, the higher the cost per watt. Color is the other variable with solar panels. The basic panel has a blue cell, white back sheet, and silver frame.  Modules with a black frame, black back sheet, or black cell are generally more expensive.  

Solar Inverters:

There are three types of solar inverters: String, Micro, and Power Optimizers. 

String Inverters link panels together in one or more groups. Each group feeds into one string inverter, feeding several panels into one inverter. String inverters tend to be more cost-effective than other types of inverters.

Microinverters are installed on each individual panel. Although this type of inverter has its benefits, they tend to be the most expensive type of inverter.

Power optimizers have many of the benefits of micro-inverters.  They are generally more expensive than string inverters but less expensive than micro-inverters.

Roof Type

Solar can be installed on metal, shingle, and flat roofs. Each one requires different components and varying levels of labor. Shingle roofs require a specific flashing piece to attach the panel racking to the roof. For a ribbed or standing seam metal roof, the racking is attached directly to the metal. Panels are installed on a flat roof using a ballast mount - a tray held in place by a concrete block.

Energy Consumption

Most solar systems are designed to offset as much energy consumption as makes sense financially. The more energy production you need, the more panels and equipment the system will require.


Depending on how much shading a system will be exposed to will impact the amount and location of the panels. If a system is installed in an area with shading, it may require additional panels to meet the customer’s energy coverage requirements. On the contrary, a system in full sun could produce the same amount of energy with fewer panels.

Weather Patterns

Weather patterns in each region are different. Some locations receive more sun than others. Other regions receive more snow. Our systems are designed with this data in mind, impacting the system size and the necessary equipment.

Interconnection Cost

Interconnection is the process of connecting the solar system to the power grid. Each local utility has specific requirements that must be followed. Some of these requirements could impact the type of meter you need or whether transformer upgrades are required. The interconnection cost is different for each project, depending on how much solar is already in your area, the age and strength of the equipment on your line, and the size of the solar array itself.

Distance from the Solar Array to the Interconnection Point

Since the power produced by the solar array must be transported to the utility meter, the farther the solar array is from the interconnection point with the utility, the higher the installation cost will be.  This is due to the conduit installation or trenching required, as well as the size of the wire required (the farther the distance, the larger the wire is required to be).

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Incentives available for solar panel installations

There are many incentives available for solar owners. These need to be considered when examining the cost of a solar system.

Those incentives include:

  • Reduced monthly electric bills
  • Protection from rising energy rates and independence from your utility company - You're in control
  • The 30% federal tax credit can be used to recover taxes from the prior three years and also carried forward 22 years for businesses and 12 years for homeowners
  • Businesses and farms can quickly recover their investment through accelerated depreciation. Those who qualify can apply for a USDA Reap Grant and other local grants
  • There are many local government and utility incentives
  • It’s sustainable and good for the environment

With that in mind, we’ve listed below the average installation cost for commercial and residential solar energy systems. 

The cost of solar panels for a business

Ontario-Orchards_Solar-System_1The average size of a commercial solar system is between 50 kW ($600/mo. electric bill) and 200 kW ($1,200/mo. electric bill). Solar systems of this size will typically cost between $145,000 and $500,000 before incentives are utilized.

With the available incentives, most commercial solar owners could receive 60-90% of the system’s cost back within the first few years of installing the solar system.  

The average agricultural and commercial solar owner can expect to save $150,000 to $375,000 over the 30+ years of the solar system’s life.

Without solar, the average business and farmer will spend $240,000 to $715,000 on electricity over 30 years.

Average Monthly
Electric Bill
Solar System Size Total Installed Cost
(Before Incentives)
Federal Tax Credit Depreciation Cost After the Tax Incentives
$600 50 kW  $147,500 $44,250 $36,447 $66,803
$1,200 100 kW $268,800 $80,640 $66,419 $121,741
$2,400 200 kW  $494,400 $148,320 $122,164 $223,916

The cost of solar panels for homeowners 

Kreider_House-with-Solar_PAThe average size of a residential solar system is between 5 kW ($60/mo. electric bill) and 10 kW ($120/mo. electric bill). These solar systems will cost between $25,000 and $50,000  before incentives are utilized. Solar owners could receive 30% of the system’s cost back with the available incentives almost immediately after installation.  

The average residential solar owner can expect to save $4,000 to $25,000 over the 30+ years of a solar system’s life.

The average homeowner will spend $30,000 to $60,000 in electricity over 30 years without solar.

Average Monthly
Electric Bill
Solar System Size Total Installed Cost
(Before Incentives)
Federal Tax Credit Cost After Incentives
$60 5 kW  $26,480 $7,944 $18,536
$120 10 kW $38,960 $11,688 $27,272
$180 15 kW $53,285 $15,986 $37,299

Keep in mind these are average costs and system sizes for roof-mounted solar systems (Here's what it costs to install a ground-mounted solar system). The cost will vary depending on your specific requirements. We provide free estimates that will provide you with the exact cost and available incentives to help you decide if solar is the right investment for your business, farm, and home.

Get the exact cost for a solar panel system that fits your needs

The best way to determine the cost of your solar system is to request a free custom quote. With a custom quote, you'll see the complete installation cost, all available incentives, and the payback and ROI.  

Request Pricing for Your Solar System

Not ready for a quote? Use our Solar Savings Calculator to get an instant estimate of how much money solar will save you.

Use our solar savings calculator

Last updated on October 2023. 


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