How Much Do Solar Panels Cost? 3 Points to Consider

By Gabriela Covay | The Latest Solar Energy Information

From protecting the planet to lowering your energy bills along with your carbon footprint, solar panels are appealing alternative energy options. Of course, it’s easier to justify making the change when you have a firm grasp on the cost of solar panels. Although you can obtain quotes for your home solar power system with minimal effort, this is only the first step.

Are you confident in your understanding of what your estimate actually entails? These tips will make it easier to decipher the content.

  1. Understand Price Per Watt Valuation

It is difficult to understand your quote if it’s unclear what the base price is for solar panels. If there’s one aspect of solar panel prices that you should focus on, it’s the bundled cost, energy output and return on investment.
Many people are aware that solar panels represent a massive source of untapped energy-generating potential. The only question is how to gauge their capacity in more practical, budget-ready terms.

Official government sources are good places to look for clues. For instance, the California Energy Commission evaluates solar systems for homes based on how much they cost for each unit of energy that they produce, commonly expressed as their dollar-per-Watt or price-per-Watt value. Agencies like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory use similar measures.

Although each solar system estimate will include unique labor and equipment costs, the totals that you’ll see usually group these factors together. Minimizing how much money you pay for each Watt of power that you generate is the best way to cut through the confusion. Always start by ensuring that you have a good idea of your installation’s total cost and its total power generation capacity.

  1. Get to know Solar Panel Price Points

Commercial and residential solar panel products come in one of three tiers:

  • Tier 1: Although they’re the most expensive, these panels deliver reduced price-per-Watt value, superior quality and backing from dependable, brand-name manufacturers, like Panasonic.
  • Tier 2: These panels are efficient, and their manufacturers, like SolarWorld, are known for their reliability.
  • Tier 3: These panels are inexpensive, but they’re usually sourced from less well-known manufacturers who may only assemble the parts.

Which tier should you pick? According to professional organizations associated with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Tier 1 manufacturers typically exercise the greatest degree of quality control over their products and perform more research and development. Tier 2 panels are known for their competitive pricing, but they don’t sacrifice dependability or performance.

  1. Consider Installation-specific Factors

When you set up solar power for your home, your choice of installation options figures into what you pay. For instance, adding a battery bank might cost more upfront, but it could save you money in the long run by liberating you from utility company peak-hour pricing schemes.

Other important considerations to think about when you’re comparing solar quotes include factors like whether your installation involves uncommon building materials, like Spanish tiles or metal roofing. If you decide on a ground-mounted system, you’ll have to pay for the construction of a suitable foundation and a wiring trench running from the panels to your home.

The kinds of inverter hardware that you install can also affect your upfront costs. As with choosing a solar panel Tier, however, investing in superior hardware may save you money down the line.

What Price-per-Watt Value Should You Aim For?

Despite being armed with all of this knowledge about solar panel prices, you may still find it hard to settle on a reasonable target. After all, factors like your usage and system maintenance habits impact how much satisfaction you derive from your installation. Per-Watt prices are also lower than they once were.

Your Trustworthy Solar Partner

No matter how well you understand the cost of solar panels, working with a dependable partner is always a smart step. For those who reside in California’s Central Coast, Sandbar Solar has the expertise to make the dream of low price-per-Watt power generation a reality.

We take immense pride in helping you choose the ideal solar system for home or business use. We’ve been working on behalf of residential and commercial property owners since 2004, and as a locally owned company based in Santa Cruz, we’re an integral part of the community. To discover how we can help you design and install an efficient solar system, contact us today.

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