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How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in 2024? (Expert Reviewed)

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Author Icon By Tamara Jude + 1 other Reviewer Icon Reviewed By Roger Horowitz Updated 02/27/2024

Several factors impact solar panel prices, but our research found that the average solar panel system for a 2,000-square-foot home is roughly $29,410*. If that cost seems out of your budget, don’t worry—this figure is before applying valuable solar incentives that can shave off thousands. 

Other factors, such as system type and size and your location, can raise or lower this price. Our guide looks at solar panel cost by panel type, home size, and state and includes ways to keep your expenses as low as possible. 

*Cost figures in this article are sourced from EnergySage.

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When you’re ready to choose a solar provider, check out our guide to the best solar companies. We put the top brands in the industry against our methodology, comparing them on product selection and performance, service options, customer reviews, Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating, and more. Brands Palmetto and Sunrun earned top scores and have some of the most comprehensive solar warranties and best-rated custom support.

Star Rating Best For Payment Options Link
SunPower SunPower
Best High-Efficiency System Full purchase, loan, lease, PPA Get Quote
Palmetto Palmetto
Best Customer Support Full purchase, loan Get Quote
Sunrun Sunrun
Best Solar Panel Leasing Full purchase, loan, lease, PPA Get Quote
Freedom Solar Power Freedom Solar Power
Most Complete Warranty Full purchase, loan Get Quote
Momentum Momentum
Best Solar Panel Installation Full purchase, loan, lease, PPA Get Quote
Blue Raven Blue Raven
Most Reputable Full purchase, loan Get Quote
Tesla Solar Tesla Solar
Best Solar Tech Full purchase, loan Get Quote
Logo SunPower
Star Rating
Best For Best High-Efficiency System
Payment Options Full purchase, loan, lease, PPA
Get Quote
Logo Palmetto
Star Rating
Best For Best Customer Support
Payment Options Full purchase, loan
Get Quote
Logo Sunrun
Star Rating
Best For Best Solar Panel Leasing
Payment Options Full purchase, loan, lease, PPA
Get Quote
Freedom Solar Power
Logo Freedom Solar Power
Star Rating
Best For Most Complete Warranty
Payment Options Full purchase, loan
Get Quote
Logo Momentum
Star Rating
Best For Best Solar Panel Installation
Payment Options Full purchase, loan, lease, PPA
Get Quote
Blue Raven
Logo Blue Raven
Star Rating
Best For Most Reputable
Payment Options Full purchase, loan
Get Quote
Tesla Solar
Logo Tesla Solar
Star Rating
Best For Best Solar Tech
Payment Options Full purchase, loan
Get Quote
Star Rating
Best For
Location Presence
BBB Rating
Best High-Efficiency System
50 States
Best Customer Support
19 States
Best Solar Panel Leasing
20 States
Most Complete Warranty
5 States
Best Solar Panel Installation
12 States
Most Reputable
18 States
Best Solar Tech
50 States

Key Takeaways

Monocrystalline solar panels are the most expensive at an average of $1.00–$1.50 per watt.
Most U.S. homes require around a 10-kW system, which costs an average of $29,410 before applying solar incentives.
The federal solar tax credit allows you to claim 30% of your system cost on your income taxes, saving you thousands.
Most homeowners break even on their solar panels within eight years.

We consulted two solar experts on the costs associated with going solar:
Keith Lambert: Lambert is a 30-year veteran in the Pollution Control marketplace, working to reduce emissions for a cleaner environment. He’s president of Oxidizers, Inc., a company that provides industrial air quality solutions.
Mark McShane: McShane is a solar industry professional and entrepreneur. He owns Skills Training Group, a company focused on producing high-quality solar technicians. He also runs Solar Panel Installation, a site that provides impartial advice and information to homeowners and businesses considering installing solar.

What Is the Average Cost of Solar Panels?

The average cost of a 10-kilowatt (kW) residential solar panel system is $29,410. That’s before using any solar incentives or rebates, which can reduce your expenses by several thousand dollars. We’ll talk more about this later in the article. Your total solar panel cost depends on a few factors: your system type, home size, location, payment selection, and any incentives you can apply.

System Cost RangeAverage Cost Before Tax CreditAverage Cost After Tax Credit

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost by Type?

Your solar panel type will likely cost between $0.43 and $1.50 per watt. There are three main types of solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. Monocrystalline solar panels are considered top quality due to their efficiency and energy production, so expect to pay more for their high performance. You may also need to invest in monocrystalline panels if you have a smaller roof to get the most energy production out of the fewer panels your roof can accommodate. 

If you have a larger roof, you may be able to buy more panels but of lesser production, such as polycrystalline panels, for cheaper. Your solar provider can help you determine this. 

Thin-film panels are the most budget-friendly solar option, but they don’t generate much energy, making them best for small solar projects, such as powering a shed or recreational vehicle.

Panel TypeAverage Cost Per Watt

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost by Home Size?

According to the latest U.S. census, the median size of a single-family home is 2,383 square feet. That house size requires more than 9,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) to power annually, requiring at least a 10-kW solar system. According to the data below, we estimate this costs between $29,410 and $34,353.

Home SizeEstimated Annual Electricity NeededRecommended System SizeAverage Cost
1,000 sq. feet4,710 kWh5-kW system$16,002
2,000 sq. feet9,420 kWh10-kW system$29,410
2,500 sq. feet11,775 kWh12-kW system$34,353
3,000 sq. feet14,130 kWh15-kW system$39,338

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost by State?

Solar panel savings vary from state to state, partly due to the area’s average electricity bill and solar suitability. For example, Hawaii has the highest electricity rates, while Louisiana has the lowest, so those in Hawaii stand to see bigger savings than those in Louisiana when going solar. 

Here’s a look at what you can expect a 10-kW system to cost in your state and what the federal solar tax credit will deduct from that price.

State10-kW System Cost Before Tax CreditTax Credit DeductionAverage Cost Per Watt
North Carolina$27,100$8,130$2.71/W
New Hampshire$35,200$10,560$3.52/W
New Jersey$28,900$8,670$2.89/W
New Mexico$30,000$9,000$3.00/W
New York$32,900$9,870$3.29/W
Rhode Island$35,000$10,500$3.50/W
South Carolina$27,000$8,100$2.70/W
West Virginia$28,800$8,640$2.88/W

Which Factors Impact Solar Panel Costs?

Below, we’ve broken down solar panel cost factors by importance. Some factors impact up-front cost, while others impact overall cost by influencing return on investment (ROI).

Solar panels’ cost is mainly based on the following factors:

Household electrical demand: This is the monthly electricity your household uses. Homes with mostly gas appliances use less energy than homes with electric ones. You’ll need a larger system to match your needs if you have high monthly energy consumption.
Panel quality: Your chosen equipment greatly impacts your electricity production. You’ll want to find the most efficient solar panels that fit your budget. More expensive equipment doesn’t always mean higher savings, but the cheapest option can sacrifice value. Find the right balance between quality and price.
Panel size: Larger panels require more material and installation labor but yield more energy production.
Purchasing options: Customers can pay in one lump sum, take out a loan, lease, or enter a power purchase agreement (PPA). Each option affects how much you’ll pay in the long run.
System size: The most influential factor in your solar system installation cost is the system size. The bigger the system, the higher the price tag. However, buying a residential solar system is similar to buying other products in bulk. A higher-wattage system has a lower average cost per watt. Thus, when you purchase a larger system, the overall cost is higher, but you have a lower cost per unit.
Tax incentives: Federal and state solar incentives can dramatically reduce solar costs.

Soft costs involved in solar panel installation include:

Amount of sunlight: The more daily sunlight your home receives, the more significant your potential savings. Homeowners who live in areas with year-round inclement weather or cloudy days will experience lower energy production and cost savings.
Labor: Labor costs vary by location and are more expensive in areas with a higher cost of living. Different solar providers also charge different prices. Labor is included in your initial quote.
Location: Solar panels cost more in some states than others, largely due to regional electricity costs. Peak sunlight hours are also a factor.
Permitting and interconnection: Required permits and local interconnection fees to the power grid will add a slight cost to your solar panel installation total.
Roof condition and size: Your roof’s type, age, and condition impact what type and how many panels you need and their installation difficulty. Roofs with a layout or pitch that makes arranging your solar array difficult or dangerous will impact what system you can purchase and the risk involved for the installers. Remember, if your roof is particularly old or in bad condition, you should replace it before investing in solar panels.
Solar batteries: Your installer can advise you on how many solar batteries you need to power the system size you purchase, but this is an essential cost you’ll need to include when budgeting your solar project.
“Wiring to an existing circuit breaker box can be expensive depending on where your best bang for the buck is regarding sunlight and where your breaker box is in the house. If you have to go through concrete, multiple walls, floors, etc., it can increase the overall cost of the project.” — Lambert

How Much Do Solar Batteries Cost?

A solar battery for a 10-kW system costs $8,944 on average after applying federal tax credits. This cost varies by state, battery brand and quality, your battery’s inverter, how much battery storage you need, and if you need to upgrade or add a new electric panel. Not every situation calls for a backup battery, but it can be helpful to provide around-the-clock power and protection from fluctuating electricity rates according to the Department of Energy.

What Are My Solar Panel Payment Options?

Solar panel installation requires a significant financial commitment, so companies offer different payment options to suit different budgets. Here’s an overview of the typical solar financing options offered by solar providers:

  • Full payment: You pay for the solar system outright without a loan or payment plan. This option will save you the most money because you won’t pay interest rates. Full payment also grants you system ownership, qualifying you for incentives. 
  • Solar loan: A loan allows you to make small payments over a longer payback period. However, you’ll pay more in the long run due to interest rates. Solar loans also qualify you for solar incentives. 
  • Solar lease: This option allows you to make fixed monthly payments for about 20 years and requires little to no up-front cost. Your solar installation company retains system ownership and is responsible for its upkeep. Leasing customers don’t qualify for solar incentives.
  • Power purchasing agreement (PPA): With a PPA, you only pay for the energy you use. Like an electric bill, the rate fluctuates each month. Your solar company retains system ownership, disqualifying you from incentives.

How Can I Save Money on Solar Panels?

We surveyed 1,000 homeowners who received solar quotes and found that 52% of respondents did not move forward with installation because the panels were too expensive. However, there are a few ways to save on solar panels, namely federal, state, and local solar incentives that can save you thousands of dollars. 

Various government programs help you lower the cost of going solar. The more homeowners that switch to solar energy, the less strain there is on the collective power grid. This means federal and state government agencies want to incentivize homeowners to make the switch to a more sustainable energy source.

Below are the most valuable solar rebates and tax credits to look into.

Federal solar tax credit: The federal tax credit lets you apply 30% of your total solar installation cost to your federal taxes. There’s no cap on its value, meaning for a 10-kW system priced at the national average of $29,410, you’d subtract $8,823 from your taxes. This reduces your system cost to $19,537.
Net metering: You could earn additional savings from net metering, an incentive where you send excess energy back to the power grid for monthly electric bill credits. Net metering programs are offered on the state level or through certain utility companies throughout the state.
Property tax exemptions: Since solar panels boost home value (as much as 4.1%, according to Zillow), they also increase your property taxes. These exemptions eliminate property taxes for a certain time frame, or permanently, depending on your state’s legislation.
Sales tax exemptions: Some states exempt state or local sales tax from solar panel sales, helping reduce up-front costs.
Solar renewable energy credits (SRECs): Some states offer SRECS to help meet their renewable portfolio standards (RPS). These regulations require a certain percentage of generated electricity to come from renewable sources. Homeowners receive one credit for every 1,000 kWh of solar electricity their system generates. You can apply this credit to reduce your electricity bill or sell them for profit.
State tax credits: Like the federal tax credit, homeowners receive a percentage of their total costs back to apply to their state tax liability.

Additional Ways to Save

Making the wrong decisions during the buying process can cause you to overspend. Here’s what to look out for to avoid excess expenses. 

  • Be smart with financing: Your solar provider will offer at least a couple of financing options if not all four. Carefully review the math to determine which option makes the most financial sense for you long-term. Pay special attention to interest rates and contract terms. You may find a better loan option through your bank instead of through your installer. 
  • Choose the right system size: Review your average monthly energy costs from the past year to see what size system your home’s energy needs require. Go with a system that offers an energy production guarantee slightly above the amount of electricity you need. You may be tempted to buy a large system to ensure you have enough energy, but buying an excessively large system that generates more energy than you need isn’t financially sound. A solar battery, which stores excess energy your system produces, is likely a wiser investment. 
  • Choose the right system type: You’ll need to assess your roof, energy needs, and budget to determine if fewer monocrystalline panels or more polycrystalline panels will be cheaper. Also, don’t pay for flashy features you don’t care about. 
  • Get multiple quotes: Solar brands price their products and services differently. We recommend getting at least three quotes from well-rated solar installers to find the best deal.
  • Install during the offseason: Installing solar panels isn’t comfortable, or necessarily safe, in extreme temperatures. If you can arrange installation during spring or fall, you may be able to negotiate a better price with the installer. 

Are Solar Panels Worth It?

Our survey revealed that 94.6% of homeowners said installing solar panels was worth it, and most respondents said the installation reduced their energy bills. Although solar panels are worth the investment for many people, there are situations when they won’t benefit your home enough to justify the expense.

Solar is a balancing act between a hefty up-front cost and estimated savings. Given the right circumstances, solar panels pay for themselves over time. The average payback period for a solar PV system is six to 10 years. If you have access to SRECs and net metering, you’ll break even during this time frame and then generate additional savings. 

Here are some considerations to gauge if solar is worth it for you:

Using solar power in your home reduces the need for costly fossil fuels and taps into a less expensive resource. Homes that use more electric-powered appliances would benefit from a solar conversion.

Excess energy from your solar panel installation can be stored in a solar battery or returned to the power grid. You can accumulate enough credits through net metering programs and SRECs to receive a monetary return. Check with your utility provider to see if it offers net metering.

Ask your solar installer which tax breaks they can help you obtain.

Houses with many obstructions, such as tall trees or surrounding buildings, don’t get enough sun exposure for panels to perform. You won’t see much benefit from going solar unless your home’s roof regularly gets hours of unobstructed sun. It’s also best if the roof is south-facing and has a slope that can hold a solar panel at a 15- to 40-degree angle.

Our Solar Expert on Who Benefits

“If your home is located in an area with low solar access or if your home is shadowed by trees or buildings for much of the day, you probably won’t make back the investment on the electricity you generate. if you already consume low amounts of electricity (or if you consume a high amount), switching to solar might offer a smaller savings, and so require a longer payback period.” — McShane

How Long Does It Take to Break Even With Solar?

On average, most homeowners break even on their solar investment around eight years after installation. Determining your solar break-even point depends on a few numbers: the total system plus installation cost, any applied incentives, and your annual electricity bill savings. 

Use the following steps to calculate your break-even point:

  1. Subtract the value of any applied incentives or rebates from your total solar power system plus installation cost. That’s your first number. 
  2. Calculate how much you save annually in electricity costs by comparing pre-solar utility bills with post-solar utility bills. That’s your second number. 
  3. Divide the first number by the second number for the number of years it will take you to break even. Every year after that should be counted as a financial gain. 
Let’s demonstrate this calculation: If your system and installation cost amount to $20,000, but 30% was deducted due to incentives, your first number is $14,000. Pretend your annual electricity savings is $2,500. Divide $14,000 by $2,500, and you’ll see that it takes just over five and a half years for you to break even.

What Are the Hidden Costs and Downsides of Going Solar?

As with any other home improvement project, there are some hidden costs and downsides to solar energy not often discussed.

Solar’s biggest hidden cost is if you include solar batteries with your system, which often run from $8,500–$10,000. The cost of a Tesla Powerwall battery is slightly higher, given how reputable the company and product are. Though you can opt out of installing a solar battery and its cost, many homeowners include it for backup power protection. 

Here are some hidden fees and downsides to consider:

  • Insurance: You can expect your home insurance to increase with a solar panel system purchase. Your state might require you to get solar panel-specific insurance in addition to your current insurance coverage. 
  • Maintenance: Your solar panels will require maintenance to keep them in good working order. Most installers recommend having panels checked about every five years. You’ll need a professional to inspect wires and connections. Although this won’t be a substantial cost, you should plan for maintenance fees in your ongoing panel costs. 
  • Panel cleaning: Most solar panels are cleaned naturally with rainfall, but if you live in an area prone to wildfires or dust, you will need the occasional cleaning. We recommend hiring a pro to avoid the dangers of climbing on your roof.
  • Repairs: Solar panels are durable, but there are some occasions when they require repair work. You must pay out of pocket if they aren’t covered by insurance. 
  • Roof work: Solar panel installation sometimes requires extra roof work to be completed before the project can even start. Depending on your roof’s condition, this can be the highest or second-highest hidden cost. If your roof is fewer than five years away from needing replacement, you may need to install an entirely new roof before installing solar panels. Alternatively, a solar installer might suggest simply fortifying your roof’s eaves. We suggest contacting a local roofing company for an in-depth roof replacement inspection. 
  • State policies: Not all states are that solar-friendly. Some have far fewer incentive programs to help save, and some have policies that inhibit programs currently in place. For example, the California Public Utilities Commission revised its net metering policy to decrease the value of solar energy credits by 75%, pushing solar owners to invest in solar batteries. 
  • System monitoring: If you use a solar company’s active monitoring, there’s sometimes a monthly $10–$15 fee.
  • Tree removal: If surrounding trees cast shadows on your panels, you may need tree removal services to ensure optimal panel performance. These services cost between $341 and $1,523 on average.
  • Utility company charges: You’ll still receive a utility bill after going solar. Though that bill should be around $80 less than before, you’ll likely see some solar-specific charges from utility companies. Namely, you’ll notice a charge when your solar panels take electricity from the power grid instead of adding to it.

Our Solar Expert on Hidden Costs