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

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Author Icon Written by Tamara Jude + 1 other Reviewer Icon Reviewed by Roger Horowitz Updated 04/09/2024

Several factors impact solar panel prices, but our research found that the average solar system for a 2,000-square-foot home is roughly $31,460.* 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, ConsumerAffairs, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

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Key Takeaways

For a 2,000 square foot home, the typical cost range for a solar panel system is between $25,000 and $30,000.
The average home requires between 19-24 solar panels to produce enough electricity to help run the home.
Monocrystalline solar panels are the most expensive at an average of $0.75–$1.50 per watt.
Most U.S. homes require around a 10-kW system, which costs an average of $31,460 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 thirteen years.

Our team has spent over 770 hours researching the solar industry. We surveyed 2,000 homeowners, reviewed 68 companies, and read over 10,000 customer reviews. We also consulted the following 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 Quote Online, a site that provides impartial advice and information to homeowners and businesses considering installing solar.
 Terrence L. Chambers: Chambers is a Donald and Janice Mosing BORSF Endowed Chair in Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy (EESE) Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette
 Mark Z. Jacobson: Jacobson is a Director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University.
Juan-Pablo Correa-Baena: Correa-Baena is an Assistant Professor and Goizueta Junior Faculty Chair in the School of of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Dave James: James is an Associate Professor and Director of Solar and Renewable Energy Programs at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
Cordula Schmid: Schmid is an Associate Director of the Center of Energy Innovation and Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

What Is the Average Cost of Solar Panels?

The average cost of a 10-kilowatt (kW) residential solar panel system is $31,460. 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 apply.

System Cost RangeAverage Cost Before Tax CreditAverage Cost After Tax Credit

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost by Type?

Your solar panels will likely cost between $0.30 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 with lower production, such as polycrystalline panels, for a decreased cost. Your solar provider can help you determine which option is best for your home. 

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

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 completed single-family home is 2,299 square feet. That house size requires more than 9,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy 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 SizeNumber of Panels*Average CostAfter Tax Credit
1,000 sq. feet4,710 kWh5-kW system13$16,002$11,202
2,000 sq. feet9,420 kWh10-kW system25$29,410$20,587
2,500 sq. feet11,775 kWh12-kW system31$34,353$24,047
3,000 sq. feet14,130 kWh15-kW system39$39,338$27,537
*Approximate, as number of panels will vary based on panel type.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost by State?

Solar panel costs vary from state to state, partly due to the area’s average electricity bill and solar suitability. For example, Hawaii pays the most for electricity, while Utah pays the least. Those in Hawaii stand to see bigger savings than those in Utah when going solar.

Here’s a look at what you can expect a 10-kW system to cost in your state and an estimated time to return on investment. Note that cost per watt may vary by system size. You can also review if your state has a tax credit available.

State10-kW System Cost Before Tax CreditFederal Tax Credit DeductionState Tax Credit DeductionAfter Credit CostAverage Cost Per WattTime to Return on Investment
South Dakota$22,880$6,864N/A $16,016$2.2910 years, 5 months
Alaska$23,060$6,918N/A $16,142$2.3110 years
Montana$23,240$6,972N/A $16,268$2.3213 years, 2 months
North Dakota$23,240$6,972N/A $16,268$2.3211 years, 1 months
Alabama$23,510$7,053N/A $16,457$2.358 years, 2 months
Arizona$24,400$7,320$1,000$16,080$2.449 years, 8 months
Wyoming$24,590$7,377N/A $17,213$2.4614 years, 6 months
Florida$25,300$7,590N/A $17,710$2.539 years, 7 months
Mississippi$25,310$7,593N/A $17,717$2.5310 years
Hawaii$25,580$7,674$5,000$12,906$2.564 years, 10 months
Oklahoma$25,600$7,680N/A $17,920$2.5610 years, 5 months
Nevada$25,700$7,710N/A $17,990$2.5711 years, 7 months
Utah$26,200$7,860N/A $18,340$2.6218 years
Texas$26,400$7,920N/A $18,480$2.649 years, 6 months
Nebraska$27,110$8,133N/A $18,977$2.7114 years, 1 months
Ohio$27,500$8,250N/A $19,250$2.7513 years, 3 months
North Carolina$27,800$8,340N/A $19,460$2.7813 years
South Carolina$28,000$8,400$7,000*$12,600$2.807 years, 1 month
Missouri$28,200$8,460N/A $19,740$2.8213 years
Arkansas$28,500$8,550N/A $19,950$2.8512 years, 5 months
Delaware$28,500$8,550N/A $19,950$2.8512 years, 11 months
West Virginia$28,500$8,550N/A $19,950$2.8511 years, 8 months
Kansas$28,700$8,610N/A $20,090$2.8712 years, 11 months
Georgia$29,500$8,850N/A $20,650$2.9511 years, 5 months
New Jersey$30,000$9,000N/A $21,000$3.0015 years, 4 months
Idaho$30,100$9,030N/A $21,070$3.0116 years, 10 months
Maryland$30,100$9,030N/A $21,070$3.0112 years, 7 months
Virginia$30,400$9,120N/A $21,280$3.0412 years, 3 months
Oregon$30,500$9,150N/A $21,350$3.0516 years, 6 months
Pennsylvania$30,500$9,150N/A $21,350$3.0513 years, 1 months
Washington$30,500$9,150N/A $21,350$3.0517 years, 2 months
California$30,600$9,180N/A $21,420$3.0612 years, 11 months
Louisiana$31,500$9,450N/A $22,050$3.1511 years, 6 months
Illinois$31,800$9,540N/A $22,260$3.1816 years, 5 months
Kentucky$31,900$9,570N/A $22,330$3.1913 years, 2 months
Connecticut$32,000$9,600N/A $22,400$3.2010 years, 7 months
Tennessee$32,300$9,690N/A $22,610$3.2312 years, 11 months
New Mexico$32,800$9,840$3,280$19,680$3.2817 years, 12 months
Minnesota$32,900$9,870N/A $23,030$3.2917 years, 5 months
Vermont$33,000$9,900N/A $23,100$3.3017 years
Wisconsin$33,400$10,020N/A $23,380$3.3418 years, 3 months
New York$33,500$10,050$5,000$18,450$3.3511 years, 9 months
Michigan$33,700$10,110N/A $23,590$3.3716 years, 11 months
Colorado$34,400$10,320N/A $24,080$3.4420 years, 5 months
Iowa$34,900$10,470N/A $24,430$3.4917 years, 5 months
Massachusetts$35,300$10,590$1,000$23,710$3.5313 years, 2 months
Maine$35,700$10,710N/A $24,990$3.5715 years, 11 months
Rhode Island$36,100$10,830N/A $25,270$3.6115 years, 5 months
New Hampshire$36,500$10,950N/A $25,550$3.6513 years, 5 months
Indiana$36,600$10,980N/A $25,620$3.6615 years, 5 months
*South Carolina offers a tax credit of 25% of the total system cost up to $35,000, with $3,500 being the maximum amount that can be paid out per year.

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).

Primary Cost Factors

Additional Cost Considerations

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 type: Monocrystalline panels are typically more expensive than any other panel type.
Purchasing options: Customers can pay in one lump sum, take out a loan, lease, or enter into 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, such as big cities. 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. If your roof is particularly old or in bad condition, you should replace it before investing in solar panels.
Solar batteries: Solar batteries store excess energy your system generates to use at night or during power outages. Your installer can advise you on how many solar batteries you need, if any, for the system size you purchase, but this is a hefty cost to keep in mind when budgeting your solar project.
From Our expert
“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 single solar battery for a 8kW system costs $7,964, per a national benchmark report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). 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. If you’re getting a solar battery simply as a backup energy source if the power grid goes down, you likely just need to purchase one. If you want to go completely off-grid, you could need as many as 10 to fully power your needs.

How Much Does Each Component Cost?

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory conducted a study of national solar energy price benchmarks for 2023. Using national averages, NREL calculated the typical cost of the components of a photovoltaic system, from panel to labor costs.

ComponentPercent of Total PriceEstimated Market Price*
Field labor6.65%$1,726.98
Office labor25.94%$6,734.07
*National modeled market price percentages for an 8kWdc residential system from a 2023 study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

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 who 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 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 $31,460, you’d subtract $9,438 from your taxes. This reduces your system cost to $22,022.
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 in your 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. SRECs are worth $300 or more in some areas. The average residential system may earn you several of these credits per year.
State tax credits: Like the federal tax credit, homeowners receive a percentage of their total costs back to apply to their state taxes.

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.
  • 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 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 will benefit from going solar.

Excess energy from your solar panel system 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 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