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

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Author Image Written by Tamara Jude + 1 other Reviewer Icon Reviewed by Roger Horowitz Updated 06/07/2024

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.

Key Takeaways

For a 2,000 square foot home, the typical cost range for a solar panel system is between $27,000 and $32,000. Despite this, most owners break even on their investment within thirteen years.
The federal solar tax credit allows you to claim 30% of your system cost on your income taxes, saving you thousands.
The average home 10-kW solar system requires between 19-24 solar panels to produce enough electricity to help run the home.

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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. Despite their increased initial cost, higher solar panel efficiency can help you save money each month by lowering your utility bill.

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 Size (sq. feet)Estimated Annual Electricity NeededRecommended System SizeNumber of Panels*Average CostAfter Tax Credit
1,0004,710 kWh5-kW system13$16,002$11,202
2,0009,420 kWh10-kW system25$29,410$20,587
2,50011,775 kWh12-kW system31$34,353$24,047
3,00014,130 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. States are ordered from the least expensive solar installation cost to the most expensive.

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. Here are some affordable solar panels we recommend.
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.” — Keith Lambert (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)

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.” — Mark McShane (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)

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. If you decide to include one in you solar system, consider one of our favorite solar batteries.

Here are some other 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. Your solar panel installer may include this service in your labor warranty agreement. If not, expect to pay around $20 per panel for cleaning.
  • Repairs: Solar panels are durable, but there are some occasions when they require repair work. You must pay out of pocket if the panels 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 and receiving a quote for the cost of replacing your roof
  • State policies: Not all states are 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. Tree removal 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
“Solar panels, battery backup systems, etc. require routine maintenance. Solar panels need to have clean, clear paths for light. Tree limbs, leaves, sap droppings, dirt, and grime can all harm how much power you can draw from the sun. Being on top of [maintaining] the system [and its surroundings] is key to maximizing your savings and ROI.” – Keith Lambert

Experts Insights

We consulted additional experts for insight into the benefits of solar energy, the affordability of solar panels, and advancements in solar technology. See their insights below.

Donald and Janice Mosing BORSF Endowed Chair in Mechanical Engineering
Director of the Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy (EESE) Center
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
See answers

Read bio
What are the main benefits of using solar energy?
Solar energy is clean, quiet, and safe to use. If paired with battery storage it can provide backup power in an emergency. Many homeowners are interested in helping offset the pollution that comes with traditional power generation, so participating in solar energy generation, either with a rooftop solar installation, a subscription to a community solar program, or a solar program available from the utility company, allows these residents to help build a cleaner and greener world.
Do you think solar panels are getting more affordable?
The cost of solar panels has dropped by about 90% over the last decade, such that at the utility scale, in many locations in the U.S., solar energy is the least costly alternative for new electrical power generation. It now costs less to build a new solar power plant than to continue to operate a coal plant. For that reason, solar energy accounted for over half of all new power generation in the U.S. last year, outpacing even natural gas. The cost for a commercial or residential installation is higher simply due to economies of scale, but it may still be cost-effective under certain circumstances. A homeowner would do well to consult a solar energy professional regarding their specific situation.
What are your thoughts about the advancements in solar technology?
Recent advances in solar technology are leading to ever-higher efficiencies and lower costs. At some point in the future, we will reach a saturation limit where new solar, which is an intermittent, cannot be added to the grid without upgrading the transmission system or pairing it with energy storage. Further research is needed to help the US power grid adapt to absorbing a larger and larger share of renewable energy sources. I am confident that we can solve the technical issues and that we will continue to see a move toward cleaner electrical power generation over the next several decades.
Terrence L. Chambers, Ph.D., is the Donald and Janice Mosing BORSF Endowed Chair in Mechanical Engineering and the director of the Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy (EESE) Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He is the author of more than 70 peer-reviewed publications and has been awarded more than $57M in externally funded research grants. Chambers serves as a member of the Governor’s Climate Initiative Task Force. He is a registered professional engineer in the state of Louisiana.
Director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Stanford University
See answers

Read bio
What are the main benefits of using solar energy?
Installing solar photovoltaics (PV) on your roof reduces the electricity you need to import from the grid, particularly during times of high electricity prices, in the afternoons. This becomes even more beneficial when you convert your natural gas air and/or water heater to electric heat pump air and/or water heaters (which use one-fourth the energy as gas), your gas stove to an electric induction cooktop, and your gasoline car to an electric car. Solar PV also eliminates air pollution from fossil-fuel or bioenergy electricity generation. Also, installing solar PV on your roof, particularly in new homes, may avoid the need for expensive roofing material. Rooftop PV also cools your home during hot summer days by absorbing 20% of the sunlight and converting it to electricity.
Do you think solar panels are getting more affordable?
Solar PV panels have dropped in cost substantially during the past 10 years. At the utility scale, solar PV is half the cost of new natural gas or coal. On commercial buildings, it is also less expensive than the cost of fossil fuels. On individual residential buildings, PV cost has declined as well, but its savings are enormous because PV avoids the need to import high-cost electricity in the afternoon to your home and the cost of transmission and distribution. Solar PV on your roof also allows you to keep your lights on during a blackout on the grid if you also purchase a battery to store PV electricity. The best overall strategy for a homeowner in terms of saving lots of money over the long run, eliminating air pollution in your home, and supplying your own electricity and heat in a blackout is to electrify everything in your home and provide the electricity with solar PV and store the electricity in a battery. There is no need for two forms of energy in your home. That just increases the money you spend.
What are your thoughts about the advancements in solar technology?
Solar PV technologies continue to improve, resulting in the continued decline in PV prices. This holds true also for all electric appliances in an all-electric home: electric heat pumps for air and water heating and air conditioning, electric induction cooktops, electric heat pump clothes dryers, LED lights, and electric vehicles, for example.
Mark Z. Jacobson, Ph.D., is director of the atmosphere/energy program and professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University. He is also a senior fellow of the Woods Institute for the Environment and of the Precourt Institute for Energy. His career focuses on better understanding air pollution and global warming problems and developing large-scale clean, renewable energy solutions to them. He has published six books, including his latest, “No Miracles Needed,” and more than 185 peer-reviewed journal articles. He is ranked as the No. 1 most impactful scientist in the world in the field of meteorology and atmospheric sciences and No. 6 in the field of energy among those first publishing past 1985.
Assistant Professor and Goizueta Junior Faculty Chair in the School of Materials Science and Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology
See answers

Read bio
What are the main benefits of using solar energy?
There are four main benefits: First, solar energy lowers energy bills in the long run by producing electricity from solar light. The initial cost of installation is recovered after a few years, depending on how much sunlight the panels receive. Second, the panels help keep your house cooler in summer as they absorb most of the light that turns into heat and convert it into electricity. Third, solar panels provide your house with an off-the-grid solution in case of power outages. This means that your panels do not rely on long-range transmission lines and can provide electricity even during natural disaster events. Finally, producing electricity from solar panels lowers your carbon footprint and helps alleviate our impact on the climate and environment by producing clean energy without toxic fumes and without emitting carbon dioxide.
Do you think solar panels are getting more affordable?
Yes, they are. Solar panels are becoming increasingly more affordable as economics of scale push prices down. Large manufacturing facilities are continuing to increase the supply of the panels and this lowers costs. In addition, federal investments in this area, through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and other incentives, are bringing manufacturing facilities to the U.S., which helps increase the supply and lower costs.
What are your thoughts about the advancements in solar technology?
We need to increase solar panel efficiency so that we can produce more power over smaller areas. This is an area of research my group is spearheading. We are trying to develop panels that have two or more devices on top of each other to increase the amount of power per area of a cell. We are developing new materials and devices to achieve this. These advancements will also have an impact on cost, as we will be able to extract more energy for a smaller footprint and that saves money on space, whether they are deployed on a roof or in a field.
Juan-Pablo Correa-Baena, Ph.D., is an assistant professor and the Goizueta Junior Faculty Chair in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. At Georgia Tech, his research group focuses on the development of next-generation solar panel materials to complement or augment existing silicon-based solar panels. His research program at Georgia Tech has attracted funding from NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, and industry partners. His work has been cited more than 35,000 times, making him a top-cited researcher in the world as recognized by the Web of Science Group Highly Cited Researchers (since 2019) and Nature Index Leading early career researcher in materials science (2019).
Dave James, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Director of Solar and Renewable Energy Programs
University of Nevada Las Vegas
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What are the main benefits of using solar energy?
Solar panels on a private home can generate electricity in the summer months during times of peak demand and associated high rates and reduce the homeowner’s electricity costs. Additionally, solar panels can usually offset some portion of non-renewable generated electricity and thereby reduce fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
Do you think solar panels are getting more affordable?
In some states and utility service areas, because of continued increases in efficiency and life span of flat-plate solar photovoltaic panels, lifecycle costs are now competitive with costs for other forms of electricity. However, homeowners should check with their local utility and with a reputable solar designer/contractor to find out if any connection charges or net-metering charges would be applied to their rooftop installations that might reduce the cost advantages.
What are your thoughts about the advancements in solar technology?
Photovoltaic panel efficiencies have continued to steadily improve over the last two decades, and their life spans are now up to twenty years. When combined with improvements in battery storage technologies and inverter efficiencies, solar photovoltaic power is now a practical, cost-effective, low-environmental impact option for both homeowner-scale, commercial-scale and utility-scale installations that can offset greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the environmental impacts of fossil fuel extraction. If your house rooftop is oriented correctly and not shaded by trees or other buildings, or if you have sufficient space for a ground-mounted installation, solar technologies for electricity generation are a practical, reliable, and cost-effective option for generating power and reducing environmental impacts.
David E. James, Ph.D., is the associate professor and director of solar and renewable energy programs at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV). He is also licensed as a civil engineer in Nevada. Dave coordinates plans of study for students of UNLV’s solar and renewable energy minor and graduate certificate programs and has published research in solar distillation.
Associate Professor
University of Massachusetts Lowell
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What are the main benefits of using solar energy?
Solar energy is a sustainable and renewable source of energy, which helps to reduce reliance on finite fossil fuels and decreases greenhouse gas emissions. Many users find their electricity bills are lower than before and remain lower over longer periods of time, as solar panels can generate electricity for 25 years or more. Solar energy systems are low maintenance and can be installed in various locations, providing energy independence and resilience during power outages. Additionally, solar energy can create local jobs and stimulate economic growth in communities.
Do you think solar panels are getting more affordable?
Solar panels have become significantly more affordable over the past decade. The cost of solar panels has decreased by about 70% since 2010, primarily due to advances in technology, increased production efficiency, and economies of scale.
What are your thoughts about the advancements in solar technology?
Advancements in solar technology have been remarkable and continue to drive the adoption of solar energy worldwide. Improved efficiency and durability of solar panels mean more electricity can be generated from the same area of panels. Innovations in energy storage, such as batteries, capable of storing excess energy for use when the sun isn’t shining, are making solar power more reliable. Additionally, developments in flexible and transparent solar panels are expanding the range of applications, from integration into building materials to use in portable electronics. These advancements are crucial in making solar energy a widespread source of renewable energy.
Dr. Cordula Schmid has been an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell since September 2020, where she is the director of the Photovoltaic Prototyping and Testing Lab and the associate director of the Center of Energy Innovation. Her research focuses on the development of reliability testing for specialty solar PV applications. Prior to joining UML, she was a member of the PV Technologies team at the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy CSE since 2010 and managed that team since 2016. She focused on the reliability and electrical characterization of solar PV modules. From 2004–2010, Cordula served as a member of the scientific staff at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg, Germany, where she worked with domestic and international solar industry clients onsite to develop methods to increase production yield during solar cell processing and module fabrication. She obtained her Doctor of Engineering from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany in the area of breakage losses in silicon solar cells.

Our Conclusion

Although solar panels require a significant investment, they provide future financial and environmental benefits. Many factors, such as the panel type, your climate, and your energy needs, influence your final costs and whether a solar investment is worth it. Apply for federal and state incentives to help lower your system costs and leverage your potential long-term savings. 

We recommend getting quotes from at least three solar companies for the best rates. Compare equipment quality, customer reviews, financing options, warranties, and pricing.

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FAQ About Solar Panel Costs

How much is a solar system for a 2,000-square-foot house?

A 2,000-square-foot house will likely require a 10-kW solar panel system, costing an average price of $29,410.

What is the cost of one solar panel?

A typical solar panel costs between $200 and $315, but price is impacted by panel quality, brand, type, and size.

Do you really save money with solar panels?

According to EnergySage, a household with an average monthly energy bill of $150 can expect roughly $20,166 in electricity savings over 10 years. The higher your monthly energy bill, the more savings you stand to accrue over time.

How many solar panels does it take to run a house?

The average house in the U.S. requires a 10-kW system to power it, or roughly 24 solar panels.

Our Rating Methodology

We are committed to providing comprehensive and unbiased reviews to our readers. After over a thousand hours of research on solar companies, interviews with experts, and common customer needs, we’ve created a detailed rating system for solar providers based on six factors:

  • Solar equipment, installation, and services (25%)
  • Warranty and performance guarantees (25%)
  • Brand reputation and certifications (15%)
  • Financing options (15%)
  • Experience (10%)
  • Availability (10%)

Total scores are divided by 20 for a final 5-point rating scale.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews team at reviews@thisoldhousereviews.com.