The cost of solar energy has declined substantially, over 70% in the past decade. Because of that, the popularity of solar power systems has risen dramatically.
However, is solar energy expensive? Today there are over 2 Million solar power systems installed on residential properties in the United States.
Even so, that is still just a small drop in the bucket. Less than 1% of the energy consumed in the entire country comes from solar panels.
Why doesn’t everyone use solar? Many people think it is too expensive. Installing a solar power system for your home can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000. That may seem like a large investment. But compared to the $200,000 you could spend on electricity bills over the life of the solar power system, it’s actually cheap.
In fact, solar power has become the cheapest electricity in history, according to the International Energy Agency report in 2020.
Cost Of The Equipment
Converting light into electricity with no moving parts is a much different enterprise than using turbines to generate power – such as coal, natural gas, and wind farms. Because they have no moving parts, solar panels usually last a very long time, anywhere from 25-50 years or more. Each solar panel can cost from $1,000 to $2,000 depending on the quality of the panel and the company selling it.
Batteries are another investment, one that doesn’t make sense for everyone. If you need a battery to keep some important medical equipment going during a blackout, that is a different story. But if you just want a battery for the luxury of having power at all times, the cost of the battery might not be worth it. Current costs for batteries can range from $10,000 to $45,000, so make sure you pick the right battery for your home.
If you live in an older home, your main service panel may need to be upgraded for the extra electricity that the solar energy system will provide. The main service panel (a.k.a. the circuit breaker panel) is responsible for distributing electricity from the solar panels to the various circuits in your home. The majority of people won’t need this upgrade, but if you do it will cost around $2,500 for replacement.
Solar Panel Equipment Costs:
- Each Solar Panel Can Cost From $1,000 to $2,000
- Inverters Are Valued Around $200-$400 Per Panel
- Mounting & Other Hardware Runs About $100 Per Panel
- Ground Mounts Require More Materials That Costs An Additional $100 Per Panel
- Battery Prices Can Range From $10,000 to $45,000
- Upgrades To Your Home’s Electrical Infrastructure Are Usually Quoted At $2,500-$6,500
- Other Additional Parts, Such As EV Chargers & Generators Will Vary In Cost
Other Costs For Solar Installation
Your home may need an assessment from a qualified electrician to determine how much electricity you will use, or if there are any ways to reduce your consumption. On average, residential electrical inspections range from $100 to $400. However, home energy assessments from Option One Solar are complimentary for all our customers.
Other costs will include installation, permitting & inspection fees, sales & marketing expenses, and other labor-intensive costs. Filing documentation with city offices and utility companies can cost up to $1,000, depending on the size o the system and the timeframe to get everything filed for PTO.
The share of “soft costs” for solar panel installation can surprise customers that aren’t informed about the entire process. Rest assured that Option One Solar does not include any fees that aren’t necessary for documentation and labor.
Each home is different and requires customized design and installation. Option One Solar only hires experienced technicians with the proper skills and knowledge.
How Long Does Solar Take to Pay for Itself?
Solar panels will pay for themselves with savings from electric bills alone. The amount of time needed for this process is called the “Solar Payback Period”.
To reach Net-Zero for your solar power system, you need to calculate the total cost of the solar panel system, subtract the tax incentives, then divide that by the amount you save on electric bills every year.
For California homeowners, this Solar Payback Period will range from 6-10 years and largely depends on the size and total cost of the system. Since California electricity rates go higher every year and your solar payments will stay the same, this time period will be reduced every year.
Recycling The Solar Panels
There is not a huge need for solar panel recycling right now, because of the extremely long lifespan of solar panel technology. By the time your solar panels will become obsolete, the industry will have time to make improvements to solar panel recycling infrastructure which will drastically reduce the impact of production on our environment.
Solar Energy System Maintenance
Your solar panels will last much longer than the 25-year warranty with proper maintenance. But the question remains, what is proper solar panel maintenance?
Key Aspects Of Solar Panel Maintenence:
- Solar panels don’t have moving parts and require very little maintenance
- Normal rainfall will wash away most debris from solar panels
- It is generally recommended to clean your solar panels twice a year with water – just make sure the water is not too hot or cold!
- Keep an eye on your monitoring app. If you notice a dip in energy production, it might be time to clean your solar panels.
- NEVER USE SOAP!
Dish soap and other types of cleaners can leave residue on your panels that may reduce production and act as a magnet for even more dust. We do not recommend the use of any soap when cleaning your panels.
Option One Solar always keeps an eye out for alerts on every single solar panel we install. If we notice an issue with your solar energy system, we’ll try to fix it as soon as possible. If the issue cannot be fixed remotely, we will contact you to schedule a time for our tech support team to handle the issue.
Is Solar Worth The Cost?
Going solar may seem like a big investment. For most homeowners, $15,000 is a big chunk of change. But, when you compare the cost of solar panels to rising electrical bills it’s actually pretty cheap!
Would you rather pay $15,000 or $200,000 for your electricity?
Option One Solar systems are guaranteed for 25 years. Buying a solar power system is like paying a flat fee for electricity for 25 years or much longer.
If you stay with traditional electricity, the rising rates every year are projected to cost up to $200,000 for the same 25-year period. When you compare the numbers solar power is very cost-effective. Especially when you understand that solar is a home investment, not a bill.