Aug
1

How much does a Solar System Cost

The Price of your Solar System Depends on These Questions


Solar pricing is a difficult thing to judge because you can't just go by square footage of your house. There are a number of questions you must answer to be able to figure out how many solar panels, batteries, inverters, etc that you will need for your needs and how much it will cost.

  • Where do you live - This determines the number of hours of good sunlight you will receive.
  • How much electricity do you currently use - Some people are energy hogs and some aren't
  • Do you want to have a grid-tie system or off-grid system - Off grid systems require a storage system of some sort (battery banks) unless you don't want power when the sun isn't shining
  • Are there any rebates/benefits - Some countries, states, and municipalities have benefits for purchasing and installing solar equipment which can reduce the total cost of the system

Depending on where you live, you can get more or less sun each day. You can check out our solar insolance page for more information on how many hours of sunlight you can expect.

Next, how much electricity do you use? Going green will probably cause you to change your electricity consumption. You will probably want to get rid of your "big energy users" such as electric range and electric water heaters. Switching these appliances out for natural gas or propane will help keep the size of your system smaller and thus more cost effective. Some people also switch out their AC water well pump for a DC version that will draw less power.

If you have your current electricity bill you can use the following equation to get a rough estimate of the items that you will need:

  1. Take your electicity bill and divide the KWH by 30. For example 995 KWH / 30 = 33.16 KWH / day
  2. Take that number and divide it by the average number of solar hours for your location. For example 45 KWH/day / 4.7 H = 7.06KW or 7,057 Watts
  3. Multiply that number by 1.2 for inefficiencies in conversion. For example 7,057 X 1.2 = 8468.4 Watts of Solar Panels Needed
  4. If you sell all excess directly to the power company and don't use a battery bank, a good estimate will be about $9 /Watt for the panels, inverters, and installation. For example 8,468.4 X 9 = $76,215.60. If you do it yourself you could probably get it down to around $7 / Watt or $59,278.80.
  5. If you use a battery bank you'd times that number by about 1.3. For example 59,278.8 X 1.3 = $77,062.44.

As you can see, the cost for a off-grid application can be prohibitive. If you want to just get your feet wet, then you can use a grid-tie system where you are just suplementing your electricity bill with your own power. If you are on a "on-peak", "off-peak" time schedule, then you can greatly benefit from a grid-tie system, because during the time when the power is most expensive, you are producing your own and possibly selling some of it back to the electric company and the higher rate. You can bulk charge your batteries during the "off-peak" times and use it during the "on-peak" times, thus lowering your electric bill even further.

There can be tax insentives for installing solar as well that can lower the cost to a more managable level.

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