If you are already familiar with the cost of solar energy installation and how much solar panels will save, but want to know more about the steps involved in the solar installation process then I recommend this linked article. However, to see average solar power system cost and how to use a solar cost and savings estimator to calculate the cost of solar panels for your home read below.
Why does solar installation cost change from house to house?
People generally install a solar electric system to eliminate electricity bills they are paying to their electric company.
In the 32 states that offer net metering, it’s relatively easy to work out the type of system you need once you know the electricity usage you are trying to cover.
Going back to averages, fortunately, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) publishes data on average electricity usage:
Average electricity usage for the top solar states in America
|State||Monthly Usage kWh||Annual Average Usage kWh|
|New York||595 kWh||7,140|
|South Carolina||1115 kWh||13,380|
How many solar panels do I need to power my home?
The number of solar panels a home needs is a function of the electricity use we are trying to replace and the climatic conditions where you live.
For this example, we are assuming the average of 10,766 kWh per year, the average energy use in the table above.
The reason the climatic conditions are important is that these conditions will determine the amount of electricity generated by each solar panel that you install. Sunnier areas such as Arizona produce more electricity per kW of solar panels installed than areas like the northeast where it is cloudy much more often.
How much power do solar panels produce in my city?
The table below shows the average number of kWh’s (kilowatt hours) of energy produced each year by 1 kW of solar panels installed on a south-facing roof in each of the listed states. You can find out how much is produced in the other states, (and even down to a specific house in the states listed below), by using the How much power will your solar panels produce?
Enter your zip code and electricity cost to calculate your annual solar power generation and total savings over 25 years.
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|State||Annual Production from solar panels kWh|
|New York||1230 kWh|
|South Carolina||1350 kWh|
So now if we combine the two tables above we can work out how many solar panels the average house in each state would need to cover their entire electricity usage.
What size of solar system is needed to power a home in each state?
The table below shows the kilowatts of peak capacity solar needed to cover the average power bill in each state. It lists a system size in kilowatts rather than a specific number of panels because solar panels can come in different wattages, or different power outputs. For residential solar panels, the wattage of an individual panel is typically in the range of 270 watts per panel up to 360 watts per panel.
|State||Required system size to cover average household electricity usage in that state|
|New York||5.8 kWh|
|South Carolina||9.91 kWh|
So what does a fully installed solar power system cost in each state?
At SolarReviews we have two sources of solar panel cost data. The Lawrence-Berkeley Labs (funded by the DOE) data which covers about 90% of solar power installations on homes in America and the solar panel cost information from Solar-Estimate.org. This is the largest home solar marketplace in America, used by around 10,000 consumers a day to collect information about home solar and get quotes from solar companies.
In California, where the average system required is 4.23 kW, SolarReviews research data shows that the average solar panel installation cost as of Jan 2020 is $2.78 per watt, meaning the 4.23 kW system would be $11,753 before the solar tax credit and $8,701 after the federal tax credit.
In Arizona, where a 7 kW system is the average and our data shows the average cost as of Jan 2020 is $2.73 per watt, the average system cost comes out to $19,110 before the tax credit and $14,141 after the tax credit.
In Florida, where energy use is very high and the average system needed is around 10kW, the average cost of a solar system is $27,000 or $19,980 after the 26% solar tax credit.
In Utah, another very competitive solar market, where the average system size needed is 5.7 kW and the average system cost per watt is $2.73, the average cost of an installed residential solar system is $15,561 before the tax credit and around $11,515 after the 26% solar tax credit.
However, it should be remembered that there are a lot of really competitive zero-down solar loans available now and so most people can get a system with monthly repayments less than their energy bill savings.
How would the cost of solar for your house compare to the average?
Obviously, the cost will be more if your energy usage is more than the above averages but this usually also means your lifetime savings from going solar are much more than average.
Your house and its characteristics will also affect the cost you will face going solar and the best way to get an accurate estimate is to enter the details of your home, like your energy usage, into the solar panels calculator to receive an online solar cost and savings estimate. You will also get expert advice from one of our local pre-screened solar companies.
Who are the best solar panel installation companies near me?
SolarReviews is the largest reviews site for the US residential solar industry. You can visit our solar panel reviews pages to find both consumer and expert reviews of solar panel manufacturers and also our solar panel installation reviews pages to find consumer reviews of solar panel installers near you.