Until just recently, Texas was not even among the top 10 states for solar energy, thus many were surprised when the Lone Star State was ranked #3 in the U.S. for solar jobs in 2016. Texas is adopting solar at one of the fastest rates in the country, and for good reason. Prices dropped 20 percent last year, and a number of utilities across the state launched or extended major incentive programs for solar PV systems. In this article we’ll break down Texas solar prices and use a case study to explain how comparison shopping can help homeowners get a better deal.
How much do solar panels cost in Texas?
As of early 2017, the average cost for a solar panel system in Texas was $2.89 per watt. Because the typical system size in the U.S. is 5 kilowatts or 5,000 watts, the average price of a solar system in the state of Texas is $14,450 before any rebates and incentives like the sizable solar ITC.
In order to get a range for the average price of solar in Texas we examined average prices for 5kW systems after tax rebates. The current price range, post incentives, is between $8,995 – $11,977 in Texas, far below the national average for cost of solar after incentives at $11,060.
Though this price may seem affordable on its own, it’s beneficial to understand how Texas solar prices stack up with the rest of the country. The following data table from quotes offered to consumers on the EnergySage solar marketplace can offer insight as to why Texas’ solar industry is booming.
Texas vs national average solar pricing table
|SYSTEM SIZE||NATIONAL AVERAGE COST (With ITC)||Texas AVERAGE COST (With ITC)|
*Note – prices in this table have the 30% Federal solar subsidy already included
The above dataset reveals a large disparity between typical solar prices in Texas and the rest of the country. When looking at the solar industry as a whole, Texas is without a doubt one of the most affordable places to go solar in the U.S.
Texas solar case study: new opportunities open up for residential owners
Tim Cherry has been thinking about going solar for a long time. For the past forty years he’s been contemplating putting panels on the buildings on his 75 acre farm near Nacogdoches, Texas. But Tim wasn’t able to find an installer that he felt comfortable with, and he wasn’t sure about the price, until he got the information he needed on the EnergySage Marketplace.
Tim had always kept his eye on the price of putting a solar system on his home, but felt that it was just out of his reach. “I was sure it would be somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 and I don’t have that kind of money to spend.”
He knew prices were dropping though, and solar was a reality for a lot of people in places less sunny than Texas. When he would visit his son in Vermont, he noticed lots of homeowners had solar panels. “My idea was to find a company I liked up in Vermont and ask them to come down and do the installation in December or February, when they wouldn’t be doing much work.”
After reading an article in Mother Earth News about EnergySage, his plans became less complicated. Tim used the Solar Marketplace to start looking for the solar solution that would work for him. There he got the information he needed about what kind of solar energy would be right for his property. He received three quotes from installers working in his area (saving him a cross country trip) and decided to go with Circular Energy.
The project was moving along smoothly until it came time to hook Tim’s system up to the grid. Tim buys his power from the Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative. But Deep East Texas had never had a customer use solar energy before, and they were unsure about how to handle the administrative side of Tim’s solar system.
A successful story of net metering, solar installers in Texas and “magic”
Tim and Deep East Texas came to an agreement, Tim would serve as a pilot program for solar use. Deep East Texas would bill Tim using net metering, meaning Tim would use the power he generates first and then if there is extra, Deep East Texas would credit him for it. Or if Tim needs more he can buy power from the grid. Tim agreed to share data with Deep East Texas on how much his solar system produces and at what time so that they can have a first hand example of residential solar on their grid.
No one from Deep East Texas was available to speak with us by press time, but we will continue to reach out to them and include their point of view as this story continues.
Tim’s system is now up and running. He has 30 LG panels and a SMA inverter as well as an eGauge monitoring system. He expects his system to meet about 80% of his energy consumption needs annually, as it was designed to do.
When the photovoltaic system was installed, the engineers set Tim’s meter to read 1000 kilowatt hours as a baseline. Six days after installation, his electric meter reads only 1032 kilowatt hours.
“It’s like magic, it’s just like magic.” he says.
Three tips for solar shoppers in Texas
Homeowners who get multiple quotes save 10% or more
As with any big ticket purchase, shopping for a solar panel installation takes a lot of research and consideration, including a thorough review of the companies in your area. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recommended that consumers compare as many solar options as possible to avoid paying inflated prices offered by the large installers in the solar industry.
To find the smaller contractors that typically offer lower prices, you’ll need to use an installer network like EnergySage. You can receive free quotes from vetted installers local to you when you register your property on our Texas Solar Marketplace – homeowners who get 3 or more quotes can save thousands on their solar panel installation.
The biggest installers typically don’t offer the best price
The bigger isn’t always better mantra is one of the main reasons we strongly encourage homeowners to consider all of their solar options, not just the brands large enough to pay for the most advertising. A recent report by the U.S. government found that large installers are $2,000 to $5,000 more expensive than small solar companies. If you have offers from some of the big installers in solar, make sure you compare those bids with quotes from local installers to ensure you don’t overpay for solar.
Comparing all your equipment options is just as important
National-scale installers don’t just offer higher prices – they also tend to have fewer solar equipment options, which can have a significant impact on your system’s electricity production. By collecting a diverse array of solar bids, you can compare costs and savings based on the different equipment packages available to you.
There are multiple variables to consider when seeking out the best solar panels on the market. While certain panels will have higher efficiency ratings than others, investing in top-of-the-line solar equipment doesn’t always result in higher savings. The only way to find the “sweet spot” for your property is to evaluate quotes with varying equipment and financing offers.
For any homeowner in the early stage of shopping for solar that would just like a ballpark estimate for an installation, try our Solar Calculator or check out our Texas solar data explorer that offers up front cost and long term savings estimates based on people in your area who shopped for solar on EnergySage. For those looking to get quotes from local contractors today, check out our quote comparison platform.