Cheap Solar Panels: How to Get the Lowest Price Per Watt on the Market

cheapest solar panels per watt EnergySage

You may be looking for the cheapest solar panels available in 2016 in order to really cash in on solar power. And sure, when you install solar on your home or business, you can save thousands on your electricity bills. But going solar isn’t automatically cheap: buying solar panels to install on your roof typically costs thousands of dollars. It’s no wonder that the cost of solar is among the most important considerations for today’s homeowners. If you’re thinking about going solar and worried about prices, you’re probably wondering: what are the best value solar panels and will solar get even cheaper?

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The cheapest places to buy solar panels : price in dollars per watt  

For anyone wondering where they’ll be able to get solar energy cheap, there are a number of ways to evaluate the expense of solar based on location. Chinese solar panels are known for being one  of the most inexpensive markets in the world but nations like Germany and the U.S. aren’t far behind and each hold their own benefit for having solar brands that offer world record performance. Certain markets may be more favorable than others in the U.S. (such as California and Texas) and certain solar panel brands are known for being the most efficient and the cheapest dollars per watt (SunPower is very efficient while Canadian Solar tends to be very cheap). But regardless, many solar installers are willing to work with your solar preferences and thus if you request a certain brand of panels, you should be able to get the best solar module prices available in the U.S. Regardless of your zip code, if you do the research and look at the data it’s possible to find a cheap solar offer anywhere in the United States.

In 2016, the average solar energy price is around $3.70 per watt. That’s 12 percent lower than it was a year ago, and prices continue to fall. So there’s no doubt that, regardless of how you finance your solar panel system, going solar will be an economical process with strong returns. However, if you know where to look and compare all of your options ahead of time, you can bring the costs of your solar power installation down even lower.

EnergySage compiled a list of the cheapest solar power systems offered to shoppers who compared solar quotes in the EnergySage Solar Marketplace. We’ve included information on solar module prices, location, system size (in kilowatts), and the solar panel and inverter brands included in the quote. (Note: because solar panel systems are different sizes, the best way to compare solar prices across different states is to look at the dollars per watt, or $/W.)

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Cheapest solar panels: lowest price per watt by state

State Price ($/W) System Size (kW) Brand (Panel) Brand (Inverter)
California $1.82 5.7 SolarWorld Fronius USA, LLC.
Massachusetts $2.01 12.3 LG Solar Bridge
Arizona $2.16 6.6 Centrosolar America Inc. Enphase Energy
Wisconsin $2.21 19.2 Peimar Group Fronius USA, LLC.
Arizona $2.27 12.0 Hanwha SMA America
Florida $2.30 10.0 Axitec Fronius USA, LLC.
Texas $2.37 10.1 REC Solar ASA Fronius USA, LLC.
North Carolina $2.42 11.8 Trina Solar Energy co Ltd SMA America
Ohio $2.42 19.9 Kyocera Solar, Inc. Fronius USA, LLC.
Florida $2.44 15.9 Canadian Solar Inc. Fronius USA, LLC.


With these solar energy prices in mind, here are the key takeaways from our pricing data:

  • You can find inexpensive solar power no matter where you live. Solar shoppers in California, Massachusetts, and everywhere in between saw low cost solar options for their homes.
  • There are many affordable solar panel and inverter types.  You don’t have to choose between only 2 brands to get the best value solar cell or price per watt, which is great news.
  • A bigger solar panel system means a better solar bargain. While the average system size in the U.S. is around 5 kilowatts (kW), all but two of these solar panel deals have 10kW systems or larger – that’s pretty big!

For more information about the average cost to go solar in different states across the U.S., compare prices and installers across the country for 3.5kW, 4.5kW5kW6kW, 7 kW8 kW and 10kW solar systems.

If you want to find the cheapest solar panels on the market in your state, get started by joining the EnergySage Solar Marketplace today. With EnergySage, you can compare multiple offers from qualified solar companies to find the best solar panel deals for your home. 

Will solar panels get cheaper? What to expect for solar energy prices

Finding the lowest possible price tag for your solar panel installation might sound like the best way to save money when you go solar. However, cutting your purchase price is only one way to maximize the cash back in your pocket.Solar is a big investment. If you want to maximize your long-term solar savings, it’s important to take the quality of your equipment into consideration. Not all solar panels are created equal – a more expensive panel might have a better warranty, or might be able to generate more electricity than a low cost option. You may hear suggestions to order the cheapest solar cells available on sites like Ebay but in taking that approach, you will lose quality and the real benefit of solar energy lies in it’s ability to convert sunlight into available power effectively. In short, perhaps you could make your  purchase entirely focused around cutting costs in the short term but the pay back period of your solar panel system will take twice as long and your panels may never earn the return you expected.

Furthermore, many homeowners have noticed the plummeting cost of solar and are thus wondering if solar panels will get cheaper after they install a solar power system. For those wondering if they should go solar now or wait for a lower price, the simple frame of thinking is that solar is quickly entering mainstream adoption as an ecofriendly way to save money, improve home value and lower carbon footprint. Therefore, as adoption of solar grows, cost will stabilize and data is already supporting this trend so it’s important that people take advantage of awesome solar incentives like the solar tax credit before they expire.

Long term benefits trump the thrift shop solar mentality

While cheap solar panels can be a good value, they don’t always save you the most money over the long term. Therefore, it’s a good idea to think about panel performance and efficiency rather than just searching for the most discounted solar price – solar is certainly about long term sustainable savings and not about finding a steal as a primary priority. Luckily, you don’t need to pay serious cash out of pocket to get the best solar panel deal. With most solar loans today, you don’t have to pay any money down. In many cases, your new monthly solar loan payments will be lower than your old electricity bill costs, so you’ll start seeing the financial benefits of solar as soon as you install. Here’s some advice for the modern day solar shopper:

Three tips for solar shoppers looking to get a good deal

  1. When it comes to solar quotes, the more the merrier

    Just like any big ticket purchase, shopping for a solar panel installation is a long process that will involve a lot of research and consideration. Amidst that research process should be a thorough review of every option available to you and every solar company that serves your area. Of course, in order to find the small contractors that cannot afford to run TV commercials across your state, you’ll need to use an installer network like EnergySage. If you’d like to get some free quotes from vetted installers in your state or even town, register your property on our Solar Marketplace – homeowners who get 3 or more quotes can expect to save $5,000 to $10,000 on their solar panel installation.

  2. The biggest company will not always offer the best price

    The bigger isn’t always better mantra is one of the main reasons we strongly recommend that homeowners consider all of their solar options, not just the brands big enough to buy the most advertising. In rooftop solar, a few big companies control the majority of the market and their business model is built on the assumption that homeowners won’t bother looking at all of their options. On the contrary, small installers on EnergySage are aware that they are competing for your business and thus offer lower quotes. If you have offers from some of the big installers  in solar, make sure you compare those bids with quotes from local installers in your area to guarantee you don’t overpay for solar.

  3.  Comparing all your equipment options is just as important

    Just as large installers will not need to offer lower prices because they face lower competition, they are also unlikely to offer a variety of solar equipment options – they may just  offer one brand of solar panel or inverter. For this reason, it is equally as important to get a diverse selection of solar bids so you can compare costs and savings based on the different equipment packages available to you.

    Certain panels will have much higher efficiency ratings than others. Depending on where you live and the roof you have, you may or may not need to pay more for top-notch solar equipment. There are multiple variables to consider when seeking out the best solar panels on the market. Your roof may best suit an economy solar panel – the only way to find out is to look at quotes that have varying equipment and financing offers.

For any homeowner in the early stage of shopping for solar that would just like to get a ballpark estimate for an installation, try our Solar Calculator that offers up front cost and long term savings estimates based on your location and roof type. For those looking to get quotes from local contractors today, check out our quote comparison platform.

cheap solar panels graphic

7 thoughts on “Cheap Solar Panels: How to Get the Lowest Price Per Watt on the Market

  1. Phillip Geil

    I just self-installed an additional 5.7 kW Suniva 285W panels, tiltable, on the ground, Enphase microinverter, Unirac rails (20 panels) for $9600 total before Federal or state rebate. That equals @1.68/watt, $1.17/w after federal tax rebate, in Illinois; far less than the prices you list

    1. Mel leveque

      Did you go off grid.?
      If not, how did you connect to the grid?
      Does your state offer net metering?
      What is the process, and how much red tape to get a new meter @r your house?

  2. shiban

    As an uneducated customer in solar energy program . I do not understand the quotes from different vendors offering almost similar products at quite different prices.

  3. Tobias Armstrong

    I really like the way you summed it up by saying that long term benefits of good solar panels trump the idea that cheaper is better. If it were me buying solar panels (and in a couple of years it will be), I’d want to make sure I was buying something that was going to give me the best value possible. Saving money in the short run doesn’t always save money in the long run, and that’s hard to remember sometimes. Thanks for sharing!

  4. lusekelo

    This is a great summary and it shows that the dollar/kw keeps going down and this is a good news for all solar enrgy lovers


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