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?
The cheapest places to buy solar panels: price in dollars per watt
If you’re wondering where 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 least expensive markets in the world, but nations like Germany and the U.S. aren’t far behind. Each offer 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 or the cheapest cost per watt (SunPower is very efficient while Canadian Solar tends to be very cheap). Regardless of your zip code, if you do the research and spend some time working with your installer it’s possible to find a cheap solar offer anywhere in the United States.
In 2017, the average solar energy price is around $3.16 per watt. That’s nine 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 $/W.)
Cheapest solar panels: lowest price per watt by state (2016)
|State||Price ($/W)||System Size (kW)||Brand (Panel)||Brand (Inverter)|
|California||$1.82||5.7||SolarWorld||Fronius USA, LLC.|
|Arizona||$2.16||6.6||Centrosolar America Inc.||Enphase Energy|
|Wisconsin||$2.21||19.2||Peimar Group||Fronius USA, LLC.|
|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 two 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 kW, 3.5 kW, 4 kW, 4.5 kW, 5 kW, 6kW, 7 kW, 8 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, you could choose to make your purchase entirely focused around cutting costs in the short term but the payback period of your solar panel system will take twice as long and your panels may never earn the return you expected.
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. At the end of the day, solar is about long term sustainable savings and not about finding a “steal.”
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
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 Solar Marketplace – homeowners who get 3 or more quotes can expect to save $5,000 to $10,000 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 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.