how much do solar panels cost

The cost of solar panels in 2021: are they worth it?

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With the cost of solar panels dropping every year, there’s never been a better time to go solar. A solar panel installation ranges in cost depending on a number of factors, including your state, equipment brand, and your personal energy use. That all brings us to a key question: how much do solar panels cost?

Find out what solar panels cost in your area in 2021

Key takeaways about solar panel cost

  • The cost of solar panels in 2021 is about $20,000 after tax credits ($2.81/Watt for a 10 kW system)
  • The cost of solar has fallen over 20% over the past 5 years – solar is more worth it than ever before!
  • The best way to get a fair price for solar is by comparing quotes on the EnergySage Marketplace

Solar panel cost in 2021: the highlights

What range of costs should you expect to see in quotes for a solar panel system? Solar panel costs for a 10 kilowatt (kW) installation in the U.S. ranges from $17,760 to $23,828 after the federal solar tax credit, and the average price per watt for solar panels ranges from $2.40 to $3.22.

How does system size impact the cost of solar?

Knowing the average cost per watt is helpful, but what does $2.81/watt actually mean for you? The cost of installing solar for your house or business depends on how much electricity you want to generate – a bigger system will cost more because you’ll need to buy more equipment and more labor will be needed to install it.

Here are some average costs for solar energy systems by size:

Average cost of solar panels based on system size

System sizeAverage solar panel system cost (before tax credits)Average solar panel system cost (after tax credits)
2 kW$5,620$4,159
3 kW$8,430$6,238
4 kW$11,240$8,318
5 kW$14,050$10,397
6 kW$16,860$12,476
7 kW$19,670$14,556
8 kW$22,480$16,635
9 kW$25,290$18,715
10 kW$28,100$20,794
12 kW$33,720$24,953
15 kW$42,150$31,191
20 kW$56,200$41,588
25 kW$70,250$51,985

These prices reflect the cost of a solar energy system both before AND after deducting the federal solar tax credit (known as the ITC), which reduces your solar system cost by 26 percent. Some states, local governments, and utilities also offer rebates and other tax incentives that can further reduce the solar system costs in your quotes from solar installers.

Remember, while bigger solar power systems may cost more, they’ll also save you more money in the long run. If you need to install a 10kW solar energy system to cover all of your electricity use, you might have to pay more out of pocket, but you’ll be cutting a significant monthly expense – your utility bill – and saving more money as a result. $0-down, low-interest solar loans are becoming increasingly common, making it even easier to buy a solar panel system and maximize your solar savings.

Cost of solar panels by state

As interesting as it is to look at the average solar panel cost in the United States, it’s also very helpful to understand what solar will cost in each state. Prices can vary significantly depending on where you live. Why? There are a number of reasons, but one important influencer to keep in mind is system size.

In general, states where homeowners need to use air conditioning more often have more average electricity used per household. As such, some of the largest solar panel systems are installed in sunny, warm states like Arizona and Florida. Why does this matter? For solar installers, the larger your system, the less they will usually charge per kilowatt-hour. It’s like buying in bulk at Costco – you might pay a higher sticker price, but your per-unit costs are lower when you buy more at one time.

Back to solar panels. In the end, this very roughly translates to lower $/watt pricing in warm states, and higher $/watt pricing in cold states. But in the end, it’s usually close to a wash on pricing – warm states have a lower price per watt, but larger system sizes, and cold states have a higher price per watt, but smaller system sizes.

2021 solar prices: average cost per watt by state

cost of solar panels by state

We’ve analyzed quote data from our solar marketplace to understand the range of solar panel system prices by state below. But as we said above, system sizes tend to be larger in states with lower pricing, so it’s not always fair to compare a 10 kW system in Florida to a 10 kW system in Massachusetts. Their energy needs are just too different.

Solar panel pricing in U.S. states

StateCost per watt ($/W)Solar panel cost range (6 kW system)Solar panel cost range (10 kW system)
Arizona$2.34$12,900 – $15,180$21,500 – $25,300
California$2.81$14,460 – $19,260$24,100 – $32,100
Colorado$3.16$16,740 – $21,180$27,900 – $35,300
Connecticut$2.81$15,240 – $18,480$25,400 – $30,800
Washington D.C.$3.37$15,600 – $24,840$26,000 – $41,400
Delaware$2.44$12,540 – $16,740$20,900 – $27,900
Florida$2.55$13,380 – $17,220$22,300 – $28,700
Georgia$2.98$16,020 – $19,740$26,700 – $32,900
Iowa$3.32$19,440 – $20,400$32,400 – $34,000
Idaho$3.24$14,400 – $24,480$24,000 – $40,800
Illinois$3.05$16,500 – $20,100$27,500 – $33,500
Indiana$2.82$14,760 – $19,080$24,600 – $31,800
Louisiana$3.01$16,020 – $20,100$26,700 – $33,500
Massachusetts$2.99$16,020 – $19,860$26,700 – $33,100
Maryland$2.96$15,180 – $20,340$25,300 – $33,900
Maine$2.68$14,760 – $17,400$24,600 – $29,000
Michigan$3.01$15,540 – $20,580$25,900 – $34,300
Minnesota$3.10$16,860 – $20,340$28,100 – $33,900
Montana$2.87$15,060 – $19,380$25,100 – $32,300
North Carolina$2.69$13,800 – $18,480$23,000 – $30,800
New Hampshire$3.11$16,860 – $20,460$28,100 – $34,100
New Jersey$2.48$12,780 – $16,980$21,300 – $28,300
New Mexico$2.97$14,760 – $20,880$24,600 – $34,800
Nevada$2.31$12,420 – $15,300$20,700 – $25,500
New York$3.12$16,380 – $21,060$27,300 – $35,100
Ohio$2.67$14,580 – $17,460$24,300 – $29,100
Oregon$2.80$14,760 – $18,840$24,600 – $31,400
Pennsylvania$2.85$14,640 – $19,560$24,400 – $32,600
Rhode Island$3.00$15,780 – $20,220$26,300 – $33,700
South Carolina$3.00$16,380 – $19,620$27,300 – $32,700
Texas$2.76$14,280 – $18,840$23,800 – $31,400
Utah$2.64$13,800 – $17,880$23,000 – $29,800
Virginia$2.92$15,540 – $19,500$25,900 – $32,500
Vermont$2.81$12,900 – $20,820$21,500 – $34,700
Washington$2.65$14,100 – $17,700$23,500 – $29,500
Wisconson$3.05$16,800 – $19,800$28,000 – $33,000

NOTE: These ranges are system prices BEFORE the 26 percent federal tax credit for solar. 

The biggest takeaway from this data isn’t that some states are “better” than others when it comes to solar prices: it’s that solar panel cost is low and affordable across the board. Almost every single state falls within a $0.50 cent margin of the $2.81 per watt national average. An additional takeaway is that many of the top 10 solar states in the U.S. for installed solar capacity are higher than the national average for cost per watt (including the nation’s leader for installed solar capacity, California). Clearly, solar isn’t only worth it in the regions of the United States where costs are extremely low – there is a healthy trend of adoption across the states without direct correlation to lowest cost per watt.

We’ve put together a quick video explaining the factors that go into the price you’ll see for a solar energy system. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Solar panel cost by manufacturer brand

Another way to break down solar panel price data is by the brand of panel. The following table was made using data from the EnergySage Solar Marketplace and tracks the average cost of 6kw and 10kw solar panel systems by the brand of solar panel used in the installation project.

Average prices of solar panel systems by panel brand

ManufacturerCost per wattPrice range (6kw system)Price range (10kw system)
Axitex$2.58$13,740 – $17,220$22,900 – $28,700
Boviet$2.53$15,180 – $15,180$25,300 – $25,300
Canadian Solar Inc.$2.77$14,400 – $18,840$24,000 – $31,400
CertainTeed Solar$2.72$15,360 – $17,280$25,600 – $28,800
Hanwha SolarOne$2.80$16,800 – $16,800$28,000 – $28,000
Heliene$2.94$15,180 – $20,100$25,300 – $33,500
Hyundai$3.02$14,880 – $21,360$24,800 – $35,600
JA Solar$3.12$17,040 – $20,400$28,400 – $34,000
Jinko Solar$2.84$14,760 – $19,320$24,600 – $32,200
KYOCERA Solar, Inc.$5.00$30,000 – $30,000$50,000 – $50,000
LG Solar$2.76$14,400 – $18,720$24,000 – $31,200
LONGi Solar$3.00$15,600 – $20,400$26,000 – $34,000
Mission Solar Energy$2.54$13,980 – $16,500$23,300 – $27,500
Panasonic$2.84$14,880 – $19,200$24,800 – $32,000
Peimar Group$3.00$15,780 – $20,220$26,300 – $33,700
Phono Solar$2.93$16,380 – $18,780$27,300 – $31,300
Q CELLS$2.52$12,600 – $17,640$21,000 – $29,400
REC$2.91$14,640 – $20,280$24,400 – $33,800
Risen$2.34$13,500 – $14,580$22,500 – $24,300
S-Energy$3.21$15,000 – $23,520$25,000 – $39,200
Silfab Solar$2.79$14,520 – $18,960$24,200 – $31,600
Solaria$2.80$14,820 – $18,780$24,700 – $31,300
SunPower Corporation$3.30$18,480 – $21,120$30,800 – $35,200
Talesun Solar Co.$2.76$14,220 – $18,900$23,700 – $31,500
Tesla$2.74$14,940 – $17,940$24,900 – $29,900
Trina Solar$2.93$15,960 – $19,200$26,600 – $32,000
Vikram Solar$3.07$15,840 – $21,000$26,400 – $35,000

NOTE: These ranges are system prices BEFORE the 26 percent federal tax credit for solar.

The price you pay for a solar panel brand is reflective of panel quality to a degree. For example, systems using SunPower panels see the highest average prices ($18,480 – $21,120 for a 6 kW system and $30,800 – $35,200 for a 10 kW system), and SunPower is known for producing well made high-efficiency panel products. Interestingly, there aren’t that many outliers when it comes to brand pricing, and most manufacturers see generally similar cost ranges. It’s important to keep in mind that when comparing system prices based on panel brands used, there are so many factors like installer experience, location, racking equipment, inverter brand, a more aside from just panel manufacturer that impact the final system price.

What impacts the cost of a solar panel installation?

A home solar quote contains the all-in price that you’ll be expected to pay when you install a solar energy system on your roof. As you start to explore solar offers for your home, you’ll notice that there are pricing variations between installers – what are the factors that make up the cost of your solar energy system?

First, there’s the equipment. Not all solar panels (or inverters or batteries) are created equal, and more efficient equipment comes with a higher price tag. More efficient, higher-quality equipment comes with benefits that may be worth the added cost, however: better hardware can produce more electricity with the same amount of sunlight, and often comes with a more comprehensive warranty, too.

The falling cost of solar panels

the falling cost of solar panel prices

While equipment costs make up a significant portion of your solar energy system quote, the cost of permits and labor are also a factor. Typically, you will have to pay a fee to get your solar energy system connected to the grid. Additionally, there’s a significant amount of manpower required to take your solar idea to a reality – designing a system, coordinating a site visit, filing permits, and installing the solar panels all take time and cost money.

The characteristics of your home can also play a part in your total costs. If you have a south-facing roof that slopes at a 30-degree angle, installing solar on your home will be very easy, because there are no additional accommodations to be made. Conversely, if your roof has multiple levels, dormers, or skylights, the additional effort to finish the installation may bring (slight) additional costs.

Another factor that can increase the cost of your solar energy system is marketing and sales spending. Solar installers spend money trying to attract customers, whether through phone calls, door-to-door salespeople, flyers, or other forms of direct advertising. Luckily, this is a cost you can control: by using an online comparison-shopping platform like the EnergySage Solar Marketplace, you can lower the costs your installer would otherwise incur by trying to market to you.

In conclusion: are solar panels worth it?

At the end of the day, the cost of solar is only as important as the return you’ll get from installing solar panels. For most homeowners, solar is a worthwhile investment, and you can “break even” in as few as 7 or 8 years. From that point on, you’re essentially generating free electricity and racking up the savings.

Of course, just like the cost of solar panels varies by state, your payback with solar will also vary depending on where you live. As a general rule, places where electricity is most expensive (California, New York, Massachusetts for example) will lead to the most lifetime savings from a solar panel system. Check out our article about electricity rates and solar savings for a more in-depth explanation of how this actually works.

You can read more about the payback and cost-benefit of solar in our article, “Are solar panels worth it?“. Or, head to our solar calculator for an instant estimate of your savings potential!

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Find out what solar panels cost in your area in 2021

164 thoughts on “The cost of solar panels in 2021: are they worth it?

  1. AvatarGary Tulie

    Every state in the US is very expensive for solar arrays compared to many other markets like the UK. Germany, and Australia.

    In the UK you get companies advertising 4 kW systems installed for around £4,000 or approximately $1.30 per watt WITHOUT any tax incentive.

    Systems complete with batteries can be purchased for less than the US cost of an array and that’s even with the US tax rebate.

    Biggest difference in the UK, very low soft costs as no planning or grid connection permissions or inspections generally required for sub 4 kW systems installed by accredited installers

    Reply
  2. AvatarBrian

    I will have 12 solar panels with 4.2 kilo watts installed on new property. Can I get a few quotes on a purchase with CA. rebate incentives? May not be built until early 2021.

    Reply
    1. AvatarMatthew

      Hey Brian, a 4.2 Kw in California should cost you about 6K after the federal tax incentive. That’s with Jinko Solar panels and Enphase micro inverters. The system I installed was a little bigger than that, but that would be the price if transferred over to a 4.2. I actually got the system from a really cool company that is making waves in the solar industry. It’s called project solar. Projectsolar.io. They give you an install guide/videos and ship everything to your house. Took me and a buddy about 2 days to install.

      Reply
  3. AvatarDerek

    The chart “Average cost of solar panels based on system size” uses $2.96/kW for all pre-ITC and all the sizes of systems. This seems unrealistic because larger systems should be less.

    Reply
  4. AvatarHenrick Jeanty

    Tony Acosta,
    Google “solar cost calculator” and take your pick. The sites will ask you all kinds of questions and can figure out what your average needs are.
    You can also just look at your bill over the last year or years and see how many Kwh you have been using. You can see the changes over the seasons due to use of AC, heating, etc…
    Some place will even figure out the amount of lights your panels would get based on the image of your home’s roof on Google Earth (or some other satellite image) and your latitude.
    So, you can do this yourself, based on your recent usage or get even more interesting details based on those websites.

    Reply

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