solar panel cost

How much do solar panels cost in the U.S. in 2019?

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You’ve probably heard about how solar energy can reduce your electricity bills, but what solar panel cost should you expect to see? The easiest way to calculate the average cost of solar panels is to look at its price in dollars per watt ($/W), which is relatively consistent across the United States.

Solar panel cost: what to expect in 2019

In 2019, the average national solar panel cost is $3.05/watt. The average solar panel system size in the U.S is approximately 6 kilowatts (kW), therefore an average solar panel system would cost $12,810 after tax credits. That’s more than two percent lower than it was just a year ago, and solar panel system costs are continuing to fall.

What range of costs should you expect to see in quotes for a solar panel system? The average price per watt for solar panels ranges from $2.67 to $3.43, and solar panel costs for an average-sized installation in the U.S. usually range from $11,214 to $14,406 after solar tax credits.

solar panel cost graphic

How does system size impact the cost of solar panels?

Knowing the average cost per watt is helpful, but what does $3.05/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.

Below are some average quotes 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$6,100$4,270
3 kW$9,150$6,405
4 kW$12,200$8,540
5 kW$15,250$10,675
6 kW$18,300$12,810
7 kW$21,350$14,945
8 kW$24,400$17,080
10 kW$30,500$21,350
12 kW$36,600$25,620
15 kW$45,750$32,025
20 kW$61,000$42,700
25 kW$76,250$53,375

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 30 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.

However, to really understand what a single solar panel will cost and what a complete solar system will cost for your house, it’s important to compare prices quoted to homeowners in your area – total costs can vary depending on the state that you live in.

Average 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. A number of factors impact this variation – one of the most influential is the cost of electricity. That’s one reason for why Florida’s average solar cost is so much lower than the cost of solar in Massachusetts – electricity costs in the Northeast are high when compared to the rest of the U.S. Take a look at the graphic below, which contains average cost per watt prices by state from 2019.

2019 solar prices: average cost per watt by state

solar panel cost per watt by state

Varying costs per watt means that the total installation price of solar panels also varies state to state. EnergySage analyzed quote data from the EnergySage Solar Marketplace to develop a range of solar panel system prices for different states:

Solar panel pricing in U.S. states

StateSolar panel cost range (6 kW system)Solar panel cost range (10 kW system)
Arizona$10,332 – $12,096$17,220 - $20,160
California$11,928 – $15,204$19,880 – $25,340
Colorado$11,676 – $14,952$19,460 – $24,920
Connecticut$12,222 – $15,078$20,370 – $25,130
Florida$9,198 – $11,970$15,330 – $19,950
Illinois$11,424 – $13,944$19,040 – $23,240
Maryland$10,332 – $12,768$17,220 – $21,280
Massachusetts$12,264 – $15,372$20,440 – $25,620
New Hampshire$12,096 – $14,868$20,160 – $24,780
New Jersey$11,802 – $14,574$19,670 – $24,290
New York$12,264 – $16,044$20,440 – $26,740
North Carolina$10,500 – $14,196$17,500 – $23,660
Ohio$10,374 – $13,062$17,290 – $21,770
Oregon$11,802 – $15,162$19,670 – $25,270
Pennsylvania$11,634 – $14,490$19,390 – $24,150
Rhode Island$13,104 – $15,792$21,840 – $26,320
South Carolina$11,886 – $14,574$19,810 – $24,290
Texas$10,962 – $13,818$18,270 – $23,030
Virginia$10,416 – $13,356$17,360 – $22,260
Washington$9,954 – $13,650$16,590 – $22,750

NOTE: These ranges are system prices AFTER the 30 percent federal tax credit for solar. 

Remember, while bigger solar power systems may cost more, they also should result in more savings. 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.

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 state falls within a $0.50 cent margin of the $3.05 per watt national average for 2019. 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, 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.

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

ManufacturerPrice range (6kw system)Price range (10kw system
Axitec$14,640 – $16,080$24,400 – $26,800
Canadian Solar$16,020 – $21,060$26,700 – $35,100
Centrosolar$16,080 – $16,320$26,800 – $27,200
ET Solar$17,640 – $18,840$29,400 – $31,400
Hanwha Q CELLS$15,540 – $19,740$25,900 – $32,900
Heliene$13,800 – $18,960$23,000 – $31,600
Hyundai$16,140 – $18,540$26,900 – $30,900
Itek Energy$14,700 – $19,740$24,500 – $32,900
JA Solar$15,660 – $19,500$26,100 – $32,500
JinkoSolar$14,460 – $18,900$24,100 – $31,500
LG$16,680 – $21,600$27,800 – $36,000
LONGi Solar$15,240 – $17,760$25,400 – $29,600
Mission Solar$15,540 – $18,540$25,900 – $30,900
Panasonic$16,080 – $20,160$26,800 – $33,600
Peimar Group$17,460 – $22,620$29,100 – $37,700
Phono Solar$19,080 – $19,080$31,800 – $31,800
REC Americas$14,640 – $18,360$24,400 – $30,600
Seraphim$14,460 – $19,260$24,100 – $32,100
Silfab Solar$16,080 – $20,880$26,800 – $34,800
SolarTech Universal$14,280 – $17,760$23,800 – $29,600
SolarWorld$16,380 – $18,660$27,300 – $31,100
Solaria$17,520 – $20,760$29,200 – $34,600
SunPower$17,940 – $22,380$29,900 – $37,300
SunSpark$17,280 – $18,840$28,800 – $31,400
Trina Solar$15,360 – $19,560$25,600 – $32,600
Upsolar$16,140 – $22,980$26,900 – $38,300

NOTE: These ranges are system prices BEFORE the 30 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 ($17,940 – $22,380 for a 6 kW system and $29,900 – $37,300 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.

How much does a single solar panel cost?

Many homeowners are wondering how much a single solar panel costs as a way to understand the overall breakdown of their system or to calculate estimates for DIY solar projects. The simple answer is that it depends on the amount of leverage a buyer has, the type of panel, and the size of the system.

For example, because solar installers have direct relationships with distributors and can buy in bulk, they can often purchase solar panels at a rate much lower than the average consumer. Solar companies can typically get a single solar panel at a price of $0.75 per watt. Therefore, if the solar panel output is 250 watts, that single panel might cost you $187.50. However, if a homeowner is trying to buy one or two panels on their own for a small DIY project, they will likely pay closer to $1 per watt. That means the same solar panel could cost closer to $250.

For those looking for a range for the cost of panels, it will run from as low as $0.85 per watt to $1.25 per watt with output ranging from 150W to 350W for a typical solar panel. If those numbers seem low, remember that an installation has added costs thanks to the inverters, solar batteries and other additional equipment needed for a complete solar energy system. Overall, there’s no question that the equipment will be significantly cheaper when working with a solar installer rather than trying to find a deal online as a consumer.

 

solar panel cost graphic

Factors that impact the cost of 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) 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

falling solar panel cost over time

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.

Solar panel savings calculator: how much can you save with solar?

So how much are your neighbors actually saving over 20 years as a result of installing a solar energy system? As you might expect, this depends on where you live – different cities and states have electricity costs charged by your local utility company, different amounts of sunshine, and different local rebates and incentives for going solar. For example, homeowners will save about $17,000 on average in Portland when they go solar. In Boston, homeowners will save about $43,000 on average, and in Los Angeles, homeowners can save a whopping $50,000 over 20 years.

Top cities for 20-year solar savings in 2019

solar payback period data by state

Your solar panel payback period will also depend on where you live. The average U.S. household can break even on their solar energy system in just over 7 years, but in many cities that number is even lower – Jersey City, Washington DC, and Boston all have payback periods of six years or less. In order to calculate your own customized instant savings estimate based on your roof and not just your city, try our solar savings and cost calculator.

Three Tips for Solar Shoppers

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

solar panel cost graphic

NOTE: the data in this piece was last updated January 2019 and is updated every 6 months.

118 thoughts on “How much do solar panels cost in the U.S. in 2019?

  1. Don't Buy Solar Panels Before Seeing This

    Thanks for all the information. It was very helpful. Some other thoughts…
    It’s not a do-it-yourself project for most people. The usual thing is to look under “solar” in your phone book for a professional installer. If there aren’t any nearby, it may not make financial sense in your area. There is no typical size of system, but within a factor of 2, an installed system tends to cost about $20,000, from which you get a 30% federal tax credit, and possibly other state and local incentives.

  2. Timothy Davis

    HELLO,

    YOUR CHART SHOWING SOLAR PANEL PRICING IN THE U.S. ARE THOSE INSTALLED PRICES OR ARE THOSE JUST THE COST OF THE PANELS. I’M LOOKING FOR A 10KW SYSTEM WHICH WILL COVER ROUGHLY 70% OF MY ELECTRICAL NEEDS (I LIVE IN SW FLORIDA) I’M TRYING TO FIGURE THE BREAK DOWN BETWEEN THE PANEL COST AND THE COST FOR INSTALLATION

  3. ariel J morandy

    to Timothy Davis
    I believe those are the cost including installation, because I did research lately and what I see in their charts is very close to the quotes I got .
    -Installation
    – Equipment
    – Permit.

  4. Wyatt Lewis

    I’m a solar installer located in MS. I can tell you that we price systems based on the dollars per watt. This price includes everything, the racking and rails, wire, conduit, inverter(s,) labor etc. For us in MS to do the install at the best price available for materials we generally charge around $3.00 per watt. The size of the system varies depending on many factors, like how much energy you consume on a daily basis being the main one. You can find this out by calling your local power company and asking for a detailed bill report and see how many kWh of energy you use monthly and create and average for an entire year.

  5. Richard

    Still pretty much an emerging industry with long payback time and too many scams. Note there is no discussion of battery systems which I consider critical to using these systems if you don’t live somewhere you get 24 hours of sunlight daily. Selling to local power company and then buying back at tens times the cost is not a serious option. Currently you can add about $12k for battery system and another 3k for management system and electrical network interface. The real cost of electricity in the U.S. is transmission, not generation. So unless you are willing to go all in for about 25k to 30k for a two person household less than 2000 square ft with significant annual maintenance costs, then you are going to be hooked up to the local grid.

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