When you’re installing a solar energy system, a lot of variables impact the price. Even if you and your next-door neighbor have solar systems that are the same size, you may end up paying very different prices. We’ll walk you through what variables change the price of your system so you can understand what will be the best system for you.
Evaluating the Per Unit Price of Your System: Gross Cost Per Watt
You can evaluate the cost of your solar energy system one of two ways, you can compare the total price, or you can compare the per unit price. When you want to understand the true comparative value of something, you need to calculate the per unit value. In real estate the per unit value is dollars per square foot, at the grocery store, you compare dollars per ounce. When buying a solar energy system you want to look at the dollars per watt. Simply take the full cost of your system and divide it by the nameplate size of the system. That will give you the dollars per watt or the gross cost per watt. Once you have the dollars per watt, you’ll be able to compare systems on a per unit basis and make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Core Equipment Choices: What Solar System Quality Do You Need?
- Type of Panels The more efficient the solar panel, the more expensive it is. In most cases you do not need the most efficient equipment to produce all the power that you need. EnergySage has analyzed testing information and classified panels into three performance categories, premium, standard and economy.
- Type of Inverter There are three main types of inverters, Centralized inverters, string inverters and power optimizers. Centralized inverters serve the whole system, while string inverters and power optimizers are attached to each panel in a system. String inverters and power optimizers are generally more expensive than centralized inverters.
- Type of Mounting System A solar energy system can be installed on the roof of a building or on the ground. If the system is installed on the ground, it can be equipped with a tracking system to maximize energy production. A more complex mounting system will increase your costs. You’ll want to have the solar panels facing south at a 30-degree angle for maximum production.
Labor and Installation Price: The Harder the Roof The Higher the Cost
- Warranties From warranties on workmanship to warranties on equipment having assurances on your solar energy installation can ensure that you get the most power from your system. Longer, more inclusive warranties will add more to the cost of your system.
- Complex Roof If your roof has multiple levels, an unusual angle or dormers and other embellishments, installing your system may be more complicated to arrange the panels for optimal energy production.
- Second or Third Story of The Roof As the altitude increases, for some installers so does the price. If you need to distribute the system over several elevations this will increase the complexity of the system.
- Type of Roofing Material It’s best install a solar energy system on a new roof. If the roof is tile like in the southwest or slate, like may roofs in New England the installation process may be more complex.
- Landscaping if you need to trim branches or landscape your area for optimal energy production this may add to the cost of your system.
System Upgrades: Being Ready Can Help You Go Solar Cheaper
- Improving Your Electrical System If your electrical system requires an upgrade in order to be up to code this may increase in the cost of the installation of your system.
- Upgrading Your Roof If your roof is older you may need to have it replaced or repaired before you install a solar energy system on it. A solar energy system can produce power for up to forty years. You’ll want to make sure you that your roof won’t need to be replaced in the near term.
Now that you understand all the variables that influence the cost of your solar energy system you can better evaluate the price tag of your system. The EnergySage Solar Marketplace can help you spend less on your solar energy system.