Until recently, Texas wasn’t among the top 10 for solar energy, leaving many surprised to discover that the Lone Star State was ranked #3 in the U.S. for solar jobs in 2016. Texas is adopting solar at one of the fastest rates in the country, and for good reason. Solar prices dropped by 20 percent in 2016, and a number of utilities across the state created or extended major incentive programs for solar PV systems.
If you’re considering solar in Texas, there are three cities that lead the way in terms of pricing and incentives. In this article we’ll analyze Fort Worth, El Paso and Dallas as top cities for solar in Texas and explain what you should expect to pay for a rooftop solar array.
How much do solar panels cost in Dallas, Forth Worth and El Paso?
As of the end of 2016, the average cost for solar panels in Fort Worth, Dallas and El Paso was $3.16, $3.24 and $3.48 per watt respectively. Since the average system size in the U.S. is 5 kilowatts (5,000 watts), that means the average price of a solar panel installation in these cities before any tax rebates or incentives is the following:
- Fort Worth: $15,805
- Dallas: $16,216
- El Paso: $17,383
All of these prices are very competitive for the U.S. solar industry (considering the hefty ITC subsidy is not yet factored in). In fact, both Fort Worth and Dallas are currently seeing prices well below the national average, which is just over $17K. To get a feel for how these city prices stack up with the overall state of Texas and greater nation, check out this comparison pricing table:
Solar installation cost in Texas’ top cities compared to state and national average
|Location||Solar price range (5 kW)||Solar price range (10 kW)|
|Fort Worth||$9,664 - $12,464||$19,328 - $24,928|
|El Paso||$10,768 - $13,568||$21,537 - $27,137|
|Dallas||$9,951 - $12,751||$19,902 - $25,502|
|Texas||$10,010 - $12,810||$20,020 - $25,620|
|United States||$10,220 - $13,650||$20,440 - $27,300|
*Note – prices in this table have already factored in the 30% Federal solar subsidy
The above table, which uses pricing data from solar quotes received by homeowners on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace in 2016, offers a comparison of Fort Worth, El Paso and Dallas prices to Texas and the U.S. as a whole. The data reveals a significant disparity between Dallas and Fort Worth and the greater state and the rest of the nation. And yet overall, all three Texas cities were below or roughly equal to the national average.
Texas solar incentives: utility rebate programs and net metering
One of the key contributors to Texas’ solar success has been its extensive incentive offers throughout the state. Many Texas utilities offer some sort of rebate or incentive for homeowners who install solar panels. For example, CPS Energy and Oncor both offer customers a cash rebate worth a few thousand dollars when they go solar. Make sure to check out your local utility’s website and ask about any incentive programs for solar.
Perhaps one of the biggest overall reasons for solar’s popularity in the U.S. is the concept of net metering. Through net metering, excess solar production is sent to the grid, which allows homeowners to pull from the grid during the nighttime when their solar arrays are not producing. In short, net metering provides homeowners with free “storage” of their excess electricity, and Texas homeowners are cashing in on this opportunity as much as any other state in the country. In the Lone Star State, net metering policy is utility-specific, so you should confirm with your energy provider whether this great solar incentive will be available to you. A few notable Texas utilities that offer net metering programs are El Paso Electric, the City of Brenham, CPS Energy, and Green Mountain Energy.
How homeowners in Fort Worth, Dallas and El Paso can save big on solar panels
Though prices in the Lone Star State are some of the best you can find in the U.S. with a plethora of incentives that sweeten the deal, the most compelling factor with a solar installation is the long term utility bill savings. Even in this regard, Texas has very appealing estimates. Homeowners in Dallas, El Paso and Fort Worth all see an average net 20-year savings of over $17,000.
And yet, what isn’t captured in that estimate is the drastic impact you as a solar shopper can have on your solar economics based on how much research you do and how savvy you are in the market, bringing us to our…
Three tips for Texas 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 three or more quotes can expect to save thousands 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.