Solar panels and solar contracts have an average lifespan of 20 years. To help you make the smartest, long-term decision, we’ve compiled top solar power companies and highlighted their respective benefits. Below, you can compare unique cost savings, equipment monitoring, tax breaks, and contracts that require little to no money down. Whichever company you choose, you’ll experience greater energy savings and the perks of environmentally-friendly living.
How Much Does Solar Cost?
Solar power companies are hesitant to provide off-site quotes because every household is different. However, you can use this information to help give you an idea of how much solar panels might cost.
The time of year, sun exposure, amount of solar panels needed, and excess energy usage all impact the cost of installing solar panels. So do the prices of utilities and whether you’re installing on-the-grid or on a battery-operated system.
American households consume one kilowatt of electricity per hour on average, which costs about $0.10 apiece. Per month, that amounts to an average $73 in electricity (based on roughly 730 hours that are in every month). Considering the average price of installing solar panels is between $7–$9 per watt, a 5 kilowatt system could anywhere from $25,000–$35,000.
What Solar Adds to Your Home’s Resale Value
Solar panels don’t only save you on utility bills, they add $5,000 per kilowatt to the resale value of your home. So, if you own a $35,000 solar system (five to eight kilowatts), you can increase your home equity by about $20,000. The tax credits at this level amount to nearly $21,000; so you’d be getting about 97 percent of your investment back if you sell your home—and living more efficiently in the meantime.
Are You a Good Candidate for Solar Energy?
When you consult with a solar company, they’ll give you an honest assessment. If your home isn’t ideal for solar, they’ll tell you—and vice versa. To prepare for your consultation, here are some of the criteria companies look at to see if your house will efficiently run on solar—and if the solar panels will save you money.
Determining the size of your solar unit is first and foremost. If you use a lot of energy, you need more roof space to accommodate. Normally, you need 10 Watts per square foot, which represents a panel conversion efficiency of about 12 percent (this is typical). This means that for every kilowatt of energy you use, you need about 100 sq. ft. of solar panels.
Placement of Panels
Your solar panels need to be installed on eastern, southern, or western facing roofs (or a combination of two). Northern facing roofs don’t get sun and aren’t suitable for solar. This only becomes a problem if you have trees obstructing sun or a need for a larger unit.
How many hours of sunlight you get per day? Places like Seattle, Chicago, and Pittsburgh get three to four hours, whereas Colorado, California, and Arizona get upwards of seven. Locations with less sun need bigger systems to harness more energy.
Solar companies calculate a quote by dividing your average daily electrical use by the power you get from the sun (solar irradiance), and multiplying that by 71 percent. The 71 percent accounts for the inherent inefficiencies in solar power systems and increases accuracy in the quoting process. It’s here where you learn if your solar panels can save you money on electricity.
Cost vs Incentives
Whether you lease, get a PPA, buy, or finance, there are costs involved. For all options, you want to ensure your solar unit will save you money. Compare rebates and tax credits—as well as selling energy back to utility companies—to how much your solar panels will cost you. If it’s a positive number, solar power is a great, money-saving choice for you.
What to Look for in Solar Companies
Solar companies all have their own incentives. Make sure your goals align with your solar company’s pricing by keeping these things in mind:
How Solar Works
There are generally four components in every photovoltaic solar panel system:
1 . The photovoltaic cells in solar panels capture the sun’s energy and convert it to electricity.
2 . This protects batteries from being overloaded by regulating the flow of electricity.
3 . Batteries store electricity for use at night and when it’s cloudy. In places without grid power, they are the only backup for electricity.
4 . This equipment converts energy stored in a battery to voltage needed to run standard electrical equipment.
Ready to start saving on energy?
Get a quote from top solar power companies now.