With spiraling wholesale energy costs and critical environmental concerns, harnessing solar energy is now more important than it has ever been.

The good news is that the cost of solar panels has come down a lot as technology advances and becomes more efficient, making solar power more accessible to homeowners seeking to take advantage of a cleaner, cost-saving means of generating power.

In this article, we explain the essential things to know when going solar: how solar panels work, their cost, and how to choose the best system for your house.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

Well, photovoltaic cells, the building blocks of solar panels, capture and transform solar energy into an electrical (DC) current.

Between layers of semi-conducting materials (silicon is typically utilized to make solar cells) are sandwiched photovoltaic cells. When photons (sunlight) interact with these photovoltaic cells, they produce an electrical field. This electrical field develops when opposing charges are separated, much like a magnetic field develops when opposite poles are present. Manufacturers ‘dope’ silicon with other materials to create this field, giving each sandwich slice a positive or negative electrical charge.

The doping process involves seeding phosphorous into the top layer of silicon (the n-layer), which gives that layer more additional electrons with a negative charge. Boron is added to the bottom layer (the p-layer), which causes it to have fewer electrons or a positive charge.

At the intersection of the silicon layers, the sum of all these factors creates an electric field. This electric field will then force that electron out of the silicon junction when a photon from sunlight liberates it.

The ensuing current then passes through an inverter, which transforms it into AC for domestic application.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

Making the switch to solar energy involves an initial investment in hardware and installation charges. The outlay may seem hefty and daunting, yet there are other factors to consider which mitigate this. The only ongoing expense post-installation and the cost of the system itself is the additional electricity you need over and beyond what your solar panels produce after the initial expenditure.

The average homeowner often sees long-term savings on electricity costs and a return on their investment within just a few years, and as electricity costs ramp up sharply, this timeframe is getting shorter and shorter.

So, how much do solar panels cost? The material cost for a 5KW installation from several manufacturers is given below. As you can see, the product can vary in price quite a bit.

Company

Average Cost for 5.94KW Setup

Cost per Watt

Panasonic

$15,903

$3.18

LG Solar

$15,693

$3.14

SunPower

$16,534

$3.31

Longi Solar

$12,484

$2.50

Trina Solar

$14,012

$2.80

Hyundai

$14,012

$2.80

Naturally, prices differ depending on the brand and merchant. But keep in mind that the initial setup costs encompass more than just the price of the solar panels themselves. The remaining costs are made up of installation fees (including supporting equipment) and ongoing maintenance.

The size, price, and efficiency of a solar panel installation will vary based on where you live, how much sun you receive, and what your energy requirements are. While typically overcast areas need a greater number of panels, sunny locations will utilize fewer to achieve the same output.

Before applying tax credits or other advantages that might be accessible where you live, the average cost of a household solar panel installation in 2022 varies between $18,000 and $20,000. Depending on your region and the brands of equipment utilized, this equates to between $2.75 and $3.35 per watt of solar installed.

Your final cost will also depend on the type of system you choose to order and install. The three most prevalent solar panel types and their typical costs are broken down below.

Solar Panel Type

Wattage

Price per Panel

Monocrystalline (Panasonic)

360

$466.83

Monocrystalline (LG)

370

$540.68

Monocrystalline (Suntech)

370

$324.68

Polycrystalline (Suntech)

330

$175.05

Thin-film (BougeRV)

100

$279.99

The prices in the table are provided by A1SolarStore, Signature Solar, and Amazon and are listed on their websites. The solar panel costs of given types and companies may differ depending on the chosen store.

Monocrystalline (High Efficiency – High Cost)

With an average efficiency rating of 22 to 27%, monocrystalline solar panels are the most widely used on the market right now as they are more efficient. The power output rating of them will therefore typically be higher than that of polycrystalline or thin-film modules.

Polycrystalline (Low Efficiency – Low Cost)

Polycrystalline panels are initially more affordable, as well as more environmentally friendly than their monocrystalline equivalent. They have lower average efficiency, at around 20%.

Thin-Film (Low Efficiency - High Practicality)

Thin-film solar panels are a less common home solar power system. Their main advantages are their light weight and portability, allowing easier installation.

How to Choose Solar Panels for Home?

Considerations when selecting solar panels for home use vary based on your needs, budget, location, and expectations. Consistent factors include:

Price

Being an expensive investment, solar panels should be carefully chosen. Yet, this cost has fallen a great deal recently, with costs now being 90% cheaper than they were. According to the SEIA, the national average price of a residential solar panel system in the US is $2.94 per watt, whereas Berkley Lab’s Tracking the Sun report puts this figure at $3.82.

Remember that cost isn't the only consideration when comparing solar panels. Both the costliest and the lowest-priced panels may not offer the best value. Look for a high-quality system that will be effective and last a long time rather than one that is inexpensive.

Temperature Resistance

Some panels can survive greater temperatures without suffering appreciable performance losses. The best solar panels will meet your needs if they have a high degree of heat tolerance because this means that they will be better able to keep their optimum operational efficiency when put to use in hotter regions.

Quality

To get the best output and performance, selecting high-quality panels is crucial. A comprehensive warranty is usually a reliable sign of the manufacturer's faith and confidence in their goods. The absence of such a guarantee can also indicate that the business is hesitant to accept responsibility for any faults or problems that develop in the future.

Therefore, even though paying a low price might initially seem like a clever idea, if the quality is compromised for affordability, it might wind up costing you more in the long term.

Pros and Cons of Solar Panels

What are the pros and cons of solar panels? A few key points to consider when weighing up your options.

Pros

Solar power is environmentally responsible

Solar energy is abundant, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. It also generates no hazardous pollutants. Solar panels don't produce any harmful gasses or emissions, in contrast to other ways of producing electricity. They don't pollute the environment in any way and have no adverse effects.

Government incentives

The majority of governments offer financial incentives to citizens who install solar panels on their homes. By using solar energy to meet the majority of your daily energy needs, you can take advantage of a 30% tax credit.

Lowers the cost of your electricity

If you use solar power in addition to your conventional electricity sources, you can significantly lower your overall electricity costs. Furthermore, as the technology develops, there may be opportunities to offset electricity costs by contributing excess power to the grid.

Installing solar energy might help you avoid rising energy costs

The main factor when trying to decide if solar panels are worth it is electricity bills. There are many reasons why utility bills keep going up, and the majority of them are outside your control.

Solar power, however, lets you maintain control over your electricity costs and consumption. You won't only have a smaller or non-existent electricity payment, but you won't have to worry about rising utility costs as much either.

Cons

Initial expenses could be high

The initial expense is the biggest disadvantage. Even with a sharp decline in price recently, for the average household, they are still extremely expensive to buy and install.

Costly solar energy storage

Batteries can store solar energy generated during the day for use at night, but stronger and more affordable batteries are required for this to be viable. Batteries for off-grid residential use are unusual for residences that are connected to the electricity grid, despite the fact that prices of batteries that can be put to such use are falling and their capacity is rising.

Highly weather dependent

Additionally, solar panel installation may not be advantageous for houses where the amount of sunlight per year is insufficient. It's possible that residents of places with latitudes far from the equator don't receive enough sunlight for installation expenses to see a noticeable return on investment.

Similarly to this, areas with a high proportion of overcast or rainy days won’t receive enough sunlight to produce adequate electricity. Generally speaking, a gloomy and rainy day can significantly lower panel output by up to 90%.

The four to five hours around midday when the sun is at its strongest are ideal for solar panel operation. Early in the morning and late in the evening, power output dramatically decreases.

Space requirements

Even the most effective panels need significant space and coverage to produce electricity. Unfortunately, this fact limits the adoption of solar to candidates that have residences that have access to the necessary square meters.

How To Get Solar Panels For Free In 2023?

There is no such thing as a free solar scheme, unfortunately. These initiatives are really leases or power purchase agreements (PPAs), in which a business would install solar panels on your roof without charging you a deposit, mitigating the installation cost, but instead billing you for the electricity generated.

Can the Government Provide You With Free Solar Panels?

Simply put, no, the government does not provide free solar panels. These payment arrangements are essentially solar leases or power purchase agreements (PPAs), which are free options that transfer ownership to the solar firm or installation.

You only receive some of the financial rewards and incentives associated with renewable energy, and you only pay for the electricity the system generates. In 2023, the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) will cover 30% of the solar panel installation costs. 

We suggest looking into the aforementioned tax incentives if you're interested in finding out how federal and local governments can reduce the cost of installing solar panels.

What Are Homeowners’ Day-To-Day Experiences of Solar Panels?

Of course, the best source of information for a homeowner looking to invest in solar is the testimony of other consumers who have taken the leap and documented their experiences. Some of the customers share their experiences with PissedConsumer in their video interviews.

Here are a few examples of what people are saying about solar energy panel brands and installation services in their solar panel reviews.

The Good

Solar power systems can show instant results when it comes to cutting costs.

solar panels customer review

And few things make people happier than seeing their investment pay off:

solar panel reviews

And the Bad

Yet pitfalls are common, and not every experience of solar goes according to expectations. Especially when the issue needs action from the company, but customer service is not helpful. According to a SunRun customer review, “Their customer service is extremely poor, you cannot get a straight answer and these so called case managers do absolutely nothing.”

SunRun review

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Biggest Problem With Solar Panels?

The high upfront costs are the biggest problem with solar energy. Besides, the costs of solar panel systems may increase dramatically when the installation package includes battery storage.

Weather dependency is one of the disadvantages of solar systems, as they rely on sunlight. The inefficiency will be low if you live in an area with little sun or with a great deal of dust or snow.

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

Most manufacturers guarantee solar panels for up to 25 years. However, the photovoltaic cells may not be performing at 100% capacity for those 25 years. Most warranties promise 80% capacity after 25 years, and with additional time the panels will lose efficiency and produce less energy.

Generally, solar panels are reliable, and as many as 75% of photovoltaic systems outperform their warranty, according to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Do Solar Panels Reduce Roof Heat?

According to a study by the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, solar panels for homes do appear to reduce the heat on a building’s ceiling or roof. The experiment reveals the panels reduce the roof temperature by 5 degrees Fahrenheit compared to the exposed roof around them. This translates to cooler inside temperatures on warm days and heat retention inside the home at night.

The panels act as roof shades, preventing the sun from hitting the roof directly and leaving a gap between the panel and the roof where the wind can disperse any hot air produced.

Are Solar Panels Worth It?

The benefits of switching to solar power vastly exceed any disadvantages. Even while the initial installation cost is substantial, you can look forward to saving money annually, and reducing your carbon impact.

Does this statement tally with your experience with household solar energy systems? Are solar panels worth it? Please let us know and share your feelings on the subject or your tips on how to choose solar panels. Your insight and experience could be just the information that someone is looking for!

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