How Much Does It Cost to Install Solar Panels?

Allie Ogletree
Written by Allie Ogletree
Updated April 19, 2022
A house roof with solar panels
Photo: Westend61 / Getty Images

Typical home solar panel installation costs from $17,000 to $32,000

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Home electricity prices aren’t coming down, tempting many homeowners to switch to solar power. While most solar panels cost between $17,000 and $32,000, you can save around $600 a year on energy costs, allowing you to return your investment over time. As good as this sounds, here’s what you need to know to make an informed decision about your home solar panel system, including how much you can save in utilities and whether adding solar panels increases home value.

How Much Does It Cost to Install Home Solar Panels per Watt (W) and Kilowatts (kW)?

One of the easiest ways to calculate your costs is by breaking it down per watt. You’ll find that solar panels can cost between $0.70 to $1.50 per watt ($700 to $1,500 per kilowatt). With labor and any other installation costs, expect to pay anywhere from $2.50 to $3.50 per watt total.

The average home solar panel system is approximately 5 kW (5,000 W), which is $12,500 to $17,500.

How Much Does Solar Panel Installation Labor Cost per kW?

For the labor alone, here’s how much solar panels cost per kilowatts on average:

  • 2kW: $1,000

  • 3kW: $1,500

  • 4kW: $2,000

  • 5kW: $2,500

  • 6.2kW: $3,100

  • 10kW: $5,000

How Much Does It Cost to Install Home Solar Panels Near You?

Whether you choose grid-tied or stand-alone solar, the cost to install home solar panels can vary by thousands of dollars depending on where you live. The biggest price differences fall between the Southeast and New England. However, consider your local area and county, as some places may have a better return on investment than others.

For one, your state and region may have more programs and incentives than others. You might also pay more on average costs for electricity bills. Not to mention, some areas just don’t receive as much daily sunlight as others.

Below is a cost comparison between the different regions within the United States for a 5-kW solar panel installation:

  • Midwest, Southwest, and West (Including Hawaii): $15,000–$17,500

  • New England: $16,500–$18,200

  • Southeast: $15,000–$17,000

  • Mid-Atlantic: $15,800–$17,800

It’s always helpful to ask around and get more specific rates in your area, but here are approximate installation costs for 10 cities across the country:

  • Austin, TX: $16,200

  • Boston: $25,500

  • Chicago: $21,700

  • Denver: $19,000

  • Miami: $27,200

  • Nashville, TN: $24,400

  • New York: $26,700

  • San Francisco: $23,700

  • Salt Lake City, UT: $20,600

  • Seattle: $23,300

What Home Solar Panels Can I Get on My Budget?

Before we go into what solar panels you can get with your budget, let’s clarify one important detail: The average home uses an estimated 9,000 kilowatt-hours per year of electricity. Most individual panels produce between 250 and 400 watts per hour in sunny conditions, so your solar panels’ energy needs are about 6.2 kW. In other words, you will need roughly 20 panels to power your entire home. 

This need for multiple panels is where your costs can really add up, but remember that every household is different. Some people are fine with using a combination of solar panels and the electrical grid. With this in mind, let’s look at how much you can get with your budget.


You can buy a 2-kW solar panel system for $5,000, but you’ll be limited in what you can power and will need to source some electricity from the grid. Don’t let that stop you, though! A 2-kW system will generate approximately 20 to 30% of the electricity needed in your home. It can also save you around $90 on your monthly electricity bill.


At this budget, you can afford a 3-kW solar panel system. This amount also won’t be enough to power an entire home, but it will generate enough to run basic electrical appliances. And, you’ll still end up saving money on energy bills, ranging from $300 to $900 a year.


Most systems that generate 4 to 5 kW fall into this budget. Most homes require a little over 6 kW of solar power, but if you live alone, have a small home, and reside somewhere sunny, you might be able to use minimal energy from the electrical grid with this budget.


This budget is where you can start to sustain the energy demands of an average household comfortably. Most 6- to 7-kW systems fall around this price point, give or take, meaning you should have ample storage capacity and energy production to power a home.


For homes that use more energy than your average household, you may need an 8-kW system or higher to get the job done. Likewise, if your home does not receive much sunlight, you may need more panels to generate the energy required to power your home.

How Much Does It Cost to Install Home Solar Panels Yourself?

A professional installing solar panels on a house’s roof
Photo: anatoliy_gleb / iStock / Getty Images

Unless you have experience in solar panel installation, we don’t recommend installing solar panels yourself. You might lose warranties if a professional does not install them. The installation also requires skills and expertise due to the complexity, weight, bulkiness, and precarious nature of panels. Not to mention, carrying heavy solar panels up to your roof is a surefire way to miss out on a relaxing Saturday!

A professional solar panel installer near you knows how to strategically place your panels so that they receive optimum sunlight. They will also ensure that you have proper licensing and adhere to the requirements for warranties in case any issues arise later on.

Home Solar Panels Cost Breakdown

Here’s a rough breakdown of your solar system’s total cost:

  • 50% for the equipment, which includes the panels, batteries, inverter (if not included), mount and rack, and wiring

  • 35% for installation permits, inspection fees, and labor

  • 15% for operational expenses, such as maintenance, monitoring, and overhead costs

How Much Does It Cost to Install Home Solar Panels by Type?

Another factor in the cost of your home solar panels is the type of solar panels you choose. The three most common residential solar panels are monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film panels. 

Though these options are a bit of a mouthful to pronounce, let’s dive into the pros and cons for each one to help you decide which panel type is best for your home.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Polycrystalline solar panels are the most affordable on the market and might be best for anyone with a smaller budget. They cost anywhere from $0.70 to $1 per watt, not including installation. They have a lifespan of 23 to 27 years and are less efficient than monocrystalline panels. However, they’re more environmentally friendly. Silicon fragments are melted and molded into solar cells, resulting in a less pure—but less expensive—product that produces less waste.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

If space is of utmost importance to you, monocrystalline solar energy systems are the most energy-efficient option; they produce more energy for less space. Expect to pay around $1 to $1.50 per watt for monocrystalline panels. Since the solar cells in monocrystalline panel manufacturing use pure silicon sheets to make the solar cells, they also have a longer life expectancy. Most warranties are for 25 to 35 years.

Thin-Film Solar Panels

The last option is thin-film solar panels. These panels cost the same as monocrystalline solar panels at $1 to $1.50 per watt, but their shorter life span of 14 to 17 years means you end up paying more. The material used in thin-film panels is a layered film of photovoltaic material and either metal or glass. While you’ll find thin-film solar panels to be highly heat-resistant and lightweight, they will take up a lot of space to power your home, which is why you’ll primarily see them on commercial buildings.

What Factors Influence the Cost to Install Home Solar Panels?

As you may have gathered, so many elements can affect the total cost of your solar panel installation. Here’s a quick glance at all the factors to keep in mind as you make your decisions:

  • Type of panel

  • Quantity of solar panels

  • Installation companies

  • Household energy usage

  • Additional equipment

  • Region

  • Upgrades and features

Cost of Solar Panel Mount System

Solar panel mounts, and the racks that secure your panels, can be a surprising and potentially unexpected expense. The solar panel mount system you choose can run you between $10 to $3,000 extra.

Let’s take a look at the three different types of panel mounts and racks:

1. Fixed Solar Panel Mount and Racking System

On the lower end of the price range, you’ll only spend about $10 to $15 on each fixed panel mount. Fixed panels are effective for regions where you can expect your panel to receive consistent sunlight, but for regions where the sun is less constant, you might not get the most out of your solar panels.

2. Adjustable Solar Panel Mount and Racking System

For a slightly higher price of $50 each, you can have an adjustable panel that angles according to the sun or seasonal changes. This system allows you to lay your panels flat during hazardous weather, helping to protect them from damage. You might want to consider adjustable mounting systems if you live in a coastal region where storms are more common, and the sunlight is less plentiful.

3. Tracking Solar Panel Mount and Racking System

For a smart technology that takes the labor out of manually adjusting your panels to catch that sunshine, tracking mounts and racks follow the sun. This mounting system can potentially earn you 45% more energy production, depending on how challenging it is for your panels to receive full sunlight. At the same time, you’ll pay more, with prices ranging from $500 to $3,000 per panel.

These prices don’t include the cost to repair and maintain solar panels. Solar panels cost between $200 to $1,200 to maintain and repair, but that number could increase up to $2,500 if you end up choosing a tracking mount system. This price can also vary by location.

How Much Will Solar Panels Save Me in the Long Run?

While the initial price tag associated with purchasing and installing solar panels can be intimidating, it’s important to note that solar panels will save you money in the long run. Installing solar panels can increase your home’s value by over 4% and help you save $10,000 to $30,000 across their first 20 years. The typical lifespan of solar panels is 25 to-30 years. In this time, you can expect to save between $20,000 and $50,000 depending on the size of your home and your overall power usage.

FAQs About Home Solar Panels

What do I need to know before I hire a pro to install home solar panels?

The cost of your home solar panels will depend largely on the installation company you choose, so don’t be afraid to explore multiple installers and get multiple quotes. Be sure to ask questions of a few solar companies and check out their reviews online before sealing the deal with one company.

What should I consider when installing home solar panels?

Any solar panel systems installed in 2021 are eligible for a 26% federal solar tax credit, which could help you afford your panels. Some states and cities have unique credits or incentives that might make prices more affordable.

Solar panels can also be a smart upgrade for homeowners looking to reduce energy bills. 

“Solar panel installations currently offer homeowners the best ROI,” says Constantine Anest, owner and operator of Ethos Roofing & Restoration. “While high-end roofing materials like clay tiles can greatly boost your property's value, solar panels offer a unique advantage to other roofing products: free power for your home. In fact, within 3 to 6 years, your panels will have likely paid off your initial investment.”

You can finance solar panels if your budget doesn’t allow you to buy them upfront.

Are solar panels the same as solar roofs?

No, solar roofs are far more expensive than solar panels, costing between $21,000 and $40,000 to install and replace your entire roof. Solar panels will simply sit above your roof.

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