How much do solar panels really cost in 2024?



According to our solar experts, solar panels cost about $19,000 to install in the United States, on average. While the price tag seems steep, incentives and payment options help make the cost of going solar easier to manage.

The total cost of a solar installation depends on your location, energy usage, and even the type of equipment you use! Our team of experts put together a complete guide of everything you need to know about solar panel cost so you can decide if solar is right for you and the best ways to save money when going solar.

Find out what a solar installation would cost based on recent installations in your zip code

Learn more about solar panel costs from solar expert Ben Zientara in our video below!

Key takeaways

  • The average residential solar panel installation will cost about $19,000 before incentives.
  • Your electricity usage, location, home characteristics, solar equipment type, and brands that you use can impact your total installation costs.
  • The solar tax credit, local incentives, and getting multiple solar quotes can help you pay less for solar.
  • Solar installations can break even in 12 years or less, depending on where you live, offering a great return on investment.

On this page

    How much do solar panels cost on average?

    Most people will need to spend between $16,500 and $21,000 for solar panels, with the national average solar installation costing about $19,000.

    Graph showing the low-end, average, and high-end costs of solar panel installaitons

    Most of the time, you’ll see solar system costs listed as the cost per watt of solar installed so you can easily compare prices between quotes for different system sizes. The average cost per watt of solar is $3.00 per watt, but you may get some quotes that are slightly higher or slightly lower than average.

    Beware of extremely low solar prices. You want to be cautious of installers selling solar panels for under $2.60 per watt, as you may run the risk of getting a low-quality installation or sub-par customer service. Extremely low solar prices can be a sign of a solar scam. Charging way below average isn’t sustainable, and the solar company could go out of business before the 25-year lifespan of your system is up.

    Find out what a solar installation would cost based on recent installations in your zip code

    How much do solar panels cost in each state?

    Solar panel installations don’t cost the same in every state, primarily due to differences in labor rates. The cost of solar panels also varies with the climate, household energy consumption, permitting and code requirements, and other market conditions.

    The following table outlines the average cost of solar panels in all 50 states:

    State Average cost of 6 kW solar system Tax credit value Average cost per watt
    Alabama $14,700 $4,410 $2.45
    Alaska $14,460 $4,338 $2.41
    Arizona $15,840 $4,752 $2.64
    Arkansas $15,780 $4,734 $2.63
    California  $16,080 $4,824 $2.68
    Colorado  $15,060 $4,518 $2.51
    Connecticut  $17,160 $5,148 $2.86
    District of Columbia $17,280 $5,184 $2.88
    Delaware  $15,900 $4,770 $2.65
    Florida  $15,480 $4,644 $2.58
    Georgia  $13,980 $4,194 $2.33
    Hawaii $16,020 $4,806 $2.67
    Idaho $15,120 $4,536 $2.52
    Illinois $15,420 $4,626 $2.57
    Indiana  $14,940 $4,482 $2.49
    Iowa  $15,180 $4,554 $2.53
    Kansas  $14,340 $4,302 $2.39
    Kentucky $14,040 $4,212 $2.34
    Louisiana $14,280 $4,284 $2.38
    Maine $17,220 $5,166 $2.87
    Maryland  $16,440 $4,932 $2.74
    Massachusetts  $17,220 $5,166 $2.87
    Michigan  $15,960 $4,788 $2.66
    Minnesota  $16,440 $4,932 $2.74
    Mississippi  $15,840 $4,752 $2.64
    Missouri $15,540 $4,662 $2.59
    Montana  $14,520 $4,356 $2.42
    Nebraska  $16,980 $5,094 $2.83
    Nevada  $15,660 $4,698 $2.61
    New Hampshire $16,980 $5,094 $2.83
    New Jersey $16,680 $5,004 $2.78
    New Mexico  $14,640 $4,392 $2.44
    New York  $17,160 $5,148 $2.86
    North Carolina $14,940 $4,482 $2.49
    North Dakota $14,520 $4,356 $2.42
    Ohio  $15,000 $4,500 $2.50
    Oklahoma $15,720 $4,716 $2.62
    Oregon $15,000 $4,500 $2.50
    Pennsylvania $14,280 $4,284 $2.38
    Rhode Island $16,140 $4,842 $2.69
    South Carolina $15,720 $4,716 $2.62
    South Dakota $14,340 $4,302 $2.39
    Tennessee $14,940 $4,482 $2.49
    Texas $16,620 $4,986 $2.77
    Utah $15,960 $4,788 $2.66
    Vermont $17,100 $5,130 $2.85
    Virginia $15,960 $4,788 $2.66
    Washington $16,620 $4,986 $2.77
    West Virginia $15,840 $4,752 $2.64
    Wisconsin $15,600 $4,680 $2.60
    Wyoming $15,420 $4,626 $2.57

    Solar panel cost breakdown

    When you install a solar energy system, you’re getting more than just solar panels on your roof. Multiple pieces of equipment, such as racking, wiring, and inverters, must be installed so the solar panels can power your home.

    There are also a number of costs that ensure your system is installed correctly and that the solar company can operate. The following pie chart shows the different parts of a solar installation and how much they cost:

    A chart breaking down solar panel installation costs according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. About 51% of costs are for solar equipment (solar panels, inverter racking, electrical), 5.4% accounts for labor, and 43.6% consists of soft costs (administrative, marketing, profit)

    Soft costs include things like the company’s customer acquisition costs, permitting and interconnection costs, and general company administration overhead costs. Hopefully, these soft costs will decrease as solar becomes more popular in the United States and the solar industry becomes more efficient.

    Solar panel costs over time

    Believe it or not, solar panel installations are cheaper than ever. Ten years ago, a residential photovoltaic system would cost more than $50,000. According to price data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, prices have dropped by over 60% since 2010! Despite being cheaper, the technology has only gotten better. Most solar panels today have efficiency ratings between 19% and 21%, a 48% increase from efficiency ratings in 2010.

    What factors impact how much solar panels cost?

    Each home is different, so how much you need to pay for a solar panel system will vary. Here are a few main factors that will influence a solar system’s total cost:

    • Electricity usage: Your electricity usage determines how many solar panels you will need. The more electricity you use, the more solar panels you’ll need to cover your energy bill costs.  
    • System size: Larger solar systems are more expensive than smaller systems. For example, the average price of a 10 kW solar installation is $30,000, while a 6 kW system will cost $18,000.
    • Location: Where you live has a big impact on how much energy solar panels will produce on your roof. Areas that get less will have to install bigger systems that come with higher price tags. Local labor rates and permitting costs also play a role. 
    • Home and roof characteristics: The characteristics of your roof can play a role in how much your solar panels cost. For example, installing solar panels on a third-story roof with multiple roof faces will require more labor and a more complicated design, leading to a higher price. 
    • Solar equipment type: There are different types of solar panels, inverters, and even mounting systems! Monocrystalline solar panels and microinverters are most commonly installed, but they tend to come at a slightly higher price than other equipment types. 
    • Brands: Just like with any product, the brand you get can impact the overall cost. Premium brands like SunPower will cost more than a cheaper solar brand like Canadian Solar. Tesla's solar panels also cost much less than average. 
    Find out how much a solar installation costs in your area

    Are there hidden solar panel installation costs?

    While the biggest cost you need to be concerned about is your solar installation, there are some hidden solar costs that aren’t often spoken about:

    • Solar panel maintenance costs: Solar panels have no moving parts, so very little maintenance is required. However, getting routine professional solar panel cleaning and inspections every two years can keep your system in tip-top shape. These solar maintenance costs can be about $300 per session. 
    • Financing fees: If you purchase your solar panels with a solar loan, a dealer fee will likely be tacked onto your installation price. These fees can range from 20% to 50% of your total installation costs - so be sure to look at your quote closely if you want to finance! 
    • Roof replacement costs: Solar panels should be installed on roofs that are no more than 15 years old. This won’t be an issue for every homeowner, but if you really want solar and your roof is getting old, roof replacement costs are something to consider. 
    • Electrical panel upgrades: Not all homeowners need to get a new electrical panel when they go solar, but if you live in an older home or your breaker box is too small, you may need to get an upgrade. Depending on the project, and electrical panel upgrade for solar could cost between $2,000 and $3,000. 
    • Inverter replacement: If your solar system uses a string inverter, it may need to be replaced. String inverters generally last between 10 and 12 years, while solar panels last for 25 years or more. Getting a new string inverter could cost about $1,500. 
    • Solar panel repairs: Solar panels are extremely durable, and a National Renewable Energy Laboratory study found that solar panel failure rates are incredibly rare, but just like with any purchase, your solar panels may require repairs in the future. In the unlikely event this happens, the issue may be covered by a solar warranty. 

    How can you save money on a solar installation?

    Even though solar panel systems are cheaper than ever, they’re still a substantial investment. But, there are a few ways to save on the cost of a solar installation, like the federal solar tax credit, local incentives and rebates, and getting quotes from multiple installers. Let’s look at some of the ways you can make a solar installation fit your budget:

    Solar tax credit

    The solar tax credit, sometimes called the investment tax credit (ITC), is a nationwide solar incentive that homeowners can take advantage of if they have taxable income and install solar panels. The credit is equal to 30% of solar installation costs and directly reduces federal income tax liability.

    Local incentives and rebates

    Although the federal tax credit is the only nationwide solar incentive available, there are a number of state and local rebate and incentive programs. Some of the best states for home solar are ones with these local incentives. 

    There are a number of solar incentive types, from upfront rebates based on the size of the system to performance-based incentives like Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs), where you earn money for the kilowatt-hours of energy your solar system generates. A few states also have their own tax incentives that can be combined with the federal tax credit. 

    Installing fewer solar panels 

    If you have a tight budget but installing solar is something you really want to do, you can install fewer solar panels and only cover a portion of your energy needs. Your payback period may be longer, but if solar is something you're passionate about, this is an option! 

    DIY solar installations 

    DIY solar installations have the potential to save you money when going solar because you don’t have to pay for labor and other overhead costs. But, we don’t recommend installing home solar panels yourself. 

    While saving on the upfront costs is nice, installing solar panels can be dangerous. You’re dealing with electrical equipment on a roof - a task best tackled by trained professionals. Plus, navigating the required permitting and interconnection requirements can be a nightmare, especially if you don’t have prior experience. Your utility company might not let DIY installations be connected to the grid at all!

    Aside from safety, DIY solar installations might not qualify for certain incentives and might void solar equipment warranties. You could even void your roofing warranty! Unless you really know what your doing - we don’t think the DIY savings are worth all of the potential risks. 

    Installing used solar panels 

    Much like a DIY installation, used solar panels can save you money when going solar. But this is another road we don’t suggest taking. 

    Used solar panels won’t perform as well as new solar panels, so you’ll likely need more to produce the electricity you need. You’ll also run into warranty issues - most solar equipment warranties are voided when it is uninstalled and moved to a new location. 

    We would shy away from used solar panels if you’re trying to run your home on solar. But, if you’re looking for something for an RV, a solar generator, or to run something like an off-grid garage, used panels are a great option.

    Getting multiple solar quotes

    One of the most effective ways to get solar panels at the best price possible is to get more than one solar quote. A study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory suggests that consumers benefit from getting multiple quotes.

    Instead of getting one quote and signing a contract, comparing solar quotes allows you to get a better understanding of the pricing and products offered in your area, and find the right one for your needs.

    Get free quotes from trusted solar companies near you

    How to pay for solar panels

    Cash purchases provide the best long-term savings but require you to have all that cash when you purchase the system. If you’re like most of us and you don’t have thousands of dollars lying around to buy solar panels in full - don’t worry. There are a few solar financing options that can help with the burden of upfront solar costs. 

    • Solar loans are typically offered by installers through solar-specific lenders. Interest rates and dealer fees eat into overall solar savings. 
    • Solar leases or power purchase agreements let you go solar with $0 upfront, but you don’t own the panels, so you can’t take advantage of certain solar rebates and incentives
    • Home equity line of credit or other personal loans can help you avoid dealer fees. but come with higher interest rates and come with different sets of benefits and risks. 

    Solar loans will increase your price per watt. The average cost for solar panels financed with a solar loan is between $3.80 and $4.25 per watt because of financing fees. Don’t be surprised when you get a quote that seems high if it includes a solar loan!

    How much money do solar panels save on electricity bills?

    Solar panels save homeowners an average of $1,500 per year on their utility bills. With these kinds of savings, a solar system can pay for itself in as little as 12 years. That means over a decade of free energy!

    Graph showing when solar panels break even, on average (12 years)

    Your solar savings will largely depend on the size of your system, the total cost of your system, the net metering policy in your area, and local electricity prices. In places like Massachusetts, you can break even after just 6 years because of high electricity rates!

    Are solar panels worth it?

    For most homeowners, solar panels are a worthwhile investment. Despite the high initial cost, solar panels guarantee savings on electricity bills and reduce your reliance on your utility company. With electricity rates higher than ever - and getting even higher every year - you can stand to save thousands of dollars, all while using clean energy!

    But, we won’t lie to you; solar isn’t right for everyone. If you already have low energy costs, your roof doesn’t face the right direction, or if it’s just not in your budget, a residential solar system might not be worth it for you.

    Find out if solar panels are worth it for your home with our solar calculator

    Use SolarReviews to get the best price on your solar installation

    Last year alone, SolarReviews helped over half a million homeowners connect with reliable solar contractors. When you find an installer through SolarReviews, you’re one step closer to getting the best solar panels at a great price. 

    We only put you in contact with the number of companies you choose, and you’ll never hear from more than four installation companies. Our partners are prevetted and know that homeowners who choose to find a provider through SolarReviews are serious about going solar, so they offer competitive prices.

    The only way to truly know how much solar panels cost for you is by getting quotes from local companies!

    Find out how much solar panels cost in your area

    Solar panel cost FAQ

    How much does one solar panel cost?

    A singular solar panel will cost between $200 and $350 and produce about 2 kilowatt-hours of solar energy per day. 

    Can I get solar panels for free?

    No, you can’t get solar panels for free. There is a lot of deceptive advertising out there that can lead you to believe that you can get solar without paying anything, but the truth is that you will have to pay for solar one way or another. There are government rebates that help lower costs, and third-party-owned financing options require $0 for the installation, but you still have monthly payments! In very special cases, there may be low-income solar programs that cover all the costs of installing solar. 

    How much do off-grid solar systems cost?

    Off-grid solar power systems cost close to $55,000 to install. Off-grid installations tend to be more expensive because the home has no support from the grid, so more solar panels and large battery systems are needed to cover electricity needs. 

    How much do solar batteries cost?

    A solar battery installation costs between $14,000 and $20,000, depending on the battery and the size of the system. For example, the price of a Tesla Powerwall is about $15,600. 

    That’s expensive, but there are solar battery incentives and rebates available. The price can exceed $30,000 if you’re goal is a whole-home backup. Most homeowners don’t need a solar battery. 

    How many solar panels do I need?

    The average home needs between 15 and 19 solar panels to cover all of its daily electricity costs. The higher your electricity usage, the more solar panels you’ll need to install. The wattage of the solar panels you choose will also impact how many you need to install. 

    What are the different types of solar panels?

    There are three main types of solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film. Technically, monocrystalline panels are the most expensive of the three, but the difference is minimal they substantially outperform the other two types. It’s incredibly unlikely that you’ll get a home solar quote for thin-film or polycrystalline panels.  

    How long does a solar installation take?

    Actually, installing solar panels on a roof usually takes less than one day, but the entire process will take between two and six months. The exact timeline for installing solar panels varies quite a bit between locations because of site assessments, design requirements, inspections, and necessary approvals. 

    Do solar panels increase home value?

    Yes, solar panels can increase home value! However, this usually is only the case for purchased systems, not ones that are financed through a solar lease or PPA. This does mean solar panels increase your property value, and thus your property taxes, but many states have property tax exemptions as an incentive to go solar.

     - Author of Solar Reviews

    Catherine Lane

    Written Content Manager

    Catherine is the Written Content Manager at SolarReviews, where she has been at the forefront of researching and reporting on the solar industry since 2019.