Solar Installation Costs Vary By Home, Region by sadmin

Posted on Monday, December 13th, 2010

Unlike, say, a flatscreen TV — which costs about the same regardless of whether it’s purchased in California, Michigan or Massachusetts — the cost of a fully installed solar energy system varies a bit from region to region. Possible reasons why include:

  • Solar rebates. Some states have ‘em, some states don’t. Everyone who has federal income tax liability can take advantage of a tax credit worth 30-percent of system costs. But, depending on what kinds of local solar incentives are available to you, you may pay more — or less — for your solar home energy system than the national average.
  • Type of roof. Installing solar panels on a roof with wood shake shingles or clay tiles is typically more expensive than doing so on an asphalt-shingle roof.
  • Age of roof. If your roof doesn’t have at least 15 to 20 years left on its useful life, you’re probably going to want to replace your roof before installing solar panels. This is an added cost of solar installation.
  • Labor and prevailing wage. Depending on the prevailing wage in your area, your solar home energy system may cost more or less than the national average.
  • Type of solar panels. While all solar panels generate electricity when exposed to sunlight, not all panels are made the same. Depending on the type of solar panel you have installed, your per-watt cost will vary somewhat. As a general rule of thumb, the higher-efficiency solar panels — which generate more energy per square foot — are more expensive.
  • Added local costs. Local permitting costs will impact the cost of getting your solar energy system OK’d. And sometimes local electrical and fire codes can drive solar installation cost up or down. But, typically, these local added costs are minimal.
  • Extras. A lot of people who install a solar home energy system choose to add a monitoring system. This is a nice-to-have add on that enables you to check in on how your solar panels are performing throughout the day.

As we’ve mentioned before, the National Renewable Energy Lab run something called the Open PV Project, which has some useful numbers on solar power costs around the country. Check ‘em out to see what solar energy is costing in your area.

In the end, the only sure way to know how much a solar power system will cost is to get solar quotes from local solar installers. In fact, it’s a good idea to get two or three to compare — that way, you know you’re getting a good price and good quality.

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