Is Solar Energy Cost Effective? How much does Solar Panel Installed REALLY cost?
SolarFreedomNow.com – We get a lot of questions about what solar components we use, how much solar cost and where did we get these solars from?
So we thought, we would do write an article on how much solar panel systems cost; what are they really cost in the real world! So, as we was thinking about this, we wanted to divide this into three different categories.
The first category would be the small solar systems. These would be systems like we show in our beginner solar for beginners series where you’ve got a small 10 or 20 watt solar panel. You’re just starting out with solar and you’re using cheap components that you don’t necessarily need to depend upon every day.
The second category would be like your medium-sized solar systems. You graduate into something where you’re going to actually use it for something but you’re still probably under a thousand watts and it’s not something that you’re powering your whole house off of or whatever
And the third category would be large production solar systems; like you would kind of have installed on your roof on your home. If you were going to power the whole house off or cabin or whatever. Using this solar panel system is the kind of a “mission critical application” that you really need to depend upon.
The other thing that we wanted to discuss before we start talking numbers is we’re only talking about an off-grid setup. So, in other words like you see in the picture above you need:
1. a solar panel
2. a charge controller
3. a battery
4. an inverter
Those 4 components are non-negotiable. You have to have them. That’s the only type of setup we’re going to talk about. We’re not going to talk about a grid-tied system because there’s lots of variability there.
There’s different ways you can set that up with micro inverters versus a bigger inverter and then you’ve got the installation cost where you really need to get a licensed electrician involved. So, we’re not going to talk about that. We’re only going to be talking about off-grid. Ok, now let’s go ahead and talk about these components individually.
This is on the lower end; this is a 20 watt panel. When you’re dealing with, really small panels going to pay a little bit more per watt than you do for some of the the middle and higher end panels. Just because you know there’s more material other than the wafers themselves.
So, generally speaking you’re going to probably spend about $2-$3/watt for for these. Now if you hunt for a good deal, you can probably still get them for about a buck 50 a watt. In 2nd picture above, it was around $30 in particular. So, it’s in that $1.5 per watt range. So, this is a good example of a lower end panelist (12 volt). Almost all of the low end panels are going to be 12 volts. You can find really small ones like 4 volt panels, 3 volts panels or 6 volt panels. But, we’d recommend you stay away from those 😀
For small solar panels, expect to pay $2-$3 USD per watt plus shipping costs
Ok, here we have about a medium sized panel. This is a 100 watt panel. This one in particular is made by grape Solar and cost me around $130 with Free Shipping from Amazon (it is not always free shipping everyday, but good luck). So, it’s still around $1.5-$2.5/watt which is about the best you’re going to get right now.
For medium solar panels, expect to pay $1.5-$2.5 USD per watt plus shipping costs
Now, on the larger end the ones that you use to kind of put all over the roof of your home or whatever. These are big panels. You’re going to a hundred percent guaranteed to pay shipping freight costs. So, expect -you know- high shipping cost but, generally speaking you can usually find something you can get down into $1-$2 dollar/watt range if you really look now that’s not paying for the name brands like the Kyocera or the LG’s and some of those name-brand. But, if you’re smart about shopping you can find about a dollar per watt on up to.
We mean you can spend a lot higher for name-brand panels or for more advanced technologies but, generally speaking, $1-$2USD/watt plus freight shipping is about what you can expect.
For small size charge controllers (PWM) ecpect to pay $20-$50 USD plus shipping
Here, we have a good example of a low end charge controller. A lot of these will just be Chinese knockoff units or just no-name and they’ll be available on Amazon or something for $20 or less.
Sometimes you can find them for $10. We think, this that’s what we paid for. This one, they’re nothing special. The electronic cinema are not that great. So, this is great for learning on. But, you really don’t want to be depending upon this.
For medium size charge controllers (PWM) expect to pay $100-$200 USD plus shipping
And here you have kind of a middle range. This is a Tristar t s60. This one is a little bit under around $200. It’s not MPPT but it’s about as good as you’re going to get non MPPT and it can handle 60 amps and that’s a pretty decent system that a lot -you know- is definitely beyond kind of the beginner phase.
For large size charge controllers (MPPT) expect to pay $400-$1000 USD plus shipping
And for the large charge controllers expect to pay much more. Now when you’re installing a home system, you’re probably going to want to move to the Maximum Power Point Tracking or MPPT technology which increases the cost and you need reliable components that you can count on that are going to be safe and that you can depend on every day to provide you with power.
So, you’re probably going to be in the range $400-$1,000 a piece for these things. And, as it shows in sixth picture, you’ll probably need multiple charge controllers depending on how many panels you have and how many batteries you have and so forth.
For small hobby systems, you can use sealed lead-acid batteries like shown above. These are great because they’re fairly cheap and they do not require any maintenance. And now, these are going to cost you approximately $2/amp-hour on the battery.
And then, here we have kind of the middle batteries. In my opinion, these are definitely the step above the little sealed lead-acid batteries that you play with in those smaller systems. These are deep cycle batteries but they’re not renewable energy batteries. These are kind of the $90 $100 variety from you know Costco Sam’s Walmart whatever
[Pic9 Trojan T-105 RE Premium for Large Systems]
For large systems batteries expect to pay $150USD/battery plus shipping plus core charge
For large systems you’re going to want to use batteries that are designed to handle the abuse and are very reliable. So, for example this Trojan T-105 RE (Renewable Energy).
Keep in mind these are very expensive, very heavy and they come in six volts. So, you’re going to have to put multiple batteries together in series to achieve the voltage you need. Get 4x Trojan T-105 RE best deal!
For Small Inverters (Modified Sine Wave) expect to pay $10-$100USD. Check the best price here.
Ok, here’s an example of a lower end inverter. These are the kind that you’re going to see at your gas stations and at Walmart or wherever for $20-$30 or less. These are typically come with the car adapter. That’s kind of what they’re designed for but they’re perfect for solar because they use 12 volts input and then they have USB and outlets connections so that you can use them with with various loads.
For Medium Inverters (Modified Sine Wave) expect to pay $100-$200USD or so and probably will need to be special ordered
Here you’ve got a good example of a middle inverter this one still doesn’t have a ton of watts. We think this is only a 600 watt unit but this is a pure sine wave inverter and it’s much cleaner power; much more expensive this is a $200 inverter.
For Large Inverters (Sine Wave) expect to pay $400-$1000USD plus shipping
Last, but not least for large inverters you’re still going to want to stick with pure sine-wave. So, you can run your sensitive electronics and so forth but you’re going to need a lot more wattage. So, expect to pay a lot more money. These are going to typically cost $400-$1000 or even more depending on how many watts you want in one unit.
So, what does this all mean? Well for small systems -again- like we’ve shown in our solar for small above expect to pay roughly $120 for the whole system.
Now, we can argue till we’re blue in the face about exact prices but this is a pretty good ballpark plus or minus what you’ll pay in real life in US Dollars.
For medium sized systems were taking a little bit of a quantum leap here and we’re going with more robust equipment, bigger, everything. Cost a little bit more. So, you were looking at roughly $1200 to $1300 or more dollars in that range. Again, plus or minus a little bit but that’s about what you can expect to graduate to the next level.
And then for large systems or solar roof cost estimate this is -again- another large quantum leap forward in price and complexity so you’re looking at minimum $6000-$8000 USD. Probably more like $8500-$10000 to put in. It like a 3000 watt system is basically what we SPECT out here anyway.
If you WANT, you can find the best price for SOLAR BUNDLE KIT here 😉. These package is more cheaper than buy certain item separately.
From now on, you can calculate more estimate such as solar cost per watt installed, solar cost analysis, solar installation cost breakdown, etc. Thanks for reading guys. Hopefully this has been a little informative and eye-opening for some of you about solar costs over time 😉