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Solar Installation Cost

If you’re considering going solar, you probably have questions about the cost. While it’s true that solar power can offset your reliance on the traditional power grid, but many people look at the initial cost and decide that it’s prohibitive. However, this may not be the case. The fact is that solar systems are coming down in price, and most companies offer financing options to make them even more affordable. The price will be affected by the following variables.

Your Needs and Goals

Every solar panel produces a limited amount of power on a sunny day. The number of panels you need will have a powerful impact on the final price, and that number is driven by your energy needs. Solar panels are down in price to about $1.20 to $1.50 per peak watt, but that can add up if you’re trying to run the air conditioner, electronics, lights and a water heater. One option is to go with a smaller system that allows additional panels to be added later. This lets homeowners cover their initial needs in a more cost-effective manner while ensuring that the system can grow with them.

Installation Considerations

In addition to the initial supplies, you also need to pay for the labor to have systems installed. There are electrical requirements as the units are either tied to battery banks, the main grid, or a combination of the two. There’s also the need to properly mount the panels for maximum sun exposure while also sealing up any connections with the roof to prevent water leaks. Experienced contractors may be able to handle aspects of the installation on their own to further reduce the overall cost. However, most consumers will want to pay the professionals for this service. It’s the best way to ensure that you avoid problems with poor charging, improper and even dangerous wiring, roof leaks and other problems. The great benefit of letting experienced professionals take care of this is that you’ll be able to start enjoying your system right away without the stress of trying to figure out the installation on your own.

Power Inverter

The energy coming into the system is DC, but it needs to be converted to AC for household use. It’s a required component for all household systems, and it can run a few thousand dollars. The inverter is an integral part of your solar plan, so you may want to invest in a high-quality unit that will last as long as the panels and other components.

Off-Grid Options

Some homeowners like the idea of essentially feeding power back into the grid to lower their utility costs. Others want to be more independent from the power company, and that requires investing in a storage system. A series of batteries can be used to house the additional energy and store it for future use. These systems carry a higher cost than those that tie directly into the grid, but they offer key benefits. If the power goes out in a storm, you’ll still have energy stored in the battery banks. Additionally, you won’t have to deal with any bills from the light company because you’ll be creating, storing and supplying all the energy you need. People who are building out in the country often find that solar system with off-grid storage are more cost-effective than paying to have power lines run between the new house and the closest tie-in.

Overall Cost

The overall cost of a solar system is generally a minimum of $10,000, and it can run up to $30,000 or more for larger properties. There are several variables, including your individual needs, the size of your house and whether you go off-grid or tie-in. However, it’s important to note that there are several ways to offset these initial charges.

  • Federal Tax Credits – You can deduct 30 percent of your solar system from your personal taxes without any limit on the return. This rebate is good through December 31, 2016.
  • State Rebates – The state you live in may also offer rewards and incentives for going solar. Not only is it good for the environment, but it also helps ease the burden on aging infrastructure.
  • Utility Company Rebates – Even local cities and utility companies are offering rebates to encourage the use of solar power. Speak to your local supplier to see if they have any programs in place.
  • Financing Options – Companies that install solar power offer special financing so that you can pay for the solar system over a period of years. The monthly payment for the solar system can be offset with the utility savings that you’ll enjoy every month.

Maintenance and Warranty Considerations

Many owners focus on the initial expenses and don’t consider the ongoing maintenance costs. One of the greatest aspects of solar systems is that there’s no need to clean the panels or do anything with them. There are no moving parts to address or worry about, so there’s really nothing that homeowners need to do beyond enjoying the benefits of solar power. They typically don’t even need to be cleaned because the rain will keep them rinsed off on a regular basis. However, there are some things you should keep in mind when it comes to the warranty.

In general, you can expect your solar panels to have a 25-year warranty, and the inverter should be warrantied for a decade. Opt for a warranty that includes onsite repair and replacement so that you don’t have to climb up on the roof later or wait while your panels are shipped off. With the right warranty, you won’t have to worry about breakdowns or costly problems because you’ll already be covered.

There is an initial investment associated with solar power, but most people can expect to recover their investment over the coming years. People in warm, sunny climates can expect to hit their break-even point in less than a decade. Those living in cool climates may take a little longer to pay for their system through reduced monthly power bills. However, with the cost of energy rising at a steady rate, the savings with solar will continue to grow over the coming years.