The most common question people have about solar installation is not the installation process itself, it is how much it costs to install solar panels.
This is a quick guide showing the average cost of residential solar panel installation in each state (and how we work this out), how much residential solar panels will save and how you can work out the specific cost to install a solar panel system for your home.
If you are already familiar with the cost of solar energy installation and how much solar panels will save, but want to know more about the steps involved in the solar installation process then I recommend this linked article. However, to see average solar power system cost and how to use a solar cost and savings estimator to calculate the cost of solar panels for your home read below.
Why solar installation cost changes from house to house?
People are generally wanting to install a solar electric system to eliminate electricity bills they are paying to their electric company. In the 32 states that offer net metering this makes it easy to work out the type of system you need once you know the electricity usage you are trying to cover.
At this point you can either read below and see state-based averages for electricity use, solar savings and solar system cost or you can enter your own monthly power spend into the solar cost calculator and calculate how much solar panels will cost for your specific house, see how many solar panels you need and how much they will save you.
Going back to averages, fortunately, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) publishes data on average electricity usage:
Average electricity usage for the top solar states in America
|State||Monthly Usage kWh||Annual Average Usage kWh|
|New York||595 kWh||7,140|
|South Carolina||1115 kWh||13,380|
How many solar panels do I need to power my home?
The number of solar panels a home needs is a function of the electricity use we are trying to replace and the climatic conditions where you live.
For this example we are assuming the average of 10,766 kWh per year, the average energy use in the table above.
The reason the climatic conditions are important is that these conditions will determine the amount of electricity generated by each solar panel that you install. Sunnier areas such as Arizona produce more electricity per kW of solar panels installed than areas like the northeast where it is cloudy much more often.
The table below shows the average number of kWh’s (kilowatt hours) of energy produced each year by 1 kW of solar panels installed on a south-facing roof in each of the listed states. You can find out how much is produced in the other states, (and even down to a specific city in the states listed below), by using the solar panel calculator.
|State||Annual Production from solar panels kWh|
|New York||1230 kWh|
|South Carolina||1350 kWh|
So now if we combine the two tables above we can work out how many solar panels the average house in each state would need to cover their entire electricity usage.
What size of solar system is needed to power a home in each state?
The table below shows the kilowatts of peak capacity solar needed to cover the average power bill in each state. It lists a system size in kilowatts rather than a specific number of panels because solar panels can come in different wattages, or different power outputs. For residential solar panels, the wattage of an individual panel is typically in the range of 270 watts per panel up to 360 watts per panel.
|State||Required system size to cover average household electricity usage in that state|
|New York||5.8 kWh|
|South Carolina||9.91 kWh|
So what does a full installed solar power system cost in each state?
At SolarReviews we have two sources of solar panel cost data. The Lawrence-Berkeley Labs (funded by the DOE) data which covers about 90% of solar power installations on homes in America and the solar panel cost information from Solar-Estimate.org. This is the largest home solar marketplace in America, used by around 10,000 consumers a day to collect information about home solar and get quotes from solar companies..
In California where the average system required is 4.23 kW SolarReviews research data shows that the average solar panel installation cost in 2018 is $3.18 per watt meaning the 4.23 kW system would be $13,451 before the solar tax credit and $9,415 after the federal tax credit.
In Arizona where a 7 kW system is the average and our data shows the average cost as at 2018 is $3.15 per watt then the average system cost is $22,050 before the tax credit and $15,435 after the tax credit.
In Florida where energy use is very high and the average system needed is around 10kW then the average cost of a solar system is $28,740 or $20,119 after the 30% solar tax credit.
In Utah, another very competitive solar market, where the average system size needed is 5.7 kW and the average system cost per watt is $3.00 then the average cost of an installed residential solar system is $17,100 before the tax credit and around $11,970 after the 30% solar tax credit.
However, it should be remembered that there are a lot of really competitive zero down solar loans available now and so most people can get a system with monthly repayments less than their energy bill savings.
How would the cost of solar for your house compare to the average?
Obviously, the cost will be more if your energy usage is more than the above averages but this usually also means your lifetime savings from going solar are much more than average.
Your house and its characteristics will also affect the cost you will face going solar and the best way to find out an accurate estimate is to enter the details or your home and energy usage into the solar panels calculator to receive an online solar cost and savings estimate and then expert advice from on of our local pre-screened solar companies.
Who are the best solar panel installation companies near me?
SolarReviews is the largest reviews site for the US residential solar industry. You can visit our solar panel reviews pages to find both consumer and expert reviews of solar panel manufacturers and also our solar panel installation reviews pages to find consumer reviews of solar panel installers near you.
If you want to skip the background checks and jump straight to the numbers then the online solar panels calculator we mentioned above gets solar companies (there are about 235 on the solar-estimate marketplace covering most cities) to give you an accurate quote by taking a look at your roof online and also the online solar estimate the website generates.