You've decided to "go solar." But of course, there's a lot more to the decision than that. What kind of solar panel system do you need for your home? How much energy do you need to produce, and how much will it offset your current energy bill?  You may have heard terms like 3kW thrown around. What is a 3kW solar system, how much energy will it produce, how many panels does it require, and how much will it cost you? Here are some of the most important questions and issues when it comes to 3kW solar systems.

3,000 watt solar systems - explained

If you're shopping around for solar panels, one of the most important decisions you'll need to make is how many kilowatts you want for your system. You can get 3kW, 5kW, or even 10kW. But what does that mean? Obviously, 3kW means 3,000 watts of electricity. But 3,000 watts over the course of how long? Can you expect that amount of energy every hour? Every day?

3kW is how much energy your system will produce per hour, at peak output: that is, when your panels are receiving the maximum amount of direct sunlight, with no clouds or other obstructions to reduce it.

How much does an average 3kW solar system cost?

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Since it's on the smaller end of the scale in terms of size and output, a 3kW system is one of the cheaper ones you can buy. The actual price depends on a number of factors, but the average cost of a 3kW system in the U.S. is just over $9,200. However, if you take advantage of the federal Solar Investment Tax Credit, you can recover 30% of your costs, bringing the total down below $6,500. There may also be other tax credits and incentives you can take advantage of that are specific to your state. Find solar incentives available in your area!

Does the cost for a 3kW solar system vary by state?

It does. In most states, the cost runs between $4.50 and $5 per watt for a 3kW system. However, it can get as low as $3.78 (in Louisiana) or as high as $5.25 (in Rhode Island). Learn how much you can expect to pay for a solar system in your area.

How much energy is produced by a 3kW solar system?

Under ideal conditions (i.e. when your panels aren't shaded or obstructed and are mounted on a south-facing roof for maximum sun exposure), at 3 kilowatts per hour in direct sunlight, your 3kW system will produce an average of between 8.7 and 13.8-kilowatt hours of electricity per day. These numbers will vary depending on where you live, how and where your solar panels are positioned, and what time of year it is (there's more sunlight and thus more energy in summer than in winter).

How much roof space do I need for a 3kW system?

How much roof space you need to get 3kW of power depends on how much energy each of your panels produces. The higher energy rating the panels have, the fewer you'll need. If your panels are 250 watts each, you'll need more of them to make 3kW than if they're 300 watts apiece, and thus more roof space. The wattage rating for each panel, like the rating for the system as a whole, is based on how much electricity it produces in a day at peak output. So, ten 300-watt panels will make a 3kW system.

As a rule of thumb, you need approximately 66 square feet of space for every kilowatt of capacity in your system. That means for a 3kW system, you'll need 3 x 66 square feet, or 198 square feet. Find out how many solar panels you'll need for your home.

How much energy does my home need?

The average home in the U.S. uses just under 900-kilowatt hours of electricity per month, or over 10,700 kWh per year. 3kW systems are at the low end of the scale in terms of energy output, so if your home uses a lot of power, you might consider a larger system, to offset your power usage more effectively. Find out what your home energy needs are.

What are the benefits of a 3kW solar system?

The biggest benefit is that a 3kW solar system will help reduce your energy bills. Over time, the panels will pay for themselves in energy savings. They'll also increase your home's property value. If you choose to sell your home down the line, buyers will pay significantly more for a house with solar panels. Not only will it save them money on energy bills, but also the ordeal of having to purchase and install a system themselves.

How can I find the best local offers on 3kW solar systems?

Shop around a bit. Compare prices from different solar companies that service your area to see how much each of them charges and what they deliver for that amount. You can also call them directly to see if they have any special offers or discounts you can take advantage off. Find the best local offers on solar systems in your area.

Contact local solar installers in your area

How do I find the best solar company near me to install my new system?

Again, do your research and shop around. Check out the customer reviews and ratings for solar installers in your area to find one that's reputable and knowledgeable, can be trusted to provide high-quality work, and is within your price range. See who the top solar installers are in your area.

Conclusion

A 3kW solar system is small, but it also costs less to purchase and install than larger systems. If your home's average energy usage is relatively low, you don't have a huge budget, or if your home is small and/or has limited roof space, a 3kW solar can be the perfect way to reduce your energy bills without breaking the bank. Find out more about installing a 3kW system in your home.