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Cost of Going Solar

Many assume that the price of solar panels is prohibitively expensive, or that solar energy prices themselves don't make the conversion in the home environment quite worth the effort. When it comes to solar installation cost and the price of solar power in general, there are a few key factors that you need to keep in mind.

The average cost of solar power is broken down into two different categories depending on exactly what it is that you're talking about. The first is the price per kilowatt-hour of electricity, which is calculated similarly to the way a standard utility company calculates your bill on a monthly basis. A watt is a unit of power that describes the rate at which energy is converted, while a kilowatt is equal to 1000 total watts. A kilowatt-hour is the electricity being produced from solar systems over a specific period of time. Therefore, to find out how much money you're paying for the system in kilowatt-hours, you would take the total power being generated and multiply it by the amount of time you're looking at to arrive at the appropriate number of kilowatt-hours.

The second way to look at solar energy costs has to do with the installation of the system itself. This is commonly measured in the amount you're paying per watt that the system is capable of generating. When factoring in not only the hardware but also labor and other factors, you get a dollar value for each watt the system can generate.

Average Cost Breakdown

The average cost breakdown of solar power is broken down into a few key categories. The solar panels themselves, which are used to convert energy from the sun into electricity, are only one of those factors. Electrical wiring components, the equipment needed to mount the solar panels to your home, the components that actually convert the energy that the panels are absorbing into electricity, and the solar installation cost will all play important factors in determining how much you will pay to convert your home to solar energy.

To put those numbers into perspective, a larger solar system may only cost around $3 per watt of electricity. However, when all of the aforementioned factors are taken into consideration, the initial cost of the system itself may be $20,000 for a system that can generate around 6000 watts.

When you compare prices solar providers offer, there are a few key questions you'll want to ask. For starters, you'll want to ask about the type of maintenance that will be required to keep your system up and running. These regular maintenance costs can increase the amount of money you're paying on average over time. Secondly, you'll want to have an estimate performed by a professional on your home to help make sure that you're buying a system of the appropriate size. Buy one too small and you won't have enough energy when you need it. Buy one too large and you'll essentially be wasting your money.

Cost of Solar Panels

The average cost per watt for solar panels varies from between $3 to $6 depending on the system in question. The average cost per watt is an important number to know, as it essentially tells you not only how much money you'll be spending up front but also how much you could potentially be saving over time.

When you pay for electricity from a traditional energy provider on a monthly basis, costs are also based on your average kilowatt per hour usage. To find out the size of the system you need, you must estimate based on your standard usage habits how many kilowatts of electricity you will need on a monthly basis. For a small residential home, you may only need a system that provides 300 or so watts of power. For large homes with multiple rooms or multiple floors, however, the size of the required system would be much higher. You would expect to pay more money by way of equipment costs and other factors as a result.

Financing Options and Grants

A variety of different options are available to help people pay for solar roof costs. Certain tax incentives are available that vary by state, for example, to allow people to recoup some of the initial installation costs as a reward for taking steps to reduce a home's energy footprint. Many solar panel providers also offer extensive financing options to help people switch over to solar.