In a continuing series of posts dedicated to the cost of solar, we will now delve into solar panel cost per watt.
There are quite a few ways to measure the cost of just about anything. A solar panel system is no exception to that rule. However, some ways are much better than others. For example, when a consumer takes on financing a large purchase, all too often the monthly payment amount gets too much attention. Savvy consumers know that what really matters is what the total amount plus interest is, not just what the monthly payments are.
Unfortunately, many companies in the solar industry use the same tried and true payment focused sales pitches. They want to take focus away from the amount that a homeowner will eventually pay over a long 20 period. The fact is that a solar panel system can now be paid off in as little as just a few years in some parts of the U.S.
Again, savvy homeowners will want to know what their total cost for solar power is. A great way to measure this is cost per watt. A typical solar panel can produce 250 watts. The typical solar panel system can consist of 20 panels. This brings the total wattage to 5,000. The more affordable solar installers can install a system for 3 dollars per watt, making the system in this example cost $15,000 before tax credits and rebates. The industry average according to the Solar Energy Industries Association is about $3.60/watt.
The cost of solar per watt takes into account the total cost of the system and installation. This is why it is a good metric to use. Of course, those who require financing will need to consider the additional interest charges over a typical period of 6-10 years.
It should be mentioned that when someone is asking – “how much do solar panels cost per watt?” – it is implied that they want to know what the cost of a fully installed and functioning solar panel system is. This is mentioned because the cost per watt for just the panels can be as low as 70 cents. Taking into account the other materials, installation fees, connection and permitting fees brings the total to $3.00/watt. There can sometimes be confusion between these two ideas so it is important to ask about total installed cost per watt.
Now is a great time for homeowners to start looking into solar power. The cost of solar panels cannot be reduced much more and many installers are already charging reasonable installation fees. The typical homeowner can now save thousands over the long term with low cost per watt solar power.