Solar Panel Price Per Watt

This page will take a closer look at the current 2016 solar panel price per watt figures.

Price per watt is a very common metric used to value solar and many other sources of energy. The brands showcased on the price of solar panels page shows an average of about $1.00/watt for solar panels.

So what does this mean to the average homeowner?

Well, this is retail pricing, and just for the panels themselves. Other equipment and installation fees brings the total cost to go solar to $3.50/watt, on average. The national solar installers that still charge much more than $4.00/watt will begin to see much more competition from more affordable contractors.

Focus More On Installation Costs

It cannot be stressed enough that, from a potential solar customer’s perspective, one should not focus too much on any one solar panel brand name and its associated price per watt. The fact remains that the most significant savings potential can still be found in installation fees. Installation costs can still vary considerably from installer to installer.

True Pricing Metric

A great way to do a solar panel cost per watt comparison among brands is to take total expected lifetime production in kilowatt-hours and divide that value by the cost of the panels. This gives a much better picture of overall value than just looking at the efficiency of the panels or initial cost per watt. Basically, it may not make sense to install higher efficiency panels if one could get the same total production with lower efficiency panels for less cost.

Future Pricing Trends

As far as industrial-scale solar is concerned, solar companies have broken the $0.50/watt barrier. At 50 cents per watt, solar can’t get much cheaper, especially considering the need for solar cell manufacturers to make some kind of profit. The following chart, courtesy of, shows a cost breakdown for solar panels now and into 2017 from a major Chinese pv module company.
solar panel cost breakdown
In addition to predicted cost reductions in each of the categories involved with solar module construction, further price reductions will also occur in other aspects of the overall cost of solar. Inverter prices, balance of system, red tape fees, and installation costs will all fall somewhat, eventually reducing the price per watt of solar.

Another solar myth that still needs clearing up is that Chinese solar panels are not well made. In fact, some of the largest and most well respected solar panel manufacturers are Chinese. A few “me too” companies that were producing inferior products should not tarnish an entire industry.

In Summary

We can all look forward to a further decrease in solar panel price per watt numbers. This will undoubtedly make solar more affordable to an increasing number of homeowners. However, significant cost reductions in solar requires price decreases in all aspects of the process of acquiring solar power. As it stands today, solar is already price competitive on a per watt basis with other forms of energy.

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