Solar panel costs have dropped dramatically. Unfortunately much of the recent decline is due to Chinese overproduction and dumping or selling products below cost.
The bigger cost that homeowners need to consider is the “installed cost” of solar systems. In Germany, the rooftop solar installation industry has scaled up and this has contributed to lower costs for permitting, installation and supply chain but these savings are easily transferred to other countries.
Solar Panel Costs & Savings in the US
There's a lot of focus on solar energy in the US. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association:
- Cumulative solar electric capacity in the U.S. can power more than 1.5 million average American homes, and in 2013 capacity will increase to power another 860,000 homes.
- Average solar panel costs have declined by 60 percent since the beginning of 2011.
- The average cost of a completed solar panel system dropped by 11 percent over the past year.
Solar Panels Are the New Granite Countertops
Adoption of solar energy has been slow due to the high cost of solar systems. These systems include the solar panel costs, their installation plus battery storage capacity and/or the ability to tie into the grid for storing excess electricity.
Builders realizing that installing solar systems during the construction of new homes is 20% cheaper than after a house is built, are starting to make solar panels a standard option for new homes. According to a recent article on Bloomberg.com, Solar Panel is Next Granite Countertop for Homebuilders, “At least six of 10 largest U.S. homebuilders … include the photovoltaic devices in new construction” and a few towns in California are starting to require the installation of solar panels.
But don't think you've got to live in a sunny state as the Northeast has three states in the top 10, ranked by cumulative solar electric capacity.
For buyers who might not have the money to add a solar system to an existing home, the added costs can be rolled into the new home's mortgage making it more affordable. In fact a “… 3-kilowatt system, enough to power a typical mid-size home, costs less than $15,000 and can be rolled into a mortgage”. What's even better is the homeowner will pay less on a monthly basis because the higher mortgage cost will be offset by lower (or zero), electricity costs.
Solar Panel Costs Offset by Federal Tax Credits
In 2005 the Federal government created a federal tax credit for residential energy including solar-electric systems, solar hot water heaters and fuel cells. The credit was enhanced in 2009 when the earlier maximum credit of $2,000, was removed for all eligible technologies (except fuel cells)
Taxpayers can claim a credit of 30% of qualified expenditures for solar systems including solar hot water heaters. To learn more about these Federal tax credits and applicable state incentives for investing in solar systems, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.
Have you researched solar panel costs for your home?