Solar Panels for Home

Written by Lisa Iscrupe

Edited by Hannah Hillson

Last updated 08/22/2022

 


imaginima/E+/Getty images

Are you ready to have the freedom of solar energy independence by getting solar panels for your home? If going green is in your future, discover everything you need to know about solar panels for your home. Find answers to frequently asked questions, such as the cost of solar panels for your home, the main components of a home solar system, and the installation process. 

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Main components of home solar power systems in 2022

Solar panels are the star of the show, but several other parts are essential to a home solar energy system. Understanding the features that make up a home solar panel network is key before a prospective solar panel purchase. 

  • Solar panels or shingles: These units are made of photovoltaic (PV) cells that absorb sunlight and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity. The average home will need around 20 solar panels (based on average monthly energy use). However, the number of solar panels is ultimately dependent on energy needs.  Solar shingles and solar tiles are also becoming a popular aesthetic choice for solar consumers. 
  • Inverter: A box that converts the direct current (DC) electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity. AC is what we use to power our homes. The size of an inverter is measured in kilowatts and will correlate to the wattage of the solar panels you select. The physical dimensions are usually a foot tall by a foot wide and can weigh 20–50 pounds. Your installer can advise you on the appropriate inverter for your system. If your inverter is too small, you risk wasting solar energy, but you also don’t want to pay for a larger inverter than you need. 
  • Mounting racks (fixed or adjustable): As their name suggests, fixed racks mount the panels to your roof at a set angle, while adjustable racks allow the panels to be manipulated to take advantage of the sun as it moves across the sky. Both of these options are retrofitting the panels to your roof. However, a third option, the solar shingles made famous by Tesla, are different in that they do not retrofit your roof but rather replace your existing roof.
  • Battery: A large lithium-ion solar battery is an optional addition to your solar system that allows you to save excess energy for use during off-peak times. Other battery types are available; however, lithium-ion batteries last the longest.

Ready to go solar? Call 877-307-7668 to be connected with a solar expert today!

Purchasing solar panels for your home

Selecting your solar panels is the most crucial step in determining the cost of solar panels for your home. When going through the buying process, you’ll want a plan and budget for your solar panels and how you are going to buy them. We will explain your options below.

How much do solar panels cost in 2022?

The average price of a solar panel system for your home in 2022  is $15,000-$25,000. That price has been steadily declining in recent years. Solar costs are getting cheaper as solar technology advances and more companies join the solar manufacturing industry. Declining costs, coupled with the growing popularity of solar and limited-time federal tax incentives, make it the perfect season to get solar panels for your home. 

However, if you’re considering spending several thousand dollars on a solar panel home improvement project, you’re probably wondering when you will earn back your initial investment. The good news is your solar system could end up paying for itself in as few as six years; however, the average breakeven time period is closer to nine years. Your payback period could differ depending on the size of your solar panel system and state incentives, among other factors.   

In contrast, you’ll begin seeing returns on your investment immediately in the form of savings on your electric bills. Your monthly electric bill could be virtually non-existent when your system is optimized to provide 100% of your home’s energy needs. The median annual U.S. residential electricity cost is just over $1,500 per year. Imagine what you could do with an extra $1,500 in 2022.

And as a bonus, adding solar to your home can increase the value of your home by about $15,000 and is a unique selling point that more homebuyers are seeking. Take a look at our state guides for California, Florida. North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia for additional information about solar panels in your area. 

Paying for solar panels for your home

Paying for solar panels for your home has several options. So, whether you are looking to pay upfront or need more flexibility, financing options are available for households with different financial situations. 

Consider the three types of purchasing options for solar panels and the pros and cons of each:

  • Owning is when you buy the complete solar system upfront. This option is cost-heavy on the front end, but owning your solar system gives you the most bang for your buck. Financing, or taking out a solar loan, is also an option if you want to own your energy system but would rather pay in installments. (And if you’re wondering if homeowners insurance covers solar panels, the answer is yes, it usually does.) Owning allows you to take advantage of the Residential Clean Energy Credit of up to 30% deduction on your federal taxes until 2032. The substantial credit can be retroactively applied to systems from the beginning of 2022. 
  • Leasing is when you pay monthly installments for your system. At the end of the lease, you either return the solar panels or buy them. Solar leases can last about 20 years. A solar lease will not require an upfront payment but is also not eligible for the 30% solar tax credit.
  • Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is when a solar developer builds a system on your property and sells you the solar energy at a reduced rate. A power purchase agreement takes all the responsibility of designing and maintaining the system off of the homeowner. 

Get an exact quote from our solar advisors

The SaveOnEnergy marketplace helps you search, compare, sign up and save on the right energy fit for your home — all for free. If you’re interested in solar, answer a few questions to get an exact price quote from our solar advisors.

1. Complete the form below
2. Schedule an appointment with a solar advisor
3. Get an exact price quote for solar panels for your home

Pros and cons of solar panels for your home

Solar panels are an investment in your energy future. But there are a couple of pros and cons to consider. One major benefit is the financial rewards of net-metering and Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs or RECs). 

Net metering refers to the billing credits you can earn toward your monthly energy costs by adding solar energy to the local power grid. SRECs let solar owners earn money by selling energy certificates to the utility. This process helps utilities meet their quota for renewable energy use. 

A drawback of solar panels on your home is that the panels will degrade and become less efficient over many years, so they will eventually need to be replaced.

Solar panel home installation in 2022

Make the process less stressful by knowing what to expect. The entire solar installation process typically takes between one and four days. That’s right, going green can take less than a week and have a lifetime of benefits.

How many solar panels will I need?

An initial question many homeowners have is, “how many solar panels will I need on my house?” Consider these components of your solar panel system that can influence the number of solar panels your home will need:

  • Dimensions: The universal standard size of one residential solar panel is about 65” by 39”, although measurements can vary slightly between manufacturers. Put another way, a single panel is about the size of a 75” TV or a twin mattress. 
  • Wattage: Different types of panels produce different amounts of wattage, and the higher-producing panels are more expensive. Plus, any solar panel will lose efficiency as time goes on, although they last about 25 years. 
  • Energy consumption: The average home uses about 1,000 kWh per month. Take a look at your past several months of electricity bills to see an average of how much kWh your home uses.
  • Storage options: Many solar panel owners have a battery to store their energy for use during off-peak hours. If you have a reliable battery system, you may not need as many panels.
  • Roof size and shape: Your installer can also assess your roof to determine how to place the solar panels. If your roof is a unique shape or has a particularly shady area, the installer may want to avoid that area in the installation so that you can get maximum efficiency from your panels.
  • Shade and average sunlight: Again, your home’s natural shade and also the average amount of sunlight your area receives can impact the number of solar panels you need at your home. 

Working with a qualified installer for a reliable quote is the easiest way to find the sweet spot for how many panels your roof needs. An installer who has firsthand knowledge of your specific needs from a house visit and assessment can calculate the exact number of panels you need. 

Solar panels don’t necessarily have to go on your roof. Homeowners can also choose to have solar panels installed on the ground; however, this option is more typically seen in large-scale installations in wide-open spaces, such as solar farms. 

Steps to getting solar panels on your home in 2022

You probably want to know more about the whole experience of getting solar panels on your home. Here’s what you can expect: 

  1. Home visit: A solar expert will visit your home to take measurements of your roof and assess the structural integrity of your home and roof. 
  2. Consultation: The solar representative will discuss the best panel options, including panel type, placement, and the number of panels based on what you are looking to get out of your solar energy system. 
  3. Cost quote: You will receive a final estimate for the solar system, including material and labor. You can then schedule a time for installation. 
  4. Installation: Physical installation occurs, which typically takes less than a week. Some installations are completed in just one day!
  5. Tax filing: Once you’ve purchased your system, the only follow-up is to make sure that you claim your solar deduction at tax time.

Type of solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous

There are three main types of solar panels, with their own set of pros and cons. Each type of solar panel is made from a semiconductor called silicon. Your solar installer can help you select the best kind of panel based on your budget and solar needs. 

  • Monocrystalline solar panels are made from a unified piece of silicon. These are the most compact and efficient type of solar panels. They are also the most expensive and typically last about 25-30 years.*
  • Polycrystalline solar panels are a composite of multiple pieces of silicon. They are slightly larger and less efficient than monocrystalline, but they also come at a cheaper price. They last about 25 years as well. 
  • Amorphous solar panels are made of a thin layer of silicon on top of a supporting material, like plastic or glass. These are the largest and least efficient type of solar panels. However, amorphous panels are beneficial because they perform better in low light. Their lifespan is about 10 years. 

*Solar panels don’t stop working once they reach their anticipated lifespan. Instead, most solar panels will slowly degrade over time and become less efficient.

Solar panels for home vs. business

Like many technologies, the history of solar energy can be traced to U.S. military use in its early years. Nowadays, both residential and business entities have considered the many benefits of solar panels. 

At the core, residential and commercial solar panels work in similar ways. If you’ve ever driven past a solar farm, which is popular in states like California and North Carolina, you may have seen these 6.5’ x 3’ oversized solar panels. Commercial panels are more efficient and produce more power due to their larger size and higher wattage. Of course, commercial panels are also more expensive than their residential counterparts.

Home solar panels FAQs

  • Yes, you are still connected to the grid when you have solar panels. The power grid will give you power during times of lower solar energy, and the homeowner benefits from net-metering. Net-metering gives you credits on your electricity bill when you supply energy from your solar panels back to the power grid. It’s a win-win situation. 

  • Solar panels can supply power to your entire home. A qualified solar installer can help make sure you are getting the most out of your solar installation.

  • While technically it is possible to install your solar panels without the help of a professional installer, we do not recommend it. Solar panels must be installed according to specifications to work at peak performance. 

  • You can still benefit from solar panels on your home, even if you use natural gas in your home. However, you will see a greater benefit if you use all-electric appliances.

  • The coolest thing, pun intended, about solar panels for your home is that it is entirely possible to get a zero-dollar monthly electricity bill due to net-metering credits, which allow you to give energy back to the power grid when you have extra. You can also invest in a battery for solar storage. And as an added safety net, you are still connected to the power grid if you do need energy outside of your solar system. 

  • You can get solar panels for free by entering into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). With a PPA, a developer installs solar panels on your home, but you do not spend money on the system. The developer then sells you the solar energy at a reduced kWh rate. 

  • The good news is homes with solar panels sell quicker and for more money. You can also elect to take your solar panels with you to your new home for an added cost. 

  • Most solar panels last 25 years or more, but eventually, the panels will lose efficiency and need to be replaced. Because panels are made with elements and chemicals that need to be disposed of properly, it is a good idea to have either the manufacturer or a solar recycling company handle this process.

  • Batteries are not a necessity for a home solar panel system. They can add several thousand dollars to the cost. However, many homeowners opt for solar batteries to save their excess energy and be more energy independent.

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