How Much Should You Pay for Solar Panels? What’s a Good Price?
We bought our pair of Renogy 150W 12V monocrystalline solar panels on sale for about $300 plus sales tax. All together, we spent a little more than a $1.00 per watt for high quality name brand solar panels, which is a pretty good deal. But how did we know that was a good deal? Well, we did a lot of research and shopped around for a long time. This is what we learned…
$1 Per Watt
If you’re paying $1.00 per watt, you’re getting a good price on your solar panels. If you’re paying less than that, you’re getting a great price; and if you’re paying a little more than that, you’re still getting a pretty good deal but you may want to shop around more or wait for the panels to go on sale – major retailers always have sales, so sometimes you just have to be patient to get the best price.
It’s not hard to find solar panels in this price range, though. We frequently see 100W solar panels selling for around $100 on Amazon and other websites.
Polycrystalline vs. Monocrystalline
Most solar panels are either polycrystalline or monocrystalline. If you want to know all about the differences between them, read this article; but for the general purpose of this discussion, all you really need to know is monocrystalline solar panels are more expensive because they are higher quality – one panel of photovoltaic cells instead of fragments forged together. So while you shouldn’t have any problem finding polycrystalline panels for $1.00 per watt or less, expect to pay a little bit more than that for mono.
Name Brand vs. Generic
Name brand solar panels, like Renogy or Goal Zero, always cost more than the generic ones or those made by lesser known manufacturers. Goal Zero panels, in particular, are ridiculously expensive – about $3.00 per watt. However, a manufacturer’s warranty, reliable customer support, and the assurance you’re purchasing a well-made solar panel, are all reasons you may want to spend a little bit more for name brand panels, but that’s not to say others won’t work just as well.
Mounts & Accessories
Mounts, cables, and other accessories for solar panels are really expensive. The 41″ aluminum mounting brackets we bought for our panels retail for $100, and we had to buy a pair for each panel. We bought them on sale, so they ending up costing roughly half the price of the solar panels themselves. The cables and connectors for them were also expensive, ranging from $15 up to $50 depending on the length, gauge, and connection type.
We have a few 15′ Anderson Powerpole (AP) extension cables not shown in the picture above, and those were the most expensive. The MC4 cables attached to the back of the panels came preinstalled, and the panels are connected to each other via a series of adapter cables that join them to one AP cable that connects to the generator.
The total cost for our panels, accessories, and sales tax, ended up being somewhere in the ballpark of $500 to $600. The point being, if you think a solar panel is being sold for too much, find out if it comes with any accessories you would have to buy separately otherwise, because you may find out you’re actually saving some money.
If the solar panel you’re thinking about buying costs roughly $1.00 per watt for just the panel, you’re getting a good deal. However, don’t be surprised if you have to spend a little more than that – especially after sales tax – and expect to spend a whole lot more than that on your entire solar system.
Oh, and if any of these numbers are giving you anxiety, just remember that solar systems are expandable. You can start out small, like we did, and expand later when you have more money to invest.