How Much Does Solar Cost?

posted by Dave Llorens on February 15th, 2012

Infographic: How Much Does Solar Cost

Infographic: How Much Does Solar Cost

How Much Does Solar Cost?

A growing number of homeowners want to know how much solar costs, but it can sometimes be difficult to get a straight answer. To help shine a light, we took the results of over 45,000 solar estimates created by real U.S. homeowners in 2011 and put them into these maps. Homeowners used One Block Off the Grid’s online solar estimate tool to generate these results for how much solar would cost and save them, personally. Energy analytics powered by Clean Power Research.

How much solar power costs in your state

Think solar is out of reach? Think again. Real solar cost estimates of how state, regional, and local incentives are helping bring the cost of solar way down. In many states, you can go solar for less than $10,000. Here’s a look at the average cost to go solar in each state (See first image).

What you could save every month with solar energy

By going solar, people around the country are saving money each month that would have gone to utility companies. Just how much are they saving by putting solar panels on their house? In some places, they save over $100 each month. (See second image)

What you could save over time with solar panels

What would you do with an extra $20K? That’s how much the average solar system will save you over 20 years. Residents in some states with high electricity prices can expect to save much more than that – consider Hawaii, where residents save on average $64,000 with solar after 20 years. (See third image)

How long it’ll take to pay for itself with solar power

Seems like a no-brainer: High cost equals long payback time, right? Not exactly. A state with good solar incentives can mean a low net solar cost, but if electricity is cheap in that state (like Arizona or Louisiana), the payback period for solar can still be pretty long. Conversely, a system may cost more in a given state, but if electricity prices there are high, the payback period for solar may actually be pretty short. (See fourth image)

What’s One Block Off the Grid?

One Block Off the Grid makes it convenient and easy to understand and shop for solar energy. One Block Off the Grid offers choices so homeowners can get a free solar estimate however it’s most convenient for them, either online at or by phone at 1-877-444-4002 — without the need for a home visit. Founded in 2008, One Block Off the Grid has helped thousands of homeowners go solar in over 40 U.S. states. One Block Off the Grid is the winner of a TreeHugger “Best of Green” award and sponsored the first-ever solar deals on Tell your friends about One Block Off the Grid.

By Dave Llorens

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48 Responses to “How Much Does Solar Cost?”

  1. How Considerably Solar Fees & How Considerably You Could Help save on Electricity in Your State (Infographic) - Alternative Energy, Green Technologies & Home Energy Economics - says:

    [...] your believed return on financial commitment (ROI)? This infographic beneath, made by One particular Block Off the Grid (1BOG)* has all the answers, and a couple of a lot more. Properly, they are generalized solutions, based [...]

  2. nigel says:

    Fantastic stuff as usual, from 1BOG.

    One thing that isnt clear is the size of the systems, relative to the cost; perhaps only of interest to solar geeks like me, but im working on almost excatly the same type of analysis in Australia (its an ongoing task) and Id love to understand more about the $/W

  3. nigel says:

    Shannon; thanks for the response. Is the full data set set available to good solar folks?

    After some comparative analysis, Id be delighted to share some local data and analysis from down under.

    Our prices are really, really low at the moment but ave system size is around 2.2kW.

  4. Brandon says:

    I love randomly coming across sites such as this. We have a few clients that have gone solar and any other green alternatives on their mansions being built. Cost breakdowns will eventually help those who have smaller houses sitting on the fence to upgrade.

  5. BenN says:

    I like the pretty maps but the numbers don’t add up. WA – $71 per month = $17,101 savings after 20 years. If the setup costs 22,834 how can it pay for itself in 19 years? 19 years worth of saving $71 dollars = $16,246, way less than the $22,834 it cost to set up.

    Does this count true costs and returns? Assuming somebody paid $23,000 in cash, no loan or interest is fine. Most people probably won’t do that but it is fine for this inforgraphic. But trying to say it will pay for itself in 19 years ignores the fact that $23,000 will grow to $42,000 after 20 years at a very modest three percent.

    One other side note that would be impossible to account for here- in WA the vast majority of people live on the coast side of the mountains where the clouds and famous Seattle rain are. The east side of the mountains may boost up our state’s sun numbers but can’t be used on a personal basis. I looked into adding solar to my house and ‘pay for itself’ time was 79 years.

    • Shannon says:

      The numbers may seem not to add up, but they do, because they include state and local-level rebates and incentive details that can’t easily be included on a static map. We recommend using our online solar estimate tool ( to see all the detail included in the ROI calculations for your state. And yes, it’s true that your individual property may have different numbers than the ones you see here. These numbers are averages of all the estimates taken in that state in 2011.

  6. John says:

    Interesting graphics. Thanks for the information. Does this take into account costs to clean and maintain? What is the life expectancy of a PV set up. Does this take into acocunt a zero balance or worth at the end of the period or is there a residual at the end of 20? Is this residual factored into the break even period? Thanks. I’ve been to green events and the passion is contagious.

    • Shannon says:

      Most of our homeowners don’t spend anything on cleaning (letting rain do the job for them) and a standard warranty on solar panels is 25 years. More elaborate maintenance plans are often a part of solar leasing agreements these days. How you’re compensated for the excess solar energy you generate depends on where you live, but in most places, you get credit for the excess you generate and many of our solar homeowners end up with a negative utility balance at the end of the year. This isn’t factored into the return on investment calculations, however, because to the degree it’s possible — system sizes are designed to the homeowner’s actual energy needs. Most states and counties will only let you install as much solar as you actually need, which is why they require 12 months’ worth of historic kilowatt usage information in order to grant a permit to install solar. Hope this answers your question, John!

  7. BJ Parsons says:

    Cool tools!

  8. Roger Smith says:

    There was one thing I didn’t see in you payback figures. What is the life expectancy of the equipment, solar panels, inverters, storage batteries, etc. The people that I have talked to, who have solar systems in there homes, both in Washington state & Nevada have said the life expectancy is only 10+- years. This falls way short of the payback in almost any state.
    I ran into one homeowner that said he produced much more electricty off of a small wind generator than he did off of his solar panels and that was on the desert in Nevada where it’s sunny most of the time.

    • Shannon says:

      The people with whom you’ve spoken are very much mistaken and/or are the exception to the rule. The *standard* warranty for solar panels is 25 years and solar in general tends to be *very* long lived due to the total lack of any moving parts. There are still solar systems around from the 1960′s, in fact, that are working beautifully. There are a bunch of reasons why your Nevada friend might not have been producing much solar power — small system, a botched self-installation, or a roof that simply is not good for solar for one or more reasons. That’s why we’re very rigorous in our estimate and shading analysis process — we only recommend solar systems to those who are truly good candidates for one, and that is definitely *not* every homeowner. Hope that answers your question, Roger!

  9. Clayton James says:

    I can’t wait to get a home so I can get solar installed. I’m so happy to know the creative ways we can make this happen. Our green housekeeping service in los angeles doesn’t use hybrids yet, but we do use non toxic products which is way green!

  10. Miguel Rodriguez says:

    The understanding that I had was the it would not cost a thing. Specially to disabled war veterans. Your company called but, left no telephone number to call back. That in itself maybe telling me something.

  11. Men-Ching Luk says:

    going solar infographic.

  12. Yvonne LeFave says:

    Add a comment…

  13. Jack Collins says:

    I am not as interested in the financial gain at this point as I am with developing a committment to clean energy. I know it would probably be cheaper to continue to pay traditional energy cost. But I believe we should do everything we can to change our dependence on fossil fuel. It would be worth it to me to know I am helping to build a local economy also. Manufacturing, sales and installation jobs which are needed badly at this time…. am I alone thinking like this?

  14. My girlfriend’s father has been subtly pitching me on the benefits of solar for a while now (she has too), but I was really under the apparently erroneous assumption that the cost of installation was too high, and the payback period too long to justify doing any real research into the idea. I’ll be looking into it further after seeing your infographic. Well done.

    • Shannon says:

      Great, Barry! It really does depend heavily on the incentives available in your state, as well as your current electricity bill and roof’s level of exposure to the sun. If your ROI doesn’t end up making sense now, it’s still a good idea to get a new quote every year or so, as incentives are changing radically right now from state to state.

  15. Dean Windass says:

    The incentive in the UK these days has fallen so low that it’s getting to the point where it’s really not worth it. Some have been lucky and jumped on the ‘Feed in Tariffs’ early, and are now tied into a decent sum of money for their initial outlay. But, whilst the government are still banging on about us all doing or part, installing solar panels, domestic windmills and whatnot, at the same time they keep lowering the payback tariffs. It’s like you can’t do right for doing wrong.

  16. Britt Trentz says:

    In many European countries due to high tariffs on utility services, many citizens are already using solar energy, thus saving a lot of money

  17. Peter says:

    Any suggestion on where to find what the average system costs are without adding in subsidies?

    • Shannon says:

      Yes! Since you’re in one of our active campaign areas, we strongly recommend just getting a free quote from us. It will show you the exact break-outs of what a system would cost before and after subsidies. You don’t even need to speak to someone on the phone, if you’d rather not. You can enter all the necessary information in your profile: and then a solar advisor can either email you a quote or schedule a 20 minute phone appointment with you to go through it. The main piece of info we’d need is your 12-month kilowatt usage information — 12 numbers, usually located on your utility bill. If you need any help, just give us a call: 888-444-4002.

  18. Brian says:

    How about building a site that does NOT require facebook to do anything on?

  19. Jeff Miller says:

    I saving my money to go off the grid when I retire. it certainly isn’t cheap initially, but it will pay off in the end.

  20. Thanks for this infographics.

  21. [...] your friends about One Block Off the Grid. // < ![CDATA[ $ ("#hidethispost").hide(); // ]]> One Block Off the Grid: The Smart New Way to Go Solar » Solar Blog | One Block Off the Grid Home So… Be Sociable, Share! Tweet(function() {var s = document.createElement('SCRIPT'), s1 = [...]

  22. I was just wondering is this includes thermodynamic solar panels or just solar panels.

    I would love to see an info graphic like this for the UK, but I am surprised with the figures and how each area is so different.


  23. See how you can get free hot water using the new solar panel technology that is called thermodynamics.

  24. Actually thermodynamic solar panels are now being installed in 29 countries around the World.

    There is not a lot of information about them in the USA that I can find but I am sure that they will grow in popularity across the US as people become more aware of them

  25. Tank says:

    “In many states, you can go solar for less than $10,000.” I guess by “many states”, they only meant 5. IMO, it’s a waste of time and money to spend thousands of dollars putting solar panels on your roof that spend all day to only charge a few car batteries. If solar energy was actually as price efficient and effective as people say it is, then more people would have it.

  26. I’ve been wanting to build a net zero home for some time now. My husband I plan to build one within the next five years. I really hope the cost of solar declines a lot, its pretty expensive.

  27. Steve says:

    Thanks for the post. This gives me a rough idea of what it will cost me to set up a solar system.

  28. [...] irony is that solar can be financed in a way where there is no upfront cost and the homeowner shows immediate savings from the first day. There are 11 states in which our business can operate this way today. Most [...]

  29. For battery, you usually need to replace it
    every six (6) to ten (10) years and the cost differs based on the scale and design of the structure.
    Noise from wind turbines can cause severe annoyance, but some victims also report health issues that
    they attribute to the noise, including anxiety, stress, difficulty sleeping, and nausea.
    Some towns and neighborhoods are perfectly fine with these devices and then again some are horrified by the prospects of having one
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  30. Samantha M says:

    For the backup generators make sure you run them before you know you need to use them so the battery life is maximized! It’s better for multiple uses of half power than clearing all the generators energy at one time!

  31. [...] All you need to for that is, choose the panel size you would require, contact a fitter, pay him a charge and get your solar panel installed. Once it is done, you can enjoy an unlimited supply of electricity for years to come without having [...]

  32. What’s up friends, good piece of writing and good arguments commented here, I am genuinely enjoying by these.

  33. Bugsy says:

    Solar power combined with a good generator is a no brainer for residents in disaster prone areas. I have been without power for 17 days when Hurricane Katrina came through. I will never let that happen again. We now have solar power and a whole home back up generator installed.

  34. [...] To get an idea of the average costs and savings involved in installing a residential solar system in a typical home in your state, click on the infographics on this website. [...]

  35. [...] you live in, solar panels can offset your electricity costs by tens of thousands of dollars. In the Golden State, this number clocked in at an annual savings of [...]

  36. [...] there are examples aplenty to back up pretty much all of these assumptions (especially the low cost of solar power) — it’s really only a matter of how quickly each of these will come to pass. And the [...]

  37. [...] are implemented, the easier, and cheaper, it will be for everyone to get solar. According to an infographic explaining how much solar costs created by One Block Off the Grid, the three states highlighted in this report are currently in the [...]

  38. [...] Part of that success stems from the fact that solar has supporters in even the most conservative political circles, but also because of the strong demand from individuals who have seen the energy bill savings from solar. [...]

  39. [...] You can add that to the list of no-brainers: Everyone likes to save money on their energy bill. [...]

  40. [...] that are aimed at cutting red tape, decreasing installation times and reducing the overall soft costs of solar installation — all of which will help the region’s solar industry expand its presence in the East [...]

  41. [...] This infographic was originally posted by David Llorens on One Block Off the Grid. [...]

  42. Stepanie says:

    This site certainly has all of the information
    and facts I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

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