When you’re deciding to go solar, one of the first things you’ll want to know is “How much will it cost?” In general, it can range from $15,000-$30,000 before incentives or electric bill savings. But why is there such a wide range in prices, and why might installers quote you higher or lower figures? Let’s look at the main components of rooftop solar system pricing.

What Affects Solar Panel Prices?

The rule is basically the more powerful the system, the higher the price (this applies to individual modules as well). Your roof may accommodate a system with standard panels, for instance, or you might need to use more efficient premium panels, for more electricity per square unit, due to spacing issues. Premium or supreme panels cost more than standard ones. Pricing also varies by solar panel manufacturer.

Influences on panel pricing include efficiency rating and degradation rate. In general, prices vary based on product type, quality, and performance. Although solar panels typically make up less than 15% of the full price of an installed rooftop solar system, they remain a key component. The good news is that solar panel prices have dropped over time, and are predicted to keep doing so for the near future.

Besides the solar panels themselves, other solar system price components include:

  • Inverters and other hardware;
  • System design and power production projections; and
  • Direct labor

The chart below shows a breakdown of solar photovoltaic system quotes in price per watt from the Solar Energy Industry Association and Greentech Research. You’ll notice that utilities (electric companies) and businesses generally get quoted rates that are less per watt than homeowners. That’s because they’re basically buying in quantity, and getting a price break on their larger installations compared with homeowners.

How Much Does Labor Factor Into Solar Pricing in Los Angeles?

High interest in solar by Southern Californians has made Los Angeles a very competitive market for solar panel installers and contractors. That competition helps keep companies from overcharging. However, solar’s popularity has led many inexperienced (and sometimes unlicensed) contracting firms to offer solar installation without necessarily being experienced or licensed to do so. If you’re paying for a high-quality system, you’ll want it installed by professionals who know what they’re doing—especially around high-voltage equipment.

The quality of the best solar installations extends from installation to monitoring, maintenance, and, if needed, repair. The installers on your roof should be experienced professionals who work in a safe and mindful manner. For example, they should only put the absolute minimum number of holes in your roof required to mount your solar system; you don’t want to add solar and then find your roof leaks six months later. A reputable installer will get your rooftop solar system up and running, and will monitor performance over time, standing behind the installation with an extended warranty.

Unless you’re a licensed electrician, you shouldn’t try to install your solar system yourself. Improper installation raises the risk of shocks and fire. LA Solar Group installers are all CLSB-licensed solar installers, electricians, and roofing specialists, so you can rest assured that the people on your roof know what they’re doing.

Can Incentives Cut the Price of Solar?

When considering the price of solar, remember that there are many solar power incentives in LA. From tax credits on the system itself to electric bill credit for excess power sent back to the electric grid, there are a lot of ways to speed the return on your solar investment. For instance, the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit/Investment Tax Credit (ITC) alone credits homeowners at tax time for 30% of their net system cost.  

If you would like to know about other available incentives, financing, leasing, or other ways of making solar more affordable, we can help.