The Cost of Solar Energy
To determine the cost of solar energy, it is important to consider both the cost of installing the solar panels and how much they can offset a homeowner’s electrical bills. However, it is also important to consider the fact that solar energy is advancing so much every day that even as this article is being posted, it is becoming more affordable. The information in this post is only a quick look at the cost of solar energy. For a comprehensive assessment of whether or not it would be a good idea for your next project or your existing home, you should speak with one of the consultants at Burnham Nationwide.
A conservative estimate about solar panels is that they can generate about 10 watts of power for every square foot of paneling. That means that you will usually need 100 square feet of solar panel to create approximately one kW. Obviously, these numbers are very dependent upon how many hours a day the sun shines in your area, so you will need to adjust them accordingly. The average family uses about 1 kW every hour. Depending upon price of electricity in their area, they will have an electricity bill of approximately $73 per month. That figure is based upon a cost of $.10 per KW/h. If they run a hot tub or have a lot of electronics plugged in, their bill may be considerably more.
In order to offset the costs of installing panels, a homeowner should see if their utility provider will give them net metering. This means that when more energy is being produced than is being using, the meter will spin backwards. That amount will be put in a virtual savings account for the homeowner, and he or she can access it on rainy days when they are consuming more power than they are creating. This is only possible in homes that are on the grid. Homes that are using their panels as part of an off-grid system cannot do this.
However, even with net metering, the cost of solar energy can seem high. It costs about $7 to $9 per watt to install solar panels. This figure includes labor in most cases. Thus, the price for a 5kW system can be anywhere from $35,000 to $45,000. That means that it takes approximately 20 years for a system to pay for itself based on monthly bills of $73 per month. The important thing to remember when looking at figures like these is that they are constantly changing and that they are averages. If you live in a place that is very sunny and where electricity costs are high, your solar panels will pay for themselves much faster than they will in other places.