While installing a solar power system for your home should be considered an investment, the upfront costs can be somewhat off-putting for some homeowners. Not only can the solar equipment itself seem fairly expensive, many people worry that installation fees and other associated costs will quickly pile up.
To help you understand how much it would realistically cost to install solar panels on an average-sized home, we are going to take a look at how much solar panels cost for a 1,500 square foot house. From there, we will explore the many factors that contribute to the cost of solar panels, as well as the total costs of an entire residential solar power system.
By reading through this detailed guide, we hope that you will come to realise that installing solar panels is far less expensive than you might otherwise think.
So, How Much Would Solar Panels Cost for a 1,500 Square Foot House?
According to most estimates, the cost lands somewhere between $8,000 and $25,000 to install solar panels on a 1,500 square foot house in the United States. Naturally, you are probably wondering why there is so much variation between the estimates. The truth is, the total cost of your solar power system will depend on far more than just the square footage of your house.
Prices for solar panels and other components are quite variable. Everything from the amount of suitable space you actually have available on your roof to your specific power needs will determine how much your solar power system will end up costing.
Understanding the Price of Solar Panels:
To understand the variance in the price estimates described above, it is important to review the elements that will impact the overall cost a specific solar power system.
First of all, the size of your desired solar power system will play a major role in determining the final cost of the system. Whether you are looking to purchase a small-scale and portable solar power system for camping trips, or you are looking to equip a 1,500 square foot home with a solar power system, the first question you need to ask yourself is: “how much power do I actually need to generate and store in order to meet my electricity needs?”
Even if two houses have the same square footage, they might have radically different power needs. This is why it is important to accurately estimate the total electricity required to run your home. Before you start shopping for solar panels and other pieces of solar equipment, you absolutely must estimate your total load wattage.
Solar panels come in a broad range of sizes and power ratings. You can choose from handheld 5W panels, all the way up to 400W+ premium solar panels. As you would expect, the higher the power rating, meaning how efficiently the solar panel can convert sunlight into useable electricity, the more expensive it tends to be. As you can see, your specific power needs will influence the price of your solar power system more than just the footprint of your home in square feet.
Calculating Your Specific Power Needs:
Calculating the total load wattage for your specific home is actually quite simple. Essentially, you are just coming up with an estimate of how much electricity your house currently uses each day. While taking a look at your monthly electricity bills from the local utility company can be useful, you can also perform some simple calculations yourself.
This is important for estimating the total cost of your system because most solar equipment, including solar panels, are priced according to their power rating, meaning how much solar power they can actually generate in an hour. If you have lower power needs, your solar panels and all of the rest of your solar equipment will cost less than if you have higher power requirements.
To calculate your home’s specific power requirements, you can use a pen and paper, or a spreadsheet. You would then use the following four columns:
Name of Appliance
Run Time Per Day
(rounded up to the nearest hour)
Total in Watts
(Example) - Television
You will need to fill in the information for every electronic device and appliance that draws power from your home. Once you have entered this information and totalled everything up, you will have a rough estimate of the solar power needed to satisfy your home’s daily electricity requirements.
For a more detailed explanation of how you can calculate the solar watt-hour requirements for your entire home, we recommend taking a look at our Ultimate Off-Grid Solar Watt Hour Calculator.
The Type of Solar Power System You Plan on Running:
Another factor that will impact the total cost of your solar panels is the type of system you plan on running.
When setting up a residential solar power system, you can choose between a grid-tied, a grid-tied plus storage (hybrid system), or a fully off-grid system. The type of solar power system you choose will greatly affect the overall cost.
- Grid-Tied Systems: Maintain access to the utility grid, which means you can simply reduce the costs of your electricity bill, while still having access to grid electricity when you need it. These tend to be more affordable, as you do not need to provide enough power to supply your entire home with electricity at all times. You also do not need to invest in a costly solar battery bank system to store the solar electricity.
- Grid-Tied plus Storage: Operates the same way as grid-tied systems, but with the addition of a backup battery bank. You can draw power from the grid, feed power into the grid for rebates, store power to use at your convenience, or supply power to your home directly. Naturally, this tends to be more expensive than strict grid-tied systems, but they can still be affordable.
- Off-Grid Systems: The solar panels and associated equipment must be capable of meeting all of your power needs, as you do not have access to the utility grid. Depending on your specific power needs, you will need a large scale and powerful solar panel array, as well as a high-capacity solar battery bank that can store enough power to meet your electricity needs. These tend to be expensive systems, but they completely eliminate your need to pay a utility company for power.
As you can see, if you have access to a utility grid, you can lower the overall costs of your solar panels. This is because you do not need to have a system with a power rating high enough to satisfy all of your electricity needs. An off-grid system will almost always cost more money up front, as you need to fully cover your electricity needs. Again, the more power you need to generate and store, the more solar panels you will need and the more efficient/expensive those panels will need to be.
Choosing Solar Panels and Other Pieces of Solar Equipment
When equipping your home with solar panels, you have several options. You can start by purchasing each piece of solar equipment separately, which gives you the flexibility to build a system that will meet your exact power needs, or you can purchase a ready-made solar panel kit, which will come with everything you need to generate and store a specific amount of solar electricity.
Solar Panel Kits:
Solar panel kits are an excellent option for those that are just starting out with solar power, as they offer the convenience of an all-in-one package. They come with solar panels, a charge controller, power inverter, deep cycle solar battery bank, and all of the solar cables and connectors you need to wire the system together. Best of all, these bundled packages tend to offer the equipment at a lower price than if you were to buy each component individually.
Our DIY Solar Panel Kit Collection offers a variety of high-quality solar kits in a wide range of power ratings. Choose the kit that meets your power requirements and you can immediately start reaping the financial and environmental rewards that come with embracing solar power.
For homeowners that are new to solar, we recommend starting with this 1,200W Solar Panel Kit. The kit comes with four 12V monocrystalline solar panels, as well as everything you need to get a new solar power system up and running.
Individual Solar Panels:
If you would prefer to build a custom solar power system for your home, we recommend these affordable and highly-efficient 200W Monocrystalline Solar Panels. They feature a plug-and-play junction box for quick installation, high-efficiency monocrystalline solar cells, and a lightweight aluminum frame. Solar Power Storage Options:
If you have decided on the correct number and type of solar panels needed to build your system, you may want to consider power storage options. Naturally, an off-grid system will require some sort of battery bank, but even a grid-tied system can benefit from some sort of power storage. This would give you the flexibility to store power for emergencies, or to use during peak hours when prices are raised.
For more information about your storage options, we recommend reading our Battery Banks and Solar Generators Mini Course. It will tell you everything you need to know about building your own solar storage system.
Our Complete Solar Generator Buyer's Guide can also help you understand your options, as it reviews six of the best solar generators on the market today.
While it is difficult to predict how much solar panels will cost just by knowing the size of a house, it is fairly simple to accurately estimate how much your system will cost once you know your power needs.
It is also important to remember that there are plenty of tax incentives and rebate systems offered by both the federal government and various state governments, so the final cost of your solar power system might be much less than you would think.
No matter what type of solar power system you are looking to install, we are always happy to answer any questions you may have! Remember, we are here to help you get started with solar power!