Solar Secret: Solar Panels Are Not The Main Cost

Since the solar panels are the item most people focus one, they often assume that that’s where the predominant portion of the cost is.

This assumption is a bit anachronistic.

As little as four years ago, solar panels made up more than 50% of the cost of a turnkey solar array.

Today (2013), panels make up less than 20% of the cost of a system as fierce manufacturing competition in China and a glut of a solar panels ‘active’ component – polysilicon – has driven the retail price of a solar panel to below $1 a watt.

So where is the rest of the cost?

Labor now accounts for a larger percentage of the cost than the panels, so do the inverters in some cases.

Racking and balance of system (copper wire, conduit, disconnects, grounding rods, breakers, subpanels, pull boxes, combiner boxes, etc) make up a significant portion as well.

Permitting and local requirements can impact system cost too. For example, some cities promote the adoption of solar by offering free permits while others layer on fee after fee until the permit grows into the thousands of dollars.

We recently installed in a city where the permit costs alone could’ve bought another twelve solar panels!

Other items affecting the cost of your installation include roof type (for example, clay roofs require special preparation which can be costly to do correctly); electrical service age and amperage; internal conduit runs; arrays spread across multiple roofs; ground mounting vs. roof mounting; tree trimming; trenching; non-code compliant additions, structures, and improvements, and myriad other considerations.

To Knowing If Solar Is A Good Fit!

-Scott Gordon

P.S. – In our next segment we’re gonna talk about the ugly side of solar. I don’t want you to fall victim to ugly solar – Solar can be beautiful. Check back soon to learn what to look out for so you don’t get stuck with the one roof in your neighborhood that’s been made ugly.

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