When it comes to making the switch to solar energy, one of the biggest questions is always “how much do solar panels cost?” The benefits of solar power are clear: it’s great for the environment, it helps you become energy independent, and you can support a local business when you choose a solar installer near you. But most of all, going solar can save you money. And that’s often the biggest factor.

But looking at the numbers can be confusing. How much does it actually cost to install solar panels? How much money can it save you? And how long will it take to see your return on investment? Let’s look at a few different factors that will impact the answers to those questions, broken down into two categories: cost factors and return factors.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost? — Cost Factors

Cost factors, as their name implies, will impact the amount of money you’ll spend to install your solar system.

Your Roof Type

Of course, not all solar panels are installed on roofs — some customers with larger land areas may opt for a ground system. But if you go for a roof system, which is most common for our customers, the type of roof you have can make a difference.

Do you have a flat roof or a slanted roof? Each type of roof has its pros and cons, and these can translate into a price difference, though it’s often relatively small. With a flat roof, solar panels must be angled toward the sun in order to maximize their power efficiency. This means that the angled mounts will add a bit to the cost. But a flat roof is also safer for the workers, which means the cost of labor could be reduced.

Your Address: Do Missouri Solar Rebates Exist?

At KC Solar, we serve customers in both Kansas and Missouri. And it turns out that where you live can actually make a difference when it comes to the cost of installing solar panels as well. 

In the Kansas City area and other parts of the two states, the average cost of solar is around $3 to $5 per watt. But Missouri residents are lucky in one way that Kansas residents are not: Missouri currently offers a rebate for new solar customers. Under Missouri’s Senate Bill 564, solar systems that become operational through December 31, 2023, are eligible for a 25-cent per watt ($0.25/W) rebate. (Note: Even though the deadline has not passed for Missouri Solar Rebates, reports are the funds may have been exhausted.)

Your System Specifications and Energy Needs

The other main factor when it comes to the cost of your solar system is the specifications of the system you install. Fixed costs exist no matter the system size. Items such as insurance and engineering fit this bill. So, cost of the solar panel system is NOT directly proportional to its size.  Still, after the fixed costs, larger solar systems will require more materials and labor. And they will cost more. Smaller systems will require less, so they’ll cost less.

The size of your system doesn’t just depend on how big your roof is. It also depends on how much energy you’re currently using. Take a look at your previous electric bills to figure how much you consistently use, and then be sure your new solar system is large enough to handle that. You can also use online calculators to help you estimate the efficiency of similar solar systems in your area. 

How Much Do Solar Panels Save? — Return Factors

Return factors will impact the amount of money you’ll get back, or your return on your investment, when it comes to your solar panels.

Average Electricity Bill

If you were only spending $5 per month on electricity before going solar, you may not see a return on investment very quickly (or ever) if your new electricity bill was reduced to zero. Though we’re guessing that’s not the case for anyone. But it does help illustrate our point that, the more you were spending on electricity before going solar, the more you stand to save in the long run.

Now, keep in mind that the cost of your electricity is almost guaranteed to rise during the life of your solar panels — and they can lock you into a fixed cost. Over the length of 25 years, a typical retired couple can expect to spend about $58,000 on electricity. Installing solar panels can help reduce that number substantially. 

Inflation

One factor that can have a major cost on your electricity bill doesn’t have anything to do with you at all — and that’s inflation. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the costs of electricity increased by 30% between 2010 and 2020. And these prices are highly likely to continue climbing.

As inflation fluctuates over the coming years, your return on your solar panels will vary. The more inflation there is, the more money you’ll be saving over the long run. With the way things have been going, you’ll likely be glad you have solar panels.

Property Value

What else affects your return on investment? The impact solar panels can have on your home’s value. For some, the idea of installing solar panels on your forever home is enough to give you pause and make you wonder if it’s really worth it. 

But a study by the National Association of Realtors surveyed potential homebuyers, and it found that buyers were willing to pay a premium for homes with solar panels. That means that solar panels can make you money on your home, even if you don’t plan to stay there forever. 

Tax Credit

While Missouri residents are eligible for a local rebate, solar customers across the U.S. can benefit from the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC). This can make a big difference in the cost of your solar installation — but you have to act soon. 

Thanks to the ITC, new solar installers can claim a tax credit for 26% of the total cost of their system. But you can only take advantage of this through December 31, 2022. After that, the tax credit percentage decreases. So the sooner you install your solar system, the more money you stand to make back.

KC Solar Is Your Teammate to Determine Solar Panel Costs — And Benefits

Going solar is a big decision, and it’s one you shouldn’t make lightly. With all the cost factors involved, you want to make sure you have all the information to make the best choice for you.

At KC Solar, we’re more than a local solar installer. We want to be your partner through the process. Get in touch with us, and we’ll even tell you if we think solar is NOT the right choice for you. Because we care about our customers and we care about our town.

Ready? Let’s talk.

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