How Much Do Solar Panels Cost Per Sq. Ft.

TLDR: Though “how much do solar panels cost per sq. ft.” is a very common and understandable question to evaluate when planning your solar panel system, it’s not an entirely accurate way to look at your power potential.

Instead you want to look at cost per watt and how much energy you use in kWh. When you include everything that comes with solar panels (parts, permits, overhead, labor, and the solar panels themselves), you’re looking at solar panels costing around $6 to $8 per watt. Read below to find out how to lower this cost using tax incentives and benefits you may not have heard about.

Solar panel efficiency chart
Source: Solar Power Rocks

“How much do solar panels cost per sq. ft.”

This is a very common question for homeowners looking to budget and plan their own solar energy system.

But while that’s a very understandable question, it doesn’t quite get at the heart of the information you’ll actually use to plan your solar power system.


Because it doesn’t matter if you have a 1,500 square foot roof or a 3,000 square foot roof, the amount of solar panels you’ll need will vary depending on your energy use. 

An easier way to answer this question is to look at the cost per watt of a solar panel and how much energy you use in kWh (kilowatt hours)

This is an excellent tool to calculate your personal energy use in kWh.

A watt is the measurement used to gauge the ideal power potential of a solar panel. Most residential solar panel systems use between 250-325 watt solar panels. 

If you have a bigger roof (or house) will you use more energy?

Maybe. But maybe not. Even if you have a bigger roof you may have energy-saving appliances and be more energy-conscious than someone else even if they live in a much smaller house. 

So that’s why you decide your solar power system size based on energy used and watts vs. solar cost per sq. ft. 

Most U.S homes have rooftops that are about 1,500 sq. ft.. And the average solar power system needed is a 5 kilowatt system. This size of solar panel layout will only take about 350-400 sq. ft., so most homeowners will have more than enough room for solar panels. 

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Which Factors Influence The Cost Of Solar Panels Per Watt?

cost of solar panels per sq. ft.

Your energy use will influence the size of solar power system you get. And that will influence how much you pay for your system.

With energy costs constantly on the rise, more homeowners are switching to solar panels and solar power than ever before. Financial savings often reach into the tens of thousands over a 25 year life span of your solar system.

In areas with really high energy costs, you’re going to save more than those with lower energy costs. 

solar panel cost per watt by state
Source Credit: Energy Sage

The solar panel price per watt is between $2.50 and $4.00 (approximately). Even though areas of the U.S. have sometimes larger differences, it’s important to note that different states and counties have different incentives and sunshine time that will make solar energy more lucrative. 

Below is a table of average costs of professional solar panel installation based on wattage and region.

It’s important to note that these figures don’t include tax credits/incentives or any other added benefits. The average system size is 5kWh, with Hawaii (Western region) has the highest rate per watt ($3.40-$4.00) and Georgia (Southern) has the lowest ($2.75-$3.50).

Cost of installing solar panels by region
Graph Credit Source:

Solar panel power systems could cost you as little as $2,500 or as much as $44,000. That’s a huge spectrum to consider. 

More factors that will influence your solar cost:

  • how much solar potential your roof has (hours of sunlight),
  • average solar system cost,
  • and labor costs in your area 

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Factors that bring down the cost of your solar power system would be your tax incentives, benefits, state incentives, and solar programs

Energy costs are constantly going up and they’re not going to stop. That’s why it’s the perfect time to go solar. Solar panels cost per sq. ft. or, more accurately, cost per watt, has never been lower and your ability to maximize your savings is very high right now. 

How Much Does One Solar Panel Cost?

how much do solar panels cost per sq. ft.

Simply enough, you can look up your area’s solar cost per watt to gauge the price of a solar panel.

On average,  solar panels run between $2.50 and $3.98 per watt.

The national average cost of a solar panel is around $2.98/watt. Most residential solar panels have power ratings ranging from 250-400 watts. Considering that range, one solar panels can cost between $745 – $1,192.

So if you’re gearing up for a 6kWh solar panel system, it will cost you around $17-18,000. 

BEFORE you hyperventilate, remember that there are many programs and incentives now that help front this cost and makes solar much more affordable for you.

After tax credits, homeowners are saving thousands on their systems, reducing the cost to around $10-$12,500.Which is an important distinction of price. 

It’s more affordable to go solar every year thanks to many tax incentives like the solar tax credit (ITC).

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Is It Worth Paying For Labor? DIY Vs. Professional Solar Installation

how much do solar panels cost per watt

Doing DIY or professional installation is a question most homeowners entertain on any home improvement project. 

Sometimes DIY can be an excellent way to save a little extra money. 

For solar panels, since you’re working with electricity, for safety and fire hazard risk reasons we strongly recommend a professional installation with a solar company. 

This way you know you’re solar panels are installed correctly for sure. And any malfunctions or accidents will be covered by insurance and warranties. 

Labor cost doesn’t actually cost a lot. You’re paying for convenience, materials, and expertise as well.

Labor costs usually come in around $0.50/watt. So it’s not a whole lot to begin with. DIY kits are usually $1.50-$2.50/watt, plus you’ll need to plan $0.50/watt for a professional electrician. Considering that professionally installed solar panels usually contract at $2.50-$4.00/watt, DIY doesn’t offer big savings and it definitely costs you more risk. 

Solar panel installation cost chart
Source Credit: Home Advisor

Additionally, when you hire a solar company, they’ll be able to help you plan your solar panels to maximum sunlight and power potential. They also take a lot of the stress out of acquiring permits and helping you access tax incentives and other benefits you might now know about in your area. 

Since the average U.S. Solar panel system is around 5kWh, you may expect to pay a contractor around $16,000 while you may pay between $10,000-$14,000 doing DIY. It may be enticing to save that extra bit, and if you have the expert skills to do it then maybe it is. 

For most homeowners, however, they enjoy their time not spent under the sun working long hours with the possibility of mistakes or electric danger.

Getting the help to maximize their solar panel efficiency, gather permits, and the reassurance that their system is expertly installed and safe if more than worth the extra cost.

Important Solar Costs And Benefits To Weigh

is solar energy expensive

Homeowners who explore their options thoroughly and gather several quotes could save thousands on their solar installation. It can help to know how many solar panels your house needs. It’s a very important decision, and you should know how to access all your available incentives and benefits. 

Is solar energy expensive?

Well, yeah, most people would consider solar energy an investment. It’s kind of like an electrical appliance on top of your home that reduces your energy bill and uses clean energy.

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The benefits of solar energy often far out-weigh the initial cost.

  • The solar payback period (time it takes to pay off your solar panel system) is on average 6 to 9 years. With a 25 year lifespan, every single year over that you’re making more than your money back in savings. 
  • A 5kWh solar system can reduce your monthly electric bill by 50%. Over a 20 year lifespan, that can add up to $30,000 (depending on your location and energy use, of course). 
  • Solar increases your home’s value and you can also make money on the panels when you sell your home. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that homes with solar panels sell for 17% more than homes without. 
  • There are solar programs and flexible payment options that make going solar even easier. Find out your options today by calling the Home Pros phone number or filling out our free pro-finder form below.

So while solar energy seems expensive at first, it’s actually very affordable. In the long run it pays for itself plus thousands more. And it’s a better move for your home’s value and your future. 

How To Get Your Affordable Solar Energy Today

The first thing you want to do is figure out your energy use and how to improve it.

You can do this by contacting your electric company for your detailed power usage in kWh over the last year. And you can hire a home energy auditor to do an inspection of your home to help you see where you’re losing money on energy.

After you know how to maximize your energy use, start getting quotes on solar from your local solar professionals.

Your solar professional will be able to help you maximize your solar panel system with the right size, panels, mounts, inverters, etc. And they’ll be able to help you get the permits and access the incentives and subsidies your state or city offers. 

Homeowners who explore their options thoroughly with Home Professionals, comparing several quotes, could save thousands on their solar installation.

To take advantage of this help, please call our number or use our free pro and quote finder below. Home Professionals will get you connected the the best deals and pros in your area.

Call For Your Free Quote: 888-653-4924 

Find Out If You Qualify For Solar Funding!


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Frequently Asked Questions about Solar:

Q: What is the ITC?

A: The Federal Government in the year 2019 will pay for 30% of your solar cost. That's like the Federal Government paying 30% of your electric bill for the next 30 years.

Q: Is there a solar program that is 100% free?

A: No. There are programs without any enrollment, install, or maintenance costs. However, you still have to pay the lower power bill that comes accompanied with your electricity use.

Q: What energy efficient program offers the most savings?

A: Solar offers massive savings to the homeowner. Especially as electric rates tend to rise year after year, and homeowners are using more power as they are adding in home automation, tvs, speakers, etc.

Scale of Solar Prices Over Time

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