Dude, I want to have solar panels, but I also want to make sure I can feed and clothe my kids. Give me a straight answer: How much for my 1800 sq ft home in Los Angeles?
Just the Facts Jim
Dear JTF Jim,
Dude, the short answer is about $3.50 to $5.00/watt. Happy? …. I didn’t think so.
I get this question all the time, and I wish I could give you a straight quote, but the truth is that solar is not a one-size-fits-all item that you can buy at the corner solar store. Not yet, anyway. A true, upstanding, no-B.S., solar installer can’t give you a really accurate or even a ballpark quote without knowing:
- Where you live (or at least your zip code)
- Which direction your roof is facing (preferably toward the South)
- The amount of shade on the roof (preferably next to none)
- The type of roof you have (standard asphalt shingles are easiest and cheapest)
- And especially your electric bills for the last 12 months
So, let’s say I got all that info from you. You have an average $100/month bill and I sized your system to a 5000 watt or “5.0 kW DC” worth of solar panels. In terms of cost, that equals:
5000 watts x $4/watt (towards the middle of installed cost.) That’s $20,000. You’re saying, “Holy crap. 20 G’s!? No way, Solar Fred!” But wait.
That’s before the California/LADWP rebate (subtract $5,500) and your 30% Federal Tax Credit applied after rebate (subtract $4,350). So bottom line, after I calculate the California rebate through the LADWP formula and the Federal Tax Rebate, what does this imaginary average system cost?
Solar Fred Caution: Remember that a Federal tax credit is like a gift card for IRS. If you owe 5 bucks in taxes and have a 5 buck tax credit through solar, you only owe zilch to the IRS. If you owe nothing this year, you can’t get a refund, but you’ve still got a 5 buck tax gift card to use for the the following year(s).
In any case, $10,150 is better than 20 grand, for sure. That also doesn’t include the $922 bucks a year you’ll save in lower electric bills. (Could be more if rates rise faster.) Did I mention that the system pays for itself in about 7 years or how much it will increase the resale value of your home compared to other homes that don’t have solar? Do you like clean air? You’ll save a lot of it in addition to the cash.
See my archives and links about zero-down financing options, but my sincere advice is for you to find a solar installer and get a free quote. What can it hurt? It’s free. Now, go feed those kids.