How Much Does Grid-Tie Solar Really Cost?

A common question we hear all of the time is, “How much is solar?” Or more specifically, “How much will it cost for me to install a grid-tie solar system on my house?”

Without knowing specifics, this is a very difficult question to answer, but we’ll try to give you some guidelines that may help you get to the answer of the cost of solar power on your home.

Location is Key

Just like in real estate, a big factor is location. Where is your house? If you are in a location where there is a lot of solar, and therefore a lot of solar installers, the odds are pretty good that the average price has been driven down due to availability of equipment and experienced installers.

Installation – DIY vs. Installer

Another big factor is if you are planning on doing all or most of the installation yourself or if you plan on hiring an installer to do all of the work for you. If you are comfortable with doing your own roofing and electrical work, depending on the local regulations, you may be able to do some or all of the work yourself, and hire an electrician to do the final connections, if needed..

Depending on your location, you may be able to save up to half the price of installation by doing the work yourself. However, this isn’t a small project, you need to be sure you can handle hauling 40 to 50 pound glass panels up a ladder to the roof, as well as roof flashing and running conduit, and doing code compliant wiring.

If you are thinking about DIY solar, talk to your local electrical inspector first, to see what requirements they may have.

So…How much is solar?

In the US, an average price for a grid-tie solar system professionally installed in 2016 with brand name solar panels, before incentives, is around $4/watt. It may be more or less depending on your area, or the equipment used, or if there is something about your house that requires specialized installation, like a tile roof or difficult access.

So, a 5000W grid-tie solar system that can produce around 525kWh of electricity a month (again, your actual number may vary), would cost about $20,000. That would make over half the average American household’s electricity.

The recently extended federal tax credit will give you back 30%, bringing that cost down to approximately $14,000. Then your state or local utility company may have additional incentives, that could potentially bring that cost down even further. Check out the DSIREUSA website to see what incentives are available in your area.

Solar Payback

How much will a grid-tie solar system save me? What kind of payback time would you see on your system? Our Solar Queen explains further…


About Author

Amy Beaudet
Amy Beaudet was in the solar industry at the altE Store from 2007 until her untimely passing in 2021. She was a sales rep, instructor, and an all-around solar evangelist, sharing her passion for solar around the world. When whe wasn't at work, she enjoyed sailing and skiing - but odds were good she was still talking about solar on the boat or on the slopes. See more of Amy Beaudet's blog posts.