What is the Cost of Converting to Solar Energy
The cost of converting to solar energy is very minor in comparison to the savings it can bring. Although installation can be costly, long-term savings are easily found. With minimal maintenance and average replacement time at approximately 20 years, solar energy is an investment with a long-term payoff.
Many individuals find the cost of installation is recovered within five years from the annual savings on energy costs. This time frame may be even shorter with government rebates given for installing solar panels. Studies have found that 75% to 100% can be saved annually on utility bills.
To determine how much you will spend it is first necessary to determine your energy usage. While the average family needs about 25kWh daily, the rate changes from family to family and from season to season. It is always best to over-calculate. A common way to calculate usage is to find your daily usage then multiply it by .25. This will help you find the number and size of panels you need in kilowatt-hours. Your electric meter has an odometer-style readout or a dial-type readout. It is a good idea to record the usage over several days so that you can obtain an average. Reviewing past electric bills for averaging past usage is useful as well.
It is also necessary to research your local available sunlight. This will help you determine if you can simply place the solar panel on your roof or if you will need extra equipment for a flat roof or for a free-standing solar panel.
When having a company install a solar panel, the best way to average the cost is to consider that the average cost per watt from an installation company is about $2.48. On average, private households use about 25kWh per day, and individual panels with 80 cells begin at 100 watts. Once you figure how much energy you use on a daily basis it is easy to calculate the cost of solar panels.
Solar panel kits vary in price. There are kits ranging from educational/beginner science kits to professional kits. Inexpensive DIY solar kits begin at around $600. This 1kWh kit will accrue enough energy every week to run a small TV for 20 hours, a laptop for 40 hours, or a 12-watt compact-fluorescent light bulb for 80 hours. This is an ideal solar panel for someone who is slowly converting to solar power. If you want to convert all at once, there are larger kits as well. For closer to $700 a do-it-yourself 20kWh can be purchased. However, even at this increased size, it is still considered a starter kit, and probably not enough to run an average size home. Larger kits begin at around $2,000.