What Is the Cost of Rooftop Solar, and How Long Do Panels Last?
Big questions about our brighter futureBy Tim Lupo
Q: What is the average cost of a residential solar installation?
A: Prices may vary across the country, but the National Renewable Energy Laboratory periodically publishes reported photovoltaic (PV) prices. For the first half of 2021, the average price for PV systems in the U.S. was as follows:
$2.70/watt (W) to $3.90/W for residential systems (A 10-kilowatt (kW) system, therefore, could cost between $27,000 and $39,000.)
$1.60/W to $2.50/W for non-residential systems
$0.90/W to $1.90/W for utility-scale systems
Q: What is the life expectancy of solar panels?
A: While there is no specific end-date for the productive life of a solar panel, production levels will decrease over time. The performance of solar panels is typically warrantied for 20 to 25 years, with a guarantee of 90% production at 10 years and 80% production at 25 years. After the end of the warranty, the solar panels can still produce electricity, but their level of output is no longer guaranteed. In addition to performance warranties, solar panels typically have an equipment warranty that guarantees they will operate 10 to 12 years without failing.
About the AuthorTim Lupo, Advanced Energy solar engineer
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