“What is the wholesale cost of solar panels in the US?”
“How the costs will vary in different states?” or
“From where can I buy solar panels at wholesale price?”
These are questions that may come to your mind if you are a solar installer, and looking to find ways to get quality solar panels at cheap prices.
The main objective of this article is to give answers to all those questions, particularly about the wholesale cost of solar panels in the US, and the factors that affect the cost.
We will check the individual panel prices, cost by each US state, cost by system size, cost by manufacturers, and a few other key areas.
So, let’s start right away.
What are the Average Costs of Solar Panels in the US?
The latest data by Lawrence Berkeley Labs (DOE-funded) has revealed that the average cost of solar panels in the US is $3.35/watt.
Also, online marketplaces like Solar-Estimate.org shows that the actual average cost of residential solar panels is currently at $3.18 per watt.
According to the solar comparison-shopping marketplace EnergySage, in 2019, the average national solar panel cost is $2.99 per watt.
The range of costs for average-sized solar panel installation in the US is generally between $10,836 and $14,196 after solar tax credits.
Even though using solar panels, in the long run, will save the overall energy cost, there are some major upfront costs that consumers need to pay initially.
The cost of panels will continue to fall with the advancement of technology, which makes the manufacturing of solar panels cheaper.
Also, the federal solar tax credit (ITC) takes away up to 30% of the total cost in the US. This tax credit makes the cost of solar panels more affordable both for solar installers and end consumers.
Related article: Solar Power Statistics in the USA 2019
Average Wholesale Cost of Solar Panels by State
The average cost of solar panels varies from one state to another. For example, the overall wholesale solar panel cost in California is likely to vary from Texas.
So, the state consumers live in will determine to cost they will pay, be it wholesale cost or retail price.
The costs listed below are based on the installation of a 5 kilowatt (KW) solar system after implementing tax credits.
The cost breakdown as per the states is below:
|State||Average Cost of Solar Panels|
|District of Columbia||$11,921|
Average Wholesale Solar Panel Cost by Manufacturers
|Panel Model||Wattage||Efficiency||Lowest Cost Per Watt(installed system after tax credit)||Average Cost Per Watt(installed system after tax credit)|
|Mission Solar Energy|
Grid-Tied Solar System Costs in 2019
Solar panels comprise only about 50% of the total cost of a system. Other components, such as solar inverters and racking, also add to the total cost.
The wholesale pricing of a complete grid-tie system is listed in this section.
The following chart shows the costs of all of the equipment of a grid-tied solar system. However, it has not included the costs of shipping or installation.
The prices of grid-tied systems below were as of November 2018.
|System Size||Cost Per Watt||Cost (before tax credit)||Cost (after tax credit)||Monthly Output|
|2.88 kW||$1.60||$4,611||$3,228||398 kWh|
|3.6 kW||$1.49||$5,360||$3,752||498 kWh|
|4.32 kW||$1.48||$6,391||$4,474||598 kWh|
|5.4 kW||$1.39||$7,518||$5,263||747 kWh|
|5.76 kW||$1.42||$8,157||$5,710||797 kWh|
|7.2 kW||$1.36||$9,784||$6,849||996 kWh|
|8.64 kW||$1.31||$11,286||$7,900||1195 kWh|
|10.8 kW||$1.32||$14,218||$9,953||1494 kWh|
|11.52 kW||$1.30||$14,969||$10,479||1594 kWh|
|12.96 kW||$1.29||$16,771||$11,740||1793 kWh|
|14.4 kW||$1.34||$19,135||$13,395||1992 kWh|
|18 kW||$1.29||$23,140||$16,198||2490 kWh|
|21.6 kW||$1.29||$27,861||$19,503||2988 kWh|
|28.8 kW||$1.26||$36,396||$25,477||3984 kWh|
You can calculate the wholesale cost yourself by putting the required info into this solar cost calculator.
Off-Grid Solar System Costs in 2019
Off-Grid solar systems are not tied to a utility grid. It is possible by using batteries, which keep the appliances running.
Batteries are a reliable way to store the produced solar energy without access to the utility grid. The stored energy can be used later.
In the case of off-grid solar systems, it is crucial to have a battery bank that is capable of storing enough energy to get consumers through off-peak production periods.
Generally, there are three types of battery types used for off-grid solar systems:
- Flooded Lead Acid
- Sealed Lead Acid (AGM or Gel)
During peak hours, a solar system may produce more electricity than the actual requirement. Consumers can sell additional electricity to the utility company, which provides more to the overall investment.
Off-grid systems are more expensive because users need to have batteries to store the energy the system produces. The estimated cost is somewhere between $8,000 and $13,000 to power a 5 kW system during the first 10 years.
The following chart shows the cost of buying an off-grid system with a suitable battery bank.
The cost of battery banks mentioned in the chart is the least expensive ones, which are Crown flooded lead-acid batteries.
|System Size||Cost Per Watt||Cost (before tax credit)||Cost (after tax credit)||Daily Output (summer)||Daily Output (winter)|
|1.22 kW||$6.41||$7,818||$5,473||5.49 kWh||2.74 kWh|
|1.83 kW||$4.79||$8,759||$6,132||8.23 kWh||4.12 kWh|
|2.74 kW||$3.52||$9,638||$6,747||12.35 kWh||6.18 kWh|
|3.66 kW||$3.23||$11,820||$8,274||16.47 kWh||8.23 kWh|
|4.57 kW||$2.77||$12,673||$8,871||20.59 kWh||10.29 kWh|
|5.49 kW||$3.13||$17,196||$12,038||24.7 kWh||12.35 kWh|
|7.32 kW||$3.75||$27,430||$19,201||32.94 kWh||16.47 kWh|
|9.15 kW||$3.18||$29,136||$20,395||41.17 kWh||20.59 kWh|
|10.98 kW||$2.81||$30,842||$21,589||49.41 kWh||24.7 kWh|
|13.72 kW||$2.82||$38,727||$27,109||61.76 kWh||30.88 kWh|
|16.47 kW||$2.51||$41286||$28,900||74.11 kWh||37.06 kWh|
Solar Panel Installation Costs
There is an additional cost of installing a solar panel that consumers need to bear.
One option they have is to hire a local contractor to install the system. The installation charge would be anywhere between 75 cents and $1.50 per watt for the installation. The benchmark for average installation costs can be considered $1 per watt.
To find out the overall solar installation cost, a system from the list above can give a fair idea based on the wattage.
For example, 1 KW = 1000 watts, and a 5.49 KW system is 5490 watts. At the price of $1 per watt, the additional installation cost will be $5,490.
The second option for consumers is to try the do-it-yourself (DIY). However, it may not be an easy task for everyone, and it also depends on what type of solar panel is installed.
Related article: Top DIY Solar Panel Kit Manufacturers
Factors that Impact the Cost of Solar Panels
There are several factors that affect or impact the cost of solar panels. Also, the cost may vary significantly from one state to another due to variable factors.
Let’s take a look at those factors.
The first factor that affects the cost of solar panels is the size of the system consumers purchase.
Generally, the cost of a solar panel correlated to its size. The larger the solar panel, the higher the cost. For example, the cost of a 4.57 kW size solar panel and cost of a 10.98 kW solar system will vary drastically due to their different sizes.
In addition, the quality of the solar panels also plays a crucial role as the hardware and accessory equipment that come along with the system can make a lot of difference.
Labour and logistics costs can also have an impact on the cost of solar panel installation.
A solar installer includes the labour cost while quoting the total installation cost. However, these costs can vary drastically depending on the state and city the consumes lives in.
Type of Solar Panel
There are two major types of solar panels: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline panels are more efficient than polycrystalline panels.
Advanced solar technology such as PERC and half-cut cells, however, have reduced the difference. These days, new polycrystalline panels are coming up with newer technology that is comparable in efficiency to traditional monocrystalline panels.
Improved technology has made solar panels more efficient, and the wattage on each panel has increased. The increase in efficiency does not change the physical size of the panel (generally 60 or 72 cells). It means the panels can provide more output than before.
The ideal way to compare between panels is through cost-per-watt. Knowing the cost-per-watt gives a clear idea about the pay per watt of output for the entire system.
The efficiency of solar panels, to a large extent, depends on the quality of equipment. More efficient equipment has higher pricing.
Despite the higher initial cost of the equipment, it is worth the investment because it provides more energy and saves costs in the long run. Quality equipment comes with a more extended warranty as well.
Consumption of Electricity
Households that consume more electricity will need to install more solar panels.
Even though solar panels have gotten cheaper on a per-watt basis, the total cost of the system goes up for homes that consume more electricity.
Home Type and Size
The roof construction of a house will determine the cost of the solar panels, along with the complexity of the installation process.
If the roof of a house is small, it may not be possible to install larger solar panel arrays, and the cost will be more.
An ideal roof for residential solar panels are not too steep or shallow and is also south or west facing.
Multi-tiered or awkward-shaped roofs are likely to increase costs due to the complexity of the installation process.
Regulations, Subsidies & Tariffs
Although the prices of solar panels have been falling steadily over the years, there were a few roadblocks for the industry worldwide in the form of regulations and new tariffs.
In recent times, for example, tariffs on aluminum and steel, or products specific to the solar industry, has caused stagnation in the industry from time-to-time.
The Cost of Permits
There is a cost or fee to pay for connecting a solar system to the grid.
Also, coordinating a site visit, filing permits, and installing the solar panels may add up some more cost.
The costs of solar panels have become cheaper in most of the countries. However, even certain states or cities with the US have lower or higher costs compared to one another.
It means the location of consumers and solar installers will influence the overall cost of a solar system.
Moreover, each state has different taxes and incentives related to solar panel installation, which need to be considered.
If you are a solar installer, you need to spend money on marketing, advertising, and sales to attract customers.
The common ways of marketing are through phone calls, emails, outdoor campaigns, flyers, or online advertising. All these costs may add up to the overall pricing of a solar system.
Related article: 9 Free Marketing Tools that Solar Installation Companies Can Use
How Much a Single Solar Panel Cost?
Installation of an entire set of the solar system can be expensive for many, and they often buy a single solar panel at a time.
The average cost of buying one solar panel is between $200 and $300, depending on the wattage of the panel. This average estimate is excluding the equipment or labour cost.
Overall, however, the cost of buying one solar panel at a time is more expensive than buying a set.
It is easier for solar installers to buy panels in bulk from manufacturers at a wholesale rate, and they pass down this cost benefit to consumers as well. Usually, the same does not happen when buying a single solar panel.
As a solar installer, for example, you will have direct dealings with manufacturers or distributors and can buy panels in bulk. You will get a discounted wholesale rate for buying in bulk orders.
Typically, you may get a price of $0.75 per watt for a single solar panel. If the solar panel output is 225 watts, a single panel may cost you $168.75.
If consumers, however, purchase one panel on their own, they will most probably pay around $1 per watt. It means they will spend nearly $225 for that one panel.
Is Solar Electricity Cheaper than Other Forms of Power?
In 2019, average households in the US spend nearly $124.47 in a month on electricity.
Installation of solar panels requires an upfront investment, which may appear too expensive for many. However, during the lifespan of the solar panel, consumers can save significantly on the electric bill.
Why Should You Buy Wholesale Solar Panels from Manufacturers?
One of the biggest advantages of purchasing solar panels directly from manufacturers is the low cost for bulk orders. This is one of the cheapest options available in the market.
Usually, manufacturers of solar panels sell panels under their own brand name, and there is a minimum order requirement, which is reasonable.
Many manufacturers, for example, set a minimum order of 2-5 pieces of solar panels. For bulk orders, the overall cost will be significantly lower.
Another advantage is due to buying in bulk orders, you can buy high-quality solar panels. For example, you can buy the more expensive monocrystalline panels instead of polycrystalline solar panels.
As a solar installer, you can offer discounted prices to your customers as well, which will help attract more customers in the long run.
Buying Wholesale Solar Panels from Resellers
Many resellers offer wholesale panels online and sell in large quantities.
This could be beneficial for you if you have several residential or commercial customers who have ordered for solar panels, along with installations. However, if you are installing solar panels for fewer customers, you do not need an entire shipping container with solar panels.
It will not be economical to buy solar panels in bulk if you will only install a few of them. In such cases, giving a minimum order of few panels will be enough both in terms of cost and logistics.
So, before buying solar panels, check that the minimum order quantity is not more than you require.
Related article: Top 10 Marketplace Websites to Buy Wholesale Solar Panels (in Bulk)
As a solar installer, you can compare the listed pricing in this post for the complete or individual wholesale cost of residential grid-tied and off-grid solar systems.
Most of these panels are ready-to-install utility solar power systems designed and manufactured in the US for home or office installations at a low cost.
The overall wholesale buying of solar systems cost less and provide more business scope in the long run.
Since the early days, Sumit has been deeply concerning for the climate crisis and always felt hurt seeing how the human intervention is disrupting the ecological balance. He 100% believes that solar energy is the missing puzzle to our energy transition, and we have to go all out to implement this energy solution all over the world. If you want to publish your articles on SolarFeeds Magazine, click here.