Solar panel installation cost is one of the main factors people consider when deciding whether or not to go solar in Dallas, Texas or for that matter, anywhere. In this article we’ll take a look at what a solar panel installation bill consists of and let you in on a little secret – it really doesn’t matter! (We’ll explain why below.)
What Does It Cost to Install Solar Panels in Texas?
The first factor that determines solar panel installation cost is the size of the property you are installing it on and how much power you want/need to generate. Of course, here in Texas, everything is bigger. According to a recent New York Times article, Dallas has some of the largest houses in the country with a median of 1,862 feet. And, generally speaking, you are probably going to want to get a larger (read: more expensive) system which will store/convert more energy, providing greater savings in the long run.
With that said, the average size solar installation Dallas homeowners choose is 5 kw; this roughly translates into 16 solar panels. But what kind of solar panels do you need? This is where you begin to make decisions regarding cost vs. efficiency.
Solar Panel Components
Without going into nerdy detail, solar panels are made of silicon, which has proven to be a highly effective material for collecting the energy that emits from our sun.
The most expensive and arguably the best type of solar panel is made from monocrystalline silicon, the purest form available. Monocrystalline solar panels convert energy at a more efficient rate than polycrystalline solar panels, but they’re also more expensive. There are also thin film solar panels which are the least expensive solar panel you can buy but also the least efficient in terms of size and energy collection. And within this space are the various manufacturers whose standards also affect the quality and efficiency of solar panels.
Aside from the solar panels themselves, the next most important piece of hardware is the solar inverter, whose job it is to take all this collected sun “juice” and convert it into power (DC to AC) that can be stored, used, or transferred back to the grid.
Again we have choices to make in terms of cost and efficiency. First, you need to decide between a centralized (or string) inverter or a series of microinverters. What does this mean? A centralized inverter does all the converting in one main component usually located in the garageor other indoor area.
A centralized inverter is the least expensive and the most popular; however there are drawbacks. Since the solar panels are all connected, their total output can be reduced if one of them isn’t getting enough sun.
One solution to the problem is having micro inverters which are placed on the roof next to each panel, ensuring it achieves maximum output. These are more expensive and potentially more ofa hassle to deal with if anything goes wrong. But studies have shown they increase efficiency by20% from panels in full sun and 27% in shaded panels.
Another popular option is a compromise between the technologies called a power optimizer. It too is installed on the roof next to each solar panel; its job is to ensure each panel is operating at peak efficiency but then sends it to a central inverter to do the actual conversion. Power optimizers are priced somewhere between string inverters and micro inverters.
Solar Panel Installation Labor Costs
In addition to the solar panels and their related inverters, another major factor in solar panel installation is the cost of physical labor. This will not only vary by the difficulty of the installation (i.e. whether it’s on a flat vs. steep-pitched rooftop) but also the skill/experience/equipment of the installers. There is a temptation to go for the lowest price here, but the end result may be it takes longer to install and the end result may not be optimized for maximum efficiency.
Because installing solar panels is a major renovation, you will have to get local permits to do the job; you will also need to have a solar engineer visit the property to pinpoint the optimum placement of the panels as well as ensure the roof is structurally sound. The materials such as wiring connecting the panels to the inverter as well as the grid are a smaller yet not insignificant part of the final bill.
Local and Federal Incentives
Since solar power is still a relatively new type of energy offering, there are many local, state, and even federal tax incentives to entice you to switch over. However, some of these are beginning to, ahem, sunset.
Most notably, the last year for the full 30% federal tax credit is 2019; it is reduced to 26% in 2020, 12% in 2021, and then eliminated in 2022 (10% credit for commercial enterprises will continue indefinitely).
The good news is that there are local solar panel installation incentives for Dallas residents. Oncor energy is helping subsidize PV solar panel installations for qualified homeowners here. (Note that the program is full for 2019 but there is a waitlist.) Additionally, any increase in value to your home is exempt from state tax.
The Truth About Solar Calculators
Many sites tout “solar calculators” to help you estimate the cost of a solar panel installation. While this can give you a general idea of the costs involved, all calculators are not equal. Some will estimate your costs based on square footage, others may do it from a Google satellite image. Others might not take into account all the tax incentives or allow you choice between inverters, etc. In other words, until you get into the particulars of your solar panel installation, a ballpark estimate is just as useful.
What Does It Cost to Install Solar Panels in Dallas?
Now that we’ve discussed the basics of solar panel installation and the variables associated with it, we can give you a ballpark estimate of $15,000 – $25,000 without any rebates.
Here’s Why It Doesn’t Matter
If you are balking at the idea of spending that kind of money upfront, it’s important to keep in mind that a well-designed efficient solar panel installation will pay for itself over time.
This is because your average solar panel is guaranteed for 25 years. The crucial part of your estimate is to take the numbers and see the point where the energy savings have added up to the cost of the equipment. This should happen at around the 12 year mark, or halfway through their life cycle.
If you are able to get a low interest HELOC or Fannie Mae HomeStyle Energy Loan you can enjoy all the tax benefits without using any cash; the trade-off is it will take longer to get into the black.
The #1 Thing Every Dallas Homeowner Should Do
If you are seriously considering going solar, get a free estimate from one of our professionals.
- We’ll meet you in person and survey your property, taking careful measurements and discuss optimum placement.
- We’ll talk about all the different options for solar panels: monocrystalline or polycrystalline; string inverters vs. micro inverters vs. power optimizers
- We’ll give you a complete breakdown of the costs and show you the month and year when your system will pay for itself.
If you then decide to work with us, we’ll take care of all the paperwork including incentives and permits. We’ll provide you with a timeline of the job and do it with the utmost professionalism. Our team is licensed and bonded in Texas to perform solar panel installations and we guarantee our work in writing. Act now while it’s at the top of your mind and contact us today!