Some people say that buying solar panels is a better investment than putting money in a savings account. The prices of solar panels are high, but much lower than they used to be. Now is a good time to invest in them. This is good news, but there is a large investment to be made.
How do solar panels work?
Solar panels use the light from the sun to generate energy. The panels do not need to be in the sun all day to be profitable, although this does provide more energy. The solar panels consist of cells filled with silicon. When this silicon comes into contact with the light of the sun, it releases electrons. These electrons create a voltage, which starts to run when several cells are placed next to each other. This creates a current. This current flows to your power cabinet where you can start using it immediately.
How much you pay for your new solar panels depends mainly on the number of kWh you want to generate with them. If you prefer to look at the 11 square foot, one panel will occupy an average of 18 square foot. You can choose to use all the energy you consume each year as a guide, or you can generate part of it according to your budget or your roof area. The best way to determine how many solar panels you need is to look at the number of annual kWh. Another unit that is widely used is Watt peak (Wp). This reflects the power of the solar panels. With 1Wp you can generate 0.85 kWh annually in a moderate climate. The following table shows the prices per solar panel, per Wp and per kWh, the number of square meters that these panels occupy, and including installation, materials.
|Annual yield in kWh
|Number of solar panels
|11 ft2 (x1.65)
A few solar panels: the cheapest option is to buy a few solar panels. To compare, a household of one or two people needs between 11 and 16 panels. If you buy 6 panels for an average price of $3450, you can generate almost half of the energy for this household.
An average household: if your family consists of 3 to 4 people, you will need between 20 and 24 panels to generate all the energy you use each year. You pay about $10,900. If you choose to have half of this energy generated by solar panels, it’ll cost $6550.
All the energy for a large family: a family that consists of 5 or 6 people and wants to generate all the energy with solar panels easily pays $12,800, as you need 26 solar panels to achieve this.
The price structure
When you have your solar panels installed, the price mainly consists of materials and labor costs. On average, materials account for 80 percent of the total price and labor costs for 20 percent, but the more solar panels you purchase, the less the latter percentage will be. The largest cost item is always the solar panels themselves. This is shown in the following diagram.
Choices that influence the price
The costs are partly determined by choices that are in your control. There are also a number of factors which are beyond your control that can influence the price. The main contributors are listed here.
The roof surface and situation
Solar panels are installed on your roof. The surface available to you may not be sufficient to generate all the energy you use in your household. In addition, large trees in the area or other objects blocking the sun can affect the energy you can generate. Think not only of blocking the sun, but also of leaves that can fall on the panels. You will therefore have to ask yourself whether your situation is profitable enough for solar panels.
The type of solar panel
Different types of solar panels are available, namely monocrystalline, polycrystalline and amorphous. Monocrystalline panels cost the most, but need a smaller roof area, because they show a higher efficiency. Polycrystalline panels are cheaper, but the efficiency is less and the panels are larger. Amorphous solar panels have the lowest efficiency, but are significantly cheaper and perform better in poorer conditions.
The number of kWh you want to generate
Finally, the price for solar panels is determined by the number of kWh you would like to generate. You can choose to have all the energy you consume covered by the panels each year, but part of it is also profitable. This is closely linked to your budget.
Interesting savings tips
The purchase of solar panels is not insignificant, but you can get a lot of benefits from this once they are in place. Here are a few tips to help you keep this investment as low as possible.
Choose a local supplier: by looking for your equipment and manpower locally, you can save on transport and call-out costs.
Start planning for your new solar panels here and use our comparison tool to collect quotations. This service is free of charge and without obligation, but it can help you choose the right supplier and the best deal. Sometimes you can save up to 30 percent of the total costs.