Once you understand the math involved in the cost of solar panels, building your own solar panels is well worth the time and energy investment.
A better question to ask might be, how much will I profit over the cost of solar panels over the lifetime of the solar system?
The good news is the price of solar panels has been dropping in recent years.
So What Is The Cost Of Solar Panels?
Naturally, The cost is all going to depend on size of the house you are considering. If you want to power a small electronic device from a 10 Watt panel it should cost in the neighborhood of $120 US Dollars to buy a panel of that size. I say should because the unfortunate truth is, many manufacturers use consumer ignorance against them to increase their own profit margins.
On the other hand, you can build a solar panel of the same size and wattage for $70, or much less, depending on how well you scrounge for parts. If your workshop is anything like mine, you already have many of the materials and tools necessary on hand.
In taking your house into consideration, usually the next question is, “How many solar panels would I need to be fully energy self-sufficient?” That will, of course, depend on the size of your house as well as your own personal energy needs. Which is why doing the steps in my “Home Energy Made Easy” course is so important. Without that background and understanding you will easily be spending twice as much money, and twice the amount of time necessary.
How Much Energy Do You Use?
The cost of solar panels you'll need all depends on how much energy you use during a 24 hour period. Let’s assume your house consumes an average of 800 watts per hour. That means you would need 800 (watts) x 24 (hours) = 19,200 watts-hours per day. (19.2 kilowatt hrs.)
Further assume, a solar cell power generation of 0.07 watts per square inch x 5 hours (Average number of hours sun is exposed to a panel per day); we would have a total equaling 0.35 watt hours, per day, per inch of solar cells.
Since your home consumes 19,200 watt hours per day, this means you would need a total of 55,000 square inches, or 382 square feet of solar panels to generate the power needed.
Let’s look at it another way. Let’s assume after looking at your utility bills, you are averaging 840 kilowatts hours in electricity per month, AND you want to power your house 100% of the time. Further assume an average solar panel wattage of 200 watts. You would need approx. 32 solar panels.
It's Not The Cost of The Solar Panel As Much as The Cost of Installation, Electricians, and Labor To Mount It On Your Roof
Realistically, an average cost of $250 per panel. (32 x250) = $8000 but that cost is JUST for the solar panels. Once everything is added in the price that price will double to $16,000. Add labor and it will go over $20,000 easily for a grid-tie system.
Think again, you are spending an average of $2000/year on electricity. It will take you 10 years to break even.
Now you can see why the “Energy Efficiency" course is so important. You can halve that number easily. Instead of spending of spending $20,000, you could be spending $10,000, even $5,000. Get some rebates working for you and maybe you can get it for free.
If you build your own solar panels, you’ll be able to halve that number again, to $5000. Instead of waiting 10 years to break even, with a little forethought and ingenuity, which you’ll learn from my courses, you’ll break even in 2.5 years.
Given that most solar systems average a lifespan of 25+ years, and you’ll be profiting from your system after 2.5 years, you would save, on average $35,000 in electricity over the cost of the solar panels in today’s dollars. With the cost of utilities going up all the time you’re actual saving is likely to be much more.