Solar panels might be the power source of the future, but they seem quite daunting. The idea of getting something large installed on your roof sounds both time consuming and expensive. And, indeed, solar installations aren’t cheap, but they’re probably much less expensive than you thought. They’re about as expensive as a new car (depending on what state you live in).
But unlike a car, which starts losing value the minute you drive it off the lot and racks up costs in gas and repairs, solar panels instantly start saving you money and, after a time, start actually giving you money back. Plus, they make your house more valuable. If you’re willing to make a long-term investment, that initial solar panel outlay will pay itself back many times over. A new ]infographic from solar company 1BOG helps crunch some of the numbers for you about how much solar costs.
How much a solar installation will cost varies widely, because different states have vastly different policies regarding tax breaks and incentives for solar installations. But in many states, you can get solar power for less than $10,000. In Louisiana, you can have them for less than $5,000. That’s a bargain right there.
Now that your panels are installed, you’re getting power from the sun instead of the power company. That means you’re spending less money on your electric bill each month. How much less? That also depends on where you live. Utility prices have something to do with it (you’ll see that New Yorkers get a big savings because electricity there is so expensive), but sunny places—where you’re drawing more power from the sun, like Florida or the Southwest—also see big bonuses.
You probably wouldn’t embark on a major improvement project like solar panels unless you planned on staying somewhere for a while. So it’s important to look at the savings over long periods of time. The national average is $20,000 over 20 years, though many states top out over $30,000.
You could do some simple math to figure out how long it will take before your solar panels pay for themselves, or you could just look at the map above. In many states, you’re looking at somewhere between 10 and 20 years. That seems like a long time, but many people own houses for that long. And in some states, the number is drastically lower. In Massachusetts, your panels are paid for in savings in just four years. After that, you’re just taking home extra cash every month.
So, before you write off solar panels entirely as an expensive boondoggle, make sure you crunch some numbers. It may less wasteful—and more beneficial long term—than you think. Check out the full infographic here, or below, to get the full picture.