If you shop for solar panels, you may find a wide range of prices. For example – the cost of a single 100-watt solar panel can range from $100 – $800.

House with solar panels in cart

So what’s really behind the sticker price?

A solar panel’s efficiency is the amount of the sun’s energy it converts to electricity. And that is what drives most of the cost. There’s a huge variation, even among panels made of the same material. For example, more than 90 percent of all panels available today are built using silicon.

Wilson: “There is a range of efficiencies on the low end for silicon, maybe a 13-percent efficient panel. On the high end, a 23, even approaching 24-percent efficient panel.”

Greg Wilson
Greg Wilson

That’s Greg Wilson, of the National Center for Photovoltaics at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Other factors influence the cost too, for instance . . .

Wilson: “The durability and reliability of the panel. The quality of the brand fits into the price, and also the aesthetics. There’s actually a variety of cosmetic features, if you will, associated with all PV panels.”

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So doing your homework will help you find the best choice for your home and budget when shopping for a solar system.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Shopping cart photo: Copyright protected.

More Resources
Claims for Solar Cell Efficiency Put to Test at NREL
Photovoltaic System Pricing Trends
7 Interesting Global Renewable Energy Trends From NREL
Solar Industry Data

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