When looking to buy solar, it is always priced at a rate per watt installed, for a turn-key grid connect solar PV system. Average rates are around $3.50 per watt, depending on the installer and the type of panels used. Although recent tariffs and shortages in the marketplace due to supply disruptions from the pandemic has caused a surge in prices over $3.50/watt for some panels.
For example, let’s say you want to install (24) twenty four 360-watt solar panels on your roof at a rate of $3.50 per watt, that means each individual panel will cost $1,260 to install, and the total system cost is $30,240. Of-course this cost does not include any of the incentives available which helps lower the system cost.
Premium panels can run upwards of $4.00 per watt, while standard efficiency panels can be as low as $3.25 per watt. Micro-Inverters are also a determining factor as they usually cost more than central inverters.
The average row house in DC can usually fit around 20 panels. From what we’ve seen over the hundreds of systems we have analyzed, this size provides an average of 80% offset of the property’s annual electric consumption, but ultimately it will differ from house to house according to the appliances installed, the efficiency of the tenant, and type of heating. Gas heating will lower your annual electric consumption. How much electricity you use plays a huge role in determining how many panels you need, and allows you to know what kind of offset the maximum amount of panels installed on your roof would provide you.
To lease the solar panels, there are different lease methods and terms depending on the contractor you chose. From what we have seen in the market is usually no upfront cost, or maybe a small application fee involved to get the contractor to install the panels on your roof. From there, a monthly payment is established, which is usually based on the solar production of the system installed on your roof, which is why its is called a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). So, you are only paying what you are getting in return, solar energy.
The amount you pay for the solar power is usually cheaper that the utility rate from Pepco. So now that solar is being produced on your roof, you are using less energy from Pepco so your bill with them will go down. You have a second payment established with your solar installer for the solar power you produce. At the end of the day, both of those payments end up being cheaper than if you had not gone solar.
Lease terms average 20 years, and some companies solar rate increases annually about 3%, equal to inflation, and normally slightly less than the average annual utility rate increase of 4% in DC. Shop around to find the best solar terms that fit your needs. Some solar installers require a credit check, some don’t. Some installers place a lien hold on your property in case you don’t pay, some don’t. Some allow you to cancel before the end of the term if you end up moving, and some don’t.