The Typical 5kW Home Solar Panel Installation

Q&A from our 'Learn about Solar' series.

Most of our ThinkSolar reports refer to the typical home solar panel setup as being 5kW or 5000 watts. This article is meant to explain what exactly goes into that typical 5kW solar panel installation.

5kW = 5000 watt

The standard home benefits from installing 5kW worth of solar panels. These solar panels are pretty big, typically 77 x 40 inches and are about 2 inches thick. Weighing in at about 50 pounds each (give or take a few depending on the manufacturer), each panel will generate between 315 and 450 watts of power. This means that a normal US home will need around 16 solar panels to reach 5000 watts of electricity generation. Of course, 5000 watts is just a standard starting point, and depending on your house usage, roof size and roof direction (pointing south is best), your home could end up need more or less to be appropriate for your location.

Cost?

A 5kW installation done by a professional is around $18,000. While this is a lot of money for most people, it is important to remember that this is a long term investment into your home's value. Not only will it increase your homes resale value, it will also lower your home's energy consumption drastically. This lower electric usage will result in much, MUCH lower electric bills over the next 20-plus years.

This solar panel cost will first be reduced by the US government's federal tax credit (currently at 30%), and then even further if your local municipality has its own tax breaks. It is not uncommon for homes to eventually pay around $11,000 for a solar panel installation once all rebates and tax credits have been applied.

DIY or Professional Installation?

Not everybody has the ability to attempt a DIY solar panel install, but luckily there are a lot of great professional installers out there.

One caveat that we have run into in the past is that some things simply cannot be done by people like you and I. For example:

  • Interconnection. Big word, but it simply means that most electric companies will not let just anyone connect your new solar panels up to the electric grid. Most of the time (and it should be all the time) a licensed professional should do this.
  • Some states will not allow you to collect rebates if you do this DIY. You should probably check with your local state to see what's allowed and what is not.

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