A Residential & Commercial Rooftop Installation Company Solar Repair & Maintenance

How to Use Our Solar Calculator, Our Website's Most Popular Feature

So you're interested in solar? Great. Now you want to get a range on how much solar panels cost. Not a problem. Let's start by taking a look at our solar calculator. There are three steps you need to follow to get your quote: enter your financials, information on your roof, and then your address so we can find out how much your electricity bill costs.

First input your financials. We need to know how much your average electricity bill is to know how big your system should be. Then we want to figure out how much of your bill you would like to offset. Here is what it looks like:

 

Normally a customer's average bill will spike during the winter and summer and decrease during the spring and fall. This is mostly due to heating and cooling costs which decrease during the more tepid seasons. The average customer uses somewhere 1,000 to 1,100 kWh of electricity per month. The average electricity rate in Ohio is around $0.13 per kWh, so you're generally looking at inputting a bill of $130 to $150.

The desired percent offset is a little trickier to maneuver. Customers sometimes use the solar panel calculator multiple times. First they want to see how much it costs if their entire bill were covered so they input 100%. Then they try different numbers such as 50% or 75%. The typical customer generally designs a solar power system that offsets 75-90% of their monthly electricity bill. You don't want to offset more than 100% of the bill because you receive no economic benefit from doing so. Net metering allows for offset of usage, not producing more than they need and having the utility pay them over and above their personal usage. It doesn't work that way. Sorry, those are the rules.

The next section is "Your Roof." There are three things we would need to know. First, what is the shape of your roof? The sun makes its path in the sky across the horizon in what is called its azimuth. Depending on the angle your roof is sloped, the sun's rays will make contact with solar panels to absorb more or less energy. Here's what the screen looks like:

 

Just select the one that you feel most represents your roof. And if you are interested in a ground mount, select that.

Second, we need to know the direction your roof is located. The sun crosses the sky in a southern fashion. Just take a look at a compass or go online to google maps and you'll see the direction the section of your house is located. Therefore, a solar power system will absorb more light if the solar panels are pointed due south. It doesn't mean that the sun won't produce energy if your array is pointed in another direction, but it will mean it will produce less. If the roof side is pointing due north, then it will generally produce 30-40% less. If it is pointed east or west, then the system might produce 10-20% less. Regardless, try to understand which direction your roof is pointed and input the data:

 

The third section is a question of shade. If there are trees or other obstructions blocking your array, your solar system will not produce as much power. Make a good estimate of how much shade you are getting on your system and then use the slide. The best-case scenario is there is no shade, and then you're in luck:

 

Finally, we would need to get your address and utility provider. You can skip the actual address if you want to, but we strongly recommend that you put it in. If you don't, the price settings will automatically default to the state average and you may not get the absolute most accurate quote:

 

At this point, all you have to do is click the "Calculate" button and it will send you to the results screen. For the purposes of this example, we are going to input a $150 average monthly electricity bill with a 75% offset, a medium roof, and a south directional facing with minimal shading here at our YellowLite headquarters. The solar panel calculator will display this as the first thing you will see:

 

SunPower are premium panels that are a little more expensive but you will need less of them to handle the 75% offset of the system. SolarWorld is another great choice and our mid-tier brand. Here we will use Canadian Solar as they are the second biggest selling solar panel manufacturer in the world for 2015.  The system size is a 8.75kW array that produces just over ten thousand kWh of energy. 33 modules will most likely use up most of the roof space on an average house, so it is a good sized array and slightly bigger than average.

Now we come to the contract cost. In this case, we give a reasonable estimate of $31,062 (although this may not be an exact quote) with a 30% Federal tax credit of $9,319. Therefore, the total net cost would come to be $21,744.

Financing:

 

There are a wide variety of loan options we have to give to you. Your financing will affect how much your payments will be as well as the total cost of the array. If you qualify for a low interest rate you are obviously much better off as you will pay less interest over the course of your financing period. If you decide to pay more up front, you will obviously pay less in interest over the term of your loan schedule. Keep these things in mind.

 

The first thing we'll look at is the environmental impact of installing solar panels for your home. The amount of electricity you generate will offset the burning of coal which is used to produce roughly 60% of Ohio's electricity needs. The burning of coal and other fossil fuels generates a certain amount of carbon dioxide and other green house gasses. Your solar power system will offset enough CO2  that would have been the same amount of miles driven by a car. The environmental impact from these gasses would take a certain number of trees to absorb those wastes. We show you how many trees would have to be planted to absorb the waste byproduct that would have been generated had you not installed the system. And finally, each person in America generates a certain amount of waste.

 

The electric and SREC savings box shows how much you will save in the first year and beyond. We calculate that electricity prices will increase at an average rate of around 5% per year. With the price of electricity continuing to rise at nearly twice the level of inflation, you will save more money as time goes on.

 

Here we see the estimated rate of return on average that your solar panel kits will bring back to you. Generally, investments in the stock market will bring 6-8% in returns. Your home value will increase by installing the system. The way this is calculated is to multiply the size of the array by $3.11 per watt to get the equity value. In this case, an 8.75 kW array multiplied by $3.11 a watt = $27,492. In the future, your home equity from the system will decrease by about 4% per year off this figure. More information on how much your home is worth after installing a system can be had by contacting your realtor.

 

Finally, we provide a chart showing the return on investment in terms of solar panel costs vs. savings. The chart is a stark indication that your electricity bill with solar is quite smaller versus that bill without solar and the discrepancy only increases as the years progress.

For the most accurate quote and more information, contact our Yellowlite team at 216 333-1364 or email us at info@yellowlite.com. 

 


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