Solar Panel System Costs; Now vs. Then

solar panel system costs

Solar panel system costs have come way down since the late 1980s and early 1990s when solar technology was still considered a novelty. Today, solar power is not just a novelty for tech folks, it’s a mainstream energy source, and the prices for solar panels and system equipment have become much more affordable for consumers. 

Solar Panel System Costs – The 1980s and 1990s

To put things into perspective, let’s start by looking at the cost of solar panels in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Back then, solar panels were expensive and only available through specific networks and channels. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the cost of solar panels in the early 1990s was around $10 per watt. That’s around $20 per watt when adjusted for inflation, significantly higher than the cost of solar panels today.

Fast forward to today, and the cost of solar panels has dropped significantly. According to the SEIA, the average cost of solar panels in the US in 2021 was $2.81 per watt. That’s a drop of around 72% compared to the cost in the early 1990s. 

Solar Panel System Costs – Installation 

In the early days of consumer solar technology, solar panel installations were typically done by DIY enthusiasts and hobbyists, maybe electricians. As with any tech and early adoption, it’s usually enthusiasts who get involved and prefer to do the work themselves. It’s hard to say what the average installation cost was 30-40 years ago because there were so few solar panel installers in operation.

Today, however, solar panel installation is most often done by professionals. According to EnergySage, the cost of a solar panel installation in the US in 2021 ranged from $11,144 to $14,696, depending on the size of the system. This cost includes not just the cost of the solar panels themselves but also labor and other materials needed for the installation.

Despite solar arrays still being a significant home investment, more and more people are opting for solar energy systems. One reason for this is the availability of financing options. Many solar companies offer financing options that allow homeowners to spread out the cost of the system over a longer period, making it more affordable. In addition, there are also federal and state incentives that can help offset the cost of a solar panel system. For example, homeowners in Texas can take advantage of the federal solar investment tax credit

Solar Is Winning

Of course, long-term savings are a key driving incentive for people to adopt solar. On average, homeowners or property owners will pay off the system installation costs within 8-13 years and reap the financial benefits for decades. 

Overall, the costs of solar panels have dropped significantly over the years. With financing options, state and federal tax incentives, and long-term energy savings, solar has attracted more than just techy enthusiasts.

If you’re considering a solar panel system for your home, it’s important to do your research and work with one of the best solar companies in Texas. As one of the premier Houston solar installers, we’d be delighted to start the conversation regarding your next project. 

Click the link to start and get your free quote.


(832) 402-6835