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How Much Does an Off-Grid Solar System Cost?

Due to the falling solar prices and soaring electricity bills, many homeowners in the United States are turning towards solar power. Most of them—around 88.8% of homes—chose to install grid-tied systems (i.e., without batteries and connected only to the grid) in 2021. The remaining 11.2% installed batteries with their systems, up from 2.8% in 2017.

While not all of them are necessarily off-grid solar PV systems, they are gaining popularity among those who live in remote areas, want to be independent of the grid, and wish to use only clean energy.

If you are about to install an off-grid system or want to explore the costs before deciding to go solar, scroll down. Below, you will get a fair idea of how much an off-grid solar system costs. We will also discuss various factors that may influence the cost of installing an off-grid system on your property.

How much does an off-grid solar system cost?

An off-grid solar panel system costs, on average, about $30,000. To be a little more specific, a 7kW off-grid solar system would cost you between $40,000 to $50,000. This system will be designed to meet all your energy needs during the day and night when the weather turns inclement for a couple of days.

The prices mentioned above are ballpark estimates. Your final bill for a complete off-grid PV system depends upon your home’s size, monthly consumption, instantaneous load, and goals.

For the sake of simplicity, we will take the average national consumption of a US residential utility customer as the benchmark. Some consumers will use more than the average, and some less, but the calculations below will surely give you a fairer idea of how much you can expect to spend on an off-grid solar system.

Cost for the EIA-based average annual electricity consumption

As per the Energy Information Administration, an average American home consumes 10,632 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year or 886 kWh per month. While there are many types of solar panels, for convenience, we pick 300-watt monocrystalline solar panels and assume that your area receives 7 hours a day of sun exposure. This means you get 2.1kWh power per day (7x300watt) and 63kWh per month from one panel alone.

You would need at least 14 solar panels (see the breakdown below), 3 Tesla Powerwalls, a couple of charge controllers, and inverters to meet this demand.

Such an off-grid system may cost you about $50,000. This is the higher estimate—you can get a system with the same specifications for about $35,000.

Let’s do the breakdown of the costs of individual equipment below. But before that, a disclaimer.

The calculation and equipment costs are tentative and may not paint the accurate system design you need. The costs below are mentioned for simplicity—the final cost of an off-grid exclusively designed for you depends upon your needs, sun exposure in your area, the type of solar panels you choose, and the battery technology you can afford. The installation and permitting costs in your state also impact the final cost.

Lastly, your area’s weather conditions also influence the cost of your off-grid solar system. For instance, if your climate experiences more overcast days, it means the size of your battery bank should be higher to ensure an uninterrupted power supply during unpleasant weather conditions.

For an accurate estimate, please call us, and we will calculate your total load, instantaneous load, the sun exposure in your area, the size of the battery bank you need, and overall system size.

Often, the final bill turns out lower than the estimated amount.

Cost of solar panels

Since you need 14 panels, and the average cost of 300-watt solar panels is $400, solar panels would roughly cost you $5,600. But this is the cost of only what solar panels could give you during the day. To charge batteries, you would need additional solar panels. If the number of additional solar panels is 6, you would need 20 total solar panels. That makes the cost of solar panels for your off-grid $8,000.

Cost of batteries

You need to have double the battery size you need for an instantaneous load. For example, if you run ten light bulbs of 100 watts each for 5 hours, that 10x100x5=5kWh energy consumption. You would need a 5kWh battery bank to be enough for your needs at night. But that would still not be enough, as batteries should not, ideally, go below 50% of the depth of discharge. So, you will need a 10kWh battery bank to run ten lights for you for 5 hours effectively.

But this was only a simple illustration. When you plan an off-grid solar PV system, you have to keep everything on paper to size your system. This includes your instantaneous load (i.e., the number of appliances you need to run simultaneously at a given moment) and the total load. For instance, at night, if you need six lights, a refrigerator, a heater (or air conditioner), a security system, some kitchen appliances, etc. This is your instantaneous load.

On our rough estimates, a battery bank comparable to 3 Tesla Powerwalls would do fine for a homeowner with 886kWh per month of electricity consumption. This makes the price of the battery bank around $30,000 (one 14kWh Tesla Powerwall costs nearly $10,000, and you would need 3). Note that the cost of the battery bank depends upon the technology you prefer—Powerwall is lithium-ion, but lead-acid batteries can cost you below $20,000.

Cost of inverters

Like the type of solar panels, the price of inverters also depends upon the type of inverters you choose. But unlike batteries, inverters are not a bigger factor in determining the cost of your off-grid solar PV system. You can get inverters in the price range of $3,000 to $10,000—the cost depends upon the number of inverters you need and the type suitable for your roof and system.

Cost of charge collectors

Charge collectors are exclusive to systems that require batteries. Their job is to regulate and monitor the energy flowing into batteries and ensure that they do not get overcharged. Charge controllers could cost you between $200 to $1,000.

Permitting and installation cost

The solar installer’s cost and permitting fees vary from state to state. In some states, the installation costs are about $0.5 per watt. But you could expect to pay more than this, depending upon the competition among solar installers in your area and how big your solar installation company is. The installation and permitting costs could be around $5,000.

Average cost of a complete off-grid system for a small to mid-sized home

Based on the above, a completely off-grid system designed for an average American homeowner would cost between $40,000 to $52,000.

The role of the Federal Income Tax Credit in the final cost

The costs calculated above are before claiming the Income Tax Credit (ITC), a 30% dollar-for-dollar tax break. Whatever the cost of your system is, subtract 30% from the cost, which will be the final price you would pay for your off-grid system. For example, if the cost before the ITC is $30,000, it will become $21,000 after you claim this exciting incentive!

That was all about how much does an off-grid solar system cost. We hope that now you will have a better idea about how much to earmark for your solar project.

If you still got questions, we are here—anytime.

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Call us today to get a quote on solar panels, inverters, and battery packs. We're sure we can beat any other quote you have!.


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