What You’ll Learn in This Article:

  1. What are Solar Panels?
  2. What are the 3 Main Types of Solar Panels?
  3. What are the 3 Main Types of Solar Energy Systems?
  4. What are the Different Costs of Solar Energy?
  5. How to Save More in 2024 with Solar Energy
  6. The Bottom Line

What Are Solar Panels?

A solar panel, also called a photovoltaic panel or module, is a device that converts the earth's most abundant renewable resource—sunlight—into usable electric energy. Solar panels are used to power your home, banked for later use, or sold to a local utility grid. As you might expect, solar panels are most efficient—and can save you the most money—when they're installed in sun-drenched areas, but they can still lower your energy bills in cloudy climates.

What are the 3 Main Types of Solar Panels?

Monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film are the three main types of solar panels. Each type has advantages and disadvantages. Of the three types, monocrystalline panels are the most efficient and have a lifespan of about 40 years. Thin film panels are better suited to portable, low-power applications. (However, innovations suggest a wider range of use in the future.)

What are the 3 Main Types of Solar Energy Systems?

The main types of solar energy systems are grid-tied systems that include storage to house the excess solar energy your system generates, grid-tied systems that do not include storage, and off-grid systems.

Grid-tied systems, with or without storage, are popular for residential solar installations. Off-grid systems are less common for residential solar energy systems because they require high-capacity storage and a backup generator. This extra equipment makes them the most expensive option.

What are the Different Costs of Solar Energy?

Panel costs, installation costs, type of solar power system, extra equipment, and other miscellaneous costs make up the bulk of a homeowner’s investment in their solar energy system. Based on national averages, homeowners can expect to spend roughly 25% on solar panels, 10% on an inverter, 10% on installation, 10% on balancing their system, and 45% on operational costs like design, permitting, and connecting in 2024.

How to Save More in 2024 with Solar Energy

2024 Projections for Solar Energy Industry watchers predict 2024 will be a big year for solar. Breakthrough technological innovations in solar cells and modules, alongside significant developments in solar energy storage solutions, continue to make solar energy even more competitive, efficient, and stable. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts an 89% rise in battery storage coming online in 2024.

Other factors—such as microgrid technology, decentralization in the solar industry, and energy independence—are predicted to empower users to generate, store, and trade energy on their own terms. Finally, ongoing tax incentives and other policy support initiatives emphasizing sustainable practices will further the solar industry boom.

How Have Solar Panel Costs Changed in 2024?

Solar panel cost is affected by type, size, weight, quality, manufacturer, and number needed (the average home needs 20 to 25 panels to supply all its energy needs fully). In 2023, MarketWatch reported monocrystalline panels cost between $0.75-$1.50 per watt (W), polycrystalline panels cost $0.40-$0.80 per watt, and thin-film panels cost $0.30-$0.60 per watt. In 2024 Forbes estimates that monocrystalline panels will cost between $1 – 1.50 per watt, polycrystalline panels will cost $0.75 - $1 per watt, and thin film panels will cost $0.75 - $1.10 per watt. That means a homeowner can expect to pay roughly $150 to $350 for each solar panel.

Factors that determine how many solar panels you’ll need to buy for your solar energy installation include how much energy your household uses, how much space is available on your roof, how many hours of sunlight your home gets, and how efficient your solar panels are. Panel prices also vary from state to state thanks to local quoting trends, incentives, and differences in system sizes.

How Have Solar Installation Costs Changed in 2024?

2024 installation costs are affected by the type of solar energy system you choose, its size and scope, and your property's specific characteristics (such as the pitch of your roof, which can affect how difficult it is to install your system).

Grid-tied systems can be less expensive options, depending on whether you add solar battery storage. Off-grid systems tend to be the most costly option because of the extra equipment required to keep your lights on. Costs can also vary widely by the installer.

National estimates also vary, but homeowners can expect to pay less for their solar energy system installation in 2024 than in 2023 when the average solar installation cost about $2.95 per watt before incentives. As you might imagine, extra equipment, such as solar panel mounts, can affect the total cost of your solar energy system, as can maintenance, cleaning, monitoring, and insurance costs. Prices for solar panel installations will likely fall through 2024.

How Much Can a Solar Energy System Save in 2024?

The International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that post-Covid supply chain challenges will continue to keep commodity prices above pre-pandemic levels. That said, commodity prices have fallen dramatically in the last two years and continue to decline—resulting in significantly lower upfront costs for solar energy systems in 2024.

The IEA also notes that wholesale energy prices in the U.S. will likely remain two to three times higher than in 2020. For homeowners who "locked in" lower energy rates by going solar, that means a much higher potential for energy savings. And there's even more good news: the IEA and other industry watchers predict that continued innovation in solar technologies will result in competition that will drive costs even lower.

The Bottom Line

While many factors affect the overall costs, one thing remains clear: 2024 is an excellent year to go solar with Lumifi.

Ready to invest in your financial future by going solar? Contact Lumifi today!