Solar cells convert photons to electricity: All photovoltaic solar power systems like the traditional solar panels, BiPV solar shingles and tiles, and thin-film solar laminates contain photovoltaic solar cells designed to convert solar energy to electricity. When the sun shines, the energy carried by the photons gets absorbed by the solar cells that convert it to direct current (DC) electricity.
Inverter converts direct (DC) current to alternating current (AC): All rooftop solar panel systems are normally connected to an inverter by a licensed electrician during the installation. The inverter inverts (converts) the direct current (DC) electricity generated by the solar cells to alternating current (AC), which is the kind of electricity people use in their homes.
Alternating current flows through the electric panel into your home: Alternating current from the inverter flows through the electric panel (circuit breaker box) into your home, powering things like home lighting and appliances.
Any unused electricity gets sent back to the electric grid: Any excess electricity that is not used domestically, passes through the electric meter and gets sent back to the grid, usually for electricity credits via net metering.
This is a good time to install a photovoltaic solar power system on your property. Residential rooftop PV solar panels cost per watt installed has been dropping and newer technology is enabling a far greater efficiency – that’s more solar energy converted into electricity for home usage – for less money.
Your options for buying, leasing, Purchasing Power Agreements (PPA, see below) are expanding, and many homeowners are getting solar panels installed on their rooftops for zero down.
Did you know? The 26% solar tax credits have recently been extended by congress through the end of 2022. Notably, solar ITC apply to the full amount paid for the installation of a new solar panels system.
Depending on the state you live in, your quoted cost per watt can range from $2.78 to $3.22, on average, when installed by a (small) local solar panel installer, before the 26% federal tax rebate.
Note that solar investment tax credits (ITC) are being phased out, gradually, with the amount of tax credits decreasing from 26% to 22% in 2023 (the final year for solar ITC).
How Solar Pricing Has Decreased Over Time In 2008, the cost of a solar power installation was $8.82 per watt.
Average System Cost for residential PV Solar Panels installed by Local Installers:
Your options for building integrated photovoltaic solar roofs have expanded with Suntegra, CertainTeed Appolo, and Luma Solar tiles to compete with other PV solar products currently being installed.
This guide covers the currently available and newly emerging BiPV / roof integrated PV (RiPV) solar shingle options, their costs, availability in specific markets within the US, and pros and cons of each option.
The table below includes the cost info and availability details for the top four leading RiPV competitors:
Cost per sq.ft.
Cost per watt*
2,750 sq.ft. roof
CertainTeed Apollo II Shingle
$17.25 – $22.00
$6.40 – $8.00
$47,230 – $60,500
CertainTeed Apollo II Tile
$20.88 – $27.37
$7.65 – $10.00
$57,420 – $75,281
Dow PowerHouse II) (Discontinued due to bankruptcy)
$15.00 – $20.00
$41,250 – $55,000
$15.52 – $17.4
$5.70 – $6.40
$42,694 – $47,850
$16.80 – $21.30
$6.16 – $7.81
$46,200 – $58,575
Tesla Solar Tile
$32.00 – $42.00
$88,000 – $115,500
Note: the above figures are baseline costs (estimated). The actual costs can, in some cases, be up to 25% higher, depending on the particulars of the jobs including more complex roofs and/or in areas with high cost of living and in major coastal cities.
All costs include what is known as BOS, or balance of system, costs. These include the connectors, wiring and electrical inverter required for the installation. They do not factor storage battery costs ($7,500 – $9,000 for most systems).