Why Is Solar Pricing So Elusive?

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How much is this going to cost me?

Can someone at least give me a ballpark price range?

Why can’t I find a published price for a solar system?

These are some of the most frequently-asked questions by individuals researching solar. Sometimes, the perceived lack of transparency in pricing is used as a knock against the solar industry.  Is it really so hard to reveal the price of a system? 

Unlike purchasing a one-size fits all consumer product, even something like a car, the customization required for each solar system makes it difficult to price without performing a custom estimate. Any solar investor should receive an “all-in” price before they begin a job. This article outlines some important questions to ask and reasons why prices are best tailored to each individual situation.

Rough estimate pricing can almost always be provided with a cursory glance at a site, but both the investor and the solar company should demand precise and fixed pricing in advance.  Some variables that require job-specific investigation before pricing are:

  1. Risk profile of the site:

    1. Does the roof have an extreme pitch? Is it of an age that requires additional work prior to solar installation? Does roof height require equipment such as lifts?

    2. Where can the system tie into the power of the home and does this electrical service require additional work prior to solar installation?

  2. Local regulations:

    1. Certain utilities and municipalities have very specific solar processes which can add time and cost to an overall job. Some examples include:

      1. Electrical grounding requirements

      2. Wind rating requirements

      3. Permit processing fees and timelines

      4. HOA regulations

  3. Warranty and service options:

    1. Does the owner desire power production tracking?

    2. How long of a warranty does the owner prefer for peace of mind?

    3. Does the owner desire pro-active service and site visits?

Most solar prices are offered in a per kW format, which adds up to a lump sum contract.  Those investing in a solar system for their home or business are usually best protected by a lump sum (stipulated sum) contract for services and goods.


Optimus distills these variables into a set package for consumers, so they can be guaranteed up-front and all-in pricing. All Optimus Solar systems for homes and businesses come standard with power generation tracking, full payback period warranty and a 30-year power production warranty.

How Do Federal Income Tax Credits Work for Solar?

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Many people are aware of the federal tax credit available to homeowners who improve their property by installing solar PV (photovoltaic) systems.  While this is a popular incentive, it is important to understand the details to ensure full benefit is received.

The following questions and answers outline some details regarding the federal tax credit.*

1.    How much is the tax credit?

30% of total system cost with no limit on maximum expenditure.  (This decreases to 26% for 2020 and 22% for 2021.)

2.    How can I claim the tax credit?

Since this is a credit and not a rebate, the owner of the system must have a tax liability to off-set against this credit.  However, if the owner’s liability is not as large as the credit, the credit can be carried over to the subsequent year.

3.    Do I have to own and reside in the home to qualify for the tax credit?

Yes, the system must be installed on a residence you own and use for living, but second homes qualify for a portion of the credit.  (Rental properties do not qualify.)

4.    How do I apply for the credit?

Tax Form 5695 applies to renewable energy tax credits.  This form is available online HERE. The IRS has some helpful information available HERE. Your tax advisor or CPA can provide more specific information.

5.    Do battery systems tied to a PV system qualify for the tax credit?

Yes, battery storage systems associated with solar PV installations qualify for the full 30% tax credit with no maximum limitation.

6.    Does Florida have any specific incentives in addition to the federal tax credit?

No direct consumer credit exists in Florida; however, all solar-related materials are free of state sales tax.  This savings should ideally be passed on to the consumer.

*This article is offered for information purposes only.  Information contained herein should not be construed as tax advice. Optimus Solar is not able to offer tax advice; those seeking specific tax guidance should consult a qualified CPA.