10 kW Solar Panel System: Can It Work For Your Home? (2022)
Here’s what we’ll go over in this guide:
- Cost of a 10 kW solar system
- Power output and production
- How many panels you’d need to install
- How much you can save on electricity
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Will a 10 kW Solar Panel System Work For Your Home?
Installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system is a great way to create your own renewable energy and save money on monthly utility bills. However, an investment in a solar system can be expensive, so you want to make sure that the system size you install will be enough to offset most or all of your energy bills.
You may be looking into a 10 kilowatt (kW) — aka 10,000 watt (W) — solar power system because it fits your budget or available roof space. Whether you’re living in a big city or installing solar for an off-grid home, we’ll help you figure out if a 10 kW solar system will work for your needs.
Jump To: How Much Does a 10 kW System Cost? | How Much Energy Does a 10 kW System Produce? | How Much Can You Save With a 10 kW System? | How Many Panels Are Needed in a 10 kW Solar System? | Find the Right Installer
How Much Does a 10kW Solar System Cost?
Keep in mind that a solar system price can vary based on a number of factors unique to each homeowner, including the cost of energy where you live, what brand of solar equipment you buy and if you’re planning a DIY solar installation or choosing a specific solar installer. There are also financial incentives and solar rebates available that can reduce the cost.
Here’s a look at how much a 10 kW solar system would cost in the top 10 states for solar energy:
|State||Average Cost Per Watt||Average Cost of 10 kW Solar System||Average Cost of 10 kW Solar System After Tax Credit|
This cost estimate includes the installation of your solar PV system and all of the basic equipment that comes with it — solar inverters, panels, racking and mounting equipment, etc. Any additional gadgets, like a combiner box, solar battery or solar charge controller for battery storage, will likely raise the cost.
How Much Energy Does a 10 kW System Produce?
On average, a 10 kW system will produce about 1,255 kilowatt-hours (kWhs) of electricity per month, or between 13,400 and 16,700 kWhs per year.
Just like with price, the amount of energy your solar system produces will vary depending on where you live. That means a 10 kW solar panel system in sunny Arizona is likely going to produce more energy than a 10 kW system in Minnesota, despite them being the same size. With that said, solar panels are still worth it in less sunny states, especially because states that are less sunny tend to consume less electricity.
Can a 10 kW System Power a Home?
A 10 kW system produces enough power for most homes but, once again, it depends on where you live and how much energy your household consumes.
The average U.S. homeowner consumes 893 kWh of electricity per month (10,716 kWh per year), therefore a 10 kW system that produces about 1,255 kWh of electricity per month would certainly produce enough electricity for the average household.1
But, let’s take a look at Louisiana, the state with the highest energy consumption. The average Louisiana home consumes 1,201 kWh of electricity per month, meaning a 10 kW system would be just enough for the average Louisianian, but not enough for those on the higher end of energy consumption.2
For more information, check out our guide for determining how many solar panels you need.
How Much Can You Save On Your Electricity Bill With a 10 kW System?
Based on our market research, we’ve discovered that the average U.S. homeowner will save about $1,970 on annual electricity costs per year by installing a 10 kW solar system.
Given that the average U.S. homeowner spends $1,410 on electricity a year, installing a 10 kW system very well may eliminate your electricity bill. However, depending on your electricity provider, you may still receive a utility bill that includes grid infrastructure fees or any extra power you use from the grid when your solar panels are not producing enough electricity, like at night. (If you’re installing an off-grid solar system, this won’t apply, but most solar systems are grid-tied.)
This savings also doesn’t take net metering into account, which is a way for you to be credited for the excess electricity you supply to the grid. If you live in a state with a true net metering system, you could not only eliminate your energy bills entirely, but also earn credits or compensation from your utility company.
Net metering usually works in one of two ways:
- Net metering at retail price: You get full credit for each kilowatt-hour sent to the grid. For example, if you’re charged 16 cents per kWh consumed, you’ll get a credit of 16 cents per kWh exported. This type of net metering is required by law in 29 states.
- Net metering at a reduced feed-in tariff: Surplus electricity sent to the grid is credited at a lower rate. For example, you may be charged 16 cents per kWh for consumption but paid 10 cents per kWh exported. Feed-in tariffs and other alternative programs are used in 17 of the states where retail-rate net metering is not mandatory.
Note: This is just a simplified example — the exact kWh retail price and solar feed-in tariff will depend on your electricity plan.
As you’ve probably figured by now, solar power system efficiency is unique to each homeowner, and that includes the return on investment, or “payback period.”
We’ve estimated that it will take the average homeowner 10 to 12 years to break even on a 10 kW solar system based on initial cost and energy savings.
We got that figure by dividing the average cost of a 10 kW system — $18,620 (after applying the federal tax credit) — by the average annual electricity savings of about $1,970.
You can get a more accurate estimate by examining your current power bills and getting a professional quote from a solar company.
How Many Panels Are Needed in a 10 kW Solar System?
The number of solar panels needed for a 10 kW system ranges from 28 to 40 panels depending on the type of solar panel you choose. When you’re measuring space for a rooftop solar panel kit or a ground-mount solar array, keep in mind that the average solar panel is 65 by 39 inches, or roughly 17.5 square feet.
Monocrystalline or “mono” solar panels are the most efficient and have the highest wattage, followed by polycrystalline, and then thin-film. The best solar panels on the market have an output of around 330 W to 360 W each, but the output of less-efficient panels can be as low as 250 W.
If you’re looking to buy a 10 kW (10,000 W) system and you’re buying solar panels that have an output of 340 W, you’ll need about 28 panels. Your formula will look like this: 10,000 W / 340 W = 27.7 panels.
Although the cost of solar is lower if you choose a lower-efficiency model over a pricier high-efficiency one, remember that the total amount you pay for your solar energy system may come out to be the same or higher because you’ll have to buy more panels.
Find the Right Installer for a 10 kW System
Most solar companies are capable of installing any size system, but you will want to choose the best solar installer in your area for the job. Here are a few factors to look out for when choosing a solar company:
- Availability: Even big-name solar companies tend to only serve about 25 states maximum (with the exception of SunPower). If you live in one of the top states for solar, you’ll likely have plenty of options. On the other hand, if you live in an area where solar energy is still developing, you may only have a few solar installers near you.
- Solar costs and financing: Different companies have different solar financing options. You’ll want to find one that offers the best price and payment plan for your family’s budget.
- Consultations: Many solar companies will offer a free home consultation or evaluation. Others will at least offer some sort of free estimate based on the specifics of your household. We recommend getting solar quotes from at least three companies so you can compare prices. And be sure to ask about any discounts, rebates or sales the company may be offering.
- Warranty: Solar panels are a hefty expense, you want to make sure that investment is protected. Make sure to choose solar panels that have at least a 10-year warranty, as that’s the industry standard. However, most of our recommended solar companies have warranty coverage that lasts up to 25 years.