Solar Panel Cost Guide in Columbia, MD (Feb 2023)

  • Columbia Solar Installation Cost: $10,820
  • 25-Year Savings: $10,074
  • Payback Period: 13.0 Years

See cost of a solar system near you:

By EcoWatch Local Advisors

Data Analysis: James Savino

Ranking Methodology: Karsten Neumeister

Updated January 20, 2023

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We work with a panel of solar experts to create unbiased reviews that empower you to make the right choice for your home. No other site has covered renewables as long as us, which means we have more data and insider information than other sites. Our rankings are never affected by revenue or partnerships.

Average Cost of Solar Panels in Columbia

Find out what the average cost of solar panel installation is in Columbia.

The average cost of a solar panel system in Columbia is $3 per watt. Using this figure, a typical 5.6 would cost about $10,820 before the 30% federal solar tax credit is applied.

These figures are just estimates, and the cost of going solar for you may look different based on factors unique to your home and what company you choose to go with. With average savings of about $14,000 on energy bills over 20 years, many homeowners in Columbia find investing in solar can pay off big.

You can click the button below to get connected with a top solar company in Columbia that can help you get a more accurate cost estimate for your home.

Solar savings over time in Columbia

Year Return on Investment
1 years $-9,984
3 years $-8,312
5 years $-6,641
7 years $-4,969
9 years $-3,298
11 years $-1,626
13 years $45
15 years $1,717
17 years $3,388
19 years $5,060
21 years $6,731
23 years $8,403
25 years $10,074

Top Solar Installers in Columbia

Do-it-yourself solar panel installation is a way to cut costs, but it's an undertaking that can take a lot of hard work. Taking advantage of an installer can make your swap to solar power much easier. The expertise that solar installers offer can be invaluable as well, particularly if you don't quite know what type of solar equipment you need.

If you'd like to go solar but still aren't sure which solar installer to go with, here are our recommendations for providers in Columbia:

Best National Provider

SunPower

★★★★★
5.0

  • Most efficient panels on the market
  • National coverage
  • Cradle to Cradle sustainability certification
  • Great warranty coverage
  • Expensive
  • Customer service varies by local dealer

Best Technology

Tesla Energy

★★★★★
4.5

  • Price-match guarantee
  • Sleek, efficient, and durable solar panels
  • Best solar battery on the market
  • Some reported issues with customer service
  • Customer service varies by local dealer

Best for Leasing

Sunrun

★★★★★
4.0

  • Expansive service area
  • Many financing options
  • Some reported issues with customer service
  • Some reported issues with door-to-door sales

See all of the solar companies in Columbia

Factors that Affect Solar Panel Costs in Columbia

The cost of installing a solar system in Columbia can vary by more than $10,000 from home to home. Your actual cost depends on several factors. The largest one is the size of the system your household needs, and other factors include the equipment you choose, financing options and the solar company you choose.

Solar Equipment

The size of the solar panel system you need, which is measured in kilowatts, is the most important cost factor to consider. For every additional kilowatt you need, your total will most likely increase by around $2,770. The brand and kind of equipment you want for your solar system can increase or decrease the price quite significantly. If you prefer a brand name like Tesla or SunPower, these are often more expensive than other brands. Efficiency also matters. Whether you're opting for high efficiency because you have a small roof or just want maximum energy production, you can expect a higher equipment cost, but this can typically lead to more savings over time. Plus, if you want additional equipment like an electric vehicle charger or solar batteries, this will also raise the cost.

Solar Financing Terms

Many homeowners find the average cost of solar in Columbia to be too steep, even if the investment pays off over time. Fortunately, nearly every solar installer in the area provides access to financing options. Solar loans greatly decrease upfront costs for most homeowners, but they also lead to a higher cost over time because of interest. However, the interest on solar loans also increases your total costs, so it's vital to take that into consideration as well. You can always bring down the total you pay in interest and in some cases even your APR by making a larger down payment.

Solar Panel Installation Company

The solar company you opt for to handle your switch to renewable energy can play a role in your total costs. There are about 3 solar installation companies operating in Columbia, and each can charge varying amounts for labor and equipment. You may see national solar installers that have lower prices due to their larger brand name and access to bulk prices, or you might see small, local installation companies offering deals or promotions to compete with those larger companies.

Solar Panel Cost Data by System Size

System size Cost per system watt Solar system cost 25-Year savings Payback period
6 kW $2.88 $12,099 $10,352 13.5 years
8 kW $2.83 $15,822 $14,113 13.2 years
10 kW $2.77 $19,390 $18,029 13.0 years
12 kW $2.71 $22,803 $22,100 12.7 years
14 kW $2.66 $26,060 $26,326 12.4 years
16 kW $2.60 $29,163 $30,707 12.2 years
18 kW $2.55 $32,110 $35,244 11.9 years
20 kW $2.49 $34,902 $39,935 11.7 years

How to Save on Solar Panels

There are a lot of companies to choose from in Columbia, and some homeowners feel overwhelmed considering their options. Selecting the right company for you can be tough, so here are some tips to help you decide:

  • Reputation: Well-established companies likely have a good reputation. This is important because it ensures that it will not only see your solar installation through, but will also provide quality aftercare and customer service, such as part repairs and replacements.
  • Contract: Before you sign a contract with a solar company, make sure to look it over carefully so you understand the terms. Also, ask questions if you're not sure about some of the terms, such as what to do if a component breaks or malfunctions and what services you can expect from them.
  • Installation Process: Make sure you're aligned with the installer with regard to how the installation process will go and what you need to do before your solar panels are installed, such as updating your electrical system or roof.
  • Solar Panel Brands: Each solar panel brand and type has varying levels of quality, durability and energy efficiency. They will come at different prices as well. The company you choose affects which solar panel brands you have access to.

Best National Provider

SunPower

★★★★★
5.0

  • Most efficient panels on the market
  • National coverage
  • Cradle to Cradle sustainability certification
  • Great warranty coverage
  • Expensive
  • Customer service varies by local dealer

Best Technology

Tesla Energy

★★★★★
4.5

  • Price-match guarantee
  • Sleek, efficient, and durable solar panels
  • Best solar battery on the market
  • Some reported issues with customer service
  • Customer service varies by local dealer

Best for Leasing

Sunrun

★★★★★
4.0

  • Expansive service area
  • Many financing options
  • Some reported issues with customer service
  • Some reported issues with door-to-door sales

EcoWatch's Columbia, MD Solar Cost FAQs

How much does it cost to install solar panels in Columbia?

This is a tough question to answer precisely, because the cost depends on a variety of factors. Generally speaking, it costs about $13,850 for a 5-kW system and $27,700 for a 10-kW system after the ITC is applied. You can expect to pay more if you want additional solar equipment or higher quality panels, or if you have above-average energy needs. On the flip side, you can spend less if you choose a smaller solar panel system or cheaper solar panels.

Is cost the most important thing to consider when buying solar panels?

The initial cost is a very important factor to consider, but whether it's the most important for you depends on why you decided to go solar. In places where rooftop space is limited, efficiency can be more important than the cost. Other factors that are important to think about are the quality and durability of your solar panels.

How much can I save on electricity bills after switching to solar?

It is possible to eradicate your electricity bills with solar panels, but for most homeowners in Columbia, that will require at least a 10-kW system. Not all homes will have roofs that can accommodate that size system, so you'll want to check with a local solar installer to see how many panels can fit on your roof.

How long do solar panels last in Columbia?

Though the average lifespan of solar panels is 25 to 30 years, that doesn't mean they should be disposed of at that time. What this means is their energy production will have decreased significantly after that point. You can decide to replace them once you've had them for that long or you can keep using them at a lower efficiency.

Our goal is to reach as many people as we can with sensible solutions like solar energy. Our team of full-time local researchers collects solar price and installation data for every city in America then compiles it to create these digestible city guides. If you want to read our solar expert's opinion on the top solar companies featured here, follow this link.

Company research was conducted by Melissa Smith and Karsten Neumeister. Local data analysis was conducted by James Savino. See something we missed or could do better? Email the editor.

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