Is an 8 kW Solar Panel System Right for You?

July 8, 2023

Electric bills will continue to grow as we move toward electrifying homes, switching to EVs, and remote work. Don't worry, though – solar panel systems are getting bigger, too. More and more homeowners are getting quotes for 8 kilowatt (kW) solar panel systems to cover the costs of their electric-intensive lifestyle.

But, the amount of solar you need will vary greatly depending on your energy usage and where you live. So, is 8 kW of solar right for you? Let's take a closer look.

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Key takeaways

How much does an 8 kW solar system cost?

An 8 kW solar panel installation will likely cost between $21,200 and $26,000 when purchased with cash. This works out to be between $2.65 and $3.25 per watt of solar installed.

That's not cheap, but don't worry - incentives are available to help with the upfront costs. The 30% federal solar tax credit, for example, would drop the price down closer to $16,000. Depending on where you live, additional state, local, or utility incentives may lower the cost even further!

The following table outlines the average cost of installing an 8 kW solar panel system in different states throughout the U.S.:

State Est. installed cost Est. cost after tax credit
California $21,440 $15,000
Texas $22,160 $15,500
Florida $20,640 $14,450
New York $22,880 $16,020
Arizona $21,440 $15,000

Solar loans: Many homeowners finance their solar installation with a solar loan to help with the high upfront costs. Because of interest and dealer fees, the total price of a solar system using a loan will end up being a bit higher than if you purchased it in cash. An 8 kW solar panel installation financed with a solar loan will cost close to $29,000 before the federal tax credit, compared to $24,000 for a cash purchase.

How much energy does an 8 kW solar panel system produce?

An 8 kW solar panel system will produce an average of 700 to 1,400 kWh of electricity per month, depending on your exact home and where you live.

One of the biggest factors in how much energy solar panels produce is the amount of sunlight your roof gets. An 8 kW solar system in a sunny state like Arizona will generate more energy than an 8 kW system in Alaska.

The characteristics of your roof will also impact how much electricity your solar panels make. South-facing roofs are ideal for solar production in the United States. Panels will still generate electricity on roofs that face other directions, but not as much as they would facing south.

How many solar panels do you need for an 8 kW solar system?

8 kW solar panel systems generally use between 20 and 22 solar panels and require about 390 square feet of roof space. The number of solar panels you need for an 8 kW system depends on the power rating of the panels.

For example, you would need about 23 panels if you used 350 watts. Most panels today are closer to 400 watts, meaning you'll only need 20 to reach 8 kW. The following table outlines how many solar panels you need for an 8 kW solar system, depending on the panel wattage:

Panel wattage Panels needed for 8 kW
350 W 23
375 W 22
400 W 20
420 W 19

How much money can 8 kW of solar panels save you?

An 8 kW solar system can save about $150 on your monthly electricity bill, based on the average electric rate in the U.S. That's nearly $1,800 per year in solar savings!

The exact amount of money that an 8 kW solar system will save varies quite a bit from state to state. Ultimately, your electricity bill savings from solar will depend on how much electricity your home uses, how much electricity your solar panels produce, the net metering policy in place in your area, and how much your utility charges for electricity.

For example, an 8 kW solar system in Massachusetts will generate about 730 kWh of electricity in one month. With an average electricity rate of $0.26 per kWh, that's a bill saving of almost $190. In North Carolina, on the other hand, the same solar system would produce closer to 1,100 kWh per month because they get more sun. But, because electricity rates are lower, at just $0.12 per kWh, the bill savings would be around $130.

Can you install an 8 kW solar system yourself?

Yes, you can install an 8 kW solar system yourself. 8 kW solar panel installation kits are available online and include the solar installation equipment you need to complete the system, including panels and inverters. Good quality 8 kW solar kits typically cost a minimum of $12,000, but don't be surprised if the total price inches closer to the $15,000 mark.

There are a few things you want to keep in mind about DIY solar installations before you jump right in. First, installing solar panels yourself without any training can be dangerous. Solar installations are electrical jobs that usually require you to be at great heights. You need to be comfortable working on a roof and performing electrical work. You also run the risk of voiding equipment warranties when you go with a DIY solar project.

Not to mention, installing solar panels yourself might be against the law where you live. Many states and municipalities require solar panels to be connected to the grid by an electrician or a certified solar professional. If you don't hold the proper licenses, you won't be able to connect to your utility. If you plan to install an off-grid solar system, ensure it is allowed in your municipality.

Overall, we suggest you go with a solar professional, as it is the best way to ensure your solar installation is being performed safely and properly. You may have to spend a little bit of extra money, but it's ultimately worth it in our eyes. At the very least, consider getting quotes from installers in your area to see if DIY is the route you want to take.

Is an 8 kW solar panel system worth it?

An 8 kW solar system can absolutely be worth it for you, but it ultimately depends on where you live and how much electricity you use. If you find yourself using around 800 kWh of electricity per month, an 8 kW system might be the right size for you.

The best way to see how many solar panels you need to cover your electricity bill is with SolarReviews' state-of-the-art solar calculator. Our calculator pulls the latest electricity rate data, solar incentives in your area, and climate and weather data to determine the right size solar system for you.

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This content was originally published here.

Is an 8 kW Solar Panel System Right for You?