A guide on how not to get ripped off when buying a solar system.

  • If anyone hands you an estimate that doesn’t itemize what your paying for, your getting robbed. 
  • Let me provide a simple guide.


Avg. a $1/watt. = $5,000




Solar panels are $.28/W. = $1,400



Inverter is $.40/W. = $2,000

(5,000W grid tied)
Mounting structure is $.15/W. = $500

(Ground or roof mount)


These are not average component prices, they are actual prices. If you don’t believe me look at www.sunelec.com.


Contrary to popular opinon, solar panels are no longer necessarily the most expensive part of a solar system. 

To compare panel prices just divide the cost of one module by the number of watts, it gives $/watt. It’s the measuring stick.  If you don’t know it, you can’t compare the price of your panels.

There are now hundreds of modules to choose from. Their price is dropping so fast it’s unbelievable. However, prices can change quickly. It’s a volitile market. 

The good news is that if you’ve ever looked at solar modules, you can see they all look the same. That’s because, they are.

Solar panels last 30, 40 even up to 50 years, in fact the first solar modules ever made by Bell Labs are still working, and their over 50 years old!

Panels are made the same way, with crystalline silicon cells, rock that makes electricity when exposed to light; tempered glass, the same type as on your car’s windshield; an anodized aluminum frame and plastic to laminate the cells to the back of the glass.

The only thing about solar panels that actually changes is their efficiency. However, the higher the efficiency is the more you will have to pay.

The avg. price for the lower efficiency modules of 12%, is now approx. $.25/watt. For the avg. efficiency modules of 17% its now $.38/watt (NOTE: Our GCL 290W panel is only $.28/watt) and for the highest efficiency of  21%, its now as high as $1.50/watt (if you can even get them). They’re used up by massive solar farms.

Most rooftops offer plenty enough space for even a 12% eff. system to power the home. Panel efficiency is not that important, unless you live on a boat, RV or on the Int. Space Station.

I buy my solar modules from top tier PV module manufacturers from all over the world.

However, I also look at other secondary sources from factories. I learned 44 years ago , when I got my first PV module from Spectrolab, the first PV manufacturer in the United States, (they  made PV modules for NASA’s space craft), that reject cells can be used to make excellent modules at an unbelievable savings. At that time modules we’re selling at SIXTY DOLLARS/watt. I paid less than $1/watt for that panel. Because it was made by a do-it-yourselfer, a retired engineer, who simply took a sheet (approx. 1 ft. by 2 ft.) of tempered glass, Grade B cells, adhesive, who just soldered the the metal tabs together to make it. I ran a big portable stereo with it. It was enough to bring out a TV crew and put me on the evening news with it and my solar oven, home made thermosyphon solar water heater and my 4′ x 8′ parabolic concentrator.

To this day, I can’t say enough about many of the millions of  do-it-your-selfers, from all over this planet, that I have had the great privilege to know. Not only have built their own independent solar power system, they who have designed and built their own homes many using power tools and even welders powered by the sun! These guys definitely understand that PV systems are not that difficult to understand or to install with a little reading and help. The average residential PV system can be installed in as little as couple days with just 2 or three dsys.


Obviously, the $1/watt above is dependent on the type of roof you have. And, yes there is the local bureaucracy that wants to profit off your solar system by trying to control, limit, and tax your solar system using licenses, memberships, certifications, duties, penalty fees, construction freezes by bureaucrats and suspensions and the occasional bribe.


To help avoid unnecessary injury, accidents and even death, I can tell you I have known three real nice guys, who have died painfully; one, Fred, a horribly prolonged death,  by falling off their roofs installing PV systems. And, I’ve known many more who’ve fallen several times.

If you’ve got the space to install them on the ground, do it. Going on your roof to install or de-installing them one is always dangerous. More people get seriously injured by falling of ladders and roofs than any other way in regards to solar. Since you should check them from time to time and you might need to service and perhaps clean your system and, of course, replace your roof, keeping it on the ground will make all those things a lot easier and safer.

You might even like to show people how the system works and how it was installed. Maybe even enjoy the beauty of the solar panels. Some types of crystalline silicon modules are actually quite beautiful, (multi crystalline cells using phosphorus gas) and common.

Be careful when buying new high tech batteries. The new super hyped up batteries are much more expensive. Conventional deep cycle 12 and 6 volt wet lead acid and sealed maintenance free batteries, are mass manufactured, locally available, low cost and easy to handle, maintain and recycle. A typical 6 volt, 220 amp hr. deep cycle battery that lasts 5 years costs a little over a $100 and it weighs only 60 lbs. and you can pick it up and move it relatively easily. That combination is hard to beat.

Look this blog is long enough, it’s Sunday  maybe I’ll come and write some more later but I think I made my point. If you are handed an estimate with one flat price and no prices for these four seperate items,  your crazy to sign the contract. It’s not rocket science and never has been (well except for that first panel I got 44 years ago with Spectrolab cells, they’re still making extraterrestrial cells for NASA, at 40% efficiency I might add, only they cost a lot more than you can afford!) google it.

The End.


Thank u very much.




 Don’t tell me of trying to destroy the PV industry with low prices because:

1. I make a lot of money.

2. The early bird gets the worm.

3. Nothing pays as well as persistence.

4. What matters is that we jump to the Sun while we still can.



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