If you’re considering solar but aren’t sure whether the savings are worth the initial investment, try a solar calculator. A calculator can estimate how much solar panels will shave off your energy bill, and sometimes help you find additional savings. Calculators look at the cost of energy in your area, the type of panels you have or plan to install, and weather patterns to determine energy cost savings.
Keep in mind that these tools really only provide estimates. If a calculator indicates a solar installation will lower energy costs for your home or business, consult a professional solar installation company. An onsite, professional assessment is more accurate than an online calculator. .
Solar to the People
Solar to the People offers a simple solar calculator based on extensive data they collect on solar costs in different areas across the US. We like their calculator because it provides a quick estimate of savings adjusted for a range of financing options for different regions in the US.
To get an estimate, you’ll just need an address and your local energy cost, which you can find on your most recent utilities bill. The results page offers estimates based on leasing, loaning, and buying options. For leases and loans, the calculator estimates annual savings. If you can buy the solar system outright, you’ll learn the number of years it will take to recoup costs. As you might expect, leasing and then loans generally offer the least savings, but the lowest upfront investment, while purchasing a system with cash yields the highest overall savings.
PVWatts is a solar calculator sponsored by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). It estimates solar energy savings at your provided location by considering factors such as weather and utility costs. PVWatts is widely used by professionals because it is extremely advanced and provides great options for inputting solar system and location info.
To start a solar estimate, PVWatts only requires an address or zip code. Once entered, PVWatts will look at the weather in your area and ask a few questions about your solar system and the cost of local utilities. If you find yourself scratching your head at some of the inputs, make a note, but leave those fields blank or accept the suggested value to receive a ballpark savings estimate.
Calculate with Confidence
Solar calculators, such as those provided by Solar to the People and PVWatts, are handy tools for home and business owners who want to know whether solar panels are a sound energy investment. Even if you’re just dipping your toes into the solar market, a calculator will point you to the important questions: How much sun does my home receive? Is electricity expensive where I live? What types of solar panels can I install? This information will help you determine whether solar is a sound investment, and will certainly help you speak with your solar installer if your estimate suggests going solar will save you money.