This article was first published on 9 October 2020 and last updated on 1 February 2021 to include additional details.
Surprise! Solar panel installation is actually pretty affordable, however there are several key factors that may result in a higher installation cost. The cost of installation and solar panels vary from project to project and roof to roof. Solar installers each have their own price points and packages for a full system installation.
First, let’s talk about the common factors that may affect your cost.
Type of Solar Panels
There are 3 main categories of solar panels – Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline and Thin Film. Selection of which type of solar panels is determined by your rooftop and whether the system characteristics are suitable for you.
Price-wise, Monocrystalline solar panels are more expensive due to their high efficiency and aesthetic value. On the other hand, Polycrystalline solar panels are cheaper but of lower efficiency. Thus, it is important to consider your energy usage to determine the level of efficiency you require your solar panels to have. The higher your energy usage, the more efficient you would need your solar panel to be. Alternatively, you can also install more solar panels to match your energy needs and maximise your cost benefits.
Size of the System
The size of your system is limited by the installation area available on your rooftop. To best decide on the size of your system, it is recommended to collate your electricity bills from the past 3 months to find out your average household energy usage. With most households consuming more electricity while working from home during COVID-19, a comparison to pre-COVID electricity bills may be helpful too.
Also, it would be good to estimate your electricity usage during the day. As solar panels generate electricity during the daytime, one way to maximise your cost savings on getting solar would be to optimise your solar system size to meet your daytime energy needs.
However, did you know that in Singapore, you can also sell excess electricity generated back into the grid? Because of these financial incentives, many homeowners may choose to maximise their roof space for solar panels, even if they may not consume all the solar electricity generated during the day.
Here is a rough estimate of the standard system cost for landed homes in Singapore. Installation costs may also vary dependent on your roof type. For example, metal roofs are often easier to install solar panels on, and this can bring installation costs down.
If you live in a terrace in Singapore, the usual system size would be around 20 solar panels with a 5 kWp system. With an installation area of approximately 30m2, the average system will cost $10,000 and is sufficient for an average energy consumption of 890 kWh per month.
For semi-detached houses, you may be able to install around 40 solar panels or a 10 kWp system which will be able to cover an average monthly energy consumption of 1,182 kWh. This will cost around $19,500 for the entire system.
Rooftop solar systems for bungalows would usually be around 80 solar panels and a 20 kWp system, with an installation area of 120m2. Due to the high number of panels and large installation area, the average cost of the system would be around $38,000.
But let’s get more specific. Curious to find out what is a suitable solar system size for your home based on your rooftop and how much it might cost? Let us help you with it. Our online solar assessment tool allows you to draw out your roof space and enter your electricity bills for a personalised recommendation and cost estimates of a solar system for your house – instantly, in just a few clicks! Try it out now.
Roof Pitch / Type & Roof Material
The material of your roof and type of roof that you have will influence the placement of your solar panels. While solar can be installed on almost all roofs, there are certain roof types that require additional materials for installation such as racking and mounting systems.
If you have a steep roof, it would require greater skill and time as the installation process would need to be extra meticulous. The steep pitch will need extra manpower to handle and this might result in an increased labour cost, on top of the installation cost.
Additionally, your roof material will determine the different mounting mechanisms needed for your installation. The most common type of roofs in Singapore are tiled, metal or concrete roofs.
For tiled roofs, the tiles are usually removed and replaced with stainless steel brackets. This is due to the fragility of clay, slate and concrete tiles which may break when handling the roof. The stainless steel brackets are screwed to rafters and the tiles before being re-installed into their original spots. The rails will be mounted onto steel brackets to leave space between the panel and the roof, enabling constant air circulation to cool the solar panels. Drilling is usually necessary, to ensure that the hooks are embedded well.
On the contrary, if you have a standing seam metal roof, no drilling is required and mounting clips can easily be fastened to the seams of your roof, which makes the installation process a lot easier and saves you cost. This also means should you ever need to do so, your solar panels can be easily removed from your roof too.
Other Additional Costs
Most solar panels come with a 20-25 year warranty, while inverters usually have a 5 year warranty which covers a 1 for 1 replacement of any physical defects on the equipment.
Although solar installers will often provide a contract or package with maintenance fees covered for a certain duration of time, installers do not usually provide free lifetime solar maintenance since most solar PV systems can last for 20 to 25 years.
This means that if your solar panels need a replacement within the warranty period, you may still have to pay your installer for an ad-hoc check or for physical maintenance. Maintenance and cleaning costs for your solar panels or PV system usually range from $200 – $400 per visit, and your installers can both clean or wash your solar panels, as well as conduct tests on your inverters and breakers.
Almost all solar systems these days also come with a free online monitoring platform or mobile app that you and your installer can use to track the performance and efficiency of the solar system. However, a well-installed solar system will also reduce the chances of you needing any physical maintenance.
Waterproofing or Reroofing
Water intrusion is a risk that may occur after installing your solar PV system. If you have a tiled roof, your solar installer may require drilling to set up the rails which hold your solar panels. These drilled holes may result in rainwater accumulating in it, causing potential leaks.
If your roof is relatively old or poorly maintained, it is advisable to consider waterproofing your roof before you begin installing solar panels, since they will likely be sitting on your roofs for the next 25 years. While these procedures will add on to your costs, they can be a good investment to improve the conditions of your roof and prevent any possible leaks after installation.
Remember to always check for any additional charges in your contract or package before proceeding with the installation.
Contacting several installers to enquire about your roof and the proposed costs will allow you to widen your options and consider the benefits of each installer.
We know that the process of getting solar and reaching out to different installers can be intimidating and tedious, and we’re committed to helping you in this journey.
Using our instant solar assessment tool, you’ll be able to get an estimate of the solar potential of your property and find out how much a solar installation may cost. Not just that – our team will also be able to help you gather quotes from a list of trusted solar installers in Singapore, completely for free. Try out our solar assessment tool today!