Solar Return on Investment Calculator Instructions

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Welcome to the Solar Simplified Return On Investment Calculator. This calculator has been developed by Utah Clean Energy  to help  Utah citizens estimate the costs and benefits of installing a residential solar photovoltaic (PV) electric system. Please note: 

  • You can modify your information at any time to compare systems and costs. No information is stored and all of your calculations are anonymous.
  • This calculator is not intended to and does not replace a formal bid from a local solar contractor; this calculator uses assumptions that may not reflect your individual circumstances. Contact a solar contractor today to get a personalized solar energy bid! 
  • Sorry, this calculator cannot provide information about solar thermal (hot water) at this time. If you are looking for solar thermal calculators, there are several available from other sources.

How to Use the Solar Calculator:

Step 1: Enter your average monthly electricity usage in either dollars or kilowatt-hours. Usage varies widely throughout the year, so using an average from 12 months of bills will give you the best results. You can find the information you need on your electricity bill (see a  sample electricity bill [PDF]).  If you do not have this data, please select "I don't know" and an average value for a Utah home (767 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month) will be used. 

Solar System Sizing for an Average Utah Home

Step 2: Enter the size of the solar PV system that you are considering in kilowatts (kW). A kilowatt = 1,000 watts; please note that a kilowatt is different than a kilowatt-hour (kWh). Not sure what size you need? Click "I don't know" to see data for a sample system, or use the chart below to choose a system size. You can adjust the system size any time.

 

Step 3: Enter the total price you expect to pay for your system (BEFORE incentives).  The calculator will show you an estimated cost both with and without incentives. If you don't know the price, click "I don't know" and the calculator will use the 2013 average price for residential solar PV ($5 per watt). Consider exploring available solar financing options to reduce the upfront cost.

Step 4: Select your utility. If your utility is not represented, please consult your electricity bill [PDF] to determine how much you pay per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Kilowatt-hours are generally sold by blocks, and the price you pay for each kilowatt-hour depends on your total usage. For example:

Sample montly summer rates for electricity:
0 - 400 kilowatt-hours: lowest rate
400 - 1000 kilowatt-hours: higher rate
1000 + kilowatt hours: highest rate

Divide your total usage (in kilowatt-hours) by your total cost to see the average price of your electricity. For more detailed instructions please click here.

Step 5: Click Calculate to get your solar calculations! 

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Website content provided by Utah Clean Energy, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working to stop energy waste, create clean energy, and build a smart energy future in Utah and the western United States.