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Solar Energy

Cost and Benefits: Exclusive Info on Solar Panels for Schools

July 5, 2019

Despite the crippling stories of expensive solar panel options and energy efficient systems, understanding the costs of solar panels is crucial in determining whether or not solar panels for schools is a good idea.

One fact is for sure, solar energy is not new nor is it a cheap energy alternative; well, it’s not cheap initially, but once savings and efficiency are calculated into the cost, solar panels are the best energy solutions for schools, depending on size and a few other factors.

No need to worry because we have your back and will cover what it takes and the costs associated with installing solar panels for schools.

Currently, there are an estimated 4 million students across 5,500 educational facilities who benefit from the use of solar panels.


As solar energy becomes more and more efficient, the number of schools utilizing solar panel systems will continue to increase.

So, how does a school determine if solar power is best for them?

First and foremost, it is probably a good idea to cover how much solar power cost for schools.

How Much Does Solar Power Cost?

As installation pricing continues to fall and electricity cost remain on a steady incline, the associated benefits of saving money and energy through solar panels are becoming more appealing.

It’s true that the actual cost of solar energy systems varies by state. Some have incentives for making the switch, while others have additional taxes and fees. The typical price range for a solar system installation project is between $1.00 to $3.50 per watt!

There’s something to think about. But, what does this cost include?

In most cases, this price is inclusive of materials, installation, permits, and connectivity to the electrical grid.

Depending on the type of system chosen, costs for a solar panel system is between $3,000 to $30,000, covering approximately 200 square feet, supplying between 1 to 5 kilowatts of electricity. So it’s easy to estimate that a much larger system would be in the millions of dollars and would need to cover multiple acres of land in order to be effective. These types of systems are designed to offset a large amount of a school’s current energy use and cost.

Where Should Schools Install Solar Panels?

This is a bit tricky and will depend a lot on how the school is designed and the structure of the overall facilities associated with the solar project. For instance, it is known that solar panels should face south in order to maximize sunlight and collect optimal energy for use.

If for some reason, the pitch of the school’s roof is not facing south, solar PV systems can still work but have to be made to slightly face southeast or southwest and will not produce the most energy as it could if it were facing south.

However, this does not mean schools with different facing roofs are not able to benefit from solar energy.

In fact, there is still a suitable option for solar installation that does not involve roofs at all. It will require a bit of land however in an open space, clear from light obstructions. Believe it or not, ground-based solar power systems have a tendency to be less expensive than its roof-based counterpart.

If land and roof space is limited, there is still another option. Solar awnings are able to produce solar energy, while providing shade in a parking lot and other areas, but are usually much more expensive than a roof and ground solar systems.

Solar energy can get tricky when it comes to pricing, but understanding how solar panels work can make the decision process a little easier. You can determine what type of system is needed when you know a little bit about how it all works.

So, we know solar panel systems cost money, sometimes a lot of it. How can schools fund such a large project, with minimal budgeting available?

What are Solar Power Financing Options for Schools?

Despite how much money a school can generate, the cost of making a switch to solar energy can put a strain on nearly any budget. Fortunately, there are two available financing options schools can utilize to help get their solar projects off the ground.

They can either pay directly, given the school has the funds available or they can go with a more common route of using a third-party ownership method. This typically consists of investors and/or a group of developers who own the system and sell energy generated back to the school for a pre-determined amount of time. Normally 15-25 years.

Some states offer financing options with no up-front money and provide a series of financial solutions such as bonds, equipment leasing, loans or third-party financing. So how much does it really costs to power a school with solar panels and what is the installation cost of solar energy for schools?

How Much Does It Cost to Install Solar Panels in a School?

A study conducted by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the average school’s solar system consists of roughly 900-1,200 panels for a 300kW solar system. This answers, how many solar panels schools need for their solar energy needs.

With this fact, you can quickly calculate your solar installation costs by determining which solar panel system will work best for your school and how many panels you need in order to generate sufficient energy to power most of the school. Schools who opt-in for solar energy look to save millions across the lifespan of their system and drastically reduce impacts from using non-renewable energy sources.

Wonder what’s in it for schools and how it helps them in the long run?

Let’s take a look!

How Do Solar Panels Help Schools?

We could sit here and create a long list of the benefits on why a school should get solar panels, but there are three powerful reasons that make the entire argument.

Reason 1: Saving Money

Schools with solar panels have several advantages over schools who still rely heavily on traditional power. For starters, there is a lot of money to be saved when schools are able to generate a large portion of their own energy. This reduces costs associated with electricity and even when contracted out, buy solar power from a provider, still comes out as a cheaper alternative than regular energy because it is typically sold at a lower rate.

Reason 2: Protecting Our Environment

Not only does the school using solar energy benefit from using a renewable energy source, but the environment and neighboring communities also benefit. As a renewable energy source, there is a reduction in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming that is generated. This keeps our planet healthy and when solar systems are installed on-site, it also helps with the need for using outsourced fossil fuels.

Reason 3: Creating Subconscious Sustainability

Schools with solar panels do more than just produce clean energy, save money and have reduced negative impacts on our environment. In fact, they instill a sense of sustainable practices among the faculty, the school, and the students. This means that armed with solar knowledge and a solar system, educational facilities will often time seek sustainable methods of other activities and expansion projects. Sustainable practices ensure that we meet our needs for today while ensuring our future has the resources available to meet their needs. This is not something that depleting fossil fuel practices can accomplish.

Schools: To Solar or Not to Solar?

This is an important question. Should schools use solar energy or continue to use their current methods of powering their facilities? With all of the benefits of solar energy, it is easy to understand why and how solar panels for schools is the best option.

Considering a solar panel system for your school?

Give us a call and find out how your school can benefit from installing solar panels.

For any additional information or if you just want to say your peace, feel free to leave us a comment. We’d love to hear your thoughts!


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