There is a wide variety of solar panels on the market today, with different wattages, sizes, styles and applications.  To get an idea of just how many are available, try performing a search using Google shopping for the term "residential solar panels".  You will find everything from entire home installations to individual panels of varying size and strength.  Of course, the average home will need an array of several panels, as well as other accessories and components necessary to make solar energy production a reality.  It's not unrealistic to price individual panels, especially since many systems are infinitely expandable.  The cost of panels will certainly be a large part of your overall solar energy system investment, so pricing them is necessary work.

Panels are generally priced as so many dollars per watt, but prices can vary between manufacturers producing the same type of panel.  Make sure that you are comparing apples to apples, until you have a good idea of the average price of a panel of a particular voltage and wattage.  Many solar panel manufacturers' websites have calculators that will assist you in figuring out approximately how many panels you will need to power your home, which will go a long way toward helping you come up with a ballpark idea as to what your array will cost.

Keep in mind that industry pricing information released in June of 2011 estimated solar panel prices at around $3 per watt. This price is for a panel only, excluding component and installation costs.  The conventional wisdom is that prices will continue to decrease and that within two years the price per watt will be approximately $1 per watt.  That may make you want to wait a bit, but the government tax incentives and rebates now available really take a bite out of the cost of installing solar power systems, and may not still be around in a year or two.  Remember, too, that installation costs can add as much as 40% of the price of the system to the final tally.

Once you know the size array you want, start adding in components or compare entire grid-tied system packages across several vendors to get your best price.  Of course, you will have been gradually decreasing your power consumption prior to pricing systems, since this will decrease the size of your installation, and thus the cost.  Experts suggest replacing old appliances with newer, more efficient ones, using more battery-powered gadgets and substituting less power-hungry electronic items (a laptop v. a desktop PC, a smaller, rather than larger TV) in order to reduce overall energy consumption before making the change to solar power.