Availability of Solar Panels to generate electricity at homes has been there in India since quite some time now. Still, for a long time, it was not economically feasible for most Indians to take benefit. But due to a drop in solar panel prices in India in the last few years coupled with significant policy-level implementations by Government in India, now, in in 2020, Solar Panels for home looks quite lucrative. Solar Panel manufacturers in India have also quite consolidated their positions, and the market seems quite organized now.
Who would not want to use solar energy, a free renewable resource readily available at their disposal, to reduce their electricity bills and increase green footprint effectively! With this post, we will try to help you understand the technology, manufacturers, prices and other relevant things that you should keep in mind.
Firstly if you have come here looking for Best Solar Panel Manufacturers and their prices in India then here are the numbers:
Solar Panel Prices of different Manufacturers in India
Two types of brands or manufacturers sell in India. There are Indian brands, and then there are international brands. Please note that if subsidy on solar installation is available in your state, then only panels from Indian manufacturers will be able to fetch you a subsidy. To check if a subsidy is available in your state, you will have to talk to executives at your state renewable energy development authority (details are given below). From a quality perspective, the top Indian brands are quite competitive as compared to International brand. So here is the list of some top Indian brands:
|Manufacturer||Min Price||Max Price|
|Vikram Solar||Rs 19/Watt||Rs 30/Watt|
|Waaree Solar||Rs 19/Watt||Rs 28/Watt|
|Luminous||Rs 24/Watt||Rs 58/Watt|
|Tata Power Solar||Rs 20/Watt||Rs 62/Watt|
|Adani Solar||Rs 18/Watt||Rs 35/Watt|
|Microtek Solar||Rs 25/Watt||Rs 60/Watt|
Some other good brands are Emmvee Solar, Navitas Solar.
The prices of international brands are also not very different and here are some that we have collected:
|Manufacturer||Min Price||Max Price|
|Panasonic||Rs 24/Watt||Rs 52/Watt|
|Canadian Solar||Rs 25/Watt||Rs 46/Watt|
Some other good international manufacturers are Trina Solar, Jinko Solar.
These numbers include both Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline type of Panels. These types are explained below. Also, this is the price of the panels only and does not include other things involved in setting up a solar panel system for a home. If you want to set up one for your home, then keep reading this post.
Solar Panel System Price in India
The price of the total system would depend on the type of solar panel system you go for. We have explained different types of solar panel systems in the next few sections.
In case you go for an off-grid solar panel system, which includes panels, inverter, charge controller, batteries, wiring, structure, connectors, junction box, etc. It would cost anywhere between Rs 70,000 to Rs 1,20,000 per kW depending on the panels and inverter that you go for. To check the system size (in kW) that you need to install, use the calculator on this page below.
In case you go for a grid-connected solar panel system, which includes panels, inverters, wiring, structure, connectors, junction boxes, etc. It would cost anywhere between Rs 45,000 to Rs 80,000 per kW. To check the size that you need, read the sizing section in this page below.
To find the right type of system that is ideal for you, check the section below on types of solar panel systems.
Firstly Solar Thermal Vs Solar Electric
On this platform, we receive several queries from people asking if they can generate electricity using their solar water heater. It is essential to understand that Solar Water Heaters use a different technology (Solar Thermal) as compared to Solar Panels that work as Solar Electric.
A solar water heater uses heat from the sunlight to heat water. In contrast, a solar panel uses light from sunlight to convert it into electricity. Solar Water Heater has copper or glass pipes coated with heat absorbent material to retain heat. Whereas, Solar Panels use silicon crystals to convert sun”light” into electricity.
Ideal Solar Panel System Type for your home
There are two types of Solar Panels Systems:
- Off-Grid Solar Panel System:
This type of system is ideal when you have regular power cuts in your house, and you are looking for a power backup solution. This system consists of a Solar Panel, MPPT Charge Controller, Inverter and a battery bank. The role of a Solar Panel is to convert light into energy (or electricity). The Charge Controller makes sure that the right amount of electric current is generated and passed on to the battery. This prevents any damage to the batteries. The batteries are the storage tank that store all the energy or electricity generated. The inverter is like a car engine, which helps run the appliances by taking electricity stored in the batteries.
As this system comes with a battery, it can be used whenever there is no electricity. You can also get solar hybrid inverters that can charge the batteries when sunlight is there and charge them from the grid when the sunlight is not enough.
As this system involves batteries and storage, this system is costly and also requires regular maintenance of batteries. The batteries need a change every 4-6 years depending on how well they are maintained.
Check on the sizing section below to calculate the right size of system for you.
- Grid Connected Solar Panel System:
If your purpose of implementing solar is to reduce your electricity bill, then a grid-connected system is an ideal system. In a grid-connected system, there are no batteries. The electricity generated is used in your house. If extra is produced, then it is sold to your electricity distribution company. If your electricity consumption is more than the production from the solar panels, then it is compensated by the grid. This system has an inverter and a net-meter.
This system is not good if you have regular power cuts. That is because it goes down as the grid fails. So if your system is generating electricity and the grid fails, then the electricity generated is wasted.
Check on the sizing section below to calculate the right size of system for you.
Sizing a Solar Panel System
Sizing of a solar panel system depends on the type of system that you are going for. Let us look at the two types:
1) Off- Grid System
To get the right size of solar panel system for your off-grid needs, you need to look at the appliances that you want to run and the number of hours you want to run them. This is because you need to understand the size and type of batteries that you need to store the electricity that you need and also the size of panels that can generate sufficient electricity. We have prepared a calculator that you can use to calculate your solar-inverter-battery requirements. This calculator can only help you to calculate Off-Grid Solar Panel requirements. To use it, use the steps mentioned below:
- Add all the appliances that you have in the calculator. You can always change the wattage if you know it is different from what is mentioned in the calculator. You can use the “Add Appliance” button at the bottom to keep adding more appliances. To remove an appliance, press the “X” at the end of each row.
- The list of appliances in the calculator is based on some of the most common appliances that we get queries on. If you do not find your appliance on the list, you can select “Custom” at the end and add your own appliance.
- Press the “Calculate” button at the bottom to get the calculation. Do tick the “Calculate Solar Panel Requirement” checkbox if you want to do calculations for Solar Panels.
- You can also print the output if you want.
- Please note that this calculator is good for a regular home setup or for a small requirement. It will not work well for big commercial or industrial setups.
2) On-Grid System
To size an on-grid system, you need to look at your electricity bills. There are two numbers that are important: One is your maximum monthly consumption throughout the year, the other is your connected or sanctioned load. A 1 kWp Solar Panel System can generate about four units of electricity per day (roughly). It can be more or less, depending on the sunlight. Take your maximum monthly consumption and divide it by 120 (4 x 30 … 4 units for 30 days). You will get the number of kWs that you need to bring down your electricity bills to zero. Please note that your panel size cannot exceed more than 150% of your connected load (100% in some states).
Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline
There are two types of Solar PV Cells, Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline. The difference between the two is that Monocrystalline is made of single silicon crystal. In contrast, Multi-crystalline PV is made up of multiple crystals. A monocrystalline is more efficient in converting solar energy into electricity per sq meter area than a multi-crystalline PV. Thus the space required for the same amount of wattage is less in monocrystalline PV panel. Therefore it is costlier than a Polycrystalline PV.
If you have less space and you have more power requirements, then go for Monocrystalline. If you have ample space, then polycrystalline panels will be good. To get an idea on space, read the next section on space requirements.
Space Requirements of a Solar Panel System
The space requirement of solar panels depends on the efficiency of the panels. Higher efficiency panels require less space. A typical requirement is of about 80-100 sq ft for 1 kW system. In Polycrystalline panels, the efficiency is between 13-17%. In Monocrystalline panels, it is between 17-19%.
Please note that the space required is not just any space, but it has to be shadow-free space where panels can be placed at the right inclination. The proper inclination and direction vary from city to city, and you should hire a Solar EPC (Engineer, Procure and Construct) company to help you with it. Typically the ideal direction is South with an inclination of 15-18 degrees. To get maximum out of your solar panels, you must also conduct a shadow analysis of the area before installation. You have to make sure that:
- There is no external body (like buildings, trees) that casts a shadow on panels during the day.
- Panels are placed in such a way that they get maximum sunshine throughout the day at the right angles.
There is software available in the market that can help you do shadow analysis. Here is a video showing the impact of shadow on power generation:
Many people ask us if solar panels can be installed vertically. They can be, but the efficiency will be significantly reduced in that case. This makes them unviable from the costs perspective. That is why it is difficult to install solar panels in an apartment in a high rise building. People living in high rise building should try to install a common solar panel system.
Warranties and Maintenance requirements for a Solar PV system
Solar Panels usually comes with a performance warranty of 25 years from the date of supply. But this warranty is only for the panels. The warranties on inverter and batteries (in off-grid systems) vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
The manufacturers must provide an operation, instruction and maintenance manual in English and local language along with the system. As with all electrical and mechanical system, solar panel system also needs regular maintenance. An efficient, long-lasting system is one that is maintained properly and regularly. A solar panel system does not require a lot of maintenance, but it is good to clean the system of dust and bird droppings regularly to maintain its efficiency. If you choose a maintenance-free battery then you need not worry about the battery, else the battery will need regular maintenance.
Can your roof hold the panels?
Typically solar panels are quite light. Still, once you have decided the place to install solar PV, you need to make sure that the roof should be able to handle the solar PV system. If you have asbestos or tin sheets, you may want to ensure strengthening of the mounting structure to hold the load and provide a suitable angle of the mount. Your roof should be sturdy enough to hold the weight of panels and mounting channels. If your roof is quite high and there is a lot of wind, you need to understand the setup with your installer to make sure that the installation is safe enough and the panel should not dismount when there is a strong wind. If required, you shall have to take permissions from your municipal corporation to make sure you do not miss any safety parameters and for this, the Contractor should able to help you out.
How to Choose the right brand for the Panel?
Now that you have figured out the right size of your solar PV, you have to start selecting individual components of your Solar PV system. When you contact a company for Solar PV system installation, in most cases you won’t find them to be manufacturers of the components of the system, they would just be installers who help you select the right components. But then it’s important to be aware of the various brands that are available for those components.
Consider this for an analogy: just like cars have dealers and manufacturers, where a dealer can have dealership of one or many brands of cars, a system installer for Solar PV will have tie-ups with various brands of equipment and they will just bring in and install the system in your premise depending on what you choose.
The first thing to choose is the panels. Just like while buying a car, you get European (BMW, Audi, Volkswagen), Japanese (Honda, Toyota), Indian (Tata, Mahindra) and Chinese products, similarly, in Solar Panels, you can get various brands from various countries. In the case of Solar PV, the global market leaders are the brands of China.
As per the data available on Wikipedia, top international brands based on the capacity of installation, and based on our information from the industry are:
- First Solar (Malaysia)
- Trina (China)
- Canadian Solar (Canada)
- Sharp (Japan)
If you are looking for familiar brands (names), then you can look at the likes of:
However, if you are looking for Subsidy on your solar PV installation, then you will have to go for panels that are Made in India. Based on information from MNRE (link), manufacturers/brands that lead the solar PV manufacturing market are:
- Vikram Solar
- Waaree Solar
- Tata Power Solar
- Adani Solar
Please note that among the Indian brands, Vikram Solar is the only one that appears in the global list on Wikipedia, and Waaree Solar has similar capacities.
What is the difference between these brands?
Top international brands will have more efficient panels giving more output in less area. So, you can install, say, a 1 kWp system in 90 sq ft with a top international brand, whereas with a regular Indian brand you might get 1 kWp in 100 sq ft space. There may be some additional advantages of lower maintenance with international brands. But then you do not get subsidies if you go for an international brand.
Before buying a panel, make sure that either the brand is a top international brand, or it is an MNRE-approved channel partner. To get the list of MNRE-approved manufacturers, you can go on this link: Manufacturers.
Your panel manufacturer should give you a performance warranty on the output of the solar panels. Typically performance warranties are for 90% of the nominal power output in the first 10 years and 80% for 25 years. This means that the panels will give at least 90% of the rated power output for the first 10 years and at least 80% for 25 years. You should also get warranties on the workmanship.
How to choose the right brand for Grid-Connected Inverter?
Just like panels, there are multiple brands of Inverters (from various areas) available in India. However, in the case of inverters, your subsidy does not depend on the make of the inverter; you can buy any inverter which meets MNRE specifications and get a subsidy.
Top international brands of solar inverter (available in India) are:
- SMA Solar
Indian manufacturers of Inverters are also into manufacturing Solar Inverters, so you can also get:
While selecting an inverter, please make sure that the efficiency of the inverter (to convert DC to AC) is high. International brands have energy efficiency as high as 98%. Which means, loss of only 2% and almost all the DC energy that your PV panel generates gets converted to useful AC energy.
Inverters these days also have in-built software solutions to manage and monitor electricity generation from the solar panels. So, make sure that you get one that has this capability. If you go for a subsidy, then most of the basic requirements (including the software) are covered in the requirements by MNRE.
Depending on the type of your connection, you also have to make sure that it is a single-phase inverter or three-phase inverter.
A good heat sink with better heat dissipation along with the use of electrolytic capacitors can make a good inverter, almost a fit-and-forget kind of system which you should look for requiring no maintenance for years.
How to choose the right brand for Off-Grid Inverter?
If you are planning for an off-grid inverter, then you will mostly get Indian brands. The most popular ones are:
You will have a choice of going for solar only inverter or a solar hybrid inverter. A solar hybrid inverter can charge batteries using the power from the grid when solar panels are not able to produce enough electricity.
How to choose other accessories?
Other accessories needed for a Solar Panel system are:
- AJB (Array Junction Boxes) – for protection as there is no earthing.
- AC and DC distribution boxes – for protection as there is no earthing.
- DC Cables
While buying these, just make sure that you go for good brands like Havells, Finolex, Polycab or any top Indian brand that makes products as per BIS standards.
How to choose the right implementation partner?
After you have chosen the right set of products that you need, choose an implementation partner or system integrator that can provide you with the kind of things you need. As of date, there are 9000 channel partners listed by MNRE that can do system implementation for you. A list of the same is available on this MNRE link. MNRE has categorized the channel partners into tiers based on their financial capability. So, if you look at the list in the link mentioned above, you will find categories like 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B written against the names of channel partners. This category is based on the financial strength of the company. Although, it is difficult to comment as to who can get the work done properly, this categorization can help you narrow your choices down a bit. Make sure that you ask the right questions to the system integrator to understand what you are getting. Also, understand the warranties that you get with the system integrator.
How to get Subsidies on Solar PV Rooftop?
As per the MNRE notice, CFA (Central Finance Assistance) or subsidy is available for Solar Rooftop PV implementations. The CFA is 30% of the benchmark cost for general category states/UTs and 70% of the benchmark cost for North Eastern states including Sikkim, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The benchmark cost and CFA levels are revised by MNRE periodically.
The present benchmark costs as fixed by MNRE are – Rs 100/Wp for projects upto 100 kWp and Rs 90/Wp for projects between 100 kWp – 500 kWp. Please note, this scheme is currently available only upto 500 kWp projects.
The subsidy is available only to these categories:
- Residential: All types of residential buildings.
- Institutional: Schools, health institutions including medical colleges and hospitals, educational institutes (both public and private), R&D institutions, etc.
- Government Buildings: Both Central and State Government Buildings.
- Social Sector: Community Center, Welfare homes, old age homes, orphanages, etc.
How do you apply for Subsidy? The process of application for subsidy is quite straightforward. First thing you need to do is contact your State Nodal Agency.
MNRE has set up a Nodal Agency (or Energy Development Agency) in every state, for instance, in Maharashtra, it is MEDA (Maharashtra Energy Development Agency), in Andhra Pradesh it is NEDCAP (Non-Conventional Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh (NEDCAP) Ltd.). The list of all State Nodal Agencies and their contact address/phone/website is available on this link on MNRE website: http://mnre.gov.in/related-links/contact-us/state-nodel-agencies/
To get subsidy, you have to apply for it with State Nodal Agency with all the relevant details about the project. The details include all technical and financial aspects of the project (a sample form available on this link). You must take help from your system integrator to fill in all the details (you will get all the technical data about panels, inverters, etc). Once you fill-in appropriate details, you need to put in an application with the State Nodal Agency. The agency will evaluate the proposals and estimate the level of subsidy that can be provided to a project. After the nodal agency evaluation, the project is forwarded to MNRE for final consideration and approval.
Note: If you are planning to get a subsidy, your project should not start execution till there is approval from nodal agency. But then you should also not wait for the final subsidy to be disbursed as it can take quite a lot of time. So your project execution starts after nodal agency approval and before MNRE makes the final decision.
Few Important Points regarding Subsidy
There are a few important points that one should be aware of before thinking about subsidy:
- Although the CFA is stated as 30%, it keeps changing and for individual projects, the level of CFA is determined by State Nodal Agency and approved by MNRE. So it may not be 30% in reality.
- There is a long queue for getting subsidy in almost every state. In fact in many states not even a single penny of subsidy has been disbursed for quite some time. MNRE specifically states that people should not wait for a subsidy before implementing a project as you never know how long it will take.
- As there is a queue, in many places there are agents who claim that they can get you a subsidy. Please deal with them at your own choice.
- Also as there is a long queue, MNRE uses a priority list to make the final approval. All social sector projects, government projects and institutional projects may take priority over a project from a rich and affluent upper-middle-class residential society.
- As mentioned earlier, your panels have to be Made in India to get a subsidy. You may compromise a bit on efficiency in such a case. You have to determine if taking a subsidy or getting more output works for you.
Is there any other financial assistance?
To provide financial support to Solar Rooftop projects, the government has also initiated few programs that can be availed to fund their solar PV projects. Some of these programs include:
- IREDA (or Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency) can provide loans to system integrators at a concessional rate of 9.9% to 10.75%
- Banks can extend the same rate available for a home loan as a home improvement loan to help homeowners install a solar PV plant. Most of the Public Sector Banks have issued notices to their branches for the same.
How about Private, Commercial and Industrial Buildings?
If you have a private, commercial or industrial building and you want to set up a solar PV rooftop system, then you are not eligible for Subsidy. But, you are eligible for Accelerated Depreciation Benefits. The accelerated depreciation available currently is 80% in a year (there are talks about it coming down to 40%).
In general, for any industry, typically 15% depreciation can be claimed for any capital expense (like plants and machinery), which means if you make a capital investment in any year, you can claim 15% depreciation in value to claim tax benefit. However, in the case of Solar PV rooftop, the same is 80% in a year. Which means, in approx 4 years you completely depreciate the whole value of the project.
NetMetering and Big Changes that made Grid-Connected real
Now, you might wonder – why would your electricity distribution company (a company that makes money by selling you electricity) want to buy electricity from you? Well, this is where the government comes in and the policy introduced by the government helps. India has a severe electricity shortage in several parts of the country. We need electricity not only to cover the shortage but also for a number of other infrastructural requirements. Sunlight is a free resource, and fortunately, it’s plentiful in our country. Thus, to make good use of the free resource, i.e. solar energy, the Government has started implementing policies which allow each and every individual house or building that has plenty of open space to become a producer of electricity. So, it’s due to the Government’s mandate that your electricity distribution company has to buy electricity produced by your own system.
Because of such policy implementations, you can now have “Grid Connected” Solar PV systems that are quite economical (no battery costs).
How does the new policy work?
In every discussion related to “Grid Connected” Solar PV system, you shall hear a lot of these two terms: “Net-Metering” or “Gross Metering”. Let’s take look at both of these:
Net-Metering: In this system, you have a single new bi-directional meter. When you consume electricity from the grid (or your electricity supply), the meter readings will move forward; but, when you produce electricity and send it to the grid, the meter readings shall move backwards. Suppose you use 10 units of electricity in a day and produce 8 units, your meter will show a reading of 2 units. And if you use 10 units of electricity and produce 12 units, then your meter will show -2 units. Your bill at the end of the month will be based on net units consumed/produced. If you generate extra electricity in any month, the surplus is carried over to the next month and netted. At the end of a year, if your total production is more than what you consumed, then you will get paid for the next surplus electricity produced at the cost decided by your state’s electricity regulatory commission.
Gross-Metering: In this system, there are two meters: one measures your electricity consumption and the other measures your electricity production. Consequently, you get two different bills: one for consumption and others for production. There is no change in the way your consumption is billed (as it happens today), but you get paid separately for the electricity you produce. Again, the cost of electricity that you are paid is decided by the state’s electricity regulatory commission. There is only one reason for a person to go for gross-metering is that there is no limit of the installed capacity of this system and one can use its vacant plot/large rooftop for earning through gross metering.
How do the two differ? If you look at the way electricity is priced (check domestic tariff slabs), the price of electricity is lower when consumption is less and it is higher when the consumption is more. When you ‘net’ your consumption, you are billed at the lower slab of the tariff for the net consumption but also charged for the fixed cost of the connected load, duty etc. In case of gross metering, there is no limit of the installed capacity of the solar plant but you get the fixed unit rate for all the electricity produced based on the tariff decided by the Regulatory Commission of your state for that year.
Which states/UTs have this policy implemented?
As of date, 30 states and UTs in India have implemented the policy to support “Grid Connected” Solar PV. For now, we’ve just put in the links to their policy and tariff documents (as sourced from MNRE website) in the following table, but we will try to explain each of them in our future posts.
You can further check on the latest policy and updates in your state by checking the website of your state’s renewable energy development authority as mentioned in the list below:
|Sl. No.||States||Renewable Energy Development Authority Website|
Do I need approvals from my electricity distribution company for grid-connected system?
You certainly need to take approvals from your electricity distribution company. This is because they are the ones who shall purchase electricity generated by your system. Before you start your project, you have to submit a form with your electricity distribution company (which can be done either online or offline). In the form, you will have to list out all the technical details of your PV project, along with your electricity bills and other relevant documents. The electricity distribution company will also do its feasibility study before you go ahead and install the system.
Once the system is installed, the electricity distribution company will sign an agreement with you which is called a “Power Purchase Agreement” or PPA. This agreement will lay out the terms and conditions at which the electricity distribution company will purchase electricity from you. This should be in line with the terms set up by the State Electricity Regulatory Commission and will lay down the terms of purchase.
Once everything is set up (from the system’s perspective) and the PPAs are signed, your electricity distribution company will install the “Net Meter” in your premise. Please note that your old meter may give way to this new meter (if you have a net-metering arrangement). If you have gross metering, then you will get an additional meter. Your system will start functioning once everything is set and connected.
How do the cost and economics work out for a grid-connected system?
Just like any other appliance, you will get products with varying costs in the market for Solar PV as well. But then just like any other appliance, you have to be aware of the quality of the product so that your expectations are matched with the product’s performance. Tier 1 manufacturers (the ones listed above on this page) would be expensive, but their products will perform better over a longer period, whereas the cheaper ones may not perform so well over time. The benchmark costs of Solar PV rooftop “Grid Connected” system has varied between Rs 75,000/kWp and Rs 1,00,000/kWp in the last few years. In fact, if you check the prices right now, the quotations that you would get would vary between Rs 60,000/kWp and Rs 90,000/kWp (for decent quality systems).
If your connected load is 5 kW and you have enough space to install a 5 kWp system, then it would cost roughly Rs 3,75,000. Typically a 1 kWp panel would generate about 1300-1400 units of electricity per year (it will be more on days with abundant light and less on days with low light). So a 5 kWp system would offset about 6500 units from your electricity bill every year. If your average per-unit cost is Rs 7 then that works out to savings of Rs 45,500 per year. At Rs 7 per unit, you will recover the cost of the project in 8 years (without subsidy) and in 5 years (with 30% subsidy). If the cost per unit is more, then the cost recovery will be faster.
You can visit MNRE website for a calculator to check the ROI for a roof-top solar system for each state.
Here is a quick video that can guide you on Rooftop Solar PV buying in India:
About the Author:
Abhishek Jain is an Alumnus of IIT Bombay with almost 10 years of experience in corporate before starting Bijli Bachao in 2012. His passion for solving problems moved him towards Energy Sector and he is keen to learn about customer behavior towards Energy and find ways to influence the same towards Sustainability. More from this author.