Retail Price Index Methodology

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Solarbuzz tracks thousands of online retail prices for the primary components of a solar energy system, including solar modules, batteries, inverters and charge controllers (regulators).  Updated monthly, these indices provide a guide to overall price movement.

Solarbuzz also compiles pricing for the appropriate basket of products into a set of indices that track total system cost in terms of electricity measures (kilowatts hours) for residential, commercial and industrial installations. 

The majority (about 80%) of the companies surveyed are based in the United States, but most market globally.  European dealers are the second largest surveyed group.

  • The solar energy system product indices represent retail pricing for a single component.
  • Discounts are typically available for larger commercial customers, such as utilities and large OEMs.  Therefore typical discounting has been taken into account in the solar electricity system indices, but not in the product pricing data.
  • Solarbuzz tracks retail pricing data in US dollar and euro equivalents.  Only true price changes are accounted for in the data, not price changes due solely to currency exchange rate fluctuations.

Product pricing:

  • The module survey is weighted to take account of the fact that the majority of market demand occurs in the high power (>125 MW) module segment.
  • The module survey separates US-based from Europe-based dealers for the index computation.  All other product indices pool all dealers into a single index and converts to dollars or euros regardless of originating currency.

Solar electricity pricing:

  • The index calculation includes a number of elements.  Pricing covers the solar module and the other major components, other electrical components, assembly and installation costs, transportation and ongoing maintenance.  
  • System output is also a factor, including the system size in Watt peak, the life of the system and kilowatt hours generated.

Assumptions include:

  • Financing charges of 5% on the purchase of the system
  • Impact of sunlight conditions
  • The index is based on retail prices for system components but includes typical discounting for commercial and industrial system sizes.
  • Tax is excluded
  • Local government or utility incentives or subsidies are excluded 

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