California ranks #2 in America for savings from installing solar panels on your home

Solar power in California

California is one of the best places in the nation to install solar panels.

A combination of good average sun exposure, expensive utility electricity rates, the solar tax credit and the strong net metering law means that homeowners can get an excellent return by installing residential solar panels here.


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Solar power in California

California solar power facts


Average cost of a 5kw solar power system in 2019
Price shown before incentives

6 Years 7 Months

Average payback time


Average lifetime savings
Price shown after repayments of capital


levelized cost of solar energy


If you don't get solar
The forecast average utility price over the next 25 years


Annual power production

Cash flow graph based on cash purchase of a 6.06kW system

This 6.06kW system would offset 100% of your energy usage if your typical monthly bill in California is $171, however your situation may vary so try our solar calculator to get a result tailored to you.

Solar companies in California that provide pricing through the Solar-Estimate marketplace


Best solar offers currently available in your city

Solar calculator and quote comparison tool

Compare solar quotes from the top solar companies in California

How much do solar panels cost in California

$3.75 per watt

Cash purchased solar system
Before 30% solar tax credit

$4.17 per watt

Financed solar system
Before 30% solar tax credit

17.3¢ cents/kWh

Av. 15 year term, 2.5% price escalator

What are the pros and cons of buying solar panels for your home in California

The biggest advantages in California for installing solar panels in the 1 for 1 net metering law and the 30% federal tax credit. If you're a California home owner you will be kicking yourself you didn't get solar with these incentives around.

To be honest there aren't that many disadvantages to installing solar panels in California. These incentives should be used while they're still here! If you own a home in California you will be kicking yourself in a few years if you didn't install solar panels while these great incentives are still around.

Enter your details to calculate the cost and savings you are likely to get from installing solar panels for your home.

Best brands of solar panels

To find the best brands of solar panels you can use America's most trusted solar panel comparison and reviews website, SolarReviews.

However, reviews of solar panels can be a bit meaningless because most consumer owners have not had any issues and so whilst solar company reviews are very important when choosing solar installers they are of less use when choosing solar panels.

For more information to help you make an informed decision about this topic, I would recommend this article about buying solar panels.


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How much electricity will solar panels produce in California

Solar panels produce different amounts of energy in different locations.

Around the Sacramento area solar panels installed on a south facing 29 degree pitch roof will typically produce:

1,550kWh per year per 1kw of peak DC (direct current) capacity

For more information about how your location, roof direction and roof tilt affects solar power production use the solar panels calculator and enter your zipcode below.


See how much electricty your solar panels could produce

I want to buy a solar panel kit and install it myself

What rebates, solar tax credits and other solar incentives are available in California

What solar incentives and tax credits are available in California?

The main incentives to install solar in California is the 30% federal solar tax credit and the net metering law.

The upfront utility based incentives from each of the main publically owned utilities are now exhausted for residential customers and almost exhausted for commercial customers.

However, the investment case for buying solar panels for your home has never been stronger because reductions in the price of solar systems has more than compensated for the loss of some upfront rebates.



Net Metering in California

The California Public Utility Commission voted by a narrow majority of 3 to 2 to extend the ability of residential energy customers in California to be credited with full retail rates for excess solar power that they generate and feed back into the grid at times when the electrical loads in their house are less than their solar production.

Whilst this didn't affect people that had already had installed solar panels on their homes in California it was a massive win for the millions of Californian homeowners who are yet to install the solar panels.

The reason net metering law is so important is that solar systems by their nature produce most power in the middle of the day when most homeowners are at work and using little power.

This is a very generous incentive and should not be taken for granted.

It means you can now install solar panels and sign a contract with your utility (known as a net metering agreement) where the utility guarantees to pay you a retail rate for exported solar power, usually for 10 or 15 years.

Each of the major utilities may offer slightly different net metering contracts but they are similar in nature.

To see more visit



Is a purchase, lease or PPA agreement best?

Generally speaking you will make the largest savings over time if you purchase your solar panels outright yourself (whether you use cash you have at hand or finance secured against your home).

However this is not always the case.

If you are in a position where you do not have a federal income tax liability then you will not be able to take advantage of the 30% federal solar tax credit.

In this case you may be better off with a third party owned solar lease where the solar company retains the right to this tax credit.



What is the payback period from installing solar panels in California?

The payback period from installing solar panels in California is usually between 4 and 8 years depending on the size of the system, the brand of solar panels you buy, the amount you were previously paying for power and whether you lease or buy your system.

This represents an excellent low risk investment.



Why analysis of solar savings and payback periods can be difficult in California

As California has net metering then the value of a solar power system is simply the annual production multiplied by the rate for power.

However, working this out can be difficult for two reasons.

Firstly for people on time of use metering the value power value changes with the time of day that the solar power is generated.

The second issue relates to the tiered rates of power prices.

With most utilities the amount you are charged for power increases as your usage increases.

California Solar Calculator

Regardless of what you want to know about the economics of installing solar panels for your home or business in California we have a solar calculator that can show you exactly the information your require.


You can either use our full monty solar calculator that shows you everything you could possibly want to know or you can use one of our range of smaller calculators for specific solar calculations that focus on providing you only with the specific information you require.



What you can find out about installing solar panels in California using our full monty solar calculator

This solar calculator requires you to input your address, utility company, your average monthly power spend - It tells you:

If you want to see all of the above but also see live pricing, the three best solar deals available in your city and get binding quotes from each of these solar companies then use this solar panels calculator. This calculator requires you to also input your name and contact details because most of our 200+ installer partners will only authorize the sharing of their live solar pricing where we have validated that you are a real homeowner with a home in their service area. We respect the privacy of your data and only share your contact details with the solar companies you ask us to get binding quotes from.


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Solar calculator

Going solar in California

Check out all of the ways energy providers of California can help you be more energy efficient and save money.

The following programs are available:
Find your local rebates and incentives

Your city may have further incentives to offer. Please keep in mind that the best source of up-to-date information on incentives are the solar installers who specialize in your area.

Useful links

Solar panel installation in California