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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California solar power facts
Average cost of a 5kw solar power system in 2018
Price shown before incentives
7 Years 1 Month
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 3.01kW system
This 3.01kW system would offset 100% of your energy usage if your typical monthly bill in California is $85, 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
Compare solar quotes from the top solar companies in California
Compare solar quotes from the top solar companies in California
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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
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.
Find local city information
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.
Unlock live pricing on the best solar panel brands!
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
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 www.cpuc.ca.gov/General.aspx?id=3800
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.
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:
- What size solar system do you need?
Answers the question of How many solar panels do I need?
- How many square feet of roof space you need for solar panels
- Solar electricity production in annual kWh (kilowatt hours) you can expect from your solar system in California
- The value of solar tax credits and other incentives you are entitled to based on the estimated size of system you need, your location and your utility provider.
- Likely cost based on an average of prices charged for solar systems of that size in the last year in California or Sacramento ;
- The likely payback period on your solar panels and your investment return.
- Your total lifetime solar savings based on each of the major solar finance options, a cash purchase, a cash purchase funded with a HELOC sol (home equity line of credit) and a zero down PPA or third party lease product.
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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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:
|Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit||Federal||Personal Tax Credit|
|Silicon Valley Power - Solar Electric Buy Down Program||Utility||Rebate Program|
|SMUD - PV Residential Retrofit Buy-Down||Utility||Rebate Program|
|Ukiah Utilities - PV Buydown Program $0.28/watt Ac conveted to $0.25/watt peak DC. Conversion will vary||Utility||Rebate Program|
|LADWP - Solar Incentive Program||Utility||Rebate Program|
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.