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How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in California? A 2024 Price Breakdown

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cost of solar panels

California, the most populous state in the U.S., has long been a leader in renewable energy, particularly solar power. With a favorable climate and a wealth of solar incentives, it’s no surprise that many California homeowners have already made the leap to solar energy.

But what is the cost of solar panels in California?

Average Cost of Solar Panels in California

When considering the transition to solar energy, one of the first questions that comes to mind is: How much do solar panels cost in California?

According to recent data, the average cost of a solar panel installation in California ranges from $12,622 to $17,078. On a cost-per-watt ($/W) basis, a solar panel installation in California ranges from $2.52 to $3.42.

Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to pay for a solar panel system in the sunny state:

  • Average System Cost: For a standard 5 kilowatt (kW) system, you’re looking at an average cost of around $17,350. This figure is a starting point, as the final price can fluctuate based on factors like your home’s energy needs and the type of solar panels you choose.
  • Cost-Per-Watt: The average cost-per-watt in the U.S. hovers around $2.86 before incentives. This cost can vary in California, reflecting the state’s specific market conditions.
  • Yearly Savings: With California’s high electric rates, going solar can lead to significant savings. On average, you could see more than $1,700 in energy bill reductions each year.
  • Maintenance and Warranties: Solar panel maintenance is minimal, and with many systems coming with 25-year warranties, you can expect reliable performance for years to come.

>>Check the best solar deals on Nature’s Generator

What Affects the Cost of Solar Panels in California?

Several factors determine the cost of solar panels in California. Let’s break these down:

Solar System Size

The size of your solar system is one of the primary factors determining the cost of solar panels in California.

The larger the system, the more solar panels it contains; thus, the higher the price. However, a larger system also produces more electricity, potentially saving you more money in the long run.

Solar Equipment

The type of solar panels and inverters you choose for installation can also influence the cost. High-efficiency solar panels and top-quality inverters may be more expensive, but they can produce more electricity and last longer, providing better value over time.

Solar Incentives

Various solar incentives can significantly reduce the cost of your solar panel installation. The Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) can reduce costs by 30%, and other local and state incentives can provide additional savings.

Installation Company

The solar company you choose for your installation can also affect cost. Different companies offer different prices, and the quality of service can vary significantly from one company to another.

Permits

Permitting costs can also affect the total cost of installing solar panels. The process involves obtaining permission from local authorities to install solar panels, which may include fees.

>>Check the best solar deals on Nature’s Generator

How To Save Money on Solar Panels in California

Saving money on solar panels in California is a smart move that can make this green investment even more attractive. Here’s how you can reduce the cost of your solar panel installation:

Leverage Tax Credits and Rebates

  • Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC): You can deduct 30% of the installation cost from your federal taxes, providing substantial savings.
  • California Solar Initiative (CSI): Get cash back based on your system’s size and your property’s location, which directly lowers your upfront costs.

Explore Financing Options

  • Solar Loans: Various financial institutions offer solar loans, enabling you to spread the cost over time without needing a hefty initial outlay.
  • Solar Panel Leasing: Opt for a monthly fee to use a solar energy system owned by a third party, avoiding the cost of purchasing the system outright.

Smart Shopping and Installation Choices

  • Shop Around: Get multiple quotes, as prices can be up to 20% lower when comparing offers from different companies.
  • Choose Wisely: Selecting the right installer is key. Consider reputable California installers like Nature’s Generator or Sun Gold Power to ensure quality and reliability.
  • Size and Quality Matter: The average installation cost is around $2.74 per watt, but this varies with system size, equipment quality, and installation complexity. Tailor your system to balance your needs with your budget.

>>Check the best solar deals on Nature’s Generator

Federal and State Incentives

Now that you have the answer to “How much do solar panels cost in California?” you’ll be pleased to know that state and federal incentives can significantly reduce your investment. Let’s explore these incentives and see how they can make solar more affordable for you:

State-Level Incentives

  • Disadvantaged Communities – Single-Family Solar Homes (DAC-SASH) Program: This initiative targets homeowners in underprivileged areas, offering financial assistance to reduce the cost of solar panel systems and support job training in the solar industry.
  • Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP): Get a rebate for installing energy storage systems. The amount you can save depends on the size of the system you install.
  • Equity Resilience Rebate Program: Designed for low-income households, especially those in high-fire-risk areas or affected by Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events, this program helps lower the costs of solar systems.
  • Active Solar Energy System Property Tax Exemption: Enjoy the benefits of increased home value from your solar installation without worrying about a higher property tax bill.
  • Local Rebates: Some local authorities, like the Rancho Mirage Energy Authority, offer rebates such as a $500 incentive to cover permit fees, while the Sacramento Municipal Utility District provides rebates for solar energy battery storage if you’re part of the My Energy Optimizer program.
  • Solar Rights and Easement Laws: Rest assured that your right to install solar panels is protected in California, and homeowners associations cannot prevent you from going solar.

Federal Incentives

  • Federal Solar Tax Credit: With this credit, you can reduce the cost of your solar panel installation by 30%. It’s important to note that this benefit does not apply if you lease your solar system or enter into a power purchase agreement (PPA).

Net Metering and Its Impact

Understanding the implications of the new Net Energy Metering (NEM) 3.0 policy for solar panel costs in California is vital to making an informed decision about your solar investment. Here’s what you need to know about how the updated net metering system could impact you:

  • Reduced Compensation for Excess Energy: With NEM 3.0, the credit you receive for the extra electricity your solar panels send back to the grid is now significantly lower, reduced by about 75%. This means that the financial return from your solar panels will be less than what homeowners received under the previous NEM policy.
  • Impact on New Solar Installations: The changes specifically affect new solar panel systems installed after April 15, 2023. If you already have solar panels installed, you’re in luck; your system is grandfathered under the previous, more favorable net metering terms.
  • Encouragement of Home Battery Usage: The policy shift is designed to promote the use of home batteries. These allow you to store the surplus solar energy generated, which can then be used during peak hours when energy from the grid is more expensive.

However, the cost of adding a battery storage system, typically over $15,000 before installation, may not be feasible for every homeowner. Presently, fewer than 10% of new solar buyers choose to add storage in California.

  • Extended Payback Period: The reduced compensation rate under NEM 3.0 could prolong the time it takes for your solar panels to pay for themselves, potentially stretching from the previous six years to 10 years or more.

Who Are the Top Solar Installers in California?

There are many reputable solar installers offering some of the best solar panels in California. Here are some of the top ones:

1. Nature’s Generator – Best Solar Company in California Overall

Nature’s Generator offers a wide range of solar products and has a reputation for high-quality installations and excellent customer service.

Why Choose Nature’s Generator?

  • Versatility: Offers a range of portable solar power solutions and can be tailored to different needs.
  • Smart Technology: Integrates smart battery technology to optimize energy storage and usage.
  • Reputation: Known for innovative designs, Nature’s Generator has garnered attention for its commitment to providing practical, user-friendly solar products.

>>Check the best solar deals on Nature’s Generator

2. Sun Gold Power – Best Range of Solar Energy Products

Sun Gold Power provides a broad range of solar energy products, including solar panels, inverters, and batteries. They also offer installation services.

Why Choose Sun Gold Power?

  • Performance: Delivers high-performing solar panels focusing on maximizing efficiency and reliability.
  • Quality Focus: Reputation for durable products that consistently meet high standards for solar energy generation.

>>Check the best solar deals on Sun Gold Power

3. Pecron Trading – Best for High-Capacity Portable Power Solutions

Pecron Trading specializes in high-capacity portable power solutions, making them an excellent choice for those who need portable or backup power.

Why Choose Pecron Trading?

  • Affordability: Provides cost-effective solar generators, making sustainable options more accessible to a broader audience.
  • Commitment to Accessibility: Aims to bring renewable energy solutions to more homes without compromising quality.

>>Check the best solar deals on Pecron Trading

4. Bluetti US – Best Solar Company in California for High Usage Needs

Bluetti US offers high-capacity solar systems designed for high usage needs, making them an excellent choice for businesses or homes with high electricity needs.

Why Choose Bluetti US?

  • Advanced Battery Technology: Specializes in state-of-the-art battery storage systems to ensure your home stays powered even when the sun isn’t shining.
  • Innovation: Stays at the forefront of solar technology, offering cutting-edge solutions for energy storage.

>>Check the best solar deals on Bluetti US

Are Solar Panels Worth It in California?

The financial benefits of solar panels in California can be significant. Thanks to the state’s sunny climate and solar incentives, solar panels can pay for themselves in just a few years. After that, all the electricity they produce is essentially free.

Moreover, solar panels can increase the value of your home. A study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory found that home buyers are willing to pay more for homes with solar installations.

How Much Could You Save by Going Solar in California?

The amount of money you can save by going solar in California depends on your current electricity usage and the size of your solar panel system. On average, solar panel owners in California save between $40,555 and $54,868 over 20 years.

Conclusion: How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in California?

How much do solar panels cost in California in 2024? It seems the average cost for a full solar panel installation is between $12,000 to $17,000 on average.

Solar panels can be a worthwhile investment in California. The state’s sunny climate and the various financial incentives available can make solar panels a cost-effective solution for many homeowners.

However, it’s essential to consider all factors, including the cost, potential savings, and the quality of the solar installation company, before making a decision.

 

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Polly Hyson

polly@paradisemedia.com

Polly Hyson is a talented writer and editor with over a decade of experience. She is competent in a number of niches but specializes in consumer health topics. When not writing, she’s probably traveling, swimming, or doing Yoga.
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Shannon Ancrum

shannon@paradisemedia.com

Shannon Ancrum is a freelance writer and editor specializing in content related to the healthcare and holistic wellness industry. She’s gifted at unraveling complex medical jargon and making it crystal-clear for the mere mortal. When she’s not traveling the world, you can find her crafting compelling blogs and articles for alternative health and wellness businesses.

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