California is well-known for being an extremely earth-friendly state with all kinds of environmentally conscious initiatives. If you live in California and you’re reading this article, chances are, you’re interested in being more earth-friendly too. Installing solar panels is a great place to start. Nearly 20% of California’s power already comes from the sun, so why not help to push that up over 20% by switching your home to solar?

The obvious first question to ask when considering solar panel installation is: How much will it cost? That is what we are here to find out! We’re going to provide you with some estimates as well as some general information that will help you overcome any hesitancy you have about switching to solar.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost In California?

The average cost of installing solar power in California is $2.85 per watt. That comes out to approximately $14,250 for an average-sized solar system. When you consider the cost of electricity in many California cities, you can see how this would be a good investment. Not sure yet? Keep reading.

The cost of a full solar system can vary, depending on a wide range of factors, but here is a simple overview of the average cost of a few different sizes of solar installations.

System Size Cost Based on Average
3 kW $8,550
5 kW $14,250
8 kW $22,800
10 kW $28,500

There is also a Federal Investment Tax Credit for installing solar panels. This credit deducts 26% of the installation cost from your taxes, helping to ease that initial cost. This is what the prices would look like after the tax credit:

System Size Cost Based on Average With Tax Credit
3 kW $6,327
5 kW $10,545
8 kW $16,872
10 kW $21,090

Again, these are just estimates, but you can see that the tax credit makes a substantial difference, especially as you get into the larger systems. If the system size you’re looking for isn’t on this list, check out our solar panel cost calculator for a quick estimate.

What Can Affect The Price of A Solar Installation?

If you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of home solar systems, you may be surprised by how much goes into them. A quality system will include solar panels and mounting frames, all required wiring, an inverter, a charge controller, and a solar battery bank.

You may also have to purchase installation permits as well as have an official inspection completed before you are able to install and use your solar system. Be sure to discuss any required permits or inspections with your installer in advance so you’re not taken by surprise.

Here are a few more factors that can affect the cost of your solar installation:

How Much Electricity Will You Need Your System To Produce?

The most important thing to know is how much power you actually need and how much of that power you want your solar system to provide.

You know what this means, it’s time to figure out how much electricity you use, so dig out those electricity bills. Preferably, you should collect the bills from the last twelve months, add up all the totals, and divide that number by twelve to obtain your monthly average. If you don’t keep your bill statements, or you’re earth-friendly and paperless, you should be able to get copies either through the electric company or their website.

Now that you have your average, decide how much of that average you would like to replace with solar. Of course, we all want to say 100%, but sometimes that isn’t feasible. Not to worry, you can install a smaller system now and add to it later, just make sure you discuss this with your installer before you start so they can plan for future system expansion.

What Type Of Panels Do You Want?

For all the solar newbies out there, this may be a challenging question. Don’t stress, your installer will be able to help you find the right type of panels for you. If you’re still wondering about different types, here’s a quick overview.

There are two main types of solar panels: polycrystalline and monocrystalline. Polycrystalline panels are less expensive because they are slightly older technology. Unfortunately, they are also less efficient. There are times when polycrystalline panels may work better for you, but nowadays, most people choose monocrystalline. Monocrystalline panels may be a bit more expensive, but they make up for that with increased efficiency.

The manufacturer of your solar panels could also affect the cost of your system. Just like everything else, bigger names often come with bigger price tags. In the same turn, you get what you pay for, so try to find a balance. Many solar installers will have a few options to choose from, just be cautious.

Keep in mind that if the price is surprisingly high or oddly low, you may want to get a second opinion. You don’t want to overpay, but you don’t want to end up with a low-quality system either. Look for something that falls close to the state average and you should be good to go.

Check Out The Incentives!

The 26% Federal Incentive Tax Credit is great, but why stop there? Like we said earlier, California is all about green energy so it’s no surprise that they would offer more solar power incentives than most states. They offer a number of incentives that can help you pay for your solar system if you are low income.

They also offer a property tax exemption for your solar system. This means that your property taxes won’t go up even though the value of your home could go up as much as 4.1% when you install solar.

Will I Truly Save Money By Switching To Solar?

Now to answer the real question, will you truly save money when you switch to solar?

Yes, yes you will.

California is the perfect state for solar panels, with over 75% of the year consisting of sunny days. More sunny days equals more solar energy. You may have noticed that solar installations are a bit more expensive in California than in other states, but they pay for themselves just as quickly.

These systems are designed to last 25 to 30 years at pique efficiency, with the average system paying for itself in approximately 6 to 7 years. That leaves you with 18 to 24 years of basically free electricity. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area that allows net metering, you could potentially even make money from your solar system.

Not ready to invest in a full solar system? Don’t worry, there are all kinds of ways that you can take advantage of free, clean solar power. You can use solar power to light your patio, keep cool, and even charge your phone. Check out some of our other reviews for more earth-friendly ideas.

The Cost of Solar Panels In California

The cost of solar panel installation in California is slightly above the nationwide average, but that is understandable. The cost of living is higher as is the minimum wage, plus solar power is much more popular in California which could also contribute to the cost.

No matter the cause of the slightly higher price tag, you shouldn’t let it dissuade you from choosing solar. Solar power technology has improved immensely over the last 10 years making a solar system a good choice no matter where you live, but it is an especially good investment for those who live in sunny California.