How has the cost of solar panels in Los Angeles changed over 2018 and why?


Average price of solar systems in Los Angeles

January 2018

$3.82 per watt

October 2018

$3.45 per watt

Given the average system size in Los Angeles in October 2018 is 6kW is this means the average cost of solar is $25,457 before the 30% federal solar tax credit and $17,820 after claiming the federal solar tax credit.

This also means the cost has decreased by 9.68% during the course of 2018.

What's happening with solar in California?

Big changes are coming to solar in California.

Earlier this year, the California Energy Commission took a unanimous vote to declare that almost all new homes produced in California must be outfitted for solar power.

In short, these new standards mean that builders must make individual homes available with solar panels, or create centralized solar panel systems that serve multiple homes at once. These improvements will become part of the California Energy Commission's building codes beginning January 1, 2020.

How do the changes affect the overall solar outlook for Los Angeles?

These policy changes signal a big shift in California solar adoption. While California has always been a leader in U.S. solar adoption, these new policies are making the technology a necessity—not a luxury.

California law states that at least 50 percent of the state's electricity must come from non-carbon sources by 2030. As such, alternative energy companies (such as solar and wind) are booming.  There are 86,414 solar jobs in California alone, the highest of any state and accounting for over a third of all total U.S. solar employment.

For major California cities like Los Angeles, these shifts will be even more significant. We expect to see far bigger (and faster) adoption of solar in Los Angeles over the coming years.

Is Los Angeles a good city for solar power?

Just look at the data and see for yourself!

The Environment California Research and Policy Center recently put out a report called "Shining Cities 2018: How Smart Local Policies Are Expanding Solar Power in America". This rundown offered some great information about the current state of solar power in Los Angeles:

  • Los Angeles is the number one ranked city in the nation in overall solar power capacity;
  • The city's total solar capacity can power over 82,500 homes;
  • Of all cities reviewed, Los Angeles features the highest rooftop solar potential on small buildings.

Clearly, California is at the forefront of solar power adoption—and Los Angeles is leading the pack. Policymakers at both the state and local levels are increasing their support for solar solutions, so you can bet that it's a great city for solar installations.

What kind of rebates and incentives can I get for solar in Los Angeles?

Being an industry leader in solar adoption, California offers some great rebates and incentive programs for residential solar users. Let's list them here:

  • All Californians who buy their systems outright are eligible for the Federal Solar Tax Credit of 30 percent;
  • The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) offers a rebate of $0.25 per watt for solar customers;
  • Net metering programs that offer variable savings depending on use;
  • The Community Solar Program called Solar Rooftops, giving qualifying Los Angeles residents an annual $360 check or a $30 per month reduction in their utility bills;
  • For qualifying residents with smaller systems, there is the Expected Performance-Based Buydown (EPBB) program: A one-time, up-front payment based on the system's expected future performance.

As you can see, Los Angeles is highly supportive of solar investment! But how do these numbers affect your actual solar installation?

What's the current price of solar panels in Los Angeles?

So, how much do solar panels in Los Angeles cost in 2018?

The most current rate indicates that residential solar installations for Los Angeles will cost about $3.45 per watt before any rebates and incentives are applied. With this figure, we can calculate the up-front costs of different sizes of solar installations:

  • 3kW system will cost $10,890
  • 6kW system will cost $21,780
  • 10kW system will cost $36,300

But remember, these figures don't take into account the wealth of incentives and rebate programs offered to Los Angeles residents. You'll likely find that your own solar installation costs far less after these benefits are applied, depending on your needs.

Check out our solar calculator to get an estimate on how much your solar installation will cost.

How have the prices of solar panels changed in Los Angeles?

The price of solar installations in Los Angeles has certainly changed over the past few years, largely due to the increased competition in the area, the changing incentive structures offered by agencies, and differences in demand.

According to reports by the U.S. Department of Energy, solar installers in California have been slowly dropping their prices since 2013. While the exact pricing models depend on the installer chosen and the size of the system needed, it's clear that the increased investment in solar solutions has slowly worked to make the technology more affordable. By some estimations, the cost of solar panels has dropped by as much as 30 percent over the past few years.

In 2018, the average cost of residential solar installation in Los Angeles comes out to $3.63 per watt.

If you're curious about how many solar panels you'll need to cover your power bill, you can find out here.

Bottom line—is solar worth it in Los Angeles?

Absolutely. Los Angeles is unique in the solar ecosystem, and it offers some of the most competitive rebates and options for your residential solar installation. And as new laws are passed that further bring solar technology into the mainstream, we expect these benefits to increase.

If you're interested in getting started, you can use this tool to find local solar installers in your area.