Solar panel installation cost in CA by system size in 2020
The size of a solar panel system also plays a role in how much the installation will cost.
Larger solar installations will typically have a lower cost per watt, because the panels can be purchased at a ‘bulk price’. However, these larger solar systems will still
have a higher total cost, because they are made up of more individual panels.
Table 2: Average cost of residential solar systems by system size
Calculating the cost of solar panels for your specific home in CA
Installation costs for solar will vary with your location and the size of your homes electricity bill. To be
meaningful solar cost information needs to be tailored to the individual situation. If you enter your details
into the solar calculator below you will get a solar cost and savings estimate and find out how much solar
panels will cost for your home based on current offers from your local solar installation companies.
Who are the best solar panel installation companies in California that offer the best deals on quality solar systems?
What other factors affect the cost of solar panels for your home?
The cost of solar doesn't just include the equipment and installation costs - it’s also made up of permitting costs, inspection costs, and installer profit margins.
Chart 2: What is the breakdown of cost in an installed residential solar system? (cents per watt)
These different components are what make the price of solar fluctuate between installations. Some of the factors that affect solar power system installation costs for
specific homes include:
The amount of electricity your home uses
Homes that use more electricity will need more solar panels to cover their energy needs.
Although solar panels do get cheaper on a per-watt basis, the overall cost of the
system will increase as more panels are added.
But, the higher a home’s energy usage, the more solar panels can save the homeowners on their energy bills.
The type of solar panels you buy
The price of solar panels can vary depending on the type of solar panels you choose.
There are two main types of solar panels for residential solar installations: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline solar panels tend to be more efficient
and more expensive than other solar panels. Polycrystalline panels have a lower efficiency rating and come at a lower price point.
The type of inverter you buy will also influence the cost of your solar system.
The quality of your solar installation
You may see some solar quotes with prices that seem too good to be true.
If you get quoted for a ridiculously cheap price, the installer might be using low-quality equipment or an unsustainable pricing model. You want to use a solar installer
that is charging enough so that they can stay in business - as you’ll be relying on them for the next 25 years!
It’s important to make sure that your installer is giving you the best quality at the best price possible. This is why getting multiple solar quotes is so important.
Federal, state, and local solar incentives
The overall cost of solar can be influenced by the solar incentives available.
Across the U.S., homeowners can apply for the federal solar tax credit, also called the ITC.
The solar tax credit makes installing solar more cost-effective by providing homeowners with a tax credit equal to 26% of the cost of their installed solar panel system.
Local solar tax incentives and rebates can end up saving homeowners thousands on a solar installation, especially when they’re used with the federal solar tax credit.
How does the cost of solar power compare to the electricity rates charged by PG&E? (per kWh)
Levelized cost of power from this typical solar system installed on a home in California over 25 years is
Average cost of utility power over 25 years (if you don't get solar) is
44.0 cents/kWh. This shows that
solar is a far cheaper way to power your home in California over the long term. The way we calculate the
average cost of utility power is by assuming the current PG&E electric rates will grow each year at a
compound rate of 3.5%. Actual inflation may be higher or lower than this but either way this analysis shows
that solar is a clearly better choice.
Are solar panels worth it in California in 2020
The table below shows the data extracted from a real life quote delivered through the SolarReviews marketplace
recently for a fairly typical home in California.
As you can see the payback period is relatively short and equates to a much better return on investment than
he historical returns that have been available from investing in things like shares or property.
Table 2: Cost, savings and payback period for an average residential solar system in California
System Size (for 100% usage offset)
Annual power generation
Pay-back time (assuming Cash purchase)
Internal rate of return (IRR) on investment
Total Upfront Incentives and Rebates
Net Cost of System after rebated and incentives
Total Cost of Utility Power Avoided over 25 years
Please note that the investment return figures do not include the possible increase in property value
Tesla is one of the only companies that displays their installed system pricing online. We are encouraging more solar companies to do the same. They have a very poor
reputation for customer service on reviews websites like ours however we applaud their move to bring pricing transparency to the residential solar industry.
Table 4: Tesla system prices
Note: Prices for installed Tesla systems are shown before the 26% federal solar tax credit.
Why solar panel cost should not be your only consideration when buying solar panels for your home
The most important difference between buying solar panels and any other purchase is that solar panels last 25-30 years. This is a long, long time and you will need customer service over all that time. The reviews below of the two largest corporate solar installation companies indicate larger corporate solar companies are not delivering this support to their customers.
We recommend you find a small or mid-size, local, family-owned solar company. These companies tend to care more about you and your specific job. You don't want to be on hold to a corporation's call center for the next 25 years!