How much do solar panels cost in San Francisco, 2020?

San Francisco average:

$10,593 - $12,947*

Average cost per watt:

$2.39 - $2.92*

Estimate cost based on your location, roof, power usage and local pricing

*Cost data based on quotes for fully-installed solar panel systems submitted on our platform. Prices are shown after applying the 26% federal tax credit.

Solar panel cost San Francisco: Prices & data 2020

Updated: November 19, 2020

As of Nov 2020, the average cost of solar panels in San Francisco is $2.65 per watt making a typical 6000 watt (6 kW) solar system $11,770 after claiming the 26% federal solar tax credit now available.

This is higher than the average price of residential solar power systems across the United States which is currently $2.58 per watt.

Solar panel installation cost in San Francisco

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
System size* Avg cost
per watt
Avg system cost
(After tax credit)
show before tax
4kW $2.90 $8,586
5kW $2.78 $10,270
6kW $2.65 $11,770
7kW $2.62 $13,593
8kW $2.67 $15,781
9kW $2.57 $17,121
10kW $2.54 $18,825

San Francisco solar cost and savings calculator

Cheapest current offers on installed solar systems in San Francisco

10 best rated solar installers in San Francisco, 2020

How much do solar systems using the most common brands of solar panels cost in San Francisco in 2020?

Where there is no specific pricing information available for a brand then we have used state pricing data for that brand.

Table 2: Local solar panel manufacturers
Solar panel manufacturer Avg. cost per watt
Canadian Solar $2.47
LG Solar $2.95
SunPower $3.09
Panasonic $2.98
LONGi Solar $2.38

Tesla solar panel prices in California

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
Type Size Cost
Grid Tied 4.08 kW $8,160
Grid Tied 8.16 kW $16,320
Grid Tied 12.24 kW $24,480
Grid Tied 16.32 kW $32,640

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!

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.

See what solar incentives are available in your area by using our solar panel calculator.

How is the cost of solar panels offset by solar tax credits in San Francisco?

The cost of installing residential solar panels in San Francisco varies with the brand of solar panels and inverters you choose, the installation company you choose to install them, the relative ease or difficulty of installing solar panels on your home, and of course the amount of solar panels you need. The amount of solar panels you need is, in turn, related to your energy usage.

Are solar panels worth it in San Francisco 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 San Francisco.

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 San Francisco
System information Value
System Size (for 100% usage offset) 6.21 kW
Annual power generation 9,846 kWh
Pay-back time (assuming Cash purchase) 7.7 Years
Internal rate of return (IRR) on investment 9.8%
Gross cost $18,100
Total Upfront Incentives and Rebates -$4,707
Net Cost of System after rebated and incentives $13,396
Total Cost of Utility Power Avoided over 25 years $57,306

Please note that the investment return figures do not include the possible increase in property value

Related solar news

Have your say!