San Diego is one of the BEST zones in the U.S. for installing renewable solar home energy systems.
Since 2015, the city has been committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2035. Over the years, this climate plan has evolved to include initiatives that simultaneously increase economic opportunities and protect vulnerable areas from threats due to extreme climate factors.
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More than a proactive city-wide strategy to address climate action, implementing some of the individual objectives also offers homeowners great opportunities to recoup a portion of their solar installation costs.
As you research how much of your own “green” you’ll need to invest to go green with a home renewable energy system, it’s important to know what you should expect to see on project bids.
So, if you want to know how much it costs to install solar panels in San Diego, first you need to break it down into the following elements:
- Inspection costs
- Material and component prices
- Optional additions
Initial Consultation, Inspection and Permitting
No legitimate company will charge you for coming to your home and providing an estimate for a solar panel installation. That part is free, and it will give you a good idea of some basics, like:
- What size installation do you need to maximize your savings? All systems cost a few thousand dollars at least, but the larger the system, the more excess energy you’ll need to generate to offset the cost.
- How will the system work with your home? While both rooftop and separate installations are possible, your solar consultant will also likely plan a system to maximize collection, which can depend on your roof’s slope, your neighborhood, and other factors.
- What’s the cost of add-on features? Batteries and power walls allow homeowners to store energy during cloudy and stormy periods, maximizing the value of their investment.
A consultant with a reputable solar installation company will also help you understand what permitting and other government fees are necessary, as well as any potential issues with the municipal code or your homeowner’s association.
Panels and Brackets
The majority of the cost for installing solar panels in San Diego is that of the individual photovoltaic (PV) panels themselves.
Several different brands manufacture PV panels, including LG Solar, Panasonic, Timberline, and many others. As with many other home appliances, a qualified installer usually has established relationships with manufacturers they trust for their reliability and quality. Each manufacturer differs in pricing, but paying a dollar or so per watt for each panel would not be out of line with the current market in 2022.
The mounting system used to install your panels also contributes to the overall cost. Depending on your roofing material, an installer may be able to use brackets that clamp onto seams in your roof, or they may use a rail system to mount panels on the roof somewhat independently of its design. The latter is popular for installing solar panels on flat or low-slope roofs.
No matter which mounting system is required for your installation, all are designed to maximize the panels’ ability to collect sunlight while simultaneously maintaining the roof’s integrity.
Solar panels can be fragile if handled improperly, and rooftop work requires installers take special care. Make sure you partner with trained and insured solar installation professionals for your solar installation.
Hiring professionals minimizes the risk of injury or damage, not just to the investment of a solar system, but to the roof itself.
A small roof leak can damage the roofing material itself, but it can also soak the insulation, rendering it completely useless. Make sure your installation partner has a widely known reputation for getting the work done correctly without damaging your roof.
With this in mind, San Diego homeowners should expect any home solar system installation quote to include a reasonable amount of labor. Additional hours for things like batteries, power walls, or specialized mounting systems are a normal part of the process.
Batteries and Powerwalls
Solar panels collect plenty of energy on sunny days, but what happens when sunlight is scarce? While SoCal is known for its sunshine and relatively low precipitation, more than 100 days each year see some degree of cloud cover. Installing an electrical battery storage unit as part of your renewable energy system can make a significant difference on darker days.
Unfortunately, battery technology remained fairly underdeveloped until the advent of Tesla’s electric vehicles (EVs). The company’s Powerwall technology offers on-demand energy storage and also includes intelligent controls for cycling, backup, and monitoring. Tesla certifies all installers to ensure they operate within company performance parameters.
Paying for Photovoltaic (PV) Systems
There are several different payment options to cover the installation costs for solar panels in San Diego, and it may help to think of them the same way you think about any major purchase, like a new vehicle. Homeowners can buy systems outright, they can choose from one of Baker Electric Home Energy’s financing options, or they can lease solar systems. The option that makes the most sense for you depends heavily on your credit history, among other factors.
With a solar panel lease agreement—usually 20-25 years—homeowners use whatever electricity the panels generate and pay their utility provider for any additional energy they need. At the end of the agreement, homeowners have the option to purchase the solar system or have it removed.
The exceptions to traditional purchase options for solar systems are power purchase agreements, or PPAs. These are agreements (also 20-25 years) between a solar installation company, a homeowner, and the local electrical utility. Although it sounds similar to a lease, with a PPA, the homeowner usually pays a set amount for electricity generated by solar panels, but does not pay for the system itself. The company providing the system in a PPA shoulders the liability if it breaks down, but they are also entitled to collect any solar tax incentives.
Find Out How Much It Costs to Install Solar Panels for Your San Diego Home
The true cost to install solar panels in San Diego varies based on your needs, your existing home, roof, and budget. Work with experienced contractors who can provide a variety of solutions so that you have some flexible options to configure a fit for any situation.