2022 Solar Panel Cost in California (Guide to Local Prices & Savings)

In this EcoWatch guide on the cost of solar panels in California, you’ll learn:

  • How solar panel costs in California compare to the U.S. average
  • What Californians need to know about the Federal Solar ITC
  • Which local providers offer net metering programs
  • What affects solar prices for California residents

This guide has helped thousands of Californian homeowners produce clean, renewable energy, while saving them time and money in the process. Let’s get started!

Ecowatch Author Karsten Neumeister

By Karsten Neumeister, Solar Expert

Updated 5/18/2022

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Jump to Section:

  1. What Should Californians Know About Using Solar Energy?
  2. How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in California?
  3. What Determines Solar Panel Prices?
  4. What Solar Incentives Are Available to California Residents?
  5. FAQs: California Solar Panel Costs

If you want to jump straight to getting a quote for an installation, you can follow the links below to speak with a verified professional.

Best National Provider
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Nationwide Service

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SunPower

  • Pros icon Most efficient panels on the market
  • Pros icon National coverage
  • Pros icon Cradle to Cradle sustainability certification
  • Pros icon Great warranty coverage
  • Con icon Expensive
  • Con icon Customer service varies by local dealer

Services Offered

  • Service icon Solar Panels
  • Service icon Solar Batteries
  • Service icon EV Chargers
  • Service icon System Monitoring
Best for Leasing
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Sunrun

  • Pros icon Expansive service area
  • Pros icon Many financing options
  • Con icon Some reported issues with customer service
  • Con icon Some reported issues with door-to-door sales

Services Offered

  • Service icon Solar Panels
  • Service icon Solar Batteries
  • Service icon EV Chargers
  • Service icon Energy-Efficiency Upgrades
Great Warranty Coverage
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Regional Service

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Average cost

$$$$$

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NRG Clean Power

  • Pros icon Industry-leading warranty
  • Pros icon Outstanding customer service
  • Pros icon Representatives are experts on local policies
  • Con icon No leases or PPAs
  • Con icon Can be slightly expensive

Services Offered

  • Service icon Solar Panels
  • Service icon Solar Batteries
  • Service icon Solar Roof Shingles
  • Service icon EV Chargers
  • Service icon System Monitoring

solar panel cost in california

What Should Californians Know About Using Solar Energy?

With well over one million solar installations throughout the state, California has long been a leader in the U.S. solar industry. Recent legislation mandating that all new homes in the state must be built with solar panels likely leaves residents wondering about the cost of solar panels in California.

With ample sunshine, unnaturally high energy costs, ambitious climate goals and progressive leadership, California is ripe with solar potential. The preexisting availability of local solar providers in California allows solar customers the valuable opportunity to gather a large number of competing quotes, sometimes generating several thousand dollars worth of savings in the process.

Read More: Can Rooftop Solar Save California’s Open Space?

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in California?

As of 2021, our market research and data from top brands shows the average cost of solar panels in California is around $2.73 per watt. This means a 5-kW system would cost around $10,101 after the federal solar tax credit is applied.

Here’s how that price looks when applied to other solar panel system sizes:

Size of Solar Panel System California Solar Panel Cost Cost After Federal Tax Credit
5kW $13,650 $10,101
6kW $16,380 $12,121
7kW $19,110 $14,141
8kW $21,840 $16,162
9kW $24,570 $18,182
10kW $27,300 $20,202

It may surprise some readers that the cost of solar in California isn’t as low as in many other states, but keep in mind that the real value of solar comes relative to the price of energy in the state (and California’s is the highest in the country). All in all, solar power provides excellent value to California residents.

Knowing the average price of solar panels in California is $2.73 per watt, a savvy solar customer can compare quotes against this figure to ensure they receive the best value possible. You may find that popular national brands don’t have the lowest prices.

What Determines Solar Panel Prices?

The cost of solar panel installations in California largely depends on a homeowner’s location and energy needs. In most cases, areas with higher local electricity rates offer more value from solar panels. Here are other factors that influence installation costs.

Solar Equipment Costs

Similar to most modern technology, solar products and system costs vary greatly based on their quality, scale and included features. Some customers may be satisfied with a modest array of affordable solar panels and inverters, while others may prefer a system with premium panels, full-home backup power and an electric vehicle charger.

Solar Financing

The overall cost of solar depends significantly on whether a customer chooses to finance or purchase their system in cash. Paying upfront provides the best return on investment and fastest solar panel payback period, as there are no fees or interest charges associated with it.

The two most common solar financing options include taking out a loan and leasing solar panels. If paying with a solar loan, be careful of high interest rates and early repayment penalties and other fees. Homeowners who lease their panels or sign power purchase agreements (PPAs) enjoy little to no upfront costs, but solar leases provide the least amount of overall value.

Solar Installation Costs

With nearly 2,500 solar companies throughout California, prices can range significantly based on the installer. Larger solar providers like Sunrun offer the advantage of solar leases and quick installations. Local providers looking to get a leg up on their competition may offer lower prices to undercut the biggest names in the industry.

California solar panels in desert

What Solar Incentives Are Available to California Residents?

California’s progressive leadership has done good work in spurring investment in renewable, clean energy. However, given the state’s ambitious climate targets and the energy burden on most of its population, it could probably do more.

All homeowners are eligible for the federal solar tax credit, and the state offers several incentive programs and solar rebates aimed at further increasing access to reliable, affordable solar panels. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), and Southern California Edison (SCE) are three local utility companies that provide solar rebates and funding to assist with the upfront costs.

Let’s take a closer look at the solar incentives available to California residents.

Federal Solar Tax Credit

All California residents are eligible for the federal solar investment tax credit, or ITC, for installing photovoltaic (PV) solar panels and any other eligible solar equipment. Any reputable solar installer will assist in the process of claiming the ITC on your federal tax returns. Claiming the ITC deducts 26% of the total cost of your solar installation from the taxes you owe.

To be eligible for the solar tax credit, homeowners must own the solar energy system, either having paid for it in cash or by taking out a solar loan. Homeowners who lease residential solar panels are not eligible to claim the ITC.

California Net Metering Programs

Net energy metering (NEM), or net metering, allows customers to feed the surplus energy generated by their solar panels back to their local power grid in exchange for energy credits from their utility company. As most solar energy systems generate more energy than can be used during the day, this incentive provides homeowners additional savings on their electricity bills and lowers the demand for grid-supplied electricity in the region.

California currently offers a statewide net metering incentive for residents generating electricity with solar panels. Exact credit values will vary based on your utility company.

WATCH: California Public Utilities Commission Aims To Reduce Rooftop Solar Incentives

California Solar Tax Incentives and Rebate Programs

There are also a handful of California solar incentives to help lower the cost of solar for residents. Some of these include rebates, loans and property tax exemptions. Though any quality solar company will be knowledgeable about the local incentives in your area, it’s always worth doing some independent research. We recommend using the DSIRE solar incentive database to find money-saving opportunities in your area.

Read More: California Solar Initiative (CSI)

FAQs: California Solar Panel Costs

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Karsten Neumeister

Solar Expert

Karsten Neumeister is a solar energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the renewable energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on solar energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.