Solar Panel Cost Guide in San Francisco, CA (Sep 2022)

  • San Francisco Solar Installation Cost: $6,001
  • 25-Year Savings: $19,298
  • Payback Period: 5.9 Years

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EcoWatch Local Advisors

By EcoWatch Local Advisors

Updated 9/16/2022

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Average Cost of Solar Panels in San Francisco

We break down average solar pricing in San Francisco.

While the national average of solar panels is $2.66 per watt, solar panels in San Francisco generally cost around $3. Using this figure, a typical 3.1 would cost about $6,001 before the 30% federal solar tax credit is applied.

The prices above are just estimates to give you an idea of the cost of solar panels. The exact cost of making the switch to solar can vary depending on a few factors, such as what size system you need, your energy usage and what installation company you go with. With typical savings of about $31,000 on energy bills over 20 years, many homeowners in San Francisco find going solar can pay off big.

To get a free estimate from a pre-vetted solar installer in San Francisco, you can click the button below.

Solar savings over time in San Francisco

Year Return on Investment
1 years $-4,989
3 years $-2,965
5 years $-941
7 years $1,083
9 years $3,107
11 years $5,131
13 years $7,155
15 years $9,179
17 years $11,203
19 years $13,227
21 years $15,251
23 years $17,275
25 years $19,298

Top Solar Installers in San Francisco

Many homeowners decide to use a solar installer since figuring out how to install solar panels yourself can be a labor-intensive endeavor. Because solar panels are exposed to the elements every day, warranties and repairs from your solar installer can help you get the most out of your investment in solar panels by reducing potential costs down the line.

Working with a vetted solar installer can help your solar project go smoothly. Here are our recommendations:

Best National Provider

SunPower

★★★★★
5.0

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

Best Regional Coverage

Momentum Solar

★★★★★
4.5

  • Great warranty coverage
  • Representatives are experts on local policies
  • Concierge service ensures steady communication
  • Slightly limited service offerings

Best Technology

The Green Panel

★★★★★
4.5

  • Price-match guarantee
  • Sleek, efficient, and durable solar panels
  • Best solar battery on the market
  • Some reported issues with customer service
  • Customer service varies by local dealer

See all of the solar companies in San Francisco

Factors that Affect Solar Panel Costs in San Francisco

Cost is usually one of the most important factors for homeowners who are considering investing in solar. There are a few major factors that affect your total cost in San Francisco: solar equipment and system size, financing options and the solar installation company you choose. We'll discuss each of these briefly below.

Solar Equipment Size

One of the most important factors to consider when it comes to the cost of installing solar panels is the size of the solar system, which is measured in kilowatts (kW). The more electricity your household uses, the larger your system will likely need to be. You can expect to spend around $2,730 per kilowatt in San Francisco. The brand and kind of equipment you choose for your solar system can raise or lower the price quite significantly. If you prefer a brand name like Tesla or SunPower, these often have a higher price tag than other brands. Efficiency also matters. Whether you're opting for high efficiency because you have a small roof or just want maximum energy production, you will be looking at a higher equipment cost, but this can typically lead to more savings over time. Also, if you want add-ons like an electric vehicle charger or solar batteries, this will also increase the cost.

Solar Financing Terms

Many homeowners find the average cost of solar in San Francisco to be too costly, even if the investment pays off over time. Thankfully, almost every solar installer in the area provides financing options. Solar loans drastically decrease upfront costs in most cases, but they also lead to paying more over time because of interest. When trying to figure out your overall cost, you should also calculate the interest you'll pay if you opt for a solar loan. Also, paying more on your down payment can reduce the total interest paid over time.

Solar Panel Installation Company

The solar installer you go with to handle your switch to solar energy can have an effect on your total costs. There are about 3 solar panel companies operating in San Francisco, and each can charge different amounts for labor and equipment. Larger national companies typically have lower costs, but some local companies undercut them by promoting sales and discounts. While the smaller companies might not have specific equipment options like Tesla Powerwall batteries or additional services like electric car charger installation, they might be cheaper overall.

Solar Panel Cost Data by System Size

System size Cost per system watt Solar system cost 25-Year savings Payback period
6 kW $2.84 $11,925 $36,455 6.2 years
8 kW $2.78 $15,594 $48,912 6.0 years
10 kW $2.73 $19,110 $61,523 5.9 years
12 kW $2.68 $22,473 $74,286 5.8 years
14 kW $2.62 $25,684 $87,202 5.7 years
16 kW $2.57 $28,741 $100,271 5.6 years
18 kW $2.51 $31,646 $113,492 5.5 years
20 kW $2.46 $34,398 $126,867 5.3 years

Solar Incentives in San Francisco

Name Property Tax Exclusion for Solar Energy Systems and Solar Plus Storage System
Website Visit here
More Info Click here

Name Western Riverside Council of Governments - Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) Financing Program
Website Visit here
More Info Click here

Name Local Option - Municipal Energy Districts
More Info Click here

Name Self-Generation Incentive Program
Website Visit here
More Info Click here

Name Renewable Market Adjusting Tariff (ReMAT)
Incentive Amount
Website Visit here
More Info Click here

Name LADWP - Feed-in Tariff (FiT) Program
Website Visit here
More Info Click here

Name California Solar Initiative - Solar Thermal Program
Website Visit here
More Info Click here

Name Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit
Website Visit here
More Info Click here

How to Save on Solar Panels

There are many companies available in San Francisco, and some homeowners feel overwhelmed considering their options. Picking the right company for you can be tough, so here are some tips to help you decide:

  • Contract: It's important to look over your solar installer's contract carefully to understand what services they will provide, what the warranty covers and what expectations you should have about your solar system's energy production.
  • Solar Panel Brands: The model of solar panel you'd like to get plays a role in which company you should choose, since different companies provide different panels.
  • Warranty: A high-quality company rises above other companies by offering the gold standard warranty — a 25-year, all-inclusive warranty covering parts, labor and performance.
  • Installation Process: Homeowners should understand how exactly the installation process will go, as well as important factors like the completion timeline.

Best National Provider

SunPower

★★★★★
5.0

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

Best Regional Coverage

Momentum Solar

★★★★★
4.5

  • Great warranty coverage
  • Representatives are experts on local policies
  • Concierge service ensures steady communication
  • Slightly limited service offerings

Best Technology

The Green Panel

★★★★★
4.5

  • Price-match guarantee
  • Sleek, efficient, and durable solar panels
  • Best solar battery on the market
  • Some reported issues with customer service
  • Customer service varies by local dealer

EcoWatch's San Francisco, CA Solar Cost FAQs

What is the average cost of installing solar panels in San Francisco?

The average cost of solar panels in San Francisco is about $13,650 for a 5-kW system and $27,300 for a 10-kW system before the ITC, but the actual cost will depend on things like the model of solar panels you want, what size system you need and how much energy you consume.

What other factors should I consider other than cost when buying solar panels?

Cost is definitely one of the most important factors you should consider when buying solar panels, but other important factors include efficiency, durability, and quality.

Can you sell solar power back to the grid in San Francisco?

Each state has some form of net metering programs except Tennessee, South Dakota and Alabama currently. Some states let you sell power back to the grid, but others just offer you credit toward your future power bills.

How often do you have to replace solar panels?

On average, solar panels can last about 25 to 30 years. Some even last up to 50 years, but their efficiency goes down by about 0.8% each year. You can choose to replace them sooner if you want to maintain a higher amount of energy production.

Our goal is to reach as many people as we can with sensible solutions like solar energy. Our team of full-time local researchers collects solar price and installation data for every city in America then compiles it to create these digestible city guides. If you want to read our solar expert’s opinion on the top solar companies featured here, follow this link.

Company research was conducted by Melissa Smith and Karsten Neumeister. Local data analysis was conducted by James Savino. See something we missed or could do better? Email the editor.

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