Solar Panel Cost Guide in San Rafael, CA (Jan 2023)

  • San Rafael Solar Installation Cost: $6,020
  • 25-Year Savings: $20,311
  • Payback Period: 5.7 Years

See cost of a solar system near you:

By EcoWatch Local Advisors

Data Analysis: James Savino

Ranking Methodology: Karsten Neumeister

Updated January 20, 2023

Why you can trust EcoWatch

We work with a panel of solar experts to create unbiased reviews that empower you to make the right choice for your home. No other site has covered renewables as long as us, which means we have more data and insider information than other sites. Our rankings are never affected by revenue or partnerships.

Average Cost of Solar Panels in San Rafael

Let's have a look at the average cost of solar panels in San Rafael.

Although the national average of solar panels is $2.66 per watt, solar panels in San Rafael generally cost about $3. Using this figure, a typical 3.1 would cost about $6,020 before the 30% federal solar tax credit is applied.

Bear in mind that the figures above are only estimates based on the average energy use of San Rafael homeowners. The cost of a solar system for your home may look different depending on factors unique to you, like your household energy use and solar contractor. With average savings of about $32,000 on power bills over 20 years, many homeowners in San Rafael find going solar can be quite rewarding.

For a personalized quote from a local solar installer that has been pre-vetted by EcoWatch, click the button below.

Solar savings over time in San Rafael

Year Return on Investment
1 years $-4,966
3 years $-2,860
5 years $-753
7 years $1,353
9 years $3,460
11 years $5,566
13 years $7,672
15 years $9,779
17 years $11,885
19 years $13,992
21 years $16,098
23 years $18,205
25 years $20,311

Top Solar Installers in San Rafael

When going solar, many homeowners choose to use a solar company since installing a solar system yourself can be a challenging project. Local solar installers can also help you optimize your return on investment by assisting with any local incentives and by offering warranties and repairs.

Working with a licensed solar company can make going solar easier. 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

Tesla Energy

★★★★★
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 Rafael

Factors that Affect Solar Panel Costs in San Rafael

Though the average cost of a solar system in San Rafael is $6,020, your actual cost may be above or below the average. There are quite a few factors that can have a significant impact on the cost of a residential solar panel installation. Below are some of the more crucial things to consider.

Solar Equipment

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 about $2,730 per kilowatt in San Rafael. The type of solar equipment you choose can bring your price up or down by thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. If you choose the most efficient solar panel brands, you'll end up paying more upfront than if you opted for the most affordable panels. However, more efficient panels could save you more over time on your electric bills. In addition, extra products, such as solar batteries, can bring your total well above the San Rafael average.

Solar Financing Terms

If paying for a solar system out of pocket is out of reach, solar loans are a solid route because they reduce your upfront costs and let you pay for your system over a term of, on average, between five and seven years. While solar loans make switching to solar energy more accessible for San Rafael homeowners, they can also increase the total you pay for your system, depending on your interest rate and how long you take to pay off the loan. If you put down a larger down payment, though, you can cut back on how much interest you have to pay.

Solar Panel Installation Company

The final significant cost factor you should keep in mind is the installer you choose. Given the massive popularity of green energy solutions in San Rafael, you'll have lots of options to choose from, but each comes at different price points for labor and equipment. Larger national companies usually have lower costs, but some local companies compete with them by offering sales and discounts. While the smaller companies might not have access to specific equipment options like Tesla Powerwall batteries or add-on services like electric vehicle 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 $38,220 5.9 years
8 kW $2.78 $15,594 $51,266 5.8 years
10 kW $2.73 $19,110 $64,465 5.7 years
12 kW $2.68 $22,473 $77,816 5.6 years
14 kW $2.62 $25,684 $91,321 5.5 years
16 kW $2.57 $28,741 $104,978 5.4 years
18 kW $2.51 $31,646 $118,788 5.3 years
20 kW $2.46 $34,398 $132,751 5.1 years

How to Save on Solar Panels

The solar installer you opt for will be a major factor in determining not only your total costs, but also the kinds of solar panel brands, warranties, and other equipment you have access to. When choosing a solar company, there are a few important things you should keep in mind, including:

  • Warranty: If you care about the endurance of your solar energy system, checking if your installer offers a 25-year, all-inclusive warranty can give you some peace of mind.
  • Reputation: The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is a respected certification organization for sustainable energy professionals. If your solar panel installer is NABCEP-certified, it likely has a good reputation and is qualified to install your solar system. Another way you can look into your installer's reputation is by reading reviews.
  • Contract: It's important to read through your solar installer's contract fully to understand what services they will provide, what the warranty covers and what you can expect about your solar system's energy production.
  • Solar Panel Brands: The type of solar panel you'd like to install plays a role in which company you should opt for, since different companies have access to different panels.

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

Tesla Energy

★★★★★
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 Rafael, CA Solar Cost FAQs

How much does it cost to install solar panels in San Rafael?

This is a difficult question to answer exactly, because the cost depends on many factors. Generally speaking, it costs about $13,650 for a 5-kW system and $27,300 for a 10-kW system after the ITC is applied. It will be more expensive if you want extra solar equipment or more efficient panels, or if you have above-average energy usage. Conversely, you can spend less if you choose a smaller solar panel system or less expensive solar panels.

Is it better to lease or buy solar panels in San Rafael?

Leasing solar panels can be an option if you can't pay upfront or secure a solar loan, but since you don't own the system, you can't take advantage of many solar incentives. Also your home value won't increase, so you'll have less savings over time. If you can afford to buy a solar system upfront, then buying is the better option if you want the most savings from going solar.

How much can I save on electricity bills after installing solar panels?

Solar panels can potentially eliminate your electricity bills depending on your location and how much sunlight your home gets. Even if it doesn't get rid of them completely, you can save a lot of money on your bills, about $1,671.49 per year.

How many solar panels should I get to power my home?

To figure out how many solar panels you need, you should find out how much energy your home uses and how much sunlight your home gets. For a general estimate, however, since each panel can usually produce about 250 to 400 watt-hours per hour, the average house will need 20 to 35 panels.

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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