Solar Panel Cost Guide in Santa Barbara, CA (Jan 2023)

  • Santa Barbara Solar Installation Cost: $5,370
  • 25-Year Savings: $15,080
  • Payback Period: 6.6 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

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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 Santa Barbara

See how much it might cost to switch to solar power in Santa Barbara.

The average cost of a solar system in Santa Barbara is $3 per watt. Using this figure, a typical 2.8 would cost about $5,370 before the 30% federal solar tax credit is applied.

How much you pay can be higher or lower than the average in Santa Barbara depending on several factors, such as the brand of solar panels you choose and the solar installer you hire. For many homeowners, the upfront investment in solar power is worth paying. On average you could be looking at about $28,000 in savings on energy bills over 20 years.

To get a free estimate from a vetted solar installer in Santa Barbara, you can click the button below.

Solar savings over time in Santa Barbara

Year Return on Investment
1 years $-4,552
3 years $-2,916
5 years $-1,280
7 years $356
9 years $1,992
11 years $3,628
13 years $5,264
15 years $6,900
17 years $8,536
19 years $10,172
21 years $11,808
23 years $13,444
25 years $15,080

Top Solar Installers in Santa Barbara

Many homeowners opt for a solar installer since installing solar panels by yourself can be a labor-intensive endeavor. The expertise that solar companies offer can be invaluable as well, especially if you aren't sure what kind of solar equipment would be right for your home.

Working with a licensed solar company can help you make the most of your investment in solar. 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 Santa Barbara

Factors that Affect Solar Panel Costs in Santa Barbara

For many Santa Barbara homeowners, the decision to go solar comes down to cost. However, the range of solar installation costs can be quite wide in Santa Barbara, with typical prices between $20,000 to $40,000. There are various factors that considerably influence the price you'll pay, which we'll go over below.

Solar Equipment

When it comes to estimating the cost of a solar energy system in Santa Barbara, one of the most important factors is the size of the system you need. Solar systems are sized by kilowatts (kW) and are primarily based on your home's energy usage, which you can gauge by looking at past electricity bills. Your total cost can increase by about $2,730 for each additional kilowatt you need. The kind of solar panels and equipment you get is another factor that will considerably affect costs. Solar panels that have higher efficiency, like monocrystalline panels, tend to come at a higher price. Moreover, solar equipment is more than just the solar panels themselves. You'll also need to decide on the kind of racks used to mount the panels, inverters, solar batteries, etc. It's important to take all of this into consideration when looking for a solar system that's in your budget.

Solar Financing Terms

For some homeowners, paying for solar panels out of pocket can be difficult. Solar loans are provided by most installers in Santa Barbara, which can bring down, or in some cases completely eliminate, your upfront costs to make solar more accessible. Even though solar loans make going solar more accessible for Santa Barbara 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 make a larger down payment, though, you can cut back on how much interest you have to pay.

Solar Panel Installation Company

The last key cost factor you should take into consideration is the installer you choose. Given the massive popularity of clean energy solutions in Santa Barbara, you'll have lots of options to choose from, but each comes at various price points for labor and equipment. Larger national companies generally 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 add-on 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 $31,673 6.8 years
8 kW $2.78 $15,594 $42,536 6.7 years
10 kW $2.73 $19,110 $53,553 6.6 years
12 kW $2.68 $22,473 $64,722 6.4 years
14 kW $2.62 $25,684 $76,044 6.3 years
16 kW $2.57 $28,741 $87,519 6.2 years
18 kW $2.51 $31,646 $99,147 6.0 years
20 kW $2.46 $34,398 $110,928 5.9 years

How to Save on Solar Panels

Since the kind of solar panels and the installation company you choose has an impact on your costs and your system's durability and efficiency, it's important to select the right ones for you. Here are some things to keep in mind to help with your decision:

  • Reputation: Your solar installer should have a sound reputation as a company and have verifiable expertise in the field. Two ways to check this are to look for whether a company has technicians certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) and if it has good reviews from previous customers.
  • Solar Panel Brands: Not all solar installers carry the same brands of solar panels, so the brand and type of panel you want can play a large role in the company you opt for.
  • Installation Process: Make sure you're on the same page with the installer regarding how the installation process will go and what you need to do before your solar system is installed, such as repairing your electrical system or roof.
  • Contract: Even though reading through a contract can take a lot of time, it's important to do it carefully so you can be sure you understand what services your solar company will provide and the terms of the warranty.

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 Santa Barbara, CA Solar Cost FAQs

What is the average cost of installing solar panels in Santa Barbara?

This is a difficult question to answer precisely, 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. You can expect to pay more if you want additional solar equipment or more efficient panels, or if you have higher-than-average energy needs. On the other hand, you can spend less if you want a smaller solar panel system or cheaper solar panels.

Can you get solar panels for free in Santa Barbara?

Solar panels aren't free in Santa Barbara, but there are some options that can make getting them more affordable, such as leasing solar panels or getting a solar loan. There may also be local programs or incentives that can help lower the cost.

Can you sell solar power back to the grid in Santa Barbara?

Most states offer net metering programs of some kind. Through these, you can either receive compensation for the extra power your system produces or or receive credits to put toward future electricity bills. Currently there are just three states that don't have any net metering laws: Alabama, Tennessee and South Dakota.

What solar power system size is right for my home?

To figure out what solar panel system size you need, you need to know how much energy your home needs and how much sunlight your home gets. For a general estimate, however, since each panel can typically produce about 250 to 400 watt-hours per hour, the average home 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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