Solar Panel Cost Guide in Santa Cruz, CA (Feb 2023)

  • Santa Cruz Solar Installation Cost: $5,867
  • 25-Year Savings: $20,464
  • Payback Period: 5.6 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 Cruz

Let's take a look at the average cost of solar panels in Santa Cruz.

The national average cost of solar panels is $2.66 per watt, but in Santa Cruz it's $3 per watt. The average solar panel system size in Santa Cruz is around 3.1 kilowatts, meaning a cost of about $5,867 for a solar installation, or $4,342 after the 30% federal solar tax credit is applied.

Remember that the numbers above are only averages. The price you'll end up paying for solar may look quite different based on your household energy consumption, the type of solar panels you want to get, your solar contractor and more. Despite the large upfront cost, the average Santa Cruz homeowner can save about $33,000 on their electricity bills over 20 years, which is one of the benefits of solar.

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

Solar savings over time in Santa Cruz

Year Return on Investment
1 years $-4,814
3 years $-2,707
5 years $-601
7 years $1,506
9 years $3,612
11 years $5,719
13 years $7,825
15 years $9,932
17 years $12,038
19 years $14,145
21 years $16,251
23 years $18,358
25 years $20,464

Top Solar Installers in Santa Cruz

When switching to solar energy, many homeowners choose to use a solar installer since DIY solar panel installation can be a time-consuming project. Companies can also offer access to various kinds of the best solar panels and help you pick which one will be right for you.

There are several licensed solar professionals that can help you install your solar panels. Here are our suggestions:

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 Cruz

Factors that Affect Solar Panel Costs in Santa Cruz

The cost of installing a solar system in Santa Cruz can vary by more than $10,000 from home to home. Your actual cost is dependent on several factors. The most significant one is your system size, and other factors include equipment choices, financing options and the solar installer you choose.

Solar Equipment

The size of the solar energy system you need to offset your energy usage, which is measured in kilowatts, is the most significant cost factor to consider. For every additional kilowatt you need, you can expect your total to increase by nearly $2,730. The brand of solar panels and equipment you want is another factor that will considerably impact costs. Solar panels that have higher efficiency, like monocrystalline panels, tend to come at a higher price. Further, solar equipment goes beyond just the solar panels themselves. You'll also need to think about 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 into a solar system that falls within your budget.

Solar Financing Terms

For some homeowners, paying for a solar system out of pocket can be a challenge. Solar loans are provided by most installers in Santa Cruz, which can lower, or in some cases eliminate, your upfront costs to make solar more affordable. Though solar loans make going solar more accessible for Santa Cruz homeowners, they can also increase the total you pay for your system, depending on your interest rate. If you put down a larger down payment, though, you can avoid paying as much in interest.

Solar Panel Installation Company

The final significant cost factor you should take into consideration is the installer you choose. Given the massive popularity of renewable energy solutions in Santa Cruz, you'll have plenty of options to choose from, but each comes at different price points for labor and equipment. Larger national companies generally have lower costs, but some local companies undercut them by offering 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 $39,491 5.8 years
8 kW $2.78 $15,594 $52,961 5.7 years
10 kW $2.73 $19,110 $66,583 5.6 years
12 kW $2.68 $22,473 $80,359 5.5 years
14 kW $2.62 $25,684 $94,287 5.4 years
16 kW $2.57 $28,741 $108,368 5.2 years
18 kW $2.51 $31,646 $122,602 5.1 years
20 kW $2.46 $34,398 $136,989 5.0 years

How to Save on Solar Panels

The solar installer you opt for will influence not only your total costs, but also the types of solar panel brands, warranties, and other equipment you can get. When choosing a solar company, there are some important things you should keep in mind, such as:

  • Solar Panel Brands: The type of solar panel you'd like to get plays a role in which company you should go with, since different companies have different panels.
  • Installation Process: Homeowners should understand how exactly the installation process will go, as well as important factors like the project completion timeline.
  • Contract: When looking through your solar installer's contract, ask questions about any terms you're not sure of and make sure you understand what happens in scenarios such as a system part breaking or the company going out of business.
  • Warranty: Companies typically offer different kinds of warranties that cover different things. A 25-year, all-inclusive warranty is the gold standard.

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 Cruz, CA Solar Cost FAQs

How much does it cost to install solar panels in Santa Cruz?

The average cost of solar panels in Santa Cruz is about $13,650 for a 5-kW system and $27,300 for a 10-kW system before the ITC, but the real cost will depend on certain factors like the type of solar panels you want, what size system you need and how much energy you use.

Are solar panels free in Santa Cruz?

You can't get solar panels for free in Santa Cruz. However, you may still be able to afford them on a lower budget. You can lease solar panels for a low upfront cost or, if you'd prefer to own your solar panels, you can finance them with a solar loan.

How will solar panels impact how much my home is worth?

Buying or financing solar panels for your home can increase the value of your property by about 4%, according to research done by Zillow. The average home value in Santa Cruz is currently $787,020, so you can look forward to a value of about $32,268 more than houses without a solar system. The specific figures will vary, but most experts agree that installing solar panels in Santa Cruz is a rewarding investment.

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

The exact number of solar panels you need depends on your household energy needs and how much sunlight your roof gets. You can look at your energy bills for the past year to get an idea of the solar system size you'll need. The average household has to buy between 20 and 35 panels to account for their typical energy usage.

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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