Solar Panel Cost Guide in Santa Maria, CA (Mar 2023)

  • Santa Maria Solar Installation Cost: $5,370
  • 25-Year Savings: $20,961
  • Payback Period: 5.1 Years

See cost of a solar system near you:

By EcoWatch Local Advisors

Data Analysis: James Savino

Ranking Methodology: Karsten Neumeister

Updated March 14, 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 Maria

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

The average cost of solar panels in Santa Maria is 2.73 per watt. The average Santa Maria homeowner needs a 2.8-kilowatt system, which would cost about $5,370 with the federal tax credit, or $7,679 before the 30% tax credit is applied.

These figures are just estimates, and your own solar costs may vary based on your specific situation and what company you want to go with. But, once you've paid the upfront cost of installation, the return on investment for most homeowners is usually fruitful, with a net average savings of about $36,000 over 20 years on utility bills.

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

Solar savings over time in Santa Maria

Year Return on Investment
1 years $-4,317
3 years $-2,210
5 years $-104
7 years $2,003
9 years $4,109
11 years $6,216
13 years $8,322
15 years $10,429
17 years $12,535
19 years $14,642
21 years $16,748
23 years $18,855
25 years $20,961

Top Solar Installers in Santa Maria

Although it's possible to install solar panels by yourself, it requires extra labor and know-how. For that reason, most homeowners choose a solar panel installer. Plus, if you're unsure what type of solar panels and equipment you may need, a solar company can help you figure that out after a site survey and consultation.

If you'd like to go solar but still aren't sure which solar panel installer to go with, here are our recommendations for providers in Santa Maria:

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 Maria

Factors that Affect Solar Panel Costs in Santa Maria

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

Solar Equipment

When it comes to estimating the price of a solar system in Santa Maria, one of the most crucial factors is the size of the system you need. Solar systems are sized by kilowatts (kW) and are mainly based on your home's energy usage, which you can gauge by looking at past electricity bills. Your overall cost can increase by about $2,730 for each additional kilowatt you need. Some solar panel brands — like Maxeon from SunPower — are more costly upfront but also tend to offer higher efficiency. In a city like Santa Maria, where sunlight is abundant, efficiency can quickly pay off. In addition, if you have a small roof or limited space for your panels, higher efficiency options will be more impactful. Additional equipment like electric vehicle chargers and solar batteries will also increase the cost.

Solar Financing Terms

Most solar installers in Santa Maria offer solar loans, which reduce the initial cost of installing a solar system. It's a good idea to include the interest you'll pay in your final cost estimate. If you can afford to pay a larger down payment, you can reduce your total costs and the amount of time it'll take to pay back the loan.

Solar Panel Installation Company

Lastly, the company you choose to install your solar system can play a role in determining how much you pay. Santa Maria's solar companies all have different labor costs and add varying upcharges to equipment. Larger national companies typically 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 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 $44,212 5.3 years
8 kW $2.78 $15,594 $59,255 5.2 years
10 kW $2.73 $19,110 $74,451 5.1 years
12 kW $2.68 $22,473 $89,800 5.0 years
14 kW $2.62 $25,684 $105,302 4.9 years
16 kW $2.57 $28,741 $120,957 4.8 years
18 kW $2.51 $31,646 $136,764 4.7 years
20 kW $2.46 $34,398 $152,725 4.6 years

How to Save on Solar Panels

Since the model of solar panels and the installer you choose significantly influences 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:

  • Solar Panel Brands: Each solar panel brand and kind has varying levels of quality, durability and efficiency. They will come at different costs as well. The company you choose impacts which solar panel brands you have access to.
  • Warranty: A high-quality company stands out from other companies by providing the gold standard warranty — a 25-year, all-inclusive warranty covering parts, labor and performance.
  • Contract: It's important to look over your solar installer's contract closely to understand what services they will provide, what the warranty covers and what expectations you should have about the cost.
  • Reputation: The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is a well-established certification organization for clean energy professionals. If your solar panel installer is NABCEP-certified, it most likely has a solid reputation and is qualified to get the job done well. Another way you can look into your installer's reputation is by reading reviews.

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 Maria, CA Solar Cost FAQs

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

The average cost of solar panels in Santa Maria 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 type of solar panels you want, what size system you need and how much energy you use.

Is it better to lease or buy solar panels in Santa Maria?

Leasing solar panels can be an option if you can't afford to pay upfront or secure a solar loan, but since you don't own the system, you don't have access to 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 bang for your buck from going solar.

Does Santa Maria have a net metering program?

Most states have net metering programs of some kind. Through these, you can receive compensation for the extra power your system produces or or receive credits to put toward future utility 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?

The exact number of solar panels you need depends on your household energy needs and the amount of 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 install between 20 and 35 panels to cover 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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