California is the top state in the US for residential solar. But one question remains for many homeowners – how much does solar actually cost? We’ve put together this guide to give you an idea of how much solar costs in your region of the state.
Homeowners in California are installing solar on their homes at an unprecedented rate. Although the California solar market is growing every day, solar prices still remain somewhat of a mystery. That’s why we’ve done the research and compiled our Cost of Solar Index for California – to show homeowners what their neighbors are actually paying for solar power across the state.
The average cost of residential solar installed in California in 2015 was $18,675. As you shown in the above graph, that price varies by several thousand dollars depending on the region. These prices are solar installations purchased with a loan or cash, they do NOT apply to leased systems.
Overall, the highest average prices ($20,698) are in the Redding and Shasta/Cascades region, while the lowest average prices ($16,212) can be found in the Central Coast Region. The graph above shows how much homeowners across California paid to install residential solar panels in 2015 after the federal incentive (the investment tax credit) had been applied.
*Note that customers served by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power or Sacramento Municipal Utility District may be eligible for additional rebates from their utility, reducing the cost of solar further.
This is the average price for PURCHASED residential solar systems after federal incentives.
System sizes vary from house to house, but the average size for California residential systems was 5.5 KW in 2015.
After the federal incentive, this is the average price paid per kW in California for 2015.
The size of a residential solar system depends on the amount of power you need, and on the size of your roof and amount of sunlight it receives. In areas where prices per kW are cheaper and there’s enough space, homeowners generally add as many panels as possible. Across California, the average system size of a solar panel system installed in 2015 was 5.5 kW. As you can see, the biggest installations on average occur in the Redding and Shasta/Cascades region (6.7 kW), while the smallest installations are in the Central Coast region (4.5 kW).
The graph above shows the average prices you can expect to pay per kilowatt (kW) for the different regions across the state. The price you pay per kilowatt varies slightly depending on your region, but the overall average price per kW in California is $3,395. This average is calculated after the federal incentive has been applied. The lowest price per kilowatt ($3,089) is in the Redding and Shasta/Cascades region while the highest ($3,603) is in the Central Coast region – interestingly, an exact reversal from the overall system costs.
When it comes to home solar installations, people often speak in terms of KWs. KWs are kilowatts – essentially, for each KW in a system, the system could potentially produce 1000 watts per hour. Solar installations put on homes in NY in 2015 have averaged roughly 7 KWs. So to get a rough idea of the price of a solar installation in your region for an “average” home, you could multiply the number to the left by 7. For a more accurate estimate, try using our solar calculator.
At Solar to the People, our goal is to provide clear, third-party information to help homeowners make intelligent decisions about going solar. The Cost of Solar Index for California is our effort to help inform California homeowners about costs of going solar in the Golden State. The data for this study comes from the California Solar Statistics site, and is based on the newest state-wide data set which includes installation costs – the “Currently Interconnected” data set. Outliers were excluded, and the final data was based on 38,529 residential solar systems installed in California in 2015.