In 2025, California announced that over 24% of its total power production came from solar energy systems. With great sun exposure and plenty of incentives, Californians can move on from the high cost of electricity by switching to a renewable solution.
So how should homeowners approach the cost of solar panels in California? We’ve broken down all the info you need to get started. Continue reading to learn about average costs, total savings, and more.
Average Cost of Solar Panels in California
It’s no surprise that in a state with huge support for renewable energy, homeowners can find a decent price on a system. The average cost of solar panels in California comes to about 2.68/W, which runs a little higher than most states but is still below the national average of 2.95/W. Using this number, a typical 6kW solar system would cost $16,080, over $1,500 less than across the country.
Along with the affordability of solar energy in the Golden State, homeowners can discover financial benefits from switching from traditional power. Californians have the third-highest electricity rate in the United States, and while they’re great at managing usage (only 572kWh a month), they’re still paying $134.08/month. Well above the typical electricity bill throughout the US, homeowners in California could save quite a bit with solar power.
There are already a few good reasons to switch, and there’s still more to come. Among all the state and municipal incentives, Californians can take advantage of a federal credit that returns 30% of solar purchases. This means that a 6kW array would drop from $16,080 to $11,256.
How Much Solar Do Californians Need?
The above example gives a rough estimate of the cost of solar panels in California, but it might not accurately represent your energy needs. To accurately budget for an array, you’ll need to divide your daily electricity needs by your area’s peak sun hours. We’ll use California’s typical numbers as an example.
The Golden State receives about 5.38 peak sun hours (the amount of time with the most direct sun). With a daily electricity usage of around 19.1kWh (572kWh/mo), a solar panel system in California should produce 3.6kW an hour. If we use the state average price of $2.68/W, this system may cost around $9,648 before incentives. That’s over $6,000 less than the national average.
Now that you know how to calculate your solar panel needs in California, use your personal electricity usage to budget for an array. You can check the peak sun hours for your city using this sun chart.
California Solar Cost Factors
In addition to the above scenario, homeowners can expect the cost of solar panels in California to fluctuate with a few other factors. When working with an installer, Californians should consider the type of solar panels to use. While Monocrystalline cells are more efficient, those in the Golden State could take advantage of the more affordable Polycrystalline cells due to the high number of peak sun hours.
Speaking of installers, it’s essential to seriously consider the company that’ll handle your solar panels. While you might feel tempted to use a more affordable installer, the company you hire should make enough money to stay in business for the entirety of your system. Fortunately, there are plenty of installation companies in California with proven reputations.
Considering location, the price of a solar panel system can vary widely with peak sun hours. In California alone, this metric fluctuates from as much as 6.6 hours to as little as 4.4 hours. To see how location affects price, check out the average solar panel cost in surrounding states such as:
Can Solar Energy Save Californians Money?
As mentioned earlier, Californians have good reasons to consider switching to solar, one of the biggest being financial savings on electricity bills. Let’s take a look at what you could expect.
Let’s first determine how long it could take Californians to pay off a solar array using the offset from the electricity bill. Homeowners could save about $1,609 a year (or $134.08/month) which would in turn cover the cost of a 6kW system in about 10 years. After that, you’ll start to see net savings for the rest of the system’s lifetime.
In general, a solar array lasts around 20 to 25 years with minimal maintenance. Considering the above numbers, this means Californians could see a total saving from electrical bills offset of as much as $16,090 to $24,135 or more.
Solar Panels in California: Rebates, Credits, and Incentives
One of the best ways to further reduce the cost of solar panels in California is through federal, state, and local incentives. By far, homeowners will see their greatest returns from the federal solar tax incentive. Receiving 30% back in the form of a credit off federal taxes, Californians could reduce the cost of their solar panel system by nearly $5,000 for 6kW.
Additionally, the Golden State pushes hard for sustainable energy. Homeowners can further reduce the price of an array through programs such as net metering and regulations for state tax exemptions. We break down all of California’s solar incentives in this detailed list.
Solar Panels in California: Further Reading
With affordable prices, high traditional power rates, and major support on the state level, homeowners will find incredible benefits when considering solar panels in California. For more on renewable energy, check out the articles below.
Solar Panels in Alabama: Cost, Savings, and Rebates – Unlike the Golden State, Alabama offers some of the fewest solar incentives in the country. Click to see how these two states compare.
The 10 Largest Renewable Companies in the World, and What They Do – Here’s how these companies are working to influence the future of renewable energy.
Can Sono Motors Make Good on Its Affordable Solar-Electric Sion EV? – One of the newest EV companies is taking on solar-powered vehicles.
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