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Best 5 Solar Companies in Santa Cruz, CA

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Written By Max Peterson | Last Updated: February 05, 2024

Santa Cruz homeowners are privileged to live in plentiful sunlight, both to bask in and use for energy. While embracing solar power comes with upfront costs, local homeowners could ultimately save $1,700 per kilowatt on their electric bills. A professional installation team can help you select the best panels to maximize your savings. On this page, we'll show you Santa Cruz's leading solar installers and share expert advice for your solar journey.

Best High-Efficiency System
4.8
  • Builds custom, high-efficiency solar systems suited to each home
  • Extensive coverage area throughout the country
  • Offers energy storage and EV charger add-ons
Best Solar Panel Leasing
4.4
  • Provides system monitoring
  • Offers diverse financing options for various budgets
  • Provides EV and solar battery solutions
Best Solar Panel Installation
4.4
  • Offers 7 panel brand options
  • 25-year workmanship warranty
  • Offers battery options

Top Santa Cruz Solar Companies

Allterra Solar Logo

Allterra Solar

4.6/5
Based on 61 customer reviews.

Services Offered

Tesla Powerwall Residential Panels Consultation Battery Storage Financing Assistance

Highlights

  • Clear pricing policy
  • Reliable customer support
  • Informative resources
125-B Mcpherson St, Santa Cruz, CA 831-425-2608 allterrasolar.com
Sandbar Solar & Electric Logo

Sandbar Solar & Electric

4.5/5
Based on 46 customer reviews.

Services Offered

Residential Panels Maintenance Consultation Commercial Panels Battery Storage Financing Assistance

Highlights

  • Reliable customer support
  • Informative resources
  • Clear pricing policy
2656 Mission St, Santa Cruz, CA 831-469-8888 sandbarsc.com
Solar Electric Supply, Inc. Logo

Solar Electric Supply

4.4/5
Based on 18 customer reviews.

Services Offered

Consultation Permit Assistance Solar Carports Financing Assistance Off-Grid Solar Systems Commercial Panels Grid-Tied Solar System Residential Panels Emergency Services Battery Storage

Highlights

  • Free quotes
  • Informative resources
  • Clear pricing policy
108 Whispering Pines Dr #235, Scotts Valley, CA 831-462-8243 solarelectricsupply.com
Cinnamon Energy Systems Logo

Cinnamon Energy Systems

4.5/5
Based on 33 customer reviews.

Services Offered

Maintenance Solar Panel Upgrades Permit Assistance Battery Storage Commercial Panels Residential Panels Skilled Repairs Consultation Financing Assistance

Highlights

  • Informative resources
  • Clear pricing policy
  • Free quotes
809 University Ave, Los Gatos, CA 408-883-7000 cinnamon.energy

More Local Solar Companies

Sunternal

User Reviews: 4.5/5 

5671 Santa Teresa Blvd #105
San Jose, CA 95123

Infinium Solar, Inc.

User Reviews: 4.3/5 

1190 Dell Ave ste o
Campbell, CA 95008

Premo Solar

User Reviews: 4.4/5 

11520 Commercial Pkwy Suite A
Castroville, CA 95012

Semper Solaris

User Reviews: 4.2/5 

180 E Sunnyoaks Ave Bldg 2
Campbell, CA 95008

Silicon Valley Capital Solar Panel Co

User Reviews: 4.7/5 

1470 Monterey Hwy
San Jose, CA 95112

FMJ Electric, Inc.

User Reviews: 4.7/5 

1628 N Main St Unit 143
Salinas, CA 93906

NRG Clean Power

User Reviews: 4.4/5 

75 E Santa Clara St
San Jose, CA 95113

SF Green Construction

User Reviews: 5/5 

2880 Zanker Rd Suite 203
San Jose, CA 95134

Clean Solar

User Reviews: 4.5/5 

1445 Koll Cir
San Jose, CA 95112

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at reviewsteam@thisoldhousereviews.com.

Ranking Methodology

We reviewed dozens of Santa Cruz solar companies, using the following criteria to select the top-notch:

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Facts about Santa Cruz
Average Max Temp: 70°F
Solar Payback Period: 6.8 years
Average Daily Sunlight: 67%
Homes Powered by Solar: 11,875
Average Annual Energy Bill: $1,538
Solar Power per Capita Percentile: 48.0%

Expert Tips By

This Old House empowers homeowners with the knowledge and tools they need to tackle various projects and navigate the complexities of homeownership.

Benefits of Solar Energy

Solar energy provides multiple benefits. Here are some highlights.

  • Better energy independence: Solar energy can keep your home powered through emergencies and blackouts. You can use your solar energy anytime with optional battery backup.
  • Reduced carbon footprint: Solar is one of the universe's most abundant clean energy sources, meaning you can lower or beat your home's dependence on "traditional" sources.
  • Smaller power bills: Producing some or all of your own energy will cut power costs long-term.

What Solar Incentives Are Available to Santa Cruz Homeowners?

Governments and power companies often incentivize homeowners for embracing solar. Here are some of the rebates, tax credits or other programs you could qualify for.

Incentive Type: Property Tax Incentive

Website: boe.ca.gov

Incentive Amount:

100% of system value; 75% of system value exemption for dual-use equipment

Incentive Type: PACE Financing

Website: wrcog.us

Incentive Amount:

Eligible products can be financed for up to 25 years, depending on the useful life of the eligible product.
Minimum financing: $5,000
The financing may not exceed fifteen percent (15%) of the market value of the property, up to the first seven hundred thousand dollars ($700,000) of the property’s market value, and ten percent (10%) of the remaining value of the Property above seven hundred thousand dollars ($700,000) minus any PACE assessment on the property The total amount of any annual property taxes and assessments shall not exceed five percent (5%) of the property's fair market value, determined at the time program financing is approved.

Incentive Type: PACE Financing

Incentive Amount:

Locally determined

Incentive Type: Rebate Program

Website: selfgenca.com

Incentive Amount:

For projects 30 kW or larger, 50% of incentive will be received up-front; 50% will be received based on actual kWh production over the first 5 years. For projects under 30kW, 100% of the incentive will be paid up front.
Incentives will step down over time. See below for incentive amounts.

Incentive Type: Feed-in Tariff

Website: cpuc.ca.gov

Incentive Type: Feed-in Tariff

Website: ladwp.com

Incentive Amount:

$0.17/kWh adjusted by a time of delivery multiplier
Base price will step down over time as certain MW goals are met

Incentive Type: Rebate Program

Website: gosolarcalifornia.ca.gov

Incentive Amount:

Step 1 Incentive Rates (contact utility to determine current incentive levels):
Single Family Residential Incentives:
Systems that displace natural gas: $29.85 per estimated therm displaced
Systems that displace electricity or propane: Funding has been exhausted
Commercial/Multifamily Incentives:
Systems that displace natural gas: $20.19 per estimated therm displaced
Systems that displace electricity or propane: $0.42 per estimated kWh displaced *** Note, funding has been exhausted in this category for SCE and PG&E
Solar Pool heating: $5.00 per estimated therm displaced

Incentive Type: Personal Tax Credit

Website: ecowatch.com

Incentive Amount:

30% federal tax credit for systems placed in service after 12/31/2021 and before 01/01/2033. Good for: solar water heat, solar photovoltaics, biomass, geothermal heat pumps, wind (small), fuel cells using renewable fuels.

How To Choose the Best Solar Company in Santa Cruz

Choosing a company is the first step toward an effective and valuable solar energy system. Here are some essential aspects to consider while shopping for a solar installer.

Licensing and Training

California requires solar companies to hold licenses for each type of equipment they install, which can include solar pool heaters, photovoltaic (PV) systems, HVAC, water heaters, and boilers. Contractors must complete a highly comprehensive educational series, gain four years of field experience, and pass written exams to earn licensure. Look for private accreditations from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), among the solar sector's most trusted trade groups. Its program includes certifications for both solar photovoltaic and water heating installers.

Cost of Solar Panels in Santa Cruz

Your solar panels' model will affect how much energy you can generate. Monocrystalline panels cost the most but perform the best. Polycrystalline panels generate less, but they're a great traditional option for low budgets. Thin-film panels are excellent for non-traditional roof shapes and cost the least, but don't work well for large residential installations.

If you want to charge an electric car or use your solar power in cloudy weather, you can pay extra for add-ons. By choosing the right components, you can make your panel array more productive and convenient to use. Not every solar contractor provides these optional components, so look for a company that installs them if it's essential for you.

You can expect to pay about $17,350 on average for a five-kilowatt solar energy system in Santa Cruz. Use the table in this section to get an idea of how much Santa Cruz solar companies might quote for your specific system.

Solar Panel Cost Average Cost
Solar Monocrystalline $1,191
Solar Polycrystalline $929
Thin-Film $543
Solar Battery $762
Solar Home EV Charger $2,859

Financing Solar Energy in Santa Cruz

Solar providers offer multiple different financing options to increase your savings and lower your costs. Though some providers offer unique payment plans, the most common are solar leases, power purchase agreements (PPAs), cash payments and solar loans. Though it involves a large up-front payment, cash is the most economical choice because it qualifies you for solar incentives and doesn't accrue interest. Solar loans are the second most effective option. As with a home or auto loan, you'll pay a monthly rate towards system ownership, including interest. You can still apply for cost-saving solar incentives, and depending on your lender, you could put as little as $0 down. Solar leases involve paying a set monthly rate to use rooftop panels. A PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) lets you pay a monthly rate based only on the energy you use, similar to an electric bill. We usually don’t recommend these two options because you won't own the panels and cannot use solar incentives. Look for installers that offer two or more payment plans to find the right fit for your budget.

The table below lists the average payback periods for different capacities of solar systems in Santa Cruz.

A 26% federal tax credit applies to new home solar systems purchased through 2032. Additional incentives may be available through local governments, usually in the form of rebates and special financing programs.

Solar System Capacity Estimated Payback period
1 kW 1.4 years
2 kW 2.7 years
5 kW 6.8 years
10 kW 13.7 years

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Frequently Asked Questions About Solar in Santa Cruz

How much money could I save by going solar in Santa Cruz?

Most Santa Cruz homeowners spend about $1,538 on energy each year. Your costs could drop by $1,713.87 for each kilowatt you generate after you pay off a solar array.

Is solar energy easily accessible in Santa Cruz?

Yes, solar energy is readily available in Santa Cruz. A growing number of area homes are already using solar power on-site or through utility grids, and California has about 74255 jobs making up its solar economy.

Will solar energy systems improve my Santa Cruz home value?

Yes, new solar systems lead to higher property values according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL.) Homeowners could project a $20 property value increase for each dollar they save on energy. Therefore, $600 in energy savings could boost your property value by $12,000.

Could I still use solar power if I live in a wooded, rainy, or dark area?

A solar setup could still work well in dark areas. Your provider will orient your panels to capture the most sunlight possible. They might also recommend a battery backup system to keep your system working at its best.

What's the average solar system size in Santa Cruz?

A typical Santa Cruz solar home uses a 3.1-kW panel array, but you might need a bigger system if your energy needs are more demanding. Solar installers will consider your property's power usage and roof shading to suggest the right system for you.

What is the average payback period for Santa Cruz solar panels?

Most Santa Cruz homeowners pay back a solar loan in 7.1 years. You can shorten the payback period by paying off extra loan principal each month.

How many estimates should I get before making a final solar company decision?

Yes, we recommend requesting free solar quotes from at least three companies. You should thoroughly read each quote and compare financing options, warranty details, labor fees, prework scope and costs and equipment costs. Ensure each quote presents an itemized financial plan and includes your expected payback period.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at reviewsteam@thisoldhousereviews.com.

Sources