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The 5 Best Solar Companies in California (2024 Guide)

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Author Icon By Tamara Jude + 1 other Reviewer Icon Reviewed By Roger Horowitz Updated 02/22/2024

California is one of the country’s most solar-friendly states. In fact, it usually leads the United States in solar capacity—enough to power 5.4 million homes—and has a 100% renewable energy goal by 2045. We spent more than 700 hours researching the country’s leading solar installers to help you find the best solar company in California for your installation.

We recommend Palmetto Solar for California homeowners because of its outstanding customer service, extended warranty options, and additional tiered protection plans. Sunrun is another superb choice with unique leasing and budgeting options. We also recommend Elevation if you want to upgrade your entire home’s energy efficiency.


Compare Solar Companies Across California

We used our rating methodology to see which solar companies in California provide the best all-around services and products. Palmetto and Sunrun scored near the top due to their solar panel selections, additional service options, and positive reputations across review sites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Star Rating Best For Location Presence BBB Rating Link
SunPower SunPower
Best High-Efficiency System 50 States A+ Get Quote
Palmetto Palmetto
Best Customer Support 19 States A+ Get Quote
Sunrun Sunrun
Best Solar Panel Leasing 20 States A+ Get Quote
Elevation Elevation
Best Energy-Efficient Upgrades 5 States A+ Get Quote
Tesla Solar Tesla Solar
Best Solar Tech 50 States NR Get Quote
SunPower
Logo SunPower
Star Rating
Best For Best High-Efficiency System
Location Presence 50 States
BBB Rating A+
Get Quote
Palmetto
Logo Palmetto
Star Rating
Best For Best Customer Support
Location Presence 19 States
BBB Rating A+
Get Quote
Sunrun
Logo Sunrun
Star Rating
Best For Best Solar Panel Leasing
Location Presence 20 States
BBB Rating A+
Get Quote
Elevation
Logo Elevation
Star Rating
Best For Best Energy-Efficient Upgrades
Location Presence 5 States
BBB Rating A+
Get Quote
Tesla Solar
Logo Tesla Solar
Star Rating
Best For Best Solar Tech
Location Presence 50 States
BBB Rating NR
Get Quote
Company
Star Rating
Best For
Location Presence
BBB Rating
Best High-Efficiency System
50 States
A+
Best Solar Panel Leasing
20 States
A+
Best Customer Support
19 States
A+
Best Energy-Efficient Upgrades
5 States
A+
Best Solar Tech
50 States
NR

*BBB ratings are accurate as of February 2024.


What Should You Know About Going Solar in CA?

Going solar in California requires understanding how much you may pay for a system, what solar incentives you can access, and what payment options are available. You should also know what warranties to look out for and be familiar with some industry jargon so you don’t get scammed.

The average solar panel system cost in California is around $17,160 for a standard 6-kilowatt (kW) system.* The cost of your solar panel system varies based on several factors, including the size of the system, where the company installs it on or around your home, installation complexity, and the type of solar panels. Changes in a company’s technology will also affect the price, as will your region.

*Cost data via EnergySage

California offers one of the most extensive selections of solar tax incentives and rebates. All homeowners receive access to the federal government’s 30% solar investment tax credit. A quality solar company should assist you with finding and applying for solar incentives.

In addition to the federal tax credit, California’s solar incentives include options for solar battery installation rebates and assistance for low-income households. That state also offers a net energy metering program (NEM), which provides credits for excess electricity sent back to the grid.

You may hear unfamiliar words when speaking with California solar installers. Here are some key terms and what they mean:

  • Active monitoring: Active monitoring in a solar energy system involves the real-time tracking and analysis of various performance metrics, such as electricity production, system health, and environmental conditions. This continuous monitoring allows for the prompt detection of issues, optimization of system efficiency, and proactive maintenance to ensure the reliable and optimal operation of the solar panel system.
  • Inverter: This component converts your solar system’s direct current (DC) power into the alternating current (AC) power that runs your home. 
  • Solar panel efficiency rating: This is the percentage of sunlight that solar panels convert to usable electricity. The higher the efficiency rating, the better the energy production. 
  • Solar battery backup: A solar battery backup system stores excess energy generated by solar panels, enabling you to use that stored energy when the sun isn’t shining, such as at night or during power outages. This product allows for greater energy independence and resilience against grid failures.

Various solar financing options fit different budgets and financial goals. Many companies offer two or more payment choices. A full purchase or loan is typically the most cost-effective option. Solar leasing is another option, but it’s highly situational if this option is good for you. We recommend you pursue a full purchase or loan because these options yield more benefits than leasing.

Here is a list of the most common payment options:

  • Full purchase: A full cash purchase gives you system ownership, qualifying you for all tax incentives and rebates. 
  • Solar loan: This option requires smaller monthly payments for a set time frame and grants you full ownership.
  • Solar lease: You can lease your system from the solar provider and make monthly payments for its use. Check out our guide on this option to see if a solar lease is worth it for you.
  • Power purchase agreement (PPA): The solar company retains system ownership and only charges you for the solar energy you use each month.

Top solar companies offer 25-year warranties in most cases, but some limit their workmanship warranty to 10 years. We recommend finding a company that provides 25-year warranties for coverage throughout your system’s lifetime.

Here are the three most common warranties and what they cover:

  • Manufacturer’s warranty (or product warranty): Protects the individual solar system components in case of defects.
  • Workmanship warranty: Covers installation in case of poor workmanship or faulty installation materials.
  • Performance (or power production) guarantee: Certifies the solar system’s output as outlined in your contract.

California’s Top Solar Energy Companies

The following companies provide some of the best solar installation services in the Golden State according to our 100-point scale, including solar battery backup services and comprehensive warranty coverage: 

SunPower: Best High-Efficiency System
Sunrun: Best Solar Panel Leasing
Elevation: Best Energy-Efficient Upgrades
Tesla: Best Solar Tech
Palmetto Solar: Best Customer Support

Our Top Solar Company Picks

SunPower Best High-Efficiency System
4.8

SunPower helps you invest in the best-quality and highest-performing solar energy system available. The company uses Maxeon’s high-efficiency solar panels and customizes each system component.

How We Scored SunPower

SunPower earned 4.8 out of 5 stars based on our rating scale. It supplies some of the most efficient solar panels to Californians and then pairs them with comprehensive warranty coverage. Here’s a look at how it did in each category:

  • Solar Equipment and Services (15 out of 25 points): SunPower offers high-quality solar panel installation and active monitoring service but limits its service to these options, plus solar battery and EV charger installation. It doesn’t offer energy audits or roofing services and relies on third-party installers. 
  • Warranty and Performance Guarantees (22 out of 25 points): The company includes 25-year product and labor warranties, plus a performance guarantee. Like Elevation, SunPower doesn’t provide roof leak protection. 
  • Brand Reputation and Professional Certifications (15 out of 15 points): SunPower features a BBB accreditation, fairly high customer scores, and no active lawsuits. Additionally, it focuses on only hiring NABCEP-certified installers, which reveals a focus on quality.
  • Financing Options (15 out of 15 points): SunPower offers all possible payment methods and boasts an in-house financing department, unlike Elevation or Sunrun.
  • Industry Experience (10 out of 10 points): SunPower is a pioneer in the solar industry with 39 years of experience.
  • State Availability (10 out of 10 points): SunPower is one of the few solar installation companies that serves all 50 states to some degree, but its specific service areas can change ZIP code to ZIP code, including California.
Pros and Cons
Pros Custom, in-house solar components Comprehensive 25-year warranty on every system In-house solar storage and EV add-ons Cons Doesn’t sell other brands’ solar components, batteries, or EV chargers, limiting customization Installer availability varies by ZIP code More expensive than other providers, according to customer reviews
Warranty and Financing

Warranty

SunPower includes a comprehensive 25-year warranty covering its system components, accessories, and workmanship, plus a 92% power output production guarantee.

Financing Options

✔ Full purchase
✔ Lease
✔ Loan
✔ PPA

Reputation and Reviews

SunPower has a BBB accreditation and holds an A+ rating from the company. Reading customer reviews showed us that many customers praised SunPower’s high-performing systems and resulting energy savings. However, several customers complained about higher-than-average pricing. According to some recent Reddit threads from Californians, SunPower’s salespeople and customer service can sometimes be frustrating, but they found the overall results of the company’s work to be worth it.

Palmetto Best Customer Support
4.4

Palmetto offers comprehensive customer support and system monitoring to keep your solar system in peak condition. This is extremely valuable for Californians because of the state’s unpredictable weather conditions and changing utilities.

How We Scored Palmetto

Palmetto earned 4.4 out of 5 stars according to our methodology. The company scored more points for its comprehensive service selection and long-term protection plans.

Here’s how it rated in our key categories:

  • Solar Equipment and Services (20 out of 25 points): Palmetto offers an excellent selection of solar services, including solar battery and electric vehicle (EV) charger installation. We especially like that the company focuses on using in-house installers.
  • Warranty and Performance Guarantees (16 out of 25 points): The company’s warranty options don’t stand out as much as Sunrun’s. It offers industry-standard coverage for 25 years on products and 10 years on labor.
  • Brand Reputation and Professional Certifications (14 out of 15 points): Palmetto features a highly positive online reputation on popular review sites such as the BBB. The company also screens its installers to ensure they’re certified with the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).
  • Financing Options (13.5 out of 15 points): Palmetto doesn’t provide in-house financing but offers all possible payment methods.
  • Industry Experience (8 out of 10 points): Palmetto holds a decent amount of experience, with 15 years in the industry.
  • State Availability (8 out of 10 points): The company provides services to 17 states.
Pros and Cons
Pros Boasts multiple customer support contact methods, including a mobile app Offers an online calculator to help you determine potential solar savings Provides tiered protection plans for additional system coverage Cons Charges more for the highest-tiered protection plan Features reviews about installation delays Limits its active monitoring services to three years
Warranty and Financing

Warranty

Palmetto includes a 25-year panel warranty, 12-year inverter warranty, 10-year workmanship warranty, plus five years of roof penetration coverage.

Financing Options

✔ Full purchase
✔ Lease
✔ Loan
✔ PPA

Reputation and Reviews

Palmetto holds an A+ rating and accreditation with the BBB. The company also features an overall positive customer score on the site. We noticed former customers praised Palmetto for its dedicated installation managers and quality systems but mentioned very long permitting periods and installation delays. This recent Reddit thread showed us that an Oakland homeowner received a fair and highly competitive quote from the company.

Sunrun Best Solar Panel Leasing
4.4

Sunrun offers two leasing options for those uninterested in full system ownership. We typically advise homeowners to avoid solar leases, but Sunrun offers standout leasing options that compete with solar loan options.

How We Scored Sunrun

Sunrun earned 4.4 out of 5 stars. Sunrun’s warranty coverage and long-standing reputation in the industry are impressive compared to other providers in our review. Its service selection is rather simple, but Sunrun is an excellent option for Californians who desire flexibility in leasing and financing.

Here’s a closer look at how it did in each category:

  • Solar Equipment and Services (15 out of 25 points): Sunrun only provides solar panel and battery installation. The company also uses third-party installers. Third-party installers are becoming an industry standard, but in-house installers often yield better communication and quality.
  • Warranty and Performance Guarantees (19 out of 25 points): The company offers an impressive 25-year manufacturer and labor warranty. However, it doesn’t include a performance guarantee. 
  • Brand Reputation and Professional Certifications (13 out of 15 points): Sunrun features a high BBB rating and appears to have an overall positive reputation across other sites we check, such as Reddit.
  • Financing Options (13.5 out of 15 points): The company doesn’t offer any in-house financing but provides flexible financing plans through third-party lenders and its leasing plans. Its leases also include more warranty coverage than other providers, such as Palmetto.
  • Industry Experience (9 out of 10 points): Sunrun has been in business for 17 years, which is longer than that of other providers in our review.
  • State Availability (8 out of 10 points): The company operates in 18 states.
Pros and Cons
Pros Offers insurance protection for theft or damage Provides flexible financing options, such as two lease types Sells EV chargers and battery add-ons Cons 25-year warranty is only for lease and prepaid customers There are extra costs for coverage plans included in leases Has online reviews mentioning delayed repairs
Warranty and Financing

Warranty

Sunrun offers a 10-year comprehensive warranty that includes product, roof penetration, and workmanship coverage. Leasing customers receive an extended 25-year warranty, providing insurance protection for theft and damage.

Financing Options

✔ Full purchase
✔ Lease
✔ Loan
✔ PPA

Reputation and Reviews

Sunrun holds an A+ rating and accreditation from the BBB. Customers applaud Sunrun for its comprehensive coverage on leased systems, but they also complain about delayed installations, poor customer service, and poor communication with project managers. We noticed in recent Reddit threads that some homeowners are confused by Sunrun’s leasing and PPA options. However, these same threads mentioned that Sunrun is willing to go over these plans when asked, but the up-front information is confusing. 

Elevation Best Energy-Efficient Upgrades
4.6

Elevation started its California branch in 2014. Like Palmetto, the company understands that Californian solar energy requires ongoing support. The company sells high-efficiency panels, batteries, and energy-monitoring equipment. It also conducts whole-home energy audits to identify where you’re losing energy and increasing utility bills. Elevation will repair these issues so your home’s energy efficiency increases while your electricity bills go down.

How We Scored Elevation

We awarded Elevation 4.6 out of 5 stars. The company boasts one of the best service selections, given its focus on entire home energy efficiency updates. Here’s how it did in our key categories:

  • Solar Equipment and Services (20 out of 25 points): The company offers many services, but one it doesn’t provide that many other providers do is solar roofing installation.
  • Warranty and Performance Guarantees (22 out of 25 points): Elevation provides impressive warranty coverage with 25 years on production, product, and workmanship. It only lacks roof leak protection. 
  • Brand Reputation and Professional Certifications (14 out of 15 points): Elevation has a nearly flawless reputation, but its customer review score on its BBB profile sits below 4 out of 5 stars.
  • Financing Options (13.5 out of 15 points): The company offers all possible solar payment methods but doesn’t provide any in-house financing solutions. 
  • Industry Experience (7 out of 10 points): Elevation is a newer company that entered the picture in 2014.
  • State Availability (6 out of 10 points): The company limits its service area to less than 10 states.
Pros and Cons
Pros Handles efficiency upgrades through an in-house installation team Conducts full-home energy efficiency audits Offers advanced energy monitoring devices Cons Known for installation delays, according to customer reviews Only available in five states You must make additional payments for extended warranty coverage
Warranty and Financing

Warranty

Elevation offers 25-year warranties for product, performance, and workmanship coverage.

Financing Options

✔ Full purchase
✔ Lease
✔ Loan
✔ PPA

Reputation and Reviews

Elevation features an A+ rating and accreditation with the BBB. The company also appears active on the site and replies to over 90% of reviews. We saw that customers reported finding value in its home efficiency audits and upgrades, which are especially helpful with California’s high utility costs. However, others mentioned installation process delays, which made the time line of going solar longer than necessary.

Tesla Solar Best Solar Tech
4

Tesla is one of the few solar companies to provide you with an up-front solar quote on its website. It offers a range of sleekly designed solar panels and shingles that blend into your existing roof. Tesla also used to be headquartered in California, so the company maintains a strong presence in the state, making customer support easier to access than in other states. The company is also responsible for the Tesla Powerwall, one of the most popular solar batteries.

How We Scored Tesla Solar

Tesla scored 4 out of 5 stars. Tesla is a staple in the industry, but it keeps its services fairly standard and suffers from a less desirable customer service reputation. Here’s how it did in our key categories:

  • Solar Equipment and Services (18 out of 25 points): Tesla offers standard solar panel system installation, solar roof installation, and installation of its Powerwalls. We also found the company’s active monitoring services impressive.
  • Warranty and Performance Guarantees (16 out of 25 points): Tesla limits its warranty coverage compared to competitors.
  • Brand Reputation and Professional Certifications (5 out of 15 points): Tesla features an overall negative online reputation despite being a massive provider in the solar industry. The company also doesn’t focus on working with NABCEP-certified installers, which means the quality of its installations varies greatly from area to area.
  • Financing Options (10.5 out of 15 points): Tesla only offers full purchase and solar loan payment methods. 
  • Industry Experience (7 out of 10 points): The company holds 18 years of experience.
  • State Availability (8 out of 10 points): Tesla serves all 50 states to some degree, but specific service offerings change according to ZIP code.
Pros and Cons
Pros Offers up to 10 Tesla Powerwalls with each installation Provides transparent online quotes with full pricing details Sells solar roofing options that replace your entire roof Cons Customer reviews mention long wait times for repairs and installation Lacks customization options, limiting system size to four options Only offers third-party installation services
Warranty and Financing

Warranty

Offers a 25-year performance warranty on its systems, but only a 10-year comprehensive warranty covering product and workmanship.

Financing Options

✔ Full purchase
✔ Loan

Reputation and Reviews

Tesla features an F rating on the BBB and no accreditation. Tesla customers praised the company for the panel and Powerwall performances but experienced constant issues scheduling repairs and servicing. Overall, we found that Tesla features many issues around communication. Some recent Reddit discussions around the company’s work in Northern CA echo similar sentiments: excellent performance but bad communication. 


What Is the Cost of Solar Panel Installation in California?

Our research showed that California’s average solar panel system costs around $17,160 for a standard 6 kW system. This aligns with reports from some installers in the state, such as SunPower, which shared its average install price in the state lands between $12,550 and $55,300. Regardless, several factors will affect what you pay for your solar panel installation, including the following:

  • Household electrical demand: This is the monthly electricity your household uses. You’ll need a larger, more expensive system to match your needs if you have high monthly energy consumption.
  • Labor: Labor costs vary by location and are more expensive in states with higher living costs, such as California. All solar providers also charge different prices.
  • Panel quality: The equipment you choose greatly impacts both your electricity production and overall cost. More expensive equipment doesn’t always mean higher savings, while the cheapest option can sacrifice value.
  • Purchasing option: You can pay with one lump sum, take out a loan or lease, or enter a PPA. Each option affects how much you’ll spend in the short and long term.
  • System and panel size: Your panels and overall system size are the most influential factors in your installation cost. The bigger the system, the higher the price tag.

Get a better idea of what going solar in California might cost you with our table below.

Cost per Watt*Cost per System SizeCost After Incentives
$2.86$14,300 for 5-kW$10,010
$2.86$17,160 for 6-kW$12,012
$2.86$20,020 for 7-kW$14,014
$2.86$22,880 for 8-kW$16,016
*Cost data via EnergySage

What Solar Incentives Are Available in California?

The Golden State aims to have 100% clean energy by 2045, and California officials have spent several years pushing for solar conversion. California provides several solar incentives, credits, and rebates to help offset solar system costs, making going solar more affordable.

All California residents qualify for the federal tax credit. This program offers up to 30% off solar installation costs for photovoltaic (PV) panels. This credit also applies to stand-alone solar battery installation, making adding battery backup options to existing solar systems more affordable. The federal tax credit is not a rebate or cash payment. Instead, it’s applied to your owed federal tax liability. At tax time, this credit helps reduce or eliminate any owed taxes. 

We highlight the Golden State’s biggest incentives below, but we encourage you to look into our in-depth guide on California solar incentives to get an even better idea of which ones you may qualify for.

  • Active Solar Energy System Property Tax Exemption: This exemption allows you to benefit from solar panels boosting your home value without increasing your property tax. 
  • Disadvantaged Communities – Single-Family Solar Homes (DAC-SASH): This program provides affordable solar system installations to California’s most underprivileged homeowners. You must meet income requirements and be a current customer of Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), or Southern California Edison (SCE). 
  • Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP): This program provides up-front rebates for the addition of a solar battery to your home system. The SGIP offers $200 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of stored energy capacity. For example, you would earn about $2,700 in Tesla Powerwall cost savings, thanks to its 13.5-kWh energy capacity. 
  • Equity Resilience Rebate Program: This rebate program offers up to $1,000 per kWh to low-income households, homeowners in high-risk fire areas, and those who have experienced two or more Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events.
  • Local incentives and rebates: Additional incentives and rebates are available to residents in certain counties, cities, and municipalities. Some utility customers may receive special rebates for solar panel and battery storage installations. 

Check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency for a complete list of local incentives.


What Areas Do Solar Installation Companies Service in CA?

Solar installers’ service areas might change based on your ZIP code or city. Use our tool below to see the top solar installers in your area. 

Find Solar Companies in Top California Cities

Are There Solar Regulations in California?

California imposes a few different regulations regarding residential solar energy systems. As of January 2023, various new regulations and building codes have been implemented in California that may influence your solar journey. Here’s a breakdown of key solar regulations in California:

  • 2020 Solar Mandate: This is part of the California Energy Commission’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards, which is a mandate that requires all newly built homes to install solar photovoltaic systems. These requirements focus on the floor area of the home and the climate zone. The solar panel systems must be sized to provide for the full annual energy usage of the home. These Title 24 requirements generally place the range between 2.7 and 5.7 kilowatts. These average system sizes take into consideration the fact that new homes will also include other technology that will enable them to be more energy-efficient overall. There are exceptions to this mandate, which are if a home’s roof is too small, experiences too much shade, or if the home already has access to community solar. 
  • 2022 Solar PV, Solar Ready, Battery, and Electric Ready Energy Code: This code is also part of the new Building Energy Efficiency Standards and requires all single-family homes to be electric-ready. It will include guidance for professionals installing battery storage systems. The battery portion of the mandate currently only applies to select businesses, but it’s a good indication of where future code updates may go.
  • NEM3: NEM3 is shorthand for the third version of the state’s net energy metering program. Solar users who got their solar before NEM3 are referred to as NEM1 or NEM2, depending on the year their solar turned on. Solar users under NEM3 will earn 75%–80% less from the utility for the extra solar energy they share with the grid. Compensation for that extra energy will go from an average of 30 cents per kWh to around 5 cents per kWh. These changes will extend the payback period for a solar investment from an average of six years to more than 10 years.

Remember the following factors when comparing potential California installers: 

Different companies offer varying coverage areas. A company might be listed for full state coverage, but it may only service a few specific cities. Verify the coverage area for any potential companies and ensure they include your city or ZIP code. Also, check with the company concerning its installer’s locations to ensure they offer local services. 

We recommend checking online reviews from trusted review sites such as the Better Business Bureau, TrustPilot, and Google Reviews. Check both positive and negative reviews to best gauge current and former customer experiences. Review details concerning customer support, panel quality, installation, repairs, and warranty claims.

Up-front payments and solar loans offer the best return on investment and the shortest solar payback period. Therefore, we recommend considering companies that offer you the ability to pay your system in full or have loan options. These financing options also qualify you for federal and state solar incentives. Solar leases and PPAs offer the least financial advantages since the panels remain under the solar company’s name. 

Solar brand availability varies between installers. Some companies offer several name-brand solar products, while others limit their offerings to in-house. With California receiving 258 sunny days yearly, you’ll want excellent solar panels to maximize your savings. Top-quality solar panels offer the best power production and energy savings potential. Compare solar installer catalogs to find the right panel for your needs and budget. 

We recommend investing in solar companies with 25-year equipment warranties. Solar panels last 25 years on average, ensuring coverage throughout their lifetime. Look for companies offering 25-year manufacturer (or product) and workmanship coverage. Some companies also provide power performance warranties that guarantee panel performance for a set time frame. This ensures your panels remain in excellent performance for your entire warranty. 

Professional installers we spoke to recommend working with companies with at least 10 years of solar industry experience. You should also consider companies with extensive business experience, even if they’re new to solar. Established companies often buy existing solar companies to enter the industry. A proven track record of reliability and longevity provides peace of mind for the future.


Questions to Ask Your Solar Installer

You’ll likely meet with company representatives to discuss your potential solar system after requesting quotes. We’ve compiled a list of questions to ask your potential installer to help you prepare for those meetings.

  • Are you a NABCEP-certified installer or work with certificated installers? Do you have or work with master electricians?
  • Do you assist with solar tax incentive research and applications?
  • Do you have examples of local solar projects and reviews from your current customers?
  • Does your company use in-house installers or third-party contractors?
  • What additional solar services do you offer? What’s included in my contract? What services do you offer at cost?
  • What financing options do you offer? Do you offer financing directly through your company or specific lenders?
  • What is my estimated solar savings and solar payback period?
  • What is the condition of my roof? Will I need additional repairs or upgrades completed before installing solar panels? What about additional services such as tree removal or electrical upgrades?
  • What official licenses and insurance do you have? What about your subcontractors?
  • What warranties come with my panels? What additional guarantees are included for roof leaks, panel performance, or other solar-related coverage?

How Can You Save Money on Solar?

Our research showed that Californians pay around $2.73 per watt for a solar panel system, which places California’s solar cost higher than the $2.66 average. You still save more with solar energy in California despite higher up-front costs. Below are some tips we’ve compiled to help you make the most out of your investment:

Review each company’s solar financing options. This includes the financing terms, initial payments, interest rates, and lender choices. Select the most cost-effective option for your budget, but we recommend you consider a full purchase and solar loan over leasing or a PPA. These options yield higher long-term savings.
Review each solar installer’s quote for equipment details, such as the number of panels required for installation and any extra solar components. Compare your options and select the best panels for your energy needs. Investing in high-efficiency panels is ideal, but you don’t need that much power production if your home energy needs are low.
We recommended getting quotes from at least three providers. Your quotes should include potential savings estimates, solar equipment, payback period, and warranty coverage.
Use federal and state solar incentives to help reduce investment costs. We discovered that some programs in California require lengthy paperwork and approvals, so take your time to read all qualifications and make a note of any deadlines.

Steps to follow

The solar installation process requires several steps and involves your solar company, local officials, and utility company. Understanding the solar installation process before committing to your chosen solar company is best. Here are the general steps involved with a solar installation: 

You meet with a company representative to discuss your savings potential and energy needs. Many companies offer in-person and virtual consultations. You need a recent copy of your electricity bill to help with this estimate.

The sales rep inspects your roof for any structural issues and design complications. They determine your overall roof space and plan your system based on spatial availability. The rep may advise you of any structural concerns and recommend roof repair or upgrades as needed. They may also advise of additional services such as tree removal or electrical upgrades.

Company reps design your panel based on the site survey and initial energy assessment. You then choose your panels, system components, and any additional equipment. Finally, you receive a detailed quote to review before signing a contract. Once signed, the company begins filing necessary paperwork and design plans with local officials. The permitting process varies but could take two to four weeks. 

Installers arrive with panels, wiring, racking systems, add-on components, and any other necessary equipment. A typical installation usually takes one or two days. The solar company should provide timely updates for any delays in installation.

Your installer works with local officials for a final inspection. Solar installations must meet local codes and design plans to qualify for activation. This process could add two to four weeks, depending on your solar company and local officials’ availability.

Your installer coordinates grid connections and final approvals with your local utility company. Your system is granted permission to operate and is ready for use once it receives all approvals.


Our Conclusion

We recommend Palmetto Solar if you want to take full advantage of California’s plentiful sunny days and maximize your solar savings. The company offers some of the best ongoing support to make the most out of your investment. Sunrun is another excellent option if leasing matches your budgeting needs and energy goals.

We recommend getting quotes from at least three providers. You should also consider a few key factors, such as your home’s amount of direct daily sunlight, your roof’s layout, slope, and direction, and your average monthly electricity usage, before contacting solar contractors. Ask for local references and check online reviews for each installer.


FAQ About Solar Companies in CA

Can a homeowners association (HOA) in California prohibit solar panel installation?

No. The California Solar Rights Act prevents HOAs from limiting your ability to install solar panels on your property. However, HOAs may still maintain some oversight as to how and when your system is installed. For example, HOA rules might require the approval of solar system plans before the installation process can begin.

Is California paying people to go solar?

Not necessarily. The California Public Utilities Commission says that eligible customers can receive up to $3 per watt in incentives for solar installations, and you may also receive a rebate through the SGIP for installing a solar battery in addition to solar panels. You’re not necessarily paid for these installations, but you receive some financial compensation to lessen the total cost.

Is solar worth it in California?

Solar energy is worth it in California for several reasons. California has some of the country’s highest electricity costs. A solar panel system takes advantage of the state’s abundant sunlight, making clean energy a long-term, cost-effective solution to energy bill reduction. Additionally, California offers several government incentives and rebates to help combat greenhouse gas emissions, making solar energy an excellent option for environmentally conscious California homeowners.

Do solar panels increase property taxes in California?

No, solar panel installation doesn’t increase property taxes for California homes. According to Section 73 of the state’s revenue and taxation code, qualifying solar installations receive a property tax exclusion.


Our Rating Methodology

The This Old House Reviews Team is committed to providing comprehensive and unbiased reviews to our readers. After over a thousand hours of research on solar companies, interviews with experts, and common customer needs, we’ve created a detailed rating system for solar providers based on six factors:

  • Solar equipment, installation, and services (25%)
  • Warranty and performance guarantees (25%)
  • Brand reputation and certifications (15%)
  • Financing options (15%)
  • Experience (10%)
  • Availability (10%)

Total scores are divided by 20 for a final 5-point rating scale.

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