n recent years, there has been a massive shift towards clean energy. Solar power can be generated everywhere, but logically, photovoltaic panels are more efficient in sun-rich places. California is one of the sunniest places in the United States: let’s see how much a solar system can cost in its second-largest city.
What factors influence solar system cost?
Naturally, the cost of a solar system depends on a long list of factors. Let’s take a look at the two key aspects that have a major impact on the cost of your photovoltaic panels.
- Solar system size.
This one is pretty obvious – the more panels you install, the higher will be the cost of your solar system. The number of panels depends on your electricity needs and your solar potential, such as the number of solar modules that could be placed on your rooftop.
- Solar system location.
Photovoltaic panel costs vary from state to state, partly because of the amount of sunshine the state receives. Usually, solar power is more expensive in regions farther from the equator (a good example would be Alaska) and costs less for sun-drenched areas (like California).
Is it worth going solar in San Diego?
Being located in California, San Diego is a perfect place to invest in solar installation. The average daytime temperature here is about 75 degrees Fahrenheit. During summer, the average rises to 79 degrees; in December and January, it falls only to 69 degrees. Because PV panels work best at 77 degrees Fahrenheit, they can demonstrate their peak performance almost all year long in the SoCal metropolis.
Average solar panel cost in the United States
A typical residential 5 KW solar system in the United States will cost between $15,000 and $20,000. However, the cost will be much lower after the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Today, the ITC implies reimbursing 30 percent of the initial price of a PV system.
Average cost of solar panels in San Diego
The average cost of solar panels in San Diego is around $2.55 per watt - lower than the average price of photovoltaic systems across the United States, which is currently $3.00 per watt 1. Let’s check how the solar installation size affects the cost (the table below shows the prices before and after the Investment Tax Credit).
As you can see, the average prices of photovoltaic systems in San Diego are lower than in many other states. For example, a 5-kilowatt system will cost $12,750 before ITC, less than the U.S. average.
Solar initiatives available in San Diego
Although the Federal Investment Tax Credit is undoubtedly a major financial driver for U.S. solar installations, many states also offer additional incentives. There are even some programs for certain cities, like the San Diego Solar Equity Program announced by SDG&E® company and the city of San Diego on August 9th, 2022.
This program is designed to enable moderate and low-income families who live within this Californian city to install rooftop PV modules. To qualify, homeowners must have a total household income of $128,300 or less annually for a family of four 2. The program aims to cover 100% of the cost of installing solar.
What are the undeniable advantages of solar installations?
Now that we have a helicopter view of current solar prices let’s raise the topic of why solar power benefits homeowners in the birthplace of California.
Solar power can cut your bills
Reduced electricity bills might be the most talked-about reason many people switch to solar energy. Most likely, residential photovoltaic panels will only partially eliminate your power bill. But solar could reduce your monthly electricity expenses by 40-70%.
Your electric bill is based on how much energy your house draws from the grid. Thus, the more solar energy you use, the less you are charged monthly. Suppose you have some excess solar energy produced by your panels. It can either be fed into the grid in exchange for monthly billing credits (net metering) or stored as backup power for short-term future use, such as at night and during power outages.
Solar energy is a clean energy source
PV systems offer clean and renewable energy. Solar power has no adverse environmental impacts, such as greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide. Since the sun’s energy is abundant, electricity from solar power is a vital energy source for humanity on its path to sustainable living.
A solar system increases your home’s value
Photovoltaic panels can boost your home's market value. Several studies show that solar equipment increases the property’s value by 3 to 4%. So, you shouldn't worry that you will lose money if you install a solar system and move to another place - you will still reap the benefits.
If you go solar, what are the difficulties you may confront?
It would be unfair to mention only the positive sides of solar energy. Let’s look at some issues that should be considered when you buy a PV system.
High solar upfront cost
The upfront cost of a solar panel system is pretty high. This includes purchasing photovoltaic panels, inverters, batteries, wiring, and installation. However, the situation is getting better – solar prices have gotten cheaper over the past ten years and are expected to continue to fall over the long term.
Solar efficiency varies in different locations
Solar efficiency is weather-dependent. The most power is generated in regions with many sunny days. But even if the state where your house is situated receives tons of sunlight year-round, it doesn’t always mean that exactly your location is perfect for solar.
Firstly, extreme heat can damage photovoltaic panels. Another factor that decreases solar productivity is shading caused by trees or nearby buildings. Moreover, if you install solar equipment on your roof, the intended area should face true south; otherwise, the installation may be less effective. To get the most out of your solar system, install and maintain them properly.
Solar modules don’t work at night
Technically, your solar system cannot produce electricity without sunlight, so it can only work during the daytime. The good news is that you can always install batteries to back up your PV equipment in case you need some solar power when it is impossible to generate it immediately.