San Diego Solar Panel Guide

San Diego Solar Panels on House

Solar in San Diego California

Southern California is one of the best places to install a solar panel system. With over 260 days of sunshine a year, San Diego leads the way when it comes to solar power. Folks considering solar panel installation, be it for a home or business, have many incentives at the local, state, and federal levels.

Careful consideration should be taken before installing a photovoltaic (PV) system on your property. Several factors: out-of-pocket expense, financing, availability of rebates and incentives, maintenance and upkeep, the slope and direction of your roof as well as the amount of shade it receives during the day all play an important role in determining if a solar panel system is right for you.

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Advantages of Solar Power for San Diegans

There are many advantages to using solar power but it also has a few drawbacks as well. Below you will find a short list of both the advantages and disadvantages of solar panel systems.

Earth Friendly

Since solar energy comes from the sun, it is a clean, renewable and sustainable energy source. You are doing your part by reducing your carbon footprint, which is important to reduce harmful greenhouse gases.

Solar energy produces no harmful emissions, helps to reduce greenhouse gases, and utilizes one of California’s most abundant natural resources.

Energy Savings

The amount of energy savings you will realize depends on how much energy you use and how much of that energy is produced by the photovoltaic panels. It can also vary depending on how much you pay your utility company for the energy you use when your PV panels. The amount of energy you can expect your PV system to produce will depend on several factors including:

  • The efficiency of your photovoltaic panels
  • Proper sizing of the system during initial installation
  • The panels orientation or angle relative to the sun
  • Periodic maintenance and cleaning of the solar panels
  • And last but not least, the weather

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Disadvantages of Solar Power for San Diegans


Initial cost can run high meaning you can expect a heavy out-of- pocket expense when purchasing a new system; however, The several incentive programs can reduce these costs.


Solar energy is intermittent meaning the system requires sunlight to produce electricity. Cloudy, overcast days as well as nightfall will reduce or cease electrical production.

Rules and Regulations

Most localities require an in depth analysis of your area, existing structure and detailed plan before granting your contractor a permit for installation.

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Solar Energy Incentives in California

Several incentives can make solar power even more affordable.

California State Solar Initiative

  • The California Solar Initiative has exhausted its funding and is closed to new applications. You can visit their website for updates and information on future programs.
  • Tax relief. California laws are in place prohibiting the increase of property values and taxes related to the installation of solar panel systems.
  • The CSI solar hot water rebate program funds solar hot water (solar thermal systems) for homes and businesses. You can learn how to apply by visiting their website Centers for Sustainable Energy or by calling 1-858-244-1177.

Federal Investment Tax Credit

The Federal Investment Tax Credit provides a tax credit up to 30 percent of the net cost of a qualifying solar panel system. One caveat to this credit is you must owe taxes for this credit to be beneficial but it can also be rolled over to the next year if your tax bill is small this year.

Net Metering

Net metering is a billing mechanism that allows solar panel owners a credit for the electricity their solar panels add to the grid. This can help reduce the costs of your traditional utility bill.

Financing Options

If your budget does not support the costs of purchasing a solar panel system, consider leasing or a power purchase agreement (PPA). A lease agreement means you never own the equipment just pay to lease it, and eliminates high out-of-pocket expenses, as most require little to no down payment. The difference between leases and PPAs is that when you enter into a power purchase agreement, someone else owns the equipment and you just pay for the power it produces. With both a lease and PPA, the vendor handles the installation and required system maintenance.


You can also explore options with your financial institution. Some banks and credit unions offer green loans, money you can borrow at a reduced rate for green projects. They also offer traditional loan programs such as home equity and personal loans. Many solar contracting companies offer financing options for little or no money down with zero percent financing.

Final Solar Considerations

Before committing to solar panel installation, hire a solar company to determine the feasibility of solar panels for your home. Prospective home-buyers considering solar power energy in the future should also consider the feasibility of solar power before purchasing their new home.

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