How to Use the Solar Calculator
The best way to learn about local rebates, your home’s energy potential, and your eventual return on investment is to use our ModSun Solar Cost Calculator (see above). Enter your home address in the box, then click Check My Roof. You’ll get an instant picture of your roof’s productivity, your average energy expenses, and installation costs in your area—whether you decide to buy or loan. We’ll also provide system size recommendations and information about rebates and incentives you may be eligible for. Just select More Info under each purchasing strategy to learn more, and then connect with a solar pro.
Solar in San Francisco
San Francisco area residents interested in harnessing the sun’s energy to reduce their utility bills have several options available. The following information should help to get you started and pointed in the right direction.
About Solar Panels
Solar panels use arrays of photovoltaic (PV) cells to convert the suns clean renewable energy — photons — into usable electricity. Residential and commercial solar energy systems are most often mounted on the rooftops of buildings but can be mounted on the ground as well. Typical systems generate an average of between 2KW and 10 KW. This will depend on the size of the system, where it is located, as well as the annual weather conditions.
Rules and Regulations
Most cities and their localities require applicable permits for installation. Along with a licensed and insured contractor certified in solar energy systems and installation, you will also need the services of a licensed electrician to make the necessary grid connections. This not only ensures your solar panel system is installed correctly, but also maintains manufacturer’s warranties, which could be voided if you install the system yourself.
Because of San Francisco’s close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the area is famous for foggy weather. Even through fog, your solar panels will still generate electricity, just not as much as they would on a clear day.
Annually, San Fransisco receives sun 66 percent of the time. In addition, when you combine those sunny days with average annual temperature of 57 degrees — solar panels work best in cool weather — San Francisco becomes one of the most ideal solar panel locations in the country.
Solar Panel Rebates
Aside from the obvious benefits of solar generated energy, San Francisco area residents have access to great rebates. San Francisco area residents and business owners interested in installing solar panels on their homes or commercial buildings can realize reduced out-of-pocket costs through the city’s GoSolarSF incentive program. Basic solar systems are eligible for up to a $2000 dollar rebate with low-income families receiving up to $7000 dollars! You can expect to add another $750 dollar rebate when you use a local contractor to install your solar system.
The above referenced city rebates are a sweet deal but they don’t stop there. Through the Federal Solar Tax Credit program, solar panel owners can receive a tax credit equaling around 30 percent of the installation costs. Of course, you have to 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. You can expect around a $6500 dollar rebate on a typical 5kw solar power system.
Additionally, California law prohibits increases to your property tax bill due to the expected increase of your home’s value after installing a solar panel system. On average, solar panels can increase your home’s value approximately 20 times your annual savings in electricity, which could be significant.
According to GoSolar California, the cost to install a PV system on an average sized home in California is between $19,000 and $34,800 for a three to four-kilowatt system. This does not take into account any existing rebates or incentive programs and does include installation.
Multiple financing options are available to help San Francisco residents pay for their solar energy systems.
- Home equity loans are a common method used by homeowners to pay off their solar energy systems.
- Through a power purchase agreement or PPA, a third party company maintains and retains ownership of the solar energy system. Homeowners choosing this option pay for only the electricity they use.
- A solar lease is an attractive option for homeowners and businesses alike who don’t want to incur the upfront costs and maintenance of a new system. They simply rent the panels while reaping the benefits from the electricity they produce.
Before purchasing a new solar panel system, it is important to weigh all of your options. There are many factors involved in the decision process; both financially and regarding installation that will help you decide if solar power is a viable option for you.