Are Solar Panels Worth the Investment in California?

November 26, 2018
Are Solar Panels Worth the Investment in California?

According to the Department of Energy (NREL), the average cost for a 5kW residential solar installation is more than $16,000. This national estimate is even higher in California due to our state’s more expensive installation and labor costs.

Either way, going solar can be a hefty investment for many homeowners. They want the benefits that installing photovoltaic (PV) panels can deliver. But they lack the upfront money required to receive:

  • Monthly electricity bill savings (i.e. cheaper power).
  • Massive environmental savings (i.e. carbon offsets).

If you’re also on a tight budget, you may have your own doubts as well. Does it really make sense to shell out thousands of dollars to receive these benefits?

The short answer is “YES.” Even in an expensive state like California, going solar is worth the investment.

Let’s explore why that is.

Why Solar Panels Are Always a Good Investment

The main reason why homeowners go solar is to reduce the amount of money they pay to their local utility companies. With PV panels installed, you’re able to generate your own clean power on-site – entirely from free sunshine. And as a result, you don’t have to spend as much on expensive grid electricity.

Because of these monthly savings, your solar panels are guaranteed to eventually pay for themselves. This is particularly true in a market like California that has:

  • Abundant, year-round sunshine.
  • Relatively high electricity prices.
If your solar savings amount to $100 a month, for example, it would take about 13.5 years for your $16,000 PV installation to break even.

And that’s assuming utility rates stay constant over that period.

They won’t.

Nationwide, electricity prices are on an upward trend. So your monthly savings will actually increase with time, resulting in an even shorter payback period.

And that’s also assuming you pay the full $16,000+ ticket price for your PV panels.

You won’t.

And here’s why:

  • Most residential solar installations qualify for the Federal Investment Tax Credit – a lucrative subsidy that automatically reduces the total cost of your installation by 30% (parts and labor included).
  • In addition, California has a generous net energy metering (NEM) program. This incentive allows you to sell unused solar electricity to the grid in exchange for utility credits.

If you use either (or both) of these incentives, the payback period of your solar investment becomes much shorter.

But it gets even better.

You Can Go Solar without Paying Anything Upfront

It’s possible to receive a brand-new solar PV installation without paying any upfront expenses out-of-pocket.

In fact, there are 2 different approaches you can use.

1. Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)

With a Solar Power Purchase Agreement, you pay $0 upfront to have panels installed on your home. And you only pay for the electricity these solar panels generate every month.

This is a very attractive option for homeowners on a limited budget. Just know that you’ll never officially “break even” with a power purchase agreement. Instead, you’re simply buying electricity from a cheaper and cleaner energy source – i.e. the sun.

2. Solar Loans

The other approach is to take out a low-interest solar loan. Again, you pay $0 upfront to get started. And you use the money received to cover the full cost of your PV installation.

Thereafter, you pay down the loan balance using your monthly electricity bill savings. And with incredibly low interest rates ranging from 2.99% (for 15-year loans) to 3.99% (for 20-year loans), you’ll still have extra money left over every month.

So even though you’ve technically gone into debt, it is still cash flow positive as you’re not pay anything out-of-pocket to receive these solar benefits.

And it gets better.

Your Solar Investment Is Guaranteed with Bright Planet Consulting

At Bright Planet Consulting, we carefully design our solar PV installations to deliver payback periods of 8 years or less – 100% guaranteed.

There are never any surprises. The breakeven point of your solar investment is set in stone.

In addition, we can also help you:

  • Qualify for affordable solar financing – whether you want to use cash, leases, or loans.
  • Apply for relevant solar incentives to help drive down the total cost of your installation.

And for qualifying PV systems, we’ll even throw in a complimentary electrical panel upgrade. ($3,300 value)

The question isn’t whether you can afford to go solar. It’s whether you can you afford NOT to.

Ready to Go Solar with Bright Planet Consulting?

If you live in the Bay Area and want to learn more about our approach to affordable solar solutions, contact us today for a free consultation.

To compare solar financing options and see how much you can save, use our solar calculator below.

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Working with Paul, was excellent. Paul, helped me obtain solar panels for my residence. Paul's attention to detailed and knowledge of the Company was great. All of my questions were answered in a very timely and professional manner.
San Jose