How Much Does Solar Cost?

Why the Cost of Solar Varies

One of the most common questions we get asked is how much will residential solar cost. A person might say, “My house is 2,000 square feet, how much will solar cost?” or, “What does someone typically pay for solar?” While these questions are valid and among our most frequently asked, the answer is not as simple as it would seem. The cost of residential solar in San Diego varies not only from solar company to solar company but also from customer to customer. 

Four Cost Considerations

System Size

Energy usage and your electricity bills

Your solar power system size is the first factor considered in determining solar panel system cost. Historical energy consumption comes into play in this determination. Our Solar Energy Consultants look at a typical year of usage so they can know how much electricity is used over the entire course of a year, not just certain months. While home size does affect usage, there’s more to it than X amount of square feet equals Y kWh of electricity when determining the total output needed for your solar installation.

By understanding your historical energy consumption, our consultants can design a solar power system that will produce enough electricity to cover the power demands of your home over the course of a year. They’ll also plan ahead by addressing future plans or lifestyle choices that may affect your home energy consumption in coming years. Our consultants will ask questions such as, “Do you run your air conditioning as often as you’d like?” Are you considering an electric vehicle?” or “Are your kids moving out in the near future?”. All of these can contribute to the overall size of the system (how many panels you need and what efficiency), and thus the cost of the system. 

For example, if you tell us that you use your AC a bit but not as much as you’d like, our consultants can estimate how much more electricity that extra AC use will consume. The same principle applies to other high-demand appliances, such as pool pumps, EV chargers, hot tubs, etc... Your energy usage determines the needed output of your solar panel system.

Our consultants design custom solar systems that are intended to meet our customers’ energy needs for the next 25 years. Understanding your past electricity usage and future plans for power is critical when trying to keep the cost of your solar panel system to a minimum.

Roof orientation for solar panels

Once it’s determined how much electricity you’ll need your solar power system to generate, the next factor considered is design. We’ll explore how your solar panels can be arranged on your home’s rooftop to achieve your electricity demands. 

Direction plays an important part in optimizing your system by the amount of energy that is captured from the sun's rays. South is the ideal orientation for your rooftop. A south-facing panel orientation exposes your panels to as much sunlight as possible. 

Total available roof space is also important. Your home may have great south-facing roof pitches, but if the available space is too small to hold the needed solar panels to create the system you need, then a large enough system may not be feasible. This is where the quality and efficiency of the solar panels used comes into play. Lower-quality panels often offered by big-name national solar companies are typically low- wattage, which means you’ll need a lot of them. Baker carries industry-leading Sunpower solar panels, the highest-efficiency panels available on the market. 


Solar Products Used

Solar array generation demands, roof orientation, and available space help determine the solar panels to be used on your home. The wattage output of solar panels varies widely along a spectrum, ranging from around 200 watts to 350 watts. As you’ve probably guessed, the price of these panels varies greatly, too.

Not all solar panels are created equally. Solar panels are manufactured differently and offer different warranties. SunPower, the maker of the most efficient solar panel available to homeowners, not only offers the highest-rated efficiency panels anywhere but also provides the industry’s best warranty.

Another product that is often overlooked by homeowners but can ultimately cost you thousands of dollars in damage is the roof mount. There are cheap, single-flashed roof mount products and then there's Quick Mount PV. Baker chooses Quick Mount PV as it's roof mount vendor because their products are the best. They are more expensive than the other cheap brands, but we wouldn't put our name behind anything less. Check out this blog post that gives a more in-depth comparison between what Baker uses and what the competition uses.


Solar Company Labor

Like all businesses, solar energy providers carry operating costs that are built into the price homeowners pay for a solar panel system. Homeowners buy not only the product to be installed on their roof – the solar panels, mounting equipment, racking, microinverters, etc. – but also the labor involved in having that system designed, appropriately permitted, and correctly installed.

Some solar companies subcontract their solar installation crews. Other companies, like Baker, use skilled union electricians. 


Financing options

Lease, PPA, Loan, or Purchase?

How you choose to pay for your solar installation is also a big factor in establishing the cost of your solar system. Not all solar companies provide options. At Baker, we make it easy to switch to solar, including how you pay for it. 

When you lease residential solar panels, you see immediate savings with no upfront costs and monthly payments typically 25% to 35% less than your current average electric bill (assuming the system you select offsets 100% of that bill). If you choose to lease equipment, you can expect that over time you’ll pay more for your solar panel system than you would have if you had purchased your system, but much less than if you stuck it out with the utility company. 

You also have the option to own your system through one of our loan options or by purchasing it outright. Whether you purchase or finance a solar panel system, you can elect to use the federal government’s solar Investment Tax Credit. Many customers who take advantage of the federal solar tax credit realize a return on their solar investment within about 5 to 7 years. The benefits of no-strings-attached ownership of a solar panel system for your home include a manufacturer’s performance guarantee and our Baker 25-year workmanship warranty. Panels are typically warrantied for 20 to 25 years of the estimated 35 to 40-year lifespan of a solar system.

HERO Financing: Special financing for select Southern California homeowners

Designed to provide low-interest rate financing that can reduce utility costs and boost local economies, the Home Energy Renovation Opportunity, or HERO, financing program offers homeowners interested in solar power a way to make that a reality. Qualifying for HERO financing requires no minimum credit scores, no income barriers, and no personal guarantee. HERO financing is available for a range of home energy and water-efficient products and renewable energy systems, including solar panels and microinverters. Under the HERO program, qualified homeowners can make payments toward a solar panel system with their property taxes and combine the utility savings that the financing option provides with the 30% federal solar Investment Tax Credit for solar panel installation. Learn more about the HERO financing option.


Why Choose Baker?

For more than 78 years, The Baker family of companies has been exclusively focused on electrical installations in Southern California. Our partnerships with top solar panel manufacturers and suppliers make us one of the best solar companies in Southern California. It also means we have access to the best solar panel technology available and can pass along incredible deals to our customers. We offer custom solar energy solutions and a variety of financing options. No other solar provider in Southern California has the same level of experience that Baker does. With over 1.4GW (that's 1,400,000,000 watts) of solar installed between our utility, commercial and residential business groups, Baker is the trustworthy solar partner for thousands of customers.