San Diego Solar Panel Installation Information
How much money does solar save you?
Let’s get right down to it. In San Diego, when it comes to renewable energy, specifically solar power, how much money can it save on my electric bill always comes up first. There is a short answer and a long answer. The short answer is the homeowner trades an expensive electric bill for a much lower solar monthly payment and starts saving money the day the solar panel system is installed. For example, let’s take house A and house B. Both houses have an average monthly electricity bill of $300. House A installs solar electric and stops paying $300 to their power company and instead starts paying a $150 monthly finance payment on the system. House A is not only saving $150 per month from the moment their solar system is installed, but each month is one payment closer to paying off the total cost of the panels. House B continues to pay the electric company the full $300 and is subject to rate increases of roughly 6% each year. House B is not working towards ownership of a renewable energy system each month, the $300 they pay is simply transferred out of their bank account and into that of their electrical company. House A is saving money today and also working towards full ownership of their solar panel system. House B is simply at the mercy of however much their utility charges for electricity.
The long answer is a little more technical.
The way in which solar operates from a technical standpoint does not change from city to city – it is the same for San Diego County solar power as anywhere else. Solar energy is technically called solar photovoltaics, or solar PV for short. When sunlight hits a solar panel, some of the clean energy is converted into electricity. Some panels convert more sunlight into energy than others, known as the efficiency of the panel. Generally speaking, the higher a panel’s efficiency rating, the more expensive it is. You don’t necessarily need the highest efficiency panels for your solar project, sometimes it makes more financial sense to go with a cheaper panel and simply add a couple extra. The panels on your roof act as power plants and feed into your electrical panel, which in turn powers your home. So far so good, you probably knew much of this already. It is important to know solar panels do not power your home at night; here’s where it gets a little tricky…
Here’s where it gets more specific to San Diego. When you install a renewable energy system, you continue to have a relationship with your utility company, however, you are no longer paying them for electricity. It’s called Net Metering. Solar photovoltaic systems are designed to generate more electricity during the day than the homeowner can use. The extra electricity is sent back to the power company and in return, the power company sends back credits. At night, when solar panels are not generating electricity, the homeowner uses power from the utility but pays for it using those credits instead of money. If your Net Metering agreement is with San Diego Gas and Electric, you ‘square up’ with them once a year – there is no manual process or anything you need to track, SDGE simply counts the amount of electricity you used and deducts the amount of credits you earned. If the solar panel installation was designed correctly, you will have a zero balance owed on the cost of your electricity. There are some small unavoidable charges that solar cannot offset that the utility charges for things like power line maintenance and assistance for low-income household, but these fees are too low to be much of a financial concern.
Is solar right for me?
It depends on your motivation. If you want a clean energy, renewable system in order to help the environment and stop burning fossil fuels regardless of the financial benefits, all you really need is a roof. If you want to start saving money on your utility bill, there are a few qualifying questions you need to answer yes to in order to look at going solar.
- Do you own your home?
You might not want to invest in a solar system for a house you don’t own.
- Do you have access to the roof?
Some people own their home but not their roof, such as a condo.
- Does your home have excessing shading?
Do you or your neighbor have trees that can’t be cut down if shading is an issue?
- Is your average monthly bill over $100?
If your bill is less than $100 solar might not save you a significant amount of money.
Solar energy systems work best for San Diego residents with high energy bills who own a single-family home. The higher the bill, the better the candidate. Things like a pool pump, Jacuzzi and air conditioning tend to cause high energy bills. It’s not uncommon for a household to have a $400 monthly electricity bill for having any combination of the aforementioned. Don’t worry, if your bill is closer to $100, solar might still make financial sense, but you’ll need to call us to find out.
What is the process for going solar in San Diego?
San Diego County has some of the most solar-friendly legislation in the United States. Essentially, Net Metering and high energy costs from San Diego Gas & Electric is what makes solar work in one city from another. Some areas have no Net Metering laws, which means solar cannot be used to generate credits to be used at night. Other areas simply have such inexpensive electricity that homeowner’s electricity bills are already low. San Diego is perfect for both; we have favorable Net Metering rules and SDG&E charges a lot for their electricity. It also helps that San Diego is bathed in sunshine most of the year.
Because we live in San Diego, the process for going solar is relatively simple. A solar contractor, like Baker Electric Home Energy, starts by looking at your bill and roof to begin modeling the size and type of solar system you need. We ask a few additional questions about shading and if you will be adding and new loads in the future, like an electric car or pool. A few questions about your credit score and we are not only ready to show you the exact solar system you need, but a multitude of finance, lease, or cash purchase options. When you decide to move forward, solar customers can sign a contract as quickly as the same-day if they choose, and the actual solar panel installation takes just 2 or 3 days.
Thinking of DIY Solar? Here's Something to Consider
Getting City Approval for Solar in San Diego
After you’ve gone through the steps of having your solar installation designed, it’s time for approvals. If you're a Baker customer, our staff takes care of the approval process so you don’t have to. Once you as the homeowner have approved your solar installation plans, we will submit said plans and the necessary permits to the Authority Having Jurisdiction or AHJ for short. Every city has different requirements for receiving approval for a solar panel installation. Some cities require complicated structural engineering reports, while some require a stamped letter of approval from your HOA before they begin the permitting process. Depending on where you live, this step can take two to three weeks.
Getting Utility Approval for Solar in San Diego
The first step in getting permission to operate your solar power system is filling out a long Net Energy Metering application. During this process, utilities like SDG&E ask for a lot of detailed information, which is another reason going solar with Baker is helpful because, we know how to speak the utility’s language and how to answer all of their highly technical questions. We take care of this process so you don’t have to worry about the headache. After your solar panel installation has been inspected by the city and your utility and is approved, you will then be issued permission to operate from your utility and you can begin using your solar system to generate power for your home.
San Diego solar companies
Before selecting a solar contractor and installing solar panels, there is a situation specific to the San Diego solar industry homeowners need to be aware of. Solar power systems and installing solar panels can be similar among several solar power installation companies, but the companies backing them are vastly different. Baker has been in business since 1938 and it’s safe to assume we’ll be around for the duration of your warranty and beyond. But that’s not true of most San Diego solar installers.
In the ‘early’ days of solar in San Diego, which is really only a few years ago, it was easy to make money – think of it as a solar gold rush. Solar contractors sprouted up everywhere – anyone with any amount of roofing, electrical, or general contracting experience suddenly set up shop as a solar installer. For several years many of these companies were very successful. This didn’t last. The volume of solar contractors operating in San Diego drove prices down (great for the consumer, difficult for the contractor) and made it harder to find new customers. In the last few years many of these solar companies found themselves unable to stay afloat and went out of business. There are still many more today clinging to life and will likely close their doors soon. The problem this presents to the customer is if their solar power company goes out of business, their warranty isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. The lesson to be learned here is you need to find a solar power company in San Diego that has been in business for a long time, and has hands-on experience with thousands of solar power installations. Risking your solar investment on a fly-by-night company to save a few hundred dollars is not a good idea. There are several solar power companies in San Diego who have been in business over 10 years, use of them. Can’t decide which? Call and talk to each one. And don’t forget to ask friends and neighbors and look at online solar reviews.
Solar San Diego Installation Options
Solar For homeowners with plenty of property but limited roof space or poor roof orientation, a ground-mounted solar energy system may be the best choice.
Our ground mounts are just like our roof mounts except of course they're on the ground not on a roof! Systems are designed so that your solar panel installation is pitched perfectly to capture the maximum amount of sunlight. Trenching for the conduit running from the system's inverter(s) to the electrical panel is typically required.
Solar Roof mounts are the more traditional mounting of solar panels, especially when it comes to installing solar panels in San Diego County where yard space can be pretty limited. The solar panels will be aligned south-facing as much as possible to capture maximum sunlight. When possible, the conduit will run through the attic to your electrical panel.
Looking For Solar Panel Installation In San Diego? Choose Baker Electric Home Energy
Solar panel installation in San Diego, CA.
Baker Electric, Inc. is among San Diego’s oldest companies and Baker Electric Home Energy is built on 78 years of electrical contracting experience. Since 1938, San Diego has become home to Baker and today we are proud to be the leading solar installer in Southern California. In addition to our electrical expertise and attention to quality, we offer a variety of products, services, and financing options which allow you the flexibility to take action today. Our experienced consultants are ready to answer any of your questions to help you find the right solution for you.
A solar installation in San Diego with Baker Electric Home Energy takes four easy steps -- consultation, design and engineering, installation, and operation. As the best solar company in San Diego with over 9,000 satisfied customers, you can trust your installation is in good hands. One of our solar energy consultants will meet with you to discuss your family’s current and future energy needs, the cost of a solar panel installation, our financing options as well as answer any questions you might have about going solar.
We know you have a lot of choices when it comes to solar companies in San Diego and thanks for considering us for your solar installation.
Solar Rebates & Incentive Programs in San Diego
The Solar Investment Tax Credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in federal income tax for anyone who purchases solar panels for their home or business. The amount credited is equal to 30% of the purchase price of your solar system. The ITC was set to expire at the end of 2016, but as of December 2015, it’s been extended for five years. It will retain the 30% rate until 2019.
What solar rebates are available in San Diego?
Although some solar rebates and incentives have gone away in San Diego, the largest, most money-saving is still alive and well: the solar investment tax credit (ITC). Put simply, the ITC reduces the cost of your solar panel installation by 30%. The ITC is available nationally, not just San Diego.
The ITC is a program meant to promote solar power and reduce the use of fossil fuels. It allows solar customers to get a dollar for dollar reduction of their taxes in the amount of 30% of the total cost of their solar installation. For example, if you purchase a $20,000 solar system, the government will pay for $6,000 of it by reducing what you owe in taxes. Might seem too good to be true, but it’s been in use for many years and nearly everyone qualifies. You just need enough tax liability and to either pay cash or finance your solar system, if you lease your system or go with a PPA the company who owns your system pockets the tax savings.
It is important you are aware the solar investment tax credit will begin to phase out in the next few years, visit The Solar Investment Tax Credit: Time is Running Out for more information.
For more information on what a lease or PPA is, visit What is the Difference between a PPA and a Lease.