How much do solar panels cost in Los Angeles, California?

solar panel cost in Los Angeles

In 2016, solar panel installations grew by a whopping 95 percent in the United States, and more of the same is expected for 2017. Though there was growth across the U.S., solar installations are increasing at an expedited rate in a few concentrated areas of the country. California has been and continues to be responsible for the large majority of business in solar, and Los Angeles is one of the leaders for solar in the Golden State. A recent report by Environment America named Los Angeles the top city for solar in the country due to its cumulative solar capacity.

There are a number of reasons for why L.A. is the nation’s best city for solar in 2017, but one major reason was the extension of the solar rebate offered by major utility Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). The popular solar incentive program by LADWP was expected to expire at the end of 2016, but a new rebate of $0.25/Watt has been enacted to keep the program going. In this article, we’ll explain why the land of Hollywood is home to more solar activity than any other city in the nation and why the cost of solar is so attractive for homeowners.

How much do solar panels cost in Los Angeles?

As of the end of 2016, the average cost for solar panels in Los Angeles was $3.31 per watt. Since the average system size in the U.S. is 5 kilowatts (5,000 watts), that means the average price of a solar system in L.A. is $16,600 before incentives.

While this price would be a great value for any homeowner shopping for solar in the U.S., it’s actually a very competitive cost in California. The extensive installer base in Los Angeles as well as the progressive, clean-energy friendly environment of southern California have generated high competition for contractors and lower prices for homeowners.

California solar pricing table: L.A. compared to state and national average cost

System size National Average Cost (After ITC) California Average Cost (After ITC) Los Angeles Average Cost (After ITC)
3 kW $7,161 $7,119 $6,972
6 kW $14,322 $14,238 $13,944
10 kW $23,870 $23,730 $23,240
12 kW $28,644 $28,476 $27,888

*Values in this table include the 30% discount from the Federal solar tax subsidy (ITC)

This table, which uses price data from solar quotes to homeowners on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace in 2016, offers a comparison of national, California, and Los Angeles prices for solar. Though prices in the Golden Stare are clearly lower than the rest of the country on average, the disparity is fairly insignificant. However, when comparing L.A.’s market to the rest of the country, the advantage for homeowners is clearly illustrated. Even better news: for many Los Angeles homeowners, the prices listed above will still be higher than what they will pay thanks to a great incentive offered by Hollywood’s biggest utility.





Don



The LADWP solar panel rebate and other incentives for L.A. solar shoppers

Thanks to a great program that was recently extended by leading California utility LADWP, its roughly two million electricity customers qualify for a hefty cash rebate if they go solar. Unlike the federal tax subsidy for solar, you can qualify for this incentive program regardless of whether you buy or lease your solar panel system. Thus, for homeowners who are not interested in making an upfront investment with a loan or cash purchase, going with a lease or power purchase agreement will still earn you the LADWP rebate value: $0.25 per watt of installed solar. In simple terms, you can think of this rebate as a roughly $2,000 additional discount off your solar system (depending on how big of a system you install).

Heres how the rebate changed the cost of solar for Los Angeles residents who shopped on EnergySage in 2016:

Los Angeles solar pricing table: LADWP incentive

 System Size  L.A Average Cost of Solar  L.A. Average Cost of Solar (with LADWP rebate)
 3 kW $6,972  $6,447
 6 kW  $13,944  $12,894
 10 kW  $23,240  $21,490
 12 kW  $27,888  $25,788

*Values in this table include the 30% discount from the Federal solar tax subsidy (ITC)

How Los Angeles homeowners can save big on solar

Though the low up-front cost for solar in L.A. is a selling point, the long-term savings and ROI for solar in L.A. makes it even more attractive. Due to the high cost of electricity in Los Angeles, solar homeowners in the Golden State see some of the highest electricity bill savings in the country: in 2016, the solar quotes L.A. homeowners received on EnergySage yielded 20-year savings estimates of $38,387 on average.

However, what isn’t captured in that figure is the impact you as a solar shopper can have on your long term savings based on how much research you do and how savvy you are in the market, bringing us to our…

Three tips for solar shoppers in Los Angeles

  1. When it comes to getting solar quotes, the more the merrier

    Buying a solar panel system is a lengthy process that should include a lot of research. Amidst the decision-making process should be a thorough consideration of every option available to you and every installer that serves Los Angeles. Remember, L.A. is the top city for solar in America, and there are plenty of solar companies to consider.

    Of course, in order to find the best small contractors in L.A. that are not on billboard ads or in TV commercials, you’ll need to use an installer network like EnergySage. If you’d like to start getting quotes from L.A. installers today, register your property on our Solar Marketplace – homeowners who get 3 or more quotes can expect to save ten percent or more on their solar installation.

  2. The largest installer will not always quote you the best price

    The “bigger isn’t always better” premise is one of the main reasons we strongly recommend that homeowners consider every option available to them, especially in big solar markets like L.A.. In residential solar, a handful of large companies control most of the market, and their business model is based on the assumption that homeowners won’t bother to shop around. On the contrary, the small L.A. installers on EnergySage know that they are not the only company offering you a quote and thus they often offer lower prices to stay competitive.

    If you have quotes from some of the big installers in solar, make sure you compare those bids with quotes from local installers in your area to ensure you don’t overpay for solar. (Remember that the prices displayed in the above data tables reflect quotes received on EnergySage – prices from bigger installers are likely to be higher).

  3.  Comparing multiple equipment options is crucial

    Just as big installers will not need to offer the best price because they face reduced competition, they will also feel no pressure to offer a selection of solar equipment – they may even only offer one brand of solar panel and inverter. For this reason, it is imperative to get multiple solar bids so you can compare costs and savings based on the different equipment packages available to you.

    Certain panels will have much higher efficiency ratings than others and depending on where you live in L.A. and the roof type you have, you may not need to pay more for premium solar equipment. There are multiple variables to consider when seeking out the best solar panels on the market. Your roof may best suit a more affordable economy solar panel – the only way to find out is to look at quotes that have different equipment and financing offers.

For any L.A. homeowner in the early stage of solar shopping that would just like a ballpark estimate for a solar installation, try our Solar Calculator that offers up front cost and long term savings estimates based on your location and roof type. For those looking to get quotes from local installers today, check out our quote comparison platform.





Don



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