How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in California?

Typical Range:

$10,000 - $32,000

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.

Published November 17, 2022

Written by HomeAdvisor.

The typical cost of solar panels in California ranges between $10,000 and $32,000, or an average price of $21,000. The cost to install solar panels in California can go as low as $4,000 for a 2 kilowatt (kW) system but as high as $44,000 for an 11kW solar panel system.

Nationwide, solar panels are eligible for a 30% federal tax credit, which reduces the average cost for solar panels in California from $21,000 to $14,700.

Average Cost to Install Solar Panels in California

Average Cost High Cost Low Cost
$21,000 $32,000 $10,000

Cost of Solar Panels per Watt in California

The average California residential solar panel cost is $3 per watt including labor, but this can range from $2 to $4 per watt before any rebates or tax credits. Labor typically accounts for about $0.50 per watt.

The average solar panel system in California ranges in size from 5kW to 8kW, though some homes may have systems as small as 2kW or as large as 11kW. The table below demonstrates how the cost of solar panels in California can vary depending on the size of the system installed on your home before any tax credits or rebates:

Solar Panel System Size per kW Solar Panel System Average Cost Range
2 $4,000 – $8,000
3 $6,000 – $12,000
4 $8,000 – $16,000
5 $10,000 – $20,000
6 $12,000 – $24,000
7 $14,000 – $28,000
8 $16,000 – $32,000
9 $18,000 – $36,000
10 $20,000 – $40,000
11 $22,000 – $44,000

California Solar Panel Costs by City

The cost of solar panels in California can vary depending on the part of the state in which you live. Los Angeles, for example, has a high cost of living, so you’ll pay more for labor and materials there.

Fresno, California

The cost to install solar panels in Fresno, California, ranges between $11,900 and $22,800. The average price that Fresno residents pay for solar panels is $17,350, but costs can go as low as $2,250 and as high as $27,000.

Los Angeles, California

In L.A., you’ll typically pay between $19,280 and $33,450 for solar panel installation, though costs can go as low as $6,500 and as high as $48,000. The average homeowner in Los Angeles pays $26,330 for solar panels.

Sacramento, California

The average cost for solar panels in Sacramento, California, is $23,780, though typical prices range between $16,980 and $30,900. Sacramento residents can earn a solar incentive of $300 through the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s solar rebate program.

San Diego, California

In San Diego, budget between $13,650 and $27,080 for the cost to install solar panels, though your price may go as low as $1,900 or as high as $35,000. On average, San Diego residents pay $20,250 to install solar panels.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco solar panel prices range from $17,130 to $31,180, but the typical homeowner in San Francisco will pay around $24,000 for new solar panels. However, on top of the 30% federal tax credit, people in San Francisco can get anywhere between $100 and $2,000 per kW back as a rebate through San Francisco’s GoSolarSF program.

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California Solar Panel Cost Factors

Beyond the size of the solar panel system itself, homeowners need to consider additional solar panel cost factors ahead of their installation. Here are some things to keep in mind when calculating your solar panel cost in California:

Cell Type

Solar panels are generally available in one of three types: polycrystalline, thin film, and monocrystalline.

  • Polycrystalline: This is the most affordable solar panel system option, but it’s the least efficient and—thanks to its trademark blue color—can be more noticeable atop your roof.

  • Thin film: The cost of thin film solar panels falls squarely in the middle. These panels have a lower profile than polycrystalline but can be less efficient, especially in Southern California, where it’s sunnier.

  • Monocrystalline: These are the most expensive and popular solar panels in California. They have a low profile, come in a less noticeable black color, and are more efficient. 

Roof Pitch

The slope of your roof can affect labor costs. When you hire a local solar installer, they’ll factor the pitch of your roof into their quote. In general, the steeper and less accessible your roof, the higher your solar panel installation costs will be.

Panel Brand

California solar panel pricing can vary by brand. Some popular brands to consider include:

  • Sunrun

  • Tesla 

  • Sunlux

  • Momentum Solar

  • Palmetto

  • Vivint Solar

  • ADT Solar


The labor cost to install solar panels in California is roughly $0.50 per watt. That’s anywhere from 6% to 25% of your overall costs. Get quotes from multiple solar installers near you before moving forward.

Inverter Type

The solar panels themselves represent your largest investment, but you’ll also need to purchase inverters, which actually transform captured solar energy into power for your home. Inverters range significantly in price and efficiency.

String Inverters

The most affordable solar panel inverter system is a string inverter, which costs around $1,000 to $2,000 per system. In this setup, multiple solar panels are connected to a central inverter via a shared string. Depending on the size of your installation, you may have multiple sets of panels and strings. 

However, if a single panel encounters problems, the inverter won’t be able to capture power from any other panels along that same string until a contractor fixes the faulty panel. This can lead to major inefficiencies any time a solar panel has issues.


To avoid the potential for problems with a string inverter system, you can purchase microinverters at about $150 to $220 per panel. Though you’ll spend more to outfit each panel with its own microinverter, you reduce the risk of multiple panels being rendered useless at the same time.

Power Optimizers

Power optimizers cost around $130 to $150 per panel and represent the best of both worlds. As with microinverters, you’ll install a power optimizer on each panel. However, panels are still connected to a central string inverter. Because power optimizers convert energy at each individual panel, you don’t have to worry about the same problem associated with string inverters.

Keep in mind that if your system includes a backup battery, you’ll need a special battery inverter, which can range from $2,000 to $2,300.

Maintenance and Repairs

In general, solar panel repair costs between $200 and $1,250, and you’ll spend between $150 and $350 per year for basic cleaning and maintenance. Usually, the investment in solar panels pays off over time via reduced energy bills. But that doesn’t mean you won’t have any expenses down the road. Some annual maintenance and occasional repairs can keep your solar system lasting much longer.

In Los Angeles, repair costs can go as high as $4,000. Southern Californians might need more solar panel maintenance because dry climates can lead to more dirt and debris buildup on the system, reducing efficiency. In the rainy parts of California, especially coastal Northern California, you may only need cleaning and maintenance every other year.

Solar Incentives and Rebates in California

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Congress extended and enhanced its Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar panels in August 2022. Previously, the federal solar panel tax credit was 26%. Now through 2032, homeowners can get a 30% tax credit for installing a solar panel system.

Because California was at the forefront of solar panel technology, the state once had a rebate program called California Solar Initiative (CSI), which ended in 2016. California homeowners can still seek incentives via the Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) program and the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP).

Some cities may offer specific incentives and rebates. For example, Sacramento residents can earn $300 back when installing a solar panel system. San Franciscans have an even better rebate offer on the table: around $100 to $2,000 per kW.

Is It Worth Getting Solar Panels in California?

California is the ideal state to get solar panels installed for several reasons:

  • Ideal weather: California’s climate makes solar panels a viable energy option year-round.

  • Tech pioneer: California has long been a leader in solar panel technology. Local experts abound in the state, making it easier to find qualified installers.

  • Electricity prices: Electricity prices are especially high in California. Many of the utility companies in the state will buy back energy from homeowners who generate solar electricity, putting more cash back in your wallet. Buy-back rates vary by the utility provider, but many companies pay the retail rate.

  • Home value: Solar panels increase the value of your home and may help you to sell it faster, even in a competitive market.

  • Maintenance: Solar panel maintenance costs are generally low—as little as $150 for an annual inspection.

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How can you finance solar panels in California?

You can pay for solar panels out of pocket in California, but if you don’t have enough funds to cover the initial expense, it’s also possible to finance them. Homeowners often take out a home equity or personal loan to finance their solar panel installation. Alternatively, you can lease your solar panel equipment from certain providers. When you lease solar panels, you won’t be responsible for the cost of solar panel repair.

How do you hire a good solar installer in California?

Choosing a solar installer in California is easier than in some other states. Because solar is more common in California, there are more experienced solar professionals to choose from. Make sure your solar professional is licensed, and get quotes from multiple installation companies before moving forward. Ask about their certifications and a portfolio of past work. If you have neighbors with solar panels, ask them for recommendations.

Do solar panels increase property taxes in California?

Homeowners don’t currently have to worry about property tax increases in California when they install solar panels. That’s because of the Active Solar Energy System Exclusion, approved by the California State Board of Equalization. This exclusion remains in effect until the end of 2024. At that point, if the board doesn’t extend the exclusion, homeowners may see an increase in property taxes.