This guide is here for homeowners considering solar energy and answers some common questions such as:

Please contact our team at Westcoast Solar Energy, where we are happy to provide expert answers on any questions you have. Whether you’re just beginning your research on solar or ready today, we’re here to help every step of the way.

The Time to Install Solar Panels is in 2019

If you’ve ever considered solar, 2019 may be the best year to do so.

In California, solar prices have dropped 34% in the past five years. While equipping your home with solar panels can seem like an expensive upfront cost, the market is changing rapidly.

The reality is that there are many federal and state incentives that can dramatically reduce your cost. 

For example, the federal solar tax will refund back 30% of the total cost – even for fees such as consulting with a solar professional – regardless of how expensive the project is.

In two years there will be no solar tax credit! If you’re considering solar energy, the time is now.

However, beginning in 2020, the tax credit will drop to 26%.

The following year, in 2021, the solar tax will drop to 22%.

In 2022, the solar tax credit for residential properties will become obsolete.

The time to install solar panels on a residential property is now to gain the best value as solar incentives after 2019 aren’t going to improve.

Are you Eligible for the Solar Tax Credit?

The solar tax credit only applies to homeowners who own their system.

Therefore, if you are leasing your solar system or it’s part of a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement), you would not be eligible.

Incentives for Clean Power Don’t End There

While California no longer has opportunities for tax credits or rebates on a state level, there are still offers for local areas such as Sonoma County solar residents

Go to your county or city’s website and see if they any info that encourages going solar – you may end up with even more savings.

A helpful resource is the Database for State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) , where you can search for green incentives near you.

Net Metering in California

Another huge reason to go green is net metering

We know solar panels harness the power of the sun to produce energy. However, this may be an issue during times of the day where there isn’t much sunlight, or it’s nighttime. 

Net metering allows excess energy created by your solar panels to be stored in the grid in exchange for credits. 

This way, when you’re using electricity in times your homes don’t have adequate power, you can pull energy from the grid and offset the cost with credits. 

Net-metering is beneficial since it ensures your saving money by going solar year-round. 

During the summer months when it’s sunny, you can save up credits to use during winter months when there’s less sunlight.

More Affordable Than You Think in 2019

We’ve already discussed some key points about the affordability of solar energy for your home:

Solar prices have dropped dramatically

In 2019 you can receive 30% back in federal tax credit

Net metering can cut your electric bill year-round


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How Much “Value” Can Solar Energy Provide You?

However, there are other factors to consider when deciding if solar energy is a viable option for your household.

At Westcoast Solar Energy, we understand people desire the most “value” out of their system.

The secret to this is longevity. A long-lived solar array allows you to gain the lowest cost of ownership and reap the benefits for years to come.

We provide high-quality solar systems installed with expert care.  Solar systems that operate for the longest time with minimal issues can produce the most power and gives you the most value.

On average, high-quality solar systems with proper maintenance can last 25 – 30 years.

While we can only provide ballpark numbers without knowing the specifics of your project, the average 20-year savings for a California resident is $30, 000

In California, the average payback period for solar panels is  4 – 8 years depending on the size of your solar panels, the brand, and what you were previously paying for electricity.

How much will your electricity bill decrease with solar panels?

One of the factors in determining if solar panels are worth it for your home is the location. If you live in an area where electricity costs are high, solar energy can be very beneficial in reducing the cost. 

It’s hard to determine precisely how much you can save on your electricity bill after going solar. It depends on factors such as:

  • home size
  • energy usage
  • weather

However, general electricity costs are increasing nationwide. So while installing solar panels now may save you hypothetically $110 off of your electricity bills, that savings will become more meaningful in the future depending on how costs change.

What if you plan to move in the future?

The ideal situation is to live in your home long enough to let the solar panels pay themselves off. 

Of course, life happens, and it may be inevitable that you choose to move in the future.

The housing market is difficult to predict, but research shows that solar panels typically increase the value of the home – especially if you live in an area with an active solar market.

According to Zillow Economic Research, homes with solar panels sell for on average 4.1% percent more. Another study by Berkeley Lab shows that buyers are willing to pay “a premium of about $15,000 for a home with an averaged-size solar array”. The data shows you will likely gain some of the value back you spent on solar panels in home property value.

Types of Solar Panels: Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline

Monocrystalline (Mono) Panels

  • These solars cells are made from single-crystalline wafers of silicon, a design that increases efficiency as the electrons have more room to move.
  • When it comes to appearance, they are typically black in color with a uniform appearance that looks sleek. The black color also allows for better absorption  of photons.
  • Mono panels have the highest-efficiency rates of 15 – 20% since they are made from the best quality silicone. Some newer mono panels are even rated higher!
  • Mono panels produce more power per square foot and therefore are very space-efficient.
  • They have a long lifespan; most solar companies will give them warranties of at least 25 years.

Polycrystalline (Poly) Panels

  • Poly panels are composed of different silicon pieces melted together, making them less expensive to produce.
  • These panels are blue and have a swirly or speckled appearance.
  • Their heat-efficiency ratings usually are around 13 – 16%.

Mono and poly panels both can be valid choices for a home. 

Arguably, a more critical factor to consider is the quality of the solar panels. Poorly constructed solar panels will not meet expectations of optimum energy production or last a long time.

This is why we ensure all residential systems have expertly designed solar-arrays installed with care.

All in all, it’s best to consult with an expert who can examine features of your home and create a solar system that maximizes its potential.

The last thing you need is for your solar panels to become a roof-mounted liability. Fortunately, there are other options such as ground mounts depending on your home and energy consumption. 

More Questions on Installing Solar Panels in Your Home?

It’s impossible to give detailed and specific answers since whether or not solar panels are right for your home to depend on a multitude of factors. 

Solar panels are an investment, but in many cases, it is a worthwhile one with a high return. 

Whether you’re just beginning your research on solar or ready today, we’re here to help every step of the way

Creating Solar Energy Opportunities with these Great Organizations

Northern California Engineering Contractors Association
Solar Sonoma County
North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners
California Solar Storage Association
Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce
Rohnert Park Chamber of Commerce
Solar Power World
North Coast Builders Exchange