Nine solar panels on shingle roof with attic vent.

Thinking Financially: When is the Best Time to Install Solar Panels in California? | Solar Panels, Battery Storage, Roofing, HVAC

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It’s never a bad time to install solar panels to your home in California. Cities like San Diego and Los Angeles enjoy more than 260 days of sun every year, so you can capture solar energy and use it to power your home all year round. Even in the northern part of the state, most installers don’t have to compete with winter conditions that prevent them from putting up solar cells during colder months. That being said, there are still some important financial considerations to keep in mind when you want to get the best deal and understand the cost of solar panels in California.

Does your region have solar incentives that are running out? Does the installer of your choice have a discount during the spring? These are the types of questions that can help you save big before you even start reaping the benefits of lower electrical costs and an increase in your home’s value. The best time for a solar installation with financing in mind may hinge on the following factors.

Timing Solar with Roof Installation

The lifespan of a roof can be up to 50 years! And, believe it or not, your solar panels can last just about as long. But what happens when you add solar panels to an aging roof? You’ll end up having to remove the solar panels to redo the roof, that’s what. And you guessed it, that translates to increased costs for your solar panels.

If you know your roof is due for replacement, it’s smart to install your solar panels right afterward. This puts your roof and solar panels on the same life cycle. You may also protect your solar panels by ensuring a more stable and ideal installation. Not sure how well your roof is holding up? Get a roof inspection before you schedule your solar panel work. Adding solar panels to a failing roof could mean doubling the installation costs over a short period of time — so plan ahead and save yourself the headache!

Considering Tax Breaks and Incentives

The federal government currently offers a Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for installing solar panels to your home in California. It’s been extended, but as of late 2018 it won’t last forever. In fact, the value of the tax break is scheduled to taper off over the next four years. Until 2019, homeowners can deduct 30% of the cost of their solar panels on the next year’s tax returns. Beginning in 2020, the tax incentive will only be 26%. In 2021, you’ll be able to deduct 22% of the cost of your solar system… and then the tax incentives for residential properties run out. Beyond 2022, only commercial buildings are currently approved to see any financial tax breaks for going solar.

Of course, things can always change as federal tax law is concerned. Nothing is set in stone. The ITC could be extended indefinitely or new incentives could take its place. California customers could also see more statewide solar rebates, most of which have presently been exhausted. But holding out for future tax credits is a gamble.

If you’re looking for a window of time where a financial break is guaranteed, that time frame is quickly running out — so consider getting solar panels sooner than later. Reducing your initial financial burden is especially helpful for homeowners who don’t know if they’ll be in their home for 20 years to take advantage of reduced utilities.

Enjoying the Off-Season Cost of Solar Panels in California

The best time to get solar panels is during the summer season, right? You can immediately take advantage of huge savings on air conditioning and the installers will have less rain condition to contend with. Even though solar will be at the top of your mind during the summer months (and how could it not be with so many cloudless days), summer may not be the best time of year to get solar panels installed in California.

If you’re thinking of solar come summer… so is everyone else. Your favorite solar panel experts are apt to be booked during the warmer months and their busy schedules can translate to fewer financial incentives for you. You may be hard pressed to get an appointment on a day that is convenient for you.  If you get your solar panels installed during the slower season, there is a greater chance that you can cash in on special sales or discounted installation. Plus, your installation company can give you more personalized attention. You’ll get more bang for your buck.

Going Solar Before the Hottest Season

While you may prefer summer temps, they can get quite hot for the people working on your roof — you’re doing a kindness by asking for installation in cooler weather. You’re also setting yourself up to maximize your energy savings during the first year of your new green lifestyle. When you get your solar panels completed in January you’ll enjoy reduced energy costs for the entire air conditioning season.

If you don’t start thinking about solar until May, you might not get the panels installed until mid-summer. While your solar investment will still pay off over the long-haul no matter what, you can benefit from bigger first-year savings by getting on the ball at the start of the year. Start planning your solar needs in the fall so you have bids collected be the time the new year rings in.

Putting Your Tax Refund Toward Solar Panels

Don’t want to finance your entire solar panel investment through loans? One smart financial option is to dedicate your tax return to PV panels. File your taxes early and get your return by mid to late February, and you could have your solar panels in place by the beginning of spring.

Offsetting the original cost of solar panels in California maximizes the return on solar over the course of 20 years or more. On average, a California homeowner can expect to save up to $40,000 in utility costs over two decades (less the original expense). Paying in cash up front means more monthly net savings and ultimately a better financial outcome for your solar investment. You can also use the money you get back from the solar tax credit next year toward any financing you take out, enabling your household to pay off any solar debt more quickly.

Jumping on New Technology First

There are several different kinds of solar panels on the market, and as the technology becomes more popular we can anticipate even more innovation in the solar industry. The most popular types of panels for residential homes are monocrystalline and polycrystalline. As a general rule, the most expensive types of solar cells are also the most expensive.

For instance, monocrystalline panels are more expensive than polycrystalline panels because they use a single silicon and allow energy to move more freely. Thin-film panels are used less frequently because they are less efficient — but they’re also very affordable. If you have a large roof, you may want to jump on the chance to get thin-film panels at their next (more efficient) incarnation before they get too popular.

If you can stay abreast of the solar industry or find a trusted, educated installer to recommend a new type of solar, you may be able to purchase good panels at a decent price before they become the most in-demand type of panel. Don’t underestimate how much it can pay off to try the latest technology!

Before you get sticker shock over the costs of solar, remember: Solar savings allow you to recoup your original costs and more in the long run. Solar even increases the value of your home, so if you move within a few years you are still likely to get your money back.

Contact Semper Solaris today for a no-pressure evaluation of your roof. We can tell you if your home is ready for solar or if a roof replacement is in order before you go solar. Our expert team will also give you a bid for the entire process that explains everything.

Let’s talk about how becoming energy independent will help your future!

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