Originally published May 23rd 2018. Updated January 7th 2021.
Good timing is an underappreciated skill that can yield big rewards. Find that perfect seasonal sweet spot, and you can beat the crowds at your favorite vacation destination and save big on hotels and tours. Get to the party right on time, and you can avoid the uncomfortable small talk with the hosts before the other guests arrive.
Good timing is everything, so what’s the best time for your solar panel installation in Los Angeles? Is there an ideal time to get solar panels in the lifecycle of your roof? How about the best time to reap as many tax rebates as possible? Or is there an “off-season” for solar that leads to special treatment and big deals? We want to help you and your solar panels in Los Angeles make the perfect entrance. Here’s everything you need to know about when to get your solar panels.
The Newer the Roof, the Better
Speaking of time, your roof has a finite amount of it. The lifespan of a roof can extend between 20 and 50 years depending on its composition. The majority of roofs in Los Angeles are made of asphalt shingles. While this type of roof is cost-effective, it only offers about 20 years of life. Most forms of tile, another common Southern California roof choice, give you a much longer life of 50 years.
Solar panels can last an estimated 25 to 40 years and possibly even longer! (The most current crystalline silicon models of solar panels are still so new, that we aren’t quite sure how long they can really last.) Therefore, if your roof only has about five years left in it, it doesn’t really make sense to install solar panels when you’ll need to take the whole system down again in a few years. Instead, the best time to invest in solar panels in Los Angeles is when your roof is new or has a decade or more of life left.
(Is your roof getting close to retirement? Don’t fret! Now might be the perfect time to invest in replacing your roof so that you can get solar panels in the future. A new roof adds value to your home and can make it more energy efficient! At Semper Solaris, we also offer roof repairs and replacements.)
Time Your Tax Relief
Currently, homeowners in Los Angeles can deduct 26% of the cost of their solar panels on their taxes. This Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is the biggest renewable energy financial incentive currently available. It saved the average homeowner $5,000 on their solar panel system in 2017. In order to get the tax credit, you just need to install solar panels within the calendar year.
The tax credit was originally enacted in 2005 as part of the Energy Policy Act and set to expire at the end of 2007. The federal government extended the ITC, but the clock is running out. Afterwards, the tax credit shrinks each year. Homeowners should not expect the tax credits to be extended again. As the solar market continues to mature and as the government looks for more ways to trim the budget, all signs point to the ITC finally phasing out for good.
That means the time to save on solar is right now!
The Season for Solar
Is there an ideal season to go solar? Angelenos may assume that spring or summer is the best time to put up solar panels. After all, the long summer days mean more sunshine, which translates to more energy production for the year.
The truth might surprise you. Winter in Los Angeles is actually the best season for solar. Here’s why:
The Slow Season
During the winter months, homeowners are often caught up in the holidays and don’t have the extra time, attention, or funds for on solar panels. So use this to your advantage! Solar installation companies usually have fewer jobs on the books during this time of year, which means that they can give you more personalized attention and service. It can also mean a shorter turnaround time on your solar panel installation in Los Angeles, and sometimes special offers and discounts.
Your solar installation team will also appreciate your choice to wait until winter for your solar panels. Los Angeles heats up in the summer, with temperatures reaching around 85 degrees toward the end of August. As you can imagine, working all day on a hot roof that absorbs that heat can be pretty uncomfortable for installation teams. On the other hand, winters in Los Angeles are notably mild, which is why we all love living here. Aside from the occasional rain shower, our installation team loves working in the cooler temperatures.
Solar Panels Still Work
Some homeowners worry that installing solar panels in winter will mean less energy generation. The sun still shines in winter, so your solar panels will work beautifully when they come online. Winter does offer fewer hours of sunlight than summer, so the total amount of energy your panels generate may be less than it would be on the longest day of the year, but the difference is less than you imagine.
That’s because of something called the temperature coefficient. Without getting too deep into the weeds, the temperature coefficient describes how well solar panels perform under less-than-ideal circumstances. Many homeowners are surprised to learn that solar panels actually operate better in cooler temperatures. Once the temperature gets hotter than 77 degrees, the efficiency of the solar panels begins to drop. So, even though winter offers fewer hours of sunlight than summer, the cooler temperatures mean that your panels will operate at peak efficiency during light hours.
There Really Is No Bad Time to Install Solar Panels in Los Angeles
While you may still be wondering about the best time for your solar panel installation, the truth is that the best time to get solar panels is… whatever time is right for you!
That may sound a little squishy, but what we mean is that you shouldn’t try to rush your solar panels to get a special tax incentive or hit the solar panel off-season if you aren’t ready. Instead, make sure you have the time, focus, and funds to dedicate to your solar installation so you don’t run into problems or stress yourself out in the process.
At Semper Solaris, we will be here when you are ready. We can help you repair or replace your roof to prepare for a solar panel installation in Los Angeles and then perform the installation. We might be a little biased, but we think it’s always a perfect time to invest in renewable solar energy. Contact us to schedule a free energy analysis for your Los Angeles home.