Your neighbors have solar panels on their roofs. So does your favorite café and even that new brewery down the street. You might be thinking that it’s time to jump on the solar panel train, but one look at the price tag may stop you in your tracks.
But what should consumers know before installing solar panels in Los Angeles? In this post, we’ll break down the cost of solar panels in the City of Angels, explain why they may be more expensive than the national average, and show you why it’s not about how much you pay for solar panels, but how much you save. Finally, we’ll give you some great tips for comparing the cost of solar panels so you can get the best deal possible.
Breaking Down the Price of Solar Panels in Los Angeles
California is the solar capital of the United States, producing more solar energy than the next nine ranked states combined, so why is solar installation more expensive here?
The full price for your solar system can be broken down into three categories:
- Solar panels and equipment
- Business overhead
That leaves us with the other two categories: installation and business overhead. Installing your solar panels and running a solar installation business requires a great team of people. And of course, those employees need to be paid fair wages for all their hard work. California, and Los Angeles in particular, has some of the highest wages in the country. The current hourly wage in Los Angeles is between $12.00 and $13.25 an hour, depending on how many people a company employs. That rate will continue to climb in the coming years, until it hits $15.00 an hour in between 2020 and 2021. Compare that to a state like North Carolina (the state that produces the second-highest amount of solar energy in the country), which offers a minimum wage of just $7.25 an hour.
Labor costs are responsible for a big difference in the price of installation and overall business operation between Los Angeles and other major cities across the country. While this means you’ll have to pay a little more for your system, we think the extra costs are worth it. At Semper Solaris, we believe a fair wage attracts quality workers, which translates into great solar installation results for you.
Additionally, we encourage you to hire a local solar installation company so your dollars stay in your community and go to your neighbors, rather than to a national company!
Now that you understand why solar panels in Los Angeles may be a little more expensive than average, we’re going to show you why investing in solar panels is still worth the price!
It’s Not How Much You Pay, but How Much You Save!
Solar panels are an investment, and like all good investments they pay off over time. One could argue that switching to clean, renewable energy and burning less fossil fuels is its own reward. We agree, but saving money is nice, too! One of the biggest benefits for solar panels is that they can help you cut down or completely eliminate your monthly energy bill. No matter where you live, these savings will add up, but in Los Angeles, your savings are supercharged.
That’s because bustling Los Angeles, with its population of nearly four million people, has some of the highest energy costs in the country. Additionally, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) offers the Solar Incentive Program (SIP), which currently gives LA homeowners an incentive of $0.25 per watt of energy their panels produce.
Comparing the Cost of Solar Panels
Saving up to $62,463 over 20 years is definitely great, but how do you know if you’re getting a good deal in the present? Here are four important factors to compare when you begin seeking solar panel quotes.
Solar Panel System Size
When comparing the cost of solar panels, step one is to make sure you compare apples to apples. In the solar world, that means determining the size of the system you want and then making sure each price quote uses the same size.
When you reach out to a solar installation company, they should send a trained representative to perform an energy analysis on your home. This analysis will help you determine how much energy you use on average each month and what size solar panel system you need to cover all of your energy needs.
Efficiency refers to how well a solar panel converts sunlight into electricity. The top solar panels on the market offer efficiency rates of over 20%. That’s an impressive number, but choosing premium solar panels also means paying a premium price tag. The benefit of getting highly efficient solar panels is that they are smaller, which is ideal if you don’t have a lot of space on your roof. However, if you have enough roof space, you can likely save money by investing in slightly less efficient solar panels. They’ll be bigger, but they’ll give you just as much juice as their smaller, more-efficient counterparts.
Every solar panel comes with a warranty from its manufacturer that guarantees the equipment and the performance of the panels. Don’t overlook this warranty! It can save you money in the long run if problems occur down the road. The average solar panel offers at least a 10-year warranty. Ideally, you want to have a 15- or even 20-year warranty. The best solar panels offer a 25-year warranty on performance. Unsurprisingly, the best warranties tend to come with the highest priced panels.
Comparing Temperature Coefficient
Despite the fact that solar panels rely on the sun, they don’t do so well in hot temperatures. Whenever temps soar over 77 degrees Fahrenheit, a solar panel’s efficiency will begin to drop. The hotter it gets, the less efficiently your solar panels work. The rate of efficiency loss is called the “temperature coefficient.” The higher the temperature coefficient, the less energy your panels will produce on those hot, LA summer days.
Solar panels with low-temperature coefficients tend to be more expensive, but since they will ultimately produce more energy for you on hot days, they could be worth the extra cost!
How to Choose the Right Solar Panels
Choosing the right solar panels in Los Angeles may feel confusing or difficult. But it doesn’t have to be! The real key is to choose the right solar installation company. A good solar company will help you figure out your energy needs and then make a recommendation on the right system size and solar panel brand to meet your budget and expectations.
If the price tag feels high, just remember that Angelenos get the biggest payback on solar in the entire country! Also, paying out of pocket isn’t your only option. At Semper Solaris, we are happy to discuss our zero down payment plans and leasing options. Contact our local Los Angeles office today for a free energy analysis of your home!