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California solar 101: must read before you buy solar panels

California State 18 solar panels available

  • $0.53/W Average gross price of a solar power system as of May 2022
  • 1 years Average system payback period
  • 49 905 / year Average savings from going solar in California
  • 5 ¢ / kWh Levelized cost of solar energy
  • 2.77 kW Recommended system size
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in California

Solar panels in California

California #6 in the US
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There are 4 fulfillment centers in California

San Diego, CA(1 item)0 mi away
Mon-Sun 9 am - 3.30 pm
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Fontana, CA(4 items)7777 mi away
Mon-Sun 9 am - 3.30 pm
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Chino, CA(1 item)7784 mi away
Mon-Sun 9 am - 3.30 pm
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Sacramento, CA(9 items)7885 mi away
Mon-Sun 9 am - 3.30 pm
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What our happy customers say

The website UI is really intuitive and I figured out what I want pretty quickly. Went for Canadian Solar panels plus a solaredge inverter. I went to their fulfillment center to grab my order, and they were very quick to bring it out. The staff really made sure to warn me that panels are fragile and I appreciate that. Drove the package home safely, unpacked, all good. Right now we’re in the middle of the installation process, they sent a letter asking how I’m doing and asked for a review. Here I am! The panels are nice and it was a pleasure doing business with you.
Lime
Via Trustpilot
Apr 7, 2022
Fantastic company. Everything went smooth and the shipped was fast. The customer service was great.
Joe M.
Via Trustpilot
Apr 5, 2022
So I’m from LA and everybody’s going solar here so though that I should too. But I was really afraid it would be too much of a hassle. Eventually i went on google and soon found a1store. They got a pretty website and lots of articles on solar, and I flicked through a couple. So I decided to contact them, they were very friendly and we scheduled a call with their engineer. He was very patient with me and explained all the basics that I needed to know.

So i made an order, one of their centers is nearby, so i ordered pickup. I drove there, and they warned me to drive the panels carefully and pack them well for the road. seems like it's a recurring thing that people break their panels on the way home. I was real careful and yeah, I got home safely. Panels are in my garage now. I already found the installer. we have to take care of some papers and then it’s on!
Jerry Burton
Via Trustpilot
Mar 23, 2022
Great selection of high quality solar panels, good pricing, fast shipping, everything arrived in great condition.
Paul
Via Trustpilot
Mar 8, 2022
I ordered some solar panels. The top 4 ones were damaged during delivery (A1 had emailed me in advance what to check for before I took delivery which I followed even though the truck driver was pushing not to inspect them as thouroughly) and A1 replaced them in a timely manner and kept me informed. The price on the panels were some of the best on the internet (delivered). I would buy from them again.
Robert Broughton
Via Google
Nov 27, 2021
I ordered some solar panels but during delivery, the top 4 were broken by the shipping department.

A1 replaced them and kept me informed when the replacements would be in. I would buy from them again.
Robert Broughton
Via Trustpilot
Nov 27, 2021

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Solar laws, incentives and rebates in California you need to know

Save 26% of your PV system cost with Federal Solar Tax Credit

The main solar incentive that works across all United States is the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) program. By applying to this program, all Americans can deduct 26% of the total cost of their installation from the income tax. The PV system cost doesn’t amount to only how much you’ve spent on your solar panels, but includes the shipping and installation as well. To claim the ITC, complete all the necessary forms and submit them when filing your taxes. It makes sense to hurry up: in 2023 the Tax credit decreases to 22% and after that it’s 10% for commercial systems only.

Gain credits from electric companies with Net Metering program

When your system produces more energy than you need, you can sell the surplus into the grid and gain credits from your electric company. Usually the rates for this excess energy are close to utility rates, so in theory you can stop paying all of your electricity bills this way. The rates and conditions vary from company to company, so we recommend consulting your electric supplier.

Solar systems are excluded from property tax assessment

When you add solar panels to your house in California, taxes for your property don’t change. Until 2025 new PV systems are eligible for full exclusion from taxes. You don’t have to fill any additional forms for that exclusion – it is granted automatically once your tax assessor receives a building permit. However, you might need to fill some papers when building a house with a solar system from scratch – check the details here.

Division 1 Part.0.5 Chapter 3
California Revenue and Taxation Code

Add energy storage to your system with Self-Generation Incentive Program

The Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) is specifically designed to make solar batteries more affordable in California for low-income families. By applying for this program you get a chance to receive some money back from the cost of your energy storage. The program primarily targets California residents with low income, but you can apply even if you don't fit into this category. The size of financial incentive varies depending on your status and the size of your energy storage: from $0.20 to $0.85 per Wh. The program was about to end in December 2020, but was extended due to COVID-19 pandemic. You can check out the handbook on the website of the program to see if you’re eligible and find forms for application and all the documents there.

Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes program can decrease a PV system cost in California by $15,000

Single-family Affordable Solar Homes program (SASH) aims to help families with low income to go solar in California. It is suitable for 1 to 5 kW AC installations. The applicants get a one-time payment based on the size of the system: $3 per Watt. Therefore, you can get as much as $15,000 for a 5kW AC system.

To participate in the SASH program, an applicant needs:

  • To be a customer of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), or San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E)
  • Own and live in a house defined as “affordable housing” by California Public Utilities Code 2852
  • Have a household income that is 80% or below of the area median income, based on the tax return for the previous year.

The program is going to expire at the end of 2021, so it makes sense to hurry up. Check the SASH handbook for all the details and find application forms here.

CSI Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) Program

Sales and Use Tax Exemption makes panels and batteries cheaper

Since 2018, all equipment that is used for production, storage or distribution of electric power is exempted from sales and use taxes in California. That allows retailers to lower their prices for photovoltaics and lithium-ion batteries that are considered to be the new go-to type of solar energy storage. Making use of the next incentive in the list can make buying them in California an especially good deal.

Get a permit to install your solar panels in California

To install a solar system in California, you need a building permit. However, you aren’t getting it yourself – it’s actually your solar installer who has to apply for it with a city or county agency. A solar inspector from this agency comes and inspects your home and after that it is legal to install solar panels on your house in California. 

The state has devised a fairly detailed guide to buying and installing solar in California. It covers not only the procedure of getting a permit, but also explains the rights you have as a purchaser and lists the questions that you should ask your installer before signing a contract.

Solar Shade Control Act protects your panels from neighbor’s trees

There are lots of solar systems in California. To make sure that there is enough sunlight for each of them, the state passed the Shade Control Act. This paper protects your panels from the neighbor’s trees casting a shadow on your solar array. According to the act, the solar system should be placed at least 10 ft high and no less than 5 ft from the property line. Then your neighbor has to make sure that no tree grows on his land to cast a shadow that would cover more than 10% of your system between 10 am and 2 pm. If there is already a tree that grows so high that it blocks the sunlight, he has to trim it.

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