California solar 101: must read before you buy solar panels

Last updated 05.27.22

California State 46 solar panels available

  • $2.30 / W Average gross price of a solar power system as of October 2023
  • 5 years Average system payback period
  • $45 792 Average savings from going solar in California
  • 8 ¢ / kWh Levelized cost of solar energy
  • 2.87 kW Recommended system size
Show pick-up locationsShop solar panels

Benefit from a PV system
in California

Solar panels in California

California #6 in the US
Solar Ranking

There are 7 fulfillment centers in California
Chino, CA9 items 26 mi
Pickup on Tue, Oct 03
Show products
Fontana, CA10 items 39 mi
Pickup on Tue, Oct 03
Show products
Simi Valley, CA6 items 68 mi
Pickup on Tue, Oct 03
Show products
Bakersfield, CA1 item 150 mi
Pickup on Tue, Oct 03
Show products
San Leandro, CA5 items 423 mi
Pickup on Tue, Oct 03
Show products
Sacramento, CA11 items 456 mi
Pickup on Tue, Oct 03
Show products
Sacramento, CA8 items 458 mi
Pickup on Tue, Oct 03
Show products
Click for scrolling

What our happy customers say

I am new to using solar and had a great experience with A1Solar. I ordered 6 pcs of Q Cells 400W solar panels from them and delivery was fast / customer service was great! I look forward to buying from them again in the future.
Madisyn Bryk
Via Google
Jun 26, 2023
I have ordered 2 solar panels from A1solarstore on pickup, but had some problems paying at the checkout. However, finally it went well.
Sally Almaqtry
Via Google
Jun 21, 2023
Ordered panels for my house due to the nice pricing, came at super good quality. Definitely glad I picked here. (For those wondering I ordered 16pcs of Aptos Solar 370W!)
Nimbus Magazine
Via Google
Jun 9, 2023
I was new to the Solar Panel Industry, just browsing for information when I came across A1 SolarStore. After doing researching and educating myself on products through their easy to navigate website I made my first purchase. I couldn't be happier by choosing to go through A1. The customer service I received was very beneficial on choosing Suntech 370 W Solar Panel. Best part of A1 is that the pickup locations was extremely convenient only miles from my home.
Adam Braden
Via Google
Jun 9, 2023
If you are looking to purchase Solar Panels, I would highly recommend A1 Solar store. I did not have much knowledge on Solar Panels and/or the benefits of them. A1 SolarStore customer service and knowledge of their panels was outstanding. My purchase of the Silfab 400W panels was made easy and quick with a pick up location right in my area.
Rachel Bergan
Via Google
Jun 9, 2023
I recently ordered a 8 piece of Aptos Solar 370W Solar Panels from A1 Solar Store. Everything was great from start to finish. Their website's easy navigation allowed me to compare different panels and view my options. The pick up location was extremely convenient and located close to my home. Overall very impressed with A1 SolarStore and product purchased. I highly recommend it for anyone in the market for Solar Panels.
Via Google
Jun 9, 2023

Review us on Google or Trustpilot

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

Save 30% of your PV system cost with Federal Solar Tax Credit

The US government wants more people to go solar: it’s a modern and green way of getting energy. This is why the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) program was developed. It allows American citizens to claim 30% of the cost of their installation as an income tax deduction. The cost here is not only solar panels, but also shipping, installation expenses and more. For example, if your system overall made you spend $10,000, the government returns you $3,000. To claim the ITC, complete all the necessary forms and submit them when filing your taxes.

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.

Stay tuned

Free and usefull digest on solar energy. No spam

By clicking "Subscribe", I agree by electronic signature to: (1) receive marketing and other texts and messages from A1SolarStore, directly or from third parties acting on its behalf, at the email address I entered above; (2) the Terms and Conditions; and (3) the Privacy Policy.