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Solar Panels in Inyo County, CA

Installing Solar Panels in Inyo County, California: Costs & More

Key Facts

  • As of 2023, the average cost for solar panels in Inyo County is $3.12 per watt
  • The payback period for solar panels ranges between 5 to 11 years
  • Factors determining solar installation cost include panel type, roof type and interconnection fees (if applicable)

Going Green in Inyo County

Located in California's eastern central region, Inyo County gets 291 sunny days per year, almost 50% more than the national average. The county is the 52nd most populous of the state's 58 counties. In the 2020 census, the county had a population of 19,016 people. According to recent United States census statistics, the county's expected population in 2023 is 19,157, with an annual growth rate of 0.25%.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Inyo County, CA?

As of 2023, the average cost of a solar panel in Inyo County is $3.12 per watt. There are numerous types of solar panels available, and the size of the system also influences the cost.

Energy System Size Solar Panel Cost Cost After Credit
3 kW $9,360 $6,926
4 kW $12,480 $9,235
5 kW $15,600 $11,544
6 kW $18,720 $13,853
7 kW $21,840 $16,162
8 kW $24,960 $18,470
9 kW $28,080 $20,779
10 kW $31,200 $23,088

The net price a solar shopper will pay for a solar system can fall by thousands of dollars when they factor in the federal investment tax credit (ITC) of 30% along with other state and local solar incentives.

How Long Does It Take for Solar Panels to Pay for Themselves in Inyo County?

A payback time ranging from 5 to 11 years is typical for solar installations in Inyo County. The time it takes for a solar panel to pay for itself is called its "payback period." Factors that will typically affect a payback period include:

  • The monthly energy consumption
  • The size of the system required
  • The available shading on the property
  • The net metering policy offered by the utility company, etc.

The average payback period in the United States is 12 years. However, due to California's high electricity costs and the state's relatively low regulations for residential solar systems, homeowners can pay off their panels in as little as 8 years.

How can I Sell Solar Energy in Inyo County, California?

Net energy metering (NEM) is a service provided by various utilities to clients who want to sell excess solar power back to the grid. The first version of the NEM program was introduced in California in 1996 to motivate utility customers who generated their clean energy by granting a cash credit on their electric bills for any surplus energy delivered back to their utility.

NEM 1.0, as it came to be known, was effective in attracting solar adoption. Consequently, the intended 5% restriction on how much residentially generated power might be sold back to utility providers was almost capped in 2016. In response, the CPUC introduced NEM 2.0, a new program that went into effect on July 1, 2017.

NEM 2.0 program provided solar refunds at a somewhat lower rate than the state’s initial net metering policy—specifically, about two cents less per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Under this policy's provisions, PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E customers are entitled to a credit on their electric bills for every kilowatt-hour of excess solar electricity they contribute to the grid.

NEM 2.0 guarantees that families that install solar panels will save money compared to retail rates for the next twenty years. It is a quick and simple way to recuperate solar panel investment costs by selling extra electricity to the local utility.

On December 15, 2022, the CPUC adopted the third iteration of net metering, also known as NEM 3.0. As a result of the legislation, new solar customers in California will see significant reductions in their net metering compensation rates (by about 75 percent). Furthermore, according to NEM 3.0, the payback period for solar and battery storage systems will be comparable to that for solar-only systems.

Are Tesla Solar Panels Available in Inyo County, California?

Yes, Tesla Solar Panels are available in Inyo County. The Tesla website accepts orders for its retrofit solar panels in over 20 states, including California.

Tesla offers clients two different solar energy options: solar roofs and solar panels. Solar roofs incorporate solar and non-solar tiles, allowing them to blend in with a home's aesthetics while increasing the roof's area, which can generate more power.

In comparison, Tesla's solar panels provide a more aesthetically pleasing choice with front skirts and no visible mounting hardware integrated into the design of these panels. Both alternatives are Powerwall (battery system) compatible, allowing users to store and use their solar energy whenever they choose while also providing backup power in the event of a power outage.

Installing a Tesla solar product should only be undertaken by local Tesla-certified installers who will handle all steps of the procedure professionally, including permitting, system design, installation, and financing. If an untrained or uncertified installer installs the system, the resident may be disqualified from the product warranty.

Do You Need a Handyman or a Solar Installer in Inyo County?

Solar installation is a complicated and potentially dangerous activity. For safe and satisfactory results, they must be performed by qualified and skilled handypersons or solar installers.

The United States Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy recommends that installations be performed by trained personnel. Unqualified individuals who try solar installation run a substantial risk of starting a fire and injuring themselves.

Furthermore, the energy produced by solar systems connected to the power grid can impact its operation. As a result, to connect the system to the grid, residents must first seek approval from their power distributor before replacing or rearranging their electricity meter.

Professional solar installers will connect their client's system to the electricity distributor and prepare and submit the appropriate papers for network connection approval and meter installation/configuration. This service is often offered at no extra charge to the customer.

How to Choose a Competent Local Installer

Solar installers should be screened based on their years of experience, licenses, insurance policies, reputations, and certifications.

Verify Their Accreditation and Licenses

First, ensure that any prospective company has the necessary licensing and insurance. In California, the C-10 and C-46 Contractor Licenses are excellent markers of a solar panel installer's expertise. These specialized licenses permit the holders to work with photovoltaic and thermal solar energy systems. Solar shoppers can look up their contractor's C10 Electrical License and C46 Solar License before hiring them.

Reviews and References From Recent Solar System Owners

Inquirers should consider the company's track record when looking for a local solar installer. They can do this by looking into references and reviews to see what other customers say about the business. This will give an idea of the level of service to expect.

Also, before hiring a contractor, the Federal Trade Commission recommends that consumers obtain at least three references and verify those recommendations. As such, interested homeowners must prioritize personal research, online and traditional, to get unbiased opinions on any solar installer they are considering employing. They can obtain referrals and recommendations from family, friends, and neighbors who have installed their solar systems. In this case, they might be able to inspect the work that the installer has completed.

Workmanship Warranties

When customers buy a product, or service, they often obtain a warranty in the form of a written, oral, or implied guarantee that the item or service they purchased will perform the purpose for which it was designed.

When hiring professional solar installers, homeowners are often offered manufacturer and workmanship warranties. While the manufacturer's warranties cover the materials installed, such as solar panels, batteries, and inverters, the workmanship warranty covers the installation technique and ensures that it was done properly, in line with all industry standards. The warranty duration, which is particular to work performed by the installer, can range from one to ten years.

Homeowners must check with an installer to determine what is covered by the warranty, possible exclusions and if any additional fees are required. Getting written copies of these warranties is also important, especially if they are expensive. This allows the inquirer to undertake an adequate investigation into the details of the agreement.


In addition to ensuring that a solar installer has all of the necessary business licenses and credentials, it is critical to work with one who has experience custom designing systems to meet their clients’ specific needs.

When assessing the available options, the most reliable installers will work with the homeowners to understand their needs and how solar may be integrated into their overall energy strategy. As such, when hiring an installer, it is essential to consider one that provides a consultative and professional solar experience.

Cost Comparison

Another thing to consider when looking for the best solar panel installation company is the cost estimate supplied by each potential provider. Before deciding on a firm, solar shoppers should consult several different service providers and assess the bargains each of them offers. A pricing estimate that is noticeably cheaper than those supplied by the company's competitors may indicate that the solar installation company does not install high-quality panels or that their work is subpar.

What Solar Financing Options are Available to Me in Inyo County, CA?

Owing to the state's lease and financing alternatives for solar energy, households in California can obtain solar electricity and backup power without incurring substantial up-front costs. Power Purchase Agreements (PPA), Solar loans, and Solar leases are the solar financing options available in Inyo county.

What is a Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)?

A PPA is a type of Third-Party Ownership (TPO) ), a finance arrangement in which two parties enter into a contract. Solar companies provide clients with PPA product options that will allow them to acquire solar energy at a low, predictable rate without having to worry about the maintenance or performance of their solar panels.

The client does not own the system; instead, the power is purchased at a fixed rate from the solar company that owns the system. At the end of the PPA contract, the client can either extend the contract or buy the solar system from the solar company.

What are Solar Loans?

A solar panel loan is money borrowed to purchase and install solar panels. It operates similarly to a home improvement loan in that the homeowner borrows money from a lender, such as a bank or a solar firm, and then repays the principal amount plus interest monthly. These allow households to go solar with no upfront costs while financing the entire system.

When the balance of a solar loan is paid in full at the end of the loan's term, the homeowner gains full ownership of the solar system.

What are Solar Leases?

Like a PPA, a solar lease is a type of Third-Party Ownership (TPO) finance mechanism. It involves a homeowner agreeing with a solar company to have a solar energy system put on their roof for a low to no upfront fee. Under the terms of this arrangement, the homeowner will basically "rent" a solar system in exchange for the benefits (i.e., the electricity) that the system generates.

Customers who sign up for a solar lease can save money on the initial costs of solar equipment and installation. Instead of paying for the entire solar system, the client could pay a fixed monthly charge for the electricity generated by the solar panel. When one leases a solar system, one gets all the benefits of having the system without having to make the initial commitment to purchase and install solar panels. This allows them to reap the benefits of having a solar system. Also, the suppliers will ensure that the system is properly maintained and working at peak performance during the lease term.

When compared to the entire cost of installing a solar power system financed, leased, or obtained through a PPA, the total cost of installing a solar power system purchased outright is significantly less expensive in most cases.

Do Solar Panels Increase Home Value in Inyo County?

Yes, solar panels increase home values in Inyo County. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, installing solar panels will raise the value of a home by about $20 for every dollar saved on monthly electricity expenses.

Additionally, homeowners are increasingly interested in energy-efficient homes, and many are willing to pay a premium to minimize their monthly utility expenditures. As a result, many homeowners, prospective purchasers, and real estate appraisers know that installing solar panels and solar battery systems might increase a property's market value. The specific numbers vary based on the installation and property.

Are Solar Panels Exempt from Property Taxes in Inyo County?

Yes, solar panels exempt property taxes in Inyo County. In California, the solar property tax exemption allows homeowners who install solar panels to postpone paying taxes on the value increase induced by such panels until January 1, 2025.

To be qualified for the exemption, the homeowner must have an active solar energy installation. Active solar systems are thermally segregated from living space or any other location where the energy is used to provide for the collection, storage, or distribution of solar energy.

Because of this one hundred percent exemption, homeowners can take advantage of some of the cost savings associated with the panels before being required to begin paying taxes on this specific home improvement.

How to Find Solar Companies Near Me in Inyo County, California?

Solar shoppers can find high-quality solar suppliers in Inyo county by doing the following:

Conducting Online Searches

Solar shoppers in Inyo county can identify reliable solar energy firms by simply searching online with keywords like "Inyo solar companies near me" or "California solar companies near me." This will return results for Inyo and California solar companies near the searcher. They would be shown a range of sponsored listings, maps, and guides that detail local solar companies in their area.

Searchers may also use solar marketplace websites to discover which verified solar companies are near their zip codes. These websites also provide information on what other solar purchasers think of the companies and their services.

Talk to Friends and Neighbors

Speaking with friends, family, and neighbors is an effective way to learn about any local business. Acquaintances with solar panels are often already working with a local installation company and would be eager to share some of their knowledge and information.

Talk to Local Professionals

Because solar panel installations include a home's structural and electrical house systems, inquirers may learn about competent local solar installer options from electricians or a firm specializing in home construction or restoration. Local handypersons generally have relationships with other local experts and are familiar with local solar installers to whom their clients are often referred.

Inyo County Statistics

Inyo County, located in California's eastern central region, is the 52nd most populous of the state's 58 counties. In the 2020 census, the county had a population of 19,016 people. According to recent United States census statistics, the county's expected population in 2023 is 19,157, with an annual growth rate of 0.25%.

Inyo County has a total of 7954 households, with the average size of one of these homes housing roughly two persons. A typical family consists of 2.97 persons. Furthermore, the average number of individuals per home is 2.18. The household size is the total number of people living in a particular residential unit. In contrast, family size is the number of household members related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption. Most of these households in Inyo County are family establishments, accounting for 56.96% of the total, with non-family units accounting for the remaining 43.04%.

Inyo County has a total of 10,067 residential units. 66.68% of the 8,451 occupied housing units in Inyo County are owner-occupied, while 33.32% are rented.