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Solar Panels in Orange County, CA

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

Key Details

  • The average cost of installing solar panels in Orange County ranges from $2 to $5 per watt. Homeowners in the county are exempt from paying property tax on their active solar systems.
  • It takes on average six to eight years for a solar panel to pay for itself in Orange County.
  • Homeowners can sell solar energy under the Net Energy Metering scheme.
  • Installing a solar panel can increase your home's value by up to $5,911 per kWp (kilowatt peak).
  • When searching for a local installer, look for one that has necessary licenses, get feedback from other users, and find flexible financing options.

How much do Solar Panels cost in Orange County, CA?

As of January 2023, the average cost of installing solar panels in Orange County, CA, ranges from $2 to $5 per watt. You may pay more or less, depending on the Orange County solar company handling the project.

Compared to other states, California's solar panels receive more sunlight and generate more energy. So, you'll get more solar power from an average-sized PV or solar system.

Homeowners can take advantage of state and federal solar rebates to minimize costs. For example, it costs $14,000 to install a 5 kW solar system. However, you can use the federal tax credit to reduce the overall cost to $10,360.

Average cost of solar installation in Orange County and the reduced cost after using solar incentives.

Energy System Size Solar Panel Cost Cost After Credit
3kW $8,430 $6,238
4kW $11,240 $8,318
5kW $14,050 $10,397
6kW $16,860 $12,476
7kW $19,670 $14,556
8kW $22,480 $16,635
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Installing a solar panel can boost your home's value in Orange County. Studies show that a kilowatt of solar panels can boost your home's value by $5,911.

However, there are several factors that determine how much value is added. For example, the added value decreases as the solar panel ages. Also, roof-installed solar panels often have more value than ground-mounted ones.

Average Cost Breakdown for Solar Installation in Orange County
Cost Per Watt
Monocrystalline Solar Panels $1 to $1.50 per watt
Polycrystalline Solar Panels $0.90 to $1 per watt
Thin Film Solar Panels $1 and $1.50 per watt
Other Costs
Solar Batteries
Cost of Racking $.25 to $.50 per watt.
Installation and soft Costs $2.50 - $4.50 per watt

Are Solar Panels Exempt from Property Taxes in Orange County?

Yes. Homeowners who install solar panels are exempt from paying property tax on the added system. Generally, California increases the property tax based on the added value of a real estate property. However, the Active Solar Energy System Exclusion enables homeowners to bypass paying property tax on installed solar systems.

Although the tax break was set to expire in 2016, the state extended the exclusion to cover all solar installed before January 1, 2025.

Note: The exemption only applies to active solar systems. An active solar system is a solar-powered system that's thermally isolated from living spaces and is used to collect, store, and distribute solar energy.

For this reason, the exemption does not cover the following systems:

  • Wind energy systems
  • Passive energy systems
  • Solar swimming heaters
  • Hot tub heaters.

Note: You don't need to file a property tax exclusion when you add an active solar system to an existing structure. The Orange County Assessor's Office will automatically grant the exclusion when it receives a copy of the building permit. The county's assessor is also the custodian of all property records within the state.

However, you must contact the Assessor's Office when installing an active solar system on a new structure. In addition, you must submit the BOE-64-SES to the Assessor's Office at:

500 South Main Street
2nd floor
Orange, CA 92868
Phone: (714) 834-2727.

How Long Does it Take for Solar Panels to Pay for themselves in Orange County?

It takes an average of six to eight years for a solar panel to pay for itself in Orange County, CA. In simple terms, this is the number of years it takes to recover the cost of installing solar panels. This period is also known as the "solar payback period."

Several factors affect the solar payback period. Sometimes, the installation and energy output may determine how long it'll take for the panel to pay for itself.

So, what is a good solar payback period?

A good solar payback period must not exceed the half-life of a solar panel. Solar companies in California often promise a 25-year lifespan for installed solar panels. In this case, your solar payback period must not exceed 12.5 years.

Let's explore this case study.

Derek installed an 8 kWh PV system that cost a total of $22,480. Furthermore, he was able to reduce the installation cost to $15,000 after applying for solar rebates in California.

If Derek's energy bill is $3,000a year, it will take him five years to pay for the cost of installing solar panels. Also, he can sell off excess solar energy to utility companies in Orange County. Net Metering 2.0 and 3.0 enable solar users to sell off excess energy.

How Do I Calculate a Solar Payback Period in Orange County, CA?

There are many factors that affect the solar payback period. Irrespective of these factors, here's a general guideline for calculating the payback period for solar panels in Orange County.

Step 1. Calculate your energy consumption and bill

What are your monthly and yearly energy needs? This is often the first step before installing solar panels for homes in Orange County.

For this step, check your monthly utility bill and multiply it by 12 months. Keep in mind that this is a rough estimate since you consume more energy during certain periods.

Using the previous example, Derek consumes 9,000 kWh of electricity every year. As of January 2023, the average electricity rate in Orange County, CA, is 31 cents per kWh. This means Derek spends between $2,790 and $3,000 on electricity per year.

Step 2. Calculate how much solar power you need
You need to generate more solar energy than your electricity consumption. So, calculate how much energy you'll get from a kilowatt of solar power. Orange County receives a lot of sunlight. So, a 1 kW solar panel will generate an average of 3 to 4.5 kW of energy per day. Furthermore, it will generate between 1,100 and 1,500 kWh in a year.

Using our previous example, Derek must install between 7 and 8 kWh of solar panels to generate enough power. An 8 kWh PV system will generate up to 11,200 kWh of solar power per year.

Step 3. Calculate how much you'll save in energy costs.
Net metering 3.0 enables users to sell solar energy to utility companies at a specific rate. To calculate your annual solar savings, multiply the cost of electricity per kWh by the annual solar energy output.

Based on the example, you will save $3,472 in energy costs by installing an 8 kWh PV system.

Step 4. Calculate your solar panel payback period

Calculate how long it'll take for the solar system to pay for itself. You can determine this figure by dividing the solar installation cost by the annual solar savings.

This means an 8 kWh system will pay for itself in five years.

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

The U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy recommends that installations be done by a professional.

There are tons of reasons why you need a handyman or solar installer in Orange County. For instance, you get the latest information on financing options and solar rebates in California. You also don't want to damage your roof while installing solar panels.

Some solar installers include periodic maintenance as part of their services. Unfortunately, not all handymen have the necessary license to install PV systems. So, always ensure to ask for these certifications when hiring.

How can I Sell Solar Energy in Orange County?

Orange County residents can sell solar energy under the Net Energy Metering scheme. This scheme allows solar users to sell to these utility companies:

To participate in the NEM scheme, you must connect your solar system to the electricity grid. Utility companies will purchase solar energy at the retail rate. You will receive bill credits, which should cover your monthly electricity use.

Sometimes, your solar output is greater than your energy usage. In this case, the utility company will pay the balance at the end of every year. The NEM will pay you according to the current NSC rate. As of 2023, the NSC rate for 1 kW/h is between $0.02 to $0.03.

California has implemented two NEM phases - 1.0 and 2.0.

The third phase, NEM 3.0, went into effect on April 15, 2023. Each phase has a set timeframe and guideline. NEM 2.0 ended on April 15, 2023.

What is NetMetering 3.0 (Net Billing)?

NetMetering 3.0 is the third phase of this scheme, which launched on April 15, 2023. In this phase, the energy credit reduces by 75 percent. This means utility companies will pay one-fourth of the retail price of electricity. In addition, this phase will increase the solar payback period due to the low energy credits.

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Are Tesla Solar Panels Available in Orange County, California?

Tesla solar panels are available in Orange County, CA. Tesla often partners with certfiied solar panel installers in Orange County to assist with installations. Some of the benefits of choosing a certified installer include:

  • Certified installers customize the Tesla solar panels to suit your unique power needs.
  • Professional installers assist in the installation of the Tesla Powerwall onto an already-installed solar panel.
  • Furthermore, they are the best source for determining the cost of Tesla solar panels.

Some of the licensed solar installers registered in Orange County, CA include:

Infinity Solar. Inc
749 North Main Street
Orange, CA 92868
Phone: (714) 880-8089.

Tesla Solar
726 East Chapman Avenue
Orange, CA 92866
Phone: (714) 485-4195.

Do Solar Panels Increase a Home Value in Orange County?

Yes. Installing a solar panel can boost your home's value in Orange County. Studies show that a kilowatt of solar panels can boost your home's value by $5,911.

However, there are several factors that determine how much value is added. For example, the added value decreases as the solar panel ages. Also, roof-installed solar panels have more value than ground-mounted ones.

Solar home value (1).jpg

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

You can find Orange County solar companies and installers via these steps:

Step 1. Build a list of all solar companies in Orange County

There are two methods for completing this step. First, look for solar users in your social circle. Then, ask them for the contact details of their solar company. The other method is to do a Google search for the phrase, "solar companies near me." This will generate a list of solar companies near your real-time location.

Step 2. Filter the list and select solar companies with the right licenses and certifications.

Your preferred solar installer in Orange County, CA, must have the necessary certifications or licenses. Check the previous section for a list of important solar certifications.

Step 3. Get first-hand reviews from other solar users

Look for solar users in your area and ask them about their preferred solar system. Write down the pros and cons of the solar panel installer in Orange County. Next, go through online review sites to get more feedback. Cross out solar companies with an overwhelming negative feedback.

Step 4. Reach out to the solar company

Reach out to these companies and find flexible solar panel financing options. In addition, some solar companies offer used solar panels. Discuss your unique options and have them come to inspect your home.

County Profile

Orange County is situated in the Los Angeles area of Southern California. According to the 2020 US Census Bureau, Orange County covers a total area of 948 sq mi (2,460 km2). This area is home to over 3,167,809 residents, making it the third-most populated county in the state. About 37 percent of the residents form household units. Furthermore, each Orange County household has three members. In other words, there are one or more dependents in a unit.

As of July 2021, there were 1,138,966 housing units in the county, of which 57 percent were owner-occupied housing units. On the other hand, 43 percent, or 489,755 housing units, are rented out or not currently occupied. Also, a majority of the residents (87.6%) did not change their primary residence in the preceding year. Orange County issued 7,867 building permits for the construction of more housing units in 2021.

In Orange County, the average owner-occupied unit costs $738,100. Homeowners financing the housing unit via mortgage will pay an average of $2,967. However, those without mortgages should expect an average cost of $730 to maintain the housing units. These expenses may come in the form of utility bills and property taxes.

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