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Going Solar in Santa Barbara County, CA

Key Details

  • Solar panels in Santa Barbara County, California, cost between $2.5 to $5 per watt.
  • Factors affecting solar panel cost include system size, panel quality, installation company, and financing terms.
  • Solar panels are exempt from property taxes in Santa Barbara County until January 1, 2034.
  • Solar panels in the county typically pay for themselves in six years.
  • Net Metering allows selling surplus solar energy to the grid in Santa Barbara County.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Santa Barbara County, California?

As of 2023, the average solar panel price per watt in Santa Barbara, California, ranges from $2.5 to $5. On the other hand, the average cost of installation ranges from $12,000 to $17,000.

How long do California Solar Installations take.jpg

Over the solar system's life, saving on utility bills can go as high as $29,734. Of course, this assessment makes certain presumptions, such as:

  • Upfront payment was made in cash.
  • The household uses an average amount of electricity.
  • The installed solar panel is of the appropriate size for the household unit.

Different energy system needs and cost

Energy system size Solar panel cost Cost after Credit
3kw $8,580 $6,349
4kw $11,440 $8,466
5kw $ 14,300 $10,582
6kw $17,160 $12,698
7Kw $20,020 $14,815
8kw $22,880 $16,931
9kw $25,740 $19,048
10kw $28,600 $21,164

Which Factors Affect the Cost of Solar Panels in Santa Barbara County, California?

Multiple factors affect the costs for solar installation. Some of these include the system size, quality of the panel brand and equipment used, the solar panel installation company and financing terms.

Average Cost Breakdown for Solar Installation in Santa Barbara County
Type of Solar Panel Installation Cost per watt
Monocrystalline Solar Panels $1 - $1.50
Polycrystalline Solar Panels $0.90 - $1
Thin Film Solar Panels $1 - $1.50
Other Costs
Solar Batteries $1,304 per kWh
Cost of Racking $25 - $50
Installation and Soft Costs $2.50 - $4.50

Are Solar Panels exempt from property taxes in Santa Barbara County?

Yes, solar panels are exempted from property taxes in Santa Barbara county. Initially set to expire in 2015, the tax exemption was extended till January 1, 2034).

To calculate how much property tax you need to pay on a building, you may need to consult the property records. If you’re looking for property records in Santa Barbara county, you can search through the Real Estate Records Index (Official Records Search).

This Records Index can be accessed in two ways. The first way is on the website of the County of Santa Barbara County Assessor's Office. The second way is by going to the physical site of the County’s Property Assessor Office. That way, you can search for the record using the offices’ lobby computers.

Once you’ve accessed the Real Estate Records Index, you can search for the property records. The following tips would prove useful in searching for this record:

  • Search for the property record by the name of the parties to the property agreement.
  • You can also search for the property record using the document title or the document number.
  • Leave the name, title, and document owner blank for a more inclusive search.
  • Enter a time frame using the date parameters to help narrow your search to a particular period.

The Santa Barbara County Property Assessor Offices are located at:

Santa Barbara Office
105, E Anapamu Street,
Room 204,
Santa Barbara, CA 93101.
Phone: 805-568-2550 | Fax: 805-568-3247

Santa Maria Office
511 Lakeside Pkwy,
Suite 115,
Santa Maria, CA 93455-1310
Phone: 805-346-8310 | Fax: 805-346-8324

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

On average, the period for solar panels to pay for themselves in Santa Barbara county is six to ten years. However, the exact payback period depends on three factors.

  • The first is the cost of the solar system.
  • The second is the amount of power the system generates.
  • The third is the electricity consumption rate before and after installing solar panels.

Note: Regardless of these factors, the faster your solar panel generates electricity, the less time it would take to pay for itself.

Do You Need a Handyman or a Solar Installer in Santa Barbara County?

The U.S Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy recommends that solar panels are always installed by experts. Solar installation is a specialized field. As such, residential and commercial installations may require experts with a certain level of skill to avoid complications.

Note: Although not mandatory, certifications issued by organizations such as the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) are respected among solar professionals.

How can I Sell Solar Energy in Santa Barbara County?

You can sell your solar energy in Santa Barbara county through a system called Net Metering. In this system, payment is made for surplus energy generated and fed back by consumers. This also comes with an exclusion from payment of standby charges.

In this system, once the 12-month billing period is over, any balance of surplus electricity that remains unused by the customer is balanced up. The unused electricity is paid for at a fair market value known as Net Surplus Compensation.

In April 2023, California introduced a new billing system known as NEM 3.0. In other to have qualified for the NEM 2.0 arrangement, customer were required to fulfill certain requirements such as

  • Payment of a one-time interconnection fee.
  • Payment of non-bypassable charges in each metered interval.
  • Transfer to a time-of-use rate.

NetMetering 3.0

This is the newly approved net metering tariff. This iteration was passed by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on December 15, 2022.

It is referred to as the Net-Billing Tariff and came into effect after April 15, 2023. A major feature of this new tariff (NEM 3.0) is that it reduces compensation rates for solar customers in California by about 75%.

This is as opposed to the previous 1 -1 compensation rate with utility bills. Another major impact is the increase in the payback period. Moving from an average of 6 years under the NEM 2.0 to 9 years.

  • While an application must be made before April 14, 2023, to lock in the NEM 2.0 rates, system installation can be made till April 14, 2026.
  • The 20-year validity period for NEM 2.0 customers does not restart upon the commencement of NEM 3.0.
  • Increase in capacity after the application deadline will invalidate the application of customers under NEM 2.0.
  • Adding a solar battery to your energy system after the application deadline will not invalidate your NEM 2.0 status.

Are Tesla Solar Panels Available in Santa Barbara County, California?

Yes, there are Tesla Solar Panels available in Santa Barbara County, California. If you're going to be installing a Tesla Solar panel, it's better to work with a local Tesla-certified installer.

Working with a certified installer will make the installation process seamless as they handle every facet of the process. A certified installer also has the necessary skills to customize the appropriate solution for Powerwall installation in your home.

Some examples of certified installers in Santa Barbara County include Action energy, and Wicks Roofing and Solar Inc.

Action Energy
534 E Ortega St, Santa Barbara, CA 93103
(805) 679-7979,

Wicks Roofing and Solar Inc.
515 N Quarantina St., Santa Barbara, CA 93103
805 965 5122,

Do Solar Panels Increase a Home Value in Santa Barbara County?

Yes, the installation of a solar panel increases the value of properties in Santa Barbara County. Different studies show that there's a significant increase in property value due to the installation of solar panels. Zillow reports that there's a 4.1% increase in the selling price of properties with Solar panels.

Studies suggest there is approximately a $5,911-increase in resale price for each Kilowatt of Solar panel installed.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory also reported that the increase in resale value is $20 for every $1 saved on electric bills. It should, however, be noted that these are just estimates which may slightly vary from time to time.

As can be clearly seen, the added value is influenced by factors like

  • The number of kilowatts of Solar panels installed.
  • Money saved on electric bills.

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

There are several ways to find Solar Companies near you. Some simpler methods include:

  • Carrying out a simple Google search for "Santa Barbara Solar Companies near me".
  • Use specialized search tools like
  • Carrying out a search on government websites.
  • Interview local professionals.
  • Talk to other Solar Customers around you.

While searching for solar panels near you, you'd be presented with a wide range of options.

However, as a Solar Customer, you need to put a couple of things into consideration. This is because solar projects are capital-intensive and carry a number of risks when conducted by uncertified persons.

To prevent the possibility of mishaps and getting scammed by shoddy companies, there are a couple of things a solar customer needs to investigate. These considerations can be broken down into steps which are as follows:

STEP 1 -Finding Local Solar Providers

The first step requires finding solar providers near you. However, any information obtained at this stage should not be taken at face value. There is a need to carry out due diligence on these companies.

STEP 2 -Due Diligence of Solar Company Certification

The next step involves ascertaining the qualifications of the solar companies. Not everyone can set up a Solar Company, as the field requires specialized knowledge. Regulatory bodies like the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy recommends that only certified installers be contracted to carry out solar panel installation.

Contracting an unlicensed solar company can lead to unintended consequences, both regulatory and technical. There are also possibilities of mishaps. The Bureau of labor statistics recorded over 5,300 fatal occupational injuries in 2019.

This is why securing the services of certified professionals to install solar panels for you is important. To do this, the solar customer should examine the certification of the professional. A generally recognised certification is the one issued by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

In conducting due diligence on a company, the following questions should be asked and answered:

  • Whether the Solar Company is licensed: As previously explained, it is never a good idea to contract unlicensed solar companies to install solar panels for you. This is even more so for a state like California that issues solar-specific licenses.
  • Whether the Solar Company is bonded and has insurance: Licensed companies are reliable regarding solar panel installation. This, however, does eradicate the risk associated with it. Insurance absolves you from liability for on-the-job injuries. If the installer is bonded, it covers any damages during your installation. This ensures that the Solar customer is compensated.
  • The speciality of the Solar Company: You need to be sure that the solar company has the license required to install the specific system you need. There are three major types of installation, Grid-tied, off-grid and Hybrid.
  • Identity of the deployed on-site specialist: You need to ensure the solar company's qualification and each of its onsite agents.
  • Permit requirements: Carrying out construction or renovation activities on the house usually involves rewire permits. This, however, differs from state to state. Solar installers must be aware of the required permits necessary for different installation projects in the locality.
  • Business License: This is different from a professional license. A professional license serves as proof of proficiency. On the other hand, a business license grants authority to conduct business in a given locality. This is usually sought from the office of the secretary of state in the area of residence.

STEP 3 -Review of Past Clients

At this point, it helps to look at reviews of past clients of the solar installer. The experiences of past clients would help you get an idea of what to expect from different installers. Sometimes the type of review you get depends on where you look. It helps to go through reviews from a few websites to get a balanced opinion. Things you might want to take note of include reviews on installation, solar equipment, workmanship etc.

STEP 4 -Suitability of the Solar Companies Qualifications for the Clients' Requirements

It's also important to consider whether the solar company has qualifications matching the installation type you want to carry out. A solar company might have the best reviews but not be the right fit for you. Determining the right solar company for you depends on two things:

  • The type of solar project you want to carry out.
  • Financing options.

Different solar companies have different areas of expertise and different licenses. Selecting a Solar Company to contract for your installation is dependent on the company having suitable qualifications.

Regarding financing options, solar companies offer different payment schemes in the form of loans, leases or upfront payment options. The option you choose is dependent on how you prefer to finance the Solar project.

STEP 5 -Interview Prospective Solar Companies

At this stage, you need to talk to prospective solar companies. This involves setting up meetings and having discussions with them. Through this, you could confirm sourced information on the solar companies.

You also need to get cost quotes on your project. Don't just stop at the first interview; reach out to as many companies as you feel meet your required specifications. This gives you a standard for comparison.

As can be seen, this process is quite Herculean. It requires a lot of expertise, research and leg work. To make your work easier, you can enlist the aid of professionals. Experts in this field are known as Energy Advisors. An expert energy advisor would carry out the research and generation of quotes and vetting. This takes you to the last step, where you can compare and select among the offers of different solar companies.

Post-Solar Installation Expenses

There are certain expenses usually incurred post-installation of your solar panel. They mostly have to do with maintenance. Solar panels need to go through regular inspection and cleaning. This is to prevent it from wear and tear. It also helps to spot possible causes of damage in advance.

Sometimes, these expenses go beyond just mere inspection, especially where there is a need for

an add-on to an already installed solar panel. The cost of maintenance usually ranges from $150 - $300.

Santa Barbara County Statistics

Santa Barbara county is located in the Southern portion of California. As of the last census conducted in 2021, the county had a population of 446,475 people. In 2021, the government issued building permits on demand through online processing. The county laws, however, require that owners of housing units seek permits when making alterations. Permits are also to be sought when carrying out project development.

Santa Barbara county has a total of 159,798 housing units. Each household in the county has an average number of 2.89 persons. Also, 52.6% of housing units in Santa Barbara are owner-occupied. The median value of these owner-occupied housing units is $625,300. Similarly, its median gross rent is $1810 dollars.

Some of the houses in the county are subject to mortgages. The median selected owners' costs with and without a mortgage in the county are $3,605 and $857, respectively. Also, 82.7% of people in the county live in the same house they lived in a year ago.