Solar Costs

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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Solar costs depend, of course, on the size of the system you need, the type of roof you have, the location, and any peculiarities of the site. There are formulas to help you get an idea of the costs for solar installation on your property, whether residential or commercial. Take a look at the California Energy Commission's (CEC) website, or that of any Bay Area solar company, and you will get detailed information.

The average household in California uses about 8,500 kilowatt-hours a year. A solar system of about 2.5 to 5 kilowatts (kW) would take care of most of the electricity needs of this household. To illustrate the effectiveness of the CEC's Emerging Renewables Program financial incentives, let's say a 2.5 kW system costs about $20,000. After rebates and state tax savings, the cost is brought down to about $8,500.

For Home or Business

Another approach is to assume that a 1 kW system produces about 150 kWh (kilowatt per hour) a month. If you use 750 kWh a month, divide 750 by 150, and you find you need a 5 kW solar system, which requires 500 square feet of installation area. This formula works for residential or commercial properties.

Of course, the easiest method is to select a professional contractor who will do a free on-site evaluation. An experienced contractor can not only estimate the system size you need, but can calculate solar costs before and after the state's financial incentives. In addition, the contractor can assess your property and discuss with you the design of your new solar system.

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