Solar Panels in the San Francisco Bay Area: An Overview
All Data As of December 31st 2016
- Average Residential Solar System Size in San Francisco Bay Area: 5.46 Kilowatts
- Average Cost of Solar Panels in the San Francisco Bay Area: $24,596 BEFORE incentives ($17,217 AFTER federal incentives)
- Average Cost of Solar Panels in the San Francisco Bay Area (Per Watt): $4.73 BEFORE incentives ($3.31 AFTER federal incentives)
Cost of Solar Panels in The San Francisco Bay Area
In general, larger solar systems will cost less per kilowatt as there are certain fixed costs associated with an installation, so it is important to evaluate pricing by large systems (defined as 5-8 KWs) and medium systems (2-5 KWs). In addition, it is important to look at pricing distributions vs. averages or medians if you want to understand what a good deal is on a solar system.
For a large system, the cost of solar panels in the San Francisco Bay Area is $4.42 per watt (before incentives) and 25% of consumers paid less than $3.69 per watt. For a medium system, the cost of solar panels in the San Francisco Bay Area is $4.95 (before incentives) and 25% of consumers paid less than $3.91 per watt. So if you are looking to get the best price for a solar system in the San Francisco Bay Area and have an average sized system, you should find an installer below $3.50 per watt.
Solar Financing and Installation Trends in San Francisco Bay Area
Residential solar installations have increased significantly in California, although growth slowed in 2016. From 2010 to 2016, installations have increased from 18,000 to 150,000, making California the largest residential solar market in the U.S. by a wide margin. The slowdown in installation activity and installer turmoil, has created a buying opportunity for consumers. Solar installations increased in San Diego in 2010 from 5,118 to 27,049 in 2016.
Q1-2017 Update – Solar activity has slowed in the Bay Area as solar permits issued declined 37% in from the same period of 2016.
Solar Financing in San Francisco Bay Area
In 2016, 60% of consumers purchased their solar system either with cash or a loan vs. and 40% used a lease or power purchase agreement (PPA) structure. Refer to our lease vs. buy guide to understand the implications of solar financing options. The percentage of consumers that purchased their solar system in the San Francisco Bay Area has increased in 2016 due to an increasing number of low-cost solar loans.
Top Solar Companies in San Francisco Bay Area
Choosing a solar installer is arguably the most important step of going solar and we recommend reading our guide on how to choose a solar company. In the San Francisco Bay Area in 2016, approximately 60% of consumers chose a local installer vs. 40% that chose a national installer (SolarCity, Vivint or Sunrun).