How Much Solar (Really) Costs in San Diego

Even for sun filled San Diego, solar costs can set your budget ablaze quickly if don’t know what to expect. 

The same can be said for a logical, but nonetheless surprising, “hidden cost”—far bigger than financials. More on that soon, too.

In the information below, we’ve covered the 7 biggest “gotchas” when it comes to solar costs you could encounter.

First, as a baseline to consider…

The Average Cost Of Running Solar In San Diego

As we’ve noted in the past, the average cost of solar in San Diego runs between $11,900 to $16,100.

According to EnergySage, as of September 2021, the average cost of solar installation in San Diego ranges from $11,900 to $16,100.

7 Hidden Costs of Solar Panel Installation & Ownership

The info below isn’t to sway you from pursuing the positives. Just like anything else, and as we covered before, both pros and cons of solar exist.

Everything on this page is simply here to help you make the smartest decisions for your home and see if the benefits rival the costs.

In no particular order:

Hidden Solar Cost #1: Getting Lost In The Weeds

Not “the details”. We’re talking actual weeds (grass and other vegetation, too). 

In San Diego, solar panels will most likely reside on rooftops. 

However, those with ground-mounted systems need to keep their panels visible. As a result, there is the added cost of landscaping.

This could be as simple as mowing and herbicide use, all the way to laying down weed control fabrics. In some areas with larger solar setups, owners have even used grazing animals!


Hidden Solar Cost #2: Panel Cleanings

Once again, gotta keep those solar panels visible. 

While we’re known as a sunny state, it’s really important to keep solar panel cleaning costs in mind.

For one, consider all of the smoke from California’s recent wildfires. The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently reported data on this, noting:

“Solar-powered generation began declining again as wildfire activity rose in September, falling as low as 50 GWh on September 11 as PM2.5 smoke pollution increased.”

Plus, there are other factors like general weather and smog levels.

In either scenario, panels eventually need to be cleaned. To void additional surprise costs, you likely don’t want to do this yourself. It potentially voids any warranties you have and can cause damage.

Result? You guessed it: added cost of professional maintenance.

Speaking of costs, warranties, and fine print…

Hidden Solar Cost #3: Added Insurance Costs

The reason for this is simple.

Going solar isn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision. It means making a significant financial commitment.

Just like any big financial commitment, you can (and should) protect it. After all, those warranties the manufacturer offers won’t last forever.

On one hand, if using rooftop-mounted solar? It might actually fall under an existing homeowner’s insurance policy. There’s also the fact that good quality solar panels last, on average, 25-30 years without a problem.

If not going the roof route, or if going with a ground-mounted system, added insurance costs are more likely.

Depending on your solar system’s cost, the added insurance coverage could bump you up to higher monthly premiums.

Or if it’s not covered already, you may need to pay a separate policy.

Did you know? Slate, tile, and copper roofs are most common in California and can last up to 100 years!


Hidden Solar Cost #4: Your Electric Bill!

This is more of a surprise than a “hidden” cost. You’ve probably heard some of the many stories about people completely slashing their monthly electric bill to zero.

If you’re hoping for the same, expect to still pay something every single month.

Yes, from San Diego to NYC, solar does produce electricity that doesn’t cost a dime.

However, examine your bill closely and you’ll likely find your bill has also included:

  • Customer support/service fee(s)
  • Demand fees
  • Delivery fees

All little things that can add up over time.


Hidden Solar Cost #5: The Darker Side Of Solar

Solar has undoubtedly been a central part of the sustainability and renewable energy movements.

However, there is a dark side of solar to considered.

In reality, there is a slew of unexpected environmental costs that come tied to solar, especially solar panel production.

Most solar panels are quartz-based, a material that is extracted through industrial processes.

Specifically, extracted through mining, which has its own set of environmental costs. This includes water contamination, habitat loss, and damaged landscapes.


Hidden Solar Cost #6: Worrying About Efficiency

Choosing a solar system is like choosing a hot water tank, air conditioner or other major household appliance, quality matters.

Skimping on quality could create major hassles, potentially at the worst times possible.

And so it goes with solar installation. Cheaper systems aren’t as efficient, on top of you already not being able to control the weather. 

If enough power hasn’t been generated/stored, you can’t just turn a knob. 

You’re at the mercy of daylight and your system’s efficiency in turning sunlight into electric savings.


Hidden Cost #7: Safety Incidents

On the topic of quality, cheaper quality systems are also more likely to pose safety and fire risks due to:

  • Parts corroding faster
  • Covers cracking
  • Wires exposed to weather

The wrong combination of the factors, at the wrong time, could cause huge damages.

Looking Toward The Future: Potential Compliance Costs?

Due to mandates from places like the California Energy Commission, certain circumstances require solar to be installed to be compliant.

In other words, not getting solar may one day come with surprising costs (fines) if ignored. Only the future will tell.

The Wrap Up On Solar Costs In San Diego

Next we’ll take a look at specific circumstances for those wondering “Is solar required to be energy compliant?”

As for costs, by now you have a firm idea of how solar will fit your budget.


Looking to buy or sell your property? 

Working with our team of real estate experts can make your dream outcome a reality.

We know San Diego well. From downtown to the desert, North County to Ocean’s View and beyond, the unique insights and competitive advantage you need is a phone call or e-mail away – contact us any time!

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