Best Solar Panel Installation Companies in San Francisco Best Solar Panel Installation Companies in San Francisco
San Francisco residents face some of the highest electricity bills in the US — not to mention a higher cost of living than most... Best Solar Panel Installation Companies in San Francisco

San Francisco residents face some of the highest electricity bills in the US — not to mention a higher cost of living than most places in the country. For some, solar panels are the way to slash energy costs.

Energy costs for San Franciscans were 86.2% higher than the national average in September 2023, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the past five years, the average electricity bill for San Franciscans was at least 59.7% higher than the average for households in the country. To tamp down some of these rising costs, it’s worth considering if going solar is the right choice for you

“In California, the payback periods are going to be 10, 11 or 12 years on average,” said Dave Rosenfeld, the executive director at Solar Rights Alliance, a San Diego-based renewable energy advocacy group. 

Can solar panels save you money?

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California residents have access to incentives at the state and federal levels that make installing solar panels more appealing — like the state’s net metering program and the federal residential clean energy credit.

That said, your potential savings hinges on a handful of factors – including your home and solar system size. Here, we’ll walk you through what to anticipate if you want to install solar panels in San Francisco. 

Best national solar panel companies in San Francisco

ADT Solar should be included in your search if you want strong warranties and the backing of a national company. A 25-year guarantee against your roof leaking is unmatched, except by solar installations that double as actual roofs. ADT also offers a wider selection of quality solar panels than other installers. Like the rest of the industry, ADT doesn’t offer much pricing info up front, but they do offer a price match guarantee. While we don’t have a ton of details about that guarantee, it makes your ADT quote even more flexible.

NRG Clean Power brings one of the solar industry’s most confident approaches to its work, offering a price match and 40-year warranty. NRG Clean Power is a solid bet as long as you live in Texas and California. NRG Clean Power does not offer leases or power purchase agreements, but they do provide solar panel cleaning and roofing services as well as a reliable equipment menu.

Solar panels are typically low maintenance equipment, but they’re also unfamiliar. If you want to reap the benefits of solar but will have a bit more peace of mind if someone else is making sure it’s working, Palmetto might be a good fit for you. Just remember to add the cost of Palmetto’s monitoring service in to your payback period calculations.

If you’re looking for top-of-the-line solar panels, SunPower is you best choice. But don’t write them off if you’re looking for a less flashy installation that will get the job done. This year it started installing Qcells panels, which should make an installation from the longest-tenured company on our list more available to more people.

Elevation’s focus on your home’s energy efficiency isn’t the norm in the industry. If you’re planning on addressing energy efficiency first, working with Elevation allows you to keep the whole process with one company. Elevation’s solar equipment comes from well-established and well-regarded companies. Elevation’s warranties on workmanship and weatherization could be a bit longer.

Include Freedom Forever in your search if you want the backing of a national company that installs a wide variety of the most popular solar equipment available. Freedom Forever also extends a couple of products that take some of the pain and risk out of going solar, like a production guarantee and an escrow option with cash purchases. Online reviews say customer satisfaction has been low of late, though the company says that’s changing.

If price is the thing you won’t budge on, consider Tesla. By all accounts, Tesla installs quality panels and makes the closest thing there is to a household name in solar storage: the Powerwall.

Where you might miss out is customer service. discussion online seems to suggest Tesla’s service is a bit of a gamble.

Momentum installs in 11 states without using subcontractors. While using in-house installers doesn’t guarantee a better experience, it does suggest you’re likely to get a more uniform experience from them. The fact that Momentum backs its installations with a 25-year workmanship warranty hints at a strong belief in their crews’ ability. If Momentum is part of your search, consider the warranties against leaks that other companies offer. Momentum’s is five years, which can be beat.

Local solar panel installers in San Francisco

All Bay Solar offers solar installation, energy storage and roofing in the San Francisco Bay Area and surrounding communities. The company says it’s fully certified and licensed, including NABCEP Certified. 

Founded in 2011, SolarUnion offers a 25-year comprehensive performance warranty. This means it guarantees a 92% power output after 25 years. It’ll also repair underperforming systems at no cost to the customer and also has a 25-year roof integrity warranty. 

How to determine which solar company in San Francisco is best for me

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), you can find 2,400 solar companies in California, including more than 1,000 developers and installers. Because the state is one of the largest solar markets in the country, you’ll want to spend time exploring your different options.

Factors to mull over include a solar company’s full suite of services, customer reviews and ratings, the length and scope of service warranties, and cost of maintenance for solar panels. Some companies will cover the cost of maintenance. 

The average cost of solar panels in San Francisco 

The cost of your solar panel system can vary and depends on the size of the system, where you live, installation materials, tax incentives and rebates, the type and condition of your roof, and what financing route you’ve landed on. In the state of California, expect to pay at least $10,000 to $20,000 for a home system.
If you want to be completely off the grid, you’ll need to tack on the cost of a solar battery, which can generally run $12,000 to $22,000. 

Here’s a look at data for the average cost of a solar panel system in California, according to and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

California solar panel costs

Price per watt System size (kW) Total Price
FindEnergy $3.47 5 $17,350
Berkeley Lab $4.20 6.4 $26,880

San Francisco solar panel incentives and rebates

The cost of solar panels in the state of California as a whole has dropped dramatically in recent years. Tax incentives, rebates, and other programs can help you save even more. Here’s what’s available for San Francisco residents:

San Francisco solar incentives

Program Description
Disadvantaged Communities – Single Family Solar Homes (SAC-DASH) Homeowners who are Pacific Gas & Electric customers and live in eligible disadvantaged communities can receive financial support to go solar.
Federal tax credit Solar systems are eligible for a 30% tax credit for the year the solar panels were installed.
Net metering programs California has net metering programs, which is where consumers can sell back to the energy grid excess solar energy generated by their home system. Under a recent change in the policy, known as NEM 3.0, homeowners will sell energy at a much lower rate than they could previously.
Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) SGIP offers rebates to homeowners and businesses that have energy storage systems, such as solar batteries.
Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) Low-income residents in San Francisco may qualify for the SOMAH Program, which offers financial incentives for going solar. Tenants can slash costs on electricity bills, and homeowners can install solar at a reduced rate.

Installation factors to keep in mind

Before you contact a solar installer, sit down and get your head around all the factors that will impact your solar panel installation. These include: 

  • Available companies in your area. 
  • Federal, state and local incentives and tax credits. 
  • Current net metering programs. 
  • Sunlight and tree cover. 
  • Estimated amount of sunlight during certain seasons and times of the year. 
  • Energy requirements of your home. 
  • Whether you want to be fully off the grid. 
  • Pitch of your roof. 
  • Anticipated maintenance needs. 

When reaching out to solar companies, Rosenfeld recommended getting at least three bids. He also suggests looking for reviews on trusted customer review sites, and asking your neighbors who have solar installed for recommendations. 

Once you’ve made a list of installers you want to contact, Rosenfeld suggested looking to see if they’re a member of the California Solar and Storage Association and the CA Solar & Storage Association, and if they’re part of the NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Professionals). This indicates the company adheres to industry standards. 

How to pay for solar panels in San Francisco

Federal tax incentives, net metering programs and other programs could bump down how much you shell out on going solar in San Francisco. But remember, you can’t install solar for free — that system will still likely cost thousands of dollars. Here are some financing options: 

Cash: If you can swing it, paying for a solar system in all cash means steering clear from ongoing loan payments. Plus, you’ll reap the financial benefits of going solar right away. 

Solar loan. Solar installation companies frequently partner with financial institutions such as banks and credit unions to offer solar loans. If you don’t have the funds sitting in a bank account to put toward a solar system, this could be a good option. Be sure to look closely at interest rates and terms and shop around. 

Home equity loan or a HELOC. Home equity loans and HELOCs tap into your home’s equity to fund home improvement projects or other big expenses. Whereas home equity loans are installment loans where you receive a lump sum upfront, HELOCs are a revolving line of credit. Your home equity backs up both home equity loans and HELOCs. So, if you can’t keep up with payments, you risk losing your home. 

Personal loan. Many online lenders and financial institutions offer personal loans. While largely unsecured, they often have higher interest rates and shorter terms. Shop around and get at least several quotes before making a decision. 

Solar lease or power purchase agreement. Both a solar lease and power purchase agreement (PPA) mean not having to foot costs to buy a solar system. However, when you lease panels, you need to foot the costs of renting the panels. With a power purchase agreement (PPA), a solar company installs the panels on your home. In turn, you pay for the power that’s being generated. 

Frequently asked questions

What are the advantages of solar panels?

Installing solar panels in your home can reduce energy bill costs and carbon footprint. Should the power grid go down, your lights will stay on. Solar panels can also boost the value of your home. 

How long does it take to pay off solar panels?

It depends on the cost of the solar panel system, how much you put down, and the interest rate and terms of the loan. Usually, it can take anywhere from six to 12 years to pay off solar panels.

Are solar panels worth it in San Francisco?

Solar panels might be worth it in San Francisco due to the high electricity costs. Plus, federal and state incentives and California’s net metering program can help you bump down the costs. 

Does San Francisco offer a solar tax credit?

San Francisco doesn’t offer a solar tax credit. However, those living in the city are eligible for the federal residential clean energy credit, a 30% tax credit on installing solar panels. 

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