Solar Price Comparison Reveals Owners Over-Pay By 40%

Buyer Beware – Largest Companies like SolarCity and Sunpower Have the Highest Costs

A recent analysis of nearly 17,000 projects reported to the California Solar Initiative has revealed a 40% average difference in the prices that solar contractors charge customers. It is a buyer beware market, with some solar contractors charging nearly double the price of others.

From July through December of 2013, the average residential and small commercial system cost $30,948 and had 6,600 watts of DC rated power. By dividing these two numbers, the average solar cost per watt was $4.70. The publicly available CSI data set reveals that companies like offer the lowest cost solar panel systems with rates at $3.00 per watt, while the largest solar companies like SolarCity and Sunpower charge above average rates of $4.94 and $5.17 respectively. That translates to a price difference between the smallest and largest companies of more than $12,000.

Highlighting the extreme disparity, some companies like Vivint and American Solar Direct charge $18,000 more than the lower-priced companies. These prices are for full-service projects with similar components and include PV system design, permits, parts, installation labor and warranty. Even lower prices are possible with do-it-yourself (DIY) or self-installed PV solar kit projects.

The following table ranks the cost per watt and shows the average price difference and lowest cost price difference for some of the largest solar companies operating today.

Company Average Cost
per Watt
Average Price
Price Difference
to Lowest Cost
Industry $4.80 0 $11,148
FreeCleanSolar $3.00 -$11,148 0
Solar Universe $4.06 -$4,138 $7,011
Petersen Dean $4.06 -$4,122 $7,026
REC Solar $4.08 -$4,051 $7,097
Real Goods $4.13 -$3,674 $7,474
Solarmax $4.46 -$1,489 $9,659
Horizon $4.47 -$1,474 $9,674
Helio Power $4.60 -$588 $10,560
Verengo $4.65 -$254 $10,894
Sungevity $4.69 $20 $11,168
Smart Energy $4.74 $354 $11,503
Solar Service Center $4.77 $561 $11,709
Paramount $4.83 $954 $12,102
360 Solar $4.91 $1,458 $12,606
Solarcity $4.94 $1,631 $12,779
Sunpower $5.17 $3,145 $14,293
Killion Energy – GCI Solar $5.40 $4,688 $15,836
Vivint $5.82 $7,434 $18,582
American Solar Direct $5.89 $7,926 $19,074

Many home owners are not even aware of the price differences. The financing structure of popular solar lease and power purchase agreement (PPA) contracts hides the true cost of projects. The customer is promised a “No Money Upfront” sales pitch, yet they end up paying considerably more while being locked into a long-term monthly contract.

To avoid gouging, consumers should always shop around to compare solar prices and make sure you are not paying more than you have to.

Posted in California Solar, home solar, solar cost, Solar Installation, solar panels | Leave a comment

San Diego Electric Rate Hike Up To 39%

The San Diego utility announced that customers will see a noticeable increase in their home energy bill beginning in September, 2013. The average customer, using 500 kWh (kilowatt hours) monthly, will experience a rate increase. For the 3000 kWh usage customers, rate increases may be as high as 39% or more than $300 per month.

Solar Power Costs Less Than Utility Power

NOW is the time to GO SOLAR. Prices have never been lower and you can avoid the utility cost increase. Here are 2 easy steps to get started.


Make it easy with complete solar kit bundles designed to eliminate San Diego electric bills, CHOOSE YOUR MONTHLY kWh:

If you are not sure how much you need, see our Solar Panel Buyer’s Guide.


You will want to think about how to install the PV solar panel system. You can Do-It-Yourself for the most savings; just follow the step-by-step instructions with every solar kit. Or you can hire a local electrician, roofer or general contractor for just a few thousand dollars. We can even connect you to qualified solar contractors in San Diego.

The SDG&E Rate Increase

According to SDG&E, energy prices are increasing due to environmental costs, enhancements to the SDG&E electric distribution system, and additional adjustments due to the delay in last year’s general rate increase.

About 25 percent of SDG&E customers, those in Tiers 3 and 4, will see their rates increase. SDG&E rates are divided into four “tiers” or cost levels based on usage. A typical SDG&E residential customer uses about 500 kWh per month. If you use less electricity, you’re probably a Tier 1 or Tier 2 customer, and you won’t see a big impact. The more you use, the greater the bill impact because the cost-per-kWh is much higher in Tiers 3 and 4.

Posted in alternative energy, home solar, Solar Installation, solar panels, utility rates | Leave a comment

LIPA Lowers Solar Power Rebates

The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) has modified its financial incentive program in response to the declining cost of solar panel installations. Beginning July 31, LIPA lowered its rebate from $1.19 to $0.99 per AC watt for the installation of a residential customer-owned or leased solar system.

Using this rebate, a Long Island resident could still qualify for a a rebate up to $5,000 for a typical 5kW PV system starting as low as $7,700 at FreeCleanSolar. Plus a federal income tax credit can reduce the remaining balance by 30%. The NET COST to the LIPA customer would only be $1,890 for a complete home power package.

While LIPA says its solar programs continue to flourish, the declining cost of installation, the continued growth of solar contractors on Long Island, the ever-increasing demand for solar systems and continued federal, state and local tax incentives have prompted the non-profit utility to adjust its rebate structure to work within its budget while continuing to provide support for the solar sector.

A LIPA spokesperson commented that the rebate program has attracted high numbers of customers interested in solar energy. LIPA says the restructured rebate will remain in effect until market conditions dictate the need for it to modify the rebate again.

Posted in solar cost, Solar Installation, Solar Rebates | Leave a comment

Will Sharp Exit the Solar Business?

Sharp Corporation may end production and sales of solar cells and modules in the U.S. and Europe by March as part of a restructuring, according to reports from Bloomberg and Reuters news.

Japan’s Sharp Corp may pull its solar panel business out of Europe and
the United States as the cash-strapped company looks for ways to
withdraw from money-losing businesses and cut costs, two sources told

Sharp may also sell some manufacturing plants for solar products and consolidate production.
Sharp wasn’t the source of the report and nothing has been decided, a company spokeswoman told the reporters.

The proposal to shrink the solar panel business is part of a business contingency plan the maker of Aquos televisions has submitted to banks in a bid to secure loans it needs to stay in business, the sources said on condition they were not identified. Osaka-based Sharp plans to cut more than 10,000 jobs, or about 18
percent of its workforce, and is in talks to sell plants as it tries to
return to profit.

The job cuts and sales of television factories in Mexico, China and
Malaysia, as well as U.S. solar developer Recurrent Energy LLC, were in
the plan Sharp presented to lenders Sept. 24, the people said, declining
to be identified because the matter isn’t public.

Sharp, which operates a factory in the United States and another in the UK that assemble solar panel modules, is also planning to consolidate production at several sites in Japan into one site, the sources said.

Recent inventory of Sharp solar panels appear to have been reduced at major wholesale suppliers. The Sharp ND-240QCJ module is still available, although prices have been edging upward, possibly due to the limited supply. Projects that require Sharp modules should act quickly to secure the inventory. Sharp is expected to honor warranty claims into the future.

Posted in solar panels | Leave a comment

Florida Opens 2013 Solar Rebate Applications

Residential or commercial Florida Power & Light (FPL)
customers considering a solar power system can apply for 2013 rebates beginning
on October 16, 2012 at 8:30 am. Home owners can qualify for a rebate
of $2 per watt of the DC output of a PV system, up to $20,000.
Businesses’s can receive one rebate of up to $50,000 per premise during the
life of the program. Customers with multiple locations can apply for rebates
for multiple locations up to a limit of $150,000 per funding year. These
Florida rebates can be combined with the 30% federal energy tax credit for even
greater savings.

Florida customers can shop for complete pre-engineered solar power kits with every component
needed at prices from $2 to $3 per watt, depending on the system size. At these
prices, do-it-yourself customers can go solar for well under $1 per watt.

The rebates are part of a five-year pilot program authorized by
the Florida Public Service Commission. The rebates are not available for new
construction or PV systems that are already installed. Applicants must be
current account holders of the premise where the solar photovoltaic system is
being installed. 

The residential PV rebate in Florida is for
solar electric panels, mounting hardware, grid-interactive electric
inverter(s), optional battery systems, associated cabling, and for systems over
10 kilowatt AC, disconnect devices. This rebate program is only for
grid-interactive PV systems with a minimum nameplate rating of 2 kilowatts
direct current (DC) and a maximum nameplate rating of 2 megawatts. All
components must be tested and listed by a nationally recognized testing and
certification laboratory for continuous interactive operation with an electric
distribution system in compliance with the applicable codes and standards. All
products installed must be new, not refurbished or previously installed.

Posted in Solar Rebates | Leave a comment