The Ultimate Guide to Solar Panel Installation in California (2024)

With the ever-rising cost of electricity, an increase in PSPS events, and an unreliable grid, solar is worth it in California. However, the industry is constantly evolving and it can be difficult to navigate through all of the options available. This is why it’s important to work with an experienced and knowledgeable solar provider that can guide you through every step of the process. 

Professional solar panel installation for a home or business is crucial for maximizing benefits and ensuring a long lifetime of production. At Six Rivers Solar, we’ve been leaders in renewable energy since 1980. We operate with a streamlined process and can help you get the most out of solar energy in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. 

Types of Solar Energy Systems

There are several options for both residential and commercial solar installation on the North Coast. The team at Six Rivers Solar can help determine which option is right for your home or business during a free consultation. We’ll get to know your energy consumption, budget, and solar goals to design a system that meets your needs. 

Grid-Tied Solar

Grid-tied systems are the most cost-effective type of solar panel installation available. They are connected to the electric grid, which allows them to both take from and add to the central system. With grid-tied solar you can participate in net metering through your utility and buy electricity at times when your panels aren’t producing—however, it does have its drawbacks. 

In the event of a power outage or PSPS event, your grid-tied system will shut down for the safety of emergency workers. This is because your solar panels are interconnected to the utility grid and can send power into it, which is dangerous to repair workers. 

Solar + Battery Storage

By adding battery storage to a grid-tied system, you’ll gain access to more of the electricity that your solar panels produce. Also known as hybrid solar, this type of solar installation offers all of the benefits of grid-tied solar without the downfalls. Since they can store the excess electricity from your solar panels, solar plus battery systems allow you to get power at night, on cloudy days, and during a grid outage. 

Even though hybrid solar is more expensive than grid-tied solar, it’s one of the most popular choices for solar installations in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. Battery storage also allows you to optimize your solar net metering benefits by using stored electricity during costly time-of-use (TOU) on-peak rates. 

Off-Grid Solar

Off-grid solar energy systems operate completely separate from the electric grid, giving you true energy independence. Because they must be self-sufficient and require more complex designs, off-grid solar is among the most expensive types of solar installation available. However, they will also cut your fossil fuel consumption and fully eliminate your electricity bill, unlike grid-tied and hybrid systems. 

Off-grid solar is a good choice for remote locations that don’t have access to utilities or areas with recurring outages. However, since off-grid solar offers complete freedom from PG&E and other electricity providers and only uses renewable energy, they’re common in urban areas as well. If you’re interested in seeing how much power you’ll need to go off-grid, try out our free sizing calculator!

Solar Microgrids

Solar microgrids can operate with or without a connection to the power grid and can be used to power one or multiple homes or buildings. Microgrids will use solar panels and batteries to produce and store electricity at a central hub. From there, it will distribute power to various sources of use in its network.

While there are many types of microgrids, solar microgrids almost exclusively rely on solar energy, making them complicated in design. They’re a great choice for farms, cannabis growers, and other compounds with multiple facilities. 

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

Solar panels have a lifespan of up to 30 years, which makes them a great investment for your home or business. Over time, your panels will pay for themselves in what’s called a solar payback period. Several factors can contribute to your solar payback period, but the team at Six Rivers Solar can help you ensure a good return on your investment and maximize your savings.  

Solar Incentives

There are several solar incentives available that can help make solar panel installation more affordable and beneficial. Our team stays up-to-date with the eligibility requirements for these programs and can help you find out how to save on solar panels. 

  • Solar Tax Credit – Also known as the ITC or Investment Tax Credit, the solar tax credit allows you to reduce your federal tax liability by 30% of the total cost of solar installation. With no annual cap and a rollover credit, this incentive covers panels, inverters, battery storage, and more for both residential and commercial solar installations. 
  • MACRS Depreciation for Commercial Solar – This incentive allows business owners to recover some of the costs of qualifying solar equipment through accelerated depreciation. Most commercial solar systems are eligible for a five-year depreciation period, as opposed to the usual ten years. 
  • Net Metering – This incentive allows you to trade renewable energy with your utility’s grid in exchange for credits toward your electric bill. While the exchange rates recently decreased in 2023, net metering is still a good way to benefit from solar energy, especially when you have battery backup storage.

In addition to incentives, Six Rivers Solar offers flexible financing options that can make it easier to go solar. By financing your home solar panels, you’ll still have access to the solar tax credit and net metering benefits. 

Six Rivers: The Leader in North Coast Solar

When you work with Six Rivers Solar, our team handles everything, from financing and permitting to the final inspection. We’ll ensure a smooth process and low-stress solar installation so you can enjoy free and sustainable electricity as quickly as possible. 

We only use top-quality, industry-leading solar products, and are known throughout Humboldt and Del Norte counties for trustworthy and custom solar energy solutions. As a certified Tesla Powerwall installer and preferred partner with other industry-leading brands, Six Rivers Solar is also a battery storage expert. Regardless of what type of solar energy system you need for your home or business, you can count on our team.

Get started with a free on-site consultation today. Call 707-443-5652 or contact us online for more information.