How Will California’s Solar Panel Mandate Impact Homeowners?

June 7, 2024
5 min read
a man installing solar on a blue sky day

In this article, TENCO SOLAR covers everything homeowners need to know about California’s solar panel mandate, including:

  • What is the California solar panel mandate?
  • How will the mandate impact homeowners?
  • Are there exemptions to California’s solar panel mandate?
  • How can homeowners prepare for the mandate?
  • Benefits of solar panel installation
  • Where to find solar panels in California

In California’s efforts to move toward using renewable energy, the state has enforced a solar panel mandate on homeowners. Many California residents are left wondering what the solar mandate means and how it will impact their everyday lives. In this post, we’ll help homeowners understand the implications of the mandate.

What Is The California Solar Panel Mandate?

California’s solar panel mandate was established in 2018 and dictates that new single-family homes and multi-family dwellings up to three stories high must include solar panels beginning in 2020.

Additionally, a second mandate was voted into law, which requires new commercial buildings to not only have solar panels but battery storage as well. This latest mandate will take effect in 2023 after the California Building Standards Commission formally approves it by the end of 2022.

How Will The Mandate Impact Homeowners?

The solar mandate in California only applies to new and existing homes that undergo substantial upgrades. Houses built before the mandate took effect in 2020 won’t be required to add solar panels.

However, if you’re planning to build a new home in the future, you’ll need to include a solar photovoltaic (PV) system in your building plan to remain compliant with the mandate. Otherwise, your building plans may not receive approval from the state of California.

Additionally, if you plan to make major renovations to your existing home, you’ll need to add a PV system along with your planned remodel. According to the mandate, homeowners will need to have a system large enough to meet the annual electricity usage of the building.

Are There Exemptions To California’s Solar Panel Mandate?

While most residents planning to build a new home or remodel an existing home will be affected by the mandate, there are some exemptions for special circumstances. These include:

  • Disaster areas: If your home is destroyed in a wildfire, earthquake, or another natural disaster and you need to rebuild, you may be exempt from mandate compliance to lower rebuilding costs.
  • Shaded areas: If you live in a shady area that reduces the potential solar zone to 50% or less, you may receive an exemption from California’s solar panel installation mandate.
  • Seasonal structures: Vacation homes, part-time residences, and other seasonal structures may be exempt only if they’re missing at least one of the basic amenities or utilities required for year-round habitation, such as permanent HVAC or insulation.  

How Can Homeowners Prepare?

Homeowners that don’t plan to remodel, build a home addition, or construct a new home will remain unaffected by the mandate and therefore don’t need to prepare.

However, if you’re planning to build soon or have plans to renovate your existing home, it’s important to speak with your building contractor about mandate compliance. One way you can reduce the number of panels required for your system is by adding a solar battery to supplement the panels.

Solar batteries can reduce your system’s needs by up to 40%, offering increased energy efficiency and decreased grid dependence.

Benefits Of Solar Panel Installation

While the upfront costs associated with solar panel installation are high, there are many long-term advantages that homeowners stand to gain from the process, including:

  • Return on investment: With the increased energy savings homeowners see from their solar panels, many can recover the cost of their investment in 5–15 years.
  • Pollution-free energy: Solar panels offer a pollution-free energy option that doesn’t contribute to greenhouse gases and reduces dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels.
  • Reliable power source: The renewable, clean energy from your solar panels is available every day of the year — even on cloudy days.
  • Grid-free living: If you can generate all power through solar panels, you’ll enjoy a truly independent lifestyle free of the power grid.
  • Federal tax incentives: The state and federal tax incentives available for solar panel installation can help with the initial installation costs.

Request A Quote From TENCO SOLAR

There’s no time like the present to inquire about compliance with California’s solar panel mandate. At TENCO SOLAR, our team will work with your building contractor to ensure your future building plans satisfy the state solar mandate.

Let us help you find the ideal solar panel system for your building by requesting a solar energy quote from our team. (888) 507-6937

Have a Solar project in mind?

With over two decades of expertise in designing and installing solar systems for residential and commercial properties across California, TENCO SOLAR is the perfect partner for your upcoming solar project.