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What CA house builders need to know about the new solar law



From January 1, 2020, it became more expensive to build a house in California – and earth friendly. That's because a new law, actually in effect for a few years, came into force that required all new homes to include a solar panel system. The regulations are well outlined and builders have had a fair warning, but now that the new requirements have been implemented, it is important to make sure that all California builders are known.

What is California's solar mandate?

California is the first state in the country to require solar energy systems for new construction. This is not surprising considering eight of the top ten cities in the United States with the largest number of solar-equipped homes already in California. But now the mandate means that every new home must have a system that will provide enough power for the home's expected needs.

What buildings apply to it?

New construction must include a solar cell (PV) system as a power source for all residential buildings up to three stories high. This applies to both individual families and multi-family homes. However, there are few exceptions. Houses with too small ceilings for the installation of solar panels or those that are mainly in the shade may be exempt. Instead of individual solar systems, builders can coordinate a community solar power system as long as it meets the requirements for all the houses it operates and the builder gets approval from both the California Clean Energy Commission (CEC) and the local electricity company.

  installing solar panels on a roof

What does the homeowner cost?

Costs have always been a major consideration for homeowners to consider adding solar panels and it is arguably most cost effective to install them as part of the first building rather than retrofitting later. Most homes will cost $ 8,000- $ 10,000 to equip with solar panels. Although it is a serious chunk of money, the average $ 40 / month increase for a typical 30-year loan is easier to swallow. In addition, a house equipped with solar energy should have an average savings of about $ 80 per month, which actually gives a net saving of $ 40.

How to Calculate System Size

Builders need to know the size of the system required for each building, and the information is readily available in the new building codes. Go to your local building department to answer unanswered questions in section 24, which describe the size of solar systems based on estimated energy use, regional climate, and house size. The mandate requires a minimum size, but builders can increase the size of the system without maximum.

Builders can use a smaller system if they also install battery storage in the building. Having the capacity to store energy takes up extra space in the home, but reduces the size of the required system by up to 25%. In fact, installing a battery storage system together with other energy-saving materials can allow a system to be reduced up to 40%.

 one calculates on a tablet in front of solar panels

How to finance the new systems

Not only is the cost a factor for the homeowner, but it also affects the builder, who will probably have to pay for the system in advance and reimburse the costs of selling Hem.

Another option is for the builder to simply connect the homeowner to a solar supplier. Power purchase agreements are like a rental agreement where homeowners pay monthly payments directly to the solar company.

How solar installations can affect construction timelines

Each component of a residential building should be carefully included in the overall timeline and adding a solar panel electrical system to the to-do list is no exception. Builders will need to consider where they will source system parts and get delivery estimates. Workers trained in proper installation must be scheduled when the roof is clear.

Builders may need to add on time to consult with architects in the planning stages to ensure that solar roofs meet the requirements of the new code. It is also important to know that actually getting service from the supplier can take a few weeks up to several months so figure it out before you hand over the keys to the new owner and find that the system is not working.


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