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Understanding the California Solar Mandate

With the push to adopt green energy across the country, some states have taken it upon themselves to implement policies to push the adoption of solar energy. California is one of the states leading the charge. Due to their strong adoption and suitability for solar, they have also implemented a solar mandate. With this legislation, solar will become a requirement for new homes in the state. We’ll explain how this legislation works, and how it will affect homeownership in the state.

What is the California Solar Mandate?

The California Solar Mandate comes from The Building Energy Efficiency Standards – Title 24. Which is part of California’s energy code from the California Energy Commission. The mandate was created in 2018 and put into effect in January 2020. It was the first mandate of its kind in the United States.

All new residential homes are required to have a solar energy source. The system must be large enough to meet the annual electricity usage of the building. This is based on the floor area of the home and climate zone and done with professional estimation. If a home includes a battery storage system, the solar energy system can reduce its size requirement by 25%. Adding more energy-efficient initiatives and demand response measures will let builders reduce the size of the solar energy system by 40% or more.

Some properties are given exemptions, as it would be unrealistic to force every single building to follow the California Solar Mandate. Exceptions are granted to:

  • ┬áProperties with small roofs may be exempted from the California Solar Mandate or at least the normal standards of the solar installation size. As their roofs aren’t large enough to accommodate a solar energy system that can power the building to the specified requirement.
  • Properties under shading may also be exempted from the solar mandate. Although, this will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • Community Solar Recipients can also be exempt from the California solar mandate. If the solar installation is large enough to power an entire community and provides the same amount of energy as an independent system would.
  • Building projects that have gone through their permit and process and were approved before the mandate took effect (2019 or earlier) are exempt from the solar requirements.
  • The California Solar Mandate is aimed at homes. Buildings that are over three stories tall and other larger developments won’t be required to be built with a solar energy system. Although this is expected to change in the future as the standards are updated.

These standards are updated every three years to improve the construction of buildings and also include more efficient technologies. The reasoning for the updates is to save energy and increase the supply of residential electricity. Which will reduce the need for new power plants, phase out fossil fuels and reduce emissions.

2022 Energy Code Update for California’s Solar Mandate

California’s Solar Mandate is being updated with the 2022 Energy Code, which goes into effect in January 2023. It will require all single-family homes to be electric-ready. This means that it will include guidance for installing battery storage systems. The battery portion of the mandate will be applied to select businesses. Although to increase the energy efficiency of the home, it’s expected that the system sizes will generally range between 2.7 to 5.7 kilowatts in size for the 2022 update of the energy code. The 2022 update is aiming to increase the adoption of solar photovoltaic systems with battery storage systems for the home and business. The mandate for high-rise residential projects is also expected to go into effect in 2023. So we will see further adoption of solar throughout California homes and businesses.

Effects of the California Solar Mandate

The California Solar Mandate has already impacted the market for homes. New residential construction projects must have solar panels installed while existing homes are not required. However, if existing homes are undergoing extensive upgrades, they may be required to install a solar energy system.

The effects of the solar mandate can be seen when looking at the value and costs of new homes in California. Yes, homes are more expensive, due to the requirement for a solar energy system. On average, it is estimated that the cost of a newly constructed single-family home will increase by about $8400. Which roughly equates to about $40 more on a monthly mortgage. While this doesn’t seem appealing right from the start, the benefits add up when the solar energy system starts working.

The California Energy Commission expects that solar energy systems will save homeowners money in the long run. Estimating a reduction of about $80 in electricity bills each month. By those estimates, a home would save about $960 in bills annually, and $24000 for the 25-year lifespan of a solar energy system.

That’s not the only benefit, as it’s already proven that solar energy systems increase the value of homes throughout the country. The mandate will also mean that homes constructed with solar energy systems will have an advantage on the market. Generally, homeowners would like to enjoy the cost-saving benefits of solar without the tedious and costly installation process. Purchasing a solar-equipped home for slightly is commonly seen as worth it.

The California Solar Mandate is a large step toward a solar-powered future. It will still take time for solar energy to be fully adopted by the state. The Mandate shows the Golden State’s commitment to clean and sustainable energy.

Get started with solar energy today

If you are looking to start your transition to solar energy, we are here to help. Our website also has a free online estimate tool that generates a personalized report for you from a simplified questionnaire. That report will contain the potential savings you can net, and the cost of a solar energy system installed on your property. You can also contact us directly via phone at +1 (602) 363-8919 or via email at Scott@elitesolarenergy.org for more information regarding solar energy for your property.