California Solar Mandate: What You Should Know



California Solar Mandate: What You Should Know

roofs with solar panels

In California, there is a solar mandate to help the state move entirely to renewable energy. Solar panels are good for you, your wallet, and nature, but what exactly is the mandate, and how will it affect your home? We’re giving you the full rundown of the California solar mandate.

What Is the California Solar Mandate?

The California Solar Mandate, which passed in 2018 and began in 2020, has been expanded. As of January 2023, most new homes, apartments, and commercial buildings are required to include solar panels. This includes:

  • Single-family homes
  • Multi-family dwellings up to three stories high
  • Offices
  • Stores
  • Restaurants
  • Schools and civic buildings

In some cases, new buildings will also have to come equipped with a solar battery system.

The goal of the mandate is to reduce pollution and help buildings rely less on natural gas. It’s estimated that the solar mandate will “provide $1.5 billion in consumer benefits” over the next 30 years, which includes savings from net metering, and reducing 10 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses. This provides the same impact on the environment as removing nearly 2.2 million cars off the road for an entire year.

2023 California Solar Mandate Updates

In January of 2023, new rules went into effect under the California Solar Mandate. Key updates include:

  • Electric-ready homes: All newly constructed single-family homes must be electric-ready, facilitating easier adoption of electric appliances and systems in the future.
  • Low-rise multifamily buildings: New compliance requirements have been introduced for low-rise multifamily buildings, which now need to register compliance documents with a California Energy Commission (CEC)-approved registry​.
  • Battery storage requirements: While the mandate for battery storage systems currently applies primarily to select businesses, it indicates a future trend toward integrating more storage solutions in residential settings. This helps increase energy independence and resilience during power outages.

These changes are part of California’s ongoing efforts to promote renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

2023 California Solar Mandate Updates

California’s residential solar mandate only affects new homes and existing homes that undergo substantial upgrades. If your home was built before the mandate went into effect in 2020, there is no requirement for you to add solar power to your home.

If you are planning to build a new home, you will have to include a solar photovoltaic (PV) system as part of the approved plan. If the plan does not include a solar system, the state won’t approve it.

For most homeowners, the main way this mandate will affect you is if you make major renovations to your home. Along with any planned upgrades, you will likely have to add a solar power system as well. This system must be large enough to meet the annual electricity usage of the building.

Installing solar energy to your home may carry substantial upfront costs, but over time, your annual electric bill will decrease greatly. You may even be able to eliminate your electricity costs entirely!

Complying with the Mandate

If you already own a home and have no plans to make substantial upgrades to it, there’s nothing you need to worry about. The mandate will not affect you or your home.
If you are working on building a new home or planning to do so soon, speak to your building contractor about becoming compliant with California’s solar energy mandate. Consider adding a solar battery to supplement your system, as well. This will give you:

  • More control over your energy use
  • More independence
  • Lower utility bills

California Solar Mandate Exemptions

Yes, there are situations in which you may be exempt from California’s solar mandate and do not have to include solar power in your new build. Here are three of the most common exemptions.

Disaster Areas

If your home is destroyed in a natural disaster like a fire or earthquake and you have to rebuild, there is a chance for an exemption to the mandate. This exemption exists to help people get their lives back on track and get back into their homes after a disaster.

Shaded Areas

If shade that covers your roof causes the potential solar zone to be reduced to 50% or less, you may be able to receive an exemption from the solar mandate.

Seasonal and Temporary Structures

Structures that are not permanently occupied can be exempt from California’s residential solar mandate. Seasonal structures need to lack at least one of the basic amenities or utilities required for year-round occupancy, such as missing a permanent heating system, insulation, and/or usable, year-round plumbing. In California, this mainly applies to cabins or cottages.

California Solar Tax Credits

The main tax benefit for California homeowners is the Federal Solar Tax Credit. This will give you a dollar-for-dollar credit for 30% of the cost of installing solar equipment on your home. Better still, there is no size or cost restriction for this credit!

Other California tax benefits include:

Using these incentives, homeowners can greatly reduce the upfront investment required to go solar.

Benefits of Solar Power for California Homeowners

Even if you aren’t required by law to get solar panels for your home, you should still consider them. A solar system will reduce your annual electrical usage, helping your wallet as well as the environment.

With the current market, the cost of electricity is continually going up, which makes solar panels more and more cost-efficient. Solar panels will also help ensure your home always has electricity. Even when the grid is offline due to a flood, fire, or earthquake, your system will still be able to provide your home with the electricity you need, as long as you have a solar battery system.

Current Home Can Help!

Current Home is a leading solar power company that has been helping homeowners since 1991. We provide custom energy solutions and make it easy for any homeowner to add a PV system to their home. Whether you’re trying to get off the grid or you’re just looking to meet the minimum of the solar mandate, we can help you pick the best solar strategy for you.

Contact us today to find out more about how Current Home gives you total control over your home’s power.

California Solar Mandate FAQs

What buildings does the California Solar Mandate apply to?

This mandate applies to:

  • Single-family homes
  • Multi-family dwellings up to three stories
  • Offices, stores, and restaurants
  • Schools and civic buildings

How do I comply with the California Solar Mandate if I am building a new home?

Discuss compliance with your building contractor and include a solar photovoltaic (PV) system in your approved building plans. Consider adding a solar battery for additional benefits.

Are there any exemptions to the mandate?

Yes, exemptions include:

  • Homes rebuilt after disasters like fires or earthquakes
  • Buildings with roofs significantly shaded (50% or more)
  • Seasonal and temporary structures not occupied year-round

Does the mandate affect existing homes?

Only if they undergo substantial upgrades. Homes built before 2020 are not required to install solar panels unless significant renovations are made.

What updates were made in 2023 to the California Solar Mandate?

The 2023 update, known as the 2022 Energy Code, emphasizes electric readiness for single-family homes and many specific businesses to install battery storage systems.

What updates were made in 2023 to the California Solar Mandate?

New homes must be equipped with infrastructure to support future installation of battery storage systems and electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. This includes appropriate electrical wiring and space allocation for these technologies

What are the benefits of solar power for homeowners?

Installing solar panels on your home can provide a variety of benefits, such as:

  • Lower energy costs
  • Higher property value
  • Independence from the grid
  • Environmental sustainability

What are the benefits of battery storage systems for residential solar installations?

Battery storage systems enhance energy independence by providing backup power during outages and allowing solar systems to function without the grid. They also help reduce the grid’s reliance on fossil fuels, contributing to overall energy efficiency and sustainability.