What homebuyers should know about the California Solar Mandate

The California Solar Mandate, which took effect on January 1, 2020, updated the state’s building code for residential homes. If you are planning to buy new construction, you must outfit the home with a solar photovoltaic (PV) system for electricity.

Learn more about what the code entails and how it may affect your homebuying plans in the coming year.

What is a PV system?

The current regulations require a PV power system that includes both a solar panel and a 220-volt electric vehicle charging plug. The panels draw energy from the sun to power appliances and provide electricity to the home. For this reason, the law exempts new construction with shade that blocks the sun from reaching the property. Previously, California had updated its building code in 2013 to require all new homes to be solar-ready.

What are the benefits of the mandate?

California established the mandate to move away from carbon emissions and fossil fuels. The Environmental Protection Agency released a report in 2018 that tied these factors to the dramatic impact of climate change in the state, including wildfires, droughts and dying forests.

According to the California Energy Commission, you’ll likely pay about $40 more a month on your mortgage for the PV system but you will save approximately $80 on your monthly energy bills. You can also get credit for electricity that your solar panels provide back into the state’s energy grid.

The new rule applies to all single-family homes as well as multi-family homes three or fewer stories high. The state does not currently require installation of these systems into existing residences, only new construction.