California has led the charge toward cleaner energy sources with efforts to make solar more widespread throughout the state. One part of this push is the California Solar Mandates. While the goal of the mandates is to promote solar energy, many homeowners and business owners are unclear of what the requirements are, with common questions being: Is it mandatory to have solar panels in California? Do new homes in California require solar?
If you need help understanding the current California Solar Mandates, you can count on Simply Solar. Our experts have put together this guide to help you understand Title 24 and how it may impact you.
What Is Title 24?
According to the California Energy Commission, the Title 24 requirements are “designed to reduce wasteful and unnecessary energy consumption in newly constructed and existing buildings.” Essentially, Title 24 establishes Building Energy Efficiency Standards for the construction of new buildings as well as the addition to or alteration of existing buildings.
Title 24 requirements are updated every three years, and these updates are meant to help Californians adopt improvements that incorporate new energy-efficient technologies and new construction methods. These standards save energy, increase home electricity supply, limit the need to construct new power plants, and ultimately help mitigate the climate crisis.
California’s Building Standard Codes
Part 6 of Title 24, which was updated in 2019 and went into effect in 2020, outlines the California Building Standards Energy code. The updated California solar mandates of 2020 required that all newly built residential homes meet Title 24 requirements. This update made California’s code the first in the nation to require solar for newly built homes!
The 2022 updates, which went into effect in January 2023, aim to increase the adoption of new energy-efficient technology, including a large emphasis on expanding solar photovoltaic systems with onsite battery storage. These goals are designed to increase the number of energy-efficient homes and businesses in California, save consumers money, and improve the quality of our environment. As the destructive wildfires of the past years have taught us, it's critically important to understand and improve our energy usage. As the first state in the U.S. to have such a solar mandate, California has been consistently leading the charge on climate change and energy improvements.
2022 Energy Code: Battery Storage & Electric Readiness
California’s Solar Mandate was updated in December of last year, and these updates went into effect in January 2023. Known as the 2022 Energy Code, this will require all single-family homes to be electric-ready. It will also include guidance for installing battery storage systems. The battery portion of the mandate currently only applies to select businesses, but it’s a good indication of where future code updates are headed. Solar battery systems are a great way to increase energy independence by allowing onsite energy to be used when needed, reducing the grid’s dependence on fossil fuel power plants.
Wondering why battery storage systems are the big push for 2023? Here are some reasons why battery installation is a good idea for businesses and homes:
- In the event of an emergency situation, the solar system will continue to provide electricity during daylight hours. After sunset, the battery will back up usage. Then, the battery will be refilled by your system the following day and will be ready to repeat that process as needed.
- Without a battery, in the event of a planned or spontaneous power outage, your solar system will not function, as its operation relies on the grid to complete the electric circuit. Adding a battery means that you will be able to complete the circuit without the grid, and your solar system will continue to function as needed.
- Batteries are a great way to protect your home from outages or emergencies, and they also reduce the grid’s reliance on fossil fuel power plants.
California Solar Mandate: Home Requirements
California’s 2020 Solar Mandate requires all newly built homes to install solar photovoltaic systems. These requirements are based on the floor area of the home and the climate zone.
The solar panel systems must be sized to provide for the full annual energy usage of the home. In order to increase home energy efficiency, it’s expected that sizes will generally range between 2.7 kilowatts and 5.7 kilowatts under the new Title 24 requirements. These average system sizes take into consideration the fact that new homes will also include other technology that will enable them to be more energy-efficient overall.
Exceptions to the California Solar Mandate
There are some exceptions to the California Solar Mandate requiring solar panels on all new construction homes. This is because not every home is ideally situated for solar energy production, whether due to size, shading, or other reasons. The exceptions for a new home build include:
- The roof is not large enough: Solar panels are most often installed on roofs, as this is where they can produce the most energy while being out of the way. However, some roofs don't have the space to support enough solar panels to make solar energy worthwhile. Limited roof space can exempt the home from the solar requirements, though there are other ways to add solar, such as solar carports or ground-mount solar systems.
- There is too much shading: Large trees, buildings, and other obstructions can prevent the sun's rays from reaching a roof. If a new construction home has significant shade that would impede solar energy production, it may be exempt from the requirements.
- The home has access to a community solar system: New developments can opt to install centrally located community solar systems, eliminating the need for individual solar systems on the roof of each home.
Solar Cost Savings With Title 24 Requirements
The California Clean Energy Commission reports that Part 6 of Title 24 may increase the upfront cost of a single-family home development by roughly $8,400. However, this upfront cost is balanced by long-term savings on monthly electric bills. It's projected that the solar system will pay for itself in five to 10 years!
With years of experience, Simply Solar’s team is prepared to help you navigate your home construction and create a system that is customized to the needs of your project.
Contact us today at (707) 285-7037 to find out how we can help you navigate California’s Solar Mandates for 2020, 2022/2023, and beyond.