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Thinking About Going Solar? A Primer for Santa Barbara and Montecito Homeowners

August 7, 2020

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light bulb with solar panels, blue sky and clouds inside to illustrate homeowners going solar

If you’re thinking about going solar, installing solar panels to your Montecito home is a no-brainer these days. In fact, California is one of the best places in the nation to go solar. The combination of our high average sun exposure, expensive utility rates, the current solar tax credit, and the state’s net metering law combine to give Montecito homeowners several excellent reasons to install solar panels today.

READ: “California Chic” is Alive and Well in Montecito

We all know how wonderful life is in the Golden State. Residents enjoy a mild year-round climate and there is plenty of adventure and good food to be enjoyed here. In order to maintain our exceptional lifestyle for generations to come, California has some of the most aggressive greenhouse gas emission goals in the nation. The state’s renewable portfolio standard requires utilities to derive 60% of their retail electricity from renewable sources by 2030. And by going solar, Montecito homeowners will help the state reach that goal.

Drilling down a bit further, by installing solar panels, homeowners get to enjoy free electricity from the sun. That makes  Montecito and Santa Barbara the perfect spot for solar since we have, on average, 283 sunny days per year. Now that’s a lot of solar power!

Workers installing alternative energy photovoltaic solar panels on roof

Top Reasons to Go Solar

Installing solar panels is good for both you and the environment. According to experts in the field, making the switch from fossil fuel could potentially cut air pollution by 90%. But that’s not the only reason to make the change.

READ: 25 Homeowner Tips for Going Green

Another benefit is cost. In fact, in the long run, solar helps homeowners save money. Even so, covering your roof or a section of your property in solar panels and living off the grid requires a big commitment. That’s why I recommend my clients ask themselves one simple question: “Am I ready?” before they sign a contract. Reading this blog will shed some light on how you answer that question.

Property Tax Exemption

Let’s start with the financials. California homeowners can save on their property taxes with the installation of residential solar systems. Typically, having a solar system on your property would increase your taxes, however, The Property Tax Exclusion for Solar Energy Systems exempts 100% of the assessed value of a solar system.

What is the Payback Period for Installing Solar Panels in California?

Solar is an excellent low-risk investment. The payback period for installing solar panels in California is usually between four and eight years. This is dependent on the size of the system, the brand of solar panels you buy, the amount you were previously paying for power, and whether you lease or buy the system.

What are Solar Cells?

Solar cells are made up of two different kinds of silicon. By layering them together, scientists found they encouraged the electron movement. When sandwiched between two outer conductive layers then covered by anti-reflective glass, these cells are catalyzed when light hits them. That causes the electrons to move, creating an electric current.

READ: How to Increase Home Value

A single solar cell wired in parallel creates a module. A module can only produce one-half volt of electricity. That’s why the modules are connected together. When that happens, the modules form a solar panel. Connecting several solar panels form an array: that futuristic-looking grid on your rooftop.

hands n a heart surrounding a sunset

Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline

The type of solar panels you use is important. Montecito homeowners can choose either Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline, each with its own manufacturing processes.

Monocrystalline production is an older, more developed manufacturing process. The panels are created from a single continuous cell structure. Monocrystalline panels are generally more efficient than Polycrystalline panels but are more expensive to manufacture.

Polycrystalline panels have typically been considered inferior to Monocrystalline due to their lower efficiency. However, as the manufacturing process has evolved over time, Polycrystalline panels can be almost as efficient as Monocrystalline and are much cheaper to produce.

Whoever you choose to work with will steer you in the right direction for your particular needs. In case you don’t have one already picked out, here’s a list of local solar providers.

7 Facts About Solar Panels

  1. The correct positioning of a solar panel affects its efficiency.
  2. Here in the United States, solar panels should face toward the south in order to capture optimal sunlight.
  3. Solar panels perform best in temperatures around 77°F.
  4. Higher temperatures can create an efficiency loss of 10%-25%, but . . .
  5. Low temperatures don’t affect a solar panel’s functionality.
  6. The maintenance of solar panels is minimal since there are no moving parts.
  7. Keeping solar panels clean and free of dirt buildup year-round can extend their life to about 25 years.

For details on keeping your solar panels in prime working order, read this article from Sunpower, a one-stop solar company offering Montecito homeowners a free consultation to create a custom solar design and install the panels. 

California Solar Calculator

Regardless of what you want to know about the ins and outs of going solar for your Montecito home, take a look at this solar calculator. By doing so, you will:

  • See how solar panels look on your roof.
  • Learn how to customize your energy savings by adjusting your panel layout.
  • Receive precise solar production data. uses data from the Department of Energy-funded National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL)- the same data professionals use.
  • Find out about all the current money-saving incentives such as the federal solar tax credit and local utility-based incentives that are built into your estimate to reveal how much you can save.
  • Get accurate estimates of your own personal energy usage, and more.

The bottom line is, you can’t go wrong with solar energy. Solar roof tiles will increase your home’s efficiency, and possibly its value when it comes time to sell. If you are considering selling in Montecito, Hope Ranch or another of the Santa Barbara area’s upscale communities,  or if you’re buying and want to find a home with solar, or the potential for installing it, give me a call at +1 (805) 886-9378 or email me at I’ll happily add your home to my portfolio of fine properties and find you the perfect place to call home at the same time.

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Client Reviews

“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch