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Is Solar Necessary for New ADUs in California?

A new California Department of Housing manual on the laws, rules, and regulations of new ADUs was released at the end of the year 2020. According to the handbook, it is necessary to install a solar panel for freshly built ADUs, non-manufactured, detached ADUs. This is because they are subject to the Energy Code. However, ADUs built within available space and as an extension to your existing primary unit, as well as detached ADUs are exempt from the Energy code.

If your primary residence already has a solar panel and fits the requirements for an ADU, you would not need to install another solar panel in your new ADU. According to the Title 24 exemptions, it is not necessary because California law only mandates solar in one of your dwellings.

What exactly is Title 24?

Title 24 Energy conservation mandates under California state law. It entails a slew of laws and necessitates that all new structures fulfill certain energy usage benchmarks.

Title 24 also requires that you install solar panels on newly constructed ADUs. As with any legislation, there is room for interpretation by those reviewing the plans. For example, one plan checker may allow an existing solar array on the main residence to count toward the ADU while another may not.

Permitting and construction timeframes for solar with your new ADUs

You can complete the solar installation and ADU permitting processes concurrently, along with the rest of the design and building process. The whole procedure, including design, permitting, and installation, is comparable to that of border construction. Therefore, it will not affect the timeline greatly.

The primary goal of the design procedure is to determine the number of panels needed to power the complete ADU. The permission procedure takes a bit longer, typically 40 – 45 days depending on the jurisdiction. This is because the solar permitting process is completely distinct from the building permit process. Moreover, you must submit the two projects separately for permitting. Typically, you have to fill out and submit the solar permit first.

You must finish building the roof before installing the solar panel, which takes around 30 days. Moreover, it should also be inspected for quality after installation. The entire procedure will only take about 90 days.

How will solar affect the cost of your new ADU?

The cost of solar is determined by the number of kilowatts required to provide enough electricity to your ADU to sustain the volume of use. Installing a solar panel on your ADU costs around $15,000 on average, and the contractor will add this amount to your budget during your initial meetings.

Regardless of the cost, solar may be a terrific long-term value addition to your house. Furthermore, it may help you save a lot of money on electricity bills in the short term, and you can even obtain credits from your utility for the access power generated.

Read here: Exploring the Options for Small Solar Panels

Do solar panels have an impact on the design of your new ADUs? 

Many ADU designs are solar-friendly. In other words, they can easily accommodate solar panels. As a result, adding a solar panel to your ADU will have no effect on the architecture of the ADU.

You may sometimes believe that adding solar to your new ADU is a burden. However, it is vital to understand that solar is more than simply an added expenditure; it is an investment. Solar energy may be a more convenient and cost-effective addition to your property along with a new ADU.


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