Semper Solaris Blog

Los Angeles is a great place to invest in solar panels. Not only does the most populous city in the Golden State get plenty of sunshine throughout the year, but the city itself actively encourages its residents to go solar through its Solar Incentive Program (SIP). To make the cost of solar panels in Los Angeles a little more affordable, SIP offers rebates to residents who purchase or lease solar panels. (It helps to have the assistance of an experienced solar panel company in Los Angeles to obtain the rebate.)  That’s right, Los Angeles will actually give you money to put solar panels on your roof. How does the SIP work, and, more importantly, how can you get your check in the mail? In this article, we’ll explore the history of the Solar Incentive Program, explain how it can put money in your pocket, walk you through the steps to apply, and tell you why now is the best time to take advantage of the program. (Hint: It might not be around for much longer!) Why Los Angeles Wants to Pay You to Go Solar   In 2006, the year of his re-election, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made history when he signed the California Solar Initiative (CSI), which required that all California utility companies implement a solar incentive program. The CSI was designed to increase the amount of renewable energy that California produced by making solar installation more affordable for businesses and homeowners. Unsurprisingly, Los Angeles was ahead of the curve. Its massive public utility company, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) had already implemented its own Solar Incentive Program (SIP) all the way back in 2000. The California Solar Initiative supercharged the LADWP’s program by handing the utility $313 million to funnel to its residents and businesses. In 2007, the LADWP Board of Commissioners released a revised Solar Incentive Program that offered rebates (also called “incentives”) to residents and businesses that installed solar panels on their property. The program was designed so that the amount of the rebates would decline over time as certain solar power goals were met. The program was slated to wrap in 2017 (ten years after it started) or whenever the program met its solar energy production goals. Fortunately for you, Los Angeles still hasn’t met its goals, so the program is still currently open. (More on that toward the end of this article.) How the California Solar Initiative Works In the simplest terms, the SIP is a one-time rebate that is calculated based on the energy your solar panel system produces. In this way, the more energy your system produces, the bigger your rebate will be. The effect of this system is that homeowners who invest in larger (more expensive) solar installations will receive a bigger rebate to help offset their expanded costs. One of the really nice things about the SIP is that it is available for homeowners who purchase or lease their solar panels. If you don’t have enough money to purchase your solar panels out-of-pocket, leasing allows you to get solar panels, often with no money down, for a fixed cost. As a bonus, you’ll still get your SIP rebate! As of this writing, the SIP rebate for a residential solar system is $0.25 per watt. How Much Can You Save? How much savings can you expect from a SIP rebate? The answer will depend upon the size of your system and ultimately how its capacity is calculated according to the SIP’s formula. If you really want to know what type of rebate you could be looking at, it’s best to schedule a consultation with a solar panel company in Los Angeles. Your solar installation company can make a recommendation on the right size solar system for your energy needs and budget and then use that calculation to do some back-of-the-envelope math to estimate your SIP rebate. Let us stress that these are only ballpark figures, and you should definitely speak with a professional solar installation company with experience in Los Angeles before making your purchase decision. How to Get Bonus Savings Want an even bigger rebate for your solar panel purchase? The SIP hands out a bonus rebate if you invest in solar panels (also called photovoltaic cells) that were manufactured in Los Angeles. Again, we encourage you to work with a solar panel company in Los Angeles to determine the right brand of solar panel for your project. How to Qualify for the SIP Rebate This whole “get the city of Los Angeles to give you money for purchasing solar panels” thing sounds pretty good, right? Before you start dreaming about how to spend your rebate check (tickets to Wicked at the Pantages, anyone?), make sure that you qualify for the program. It’s not that hard unless you veer pretty far off the normal solar panel path. Here’s how to qualify for a SIP rebate:   Be a customer of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Purchase solar panels (solar batteries and solar water heaters do not qualify) Purchase solar panels and equipment that is certified, meet national standards, and come with a minimum 10-year warranty Purchase a minimum 1kW system with a maximum allowable system size of 5mW (megawatts) Hire a licensed California contractor to install the panels These standards are relatively basic, and as long as you work with an experienced and trustworthy solar panel company and receive service from LADWP, you shouldn’t have to worry about qualifying for the rebate. Receiving the rebate, however, is a whole other can of worms! A Step-by-Step Guide to Snagging Your SIP Rebate This section will look at all the steps involved in applying for and receiving a SIP rebate for solar panel systems 10kW or smaller, which will cover the majority of residential systems. The steps may seem complicated, but keep in mind that your solar installation company should handle the entire process on your behalf. It’s useful to understand what’s involved in receiving the rebate, but you shouldn’t need to actually perform any of these steps. Step One: Your solar installer will complete the PV Preliminary Review Information Sheet. You should answer “no” to each question. If you answer “yes” to a question, your solar installer will need to schedule a pre-construction meeting with an LADWP Electric Service Representative. Step Two: Your solar installer will submit your LADWP Solar Reservation Request through the LADWP’s PowerClerk Database on your behalf.   Step Three: Upload the following documents to the PowerClerk Database to reserve your rebate: A signed reservation request form A copy of your solar panel installation contract or your lease agreement Your most recent LADWP electric bill A solar inspection agreement Electronic document authorization form Energy audit Residential Disclosure Agreement Preliminary Review Information Worksheet Copy of Ten Year Warranty Step Four: Assuming your solar installation company knows what they’re doing, you’ll be approved by the LADWP Solar Group and receive an Incentive Payment Claim Form. Your installer will need to complete and submit this form when your solar panel installation is complete. Step Five: Your solar installer will need to pull the required permits in order to start on the installation. A company with a lot of experience working in Los Angeles should have no problem with this step. Step Six: Once all the permits are successfully pulled, your installer can get to work installing your system. At this point, you can just step back and watch as your roof seems to magically sprout solar panels overnight. Step Seven: When your solar system has been installed, your solar contractor will contact the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) to schedule a final inspection. The city will send out an inspector to make sure the system meets all the city’s codes and requirements. As long as you use a legitimate solar installation company, your system should pass inspection with flying colors. Step Eight:  Once you get approval from the LADBS, your installer can formally submit an Incentive Payment Claim Form to the LADWP. Along with this form, the installer will also have to submit: A copy of the approved Building and Safety permit A copy of your invoice for the solar panel system. The invoice must show a zero balance Step Nine: Thought you were done? This is a bureaucracy; of course not! Once your solar installer submits the rebate claim form, the city will send out a Solar Inspector to verify the size, tilt, orientation, and shading of your system in order to confirm that your solar system will produce that amount of power you claim. The inspector will also confirm that you used the equipment you listed in your submission. If everything looks good, the Solar Inspector will install your net meter so that you can actually turn on your system. Hooray! Step Ten: If everything goes according to plan, your Solar Inspector will submit the approval of your system, and you will – at long last – receive your rebate check in the mail. Aw, the sweet smell of success. Why You Should Call a Solar Panel Company in Los Angeles ASAP At the beginning of the article, we mentioned that the LADWP’s Solar Incentive Program was designed to run out in 2017 or when the LADWP had met its solar power generation goal. The calendar says that it’s past the middle of 2018, and the program is still active, which means that it’s basically living on borrowed time. If you are considering solar panels, there is seriously no better time to invest in solar power in Los Angeles. Hopefully, this has shown that the LADWP’s solar rebate program can be a little complicated. That’s why it’s so important to work with a local solar panel company in Los Angeles that understands exactly how to use the program. You wouldn’t want to miss out on your rebate, because a national solar installation company doesn’t know what they are doing! At Semper Solaris, we are proud to have locations throughout California, including in Los Angeles. Our Los Angeles team knows how to obtain SIP rebates for our clients in a smooth and effective way. To start on your solar journey, contact us for a free energy analysis today.  

Ahh, summer: Barbecues and vacations come to mind but when it comes to the California sun, It’s time to crank up the AC and hope it doesn’t cost a fortune to cool your home! As the heat continues to rise, there are a few things we can to do to prepare our homes for the season, specifically your attic and roof. These tips will help you keep your home cool and your power bill manageable. When was the last time you visited your attic? Maybe the last time was when you were looking for something one of the kids may have put in a box last time you moved? This often-overlooked portion of your home plays a pivotal role in keeping your home cool. Did you know that your attic can reach temperatures in excess of 140 degrees? Yes! This can rob you of all the cool air that is being pumped into your house if it is not properly insulated and maintained. If moisture is also present, it is a perfect opportunity for mold. This can ruin your roof and lead to a costly replacement. It’s a must to have your homes attic and roof inspected at least once a year. Summer Roofing Tips Most summer roofing tips to keep your home cool actually come from underneath your roof. That's right, your attic plays a huge role in the ventilation and reflection of hot air and radiant sunlight. Below are the 4 main things to check up on to make sure your roof is efficiently working to keep your home cool this summer. Check your exhaust and bathroom fans Ensure that your attic is free from small signs of damage Get a cool, lighter-colored roof Insulation Check your exhaust and bathroom fans: If these are installed incorrectly they will just blow all of the moisture from your bathrooms or stove into the attic and create a massive mold or rot issue. These could also be pulling cool air from your living areas and pushing it into the attic where you do not necessarily want it to be. While properly venting your attic will help lower the temperature of your entire home. Ensure that your attic is free from small signs of damage: These small spots can turn into large ones if not properly attended to. These infiltrations may not seem like a big deal but in the summer with heat and possible moisture, they can cause the underlayment to warp which will compromise the integrity of the roof. Get a cool, lighter-colored roof: Have your old black tar shingles replaced with either a lighter colored shingle or tile. This switch to a lighter colored or tile roof means that your home's roof will reflect more heat and absorb less into your home. Insulation: Having additional insulation installed in your attic will help contain the heat in the attic rather than allowing it to radiate into your home. An extra layer of insulation board between the attic joists and the main attic cavity will keep the home cooler overall. Homeowners are strongly encouraged to have their roof and attic professionally examined at least once per year to ensure that their roof does not become a liability.

Asphalt Shingles More than 70 percent of all single-family homes in the US are roofed with asphalt shingles, though that number is slowly shrinking thanks to more energy-efficient alternative roofing materials. Asphalt shingles dominate the market because they are affordable, offer a variety of attractive options and do a good job protecting homes from the elements. Asphalt Shingles Pros: Fiberglass shingles offer good fire protection Shingles are often the most affordable roofing option, especially in good/better ranges The best asphalt shingles are a 30-year roof solution installed on homes located in moderate climates 3-tab shingles are an affordable way to dress up a home before putting on the market Asphalt Shingles Cons: Affordable asphalt shingles last as little as 10-12 years in hot, sunny climates Rapid temperature changes can cause asphalt shingles to crack A poorly vented attic will trap heat and significantly shorten asphalt shingle lifespan by cupping or cracking them While the asphalt shingle industry boasts that its products can be recycled for paving, few recycling facilities take asphalt shingles, and they are among the least eco-friendly roofing options Wood Shingles and Shakes How are wood shingles and shakes different? Wood shingles are machine-cut and feature cleaner edges and a smooth surface to produce a more uniform appearance. Wood shakes are hand-cut from blocks of wood, so they have a more rustic appearance. They’re thicker too, so they're slightly more expensive than wood shingles. Wood Shingle Pros: Wood has a natural beauty that ranges from rustic shakes to handsome, neat shingles Cedar and redwood contain oils that make them naturally resistant to moisture and insects Treated wood shingles have a Class A fire rating They can last 5 to 10 years longer than asphalt, which makes them competitively priced with asphalt over their lifespan Wood Shingle Cons: Wood roofing is prohibited in some areas prone to wildfire, so be sure to check with your building department first Untreated wood shakes and shingles are high maintenance – they need to be cleaned consistently to prevent the growth of algae or moss, and debris needs to be cleared to allow the wood to breathe While DIY installation is possible if you have a good experience, faults in the installation can lead to quick deterioration of the roof which often includes serious leaks Staining of the shingles and shakes might occur as natural factors cause tannins to be released from the wood Roof Tiles This ancient roofing option has been thoroughly modernized with newer and stronger materials that look fantastic. Roof Tile Pros: All types - clay, concrete, and fiber cement, offer 50+ years of durability Tiles resist fire and insects The rich aesthetics of tile increase curb appeal Light-colored tile reflects sunlight, in turn reducing heat penetration and cooling requirements Roof Tile Cons: Tile is heavier than most roofing material and some types require extra framing support at a higher cost The cost of tile is higher than asphalt, metal, and wood Tiles may break if walked on, so repairing chimneys and other roofing issues is trickier when the roof is tile Metal Roofing Your great-grandfather’s home or barn might well have been roofed in metal, and some of those 100-year old roofs are still going strong. Metal roofing has enjoyed a recent resurgence led by demand for durability, eco-friendly roofing and the introduction of new styles. Metal roofing is still manufactured in rolls, but most is rigid sheet roofing with vertical-seam panels and modular press-formed panels that can be painted or coated with granules. The manufacturing processes allow for a variety of appearance options including the traditional metal roof style and roofing made to look like shingles, shakes and tiles. The most common metals used are aluminum, lightweight steel and zinc. Copper metal roofs are a beautiful but costly specialty! Metal Roofing Pros: New styles can mimic shingles, shakes, slate and tile, and dozens of colors are available Metal is a 50 to 100-year roofing material with warranties of 30-50 years Metal reflects solar radiant heat, keeping your home cooler and control energy costs in hot weather when compared with asphalt Many metal roofing profiles have a Class A fire rating Metal Roofing Cons: The cost of metal roofing is higher (copper roofing is in a league of its own as the most expensive option) than asphalt shingles and wood roofing, but that is usually offset by its durability and longevity Without an attic space or a proper substrate such as solid sheathing (boards or plywood), metal roofs installed over open framing and directly over living space can be noisier than other materials when the rain hits it The material can dent when hit with a heavy object, and replacing metal panels is costlier than replacing asphalt, wood or tiles, although many metal roofing styles are rated to withstand large hail

Do I need a new roof?

Most homeowners figure they need a new roof after they spot a leak in their ceiling. This leak could be due to many different roofing problems. But, what factors really determine whether a roof repair will solve the problem or the house needs a roof replacement? Here are some tips to help you determine if you need a new roof: Roof age How old is your existing asphalt shingle roof? Most experts agree that a typical roof will last between 20 and 25 years. It also depends on whether the old roof was removed and you only have one layer of shingles, and if it is properly ventilated. If the roof was installed over another layer or several layers and it is older than 20 years, chances are you need a new roof. Shingles curling and buckling Shingles that are curled or buckling are another sign that you may need a new roof. Look at the slopes of your home that get direct sunlight and if you notice the shingles are curling and losing granules, it could mean the shingles are past their life expectancy. There could also be a possibility that the roof is defective. Roof valleys If your roof shingles are falling apart or missing in this area, it's a definite sign you need a new roof. Valleys are one of the most important areas of your roof. Snow and rain flow through valleys and into gutters. If the valley is compromised, you could be susceptible to roof leaks. Missing shingles These are another sign your roof could be failing. Check to see if all of the shingle “tabs” are intact. Chimney flashing This is another area to be concerned about. If your flashing consists of roof cement or tar, it may need to be replaced with a long-term, water-tight fitting, which would be a metal flashing system. Shingle granules in the gutters Look in your gutters to see whether they are loaded up with shingle granules. Roofs tend to lose more granules toward the end of their life cycle. Inconsistent or darker color on some parts of the roof is another sign the granules have worn away. Daylight through the roof boards You notice a spongy feel or trampoline bounce when walking on the roof, which means the underlying decking is weakened from moisture. Check your attic to see if there is any daylight coming through the roof boards. Also check for moisture in the insulation.

Renewable energy is a necessity that is slowly being appreciated by everyone today. There are a growing number of homes, buildings, outdoor establishments that utilize solar batteries. With the rising cost for service necessities, such as electricity, people are slowly moving to newer sources for energy. Solar batteries have been out in the market for those who wish to cut on expensive costs of electricity. Solar batteries are used to store electric energy with the utilization of solar panels to capture sunlight and convert it to renewable energy. The process in which electricity is made possible by solar batteries is simple, it absorbs solar light, collects proton energy, and triggers electrons that eventually creates energy. Electricity is then stored in these batteries allowing energy to be used whenever it is needed. You may be wondering why you should even consider shifting from traditional sources of electricity to those powered by solar batteries. There are important factors which you should consider, thus allowing you to appreciate its advantages: Low electricity bills Rising costs in electricity bills only get worse with time. The reason for this is that resources are becoming scarce and the population of people is not getting any smaller. Solar batteries are able to supply electricity to appliances needed to survive everyday life. Examples of these appliances are cooking stoves, cooling systems for houses, heaters, lights for both indoors and outdoors. Low contribution to pollution Solar batteries do not contribute to pollution. They are renewable energy that does not emit harmful toxins that destroy our environment. It collects energy that is needed by you, and collects once more when energy is depleted. Unlimited supply of electricity With the integration of solar batteries used by homes today, electricity can now be stored in greater numbers. These batteries have the capacity to store certain amounts of electricity depending on the model you purchase from your local dealer. Free source of power Sunlight is the main source of energy which solar batteries derive their power from. As long as the sun keeps shining, your batteries never run out of power. The beauty of sunlight is that companies cannot create business from everyone using sunlight. Portable energy Solar batteries are capable of transportation for use in the most obscure areas. Unlike traditional power sources, solar energy can be used anywhere. As long as you have the solar batteries and the sun keeps shining then you're good to go!

Nearly all photovoltaics installed are made up of some kind of silicon; however, solar panels can be made up of a wide range of silicon variations, from monocrystalline to polycrystalline. Why does this matter? Depending on how pure the silicon is, solar cells can better convert sunlight into electricity. Obviously, this means that panels that are considered the most efficient will likely be made up of the purest types of silicon. This also means higher price tags – which is why efficiency isn’t the only factor to consider when it comes to selecting the right type of solar panel for your property. Factors such as cost, amount of space needed, and actual energy needs can also help determine the best option. We are going to compare three of the most common solar panel types below. Keep reading to get informed before going solar. Polycrystalline Solar Cells First introduced in the 1980s, polycrystalline silicon solar panels are made by melting raw silicone and pouring that melted material into molds. Once cooled, they are cut into square wafers, making it a much simpler process compared to other solar panel types, especially monocrystalline. This also means that polycrystalline panels tend to be more affordable as well. However, they typically have less tolerance towards heat than monocrystalline panels. While this could mean a greater wear and tear over time, the amount is so small it usually isn’t even taken into account by buyers. These panels have an efficiency of 13-16% on average, which is lower than monocrystalline solar panels since they are not as high in purity levels. That also means you need to cover more space to get equivalent energy generation. Monocrystalline Solar Cells Known to be some of the purest silicon-based solar panels, monocrystalline boast a uniform appearance and coloring. This is because of the high-purity silicon they are made from. The design is made to not only lower costs of a single solar cell, but also maximize the space, making it as efficient as possible. Efficiency ratings tend to range from 15 to 20%, putting them above polycrystalline solar panels. SunPower, our trusted solar panel provider, is known to produce the highest efficiency monocrystalline solar panels available on the market, reaching a record-breaking efficiency rate of 22.8%. These panels are also very space-efficient and durable, taking up the least amount of space while yielding high outputs of power. All these advantages do come at a cost, making monocrystalline panels the most expensive investment. Thin-Film Solar Cells This option is a little different than the former two, made by layering thin layers of photovoltaic material onto a substrate. Materials used to make these solar cells can range from amorphous silicon to copper indium gallium selenide. Maximum efficiency for thin-film panels caps out around an optimistic 13%. Improving modules are expected to reach as much as 10 to 16% over time. While the mass production of these types of solar panels is easier and possibly more affordable than crystalline competitors, efficiency levels don’t compare just yet. Also, they are typically more flexible and aren’t as impacted by shading, high temperatures, and other factors like crystalline-based panels are. Unfortunately, these panels are not yet ideal for residential spaces, as they tend to take up a significant amount of space. While the panels are more affordable, due to the lack of efficiency, supporting materials tend to add a significant amount to the total cost. Get Expert Advice on Solar Panel Selection Think it’s time to call in the experts? Semper Solaris is a veteran-owned and operated company that cares about our customers. We want to make sure you get the right solar panel type for your specific property and budget. Talk to us today about how going solar could work for you!

The summer days are heating up in San Diego, which means it’s time to shimmy into your favorite swimsuit and enjoy your backyard pool! We San Diegans love our pools, and with good reason! What better way to relish our gorgeous weather than to lay out by the pool, float on a raft, or invite friends over for margaritas and cannonballs? However, owning a pool comes with a price. That includes both the price you’ll see on your electric bill and the environmental price of your energy-hungry feature. Residential solar in San Diego can help you lower your energy bill and your carbon footprint without giving up your relaxing outdoor oasis. Let’s look at what a pool is really costing you and how solar panels can help! A Popular California Pastime Do you absolutely love your background pool? We get it. Pools offer a perfect, screen-free activity for the kiddos, especially during the summer months when they’re out of school. A pool can also increase your status as the host-with-the-most when you hold family gatherings, invite the neighbors over for some BBQ, or just want to catch up with friends. You are not alone. California is home to the most residential pools in the entire country. According to The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (yes, there really is an association for everything), roughly 1.23 million Californians own a residential pool. Another 1.12 million own hot tubs just for good measure. All those pools and hot tubs require a lot of energy. No doubt you’ve noticed the big jump in your energy bills whenever you start up the water pump and heater. How much energy does your greedy pool require and what is that doing to your bottom line and to the environment? An Energy Gobbler All of your appliances and electrical products require energy, but your pool is a particularly hungry beast. Aside from your air conditioner, your pool is likely to be the biggest energy user in your home! The amount of energy your pool uses will depend on a variety of factors, including the size of your pool, the equipment you use, how actively you maintain it, and whether the pool is also heated. Still, averages can be helpful. According to Think Progress, the average pool contains 20,000 gallons of water. It takes a lot of energy to filter and clean that much water and to keep it warm if you have a heat pump. ThinkProgress cites a study by Opower (which has since been purchased by Oracle) that found pool pumps can use up to 2,500 kilowatt hours (kWh) to circulate and filter water each year. More recently, Canstar Blue, a consumer review site in Australia (where pools are almost a necessity during the sizzling summer down under), estimated that the average pool requires between 2,000 and 3,000 kWh of energy per year! Just to put that number into a little perspective, running your clothes washer for two, hour-long loads per week will require just 26.5 kWh per year. A desktop computer running 10 hours every day of the year will only need 273.75 kWh per year. You could keep your LCD television on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (though we don’t recommend it), and it would only take 1,314 kWh per year. That still pales in comparison to the amount of energy your pool is slurping away right now. (These numbers are brought to you by this nifty energy calculator from the U.S. Department of Energy.) In other words, your pool is energy expensive, which means it’s also expensive when it comes to dollars and cents. Are You Getting Soaked? Your pool is an investment. All that water isn’t free. Neither is pool equipment, like the water pump, or the cleaning products you need to buy on a regular basis. If you hire someone or pay your kid to clean the pool each week, that’s just another big expense. What you might not realize is that your pool is costing you in another way. If you’re wondering why your electric bills suddenly rocketed up the month after you turned the pool on, just glance into the backyard and you’ll have your culprit. Pool manufacturer River Pools and Spas helpfully breaks out the monthly electrical costs of common pool systems: $30 - $50 for a two-speed or variable speed pump/filter system $75 - $150 for a one-speed pump $50 - $250 for a heat pump $100 - $300 for an in-ground hot tub In a best-case scenario, if you don’t heat your pool, don’t have a hot tub, and have invested in a variable speed pump, you’re still looking at $360 to $600 a year just in electricity costs to maintain your pool. In a worst-case scenario, if you have a one-speed pump, a heat pump, and a cozy hot tub to complete your backyard empire, your energy costs could increase by as much as $8,400 a year! That’s a pretty serious expense even a relaxing day by the pool might not be able to make you forgot. Of course, it’s also worth remembering that energy has a price beyond money. Your pool is also taking an environmental toll. The Carbon Cost of Your Pool Unless you’ve already invested in residential solar in San Diego, the energy needed to power your pool comes from a public utility company, like SDG&E. California and San Diego are doing a great job of getting more and more of their energy from renewable resources, especially solar, but a majority of it still comes from fossil fuels, like natural gas and coal. Turning these fossil fuels into energy releases carbon dioxide into the environment, which contributes to climate change. Energy-hungry home features, like your pool, can play an outsized role in increasing your home’s carbon footprint. The Carbon Fund, which sells carbon offsets, calculates that every kilowatt hour of energy results creates roughly 1.22 pounds of CO2. By this calculation, a pool that requires 2,000 to 3,000 kWh of energy per year will produce approximately 2,444 to 3,666 pounds of CO2 annually. Even on the low end, that’s more than a metric ton of CO2 released into the atmosphere each year. If you care about fighting climate change, your pool may be undermining the hybrid car in your driveway, the low energy appliances installed throughout your home, and the other efforts you’ve made to lower your carbon footprint. Does this mean that it’s time to close your outdoor water sanctuary forever in order to rescue your budget and save the world (at least a little bit)? Before you turn off that water pump and drain away your kids’ favorite summer activity, consider a few options that can lower or even eliminate the energy costs of your pool. How to Lower the Energy Needs of Your Pool There are a variety of ways to lower the energy your pool requires. Let’s start with the small changes: Use a Pool Cover One of the easiest and least expensive ways to save energy is to buy (and use!) a cover for your pool. A cover prevents water from evaporating, which will also help you conserve water – a big deal in drought-sensitive San Diego. Evaporation also leads to significant heat loss, which can force your heat pump to work overtime (and drink up more energy). Buy a Variable Speed Pump The majority of pools in the United States use a single speed pump. As its name implies, the single speed pump only has a single setting. Because it can’t be dialed up or down, it always operates at maximum capacity. Though single speed pumps are less expensive upfront, they require a huge amount of energy. You’ll save money and energy in the long run by paying a few hundred dollars more for a dual speed pump, or ideally, a variable speed pump, which uses the least amount of energy. Maintain Your Pool Equipment A clogged or poorly performing filter will force your pool’s pump to work harder than it needs to, which will increase its energy needs. Clean your filter regularly, assess your pool equipment, and make sure the water’s pH is balanced. If you have to hire a company to maintain your pool, it could be money well-spent if it keeps your energy bills down and your family safe. These are the small updates you can make to lower the energy your pool requires, but if you want to go big and possibly eliminate the energy and environmental costs of your pool altogether, you only have one option – solar panels. One More Reason to Consider Residential Solar in San Diego If you are already considering solar panels as a way to eliminate your entire electric bill each month, then the high energy costs of your pool are just one more good reason to go solar. With the right sized solar system, you could save hundreds of dollars each month on your energy bills. In fact, the average solar panel system in San Diego pays for itself in just four to five years! After that, it’s savings all the way. Don’t forget that you’ll be saving big in another way. By investing in the clean, renewable energy of the sun, you can help keep over a metric ton of CO2 out of the atmosphere each year, and that’s just for the energy needs of your pool. If you like to crank the air conditioning during the summer months or have an electric car to charge each day, you could lower your carbon footprint even more! All of these reasons make residential solar in San Diego worth considering for pool owners and all homeowners in America’s Finest City. If your pool is humming and your electric bills are climbing, contact Semper Solaris today to schedule a free energy consultation.

A solar panel system for your home is no small purchase, so how can you make sure to protect such a big investment? The good news is that top-rated solar panels are designed to withstand heavy winds, punishing rainstorms, mounds of snow, sizzling summers, and freezing winters. In other words, solar panels are pretty durable! The vast majority of solar panel systems can operate for decades without a problem, but that doesn’t help if you happen to be in the small minority of customer to receive a faulty panel. That is why solar panel warranties should be an important factor in your solar purchase decision. What types of warranties do solar panel manufacturers offer, and how can you effectively evaluate different types of solar warranties? Why a Solar Panel Warranty Matters It isn’t exaggerating to say that a solar panel system is a multi-decade investment. But although it might seem like a lot of money, solar panels offer savings in the long run by dramatically lowering or eliminating your monthly electric bill. (They also increase the value of your home!) The tradeoff of an upfront investment in exchange for net savings over time depends upon a solar system that functions as promised. If your panels fail, or if their efficiency quickly diminishes over the years, then you’ll never get the savings you expected. A solar panel warranty is a guarantee that your solar system will operate as advertised so that you can enjoy the savings you were promised. Too often, when customers compare different solar panel models, they only look at upfront factor: the efficiency of the panels and the price tag. It’s easy to overlook the value of a warranty because it only comes into play when something goes wrong. Don’t make this mistake. A warranty is a valuable feature of a solar panel brand and should definitely factor into your solar panel purchase decision. The Different Types of Solar Panel Warranties When you start shopping for solar panels, you’ll discover that top-rated solar panels offer more than one type of warranty. The two more common types of warranties are the product warranty, which covers all the parts of the solar panel and the performance warranty, which guarantees a certain level of performance over time. Additionally, you may be able to snag warranties on other related parts, including a warranty on your system’s inverter and on a solar battery. Let’s look at each of these warranties in more detail. What Is a Solar Panel Product Warranty? Solar panels are designed to take a lot of punishment from the environment, but sometimes even they fail. A product warranty (also called a materials warranty), covers the integrity of each of your solar panels. Product problems can occur as a result of: Manufacturing defects (such as faulty wiring) Corrosion Other types of premature wear Environmental issues Many solar panel manufacturers offer 10-year product warranties. Top solar panel companies like Panasonic offer a 25-year product warranty. Consider the added value that longer warranties offer. A typical solar panel would cost you a small amount to replace out-of-pocket. A 25-year warranty protects your solar investment for 15 years longer than a more standard 10-year warranty. In fact, a 25-year warranty will essentially guarantee the integrity of your panels for the life of your roof. Keep in mind that a 25-year product warranty also signals that a company has extremely high confidence in the quality of their product. How to Use the Warranty If you notice that a solar panel or multiple solar panels aren’t working, your first step should be to contact your solar installation company. If they determine that a solar panel is faulty, then it’s time to reach out to the manufacturer. If all goes smoothly, the manufacturer will ship a new panel or panels to you. Ideally, they will also cover shipping and installation costs.   What Is a Solar Panel Performance Warranty? As with almost all technological products, solar panel performance degrades over time. Each year, a typical solar panel loses about 0.7% of its efficiency. This means that, over time, your solar panel system won’t be able to produce as much electricity as it did in its first years. (Youth is so fleeting!) Solar panels lose efficiency at a relatively reliable rate, which means that manufacturers are able to anticipate the rate of loss and offer a performance warranty to protect against extreme degradation. Performance warranties guarantee a certain level of performance over a certain amount of time. For example, a typical performance warranty will guarantee 90% of production for 10 years and 80% production for 25 years. When evaluating a performance warranty, it’s important to also understand the efficiency rate of different solar panel brands. For example, even though Panasonic and KYOCERA solar panels both offer an 80% production warranty over 25 years, Panasonic’s maximum efficiency rate is 21.6%, while KYOCERA’s max efficiency rate is only 16.1%. How to Use the Warranty It can be tricky to tell if your solar panels are losing performance at a faster rate than what the warranty guarantees. If you notice a sudden dip in energy production, it’s most likely to be an issue with the panel materials. However, if your panels seem to be producing noticeably less energy over time, then contact your installation company for an assessment. If they feel that performance is the issue, then contact the manufacturer who should provide you with replacement panels. Some manufacturers will cover the shipping and replacement costs. Other Product Warranties You may also be able to receive a warranty on your solar system’s inverter and solar battery. An inverter is a device that changes the direct current that your panels produce into an alternating current, which is what all of your electronic devices need to function. Without an inverter, your solar panels would just be odd roof decorations that create a form of energy you couldn’t use! Inverters typically don’t last as long as solar panels, and most homeowners have to replace a system’s inverter at least once over the life of the system. As a result, inverter warranties tend to cover a shorter time than solar panel product warranties. Most inverter warranties last between five and ten years. The other type of warranty you may be interested in is a solar battery warranty. Solar batteries are increasing in popularity as they become more reliable and cost-effective. Solar batteries allow you to store the excess energy your panels generate for use at night or during other times your panels aren’t operating at peak efficiency. They can be useful if you live in an area without reliable utility power, or if you are making an effort to live off the grid. Most battery brands offer a warranty of five to 10 years, and you can expect top solar batteries to last around 15 years. Don’t Void Your Warranty! Investing in top-rated solar panels with the best warranties won’t help you one bit if you do something that voids your warranty. Read the fine print of the warranty document to ensure that you don’t put your warranty at risk. Generally speaking, you may void your warranty if you or an unlicensed worker modify or repair your system, or if you don’t provide basic protections to your system, like cutting back trees. Unrelated mistakes, like stepping on your system while putting up Christmas decorations, also won’t be covered by your warranty! It’s always a good idea to reach out to your original solar panel installation company if you notice a problem with your system. Make sure that a licensed installer assesses your panels and provides any needed modifications or repair in order to maintain your warranty. Choose Top Rated Solar Panels with Great Warranties A solar panel warranty isn’t useful… until it is! That is to say that a warranty can become extremely valuable if something goes wrong with your system. Most systems operate flawlessly, but it’s always smart to have a Plan B just in case. Your warranty is that Plan B. The better the warranty, the more protection you get on your solar investment, so consider paying a little more for top industry warranties. At Semper Solaris, we work with a wide variety of solar panel brands (unlike many other installation companies that only offer one or two brands). We are happy to provide solar panel recommendations and to help you choose the right solar panel for your roof, budget, and energy needs. Contact us for a free solar panel assessment today.

If you have noticed solar panels showing up on private homes a lot lately, you've likely wondered if the cost of solar panels in California is worth the significant investment they represent. While it's true that the cost of solar panels can be quite high, the truth is the potential savings they can net you on your monthly electric bill make them worth the initial investment. In fact, when you compare the amount of money you can save on an annual basis and compare that amount to the cost of solar panels, California homeowners may find themselves pleasantly surprised. The easiest way to factor the value of going solar is determining how much you pay for your current electricity from a local grid on a monthly basis compared to how much you can get paid for the electricity produced from PV after those initial costs are deducted over the course of the system’s lifetime. This total is the amount that should matter to homeowners when they consider whether or not solar can save them money. Caught up in this big picture approach is the idea of solar grid parity. What exactly is Solar Grid Parity and how does it affect me? So what exactly is solar parity and how does it affect the decision to go solar? It is the point at which the amount of money needed to produce power from solar panels is either equal to or less than the cost of paying for electricity from the grid. The sooner we get to solar parity across the country, the cheaper it will continue to get. Essentially, the more people recognize the benefits of solar and choose to invest in this renewable energy source, the sooner it will become adopted across America, making energy cleaner and more affordable for homeowners. How does this work? When solar companies can buy in bulk to meet the growing consumer demand for solar panels, they can lower the cost of solar panels. California homeowners, for example, may find they get better prices on materials. This impact also boosts investment in transmissions lines and helps to cut solar costs, which means it can meet the rising cost of electricity sooner, resulting in parity, or equality, until solar eventually becomes even cheaper. How Close Is the U.S. to Solar Parity? What is the timeline for solar parity in America? That answer depends on a number of factors, with each state facing different challenges, from limited sun exposure to transmission line investment costs. The country has set a target of boosting renewable energy usage to 20 percent by 2040, which would likely result in solar parity nationwide. While we have some ground to cover as a country, California is leading the way as one of the 20 states at grid parity. Weighing the Cost of Solar Panels: California Homeowners Should Be Going Solar Now The point of parity on the grid has already been reached in California, which means installing solar panels is now more affordable than the average electricity bill homeowners have to pay off every month. Solar isn’t just an option for investing in the future of affordable energy; it can start saving homeowners money right now. The average homeowner will cut back on costs between 20 and 40 percent – especially when the individual chooses to partner with a company like Semper Solaris. With zero down and zero out of pocket, solar energy has never been more affordable and realistic for homeowners. Factors that make going solar affordable to homeowners now include the following: You receive a 30 percent federal tax credit. Net metering can result in money back from electricity companies. California has already reached grid parity. Great savings exist in Semper Solaris’ online specials. Some properties may go months without having a bill. The interest is tax deductible. Low income and low FICO scores can still finance through PACE. What Is PACE Financing? The PACE Financing program is a great option that makes setting up solar energy easier for homeowners, ultimately pushing us closer to solar grid parity. Short for Property Assessed Clean Energy, PACE is a financing option designed to help homeowners save money when investing in cleaner energy while adding more value to their property. PACE covers 100 percent of the solar installation cost and can be paid back over the course of 20 to 30 years, with an assessment added to the property tax bill. Homeowners start saving from day one! The Senate bill on PACE (SB-242) will add more consumer protections for residential PACE programs in California, providing even more peace of mind to homeowners wanting to invest in energy upgrades that wouldn’t otherwise be accessible to them. With California at solar grid parity, switching to solar is the smart investment for homeowners who want to instantly save on their energy bill and be a force for renewable energy!

Povas Miknaitis served in the Marine Corps for 6 years as a scout sniper. He served two combat tours, one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. After his service, he became involved in the Warrior Foundation and also finished his education. He moved to Freedom Station after being released from the hospital. The team at Semper Solaris was excited to hear that The Semper Cares initiative will be helping a fellow marine by installing a new solar panel system for his home. On Independence Day, Povas received a new solar panel system, free of charge, by our Semper Cares Initiative, along with the Warrior Foundation Freedom Station. We are extremely proud of the men and women who have served our country, and Povas is among many who deserve the goodwill of others for their patriotism and their sacrifice. Though we may not be able to reach out to all veterans, our efforts along with our partners are offering all that we can to our veterans and our communities. [embed]https://youtu.be/7xOPN479QWM[/embed]