In this new age of solar energy, there is a lot of buzz around which type of panels are best for your needs. Living in Los Angeles has its perks but also its downfalls, one being small yards and tall buildings, which can sometimes put a limit on your solar options. But one thing that stands true is that Los Angeles never runs short sunlight. the But as you are researching into the solar panel options you will see that there are many different brands and types of panels out on the market. Today we are here to discuss two different types, the ground mount, and the rooftop solar panels.
Ground Mount Solar Panels come in two different types, typical ground mounts, and pole ground mounts, which both have their own use cases. Ground Mounts are driven into the ground at a fixed angle, while pole ground mounts usually come with a tracking system which adjusts the panel to the optimal angle for maximum sunlight. Ground mounts allow for homeowners to utilize the maximum area of land for solar energy generation. Ground Mounts allow you to determine the angle for your panels while roof panels are pretty limited to the contour of your roof. Ground Panels tend to be more efficient in capturing solar energy because of this factor.
Roof Top Mount:
Rooftop Solar Panels are also a great fit for most projects because of their ability to be installed on any roof! Some people do not have the land to use ground mounts, and this is why the roof panels are the more popular of the two for residential jobs. The roof panels are drilled into the roof and have other support structures to keep the panels set at a set angle. This is great for any areas that have high winds or any sort of unexpected weather.
Which option is best for me?
This is a trick question and doesn’t have one answer. It depends on your location in Los Angeles and if you have any sort of land for ground solar panels. Ground Panels tend to be better for people with plots of land because you can allocate certain areas to panel installment. Living in Los Angeles has its pros and cons but most people do not have big yards because of the close proximity to neighbors. The best bet for most residents of Los Angeles would be to invest in Roof Top Panels, this assures you are getting the best return on your investment. At Semper Solaris, we are committed to providing the best quality service no matter your needs. Reach out to a representative to discuss your options today.
To Solar or Not to Solar?
Palmdale ranks number two in the nation for savings from installing solar panels on the home. Some people get scared away from investing in solar because of the high costs upfront but over the span of 25 years, the homeowner could save up to $27,000 in energy bill costs. If this isn’t enough incentive to buy in now, then keep reading.
Saving The Planet, While Watching Your Wallet
The residents of Palmdale have a few incentives to invest in solar energy that is provided by a few different entities. There is a Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit that is offered by the Federal Government. The typical credit is around thirty percent of the solar energy system, which is deducted from your federal taxes. There also is a rebate available offered by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. This rebate is named “LADWP – Solar Incentive Program,” which helps by rebating a percent of your total solar system cost. In addition to saving a lot of money, you will be decreasing your individual footprint on the environment. As the world continues to grow in population, solar is becoming a more and more popular source of power. Buy in now, while the sun is still hot!
Antelope Valley, Home of Renewable Energy
Antelope Valley is known for its long summer and is also home to one of the biggest solar farms in California. It is no wonder that a 266-megawatt power plant, calls Antelope Valley home. This Solar Power Plant harvests energy, which is purchased by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. PG&E then powers up to 75,000 homes with this energy, in effect displacing 140,000 tons of Carbon Dioxide. As you can see, the Palmdale area is the perfect place for investing in solar! If big companies and corporations are investing right in your own backyard, then the time and place for you to invest are just right! You will see a huge decrease in just your first month's power bill. Eventually, you could even sell energy back to the Energy Company if you have an excess. Or invest in one of the great solar battery storage devices, and keep that energy until you need it! These devices are great for storing energy and using it when really needed. In emergency situations, solar battery storage can act as a backup generator and keep your power on and running, even in the craziest of power outages and weather storms these devices never falter.
Time for Solar
As 2018 comes to it final descent, it is time to invest in your home and take advantage of all the great sunshine that Palmdale offers. Solar panels are one of the best investments because you will see instant return when you receive the first power bill in the mail. They also add value to your home because who would pass on a home that already has solar installed? Palmdale residents are hopping on the solar bandwagon fast, your time is now.
There are many behind the scene aspects that go into the installation of a solar panel system that many people do not know of. At Semper Solaris, we assure that all laws are being strictly followed, and any necessary permitting is approved before the job is kicked off.
Why Permitting Matters?
Permitting allows for the city to keep a handle on the solar installation process. They can keep track of where and when units are being installed. This also allows the city to keep track of how many kilowatts of solar energy is being produced, as well as where these panels are located. The city sometimes comes off as the bad guy because of the regulations but without keeping a watch on these types of installations, solar panels would begin popping up everywhere. This would cause a huge issue with land usage for ground mount panels, also creating many eyesores for the residents of the city. Solar is a way to diminish our carbon footprint but rules must be followed to prevent solar chaos. Just as buildings must have permits to begin construction, solar energy systems do as well!
The city of San Clarita can be a little harsh sometimes when it comes to the permitting of solar panels in the city. Just recently, The San Clarita Canyon View Estates were hit with a code violation for installing solar panels without a permit. Permits are one of the most important parts of the solar installation, without an okay from the city, you could be losing thousands of dollars by not following the code guidelines. This may seem like a harsh punishment but without permitting, solar farms would pop up everywhere and become a huge eyesore for the residents of San Clarita. “While the City supports efforts to move to renewable energy, the City takes seriously its responsibility to enforce conditions of approval designed to protect the quality of life in Santa Clarita, balancing the need for development with the preservation of open space,” an official stated. These panels that were installed above the Canyon View Estates have been criticized greatly by other residents… “Those panels are such an eyesore! I’m hoping they are ordered to eliminate them permanently! The city should not allow these to remain.” All of these issues could have been avoided if the proper permits were acquired at the beginning of the project.
Commitment to Quality
At Semper Solaris, we go up and beyond to assure that all guidelines are strictly followed. Each city has its own processes for Solar Photovoltaic installations and our staff goes to great measures to follow any codes or regulations that are enforced. You will be happy with the final product knowing that everything will be running smoothly with no issues from neighbors or officials. In addition to peace of mind, you will receive a great product that will bring your returns on investment for years to come.
Hard day at the office? Going through a break-up? Visions of packing a bag and disappearing into the great American landscape are quite appealing. Yes, we all have dreams of going off the grid sometimes. The more serious among us really make a plan to unplug and explore the world. Whether you’re looking for an unconventional way to spend your retirement or the means to explore the world each summer, RV life might be the answer.
But what happens when you hit a roadblock, like the need to pull into a campsite every night to power up your generator or plug into an outlet? Camping with solar panels is the answer. Solar creates endless opportunities and lets you truly disconnect from the grid. When you don’t require a place to plug in you can make a temporary home anywhere under the sun. Solar means energy independence. Let’s look at what it takes to camp with solar panels and why being a self-sufficient camper is an incredible experience.
Can I Really Use Solar on an RV or Camper?
The short answer is, of course, “yes.” Solar panels can be installed on top of an RV or portable camper. Just as PV panels can power a home, they can supply your RV’s batteries with a reliable source of energy. Solar panels often replace generators for electrical needs on the road, and they afford even more freedom than their predecessors. With solar panels on your campervan or RV, you are free to explore untethered. Stops for gas are the only thing between you and unending, off-the-grid adventures. All you have to do is search blogs by people living the RV nomad life to see how many folks are making the leap to solar for self-sufficiency.
What Components Do I Need to Go Solar on the Road?
There are four main components needed to install and use solar on a camper or RV. Together, these components collect energy from the sun, regulate it on the way to storage, store it in battery form, and then convert it to the proper format for use inside your camper or RV. Whether you buy a complete kit or purchase parts separately, every camper solar system requires:
Solar panels: Panels are available in many different sizes and storage capacities. The most important factor when choosing panels is whether or not the panels can capture enough energy to charge your batteries daily.
Charge controller: This important component works between the solar panels and batteries. It regulates the energy storage and stops batteries from being overcharged. A charge controller may also shut down when it detects that your batteries begin to run out.
Batteries: Most RVs already have one battery dedicated to powering the cab of your camper; when you use solar, you may want to add three additional batteries to ensure you have enough storage on hand.
Inverter: When solar power hits your battery, it is stored in DC form. The energy must be converted to AC form to power most of your electronics. Larger inverters can power washing machines and other sizeable appliances, while an inverter that handles up to 1500 watts may suffice if you don’t have any big electrical needs.
How Much Energy Can I Generate with Camper Solar Panels?
The amount of energy that can be generated with a RV solar system is literally infinite -- or, at least, it is for the life of your solar panels. Your panels are constantly absorbing energy from UV rays, even on a cloudy day. The question of how much you actually need and can store at once.
The average RV consumes between 75 and 150 amp-hours of energy each day, so three to six 100-watt panels will ensure you have enough energy to power your camper every day. If you have a lot of large appliances or you want the potential to grow your energy use in time, you may want to create a custom system with even more capacity. To figure out exactly how much energy you should aim for, use the formula Watts = Volts x Amps (W = V x A). Calculate the amps you use by dividing amp-hours by the number of hours you’ll use your appliances. For volts, use the voltage of RV solar panels, which is typically 18.
Once you know the watts required to power your camper you can purchase solar panels accordingly. Remember: increasing the wattage of your solar panels is only helpful if you also increase the amount of battery storage in your vehicle as well. If you have 800 watts of solar potential but only one battery -- you’ll end up with a lot of wasted energy.
How Can I Make Sure I Don’t Run Out of Energy?
Even when you use a formula to calculate how many watts of solar you require, the possibility always remains that you could run out of energy if you don’t plan well. Learning which systems and appliances zap energy the fastest will help prevent you from going dark. While it’s always a good idea to have a backup generator on hand if you are diligent about understanding energy use you may not need it. Plan your energy use with the following facts in mind:
Anything that heats up or cools down is a big leech on your energy reserve. The biggest leech, in fact. These types of units include air conditioning, heaters, and kitchen appliances. Consider propane stoves for cooking and mini-fridges with an Energy Star rating to cut down on your energy use. And never underestimate the power of a cross-breeze when your camper is parked.
Your laptop can use between 7-8 amps an hour if left plugged in. Charge the battery when your device is closed, which will require fewer amps, and then run the computer on its own battery to save energy. Replacing your laptop battery more often could be cheaper in the long-run than plugging it in all the time.
Just like in your house, appliances can use phantom energy when they’re plugged in -- even if they’re powered off. If you find yourself cutting it close on energy use, try unplugging all appliances when they’re not in use so you cut back on the amount of wasted amps.
When in doubt, you can always measure the usage manually to see how much your appliances and electronics use. The process for measuring depends on the size of the device in question. For a large appliance, you can use a clamp-on meter on your battery cables. Test the amps being used before turning the appliance on, then re-test once you start running the appliance. The difference will tell you how much strain your appliance is putting on the system.
For smaller devices, such as a radio or blender, you can leverage a usage monitor that plugs into an AC outlet. Once you plug your device into the monitor you’ll get a digital reading of its amp use.
Can I Install PV Panels Myself?
Solar panels are a powerful tool for freedom from the grid, but you want to get it right. Many RV owners purchase solar components and install the system on their own, but it never hurts to get input from a professional. A solar team can evaluate how many batteries you need, for instance, in order to maximize the potential of your new solar panels. Remember that it’s not just about bolting your new panels to the top of your camper: You will also need to properly wire the panels to the convert and on to the batteries. In most cases, it makes sense to seek outside help for installing a solar energy system on a camper or RV.
Are you ready for life on the open road? Generators and campsites with electrical outlets may be enough for weekend warriors, but when you’re serious about going off the grid solar is the only way to go. Solar panels translate to total energy freedom and exponentially increase the possibilities for where you can travel. If you have questions about solar for your home or camper, contact Semper Solaris today for more information. We can customize a solar plan for your needs, and you’ll be supporting a veteran-owned business that puts customers first!
You’ve decided to join the renewable energy revolution and invest in solar panels for your home. Great decision! Not only will you be doing a serious favor for the environment by lowering your carbon footprint, but you’ll also dramatically lower your monthly energy bills… that is when your solar panel system goes online. When exactly will that be? The time it takes to install your solar panels can vary anywhere from one month to up to three months depending on a number of factors. Three months probably feels like a long time, especially while your air conditioner hums in the background, gobbling up expensive energy. Let’s look at each major step in the solar panel installation process and how it contributes to the speed of the project.
Getting to the Solar Contract
This article will mostly focus on the time it takes to install solar panels for your home after you sign a contract with an installer. However, if you are just beginning your solar installation journey, then you have a couple of extra steps to complete first, and each step will add time to the process.
Finding a Solar Installer
You may dream of solar panels for months or years, but your first concrete step to making that dream a reality will be choosing a solar installer. You may be chomping at the bit to get solar panels on your roof, but don’t rush this step. Choosing your solar installation company is the most important decision you’ll make in this entire process. If you choose an inexperienced company or a “guy with a truck” who swears he can install your panels at a cut-rate discount, you could come to regret that choice.
We recommend seeking referrals from your friends, family members, and neighbors as well as reading reviews on well-regarded review sites, such as Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau.
It’s always a good idea to get more than one solar installation quote. This allows you to compare pricing and see how you feel about working with different companies. Resist choosing the cheapest quote. Many times, paying a little more for quality and experience in the short term will save you a lot in the long run.
More Resources: How to Find Unbiased Reviews for Solar Power Providers in San Diego
The General Site Visit
When you begin to narrow down your solar installer choices, you’ll want to request a general site visit. A representative from the company will come out to your house to assess your home’s energy needs and evaluate your property. During the site visit, the installation expert will look at things like:
Your roof type
The general condition of your roof
Any shading concerns with your roof
Any other factors that could affect your future solar power system
With this information, the installation expert will be able to make a recommendation on the ideal solar panel system size for your home. They can also explain financing options and equipment brand choices to you.
After the site visit, the solar company will provide you with a project quote for the solar panel installation.
Typically, a solar company can schedule a home visit within one or two weeks of your call depending on their schedule.
With a few solar installation quotes to compare, you should be able to make your decision. Your chosen solar installer will draft a scope of work that will confirm the size of your solar power system, the brands of your panels and converter, and your payment option (such as a cash payment, a loan, a lease, or a power purchase agreement). Once you sign a contract with your installer, and the installation will formally begin. Start your clock!
Step One – The Engineering Site Visit (One to two weeks)
Before your solar panels can even be ordered, the solar installation company needs to make sure your roof and electrical system are up to the task of going solar. They will dispatch an engineer who will perform an assessment of your home.
The engineering site visit is different from the general site visit that occurred at the beginning of this process. The engineering visit will get into the nitty-gritty of making sure your roof is strong enough to hold the solar panels and that your electrical system can handle the amps that the solar system will produce. In other words, if there are any major problems with your home, this is when you’ll find out.
For example, if you have an older home, your electrical system may not be able to handle the amount of energy you want your system to produce. This may require you to upgrade your electrical panel. Another common problem is that you may have an older roof that is nearing the end of its life.
It doesn’t make financial sense (or cents) to install solar panels on your roof if you’ll have to uninstall them in a few years when you replace your roof. The solution is to replace your aging roof before installing the solar panels. (Yes, this will be expensive, but we offer a big discount if you use us for a roof replacement and solar installation.)
This stage can be a nail-biter, but it’s definitely better to know problems in the beginning than to discover them after your panels are in place and you’re ready to flip the switch!
Depending on your installer’s schedule, it may take one or two weeks to schedule the engineering site visit.
Additional Resources: How Long Does Re-Roofing a House Take?
Step Two: Pulling Permits (One week to several months)
Any time you plan to make a major change to your home, your local town, city, municipality, or homeowner’s association wants to have a say. This may feel like a colossal waste of time, but building permits ensure that your contractor performs work that meets local building codes and protects your safety.
Permitting requirements vary depending on where you live. Some cities require very strict permits, while others don’t. If you live under the careful eye of a homeowner’s association, they’ll almost certainly want to approve your project before it gets started.
Fortunately, you don’t need to personally do all this paperwork yourself. Your installer will handle all the forms and just ask you to sign them.
The length of this step will depend on how accommodating or slow your local civil servants are. In some areas, permits are approved in a matter of days. In others, it can take weeks or months to get that glorious stamp of approval. If there is an error on your forms, or your solar installation company’s plans don’t meet local building codes, your permits will be denied, and you’ll need to start all over again!
Step Three: Raking in the Solar Incentives (Typically performed while pulling permits)
Investing in solar panels for your home isn’t cheap, which is why it’s so helpful when the government offers to shoulder a portion of the bill. Even now, a variety of renewable energy incentives are still available to homeowners who pay for solar. The biggest one is the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) which lets you deduct 26% of the cost of your solar installation from your tax bill.
Many state and local governments also offer their own incentive plans, including the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Your solar installer should be able to identify all the renewable energy incentives you qualify for and help you apply for them. Typically, this process occurs in tandem with pulling permits, so it shouldn’t add a lot of additional time to your installation.
What to Know About LADWP’s Solar Incentive Program
Step Four: Ordering Your Solar Equipment (One day to several weeks)
As soon as your permits are approved, your solar installer will have a green light to order your solar panels and the other necessary installation equipment, including the inverter and the racks that attach the panels to your roof. Your installation company may already have this equipment in stock, but if not, your project manager will need to work with the company’s shipping and warehouse department to put in the order with the equipment manufacturer.
If your solar panels and other equipment are coming from overseas (such as China), you could be facing a wait of several weeks for the equipment to arrive. (at Semper Solaris, we strive to use equipment designed and manufactured in the United States).
More Resources: 5 Questions to Make Sure You’re Getting Top Rated Solar Panels
Step Five: Scheduling Your Solar Installation (One week to one month)
When the paperwork is approved and your equipment order has been sent, your solar installer can finally schedule the installation. If your equipment needs some time to arrive, this could push out your installation. The other major factor will be your installer’s schedule. During the busy months of the year, a solar installer may be booked for several weeks or even a month out in the future. It can be frustrating to wait for their schedule to clear, but at least this indicates that your chosen installer has a great reputation and a thriving business.
If you want to speed up the installation process, one option is to start during the offseason. Winter time is typically slower for most solar installation companies and can help get your solar installation on the calendar more quickly.
Step Six: The Installation (One to three days)
The day of your solar installation has finally arrived. On this day, the trucks will trundle up to your home, carrying well-trained installers and your equipment. After so much waiting, you may be surprised at how quickly this major step is accomplished. If you own a smaller home and/or ordered a smaller solar power system for your home, the installation may be completed in a single day. For larger systems and larger roofs, it may take two or three days to complete.
What does a solar installation for your home actually entail? Here’s what will happen:
The solar installers will start by prepping your roof so that they can safely and securely attach the racking.
Next, they’ll install the electrical wiring that will connect the panels to your home’s electric panel.
After the wiring is in place, the workers will install the racking on your roof to hold your solar panels in place.
With the panels in place, the installers can attach the solar panels to them.
Next, the workers will install the inverter, which will convert the direct current energy (DC) that your solar panels produce into alternating current energy (AC) that your appliances and the power grid needs.
Finally, the workers will either install a power meter if you are going to plug into the utility grid and take advantage of net metering, or they will install your solar battery
It sounds like a lot of work, but experienced and motivated workers can get it all done faster than you might imagine.
More Resources: How to Prepare for Your Solar Installation
Step Seven: Final Approval (several days to several weeks)
The home stretch! The solar panels are sitting pretty on your roof, but before your installer can flip the magic switch, there’s one more step that needs to be completed. If you plan on using the net metering system here in California, you’ll need to get final approval by an inspector from your local government and/or your public electrical company.
The purpose of the inspections isn’t to grind down your last nerve; it’s to ensure that your installer built your system up to code as outlined in the permits they submitted. As long as your installer knew what they were doing, your system will be approved, and your installer can finally, FINALLY, turn on the solar panels for your home.
The time this process takes will depend again on the efficiency of your local government and whether your system requires one or two separate assessments. If you are not plugging into the net metering system and are instead storing your solar energy in a solar battery, you will not need a final review and approval from your public utility.
Solar Panels for Your Home Are Worth the Wait
It can feel like a long wait between signing your solar contract and finally flipping the switch to turn on your solar panels. However, even if you have a longer-than-average installation process, it still isn’t a long amount of time in the grand scheme of things. What are three months when you plan on spending the next ten years or possibly the rest of your life in your home? Also, solar panels last for decades, so it won’t hurt them to wait a few weeks on your roof before they start working. It’s also worth the wait to make sure you pull the right permits and receive the approvals you need to legally and safely operate your system!
The solar installation company you choose can affect the speed of your installation. An experienced local solar installer will know which permits to pull, which incentives you qualify for, and how to request the final approvals once the system is in place. They’ll also be less likely to make mistakes during the permitting process or during the installation, which can slow down the work and cost you money!
At Semper Solaris, we want to be your local solar installation company. We’ve opened offices throughout California so that we can offer local expertise throughout the state. Please take a look at our excellent reviews on SolarReviews.com, Angie’s List, The Better Business Bureau, and Yelp and then contact us for a free home energy audit.
More and more orange County homeowners are deciding to go solar. The market for the installation of residential photovoltaic (PV) panels in the US marked another record at the end of the second quarter this year. This data indicates that the PV industry market is shifting to a homeowner’s focus.
GTM Research, together with Solar Energy Industry Association trade group, has produced a report that states this year’s second quarter surpassed the first quarter, which had already set the record in the number of home-installed panels. In the past years, the majority of solar panels in the US were put up for utility electricity, which is then distributed through the grid.
The utility solar market is still far greater than the home one, with more than 700 megawatts in installed panels. At the same time, less than 500 megawatts were installed on home rooftops and in yards. To put this in perspective, all the solar panels taken together are producing little more than a large coal or gas plant.
However, the number of home-installed PV modules is constantly rising across the states. The most recent quarter showed a 70-percent growth over the years, and the number of states with active residential solar markets jumped from four in 2013 to ten.
The marked development of the home solar market is especially interesting because of the shift in control. When homeowners install solar panels on their roofs and in their yards, they take charge of the energy they use. They produce their own electricity and contribute to the decentralization of the energy generation. The utility companies provide the base structure for the grid, but they don’t own the generation.
This isn’t to say that utility solar market isn’t growing, because it is. However, there are fears that an unchecked boom could lead to a crash for the biggest of farms.
A significant subsidy which has helped numerous households achieve substantial energy independence amounts to 26 percent in federal tax credit for those who own a solar panel system. Unfortunately, this enticing incentive is set to expire.
Consequently to all this, power companies have rushed to build huge utility solar farms this year, which has over-inflated the market, whereas it’s possible it’ll become under-inflated in the future. Research company IHS published a report earlier that as of this summer the US plans to generate 32 gigawatts of solar power by the end of next year.
On the whole, this year’s combined growth of home- and utility-scale solar markets in the US has been extraordinary. The US solar farms and households are generating 20 gigawatts of solar energy and since the beginning of the year, all the new sources of electricity production stemmed from solar panels.
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Solar power is one of the cleanest energy sources, harnessing the power of the sun to provide electricity to a residential or commercial building. Instead of relying on oil or coal, property owners in California and across the nation are turning to solar panels for energy, reducing the need to continue to rely on non-renewable energy sources.
The future belongs to clean energy sources, such as wind, hydroelectric and solar power. Countries across the globe have joined together in a race to heal the planet, meeting to hammer out methods and agreements to reduce reliance on heavy polluters such as coal in favor of clean and renewable power sources. But it’s not just national governments climbing onto the solar bandwagon; in acknowledgement of the need to transition to renewable, environmentally-friendly and health-compatible sources of power, six electric utility companies in New York state and three of the country’s biggest names in solar development — SolarCity, Inc., and SunEdison, Inc.. – have formed a partnership to promote increased use of solar energy across the state, along with funding to maintain a reliable energy grid.
Solar Panels for Home Energy Needs
The use of solar power to fuel home energy needs is also being encouraged by many states through solar net metering programs. These programs allow homeowners to sell excess energy generated by their home solar systems back to their local utility’s power grid, thus benefiting not only the individual homeowner but also the entire neighborhood. Clean energy, cost-effectiveness, reduced reliance on other areas of the globe for fuel… it’s a win-win for everyone.
Transitioning to Solar Power
But as with any major transition, the changeover from yesterday’s nonrenewable and planet-destroying fuels to today’s and tomorrow’s use of clean technology requires collaboration between multiple players and on many levels: from worldwide agreements between national governments, to individual countries’ efforts to promote solar and other clean energy sources within their borders, to local state and city ordinances encouraging the installation of solar panels, to innovative thinking at the utility companies maintaining power grids across the nation, to experienced solar installers able to address homeowners’ concerns, to the individual homeowners looking to power their home while reducing stress on the planet. Together, we can make it happen: the changeover to a cleaner, healthier, brighter world.
With so many benefits, it’s easy to see why solar is on the rise. Learn more about California solar panel options and start taking advantage of these benefits at your home.
Receive a free consultation today and see how much you can save on solar panels for your home.
Solar panels aren’t just showing up on homes and businesses. PV panels are also providing energy to some of the largest buildings in major cities -- sports stadiums. If that doesn’t serve as a testament to the potential of solar, nothing will! Between the field lights and the popcorn machines, stadiums and arenas need a lot of power. Solar panel installation is proving to be the most forward-thinking solution and its popularity is thriving across the sports community.
How serious is the sports industry about going solar? There are dozens of U.S. stadiums that collectively have thousands of panels installed. In fact, the first three major sports championships of 2018 were won by teams that play in a solar-powered facility. Sports and solar are proving they go together like LeBron James and all-star status. Some venues are entirely powered using green energy, and other arenas supplement traditional electricity with a solar power system. No matter how you cut it, the solar trend is hitting the big leagues and it’s not slowing down any time soon. Let’s take a look at how solar is taking over in sports and what that means for the future of the solar energy.
NFL Teams Are Taking Charge in Solar
Super Bowl L was hosted in solar-operated Levi’s Stadium in the Bay Area, an indication of how much trust the league has in solar energy. But the home to the San Francisco 49ers isn’t the only football facility to be powered by solar. In fact, the NFL leads American sports leagues in percentage of stadiums that have gone solar. An impressive 32% of the league’s stadiums are operating on solar power as of 2018. At some stadiums, the amount of solar power created in a single day would be enough to power two homes for an entire year.
In addition to the Levi’s Stadium, FedEx Field in Washington, D.C.; Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts; Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia; and CenturyLink Field in Seattle lead the field in using solar power.
MetLife Stadium, which is home to the New York Giants and Jets, is also turning green. In fact, Energy Digital named MetLife Stadium one of the 10 most energy-efficient stadiums. The new stadium, opened in 2010, uses 30% less energy than its predecessor, Giants Stadium despite being twice as big.
NFL teams often combine their solar efforts with recycling and other green initiatives to reduce their negative impact on the local environment even more. Teams like the Philadelphia Eagles also encourage fans to embrace sustainability with “Go Green” programs that promote responsible habits such as reducing water use and buying recycled products inside and outside the stadium.
Baseball and Basketball Venues are Gaining Steam
Not to be outdone by their football counterparts, baseball and basketball stadiums are turning to solar panels to keep their lights on with less impact on the environment and overall costs. Most NBA stadiums operating on solar power are in the west, with three California stadiums using solar panels as a part of their energy plans. The Phoenix Suns also play in a solar-operated facility. Solar is beginning to move east in the NBA, with the Washington Wizards and Miami Heat also boasting green energy at their arenas.
The MLB is also putting some skin in the solar game. From Cleveland to San Diego, facilities that host baseball are beginning to install PV panels. At AT&T Park in San Francisco, the energy generated from solar power is enough to sustain the team’s electronic scoreboard for an entire year. The largest solar system in the MLB is at Petco Park in San Diego, where the team recently invested in more than 300,000 watts of solar power across 716 modules.
Sports and Solar Panel Installation in Numbers
Until a few years ago, the title of Biggest Solar-Powered Venue went to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which has a solar capacity of 9,600 kW. For reference, a home with a monthly electric bill of $100 needs a 5.5 kW system, so the home of the Indy 500 has enough power to operate a neighborhood.
Today, the sports facility with the most solar power is the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, which has a mind-boggling 11,000 kW system. The Sacramento arena has a partnership with a local solar farm in addition to its own panels, so it reaps the benefits of solar without relying solely on an on-site system.
The stats about sports venues and solar are vast and impressive. Here are a few quick figures that reveal the inspiring potential of solar, and how much it’s already being leveraged by major sports facilities in the U.S.
Capital One Arena, formerly called the Verizon Center, began operating on 25% solar power in 2017. The giant stadium near Washington D.C. is home to the Washington Wizards of the NBA and Washington Capitals of the NHL.
The Golden 1 Center has LEED Platinum status for energy efficiency and is the first indoor arena in the country to earn the label. The stadium powers all of its daytime activities using its on-site solar panels and leverages the solar from its partner solar farm to offset evening electricity usage.
CenturyLink Field in Seattle cut its annual utility costs by 21% by adding solar power to its lineup. The stadium has 1,350 on-site solar panels.
FedEx Field, home to the Washington Redskins, is able to power 100% of its electricity using solar on non-game days. On game days, 20% of the stadium’s energy comes from its PV panels.
Busch Stadium, which hosts the St. Louis Cardinals, has had a program called “4 a Greener Game” since 2008. The stadium also has 106 solar panels, which it uses to power its retail and concession spaces.
The Seattle Mariners generate 40,000 kWh of solar power every year, which allows the stadium, Safeco Field, to offset 28 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually.
As of June 2018, United States sports teams had collectively installed 46 MW worth of solar power across 37 different facilities.
What Sports Arenas in Solar Mean for the Solar Industry
So, what does all this mean for the solar industry? Solar energy is trending in residential and business energy, and the advent of PV panels to sports arenas only increases their popularity. A reduction in energy used by stadiums and arenas place less of a burden on local grids, which could make a significant a regional impact. Solar at sports facilities also opens the door for solar to be used at other large facilities.
Madison College in Wisconsin recently installed 5,000 solar panels across the school in the hopes of saving the college up to $250,000 per year. Where else can solar panels chip in to offset expensive and burdensome energy usage? If solar panels can power an entire stadium they could offset energy use and CO2 emissions in hospitals, government buildings, and other large institutions. The potential of solar in stadiums also helps sustain the industry and justify new manufacturing and solar farms, off of which grows the solar industry at large.
Sports teams are scoring big with solar energy all across the country. In fact, solar is helping stadiums become more energy independent across the world. Beyond the United States, soccer stadiums in other countries are also turning to PV panels to help power their facilities. The use of solar in sports helps communities reduce the burden on their power grid, keeps costs lower for maintaining venues that are important to the region, and is ultimately good for the environment. Combined with the introduction of legislation in places like California that will require all new build homes to have solar in the future, the popularity of solar in sports can make a real difference to the next generation of green power.
Are you interested in lighting your backyard ice hockey rink or tee-ball field with solar power? If a major stadium can offset their electricity costs with the help of solar energy, you can too. At Semper Solaris, we’re here to help you become more energy independent without spending a small fortune. Contact the Semper Solaris team today to talk to our experts about how solar can change the way you do electricity and to get a no-pressure estimate for your new solar system.
Just because San Diego is blessed with so many days of sunlight doesn’t mean your roof will last forever. Despite what you may have seen on TV, a hurricane or snowstorm isn’t the only thing that can do damage to the top of your house. It’s true that our San Diego homes don’t have to withstand the weight of ice in the winter or the threat of tornadoes -- but the sun and Santa Ana winds still wear down your roof over time. Repairing your roof piecemeal works for a while, but eventually it will be time for a replacement.
How do you know if you’ve found the right roofer in America’s Finest City? There are a few ways to narrow down the field and make sure you’re working with the best. Here are seven things to look for in a roofing contractor in San Diego.
Knowledge of Energy Efficient Roofing Practices
Heat rises, so it’s no shocker that 25% of heat in your home is lost through the roof. Come colder months, that translates to increased utility bills and draftier rooms. A good San Diego roofing contractor will consider the implications for energy efficiency when they’re planning your roof replacement. The contractor you trust should not only work to stop heat from escaping, but also talk to you about harnessing the San Diego sun and turning it into cheaper energy via solar power. Your contractor should be able to answer questions about:
How solar panels could make you more energy independent.
Ways you can improve your property to make your roof a better host for solar panels for your home, such as tree trimming
How best to ventilate your roof to allow excess heat to escape in the summer while avoiding moisture build-up in the winter
The right insulation for your roof
Inland homes may have different ventilation needs than beach properties, so talk to your contractor specifically about how they’ve made homes in your area more energy efficient. Solar power in San Diego is a great option for most properties in the city, and most new homes built beginning in 2020 must have solar.
Success with Heat-Friendly Roofs
If you’re living in East County or near a canyon that traps summer heat, your roof can either deflect the oppressive temperature or absorb it. If you’re like most San Diegans, you’d rather your roof panels send UV where it belongs -- away from your house. A good San Diego roofing contractor will know how to build you a heat-friendly roof. This process is sometimes called making a “cool roof.”
<p">There are a few ways your knowledgeable contractor can design a roof that keeps your home cooler in the summer. Before you hire someone, make sure they have successfully completed the project using clay and terracotta to naturally block desert heat. Your project should also use light-colored tiles that deflect heat rather than absorbing it.
Most SoCal contractors work exclusively in these materials, but it’s still good to ask. Any contractor who isn’t focused on offering temperature control your home via light cooling materials may not be a good fit for a San Diego home.
The Right Roofing Credentials
Not all contractors are created equal, and they’re not all licensed the same way, either. You might think that credentials are the contractor’s problem, but the absence of proper licensing could bite you as well if something goes wrong. When you’re looking for a roofing contractor in San Diego, don’t be timid about asking exactly which licenses and protections they have a for their business. Your neighborhood handyman may swear he’s good with roofs, but he is unlikely to be covered by:
General liability insurance: This insurance covers any expenses that result from an accident or unexpected damage. A roofer drops something, it falls through the skylight, and damages your bathtub? General liability coverage will handle it so you’re not stuck with the bill.
Workers’ compensation: You don’t want to be responsible for the medical bills of a roofer who hammered his thumb, do you? No one does! If your contractor has workers’ comp insurance you’re not responsible. If you hire a random Jack-of-All-Trades and he gets injured… you could be in serious legal trouble and find yourself responsible for his medical bills.
Warranties: A good roofing contractor will only use materials that are covered by a manufacturer warranty, and they will offer a warranty on their own work as well. Protections against product malfunctions and installation mistakes are important. Quality contractors stand behind their work and their materials.
Thorough Bid Details
We all want to save money, but the lowest bid you receive may not be the best. There are tons of roofers in San Diego County, many of whom are willing to offer a low-ball bid to win your business. Unfortunately, they may add on unexpected costs later or offer sub-par work so they still turn a profit.
Does your potential contractor offer a detailed, itemized bid? Is there a built-in buffer for unexpected delays or other problems? Do you have a promise for the use of certain materials in writing? Is every step carefully scoped and accounted for on the bid? A thorough bid protects all parties from surprises and arguments.
In San Diego, a detailed bid should also include price options for slate versus terracotta (or other heat-deflecting materials). Any time a contractor is being mysterious about how they will bill for an item you should ask more questions before agreeing.
A Strong Local Presence
Just because you’ve seen the same flyer 100 times at your local Better Buzz doesn’t mean that’s the contractor you should choose. Though, a roofing contractor with a history in San Diego is a good sign. San Diego roofing contractors understand that a Santee homeowner is going to have unique heat concerns and that an Alpine homeowner may have specific questions about how smoke from regional fires could affect their roof tiles.
A good local roof contractor will also know that beach dwellers should avoid metal on their roofs because salt water and aluminum don’t mix. How long has your potential roofer been working in San Diego? City knowledge can translate to a much better experience for you as a homeowner and a superior end product.
Plans for Unexpected Roof Installations
You’ve already evaluated your contractor’s detailed bid, which should include a small budget for unexpected repairs. But what is the contractor’s specific game plan for dealing with those annoying and (seemingly) unavoidable ad hoc repairs that arise along the way? Your roofer doesn’t know exactly what they’re going to find when they pull up your old tiles. Do they already have supplies on hand to cope with rotted wood or other repairs? If they order materials as they’re needed, the project deadline will likely need to be pushed.
Ask your potential contractor how they plan to remain within scope in the face of surprise repairs. Can they bring in extra help and what would that cost? In San Diego, the difference between completing your project in December and working on it in January is more than an inch of rainfall.
Examples of Past Work as a Roofing Contractor in San Diego
Sometimes the most convincing evidence is photos of the work your contractor has already completed in your neighborhood. If you know someone who has used this contractor, drive by their house and (without asking to climb onto a stranger’s roof) check it out. Your contractor should also be able to provide photos of roofs they’ve completed on homes similar to yours. A roofer may be great at working on small one-story ranch-style homes but are they ready to handle your multi-level townhome with three roof surfaces? Get proof before you proceed! Quality contractors are proud to show off their success and they understand your apprehensions.
Are you ready to upgrade your roof in San Diego? Semper Solaris handles complete roof replacements, but we can make your roof solar ready. Go from dependent on the grid and dealing with rain leaks to generating solar power under a new terracotta roof!
Contact Semper Solaris today to learn more about our roof replacements in San Diego.
Los Angeles residents are all too familiar with the looming threat of wildfires. As of this writing, 16 large fires burned through the state of California, scorching 410,000 acres and displacing over 40,000 California residents. That includes the Valley Fire, burning just outside of Los Angeles in the San Bernardino National Forest.
Unfortunately, this may be the new normal for our state, as climate change makes wildfires a year-round threat. What does this “new normal” mean for your solar installation in Los Angeles? Can your solar panels survive a fire, and if not, who will pay for the damage?
A Year-Round Fire Season
It wasn’t so long ago when Angelenos could breathe easy for most of the year. Wildfires threatened only in the late fall as vegetation dried out and offered easily kindling. Large fires were thankfully few and far between. We don’t live in that world anymore. Continuing and extended droughts mean that wildfires can sprout up any day and quickly burn through dried vegetation. It also means that Angelenos need to be prepared for bigger, more destructive wildfires.
Nothing hit this point home like the devastating Thomas Fire that started at the beginning of December in 2017 and tore through the city of Ventura. By the time it was finally 100 percent contained in mid-January, the Thomas Fire had destroyed over 1,000 structures, including many homes. No Los Angeles resident will soon forget the hazy sky, the tinge of smoke in the air, and the vivid images of homes in flames over that un-merry holiday season.
Even as wildfires get stronger and more frequent, solar installations in Los Angeles have proliferated. The City of Angels is at the forefront of solar adoption, meaning that solar panels and wildfires are likely to meet more frequently in the future. If you are considering a solar installation in Los Angeles, here’s what you need to know about how fire may affect your panels.
Can Solar Panels Survive a Fire?
Solar panels are built to endure the elements, and they can survive some pretty brutal weather, including snow (a rarity in Los Angeles), heavy winds, and even hail storms (up to a point). The truth is that data about how solar panels perform in a fire just isn’t available. However, it’s safe to say that they certainly aren’t fireproof! If you lose your home to fire and you have solar panels on your roof, it is highly likely that you will lose your solar panels as well.
What’s more important is to ensure that solar panels do not cause or exacerbate fires. Manufacturers are continually improving their panels, which includes making sure that their solar panels meet building and fire codes and do not contribute to wildfires.
How Hot Can a Solar Panel Get?
Is it possible for solar panels to survive even if flames are nearby? This is a tricky question to answer. A lot of work has been done to test how much heat a solar panel can handle, but this typically refers to normal environmental heat, not the heat of flames.
Solar panels are designed to withstand a lot of heat. After all, many of the largest commercial solar arrays are in some of the hottest, driest parts of the country. Even residential solar installations in Los Angeles can endure high temperatures since roofs tend to be hotter than the ambient temperature on hot days.
We do know that solar panel performance begins to drop when temperatures climb above 77 degrees Fahrenheit and that they can continue generating energy even up to temperatures as high as 149 degrees Fahrenheit. Does this still hold true when flames are licking the edge of a roof? We don’t know, but if flames are close enough to affect the temperature of a solar panel, focus on evacuating your family (including pets!) as quickly and safely as possible. You can worry about your Los Angeles solar installation later.
Solar panels can be replaced. Lives can’t.
Who Pays When Solar Panels Are Damaged by Fire?
What if the nightmare comes true and a wildfire destroys your home, including your solar panel installation? Your first focus should always be on ensuring your safety and your family’s safety, but when all the flames are out and the ash has settled, will your solar panels be covered by insurance, or will you have to replace them out of pocket?
While it is hard to find the positives in such a bleak scenario, one silver lining is that most home insurance policies do cover rooftop solar installations. When you install solar panels on your roof, most insurance policies consider it a part of your home. Therefore, your system should be covered without any premium hikes.
You’ll definitely want to double check and make sure that your policy covers your solar panels. If not, you may need to request a specific rider to cover them, which will increase your premium. It’s also important to recognize that your homeowner’s policy is less likely to cover solar panels on a carport or a ground solar installation.
Don’t forget that in the event that your solar panels are damaged or destroyed in a fire, you’ll still need to pay your insurance premium before you can receive payment and that it may take weeks or even months for your claim to be processed and approved.
Solar Pro Tip: As you begin the process of purchasing solar panels, double check your homeowner’s insurance to make sure it will cover your Los Angeles solar installation. Next, review your coverage limits. Even a modest solar system can cost over ten thousand dollars. If your solar system pushes the value of your home above your insurance coverage limit, consider adjusting your policy. Otherwise, you could be paying out of pocket to replace your panels if your entire home is destroyed in a wildfire.
Leased Solar Systems and Power Purchase Agreements
If you currently (or plan to) lease your solar installation or have entered into a power purchase agreement with your solar provider, then the solar provider owns the system. If the system is damaged or destroyed in a wildfire, they – not you – are responsible for repairing or replacing the system. We suggest contacting your solar installer as soon as possible after a fire to report damage. They will likely have to deal with a big jump in repair and replacement requests, and homeowners who are slow to make a claim will find themselves at the back of the line.
Solar Panels and Smoke
You don’t have to be directly in the path of a wildfire to be affected by it. When a big wildfire hits, even far off communities may have to deal with smoky air and ash.
Smoke in the air isn’t good for your lungs, and it can even hurt the performance of your solar panels. When fire burns vegetation and other things, it releases soot and aerosol particles, like carbon, into the air. These particles actually absorb sunlight, which means less light hitting your solar panels and generating energy.
The biggest wildfires can take days or weeks to wrestle under control. If you live in a neighboring community, you may notice that your solar panels are less efficient. The level of the drop off in efficiency will depend on how close you are to the fire, the direction of the smoke, and the direction of the wind. It may be interesting to check out your solar installation’s performance before and during a fire to see how its performance changes as a result of the smoke in the air.
Solar Panels and Ash
Fire creates ash, and high winds can blanket neighboring communities in a fine layer of the stuff during a wildfire. Chances are that if you go outside and find a layer of ash on your car, there’s also probably a layer of ash on your solar panels as well.
Anything that covers your solar panels will prevent sunlight from hitting the solar cells, which will lower the output of your Los Angeles solar installation. Even if your community wasn’t directly affected by a wildfire, it’s useful to check on your solar panels to make sure they aren’t caked in ash.
If you do notice ash on your solar panels, you can easily fix the problem. In many cases, it’s as simple as spraying down your panels with a hose. If you notice that the hose bath doesn’t entirely clear the ash from the panels you may need to use a spray bottle and soft sponge to get off that last layer of crust. Use an anti-water-spotting solution if you notice water spots on your panels.
Please, please, please be careful when climbing ladders and doing any type of work on your roof. If you don’t feel entirely comfortable cleaning your solar panels on your own, contact a service to assist you.
Solar Pro Tip: Make sure to use a soft mop or microfiber cloth to scrub your solar panels. Do not use hard brushes, or you could scratch and damage your solar cells!
The Future of Los Angeles Solar Installations in the Age of Fire
The increasing severity of wildfires across California is a direct result of the ongoing drought conditions our state faces. Climate change is here, and wildfires are just one of the negative effects it brings to Los Angeles. One of the primary drivers of climate change is the burning of fossil fuels to create the energy that powers our city, our vehicles, and our homes.
If you want to help fight climate change, one way to do that is by investing in solar panels for your home. Solar panels produce energy using the clean, renewable energy of the sun instead of burning dirty fossil fuels. We Angelenos may need to accept that wildfires will be a persistent threat, but that doesn’t mean we have to also accept that climate change will continue to get worse. We can make a difference and lower our carbon footprint with every decision we make.
If you want to make the decision to switch to solar energy, contact Semper Solaris and schedule a free energy analysis for your Los Angeles home!