Semper Solaris Blog

If you’re thinking about adding solar power to your San Diego home, you have a lot of choices when it comes to hiring local solar panel installation companies. So, what makes Semper Solaris different from the rest? First and foremost, we’re committed to offering our customers unparalleled service and the highest quality solar panels on the market. However, what really gets to the heart of our company is our passion for the San Diego community, our support of local veterans, and our commitment to help San Diego County and California retain its role as a renewable energy and environmental leader in our country. Veterans Hiring Veterans San Diego is a military town, and it isn’t just because we are home to top military bases, including Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps Air Station at Miramar, and the naval bases in Coronado, Point Loma, and San Diego (homeport of the Pacific Fleet). Even after completing their service, many veterans make San Diego their long-term home. According to the U.S. Census, approximately 230,000 veterans live, play and raise their families in San Diego County. That’s the third-highest number of veterans by county in the entire country! Of course, you don’t need to rely on these numbers. You’ll see veterans everywhere: at the grocery store, jogging down the street, and moving in next door. These men and women have a special bearing, a sense of duty, and a fierce patriotism that never fades, even after they leave the service. At Semper Solaris, we love that so many veterans live in our city. We are a veteran-owned business and are committed to hiring veterans. Our co-founder Kelly Shawhan proudly served as a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, and knows that it can be challenging for veterans to transition into civilian life. That’s why we make a special effort hire veterans. We are proud of our workforce, which includes veterans from nearly every branch of the service. (Check out this video introducing some of the veterans on our team.) Military veterans are the backbone of San Diego, a city we love. That’s why we are especially proud to make our city a little cleaner and a little more energy-independent by offering solar power in San Diego. We’d like to think our efforts help San Diego pursue its renewable energy and environmental goals. San Diego Stays Classy and Clean California gets a lot of attention for its progressive (in fact, some might call it controversial) environmental initiatives, but we’re a big state, and each local city and county has a lot of control over their own environmental policies. San Diego may not make the headlines as often as our state, but our leaders are committed to lowering our environmental footprint and keeping our diverse county clean and beautiful for its residents. Solar energy in San Diego is a big part of these efforts. Here are just a few environmental initiatives, programs, and benefits that San Diego residents should know about. The Climate Action Plan (CAP) Perhaps the most ambitious local initiative in San Diego is the city’s Climate Action Plan (CAP), which calls for cutting all greenhouse gas emissions in the city in half by 2035. There’s one more little thing that makes the plan stand out: the city also wants to generate all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035. This is a big goal, but as more and more businesses and homes adopt solar power in San Diego, it seems possible that we can achieve it. The CAP program is made of up of many different initiatives to try to achieve this goal, including: Expanding its Green Business Program Supporting residential and commercial environmental upgrades Assisting low-income households with weatherization and energy-efficient upgrades Retrofitting 13,000 to 15,000 streetlights with adaptive “smart” lights Public Transportation The city of San Diego isn’t the only one getting into the lower-carbon-footprint game. Throughout San Diego County, you can see efforts to encourage people to drive less. You can’t miss the iconic blue and green Sprinter Trains getting students to college and residents to work. You’ll also notice Breeze buses picking up and dropping off residents all across the county. As you get closer to the city, you’ll pass city dwellers cruising by on Discover, Lime and Byrd rideshare bikes and hear the Trolley arriving into town. Want to see where these options can take you? Here’s a convenient list of San Diego’s primary public transportation options. HOV and Bike Lanes Even if you have to jump into a car to get to your destination, San Diego County rewards you for carpooling when you can. Most of our major highways include High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes that let you zip past traffic if you’re carrying passengers. Have an electric vehicle? You may be able to get a special pass to use the HOV lanes to your heart’s content. When you can, San Diego makes it safe and easy to switch from four wheels to two. You’ll find dedicated bike lanes throughout the city and the county on most major roadways. No wonder our city is considered a cycling destination! Solar Energy in San Diego Solar power in San Diego will play a big role in meeting CAP’s goal of producing 100% of electricity through renewable resources by 2035. Though this goal may seem “pie-in-the-sky,” it may be closer to reality than you think. A report by the Solar Energy Industries Association found that in 2016, solar “added more generating capacity than any other source of energy for the first time ever.” To us, that sounds like we’re moving in the right direction! In many ways, San Diego is following California’s lead in pushing for big changes to lower our state’s carbon footprint and combat climate change. California Leads the Way California gets a lot of attention for its environmental policies, which are often some of the most progressive and ambitious in the nation. The state is also credited with leading the way for other states to adopt similar policies. But this wasn’t always the case. In the 1940s, California was famous for something else – the thick blankets of smog that choked its cities. In response, California got to work. It became the only state to receive a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set its own emission standards. Our state hasn’t looked back since. Here’s a short timeline of our biggest environmental achievements: 2002 – California becomes the first state to approve new standards for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from cars, including the requirement for most cars to use catalytic converters. 2006 – California passes AB 32, The California Global Warming Solutions Act, which is hailed as a watershed moment in the state’s history. The bill requires the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. 2013 – California institutes a cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon levels. After early stumbles and legal challenges, the program auctioned off 64 million carbon credits in 2017 in partnership with Quebec, which raised billions of dollars for energy programs and the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. 2015 – Governor Jerry Brown signs SB 350 into law, which requires that California receive half its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. 2017 – In response to the United States pulling out of the Paris climate accord, California, signs onto the United States Climate Alliance, along with over a dozen other states. The Alliance  commits to reducing carbon dioxide to fulfill the U.S.’s original pledge. At Semper Solaris, we are proud to put veterans to work and to stand with San Diego to support policies that will ensure a cleaner city and a cleaner state. Interested in lowering your electricity bill and helping San Diego meet its Climate Action Plan goals? If you are ready to join the movement, learn how to get solar energy in San Diego by scheduling a free energy audit with Semper Solaris.

You may not give a lot of thought to how your electrical bill is calculated, but if you have or plan to install solar panels, it’s important to understand how your electrical company measures your energy use. For Southern California Edison customers, this calculation is about to change. The current system of net metering is the more beneficial option for families with solar panels. If you want access to net metering, you should install your solar panels now so that you can lock in lower electrical rates. Read more to learn about how net metering works. What is net metering? Net metering is straightforward: the electric company measures how much energy you use from the grid, and how much energy your solar panels export to the grid. You get charged for whatever energy you use that isn’t covered by your solar panels. Let’s say that your solar panels produced more energy than you used. In that case, the electric company would actually pay you for that extra energy! However, under the new plan, you could get paid less for the extra energy that you produce! The old program for homeowners with solar panels was called NEM (Net Energy Metering). Southern California Edison has now initiated NEM 2.0, with changing rates and charges. NEM 2.0 customers will now have to be on a TOU (Time of Use) schedule, and will be charged higher rates for energy usage during peak hours—and get paid lower rates for power produced not during peak hours. Electric rates are only going up. Southern California Edison initiated a high usage charge starting January 1st. Homeowners who use much more than the average will be paying 31 cents per kilowatt hour—almost twice the amount as the lowest tier. This charge could make your bill go up significantly, and it’s not going away. If you want to avoid this high usage rate, or if you just want to stop paying ever-increasing amounts for electricity, now is the time to go solar! If you’re going solar, there’s no better option than Semper Solaris. Semper Solaris is locally and veteran-owned, and was co-founded by John Almond—San Diego resident and in the business world for over twenty years—and Kelly Shawhan, former U.S. Marine Corps Captain. We pride ourselves on our strong military values such as keeping our word, taking responsibility for our actions, and communicating clearly and constantly. We love to hire our nation’s veterans, and we also show our support for veterans by offering special discounts for military, first responders, and their families. Our solar installation experts are known for being friendly, professional, and well-trained in their abilities—so much so that Semper Solaris has earned an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau for our outstanding customer service, not to mention our excellent ratings with customers through services like Yelp. Semper Solaris also uses the incomparable SunPower solar panels, which are designed in the United States. SunPower panels are especially durable because of a special copper backing and have won world records in efficiency. They also come with a powerful 25-year bumper-to-bumper warranty, unlike any other company’s warranty. Call Semper Solaris today to set up an appointment. One of our courteous professionals will be happy to come to your home and work with you to evaluate how solar panels might work for your home and to help you start saving money today.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the onslaught of alarming climate news. The polar ice caps are melting. Hurricanes and rising oceans are swallowing islands. Wildfires in California are getting bigger and badder. Oh, and what the heck is happening to all the bees? It’s enough to make you grab a tub of ice cream and hide under the bed. Before you give up all hope, remember the power of human ingenuity. Small actions from a lot of people can add up. Earth Day is almost here, and with it comes a reminder that you can fight the effects of climate change by making smarter environmental decisions in your life. That might mean something as big as investing in California solar systems, or something as small as using fewer water bottles this year. Every action matters. In honor of Earth Day on Sunday, April 22nd, here are five things you can do to lower your carbon footprint and fight for our beautiful planet and home. Install California Solar Systems Of course we would start with this one! Here at Semper Solaris, we help homeowners lower their carbon footprint every day by installing solar power systems on their homes and businesses. San Diego is one of the best cities in the country to go solar, thanks to our abundant sunshine and progressive utility companies that offer net metering. The average family used 10,766 kilowatt-hours (kWh) in 2016. According to the Carbon Fund, one kWh equals roughly 1.22 pounds of CO2. Families that invest in California solar systems that cover their entire energy usage could save over 13,000 pounds of CO2 from hitting the atmosphere each year. That’s a big deal! Buy an Electric Vehicle Unless you live in downtown San Diego or a beach community like Pacific Beach or Solana Beach, chances are that you need a car to get around. Each commute to work, grocery store run, or doctor’s appointment emits CO2. In fact, the typical passenger car spews out 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year! If you have a long commute and/or drive a vehicle with poor gas mileage, your carbon bill will be even higher.   Don’t want to feel guilty for that midnight In-N-Out Burger run? Ease your conscience with your next car purchase and consider an electric car. These days, there are plenty of models on the market, from the sleek Tesla Model S to the mid-range Chevy Bolt and Ford Focus Electric. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV or the Smart Fortwo are perfect options for the driver on a budget. While electric cars tend to be more expensive than their gas-guzzling peers, you can nab federal tax credits for purchasing one of these cars. Additionally, with a little planning, your solar power system can cover the extra electricity your new set of wheels needs! Plan a Staycation You and your family deserve an awesome vacation each year, but flying is one of the most carbon-expensive actions you can take. A trip from San Francisco to New York will produce almost a metric of CO2 per passenger, which represents roughly 20% of all the greenhouse gases your car produces in a year. Does that mean vacation is canceled this year? No way! Instead, consider keeping your vacation a little closer to home. After all, you already live in one of the best vacation destinations in the world. In California, you can create almost any type of vacation you want. Walk down Hollywood Boulevard, take the kiddos to Disneyland, visit Alcatraz, lounge on a pristine beach, or shred it on the slopes. Here’s another staycation idea: while you’re doing your part to save the planet, why not remind yourself of what you’re protecting? California is home to 28 National Parks, including: Yosemite National Park Redwood National Park Joshua Tree National Park Death Valley National Park Sequoia National Park and a whole lot more! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Maybe you’re not ready to invest in solar panels in San Diego or pick out a new car just yet. Lowering your carbon footprint doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor or even that lifechanging. It can be as simple as reworking your current habits just a little here and there.   What are some of the things you can reduce in your life? How about plastic water bottles and paper towels? Think about whether you can save water and electricity by waiting until the washer or dishwasher is full before running a cycle. It’s difficult to determine the environmental impact of every single product, but the Carbon Fund estimates that every pound of manufactured product costs 4 – 8 pounds of CO2. Think about that the next time you stop into your local big box retailer. Before each purchase, ask yourself, “Will this make my life better?” If not, then maybe you don’t really need a 50th pair of shoes or another magazine. When it comes to recycling, it really doesn’t take a lot of effort to toss your paper, glass, aluminum and recyclable plastics into the recycling bin. If you really want to step up your game, see if any local farmers in your area are accepting organic waste for composting. There are other ways to recycle. Give old clothes and things you don’t use anymore to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Someone else can use it, which means they won’t have to buy something new! Carbon Offsets Living a more environmentally focused life doesn’t mean you have to give up every pleasure. Most human activity generates carbon in some form. It can be easy to start feeling guilty about every trip to the grocery store, every pack of new socks, or the flight you had to take for a business trip. Guilt and fear lead to resentment and feelings of depravation. That’s not what Earth Day is about, and it’s not a great way to live your life. Instead, give yourself permission to find a balance between eco-consciousness and fulfillment. One way to do this is to purchase carbon offsets to help balance out the ways you add carbon to the environment. You’d be surprised at how affordable offsets can be. A flight from San Francisco to New York will cost less than $11 in offsets through United’s offset program. Be careful when choosing a carbon offset company. Make sure your company is verified by an independent third party to ensure that it’s using your money in a way that really takes carbon out of the atmosphere (like planting trees) or prevents carbon pollution (like donating to a wind farm). Not sure which carbon offset company to choose? The Sierra Club recommends NativeEnergy. Carbon Reduction Lighting Round Thought we were done with the carbon reduction recommendations? Not so fast! A lot of the suggestions we’ve made require big changes to your life, but even small changes can have a big impact if you keep at them over the years and convince your friends and family to join you. Here are 10 quick, easy, and cheap ways to reduce your carbon footprint that you can easily turn into automatic habits: Unplug chargers and switch off power strips when they aren’t in use Lower your thermostat one degree in the winter and increase your thermostat by one degree in the summer Keep your tires inflated Make one day “meatless” per week Order chicken instead of steak Group errands together so you don’t take as many solo car trips Carpool to work Make a commitment to walk if your destination is less than a mile away Don’t speed Use a traffic app to avoid congested roads Celebrate Earth Day Earth Day is a chance to celebrate our potential. We’ve gotten ourselves into this climate change problem, and we can get ourselves out as well. This will require human ingenuity, passionate advocacy, and changes in how we live on a global and personal scale. At Semper Solaris, we are a veteran-owned solar installation company proud to be fighting this new battle. Solar panels help our customers save money and reduce their carbon footprint. If you live in San Diego, we hope you’ll celebrate Earth Day with us and consider scheduling a free energy analysis.

With the recent Pineapple Express storm pounding California with more rain and more extreme weather than usual, homeowners might be left wondering about the effect of weather on solar panels. Here’s what you need to know about how solar panels work and how weather may affect them. How Solar Panels Work without Sun The way solar panels work is because of a cell panel that converts sunlight directly into electricity. When photons (particles of sunlight) hit them on top of a roof, the panel turns the photons it receives into electrons of direct current electricity. The inverter then converts the direct current electricity into alternating current power, which can be used to power household items. A common misconception about solar panels is that they need direct sunlight in order to work. Although the sun is the main source of energy that they absorb and convert into power, the way that it is projected onto a solar panel cell doesn’t necessarily require direct sunlight. Solar panel cells actually just need the photons emitted from daylight sun. In other words, even if it’s cloudy out, the sun’s photons are still being spread into the atmosphere and absorbed into the panels. That being said, direct sunlight is still preferred over indirect sunlight for optimal energy absorption. On cloudy days, solar panels produce only 10 – 25% of their capacity. Factors that make this range an approximation include the density of the clouds, as well as the type of solar panel; some can handle diffused light better than others. Impact of Different Weather on Solar Panels Most solar panels are built to handle a wide range of climates and conditions, including heavy rain, hail, wind, heat and cold. This is good news for areas that are impacted by storms, rain and snow. During the manufacturing process, each solar panel is tested for extreme weather conditions to receive an Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) certification. While this certification is a good baseline, it doesn’t mean that all solar panels uphold the same durability and quality. It simply means they have passed the minimum number of tests required to be certified. More specifically, high winds, snow, and cold temperatures shouldn’t be a concern. Top-rated solar panels are engineered to withstand winds of up to 140 MPH. As for harsh winters — cold temperature can actually improve solar panel output, and white snow can reflect light and improve photovoltaic performance. So long as panels aren’t covered in snow, winter climates can actually be an ideal environment for solar panels. Snow will usually melt and slide off panels easily; if it does build up, simply use a broom to brush it off. Of course, solar panels aren’t entirely invincible. Lightning and hail can damage solar panels in extreme cases. Consumers should look into their homeowner’s insurance policy, which usually covers solar panel damage if it is not included in the solar panel’s warranty. Additionally, be aware that hot climates may actually reduce the efficiency of solar panels. For any temperature above 87 degrees Fahrenheit, a one-degree increase in temperature can equate to a 1% decrease in efficiency. Durability of Solar Panels Most inclement weather won’t have a huge impact so long as they are high quality and boast durability as one of their main attributes. Many top-rated solar panels have a proven track record of durability, degrading at a slower rate than others. In fact, the manufacturer guarantees that the system will produce 92% of its rated power after 25 years of use. Durable solar panels also protect the roof of your home from harsh weather conditions, acting like a barrier. Panels are built to hold a certain weight, so the more durable your panels, the better they can withstand snow or hail. Proper Solar Installation to Withstand Any Weather Condition One key factor to ensuring weather doesn’t become a hindrance is making sure the panels are properly installed. Your money is on the line, so make sure the solar installation company that you go with is reputable among the solar industry. The installer should understand the types of local wind patterns and climate conditions your area typically receives, and help you pick the right solar panels to match these needs. Even if you live in California where the sunnier-than-average climate is ideal for solar , it’s normal to wonder how the weather might affect their efficiency. The science behind how panels absorb photons speaks to why they still work on cloudy days, and the durability of the panels allows them to withstand just about any weather scenario. At the same time, it’s important to choose the best quality solar panels and look for an installation company that can properly install panels so that they are secure and ready to face any weather condition. To find out more about what makes a top-rated solar panel worthy of installation, start by asking these 10 Questions About Solar Panels — that way you can ensure your panels will remain sturdy on your roof, whatever the weather may be.

As you near retirement, it’s important to think about reducing your energy costs to maximize your savings. Solar is a popular option for cutting those utility bills. If you’ve done your homework and decided solar is the right choice, it’s time to ask yourself, “Who are the best solar providers near me?” Unfortunately, California households face increased electricity prices compared to other homeowners despite the fact we use about 31 percent less energy on average. Consulting with solar providers near you is the first step toward reigning in those excessive costs and keeping more money in your wallet. Discover the advantages of going solar and the available solar providers in your area. Advantages of Going Solar As you consider setting yourself up for optimal quality of life during these retirement years, your financial stability is probably one of your largest concerns. One of the biggest advantages of investing in solar during retirement is that it stabilizes your electrical spending, helping you cut out a variable cost and one of your biggest household expenses. In fact, you could be putting more than $1,000 extra back in your account every year. This allows for more enjoyment in your “golden years”! What are some other key advantages of investing in solar now? Helps reduce greenhouse gases and protect the planet for years to come Current federal and state tax credits offer great savings Greatly improves the value of your home Solar investment returns are not taxable (excluding SRECs – Solar Renewable Energy Credits) Protecting your well-being is important, and switching to solar energy can play a major role. More than that, you can help contribute to a cleaner tomorrow for future generations. With utility costs going up every year, there is no relief for Californians’ outrageous energy bills unless they switch to solar. Why Trust Semper Solaris With the Job? Not many companies treat customers with the respect, care, and attention that Semper Solaris provides. What makes us unique? We are a company that is founded on military values. These roots mean that we take your trust in us seriously. Especially for customers heading towards retirement or already there, we understand the value of every investment you make. That is why we review all your options with you, from buying the system outright to buying the system with a loan or having a solar lease. Taken from the Marine Corps motto, Semper Fidelis, Semper Solaris vows to remain always faithful in our service to you. On top of that, we offer the best prices in California and discounts for military, police, and firemen. Our locally and veteran-owned solar company is ready to tackle your solar panel installation. If you're looking for a solar provider near you, we service both the San Diego area as well as the Los Angeles area. Give us a call today if you’d like to find out more about the value of solar as a retirement investment.

One of the most common questions we get from prospective clients is: How many solar panels will I need for my house? It’s a good question, because the number of solar panels you need will of course affect the price of your solar panel installation. The number of solar panels you need for your home will depend on how much energy you typically use, where you live, and the efficiency of your solar panels. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2016 the average U.S. family used roughly 10,000 kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity, which would require about 16-20 solar panels. That’s the average, but you’re not average, right? In this article, we’ll help you figure out how many solar panels you need to power your life here in sunshine-rich Southern California. Your Energy Usage The first step in determining the size of your solar installation is to figure out how much energy you use. The last thing you want is to invest in a solar power system that doesn’t produce enough energy or produces more than you need. This average household data we mentioned above provides a baseline, but it might not be relevant to you. A family of six in a 5,000-square-foot home in San Marcos with a heated pool and two electric vehicles is going to use a lot more energy than a couple living in a 2,000-square-foot home in Carlsbad who don’t drive electric cars or have a swimming pool. You can find your typical energy usage by looking up your energy bills for the past year. These should be available by logging into your electric company’s customer portal. Each bill should include your total energy usage in kilowatt hours for that month. Add up the amount for the past twelve months and then divide by 12. Viola! You’ll have your average monthly energy usage (typically between 850 and 1,000 kWh). Assuming you want your solar panel system to cover all of your electricity needs, you’ll need to install a system that can produce this amount each month. Where You Live Where you live also plays a role in how many solar panels you need for your home. Americans who live in states like Washington and Maine have to endure long winter nights and many overcast days of the year. Their solar panels get less sunlight, which means they have to put more panels on their roof to produce the same amount of electricity as someone living in a sun-rich state like California. Of course, just because the sun is in the sky doesn’t mean your solar panels are producing at max capacity. For example, sunrise and sunset won’t help your panels generate much solar energy, because when the sun sits at such a low angle, the atmosphere filters a lot of the light. Also, rates of sun can even vary from house to house depending on external features (like tall trees or a big hill behind your home) that affect how much sun you get. When calculating how much electricity your solar panels can produce, it’s more important to figure out how many peak sun hours your location receives on an average day rather than just the amount of time the sun is in the sky. Without getting too technical, you can think of a peak sun hour as an hour when your panels are receiving strong, direct sunlight. (If you do want to get technical, a peak sun hour is when the intensity of sun is 1,000 watts per square meter.) In the U.S., most areas receive an average of three to five peak sun hours per day. When you schedule your energy analysis with a solar installation company, an energy expert will help you determine the average daily usable hours of sunlight your home receives. Solar Panel Efficiency Not every solar panel is alike. Different brands offer different levels of efficiency. When we talk about efficiency, we mean how much electricity each panel can generate in an hour. Depending on which brand of solar panel you choose, you can expect an efficiency anywhere from 250 to 350 watts per hour. (Note – these numbers always refer to the amount of energy produced during peak sun hours.) That difference adds up. Let’s assume your home receives four hours of peak sun hours a day. A 250-watt panel will produce 1kWh per day (250 watts x 4 hours). That’s around 30 kWh per month in a 30-day month. A solar panel that produces 350 watts will give you 42 kWh in that same month. While higher efficiency solar panels tend to be a little more expensive than their less efficient counterparts, they can end up saving you money if you need to purchase fewer solar panels. They’ll also take up less room on your roof! At Semper Solaris, we are proud to use SunPower solar panels, one of the highest quality and most efficient solar panels on the market. Calculating How Many Solar Panels You Need for Your Home As mentioned above, our energy experts will help you determine how many solar panels you’ll need. If you’d like to estimate this beforehand to start your planning, here’s a quick example of how you can crunch the numbers: Say that you own an electric car and aren’t about to scrimp on using your air conditioning in the summer. Your average monthly electricity usage rate is a little higher than average at 1,000 kWh per month. During your energy audit, the solar representative mentions that your area receives a daily average of 4.5 peak sun hours. After discussing your options, you consider high-efficiency solar panels that can produce 300 watts per peak sun hour. Let’s do the math. 300 watts x 4.5 peak sun-hours = 1,350 watts One solar panel on your roof will produce an average of 1,350 watts or 1.35 kWh per day. 1.35 X 30 = 40.5 kWh per month (assuming a 30-day month). You need a solar panel system that produces 1,000 kWh per month. 1000 kWh / 40.5 kWh = 24.69 solar panels. Whew! That was a lot of math, but we got our answer. Your home would need roughly 25 solar panels in order to meet your existing energy needs. You’ll notice that this number is actually lower than the average mentioned at the beginning of this article. That’s because we get higher-than-average amount of peak sun hours here in San Diego, and because this scenario incorporates high-efficiency solar panels. No wonder Californians love solar panels! This article should help you get a general idea of the number of solar panels you need, but to get an accurate estimate, request a consultation with a knowledgeable and reliable solar panel installer in your area. If you live in California, take a look at our serviced locations and schedule a free energy audit with Semper Solaris.

If you live in San Diego, you’ve gotten used to seeing solar panels perched on the rooftops of homes and businesses, but are these panels only meant to power blenders and keep the air conditioning running? No way, Jose! Solar panels are like the nerdy kid who just became popular. The trend that started on the West Coast is showing up everywhere – on RVs, planes, backpacks, and even dog houses. Yes, Rover is totally getting into the solar energy game. It’s time to think out of the box when it comes to California solar. Here are six cool and unique ways you can use solar power in your life. 1. Power Up Your Electric Gadgets and Luxuries If you’re thinking about investing in solar for your home, consider that your new solar power system can cover all your current energy needs and give you the perfect excuse to invest in some new electric toys. The top of this list for most people is an electric car. Gas isn’t cheap here in California, so if you can cruise up the 5 using a battery powered by the sun, that can add up to great savings. Take your pick from the Chevy Volt, to the Tesla Model S (which could go well with your Tesla home battery), 2018 BMW i3, and more. With nearly every major car manufacturer focused on going electric, the list of choices will only keep growing. But don’t just stop at electric cars. Now is the time to put in that heated pool or hot tub the kids have always wanted, or the new theater system you’ve always wanted. Add cool outdoor lights to show off your backyard. Heck, your solar power system can even give you enough juice to start mining for cryptocurrency or charge your family robot… you know, when those become more of a thing. Just make sure you tell your solar power specialist what your future energy needs will be so they can recommend an adequate system size for your home and extras. 2. Take the Ultimate Road Trip with Solar-Powered RVs and Vans Have you ever dreamed of hitting the open road for weeks or even months at a time to explore every nook and cranny of the country? Well, you’ll still have to figure out a way to keep the fridge running and the lights on without draining your car battery every few days. Many enthusiastic RV and van dwellers have wholeheartedly embraced solar power in order to run things like refrigerators, hot plates, lights, water pumps, and even televisions - no matter how far off the beaten path they go. Alexandra Ulmke who writes the popular blog A Girl and Her Van explains that solar panels “are efficient, relatively cheap, and provide enough power to stay off the grid for weeks on end.” In this educational blog post, she explains step by step how she retrofitted her van with solar panels to keep the energy flowing. 3. Avoid a Dead Phone While on an Adventure with Solar-Powered Backpacks In this day and age, our phones, laptops, and other gadgets aren’t just luxuries. They’re necessities. That’s why it can be a minor emergency when your phone battery goes into the red. What if you’re trying to navigate to a brand-new place, waiting for a call about a sick family member, or hiking in the woods far from civilization? Fortunately, a growing line of solar-powered backpacks can ensure you always have a ready energy source to charge your gadgets. These backpacks come in all sorts of styles, from sleek and professional to a true adventure pack. You can even get a solar-powered water bladder backpack for those long solo-runs. Prices for solar-powered backpacks range from this budget-friendly option to this hiker’s dream come true. Want to be even kinder to your wallet? Skip the backpack altogether and just pick up this convenient portable solar panel that you can unroll when needed or even attach to a normal backpack during your outdoor adventures.  4. Discover a New Way to Get Around Town with Solar-Powered Bikes Just because you don’t have $79,500 to plunk down on a 2018 Tesla Model X doesn’t mean it’s time to give up on your solar-powered transportation dreams. Electric bikes are becoming an increasingly popular mode of travel, especially in places like San Diego where the weather is gorgeous year-round. Electric bikes offer power-assisted pedaling to help you rocket up hills and cruise for miles while hardly breaking a sweat. That nice little boost comes courtesy of a lithium ion battery that powers a small engine connected to the bike. Some e-bike enthusiasts are taking the next step and hooking their batteries up to solar powered systems. One ingenious startup based in Copenhagen, Kvaern, is even offering a cool e-bike that comes with a solar-powered battery charging pack. 5. Go Up, Up and Away with Solar Powered Planes San Diegans have gotten used to seeing electric-powered cars on the road, but it might be time to start looking up! Enter Google co-founder Larry Page, who recently took the wraps off a new company called Kitty Hawk. The company’s main product is an electric, self-flying air taxi that takes off like a helicopter and looks a little like the pod that brought Superman to earth with wide wings attached. The company has been performing stealth flights in New Zealand and working directly with the island nation’s government to develop an official certification process, with the goal of offering commercial flights in three years. But Kitty Hawk isn’t the only company in this space. Boeing, Airbus, Uber, and others have all been toiling away, trying to design their own air taxis. What makes Kitty Hawk unique, though, is that its electric power system means that it could potentially be powered using solar technology, creating a truly carbon-free mode of air transportation! 6. Make sure Rover Loves Being in the Dog House with a Solar-Powered Dog House We spoil our dogs with manicures, dental work and all the latest and greatest toys. It was only a matter of time before Rover’s dog house got upgraded with solar panels to make his abode even more luxurious. Inventive pet parents are installing solar powered systems that can heat dog houses in the cold winter and power fans during the hot “dog days” of summer (we couldn’t help ourselves). According to an article in PetGuide.com, solar power has also been used to power automatic food and treat dispensers, water purifying systems and even pet cams. Turns out, staying in the dog house isn’t such a bad place to be. How Are You Going to Use Solar Power? Going solar in California has a whole new meaning now, doesn’t it? While the vast majority of solar systems are installed to power homes and businesses, enterprising and creative people can adapt solar technology for a whole host of unconventional uses and exciting new products. As this technology continues to get cheaper and more prolific, it will truly revolutionize the way we power our world and our lives. At Semper Solaris, we are proud to be part of this California-led revolution. If you want to join the solar power party, contact us today for a free energy audit of your home.

With Tax Day looming, you may be scrambling to get your finances in order. And if you’ve already filed, you might be looking ahead to this year to make sure you’re set up for financial success. If you’ve had solar installation done, you could qualify for multiple tax breaks and rebates at the federal, state, and local level. Little did you know that while you’ve been saving costs on electricity bills and doing your part to reduce carbon emissions, you’ve also been doing your taxes some justice. As you file your taxes, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is solar-powered. Here are three major ways solar installation may affect your taxes to your benefit. 1. Solar installation might qualify you for a federal tax credit. While the cost of your actual solar installation may have seemed like an expensive investment, just know that you’re saving money in the long-term. In order to help lessen the initial financial burden solar energy installation may cause, the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy offer tax credits for solar-powered systems. The solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) incentivizes Americans to adopt solar energy, driving the growth of the solar industry. It applies to owners of residential and commercial properties that have had solar panel installation. If you’ve installed solar power systems within your home, you may qualify for a federal tax credit of up to 30% of the total cost. To put that in perspective, a solar power system that costs $25,000 may be eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit.   It’s important to note that this credit is not applicable to rental properties that are rented out. Although you may own it, you must live in the home to claim the credit. If you live in the rental home for a portion of the year, then you can still receive a prorated credit; that is, the percentage of the year you stay there is the percentage of the 30% tax credit you would receive. Additionally, keep in mind that the ITC will be gradually reduced in the next few years. 2. State and local rebates may also be available to solar power system owners. In addition to the federal tax incentives for solar panel installation, there are some state and local rebates and credits solar owners can take advantage of. Each state is different—you can check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency to see what potential tax breaks are available for renewable energy installments within your specific state or city. If you live in California, for example, you may have heard of the California Solar Initiative (CSI). The initiative offered cash incentives on solar systems, available to customers of Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric. While the program has expired, there may be local solar rebates you can take advantage of depending on where you live, such as those through the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. With the end of the CSI, Semper Solaris also offers our own rebates throughout the year to make up for the lost incentives for solar installation. To learn more, take a look at our Current Offers. 3. Residential energy property credits may be given for making overall energy-efficient home improvement. It’s smart to think outside the box — or outside the home — when it comes to what you could get a tax break on. Beyond an overall home solar energy system, any improvements you make to your home that make it more energy efficient can also qualify toward federal tax credit. This includes energy-efficient windows, doors, skylights, heating and air-conditioning systems, insulation, water heaters and roofs. Naturally, solar installation can indirectly cover many of these appliances and generate the power to run them in an energy-efficient manner. Installing alternative energy equipment can also count toward the residential energy efficiency property credit. A solar water heater and small wind turbines are examples of appliances that qualify. To note, there can be limits to these credits depending on the type of alternative energy improvement. Although some alternative energy upgrades may not call for solar power, many do. Your roof is one of them, as solar panel installation usually starts with upgrading the roofing of a house. It’s the main spot where the sun hits, so installing energy-efficient panels is a key way to save with both tax credits and on electricity. From federal tax credits to state-specific programs to local rebates, making your home more energy efficient and reducing your carbon footprint can be a profitable investment. Tax Day doesn’t have to be daunting when you know that you’re getting the most bang for your buck with your solar power system in place. If you haven’t yet benefited from solar panel installation, learn more about the advantages of solar installation and get your free solar quote today!

California is no stranger to solar panels. Los Angeles, the largest city in the Golden State, is helping to lead the way in solar power system adoption. The rising popularity of solar panel installation in Los Angeles is fitting, given various factors including government incentives, favorable climate and the global effort to reduce carbon emissions, and the city’s influence in growing the solar industry in general also holds significant value. How Los Angeles Helped Pioneer Solar Power Implementation in California The Los Angeles area has played a historic role in solar power commercialization. Dating all the way back to 1979, the world’s largest photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing facility was constructed in Camarillo, California, just north of L.A. in Ventura County. Additionally, the city played a further role popularizing solar in California when the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power worked with the Department of Energy, Southern California Edison, and the California Energy Commission to design the Solar One program that was the first to test a large-scale thermal solar tower power plant in 1981. Supplementing the overall spread of solar energy in California, the state’s Pacific Gas and Electric Company created the first-ever, grid-supported photovoltaic system, considered the first “distributed power” PV installation. With all these foundations for solar energy technology in place, it was just a matter of time before the city’s residents could really start to benefit from this alternative form of electricity. Adoption of Solar Panels in Los Angeles Even though its setting would imply otherwise, solar panel installation in Los Angeles wasn’t necessarily the most popular in most recent decades. In 2012, L.A. didn’t make the U.S. Department of Energy’s top 25 “Solar America Cities,” while both San Diego and San Francisco did. The reasons behind this could be attributed to high-cost solar power previously held and the city’s larger use of the cheapest form of energy produced from coal. With more recent and significant dips in the cost of solar energy - along with the rising electricity rates - a positive shift toward installing solar energy has taken up momentum. The need for cleaner air in the well-known pollution-filled city of L.A. has further helped to drive the switch to solar energy. In September 2010, an executive order signed by the city’s Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and approved by the California Air Resources Board, required the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to produce at least one-third of its energy by 2020. To do this, the city partnered with UCLA to study the feasibility of an incentive program for promoting distributed solar energy usage. Pro-solar, statewide initiatives were also a major supplement to these city-driven mandates—the main one being the California Solar Initiative (CSI) as well as the overall Go Solar California campaign. The CSI program works to benefit customers of Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). Overall Shift Toward Sustainable Energy Outside California and the U.S., an overall shift toward adopting sustainable energy is happening around the world. In 2015, nearly every country in the world participated in the first global pact, the Paris Climate Agreement, that was aimed toward reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. With this accord, each country would make a conscious effort to set goals toward decreasing their carbon footprint in order to slow down the possible negative impact on the earth’s atmosphere.   Organizations and businesses around the world have also caught on to this trend of innovating their operations and products to be environmentally friendly. Tesla, for example, is a company that prides itself on creating technologies that work to accelerate the universal transition to sustainable energy. It has invented multiple products like electric cars that run on clean energy and is currently in the process of producing a stationary battery for powering the home. SpaceX’s Hyperloop One reinvention of transportation using alternative electricity sources and technology is currently being tested and the concept could come to fruition in the very near future. Another trend toward sustainability lies in waste-to-energy conversion. To address a growing crisis in waste management around the world, cities and governments are finding ways to turn trash to “gas”—to reduce waste and emit fewer emissions. These alternative solutions for energy are addressing the world’s issues and are helping to keep momentum toward making sustainable energy sources the norm. Meanwhile, the increasing need to stay connected and share information is helping to fuel the trend to “go green” and helps consumers to understand the negative impacts certain types of energy sources could have on the earth. With Los Angeles being one of the major cities within the United States, it can be looked at as a leader in sustainable practices, starting with greater adoption of solar panels in Los Angeles. Why Solar Power Installation in Los Angeles Will Continue Rising Los Angeles upholds a reputation of holding forward-thinking ideals, with its people being on the pulse of the latest trends, technologies, and news. With increased energy costs, government-mandated initiatives, and incentives to go solar in place there is a general shift toward sustainable energy throughout the country. And this perfect storm has created this rising popularity of solar panels in Los Angeles. If you are looking to contribute to the positive momentum and be a hero in your own right, give us a call for solar panel installation in Los Angeles. Semper Solaris is the most trusted solar power company in Los Angeles County, with unmatched expertise in solar power. We’ll get you on your way to saving not only money via lower electricity bills but also to drastically reduce your negative environmental impact via the switch to solar.

The abundant sun and ideal climate makes California a fairly easy place to decide to switch from traditional to solar energy. The harder part, though, is choosing which of the solar power companies in California is the best for your solar installation. Competition is fierce and the vetting process can get overwhelming when you sift through all the options. To ensure you make the right choice, here are the top four qualities a legitimate, reliable and high-quality solar power company should have. 1. A Good Reputation in the Solar Community Googling “solar power companies in California” is likely the first step you take in your search for solar energy services. When the search results come up, and you click individual businesses that can fulfill solar panel needs, do your due diligence and see if the company has a good reputation. There are various angles you can look at that reflect the reputation of a business. Look at reviews and testimonials not only on the company’s website, but also from outside sources like Yelp. Also, check if there have been any mentions in the news for the solar businesses you find. For example, a solar company may be featured or talked about in a niche solar power publication. If the article is favorable to that company, it’s a good sign that they are likely reliable and respected in the solar community. How long an installer has been in the industry can also be indicative of the quality of work they will provide. In addition to internet research, keep your ears open for word-of-mouth buzz about solar power companies. California is an obvious place for solar installation and those neighbors of yours may have used a reliable and trustworthy installer in the past. Don’t discount first-hand accounts of the work a specific solar company can do—a lot of times, it’s a more powerful source than anything you can find online 2. Dedicated to Only Using the Top Solar Panels and Products As you do your research on solar installation providers, find out what type of solar panels and products each one is using. Remember that the quality of the products being installed is just as important as the quality of labor being provided. When assessing different solar power companies in California, check if prospective companies will provide a free evaluation. This is a good sign that a business doesn’t just provide the installation, but that it also offers expertise on the matter. The solar panel company should be able to provide an evaluation and options for the type of solar panels that are the best fit for your house. The amount of space where solar panels can be installed is a huge factor and will inform which category of solar panels to be used. Additionally, when a company uses solar panels that use the latest technology—it’s a good indication that they care that you get only the best product. Many top-rated solar panel manufacturers guarantee that the latest technology is used when it comes to solar energy. Finally, aside from the actual solar panels, look to see if a company uses roofing and installation products that promote durability. This factor is crucial to building a solid foundation for your solar panels to be placed on. 3. Personal Attention What sets a good solar power company apart from a great one is the personal attention a company provides you. The relationship between you and your solar company should be a strong one, built on trust. Look for solar power companies in California that are known to constantly keep communication open with their customers and make their customer’s happiness a priority. Semper Solaris’ motto focuses on core values like trust, loyalty and a hard work ethic. We believe in making solar a personal matter, engaging with customers face-to-face on a regular basis in order to establish a relationship that transcends beyond just solar installation. By doing this, we have the ability to address any issues immediately and provide greater quality service to each and every customer we work with. 4. Proper Certifications Be sure to weed out legitimate solar panel installers from other ones by checking certifications. In California, for example, some installers may be certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) to install photovoltaic (PV) and solar-thermal systems. This certification guarantees that they have at least one year of experience installing systems, have passed an exam and continue their education in solar panel installation for recertification every three years. A solar company should also hold general contracting, electrician and home improvement licenses as well as general liability insurance. Holding the proper certifications for such large home upgrade is crucial to ensuring that your solar panels are installed with the best quality labor that can be provided. As you go about your search for solar power companies, California’s saturated market can be an intimidating place to look. The installer you choose should have specific qualities, one of which includes a focus on providing personal attention and high-quality work with top-of-the-line solar panels. Additionally, a solar company’s employees should be qualified in the special trade work that’s about to be done on your home. It’s easy to assume that the labor you hire already holds those certifications, but double check on your end to avoid any problems with installation. Not all solar power companies are the same. Trusted work and reputation among the industry will help guide you in picking the right one to upgrade to the new way to save on home energy needs.