“The solar industry is booming.” That’s according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which found that the solar industry has grown by an average annual rate of 59% over the last ten years. The rise in solar installation has spurred the appearance of many different solar installers, including large, national chains. If you’re in the market for solar panels, you have more solar installation companies to choose from than ever before. With so many options, you may be wondering, “Do I really need to choose from solar providers near me?”
It’s tempting to work with a national solar installation chain for several reasons. These huge companies have plenty of money for slick advertising and also offer competitive pricing. You may even run into their friendly representatives at Costco or Home Depot. However, by choosing a national corporation instead of a local solar installer, you may be shortchanging your community, your wallet, and the integrity of your solar panel system!
Here are five big reasons that the answer to the question, “Do I need to choose from solar providers near me?” should be YES!
Your city and neighborhood has a unique character and architectural history. It’s important that any contractor who works on your home possesses a deep understanding of the design standards and common building materials of your area.
A local solar installation company will have plenty of experience working on the types of roofs that are common in your city. This is important because the installers need to know how to work on your roof without damaging it and how to correctly install the racking that attaches to your roof and holds the solar panels in place. It makes a big difference if your roof is made from clay tiles, asphalt shingles, rubber slate, or metal.
Understanding your roofing structure is especially important if you need to replace your roof before installing solar panels. Some solar companies (including Semper Solaris) also offer roof replacement services. A roof is much more than just tiles or shingles on top of your house. It is a complex system that requires an in-depth knowledge of local materials and local roof styles. Your roof protects your home and can help make your house much more energy efficient. Don’t trust it to a big, national company that doesn’t understand local roof styles and hasn’t worked extensively with the roof materials that are common to your area.
Every state, county, city, and town has its own local ordinances, including specific building and safety standards that contractors must meet when making changes to residential homes. Local solar installation companies are very familiar with all these local building requirements. They are pros at submitting paperwork, pulling the correct permits, and setting up final inspections once a solar power system has been installed. They also know how to work with local homeowners associations to get projects approved. In fact, a local solar installation company may already have experience working with your HOA.
You can’t put a price on this knowledge. Local companies can save lots of time and headaches just by knowing the lay of the land. On the other hand, a national company will have to figure all of the local rules and building codes out from scratch. This increases the chances of delay, or worse, and error. A national company may overlook needed paperwork or fail to pull the correct permit, which could endanger your entire project!
Cities all across California offer homeowners valuable incentives to invest in solar. However, these incentives are only available to homeowners in the know… or, more accurately, to solar installers who know how to obtain them.
For example, Los Angeles currently offers homeowners a one-time rebate of $0.25 per watt on their new solar panel installation. Depending on the size of your solar panel system, you could receive a rebate check in the mail worth thousands of dollars!
However, the steps to qualify for the rebate aren’t easy. It requires submitting specialized paperwork as well as scheduling an on-site inspection through the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, among other steps. If your solar installer gets even one step wrong, you could wave bye-bye to that juicy rebate check! (Live in Los Angeles and interested in learning about this solar rebate? We recently posted an entire article about it.)
A local solar installation company is your best shot at getting every available rebate. First of all, they know which rebates are available in your area and whether or not you would qualify. They also know how to navigate the different programs in order to achieve a successful outcome. A national company just doesn’t have this level of localized regional experience, which means it’s more likely that they don’t know about a program and/or will struggle to figure all the required steps.
A healthy community is able to attract and retain residents by offering high-paying, steady employment. Over the past decade, the solar industry has been on a hiring frenzy and now employs almost 250,000 Americans across the country, according to SEIA. Solar jobs typically pay well above minimum wage. Many jobs in the solar field are also among the few remaining employment avenues where Americans can make a good living without a college degree.
When you hire a local solar installation company, you are investing in well-paying jobs within your own community. Solar installation companies seek project coordinators, installation technicians, interconnection representatives, warehouse managers, electricians, crew foremen, solar sales consultants, and more. Each of these great jobs could be available to your neighbors, friends, or even your local family members and offer them a rewarding career that allows them to support their family!
Their salaries, in turn, go right back into the community every time they go grocery shopping, grab a movie, or sign their children up for a local sports league.
National companies may hire a local team to install your solar panels, but the majority of their workforce (and the best-paying jobs) will stay in their headquarters far away. Much more of your investment will stay in your community when you work with a local installation company.
We’re sure that national solar companies want to do a great job and make every customer happy, but if they happen to do a poor job for one customer in one town, it really doesn’t affect their bottom line. That’s because there are endless potential customers across the country.
A local company doesn’t have the luxury of disappointing their customers. They live, play, and work in the same community, and their success depends upon building a strong reputation for reliability, integrity, and high-quality work. Most local solar installation companies rely heavily on customer referrals and good customer reviews to bring new clients in the door. Unlike large national companies, they literally can’t afford to write off customers or shirk their duties.
Local companies will often go the extra mile to provide great customer service. They’ll listen closely to their customers, address concerns, and fix any problems that might arise. They know that if a customer isn’t completely satisfied, that customer will gripe to their neighbors, friends, fellow PTA parents, and all their social media followers!
There are so many reasons to hire a local company to install your solar panels. Local companies know how to work on your roof, they understand the local laws, and they know how to get you all the solar incentives you deserve. They also put their reputation on the line with each project they take, which is a great incentive to do the best job possible. Finally, by hiring a local company, you’ll support local jobs and keep your hard-earned money in your community.
Sound good? If the answer is yes, then your next task is to find a local solar installer. At Semper Solaris, we’ve opened offices throughout California as part of our mission to invest in local communities and to hire local workers. Our offices cover Southern, Central, and Northern California. In each location, we’ve made a special commitment to hire veterans who are looking to transition into civilian life.
We love investing in communities across California and providing great careers for veterans, as well as your other neighbors, friends, and family members. We also love doing a great job for each and every one of our customers. Don’t take our word for it. Check out our excellent ratings on SolarReviews.com, Angie’s List, The Better Business Bureau, and Yelp.
If you are ready to hire a solar installation company that really cares about your community and about doing a great job for you, then contact us today to schedule a no-pressure, no-obligation energy analysis.
The cost of solar panels in California just got more affordable thanks to a tax credit extension. The investment tax credit system has recently been extended to 2020, bringing massive support to America’s wind and solar capacity. The extension will even generate over 100,000 new jobs.
Eligible home and business owners could receive a 30-percent credit to help curb the cost of solar panels in California. The tax incentive has driven solar installations across the country, accounting for a whopping 1,600-percent growth since the tax credit’s introduction in 2006. Although it was set to expire in 2016, consumers now have more time to utilize the tax credit.
The extension was quite unlikely until a few weeks ago and the effects were already beginning to show through drops in investment. The ramifications would have branched out of the local market and affected an overall 10% decrease in solar installation worldwide.
Fortunately, ITC was extended and it will remain at 30% until 2020.
Forecasts have changed. The USA’s solar in 2022 could very well reach 95 MW, which is three times the current size. To put it into perspective, it means the U.S. solar will be able to power 19 million homes and it will stand for 3.5% of total electricity generation. In contrast, solar accounted only for 0.1% in 2010. From the ecological standpoint, the solar generation will annually offset the amount of CO2 produced by 26 coal-fueled power plants.
The ITC extension, according to Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), will generate around 140,000 jobs or more, while it has created about 200,000 jobs so far.
However, the extension came with a compromise – Congress has lifted the 40-year ban on crude oil exports. Some environmentalists and energy analysts have brought up their doubts concerning the merits of the compromise.
What is good about the exchange is that 5 years more buys time for wind and solar to get on a par with or even surpass conventional generation without subsidy. Plus, the cost of solar panels in California has been dropping steadily, and the ITC extension is expected to make wind and solar the cheapest ways of power generation in the U.S. and the world.
OPEC’s Secretary General has stated that lifting the oil export ban will produce negligible effects on the increase of carbon emissions and commodities market. It is not expected that U.S. oil production will see a boom due to the ban lift, but the time allowed for wind and solar to grow will reduce CO2 levels released into the atmosphere.
Now that both residential and commercial projects are given more time to enjoy the benefits and reduced cost of solar panels in California, are you thinking of installing a solar system at your home or office in Poway? If you are, make sure you contact Semper Solaris. If you are not sure, again, don’t hesitate to contact Semper Solaris and find out more about how you could benefit from solar and use the programs and incentives to your advantage. Semper Solaris is a San Diego-based, veteran-owned and operated solar contractor which stands for all-American values and trust. With Semper Solaris, customers get expert technicians, the best-in-class solar panels and superior customer care at their disposal. Get started with your California solar power by contacting Semper Solaris right away.
Povas Miknaitis served in the Marine Corps fro 6 years as a scout sniper. He served two combat tours, one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq.
After his service, he became involved in the Warrior Foundation and also finished his education. He moved to Freedom Station after being released from the hospital.
The team at Semper Solaris was excited to hear that The Semper Cares initiative will be helping a fellow marine by installing a new solar panel system for his home.
On Independence Day, Povas received a new solar panel system, free of charge, by our Semper Cares Initiative, along with the Warrior Foundation Freedom Station. We are extremely proud of the men and women who have served our country, and Povas is among many who deserve the goodwill of others for their patriotism and their sacrifice. Though we may not be able to reach out to all veterans, our efforts along with our partners are offering all that we can to our veterans and our communities.
Our Semper Cares Initiative was a huge success!
On July 3rd, we completed two goodwill projects and unveiled them to the public. Welcomed guests and the local press assembled to join the families and crew to celebrate these veterans and watch as the final solar panels were installed. The two unveiling celebrations radiated honor, pride, and patriotism for this country and for those who fought to defend it.
In partnership with Habitat for Humanity San Diego, we helped two veteran celebrate their Independence Day by unveiling a new roof and solar power system.
Veteran Carl Schaffrina’s roof was in serious need of replacement. Water leaks were proving physically and mentally demanding for the family. Semper Solaris teamed up with the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project to provide a complete new roof installation expected to last for more than 25 years.
In addition, Semper Solaris partnered with Panasonic of North America and SolarEdge to design a state-of-the-art solar system. Panasonic donated all the solar panels provided to Carl and his wife, Jodi. SolarEdge generously donated the DV-AC inverter hardware to complete the system. The project brought our San Diego community together by coordinating with San Diego Habitat For Humanity’s Veteran Project.
Former Marine sniper Povas Miknaitis, was given the opportunity to declare his independence from electric companies. Semper Solaris, in cooperation with SolarWorld, and SolarEdge, installed a complete solar panel system to his home in San Diego. This new system will help reduce electricity costs and improve his home’s value. Lowering Mr. Miknaitis’ electricity bills and helping him become more energy independent is especially valuable, since most veterans are on fixed incomes – one fewer bill means greater financial freedom. The Miknaitis project was coordinated with San Diego’s Warrior Foundation Freedom Station where Miknaitis was a beneficiary and is now a volunteer working with other wounded veterans.
We are proud of the men and women of our Semper Solaris team, our partners, and the veterans of this great nation. Stay tuned for future Semper Cares initiatives as we continue to help veterans in any way we can. At Semper Solaris, we take pride in our veterans, our veteran origins, and our veteran employees and their stories. As always, thank you for your service.
Do you dream of building a new home in California? If you’re planning to break ground on your Cali castle any time after 2020, then you’ll need to add a new element to your plans – solar panels. That’s because the Golden State made history earlier this year by becoming the first state in the United States to require solar panels on all new California homes. What’s in the fine print of this new rule, and how will it affect that dream home of yours? Most importantly, will it be a boon or a bust for your wallet?
To some degree, California’s revolutionary new rule isn’t such a surprise. For decades, our state has led the charge on adopting renewable energy and passing audacious clean energy legislation. In 2015, Governor Brown signed a law mandating that California receive at least half its electricity from renewable resources. (It looks like we may hit that goal 10 years early!)
Of all the renewable energy sources available, California has fallen the hardest and fastest for solar panels. By the end of 2017, our sun-soaked state received almost 16 percent of its power from solar, compiling a solar photovoltaic capacity of 19.8 gigawatts. That’s more than four times the amount of its nearest competitor (sorry, North Carolina)!
That’s why is wasn’t so surprising that on May 9th of this year, the California Energy Commission unanimously voted to require all new homes to include solar panels starting on January 1st, 2020.
How will this new requirement work? Let’s dive into the fine print.
First and foremost, the new requirement only affects homes built after January 1st, 2020. If your current home does not have solar panels, or if your home is under construction, you don’t have to worry about this rule. However, many of us plan or at least hope to move into a new home someday. So, what does this rule mean for you?
Solar panels are expensive. Fortunately, this new rule allows new home buyers to purchase or lease solar panels, so you don’t necessarily need to pay out of pocket for your solar panel system. Leasing your system means that the solar panel company owns the panels and covers the cost of installation. The solar company then charges you a set rate for the amount of electricity you use. Leasing can still help you save money, because typical costs are lower than what the utility companies charge.
The mandated solar systems only need to generate a minimum of 2 to 3 kilowatts (kW) per month, depending on the home’s size. An average solar system size is between 5kW and 10kW. A 2kW system is relatively small and likely won’t cover the entire energy demand of a typical home. That means new homeowners may be surprised to still receive an electric bill in the mail each month, though it will be noticeably lower than what they were charged in their previous, non-solar home.
The CEC’s ruling gives homebuilders two options on how they can meet the new regulation. They can either install solar panels on each new home they construct or build a “shared solar-power system” that can power a group of homes. This shared system might be ideal for condo complexes and possibly even larger planned communities. It will be interesting to see if this option creates a new shared solar-power system trend.
So, we’ve outlined the CEC’s new rule and looked more closely at how it actually works, but that doesn’t answer your most pressing question. How will the solar panel mandate actually affect the cost of your future dream home? Let’s look at the nickels and dimes.
According to the CEC, the new solar panel system will add around $9,500 to the cost of each new home. This is a serious pile of change, especially considering that California already has one of the most expensive housing markets in the country.
But don’t write off that dream home yet! Though you may end up paying more upfront for your home after 2020, the CEC believes that this new rule will actually result in significant cost savings for California homeowners. According to the CEC, “For residential homeowners, based on a 30-year mortgage, the Energy Commission estimates that the standards will add about $40 to an average monthly payment, but save consumers $80 on monthly heating, cooling and lighting bills.”
Put another way, the rule will give California households an expected savings of $19,000 over 30 years.
While it’s great to save money on your energy bills each month, it’s important to recognize that this new rule has a higher purpose. A state filled with solar-powered homes will help California meet its ambitious renewable energy goals.
California builds about 80,000 new homes a year. Currently, less than 20 percent of those homes include solar panels. The CEC estimates that solar energy generated as a result of the new rule would be equivalent to taking 115,000 cars off the road!
Solar panels in California have gone from being an affectation of the wealthy to becoming mainstream throughout the state. The CEC’s new rule only speeds up a trend that was already occurring. In fact, other states may follow suite. According to the New York Times, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Washington D.C. are actively considering similar legislation.
If you plan on building a home or buying a newly built home after 2020, then solar energy is going to be part of your life. However, it might be worth considering solar panels for your current home now. After all, when you get ready to sell, solar panels will be much more commonplace. You might actually be at a disadvantage if your home doesn’t have a solar system.
If you’re ready to invest in solar panels in California to save on your energy costs and help our state meet its ambitious renewable energy goals, give us a call today. We have opened locations throughout California and are happy to offer homeowners a free energy analysis to help you determine if solar panels are right for your budget and energy needs.
The first question almost every homeowner wants to know when they’re thinking about going solar is – how much are solar panels? A solar power system is a big investment, and cost can be a deciding factor for many homeowners.
Solar power system costs will depend on a number of aspects, including the size of the system, the solar panel brand, and where you live. Why does location matter? Which states are the cheapest to go solar, and which are the most expensive? Let’s take a look at how state policies affect solar costs and where California lands on the solar cost spectrum.
California is known as “The Golden State,” but it could just as easily be dubbed “The Solar Panel State.” California is the number one solar state in the country, producing enough solar energy in 2016 to power almost five million homes. Since California loves solar so much, you’d think that the cost of a solar system in the state would be among the lowest in the country.
You’d be wrong.
According to SolarReviews.com, the average cost of a 5kw (kilowatt) system in the United States is $10,800 after taking the federal tax incentive into consideration. (In this article, we’ll stick with the 5kw size in order to maintain consistency when comparing costs.)
How does California stack up against the average?
The average cost of a 5kw system in California with the tax incentive is $11,130. That places California above average for solar costs when compared to other states. Not exactly something California homeowners want to see!
In contrast, the three cheapest solar states are:
Of course, things could be worse for California residents. The two most expensive solar states are:
What is behind these big pricing disparities in solar power system costs? Why does it cost almost $1,500 MORE to install the same sized system in California than it does in Georgia?
The answer, it turns out, has to do with wages, living standards, and the specific rules and regulations in each state.
If you or a close friend or family member owns a business, then you know that one of the most significant costs for almost every company is employee salaries and hourly wages. Solar panel installation companies are no different.
A successful solar panel installation company relies on a big team of people, including installation specialists, site survey technicians, warehouse technicians, customer service representatives, office managers, and more. Each of these people represents a big investment by the company. And throughout the United States wages vary greatly.
For example, California’s statewide minimum wage in 2018 is $11.00 an hour, one of the highest state minimum wages in the country. Additionally, local cities can set their own minimum wage. Two of the top five cities with the highest minimum wage in the country are in California: Oakland at $12 an hour and San Francisco at $15 an hour.
Unsurprisingly, the minimum wage in Hawaii and Connecticut is also relatively high at $10.10 an hour for both states.
How about the three cheapest solar states: Georgia, Arkansas, and Alabama? Of the three, only Arkansas has a state minimum wage above the federal minimum wage at $8.50 an hour. Employees in Georgia and Alabama must rely on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
Minimum wage is only one factor to take into consideration in understanding solar cost differences between states. Many of the workers employed at solar installation companies have specialized skills. When the job market is incredibly tight, as it is right now (the unemployment rate in April 2018 was 3.9%), employers have to pay more to keep good employees. These employees expect to be paid a salary that is in line with norms for their area. Median salaries, like minimum wages, are drastically different across the country.
Anyone who has lived in California for any length of time knows that the cost of living is high in our state. As a result, incomes also tend to be higher than average. The median income in California is $64,500. It’s even higher in the most expensive solar states. In both Hawaii and Connecticut, the median income is over $70,000. Contrast that with our cheapest solar states. In Georgia, the median income is just over $50,000. It’s less than $45,000 in both Arkansas and Alabama.
In high cost-of-living states, like California, Hawaii, and Connecticut, employers have to pay their employees more in order to stay competitive and build a great team. These costs and are often passed, in part, onto customers.
While this may mean more money out of your pocket if you invest in solar panels in California, Hawaii, or Connecticut, here’s a better way of thinking about it. The extra money you’re paying goes into the paychecks of the people installing the solar panels on your roof so that they can afford to live and raise their families in your town. This is why we always encourage homeowners to work with a local installation company. Keep your dollars in your community!
Licensing requirements also vary from state to state and can affect how much solar panels are in your state. In some states, solar installers must get a separate, specialized solar contractor’s license, which requires additional costs. In other states, solar installers must have certain voluntary certifications in order to qualify for local incentive programs.
California requires solar installation companies to have a contractor’s license, such as the C-46 Solar Contractors License as well as specialty licenses for PV and solar thermal installation. Contractors must also maintain their license by investing in ongoing training and education, which requires time and money.
Not every state demands such strict requirements. For example, Georgia does not require solar contractors to hold any state licenses, and solar companies are not regulated by the state licensing board. This means that anyone in Georgia can call themselves a solar installation company and install panels on your roof.
Sure, the cost of solar panels in California may be higher than in Georgia, but at Semper Solaris, we think our customers appreciate the fact that fully trained and licensed contractors are working on their roof!
Some California homeowners get a bad case of sticker shock when they find out how much solar panels are, especially compared to other states. Our hope is that this article explains where those extra costs come from. The extra costs you pay go, in large part, right into the paychecks of the company’s workers so that they can earn a fair wage. Additionally, some costs are used to maintain the contractor’s training and education so that they can remain fully licensed.
We think those are good investments and hope you do too.
At Semper Solaris, we recognize that solar panels are a significant investment for many of our customers. We do our best to mitigate these costs by offering special discounts, including savings for veterans and first responders. We also offer multiple finance options, including zero-down financing.
Don’t let the cost of a solar panel system scare you away from solar. Solar panels will save you money in the long run by cutting your energy bill costs. Ready to learn more about your options? Schedule a free energy analysis of your home today!
“California dreaming” is a famous catchphrase, but our state doesn’t linger in wistfulness. Instead, we dream big and then we go big. Our state isn’t afraid to embrace change and lead the pack. Nowhere is this sentiment truer than in how our politicians, institutions, businesses, and citizens have embraced California solar power and other sources of renewable energy.
And our efforts continue to pay off. California is the number one producer of solar power in the country. We didn’t just eek out this victory, we shattered the record. In fact, we’ve broken quite a few solar energy records over the past decades and are likely to keep breaking them as we lead the country into a renewable energy future.
California Record 1: State that produces the most solar energy in the country.
One of the biggest reasons California is such a huge producer of solar energy is because our state and local officials have a history of lowering our carbon footprint. That started back in 2006, when Governor Schwarzenegger signed the California Global Warming Solutions Act, which required a sharp reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Following in his predecessor’s footsteps, Governor Brown signed an even more ambitious bill in 2015. The Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act calls for the Golden State to produce at least half of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. This bill has put the rest of the country on notice that California is leading the charge, and the results speak for themselves!
Our state government isn’t the only one jumping on board the solar panel train. Many of our cities and municipalities are making headlines for their groundbreaking programs. For example, in 2016, San Francisco became the first city to pass a law requiring most new buildings to incorporate rooftop solar panels or solar heating units!
California Record 2: San Francisco was the first city to legally require certain new buildings to have rooftop solar.
Legislation like the California Global Warming Solutions Act and the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act, along with buy-in from the state’s public utility companies, has led to a golden age of solar energy in California. Companies have flocked to start building a solar energy empire within our borders. Many of our long stretches of sun-soaked deserts are now home to massive solar panel farms as well as solar thermal power plants.
It should come as no surprise that our state is home to the oldest solar power plant, the Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS) thermal power plant in the Mojave Desert, which was completed in 1990. We can also boast about the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, which is currently the largest solar thermal power plant in the world. Its 173,500 heliostats have the capacity to produce 392 MW (megawatts) of energy each year.
Our state isn’t slowing down, either. In Kings County, Westlands Solar Park near Fresno is under construction. The park, with its numerous photovoltaic power plants, will be the largest photovoltaic power plant in the world, with an estimated capacity of over 2,000 MW a year!
California’s residents aren’t sitting out of the solar revolution. According to the Los Angeles Times, 234,000 residents had solar panels sitting on their roofs in 2014. That number is likely to be dramatically higher today. So many Californians have invested in California solar energy that residential solar panels account for roughly 4% of the state’s entire energy production!
Let’s see more of those records roll in:
California Record 3: Home of the oldest solar power plant in the world, the SEGS thermal plant.
California Record 4: Home to the largest solar thermal power plant in the world, the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility.
California Record 5: Home to the largest photovoltaic power plant under construction, the Westlands Solar Park.
California Record 6: Most residents with residential solar panels.
With the political willpower and solar infrastructure in place, it’s no surprise that California has become a solar energy record-smashing machine. In 2016, California was ranked above any other U.S. state for cumulative solar capacity, leading the pack with over 18,000 MW of installed solar electric capacity. That’s enough to power over 4.7 million homes in the state! Just for comparison, the next closest state, North Carolina, had just over 3,000 MW of installed solar energy capacity in the same year, enough to power around 340,000 homes.
California’s solar energy revolution has also led to big headlines. In March of 2017, the state crossed a huge threshold, producing 67.2% of its energy from renewable resources and proving that our goal for 2030 isn’t just another big California dream.
Additionally, our California solar power revolution has led to other records lying in the dust. We employed over 100,000 workers in the solar energy field in 2016, the highest number in the country. We have the capacity to produce 466 watts of renewable energy per resident each year — although that actually isn’t a record. Nevada owns the title for highest solar energy capacity per capita at 745 watts per resident. However, considering that California has a population of 39.5 million while Nevada’s population is just under 3 million, we’re okay losing out on this particular title!
Here are our final California solar power records:
California Record 7: Produced over 67% of its energy from renewable resources.
California Record 8: Has the highest number of solar industry jobs in the country.
Holding all of these solar energy records feels pretty good, don’t you think? Everyone loves being a winner, especially when victory also means our state is taking real steps to lower its carbon footprint, which can help combat climate change.
We have no doubt that California’s big ideas and ambitious renewable energy goals will translate into even more shattered California solar energy records in the future. Do you want to help our state reach its goal to produce 50% of its energy needs through renewable resources by 2030? Then it’s time to take advantage of historically low pricing on solar panels by scheduling an energy audit with Semper Solaris.
Have you noticed solar panels dotting a lot of the roofs in your neighborhood? If you want in on solar energy, you likely have some questions before you take out your checkbook.
As you research solar panels in California, you’ll notice that you have dozens of brands to choose from. And each solar panel brand comes with a different price tag. You want to get the best solar panels for your money, so how do you compare the cost of solar panels in California?
It can be confusing to accurately compare pricing on solar panels and to figure out what you’re really getting for your money. This is especially true if you receive wildly different quotes from different solar panel installation companies. Here’s everything you need to know to compare the cost of solar panels in California.
Before you can even start comparing solar panel pricing, you need to make sure everyone’s playing on the same field. First, make sure each quote you receive from a solar installation company gives you the same payment option. If one company quotes you a price to purchase the solar panels outright while another quotes you for leasing the panels, the price tag is going to be very different!
Next, double check that each installation company quotes you on the same solar power system size. The size of your solar system is a measure of how much energy the system will produce, and how many solar panels you need.
If solar Company A quotes you for a 5kW system (kilowatts per hour) while Company B quotes you for a 7kW system, then Company B’s quote is going to be a lot higher.
(Not sure what size solar power system you need? No problem! This article will help you figure out how many solar panels you need for your home.)
As you start looking at the price tag of individual solar panel brands, you’ll notice they can vary by quite a bit. As with most industries, within the solar world you have your top-tier brands of solar panels as well as workhorse models that will save you on costs upfront but may not offer the same level of efficiency or lifespan as the premium models.
The best way to directly compare costs between different brands of panels is to find the average cost per watt of each panel. This will give you a direct head-to-head comparison of what you’ll be paying for each watt of electricity your system produces.
For example, two of our best-selling solar panel brands at Semper Solaris are SolarWorld and LG Solar. With SolarWorld, you can expect an average cost of $5.62 per watt before tax credits are calculated into the equation. LG Solar offers you a slightly better deal at $4.09 per watt before tax credits.
Does this mean that LG Solar is a better deal than SolarWorld? Not necessarily. A savvy consumer knows that an item’s price tag is only part of the story.
If you were in the market for a new car, you probably wouldn’t just pick the cheapest option on the lot. Instead, you’d look for a car with all the features you want. The same logic holds true for solar panels. Cost is part of the equation, but there are other factors to consider; one of the most important is the type of warranty offered.
Most solar panel manufacturers provide some form of warranty on their panels, which guarantees that the panels will meet certain levels of efficiency for a certain amount of time. The length of the warranty varies from brand to brand.
Panasonic, for example, offers a 25-year warranty on all of its panels, the longest warranty currently available in the industry. Compare that to other lower-cost brands that offer warranties as little as five years. If you plan on living in your current home for more than five years, you’ll probably want a longer warranty so your panels don’t just become roof art if they should break or degrade over time.
A warranty gives you peace of mind in your solar panel investment and also demonstrates the quality and pride a manufacturer has in their product. Panels with longer warranties tend to be more expensive, but you’re also getting a premium product.
A low-quality solar panel that will quickly lose efficiency or break down isn’t worth your investment, but how do you know which solar panels are the Cadillacs and which are the lemons? A great starting place is your solar panel installation specialist. As you search or solar installation companies, ask the representatives which solar panels they recommend. Each solar panel installation specialist will have their own favorite brands, but they can also give you inside information on many different brands on the market.
Another great resource are homeowners who have already purchased the solar panels you are considering. Check out SolarReviews for feedback from real-life homeowners. These reviews and the advice of your solar installation specialist can help you understand the true value of different solar panel brands.
The cost of your solar panels is only part of the price that come with installing panels on your California home. You’ll also need to pay for the installation and accessory parts. Don’t overlook these costs during your price comparison!
It’s also wise to do your homework on the installation company. As with the solar panels, when it comes to solar installation companies, cheaper usually isn’t better! Semper Solaris, for example, is the only company to ever win the National Dealer of the Year Award two years in a row.
Finally, make sure to ask each installation company about the rebates and incentives they offer. Here at Semper Solaris, we are excited to extend to our customers $500 off our installation services. We also provide additional discounts to veterans and first responders, and provide a variety of zero-down financing options. We even offer additional discounts if you discover that you need a new roof and use us to install it.
Solar panels are a big investment, so do your homework before you make your purchase. As a savvy solar panel customer, make sure you are comparing apples to apples when it comes to financing and the size of your solar panel system. Look at the average cost per watt to get a true price comparison between different solar panel brands, but don’t decide on price alone! If you wouldn’t buy the cheapest car in the lot, don’t automatically buy the cheapest solar panel. Instead, look at additional factors to get a true sense of each brand’s value, including its warranty and its reputation.
Still not sure which solar panels are the right pick for your energy needs and budget? If you live in California, sign up for a free energy analysis. We’d love to tell you about which solar panel brands we recommend to our clients and use on our own homes!
California is a big state filled with big ideas and great people. Here in the Golden State, we’re not afraid to take the lead in tackling thorny problems or try innovative solutions. You could say that our “sunny” disposition inspires us to embrace new ideas.
So it’s no surprise that we were one of the first states to recognize the potential of solar energy to combat climate change, or that we’re recognized as #1 on SEIA’s Top 10 Solar States list, producing more megawatts (MWs) of solar power than the next nine states combined!
In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of California solar power. How did our state become the leader in producing and utilizing solar energy, and what does the future have in store?
If you were to take a helicopter tour over any major city in California, you would notice the sheer number of solar panels dotting the roofs of homes and businesses. Where did these panels come from? The history of California solar starts in 1839, when French physicist Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect, demonstrating that a solar cell could convert sunlight into electricity.
A few decades later, American inventor Charles Fritts designed the world’s first solar array, but it would still be a long time before solar panels landed on any roofs.
Bell Labs patented the first silicon-based solar cells in 1954, and Hoffman Electronics-Semiconductor Division developed the first commercial solar panel the next year. This baby boasted a measly 2% efficiency rate! Just to compare, today’s top-rated solar panels can give you a 17% to 20% efficiency rate depending what brand you use.
In these early days, solar panels were mostly just an idea stuck on a drawing board. It would take a major world event and open-minded politicians to truly spark the California solar energy movement.
The 1970s saw great unrest in the Middle East, which led to the Iran hostage crisis and the Arab oil embargo. At home, oil prices soared, and images of long lines of cars waiting at gas stations splashed the front pages of newspapers.
In response, President Jimmy Carter made energy policy a hallmark of his administration. In 1978, Congress passed the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), which was designed to promote energy conservation and laid the groundwork for net metering. As part of the act, PURPA allowed independent power producers the ability to interconnect with their local utility.
In the same year, Congress also passed the Energy Tax Act, which offered the very first tax credits to consumers who invested in renewable energy for their homes. Carter even famously installed solar panels at the White House. Even though the solar panels came down and the tax incentives were phased out by Ronald Reagan, these early laws woke Americans up to the possibility of solar energy. They also helped encourage the creation of wind and solar energy companies, which found a very friendly reception in California. (Interesting to note: solar panels were eventually installed once again at the White House, this time under President Barack Obama.)
More than any other state, California embraced the potential of solar power even in the industry’s nascent beginnings. In 1979, ARCO Solar broke ground on the world’s largest photovoltaic facility in Camarillo, California. This facility was designed to produce 1 MW of energy per year. That seems like a photonic drop in the bucket these days, but it was a bold ambition back then.
ARCO’s project was soon followed by others, including a 6 MW facility in central California, the construction of solar towers, and an attempt to build the world’s largest solar thermal electricity facility in the Mojave Desert, known as the LUZ Solar Energy Generating Stations.
Not all of these projects were a success. Some ran out of money and others were eventually closed down due to disappointing results. Some observers believed that solar would never be more than a fringe power source, just another big California dream that went nowhere. However, these early stumbles didn’t deter California. Producers learned from each trial, and as solar technology improved and costs decreased, more ambitious solar projects got underway.
As of this writing, California is home to a variety of big solar projects, including the Desert Solar Farm in the Mojave Desert, the California Valley Solar Ranch in the Carrizo Plain, the Mount Signal Solar project near Calexico, and the Topaz Solar Farm in San Luis Obispo County, which was the world’s largest photovoltaic power plant when it was completed in 2014. While ARCO’s original solar facility in 1979 produced just 1 MW a year, these facilities produce between 260 to 550 MW per year!
California can also brag about being home to the world’s largest solar thermal power project, the Invanpah Solar Power Facility, which was completed in 2014. It resides in the Mojave Desert and produces 392 MW per year. The Mojave Desert is also home to the Solar Energy Generating Systems, the Genesis Solar Energy Project, and the Mojave Solar Project, which together produced 71.2% of all solar thermal generation in the United States in 2015.
None of these projects would have been possible if California hadn’t aggressively supported investment in renewable energy and forged a path toward a carbon-neutral future.
California was once known for the debilitating smog that choked its cities and its people. These days, it’s earned a new reputation as a state that has passed some of the most ambitious and progressive energy laws in the country.
It may have started in 1996 with the Electric Utility Industry Restructuring Act (Assembly Bill 1890) signed by Governor Pete Wilson, which deregulated the state’s utility companies and incentivized them to adopt net metering policies. Without net metering, which allows homes and businesses to feed excess solar energy into the grid, solar panels in California would likely never have taken off. AB 1890 also created state rebates to reduce the cost of this expensive new technology.
Perhaps the biggest boost to California solar energy came in 2006, when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the California Solar Initiative, which offered rebates to residents who invested in solar energy technology. The goal of the initiative was to install 1,940 MW of new solar generation capacity by 2016. It worked out so well that the state exhausted its incentives two years early, and the program surpassed its production target. (Don’t worry, there are still plenty of ways to save on solar panels in California.)
The California Solar Initiative was followed in 2015 by the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act (Senate Bill 350) signed by Governor Jerry Brown. SB 350 stipulates that California must produce half of its power from renewable sources by 2030.
This is an incredibly ambitious goal, but if anyone can do it, we know California can. Our state produced 18,296 MW of electricity in 2016, which was enough energy to power more than 4.7 million homes in our state. As solar panels in California continue to become more efficient and more affordable, we know these numbers will keep going up!
What’s in store for California’s solar future? Will we produce half our power from renewable resources by 2030 and meet the mandate of the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act?
Currently, several big photovoltaic solar farms are in production, including the Blythe Solar Power Project in Riverside County and the California Flats Solar Project in the Cholame Hills, which will produce even more solar energy for our state. As for Sacramento, we won’t be surprised if our state sets more aggressive goals for renewable energy output. In 2017, senate leader Kevin de León introduced the 100 Percent Clean Energy Act, which set the target for California to receive all its energy from clean energy sources by 2045. The bill was dropped at the last minute, but many assume the bill will be presented again during this year’s legislative session.
Here at Semper Solaris, we are proud to help California meet its renewable energy goals. We can learn a lot from our state’s history, but we’re also excited to see what the future of California solar power brings. Help us make that future by scheduling a free energy audit today.
Installing California solar panels is a smart choice that will harness the power of the shining West Coast sun and transform it into useful electricity to power homes or businesses. At Semper Solaris, we are proud to staff many veterans, giving them a career they can be proud of as well. We hire veterans from all branches, and Semper Solaris wouldn’t be the same without them. We hire veterans for two important reasons.
First, co-founder Kelly Shawhan committed to helping veterans during his service in the United States Marine Corps. Kelly made a promise with thirteen other Marines during a mission in the Philippines in 1985. He committed to always help out a fellow Marine or service member whenever he could. Now, he carries that promise into his solar company, Semper Solaris.
There’s another reason that Semper Solaris hires veterans: veterans do excellent work. The military instills values and skills that carry well into the California solar energy industry. For example, veterans know the value of keeping their word and being faithful. They also know how to communicate within a chain of command. They understand loyalty, and remain loyal to employers and the families that they serve. Loyalty and faithfulness translate to installing solar panels the right way.
The skills that veterans learn in the military can translate to all sorts of jobs within the renewable energy industry. Army E5 Sergeant May Lin Ball and Navy Petty Officer Second Class E5 Tony Saludes both now serve as accounting clerks with Semper Solaris. Semper Solaris employee Marilynn Raptis was an Information Systems Technician Chief on submarines for the United States Naval Reserve. Now, she is an excellent solar warehouse technician. These team members use the character that they built during their service to provide quality, dedicated service. They’re also able give this to homeowners at a great solar panel price. These skills, along with their specific photovoltaic training, help them to install amazing California solar panels.
About the Marines, Kelly shares, “It isn’t even so much that your word is your bond—it’s that your word is a fact.” Being able to stick to your word is needed in any home industry, especially solar power. The Semper Solaris team works hard to keep their word. David Fox, for example, is the fleet warehouse and facilities manager. He is also a retired Sergeant Major with the United States Marine Corps Reserve. David helps ensure that the warehouse runs like a well-oiled machine. He uses a proper chain of command similar to the military’s to help the company deliver.
Semper Solaris’ commitment to the nation’s veterans is more than hiring them to solar companies. They also offer special discounts to military personnel—and also to first responders and their families. Semper Solaris knows that veterans can make amazing employees. We seek to honor those that have served our country so loyally. Would you like one of our trained veterans to take their work to your home? Get a free energy analysis from local and veteran-owned Semper Solaris.
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