As solar technology continues to improve and sustainable energy options become more and more accessible, homeowners across California and the U.S. are beginning to line up to switch to solar. The great news about going solar in San Diego? Homeowners don’t also have to have the savings to cover all the upfront expenses of installing a solar panel system. That means all the benefits of switching to solar are available without the initial heavy financial burden.
For homeowners that don’t want to purchase their solar panels and system from day one, there are two main alternatives: solar leases and solar PPA agreements. Under a solar PPA, a homeowner purchases the electricity produced by the solar panels installed on their home (still owned by the solar company) at an agreed upon rate. They basically only get the immediate benefits of more affordable and sustainable energy.
While PPA agreements can be attractive to some, others may prefer more flexibility that general leases offer. Under a solar lease, the homeowner still doesn’t own the solar panels or other equipment installed on their home, however, they still have the same net metering process as solar owners would. Generally speaking, the monthly savings homeowners get on their electricity bill will exceed the monthly lease payment, resulting in instant savings. Over the lifetime of a system, a homeowner can see as much as 70% savings on their electricity expenses.
When it comes to going solar, you have to make sure you settle on the right lease agreement. So what are your options?
Here are some of the most common solar lease agreements:
With so many options for going solar, it can be overwhelming to make decisions on everything from type of solar arrays to financial agreements. That’s why Semper Solaris is here to provide the guidance and insight you need on solar financing. Over the years, our San Diego solar company has installed thousands of residential solar projects. Time and time again, we’ve helped homeowners select the right solar agreement for their financial situation. When you work with our team, we’ll review your budget and preferences and help you select the best solar leasing option.
Interested in learning more? Give Semper Solaris a call anytime to get connected with a solar expert!
You’ve been working hard and acing life all year (extra credit if you have or are planning to install solar panels). As the holidays approach, you are well deserving of the greatest gift of all. A road trip! Cruising across America with your family or your best buds is an excellent way to escape the grind of everyday life, recharge your soul, and see some of the country’s best-hidden gems. Of course, leaving the rat race behind doesn’t mean you want to give up all of life’s modern conveniences. Besides recharging your soul, you also need to recharge your phone.
Thanks to modern technology, you don’t have to lug a huge, expensive, and polluting gas generator with you to your pristine campground. Today’s solar technology is showing up in all sorts of amazing and useful camping and road tripping gear. As you begin to plan for your next epic road trip, let’s look at ten useful, solar-powered gadget that can work anywhere that the sun shines.
Getting away from it all is overrated. Instead, get away from most of life’s troubles and frustrations and keep the good stuff, like listening to your favorite podcasts on your phone, reading great books on your Kindle, or actually calling your mom. (You know it’s been too long!) To do this, you’re going to need a fully charged phone, and while you’re at it, let’s keep your Fitbit alive too, so it can congratulate you on the super long hike you’re planning during your trip.
To keep your favorite and necessary gadgets going, pick up a handy solar-powered charger. There are plenty available on Amazon for under $50, including this one, this one, and this one. Stick it in the sun for a few hours, and then plug in your USB cord and start charging your smaller devices. Your mom can’t wait to hear from you!
You aren’t about to go to bed just because the sun is setting. Bonfires are great, but they aren’t allowed everywhere, (especially in wildfire-prone California). Plus, you need focused light for reading or playing fun board games with your friends or family under the stars.
For these instances, use a solar-powered lantern. You might be surprised at how bright the most current solar-powered lanterns can be and how long they can last. For example, the MPOWEERD Luci inflatable lantern can last up to 24 hours on its lowest setting. This particular model offers four different light settings, including a flashing mode that can be used in an emergency to request help. Best of all, this model is currently less than $20 at REI. Take a look at REI’s entire stock of solar-powered lanterns.
Are you planning to push yourself to the limits with some gnarly hikes during your road trip? Or maybe you prefer to spend all day getting lost in a new city. Either way, you can’t afford to have your phone (and especially your GPS or map app) conk out in unfamiliar territory. A solar backpack is the perfect solution. It charges while you walk around in the sun, and when it’s time for a snack break, plug in your phone or other devices to grab some extra juice.
This Lifepack solar-powered backpack currently selling for $159 on Amazon includes six smartphone chargers that can provide a full phone charge every four hours. It also comes with Bluetooth speakers that can play for a whopping 96 hours on a full charge. For the hiker on a budget, Amazon also offers this solar-powered backpack for less than $60, and this one for only $20.99.
It’s always a good idea to plan for an emergency, especially if your road trip takes you to sparsely populated regions or places where cell phone coverage is spotty. If any major disaster strikes and you don’t have a phone signal, you’ll be glad to have a solar-powered emergency radio handy. This device can let you contact help, so you and your travel buddies can stay safe.
The C Crane CC Solar Observer emergency radio provides between four and six hours of radio play after eight hours of charging. If you need to use it in a hurry and don’t have enough of a charge, the included hand crank will let you charge it much more quickly to immediately request help. As a bonus, the included USB adapter lets you charge your smartphone. Not a bad buy for under $50.
You know what every great road trip needs? Music. Your car stereo will do the job while you’re on the road, but you don’t want to drain your battery during your stops, at night, or while camping. To keep the tunes coming, pick up solar-powered speakers. Today’s latest models are cost-effective and powerful. Most can keep the music playing all night long, or at least until campground quiet hours.
The Sol Jam stereo speaker by ECOXGEAR charges in just three hours of full sunlight and offers Bluetooth connectivity, so you can jam to all your favorite playlists. The speaker is also waterproof, so clip it to your kayak or sing in the rain. No one will stop the beat on your road trip.
One of the best parts of any road trip is the snacks, but if you want to bring any perishable foods or cook some tasty meals on the road, you’ll need a way to keep them cool so they don’t spoil. Unless you happen to be driving a camper with a convenient fridge installed, a cooler is probably your best option, but a standard cooler can only last so long without continual ice infusions.
Stepping up to fill this need is the ACOPOWER solar-compatible solar fridge. This baby includes a lithium battery that can be charged with a solar panel (or a generator), allowing it to keep food cold. It can even act as a freezer if you want to bring some tasty meats along on your trip. The two big downsides of this model are the cost, $599 on Amazon, and the fact that you have to buy the solar panel separately.
You do not want to find out the hard way that AAA doesn’t cover certain extremely out-of-the-way places in the country. If your battery ever dies, especially in the wilderness or on a lonely strip of highway in the middle of nowhere, you could be out of luck. (Which is another reason to have your solar-powered emergency radio handy).
To keep that from happening, consider bringing along a solar-powered car battery with you. This useful device can top off your battery to keep it strong during your whole trip. This can be useful if you need to keep your headlights on to light your campground, or if your battery is getting on in the years. The Sunway Solar Car Battery Charger is designed to keep your car battery topped off no matter where you go (as long as there’s sunshine). It can also power any 12V battery, including trucks, motorcycles, boats, snowmobiles and more. Best of all, it’s not very expensive, retailing for just $36.99 on Amazon. That’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.
If your road trip includes some major hiking, backpacking, or mountain biking deep into the wilderness, you’ll need to stay hydrated. That stream may look fresh and clear, but you can’t know if there’s some harmful bacteria waiting to ruin your trip!
The Puralytics SolarBag uses sunlight to decontaminate water without chemicals, pumping, or electricity. Best of all, it doesn’t require equipment replacements every few trips. Just fill up the bag, and then let the sun do the rest of the work. In a few hours, you’ll have three fresh and healthy liters of water to drink.
If you need power on your road trip but would rather not have to deal with individual devices, consider investing in the Goal Zero Yeti 150 Portable Power Generator. This guy can power small devices, like your phone and e-reader, and also larger devices like your laptop if you need to handle a work emergency on the road.
The beauty of the Goal Zero is that it can charge using a solar panel (not included), or from a wall outlet or even your car battery in an emergency. A single charge of the generator can provide two laptop recharges, six tablet recharges, and 15 cell phone recharges. This really is a convenient gadget to take on any long haul, especially at the reasonable price of just $199.95.
Rather than purchase devices that include solar technology, you can cut out the middle step and purchase solar panels. These panels can charge your fridge or your generator or even the battery of your car. Many RV aficionados are installing solar panels on their vehicles so that they can dry dock or boondock wherever the spirit takes them.
Who says your road trip even requires a road? Boaters are also learning to love solar panels, which can allow them to charge their devices, keep the lights on, and keep the fridge humming without having to turn on their engine every hour or so.
If you want to have it all on your road trip, or if this “trip” could turn into a wanderlust lifestyle, consider installing a solar panel array on your vehicle of choice.
At Semper Solaris, we don’t sell solar backpacks or cell phone chargers, but we can help you install high powered solar panels onto your RV or boat so that you can stay charged throughout your trip. If you live in California, or if your journey will take you to the Golden State, give us a call to schedule a solar consultation. We are your California solar energy solution.
Here’s wishing you plenty of happiness, adventures, and sunshine on the road!
Are you finally ready to get solar panels for your home? What an awesome decision! Top solar panels will help you slash your expensive energy bill and even help you do your part to protect this green-and-blue marble we call home. There’s just one teeny tiny speedbump on the road to glorious sunshine power.
Many homeowners eagerly start the process of solar installation only to discover that a roofing problem stops the project in its tracks. Don’t let roofing issues surprise you or your wallet! If your roof is damaged, aging, or simply not strong enough to bear the burden of your new solar system, then you’ve got to deal with that problem before you can go solar!
When you begin to research solar panels for your home, you will learn about all the different brands of solar panels available, as well as other important components of a photovoltaic system, like the inverter and the racking that holds the panels in place. Rarely is your home’s roof mentioned. That’s a shame, because your roof is a key component of your solar panel system.
Your solar panels need to go somewhere, and while some homeowners choose to install their solar panels on the ground or even on carports, the majority of solar panels are installed on the roof. That means a roof must be sturdy enough to handle the solar panels.
What you may not realize is that your roof is more than just a collection of tiles or shingles attached to the top of your home. A roof is actually a complex system made up of multiple layers that all work together to insulate your home and keep the elements out!
A standard roof is comprised of:
If any component of these layers is damaged, it can weaken the entire structure of your roof and make it a bad idea to install solar panels. How do you know if your roof is damaged? Usually your roof will tell you!
You wouldn’t trust a chain with a weak link, right? That’s the same reason you shouldn’t install solar panels on a damaged roof. The most common types of roof damage are:
Not all roof damage is easily visible and identifiable, but it will eventually make itself noticed. The most telling symptom of a damaged roof is water damage to your home. You may notice water stains on your ceiling, interior walls, or exterior walls. This may turn into ugly mold or even result in active leaks during heavy rainstorms.
If you notice any of these things, there’s a strong chance that your roof needs to be repaired or replaced before you even think of adding top solar panels.
If you don’t see any water damage on your ceilings or get a free indoor shower every time it rains, does that mean your roof is fit and ready to handle solar panel installation? Not necessarily. One other factor you need to take into consideration is the age of your roof.
That’s right, your roof can get old and fragile, just like us humans. The lifespan of your roof will depend on a number of factors, including:
Many roofs in California use clay tiles, which have a particularly long lifespan of nearly 50 years. Slate and copper roofs can last roughly the same amount of time. Wood shake roofs (which are more popular in the Northeast) have about a 30-year lifespan, while cement shingles tend to retire around 20 years. If you live in a particularly harsh environment, or if you’ve never resealed your roof or fixed noticeable damage, your roof’s lifespan may be cut short.
What does it mean if your roof is nearing the end of its life, and how does that affect your goal of installing solar panels for your home?
As the components of your roof wear out, tiles can be more vulnerable to cracking and the underlayment may easily tear. An old roof will not hold up well to drilling into tiles to install racking or carrying heavy solar panels. In fact, many older roofs were simply not built to handle the weight of solar panels.
Before you call up a solar installation team to give you a price quote on solar panels, figure out the age of your roof. Many of us haven’t lived in our homes for 30 or 50 years, so finding this information can be difficult. Look through your home’s paperwork to see if a roof replacement is mentioned in the disclosures or contact the previous owner if you have their information. If your home is less than 30 years old, chances are that the original roof is still in place.
If your roof is at or nearing the end of its lifespan, you will likely have to replace it before you can safely install solar panels.
Let’s be honest. Repairing and especially replacing your roof is not an inexpensive prospect. If you were already planning to pony up a big chunk of money to install solar panels, the last thing you want to do is spend MORE money on your roof before getting your solar panels.
As hard as it is to swallow, however, repairing or replacing your roof may be the right thing to do, even if it delays your solar panel installation. Think about it this way – you would never build a home on a foundation of sand, right? Your roof acts as the foundation for your solar panels. The stronger and better the roof, the longer your solar panels can do their job.
If you try to cut corners and install solar panels on a damaged or aging roof, then you’re going to have to address those problems anyway in the future. Imagine how much more expensive it will be to have to call your solar installation company to take down your solar panels and then re-install them on your new roof. You’ll have to pay for the roof repair or replacement anyway, but doing it before installing solar panels on your home will save you lots of money and lots of headaches.
Here’s another thing to keep in mind. Your roof plays a big role in insulating your home. One of the reasons you may always have to crank up the heat in the winter and the air conditioning in the summer is because your roof isn’t able to trap that heat or air conditioning. A new roof will make your home more energy efficient, which may decrease the size (and price) of the solar panel system you need to power your home.
Here’s one more thing to consider. A new roof will increase the curb appeal of your home and increase its value, so some of that money you spent on fixing or replacing it will come right back to you when you sell.
You started this article just wanting to get solar panels for your home, and now you might to replace your roof too! That means you have to search out roofing companies in your area, schedule consultations, sign a contract, bring that team out… and then do it all over again for your solar installation contractor!
Yikes, that’s a lot of work!
It doesn’t have to be. Some solar installation companies also offer roof replacement services, including Semper Solaris. There are many reasons to work with just one company for your roofing and solar needs. First, you’ll save a lot of effort. It’s much easier to work with a single project coordinator than to research, assess, and hire two separate companies. Next, you’ll save time. It can take weeks to get on a contractor’s schedule. By combining projects, it will all be done be done together.
Probably the biggest benefit of working with a single company for roofing and solar is that you can enjoy significant cost savings. At Semper Solaris, combining a roof replacement with solar installation allows us to be as efficient as possible. We are happy to pass those cost savings back onto our customers. We can even offer you financing options to make your roof replacement and solar panel installation more affordable.
Sometimes getting solar panels for your home means repairing or replacing your roof first. With Semper Solaris, we can take on your full project and get solar panels on your new, sturdy roof before you know it. Contact us today to schedule a roof and solar consultation.
Do you dream of finally cutting the chord with your power company and living in peace and harmony with nature? Going off the grid – that is, living without an electrical, water, or sewage connection – is not for the faint of heart, but it is possible. More and more people in California are showing interest in an off-grid lifestyle for a variety of reasons.
How does one actually live off the grid, and how can solar panels in California play a role in that transition? More importantly, is it possible to still live a comfortable and fulfilling life without a convenient hookup to the public grid?
In this article, we’ll take a quick look at how California residents can generate and store their own power, collect water, and even take care of bathroom necessities in a fully sustainable and self-sufficient way.
We live in a world of abundant convenience. Turn on a tap at the kitchen sink and water magically flows out. Flip on a light switch, and light instantly brightens a room. Modern conveniences are so… well, convenient. Why would anyone want to unplug from the systems that bring these resources to our home without thought or effort?
There are a variety of reasons why more and more people are interested in going off the grid. Some of the most popular are:
Climate change is here, and unless we humans drastically change our tune and our activities, we are in for bigger and badder natural disasters and the humanitarian suffering they cause. One of the most powerful drivers in the off-grid movement is a commitment to living a more sustainable lifestyle that relies on natural resources (like the sun) rather than fossil fuels to create energy. Many off-gridders are hyper-focused on lowering their carbon footprint and also embrace a low consumerism lifestyle.
While dropping the monthly energy bill and water bill isn’t usually the primary reason people decide to go off the grid, it can be a nice side benefit. It may also fit with a larger ambition to live a big life on a small budget, which may prompt California residents to change where and how they live.
No Existing Hookups
California has some of the highest housing costs in the entire country, which can make it difficult for anyone on a fixed budget or without a snazzy job to find a comfortable home. In response, some Californians are moving out of the big (and expensive) cities and buying up land in rural areas of the state. Others are bunking down in tiny homes or even living in RVs, converted warehouse containers, or other non-traditional homes. These adventurous housing options often don’t include existing hookups.
Desire for Self-Sufficiency
Whether spurred on by religious, political, or personal beliefs, some people simply desire to live a completely self-sufficient life without the assistance of any government operated systems. These folks want to know that in the event of a widespread disaster, they have the means to keep on, keepin’ on. (Hint: If the zombie apocalypse ever happens, these are good people to know!)
If one or more of these reasons hits at the heart of why you want to go off the grid, your next step is to learn what it will take to put this lifestyle into play. Here are the primary pieces you need:
Going off the grid doesn’t mean you have to revert back to the middle ages, writing with ink and quill over a flickering candle at night or keeping a herd of cattle in the yard, because refrigeration is no longer available to you. In fact, technology has come so far that you can actually power your entire home using the energy of the sun.
All you need are solar panels in California. In a nutshell, solar panels use the energy of the sun (in the form of photons) to generate electricity. This electricity is converted into the alternating current needed to power your appliances and charge your electronics. Ideally, your solar panel system should be able to power your refrigerator, heat your water, charge your cell phone, and keep your computer alive so you can blog all about your awesome new grid-less lifestyle.
In reality, things can be a little more difficult. You’ll need to work with an experienced solar team to calculate your average energy usage and then to determine the correct size for your solar panel system. Since you won’t have a connection to the public utility grid to act as a safety net, it may be a good idea to get a system slightly bigger than what you need. This could come in handy during the winter months when peak sunlight hours are in short supply or during stretches of cloudy weather.
Of course, living a life powered by solar panels means you’ll face one major challenge. What happens when the source of all your energy – the sun – checks out for the night? For that, you’ll need a solar storage battery.
If you still want your refrigerator to work and your lights to turn on even when the moon is up, you’re going to need to store some of your excess energy from the daytime so that you can use it during the night. You are in luck. In just the past few years, solar batteries have become increasingly efficient even while their price has dramatically dropped.
Some companies are experimenting with lead acid and saltwater batteries, but lithium-ion batteries are still the most popular and widely used solar batteries available on the market. Before making your solar battery purchase, it’s a good idea to consult with a solar installation company that can help you understand the different battery brands on the market and work with you to decide how many batteries you will need to adequately power your home.
When comparing different solar batteries, you’ll want to look at factors like the battery’s overall capacity (how much electricity it can store), as well as its power (how much electricity it can provide over a given time). Most off-grid households will need to purchase multiple batteries, which can be “stacked” to increase power storage.
Powering your home with a combination of solar panels and solar batteries can provide you with all the energy your home needs to operate most of the time, but it is always a good idea to keep a gas-powered generator handy just in case you accidentally use more power than your panels can generate. You may also find that you need to make small adaptations to your life, like vacuuming during the sunny afternoon when your panels are generating plenty of power and holding off on doing the laundry at night when your battery stores are low.
Power is a big concern for those who can’t rely on the public energy grid, but what about the need for life-giving water? If you don’t have a water hookup, are you doomed to bottled water and sponge baths for the rest of your days?
If you’ve lived in California for any time, then you already know that water is a precious and fickle resource. It can also be expensive. If you want to live completely off the grid, that means losing your access to limitless water as well.
Not to worry. The sky occasionally opens up and gives you loads of water, all for free. You just have to be savvy enough to catch it as efficiently as possible. Off-gridders use a variety of methods to “harvest” rainwater. The easiest and most cost-effective solution is to purchase a rain barrel and place it under your gutter downspout. Your roof will funnel the rainwater to the gutters, which will then send that H2O into the barrel.
The capacity of a rain barrel is limited, and in parched California, you don’t want to lose even a drop of rainwater to overspill. To increase your rain harvesting ability, you may want to consider purchasing a “dry” water harvesting system, which means investing in a larger water storage unit that can collect more water from each rainfall. For ultimate water harvesting, a “wet” system entails connecting multiple downspouts to pipes that are buried underground. These pipes fill a large tank that can be placed away from the home. The “wet” system is the most efficient, but also the most expensive to install.
Collecting rainwater is only step one in the rain harvesting system. You’ll also need to install a pressure tank, pressure pump, and filters and then hook the system up to the piping within your house. The filtering system is a must if you intend to use the water for potable purposes, including drinking, showering, and giving water to your pets. As long as you have enough water, this system will allow you to run your sink, take showers, and even flush your toilet.
One of the biggest challenges of depending on the sky for your water is that the rain isn’t always very accommodating. This is especially true in Central and Southern California where long droughts are becoming the norm thanks to climate change. If you live in these areas of California, be ready to cut back your water usage to the bare minimum. You may also want to look into installing a “greywater” system that utilizes “used” or “grey” water from the sink and shower for non-potable uses, like washing clothes and watering the lawn.
Even this may not be enough, and you should be prepared to purchase water to refill your water storage system during the long, dry months of summer.
Going off the grid can be an extremely rewarding lifestyle, but it also requires some sacrifices. One big question to answer is how to get rid of number one and number two if you don’t have a sewage hookup to take care of that unpleasant chore. Depending on your situation, you may be blessed with a waste storage system that can be emptied by a hired waste removal service. If not, then a remaining option is the composting toilet.
Several different models of composting toilets exist, but they all use the natural processes of evaporation and decomposition to recycle waste. Most incorporate the same methods of a garden composter, relying on oxygen, moisture, heat, and aerobic bacteria to turn your organic matter into fertilizing soil. We wouldn’t suggest putting the results on your vegetable garden, but if done right, you should be able to give the local trees some nice new fertilizer.
We never said that going off the grid would be easy, but it can be incredibly rewarding, especially if you care deeply about living a sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle. One of the first big steps to take is to reach out to a local solar installation company to discuss your energy needs.
At Semper Solaris, we offer both solar system installation and solar battery installation. We can help you determine how much energy you need and recommend solar panels in California and solar battery system to meet your needs and keep you powered. With locations throughout California, we have local experts ready to help you get rid of your energy bills forever.
Contact us today to schedule a no-cost, no-pressure solar consultation.
The decision to go solar is a big one. Even though you’re nearly certain to reap a financial return on your leap of faith, it’s no small investment to turn your home into a self-sustaining green energy machine. What’s more, with so many companies getting into the clean energy market, you may have more options for providers than you know what to do with. When it comes to solar panels in San Diego, cost can vary depending on a number of factors.
Do you know what to look for in a good solar panel installer? Cost isn’t the only consideration, but we understand that affordability is probably at the top of your priority list. There’s more to cost evaluations than the purchase price of a solar panel. You can benefit from breaking down other associated costs to make sure your solar provider is giving you the most value for your investment. Here are some things to look for when you’re running a comprehensive comparison of San Diego solar providers.
How efficient are the panels proposed by your solar provider? If your provider uses less efficient panels, you are likely to end up needing more panels. More panels could increase the installation time, labor costs, and burden to your roof. In other words, while the panels may be cheaper individually the overall cost could increase.
As you compare the costs of getting solar panels installed on your home, consider that more efficient panels cost a bit more up front. But they pay off big, too. These panels will take up less room on your roof, have a more reliable power yield, and boast excellent degradation rates. The providers who offer the best, most efficient panels are often delivering a better value in the long term.
How long will you be in the home? If you want to personally take advantage of lower utility costs for years, going for more efficient models at the point of installation is a wise decision. The long-run value created by high-efficiency solar panels can include selling excess energy back to the grid, lower home utility costs, and may even improve the value of your home more than less efficient models.
Solar panels capture solar energy as something called a direct current (DC). Your home, however, runs most of its electronics and appliances on power called alternating current (AC). Inverters are the magic device that translates the power from DC to AC so you can use it. The type and subsequent cost of your inverter will depend largely on two things: the needs of your solar system and the preferences of your solar provider.
Solar inverters fall into three categories: string, micro, or power optimizer inverters. String inverters connect all of your panels to the same inverter and are typically the cheapest option. Micro-inverters have a separate small inverter on each individual panel, and power optimizers are a hybrid of string and micro-inverters. If you notice your inverter costs are high with one provider, ask which type they’re using. The difference in inverter costs between providers is likely that one is recommending a centralized inverter while another prefers the micro models.
The costs may vary between providers who are using the same panels and inverters for a few reasons, including the labor and permit factors. Faster, more experienced installers may charge a premium to get the job done in a day. On the other hand, you can often score discounts by booking an appointment during the off-season. While labor costs vary, they are often based on the same metric: price per watt of installed solar. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, labor costs are usually about 10% of your total system expense.
In terms of the local market, this portion of your cost comparison is pretty straightforward. Simply ask for an itemized estimate on labor costs from a few different companies to get an average. You should do a bit of digging about proposed permit costs as well. Your provider will need to draft solar plans and submit them for approval, and they should be able to explain to you what the cost implications are and why.
In addition to breaking down specific costs between panels, inverters, and permits — you should bust a few broader myths as you investigate your local provider options. First, as alluded to above, don’t assume that a lower cost on solar panels means you’re getting the “best deal.” It’s tempting to jump at the lowest bid, but you could end up with a less reliable power source because you chose a discounted panel that has fallen out of industry favor for a reason.
At the same time, paying more doesn’t mean you’re getting top of the line. Some consumers see a higher price tag and assume that they’re getting the best of the best. Look at industry reviews, ask the provider about why they recommend this panel, and look at the manufacturer’s website to view the costs yourself. There could be a lot of reason why a provider increases their prices, including the fact that national companies require a large marketing budget. Stick with quality over perceived exclusivity.
Have you taken a look at the condition of your roof lately? As you look for solar panels in San Diego, cost analysis must include what, if any, work on your roof looks like. A good solar provider will recommend roof work to maximize the lifespan of your solar panels and keep them secured properly.
Working with a company that does both roof replacement and solar panels means a more seamless experience. Juggling multiple vendors can make budgeting complicated and creating a realistic timeline a headache. If your roof repair team isn’t done by the time a separate solar panel provider shows up, you’re in trouble. Simplify the process and the cost by getting a quote for your roof at the same time you’re comparing solar costs and try to work with a single service provider.
Potential financing offers could also alter your cost comparison. Interest rates, required money down, and repayment terms are all worth your scrutiny as you decide on a local solar provider in San Diego. A percentage point could come down to thousands of dollars in the long run. Some providers don’t offer financing but can refer you to a trusted source where you’ll be able to obtain a reasonable rate. A provider that can work with you on reasonable financing and a payoff schedule could be saving you a lot of money up front, and then you can use some of your utility savings and selling excess energy to pay off the balance as quickly as possible.
What if you get a great deal on your solar panels but a fluke manufacturing error causes problems in 11 years? Warranties protect you in the event of a problem with the materials or the installation workmanship. Avoid a future money pit by ensuring that you’re covered by warranties from the start. A typical manufacturer’s warranty lasts for about 10-12 years, but some solar panels have a materials warranty for up to 25 years. In short: factor in future costs when you’re comparing solar providers. Warranties are the best way to offset these hypothetical expenses.
Are you ready to go green in San Diego? Solar panels cost enough to warrant a careful comparison before you accept a quote and sign a contract. Any provider worth their salt will be happy to explain their costs to you and give your project the attention it deserves. Never be afraid to ask for a breakdown of costs and post meaningful questions about anything you don’t understand. You are your own best advocate, even if you’re not a solar expert!
Contact Semper Solaris today to learn more about the best solar panels for use in San Diego. We’ll deliver a no-pressure bid on your solar system and tell you if you need a roof replacement. Becoming energy independent is a huge deal, and you may just inspire your neighbors to get on board, too!
Creative uses for your solar power system
Solar rooftop installations are a booming business and with the tax incentives and rebates available, Chula Vista, residents are installing systems to save money on electricity. But Solar rooftop panels for lower bills are only one aspect of the potential of residential solar power. You can extend the usefulness of your solar installation in resourceful ways from backup systems to heating your pool. Adding extra panels to your solar installation will enhance the potential of your solar system now while making space for future innovations in solar technology.
Adding extra panels in various ways to your system will make room for innovative new apps and gadgets that will increase your need for electricity. More is less in terms of added value and money saved now and in the future. Why not add extra panels to expand the potential of your solar power system? It may cost a little more up front but be cheaper than adding them later. It will not only increase the value of your home, with rebates and incentives available now; it is good to strike while the iron is hot.
The addition of a backup battery to your solar system will enable you to store extra power for your home when your panels are not generating enough electricity and avoid pulling more from your utility company at a higher cost. Or, be prepared for emergencies when the grid goes down. Have Semper Solaris install an LG Chem or Tesla Powerwall backup battery to ensure you have the surplus power when you need it and move you towards energy independence.
Installation of solar allows you to take advantage of many products and services that will help you get the full benefit of your Solar installation.
A solar water heater uses the power of the sun to heat the water in your home. It is another good reason to extend the capabilities of your solar system from the beginning. The extra panels could pay for themselves just by reducing the cost of hot water.
There are over 300 houses with pools for sale in Chula Vista, and that is only the tip of the iceberg. That is a lot of electricity, and it is expensive. If you have a pool, the addition of solar panels for your pool is a bonus to your solar installation. A solar pool heating and filtering system will allow you to heat your pool and spa and enjoy it year-round without breaking the bank.
Whether you have an electric powered car now or plan to have one in the future, having an EV charging station is something that you might consider when installing solar panels. Adding extra panels will leave room to expand and accommodate the future of automotive energy. Another move towards energy independence.
Ever thought about using solar panels as the roof of your covered patio? This extension of your system will provide shade and filtered light while generating power. Be sure to have the foundation of the patio inspected to make sure it can hold the panels, then enjoy your summer barbecue outdoors. Impress your guests.
SOLAR WINDOW AWNINGS
On those upstairs windows, you know the ones that endure the beating rays of the sun, especially in the late afternoon? Why not install solar panel awnings as an extension of your system that will provide shade on those windows while generating power and reducing the need for the air conditioning?
Solar Carports are an easy way to add more panels to your rooftop installation. If you have an RV or boat, you can extend the carport at an angle to shade the area– a fun way to add recreational space to your home right next to your EV station.
Add some eye candy to your home by having solar panels integrated into your roof to double as skylights. They will enhance the look of your home while generating clean energy and reducing the need for added light during the day.
THE FUTURE OF SOLAR
More innovative ways to extend and use this fantastic energy resource are on the horizon as technology gives way to bigger and better ideas. Going solar isn’t just about saving money or reducing your carbon footprint. It is also about seizing the future of technology and energy independence. The added value of having extra capabilities in your system goes a long way towards that end.
Semper Solaris is on the frontier, leading the way when it comes to residential solar power. Call us today and begin the journey into the future of solar on the rooftop and beyond.
SOLAR PANELS: MADE IN THE U.S.A.
Why does it matter?
As Americans know, the Trump Administration has imposed a 30 percent tariff on Chinese imports of solar cells in what the U.S. International Trade Commission considered a threat to U.S. Manufacturers through unfair trade practices and pricing.
Opponents of the tariffs on Chinese imports argue that they could cause layoffs in the solar installation business. But solar is the fastest growing energy source nationwide. And the benefits of domestic solar-panel manufacturing industry are huge for the industry and the country.
According to some leading business schools and think tanks, sending manufacturing overseas leaves a void not only for production workers but stifles advancement of technology in the U.S. Patents, an incentive and mechanism for invention, as well as investment in research and development, are influenced by the manufacturing of products derived from innovative ideas. What is on the horizon? Where would computer technology and advances in semiconductors be without the incentive to produce and create?
Manufacturing is more than just factories and production workers. Transportation, engineering, design, development of future technology along with education, training, and job creation revolve around manufacturing. It reaches so far as to affect government policies for immigration, taxes, and clean energy implementation.
Here in Poway, one solar manufacturing company that shut its doors, along with many others throughout the country, know just how unfair competition from China’s imports of solar panels, with their illegal subsidies, trade controls, and the lack of regulation in the dumping of hazardous waste, hurts U.S businesses.
In China, with its rapid industrial growth, polysilicon plants are a burgeoning business with the establishment of many new plants. Polysilicon is used to manufacture solar panels. But the byproduct, silicon tetrachloride, is an extremely toxic substance that endangers the environment.
Many of these plants are dumping this poisonous chemical on farmlands, making the land infertile. And the gases emitted from the plants are affecting nearby residents–poisoning the air. Chinese polysilicon manufacturers are saving millions by not using toxic waste recapture mechanisms. The low cost of imported Chinese solar panels comes with a price not only to the environment and poor farmers but to U.S. companies that cannot compete with the cheap imports.
Because of the threat to the environment from silicon tetrachloride, polysilicon companies in the United States are utilizing effective and costly systems for recycling the waste for reuse in the production of more solar panels. The very purpose of clean-energy is to reduce and eliminate threats to the environment. And although they are following the rules, the U.S. is at risk of losing the very industry it pioneered, as well as the gains made towards energy independence (not relying on foreign countries for our energy needs).
GOOD FOR AMERICA
But that is all changing, and the future of solar manufacturing in America looks bright. Solar Companies are setting up shop here in the U.S. again. Tesla/Panasonic is opening a large facility in Buffalo, N.Y. to produce solar panels. SolarWorld and others are opening facilities and reestablishing their prominence in the field of solar technology.
MADE IN THE U.S.A
At Semper Solaris, we use only the best “made in America” products, and we are proud of it. Panasonic and SolarWorld are cutting edge leaders in the manufacture of solar panels and systems and comply with our standards.
Semper Solaris offers a 25-year warranty on products and performance, and we stand behind our work. If you are contemplating installing solar power in your residence or business, you can count on us to provide the best service with the best equipment available. Call us today and schedule an evaluation of your home for a solar power installation “Made in the U.S.A.”
When you make an investment in solar power, the dream is to save thousands of dollars each year on utility costs and perhaps even sell some of your excess energy back to the grid. With the proper installation and maintenance, a set of solar panels can last decades and be a sound financial decision. In fact, solar panels have been exceeding expectations when it comes to average lifespan. PV panels built after 2000 can produce up to 92% of their original power at the 20-year mark.
Even with so much good news around the improvement of solar panels, it’s still wise to choose PV panels that are known for efficiency and a good temperature coefficient. Simply put: Solar panels are improving across the board, but they’re still not created equally. The top rated solar panels in the US (all available for installation in California) check all the right boxes. The first step to choosing one of the best ranked solar panels is understanding what you’re looking for and why things like efficiency quotients matter.
When does a solar panel go from OK to better than the rest? The top-selling solar panels typically earn great customer reviews, are efficient, and have an impressive temperature coefficient range. The first standard is pretty self-explanatory: but what exactly are efficiency and temperature coefficient ratings? Efficiency refers to the amount of sunlight that the panels can convert into electricity. The more sunlight your solar can convert, the fewer panels you’ll need to buy to successfully power your home.
Temperature coefficient relates to how the PV panels react to a temperature increase. In Southern California, this rating is especially important. If you’re living in the desert, the last thing you want is a panel that loses its efficiency during the summer — just when you need it most. Most solar panels are tested at 77 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature coefficient figure tells you how much efficiency the panels lose for every 1 degree of temperature increase. For instance, a panel with a temperature coefficient of -0.3 will lose 0.3% of its efficiency for every temperature degree above 77.
With these three components in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most highly rated solar panels for use under the California sun. These are the American-made panels that Semper Solaris has come to trust as experts in the business.
Panasonic panels have an efficiency range of 19 to 21.6% and a temperature coefficient of 0.258. The company uses 20 internal tests during their quality assurance process and offers an impressive 25-year warranty for the materials. The projected output is nearly 91% after 20 years, so the panels are a good long-term investment for your property. When it comes to customer feedback, Panasonic PV panels earned a 5-star consumer rating on SolarReviews as of late 2018.
At Semper Solaris, we love Panasonic because they are truly committed to making the world a cleaner place to live. Not only are their solar panels so energy efficient that they’re at the top of their game, but even the packaging for Panasonic solar panels is eco-friendly. They minimize the cardboard waste associated with your PV panel installation, so you can feel even better about using this brand for your solar panels.
Finally, Panasonic is considered one of the top rated solar panels by Semper Solaris because teaming up with the company has allowed us to offer you one of the only 100% American made solar panels available in California. Panasonic solar panels are manufactured in Buffalo, New York. Other companies might boast American assembled or American made panels, but some of the manufacturing could be outsourced. We love that Panasonic is committed to building the solar industry in the United States — and doing it with quality panels that we’re proud to install for you.
Silfab is another North American company that brings you a quality solar panel. The efficiency range for Silfab PV panels is 15.3 to 19% and the temperature coefficient ranges from 0.38 to 0.42. If you go with Silfab solar panels from Semper Solaris, you’re covered by a 25-year product warranty. Their residential solar solutions aim to combine esthetic architecture and maximum power density for projects of all sizes. Their all-black panels are particularly sleek if you want to install dark panels that blend into asphalt roof tiles.
Silfab has facilities in Toronto, Canada and Bellingham, Washington. Their North American production lines are certified to deliver Buy American products, and they use precise engineering. Silfab boasts the lowest defect rate in the US. If you’re looking for a great domestically made solar panel for your home, ask us about our Silfab panel options.
You’ll probably notice that the two top brands we install in California both have roots in American production. We think creating an America that is rich in clean energy starts from the ground up. It’s not enough that we install solar panels to leverage the sun into electricity for our homes; we should also add to the American economy by creating jobs right here!
Solar has and continues to be a major job creator in states that have adopted a solar state of mind. California ranks first in the nation for solar installations and we also have more than 86,000 jobs in solar! The solar industry is a particularly great source of employment for veterans. The Department of Energy has created initiatives to take the technical skills of military veterans and put them to great use in clean energy. By supporting American-made solar panels, you’re helping your local economy and putting people to work.
Using American manufacturing for solar panels not only helps the economy and creates jobs, but it also makes it easier to protect our environment. California is rich in incredible landscapes, from the beach and mountains to the deserts and farmland. We can better protect our precious terrain from harmful carbon footprints by promoting more regional solar panel creation. Making panels at home often means they’re more affordable and can be delivered quickly, allowing installers to get jobs done fast.
There is an ever-growing list of companies who are getting into the green energy game. From Mitsubishi to Hyundai, some household names you probably recognize from other industries are now on board with using their technology and manufacturing to create sustainable energy. There are also many smaller companies who are committed to creating efficient solar panels. In other words: you will always have a lot of choices when it comes to where to buy solar panels and storage.
Deciding which solar panels are right for your home depends on a lot of factors. Affordability is often at the top of any priority list, but efficiency and temperature coefficients should be close behind. Getting quality PV panels installed means less maintenance and better home value. A more efficient solar panel will also fare better in cloud cover or extreme heat, so you’ll thank yourself later for investing now.
Panasonic and Silfab products are two of the top-rated panels for a reason. Not only are they sourced from North America, but they are quality products with long warranties. But you don’t have to memorize their differences — we are here to walk you through choosing the right solar system for your property. If you’re still not sure which panels are the best fit for your property, Semper Solaris can help.
At Semper Solaris, we’re serious about helping homeowners become energy independent and environmentally friendly. We have helped many homeowners make the transition to solar seamlessly and within their budget. Call us today, and we can come out for a free consultation. You’ll get a no-pressure bid for new solar panels and we can walk you through the top-rated solar panels we prefer.
EMERGING SOLAR TECHNOLOGY
The future of Solar energy is promising as solar becomes more efficient, bringing with it innovation and the latest trends in solar technology. New chip technology, micro-inverters, and improvements to solar tech products are promising better and more efficient solar ideas. And looking to the future, groundbreaking technologies for building materials are on the horizon.
Fresh new designs make rooftop solar more attractive.
Bifacial solar panels
Also called double-sided panels, bifacial solar panels capture sunlight through both sides. They produce more energy than standard panels offering more savings on the cost of energy.
All glass solar panels
Glass panels have a sleek design that is more attractive and durable than regular silicon cell panels. These can are used in creative ways such being built into skylights. They also are less prone to degradation and offer fire resistance as well.
Frameless solar panels
If you don’t like the unattractive solar frames in rooftop panels, frameless solar sections use a unique mounting that looks more lustrous and matches the system for a modernized appearance.
Clear solar panels
Clear solar panels are frameless and visually appealing. They are enclosed in glass. They use the same technology as standard panels, but the cells are inserted between to glass casings instead of opaque backing.
New technology brings designs for a custom look to match your roof to your solar panel system with smart grids that are smaller than traditional panels. A few companies are pioneering this
These designer solar roof panels are set apart from other panel innovations. You can go solar without even noticing it on the roof. Tesla’s tiles are more durable than roof materials and will blend in with the style of your home. They are made with many styles of glass including textured and smooth glass and are one of the next great trends in solar.
Look for this amazing technology that makes sense. Solar windows generate electricity as the sun comes shining through the special hi-tech coating embedded in the glass.
There is a vision beyond the solar products you can acquire for your home or business or gadgets and inventions that we use in our lives. Pioneering research is paving the way for newer and better ways to reduce and eliminate the carbon footprint and offer a quality of life that is environmentally safe and maintainable.
Hornets And Grasshoppers
As we move forward in meeting the world’s energy needs and addressing sustainability and climate control, scientists are looking to nature for answers. It is apparent that we will need more and more electricity. We are accustomed to relying on electricity for the things we use each day—like turning on the air conditioner. And as the temperatures rise in the cities—that is not about to change.
Architect and Biologist Doris Kim Sung has looked to human anatomy for answers in the functioning of human skin and creating materials that work the same way. She has designed what is called a “Thermal Bimetal Skin” which can be used in architecture to regulate temperatures much in the way our skin functions to control the temperature in the body. It uses no electricity at all and can help control the temperatures in buildings to cut down on power used for heating and cooling systems. She is also looking to the respiratory system of grasshoppers for ideas on ventilation in buildings.
Scientists have found that some hornets use sunlight to produce electricity inside its exoskeleton. In an experiment, a solution was extracted then placed n a solar cell conductor, when exposed to light, the pigment in the solution generated electricity. Extracting energy from plants, animals and insects and biogenic solar cells made from living bacteria are in the sphere of scientific discovery.
Electrical capability from solar and other renewable sources is outdoing those from fossil fuels. Solar energy is one of the least expensive energy choices. Saving money and advances in solar technology leading to more options for the homeowner, make it an attractive option for homeowners in Escondido where sunshine is abundant.
From wearables to solar-powered cars. Solar tech is on the move. And Semper Solaris is a leader in providing the best solar products and installation. Call us today to begin taking advantage of the future of renewable energy—and go solar.
With 266 days of sun per year, San Diego is a prime candidate to become the leader in solar power. After all, the average number of sunny days is just 205 across the country. We nearly have the type of sun towns in New England could only dream of, especially in January. You can contribute to the city’s emergence as a green community by putting solar panels on your own home. From Mission Beach to Alpine and Chula Vista to Carlsbad, San Diego County properties are in a great position to generate their own energy using the power of the sun. Even better, solar energy is contagious. If you put solar panels on your own home, your neighbors are more likely to consider becoming energy independent, too. Before you know it, San Diego may be on the road to freedom from fossil fuel dependence.
If you’re new to the idea of solar power it’s easy to get overwhelmed. How many panels do you need? When is the best time to get them installed? Will you recover the costs of the solar panels when you sell your home? The world of solar energy is growing and changing every day — keeping up is easier with some expert advice. Before you make any decisions, let’s take a look at some of the basic do’s and don’ts of going solar in Sunny San Diego.
Solar professionals have a busy season and an off-season, just like any business. It’s no surprise that the summer months get people thinking about going solar. AC means escalating utility bills and the everpresent sunshine is top of mind. If you want to go solar in San Diego, consider getting your panels installed during the off-peak season.
Not only can you get better discounts if you get solar installed during the off-season, but you’ll get more attention from your solar installers. A slower schedule for solar companies means they can spend more time walking you through the process and devoting extra energy (no pun intended) to your job.
You see the summer season approaching and you know the peak season will arrive with it. Better get those panels installed right away… right? Not so fast. Rushing to get your panels installed could present its own problems. For one, you should get your roof assessed before you install solar panels.
Like all types of roofing materials, the Spanish tiles popular in Southern California have a limited lifespan. It would be a shame to install solar on a failing roof that needs to be replaced soon. Give yourself a few months for inspection and repairs instead of rushing to get panels installed before the first big heat wave, even if your favorite installer can fit you in. Overall, winter is the best time to make an appointment for solar installation.
The ideal orientation for solar panels is facing south. You can also orient your solar panels to the east or west, though they will produce about 20 percent less energy than south-facing panels. If you only have the option to place your panels on a north-facing rooftop, you may want to consider installing panels on the ground or using a creative tilting system.
The direction your solar panels will face may have a tremendous effect on the type of panels you choose and the number of panels you need to have installed. Planning ahead is key. For instance, you may discover that while your roof faces south, a neighboring building casts a shadow that hinders the roof’s daily sun intake. You may also have a small south-facing portion of your roof that can’t accommodate all of your panels. Most situations can be altered to make solar work but being aware of your roof’s relationship with the sun is the first step to developing a plan.
It’s true that solar panels work at maximum efficiency when they get regular direct sunlight. If you live in Ocean Beach, you might worry that the frequent ocean fog means your panels will be starved of sufficient UV rays. The good news is that even under fog, solar panels can absorb about half of what they need to operate at full potential. When the fog burns off at about noon, your panels are fully back in business. Likewise, tall trees that provide tons of shade to your roof can be a problem, but they don’t rule out solar panels. Trimming fronds and tilting the panels can mean your trees and solar panels live in harmony.
Your solar installer may offer great discounts during the off-peak season, but that’s not the only way to save cash on your panels. While the San Diego Gas and Electric (SDGE) solar rebates are currently exhausted for San Diego residents, the solar thermal rebate program is still active and has a total of $28 million to hand out. Keep your eyes peeled for other city or state rebate programs that will cut back on your initial costs. SDGE has a helpful guide that explains the various ways you can leverage various types of savings for solar installation. With the California push toward solar (most new builds will be required to have panels as of 2020), it’s always possible that new rebates could become available for current homeowners in San Diego.
If you don’t have access to city or state rebates, all hope for major savings is not lost. You can still apply the federal tax credit for solar investment (ITC) to your taxes next year. The tax rebate allows you to deduct up to 30% of the cost of your PV panel installation. Be aware, however, that you only have until 2019 to deduct 30%; after that, the credit tapers off through 2022 for residential properties.
You should also consider the annual savings from switching away from the grid and the increased value of your home. Even if you don’t save money in a lump sum rebate up front, you still stand to make a lot of money in the future. SDGE will also compensate you for excess energy generation that you give back to the grid if you apply and are approved for the Net Energy Metering (NEM) program.
A company that knows San Diego weather and climate patterns will be able to explain exactly what financial returns you can expect from going solar, and how many panels you need to fully power your home. Only a company familiar with the entire county will be equipped to understand the different needs of a home in Mission Valley versus a property near the coastal fog at the beach. In addition to considering price, it’s savvy to place value on how well the solar company understands the unique needs of a San Diego homeowner. Will it be worth it to pay less up front in your work with a company that only has a history of working in the desert?
You have the right to ask as many questions as you want of any solar company. After all, going solar is not only a big financial investment: it’s also a change in lifestyle. You want to work with an organization that knows the solar industry and is comfortable being asked about their practices, costs, and knowledge of San Diego installations.
So, are you ready to get serious about going solar in San Diego? You won’t be left wanting for sunny days to shower your new panels with energy. Between the increased value in your home and the ability to become energy independent, getting solar panels in San Diego has too many benefits to pass up. Contact Semper Solaris today to find out more about going green in SD.
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