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.
Getting It Right with Solar Panels in San Diego
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.
Do: Consider Getting Panels Installed During the Off-Season
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.
Don’t: Rush to Get Your Panels Installed Before the First Heat Wave
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.
Do: Examine Which Direction Your Roof Faces to Maximize Panel Access to the Sun
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.
Don’t: Assume That Sea Fog or Tall Palms Mean You Won’t Get Enough Sun
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.
Do: Look for Rebates to Enjoy More Cost Savings
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.
Don’t: Give Up on Solar If You Don’t Qualify for State Discounts
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.
Do: Work with a Local Solar Company That Understands San Diego Climate
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?
Don’t: Be Shy About Vetting Your Solar Company Thoroughly
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.