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The Ultimate Guide to Residential Solar

By | Installations, Prices, Residential, Solar, Uncategorized | No Comments

Residential Solar Roofing

Solar power has been in existence for a considerable amount of time; however, it was not until recently that it became embraced by people globally. This was after the realization of the need to turn to green energy in efforts of realization of the Millennium development Goals. Due to this reason, people are still very green in this industry and this, in turn, poses a great challenge. If you would like to buy a car today, you will have several people to consult and guide you on the car market. Should you make a mistake, you will probably say next time you will make a better decision.

When it comes to solar panels, things don’t run this way. Installing solar systems is considered to be more expensive than acquiring your first car. Most people who have solar systems installed have only been using it for several years. Among these people, only a handful have used solar panels to their full life cycles. Unlike buying a car, buying solar panel is a crucial affair and this means that there are no rooms for mistakes. It’s for this reason that we felt the need to come up with a complete guide, we call it “ The Ultimate Guide to Residential Solar.” We want to guide you and ensure you know what to look for before buying your residential solar system.

Enjoy reading.

Roofing

To begin with, you need to ask yourself. Do you have a good roof that can support solar panels? This step can be easily overlooked, but it’s critical. Is your house always covered by shades for the better part of the day or throughout the year? Does it have a favorable solar window that can justify the cost of solar panels? If your roof passes this, you need to ensure it’s in good shape structurally. If your roof looks like it needs some repair in the next few years to come, it’s better to repair it first before starting the installation process. That way you would save on costs that would have incurred if you would have sought for a technician to disconnect the solar systems for you in order to start the renovation. It’s thus important to visualize the future of your residential home. If it’s unobstructed at the moment but you have planted some trees nearby, then your solar systems might end up being short lived. You also need to factor in your neighbor as well. If they plan to build a skyscraper in the next few years, then solar panels might simply not work for you.

Improve Efficiency

Before installing residential solar panels, you first need to ensure you have done everything that can improve efficiency. The amount of solar energy you will need to produce will largely depend on how much energy you use. For this reason, it will make more sense if you trim down your energy use before paying for the solar panels. An energy audit ensures you improve efficiency as much as consumption is concerned, and this is what you need to do before drawing the blue prints.

Type of Solar System You Need

Two prominent solar systems are primarily the photovoltaic cells which turn sunlight into electricity and the thermal one which uses sunlight to heat air or water. If your residential home consumes a lot of power for heating or if you live in locations where heating fuel is expensive when compared to electricity, then, your solar investment can break sooner, advises Timothy Wilhelm. Timothy coordinates electrical technology, and he teaches about solar installation in Kankakee Community College, Illinois.

Connecting to the Grid

Although details vary depending on location, it’s, however, paramount that you need first to seek out logistics before connecting with a utility. Are there fees to pay? How long does it take for you to get hooked up to the utility? How will you be credited for the electricity you generate once you are connected? These are some of the considerations you have to ponder on.

Credibility of Your Installer

Once you hire someone to install solar panels in your residential home, you need to realize that as much as it’s about home improvements, there are logistics that come into play. The connection touches on the already installed electrical works. Kelly Larson, an electrical contractor in California with over 20 years experience says “You need not hire someone who has never done any electrical work to come and make changes in your house.” Credentials and references play a significant role. You are looking for a company that will be with you all the way. They will stick around and come to help you when things fail. Though solar systems don’t have major problems as they are not moved up and down, you still need a company that sticks with you for the lifetime of your installation.

To Lease or to Buy

After you have decided you are ready to go the solar way, you need to do a cost-benefit analysis by trade off. While buying your solar systems is cost intensive, it still tables bigger dividends. On the other hand, leasing will grant you access to cheaper electricity though the benefits here are limited. You will have to pay the company the agreed on the amount and when the lease is up, they may as well decide to take away their systems and your residential home will be in jeopardy. Owning the system will pay the cost of purchase in the long run. You thus need to do a good comparison on the total life cycle cost of the lease and weigh it against ownership benefits. Wilhelm advises that you need to keep in mind that while the solar system can last for decades, some appliances like the power inverter have a shorter lifespan. While budgeting, it’s thus good to factor in the cost of system replacements.

Financial Incentives

With the federal government recent efforts of giving incentives to people ready to go green, it’s good to inquire and learn if there are incentives or government subsidies that you can capitalize on while doing solar panel installation. Some solar rebates can, in fact, pay off. The federal government provides tax credits for solar panels, and this can cut costs by up to 30%. Some states, however, might lack such rebates but before you make a conclusion, consult first. Your solar installation team should be in a position to give you a good guide on how to get the maximum rebate.

If you are in the San Diego area and would like us to find out the best solar rebate options for you, contact us.

Building Permits

Before installing solar systems in your residential home, it’s good to ensure that you have the required or proper building permits. This step is crucial because if you simply overrule it, you might have to bring down and redo the entire project once more. Regulations differ from city to city. In some, you are required to have at last a three-foot clearance around your roof. Some will, however, allow you to install the systems up to the very edge. In the USA, building permits are issued at local levels; this explains why there are differences in requirements as you move from one city to another. Besides building, you further need to ensure that your solar panel system meets the requirements of electrical codes.

Electricity Output

Another factor you have to consider before getting solar panels installed in your residential home is electricity output. Ideally, one panel produces around 250 watts of electricity; this means that for you to have at least 2.5 kW a day, you need ten panels. Settling for a smaller number of panels will thus mean that you will have limited the amount of electricity you can produce and it will also reduce the money you receive from feed-in tariff. A normal household requires 3.5kW of electricity a day, and that equates to 4,800 kW a year. Such statistics imply you have to dig deep in your pocket if you want to power your residential home fully on solar panels. If it’s difficult, you might consider getting some bit of electricity from the national grid system as well.

Amount of Money You Want to Spend

Another factor you have to consider before installing residential solar systems is the amount of money you want to spend versus the amount of money required. Money defines everything. Money is the determining factor from the type of solar panel to buy all the way up to who will install for you. You might be wishing to have one of the largest solar systems installed in your residential home, but you may only have a buck or two in the bank. The cost of installation is largely determined by the brand of the panel, type of the panel and the size of the panel. Other factors are labor and number of batteries that you may need to store power that is generated by the solar panel.

Use of the Solar Panel

The main reason you might want to set up a solar system is maybe you want to have a mere backup at times when there is a blackout in your area. Another reason may be to run your kitchen or to power one or two appliances that you recently acquired. Another person may want to fully utilize solar energy in everything he or she does. Some solar systems might be connected to the grid systems using a grid inverter. In this scenario, if there is a major blackout or if there some maintenance being done on the national grid, they don’t want electricity to feed into their grid and for this reason, you may also be in a blackout. For this reason, you have to clearly define the need and use of your solar panel before you calculate the cost of installation.

Types of Residential Power Installation

When it comes to residential solar power installation, you need to understand that there are two types of them. The first type connects your solar panel system to the main electricity grid. This is by far the most common type of solar installation. The grid connection system allows you to feed energy back to the grid system via your meter. With this option, you are rewarded by the power company for the amount of energy you have added to their system. The second type of residential power system is referred to like the stand alone solar power system. With this system, the cost of connecting solar panels to the main grid system is prohibitive. In this system, the solar panels charge a battery which in turn gives power to the house. Usually, a generator is kept on the stand by to back up power to the systems.

How Long Does it Take to Install a Residential Solar System?

Most solar companies will give you a free quote or estimate, including us! If your residential house is not so big, solar installation will take less than a day. It’s very rare to find incidences where solar installation in a residential has taken more than two days.

If you are in the San Diego area and would like a free quote please click here.

Solar Power Installation on Residential Homes

In most cases, solar installation is done on the roof, however, should you prefer your residential solar systems to be installed somewhere else; it can always be done but a cost. They will only need to erect free-standing solar panels in your preferable area. To get maximum solar energy, companies’ advice that you tilt your solar panels at a certain angle that is uniquely dependent on your geographic location. For most people, an angle of 30 degrees does well.

Solar Inverter

Depending on the type of installation, you might need to purchase some solar inverters. Inverters convert current from DC, direct current, to 240V AC electricity which is suitable for your home. Most inverters tend to be smaller than standard suitcases and are placed near the main electric switch boards.

Residential Solar Power Maintenance

To maintain your solar panels, you need to at least clean them every year. Since most solar panels are immovable, they should be able to last you up to twenty years or more.

Residential Solar Power Benefits

Solar energy is green energy. It thus has lots of advantages. To begin with, it’s a renewable source of energy. It’s also readily available and in abundant quantities. Solar energy is sustainable and environmentally friendly. Solar power reduces electricity costs, and this means that your home will end up saving more as far as costs of energy is concerned. In addition to that, solar panels are silent unlike generators and can be redistributed or shared. It also receives government support or aid.

Disadvantages of Residential Solar Energy

One of the major drawbacks of this type of energy is that it is expensive to setup and install. It’s also intermittent in that at times, access to solar energy is interrupted. Interruptions are mostly weather or climate oriented. Lastly, it requires a considerable amount of space.

The Bottom Line

Solar panels provide clean energy that is pollution free. It has more advantages both economically and environmentally. We hope that this article will go a long way in helping you make the right decision as far as installing residential solar energy is concerned.

SDGE Rate Structure Changes

By | Prices, Residential, Utilities | 4 Comments
2015 SDGE rate structure changes

SDGE Has Implemented Significant Rate Structure Changes

With approval from the California Public Utilities Commission, SDGE and the other major investor-owned utilities in California have enacted the beginning of their “tier-flattening” strategy. This plan will allow them to adjust rates and eliminate tiers, getting to a two-tier structure by 2019. Once finished, the goal is to have two tiers (and a “super-user surcharge” that will essentially create a third tier) with a difference of 20-25% in price between the lower and upper tier. The surcharge will be added to the price of second tier energy once the high-use threshold is reached.

The changes began September 1st, 2015 for SDGE by lowering the price for tier 3 (which has absorbed tier 4), and an increase in prices for tiers 1 and 2. Here’s what the changes look like for the typical homeowner (Schedule DR – RESIDENTIAL SERVICE Effective 9/1/2015):

$10/MONTH MINIMUM FOR ELECTRIC
-AND-

TIER 1

PREVIOUS PRICE
17.41¢ per kWh

NEW PRICE
18.08¢ per kWh

TIER 2

PREVIOUS PRICE
20.46¢ per kWh

NEW PRICE
20.53¢ per kWh

TIER 3

PREVIOUS PRICE
40.36¢ per kWh

NEW PRICE
39.61¢ per kWh

TIER 4

PREVIOUS PRICE
42.36¢ per kWh

COMBINED WITH TIER 3
39.61¢ per kWh

While this may look like good news at first glance, the overall assessment is that this is the beginning of price increases through 2019 for the majority of SDGE residential customers. As price adjustments continue, the goal is to get to a 20-25% difference between two tiers. The assumption is that the lower tier will continue to climb in price as the upper tier price comes down slowly. Effectively, everyone will be paying significantly higher costs for the lower tier but less for the upper tier… until the super-user surcharge comes into play. At this point, it will be as if there is still a third tier, which will be much more expensive than the baseline price. Once these changes have been completed by 2019, SDGE’s next goal will be switching all customers to a time-of-use rate to allow prices to reflect demand.

Lock-in Lower Energy Rates With Solar

With utility companies making so many changes to how they charge their customers, and prices continually increasing, there is no certainty for the future of electricity rates. Going solar now allows you to lock-in lower energy rates (as low as $0.06/kWh) and, in many cases, requires $0 down. That means you can start saving on your energy costs and immediately see an increase in monthly cash flow. With about 10 different financing options such as 1.89% financing, and PACE programs such as HERO and YGRENE, we’ll be able to help you find the solution that’s best for your personal situation. Don’t delay – get started now to lock-in the current Net Metering Agreement for the next 20 years and SECURE YOUR SAVINGS WITH SOLAR!

2014 SDGE Rate Hike

Net Metering Status Update

By | Net Metering, Prices, Residential, Solar, Utilities | No Comments

ACT NOW – BEFORE THE NET METERING RULES CHANGE

Net metering, the agreement customers enter into with SDGE when they install solar, is going to be changing soon. The California Public Utilities Commission has finalized NEM 2.0, which will go into effect once solar production capacity reaches 5% of peak energy demand. Customers who have already installed a solar panel system, and those who install soon, are grandfathered in for the next 20 years and will receive retail rates for the surplus energy they produce and put back onto the grid. Net Metering 2.0 has been announced and retains much of the value of the current program, with a few minor modifications.

Current Net Metering Status (as of March 31, 2016)

94.47%

This represents the current NEM Installations and Applications in Queue (Cumulative MW Installed under NEM + NEM MW in Queue). This number is calculated by SDGE and was last updated on March 31, 2016.  Of the 617 MW available under the current Net Metering Agreement (5% of peak demand), 582.9 MW are already installed or in the queue (4.72% of peak demand). 34.1 MW remain until the current Net Metering Agreement closes.

WHEN WILL THE NEM CAP BE REACHED?

Some solar companies in San Diego had been claiming that “the sky is falling” since mid-2015. However, the timelines provided by more reliable sources (SDGE, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the California Solar Energy Industries Association) estimate different dates when the NEM cap could be reached.

CALSEIA ESTIMATE: May-June 2016
CPUC ESTIMATE: March-July 2016
SDGE ESTIMATE:
 July-December
 2016

SDGE Net Metering Changes

NOW IS THE TIME TO GO SOLAR!

With the current net metering agreement coming closer to the cap in SDGE’s territory, those who act now can benefit by locking-in retail rate credit for surplus energy production for the next 20 years! Net Metering 2.0 will still help homeowners and businesses save significantly on their energy costs, but does include a nominal upfront fee and some non-bypassable charges for energy consumed from the grid.

If you’ve been thinking about going solar, it’s time to get serious or risk missing out on the best value with solar and SDGE. Request a free quote and see how much you could be saving.

Enjoy Comfort & Savings – Live Better With Solar.

Data for Net Metering Status provided by SDGE.
View the full report at: www.sdge.com/clean-energy/net-energy-metering/overview-nem-cap

Net Metering Changes

By | Prices, Residential, Solar | One Comment
SDGE Net Metering Changes

Upcoming Changes To Net Metering

Net metering, the agreement customers enter into with SDGE when they install solar, is going to be renegotiated soon. Customers who have already installed a solar panel system, and those who sign up soon, are grandfathered in at a $5/month grid interconnection fee for the next 20 years. Once solar production capacity reaches 5% of peak energy demand (we are at 3.1% as of January 30, 2015), SDGE will be able to enact a newly negotiated grid interconnection fee. Though the actual amount has not been approved yet, some experts expect the monthly fee to increase to as much as $30/month.

WHEN WILL THE NEM CAP BE REACHED?

Some solar companies in San Diego are claiming that the cap will be reached sometime this summer. However, the timelines provided by more reliable sources (SDGE and the California Solar Energy Industries Association) estimate different dates for the NEM cap to be reached.
SDGE’S ESTIMATE

April or May 2016

CALSEIA’S CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATE

Between May and August 2016

CALSEIA’S AGGRESIVE ESTIMATE

January 2016

NOW IS THE TIME TO GO SOLAR !!!

With the current net metering agreement coming closer to  the cap in SDGE’s territory, those who act now will benefit greatly by locking-in the $5/month grid interconnection fee for the next 20 years! While we don’t yet know how much this charge will go up, everyone in the solar industry is aware that SDGE wants to significantly increase this monthly fee for customers with solar.

If you’ve been thinking about going solar, it’s time to get serious or risk missing out on lower fees from SDGE. Request a free quote and see how much you could be saving!

Lock-in Lower Energy Rates With Solar

With utility companies averaging a 6-7% annual increase, you can expect your bill to double every 12 years. Going solar now allows you to lock-in lower energy rates (as low as $0.06/kWh) and, in many cases, requires $0 down. That means you can start saving on your energy costs and immediately see an increase in monthly cash flow. With about 10 different financing options such as 1.99% financing, and PACE programs such as HERO and YGRENE, we’ll be able to help you find the solution that’s best for your personal situation. Don’t delay – get started now to ensure your eligibility to take the 30% Federal Tax Credit for 2015!

2014 SDGE Rate Hike

Net Metering 101

By | Prices, Residential, Solar | No Comments
San Diego solar net metering

What Is Net Metering?

And How Does It Work?

As we approach the Winter Solstice on Sunday, December 21st, we experience the shortest days of the year. Of those who have solar or are considering investing in solar, many are asking “How do the shorter days and weather affect my solar production?”

In San Diego, we have a very mild experience when it comes to “winter weather,” which is one of the reasons we’ve all chosen to call this place home. We do, however, experience a few factors that reduce overall solar power production, such as the sun crossing the sky at a lower angle or the occasional cloud-covered day. These factors can reduce total light density (the sun’s rays that power our solar panels) from over 1,000 watts-per-square-meter to less than 200 watts-per-square-meter.

SDGE smart meter for San Diego solar

How Does Net-Metering Work?

This agreement, entered into by customers with solar and SDGE, measures the total energy (in kilowatt-hours) you draw from the grid against the total energy you put back onto the grid over a 12-month period. On days when you produce more electricity than your home consumes, such as a typical San Diego summer day, the excess generation gets pushed back on the grid and SDGE is required to provide you with credit for this energy. On days when you consume more electricity than you produce, as you may have seen during the storms over the past few weeks, SDGE provides that electricity and charges your account accordingly. These charges are not paid monthly, though, just once a year.

What Is A True-Up Bill?

SDGE sends you a statement every month showing production vs consumption of grid electricity. This monthly statement is not a bill, just a summary for your records. Once a year, you will receive a “true-up bill.” This will show you the net energy results and requires payment if you’ve pulled more electricity from the grid than you’ve pushed back onto it. If you’re annual over-production is greater than you annual consumption from the grid, you’ll receive a payment from SDGE at the nominal price of $0.04/kWh.

Solare Energy’s Unique Approach

When we design systems, we take into account multiple factors including your annual energy consumption and rate structure analysis. Most solar companies never analyze the customer’s rate structure and leave them on the tiered billing system. Most of our customers see additional benefits by switching to Time-of-Use billing, which allows you to earn more for the energy you produce during the day and pay less for the energy you consume at night, giving you 2-2.5 times more credit for your electricity production vs consumption with SDGE.

Lock-in Lower Energy Rates With Solar

With utility companies averaging a 6-7% annual increase, you can expect your bill to double every 12 years. Going solar now allows you to lock-in lower energy rates (as low as $0.06/kWh) and, in many cases, requires $0 down. That means you can start saving on your energy costs and immediately see an increase in monthly cash flow. With about 10 different financing options such as 1.99% financing, and PACE programs such as HERO and YGRENE, we’ll be able to help you find the solution that’s best for your personal situation. Don’t delay – get started now to ensure your eligibility to take the 30% Federal Tax Credit for 2015!

2014 SDGE Rate Hike
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