The Current State of Solar Energy
The cost of installing solar panels has drastically decreased over the past 15 years.
Some benefits of going solar are:
- Increased property value
- 26% Federal Tax Credit on the entire cost of your PV solar system, but in 2021 that Tax Credit will decrease to 22%.
- Financing is available and easier than ever, with low interest rates and much shorter terms.
- Return on Investment for Southern California home owners is usually 4 – 7 years and over 20% ROI.
Plus with free per per panel monitoring, for all our clients, why not go solar now!
Are solar panels worth it for your home?
Here are some of the most popular questions answered
Will solar panels increase my home value?
In most all cases a properly designed PV (photovoltaic) solar system will add value to your home. However in some rare cases where the system is poorly designed, it is conceivable that a system could in fact lower the value of the home. This is why a properly designed solar panel system should always take into account not only the initial production desired but also longevity (is the equipment speced designed to last for the 25 year life of the system?). Most old tech inverters (string type) are only designed to last 10 years.
Another important value consideration that is often overlooked by the designer is that of aesthetics. Are the panels placed in a hodge podge manner or are the homes aesthetics taken into account?
Will solar panels save me money?
As a rule most PV solar systems will save you money. Savings come from a variety of sources. The first and easiest way to see this is by home much your electric bill is lowered, immediately. This of course is often balanced by a loan payment that was used to finance the system.
Current Utility Cost Sample
Utility Savings After Solar (1 year)
The second major savings comes from the 26% Federal Tax credit. In a typical system, this can be a $6-10,000 federal tax credit.
26% Federal Tax Credit Example
The third savings which is always the largest and yet toughest to see, is the accumulated savings over time due to the system offsetting continuously increases power costs. While a customer may be offsetting a $250 average bill in month 1, by year 10 that same bill may easily be $460, and a stunning $1,270 in year 25. A $25,000 PV system at todays cost can save a consumer more than $200,000 in lifetime electric bills over 25 years.
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Are solar panels worth it? The answer is simple, you will save a considerable amount on your electricity bill and increase the value of your home.
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Solar Panel Efficiency
Which solar panels are the most efficient?
- LG up to 21.1% efficiency
- Sunpower up to 22.8% efficiency
- Panasonic up to 19.7% efficiency
- Qcell up to 19.6% efficiency
Note: Solar panel efficiency is less important than the cost per watt and value of the companies warranty.
Some of the best rated solar panel manufacturers from 5-10 years ago are no longer in business. That said, what good is the warranty now and who do you call?
This same logic should be applied to the inverters as well as your installer. One of the growing issues within the industry, which we highlight in this article (What to do if your solar installer disappears?), is when people attempt to reach their installer only to find they are out of business and they are left orphaned without a company to rely on for service.
At Palomar Solar and Roofing we estimate 90% of the our inquiries are customers looking for someone to service their previously installed system because the company no longer exists.
Upon initial contact with Palomar, one of our certificated solar experts will take the time to hear your story and explain our service fee structure. We’ll gather some basic information crucial for us to assess your situation and determine potential solutions. At the completion of this initial phase, we’ll have a much better understand of how we can help.
The most common type of solar cells for panels are those made of?
Crystalline silicon (containing both monocrystalline and polycrystalline), and panels made from thin film technology.
How efficient are solar panels?
Average efficiency of solar panels falls between the 15 to 18 %.
When are solar panels most efficient?
Best months for solar production
The month of April is often the most productive month for solar due to the length of the day balanced with cooler weather, allowing the panels to perform at their peak. The summer months April through September will produce twice as much power as the period from October thru March.
Where are solar panels most efficient?
Best direction to face solar panels
The preferred placement for solar panels is south to south west facing, but not all homes have the space necessary in these directions, therefore eastern facing placement may be necessary as well. Care should always be taken when considering a northern orientation as the output is noticeably lower.
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Our Latest Residential Solar Panel Installation in Del Mar, CA
Check out this beautiful Del Mar, CA solar panel project using 22 LG solar panels with 22 enPhase microinverters. The system size is 8.25kW DC, and was completed in August.
Before the system was installed we completed a roof repair where the system was going to be placed. One of our roofing crews started the project by carefully removing the existing tile roof. Then, they installed composite shingle on the roof where the solar panels would soon be, and stored away the removed tiles to be used later.
Next our solar crew arrived and installed the solar panels in just one day.
We also installed online per panel monitoring. This feature allows the homeowner to be able to see exactly how each panel is performing at any given time of day!
Just three days after installation was complete, the happy homeowners were granted permission from SDG&E to turn on their system.
Are Solar Panels Harmful To The Environment?
Solar panels are designed to absorb the sun’s rays as a source of energy for generating electricity or heating. The increasing cost of electricity has led many home owners to question if installing solar panels is the right decision for them. That said many wonder are solar panels eco-friendly and do they have a potential for a negative impact on the environment.
Solar Panels Eco-Friendly Benefits
Most energy comes from fossil fuels or nuclear power, but solar power has become a major player in the world of clean energy.
- Solar panels create no greenhouse gases
- Solar panels are now not only an option for sunny environments
- Solar panels are slowly becoming adopted by many big businesses that typically use a lot of energy resources
Solar Energy Impact vs. Fossil Fuels
When choosing solar panels you become much more environmentally friendly over power sources that use fossil fuels. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory states that each household that switches to solar energy stops 7.7 tons of toxic greenhouse gases from being released.
The biggest concern for most people interested in solar panels is whether the disposal process is harmful to the environment. Manufacturing companies have developed ways to make solar products easier to dispose of, and easier on the environment. Many of the chemicals have great potential for recycling because of their value. When manufacturers have incentives to recycle these materials, they will keep costs down. New technology also has paved the way for the use of organic products that have less of an environmental impact.
If you are thinking of solar power as an option, you will find that it is an eco-friendly choice.
Solar Panel Damage
Will Solar Panels Damage my Roof?
No, though if not properly installed they can definitely cause damage. Believe me we have seen some pretty scary solar panel installations. This is why a companies reputation should always be taken into account when deciding who to use for a PV installation. Cheaper is often not better, as the old saying goes “you get what you pay for“.
Can Solar Panels Catch Fire?
The short answer is no. Solar panel damage caused by fire is rare due to the panels themselves generally being fireproof. However if improperly wired when they are installed a fire could be the result. This is a rare occurrence and yet the main reason why a licensed electrician should always be hired to do the installation to ensure proper conduit and wire terminations are used to ensure a safe and secure system.
That said, can solar panels overheat? Solar panels by themselves do not overheat. In fact the hotter the day, the less solar output is received. A byproduct of a solar installation is often a lowering of attic temps, due to the shade provided to the roof of the structure by the panels.
Can Solar Panels be Damaged by Hail?
Yes solar panels are designed to withstand most hail, ie. the size of a golf ball. That said damage is still possible in some cases and as such you should always add the solar system to your home insurance policy, in order to recover any loss caused by damages that are unforeseen.
Can Solar Panels be Removed?
Yes solar panels can be removed for purposes of roof repair or system replacement etc. However due to potential high voltages, especially with older systems, this work should never be done by a homeowner. Always hire a professional to service or remove a PV solar system.
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Solar Panel Cleaning 101
How Often Should you Clean Your Solar Panels?
Fortunately, high-efficiency solar panels don’t require constant cleaning. The amount of sunlight lost from dirty panels is not high enough to make a difference.
However, there are times when cleaning your solar panels makes sense.
- If you live on or near a unpaved road as the amount of dirt is higher-than-normal.
- If you live in an area with a high frequency of birds (due to their droppings)
- If you live in a drought prone area, such as eastern San Diego or Murrieta, due to the prevalence of dust.
Do these environmental factors hinder the effectiveness of the solar panels?
The short answer is yes, but as mentioned above, the amount of energy lost is negligible. The dirt, debris, and bird droppings can impact how much sunlight gets through, which is needed to convert the light to energy, though efficiency is only really lowered by 5% or less. So it is a matter of weighing effort to energy loss.
How to Clean Solar Panels?
Most people choose to hire a professional to clean their solar panels, but if you feel up to the challenge, here are the instructions to guide you through the process:
- Fill a bucket with soapy water. Ensure you’re using a cleanser that is gentle (such as dish washing detergent). However, plain water works as well.
- Gently wet down the solar panels. (don’t use a high pressure water attachment).
- With your non-abrasive sponge and soapy water wash down each panel.
- Finish with a good rinse.
Another thing to note is to keep the weather in mind. Solar panels get very hot, so picking a late afternoon or cloudy day would be the best time to clean your solar panels.
Happy Independence Day
Stay safe everyone!
Your PV Solar System is a very large investment in what is likely your single biggest investment, your home. Solar can be one of the best investments you make depending on the contractor you hire, if you make the wrong decision you may regret it for many years to come. As such here are some pointers as to how to best ensure that you choose the right contractor and PV system to fit your needs.
Solar is not a “one size fits all” proposition and as such, a site visit and consultation are always required before signing a contract to avoid costly change orders later. By properly understanding your needs and site-specific variables, you can be assured that a true scope of work is understood upfront to avoid costly change orders later.
Things to consider in the contractor you hire to ensure you have the best long-term experience. Remember this is a 25-year relationship.
- Search our recommended installer list based on your zip code as we have completed a lot of the research for you, these contractors are Enphase ambassadors and have already been vetted by Enphase.
- Verify with your state’s Contractors State License Board that they are licensed for the work you are contracting for. In many cases, this will also alert you to their years in business, that they are properly insured and or that they are currently under a disciplinary situation or not licensed at all!
- Google the company name and the word complaints. Check online sites such as Yelp, BBB, Nextdoor, etc. This is a quick way to get an idea as to the reputation of the contractor.
- Does the Contractor own their building and trucks? If so it is reasonable to assume they will be doing their own work.
- Or are they working out of a PO box and using Sub Contractors for all of their work? This can be a concern as you may be dealing with a sales team only. Who knows who will do your work?! Who would handle any needed repairs needed down the road in this case?
Basic questions that need to be answered before signing a contract.
- What system size do you need? At a minimum, a contractor should be reviewing your previous year’s kWh usage. This gives a good baseline indication. To properly size the system you should be asked if you plan on getting an electric car, using more air conditioning, or is anyone moving in or out of the home in the near future, etc. If so then you will need to account for this in the system design.
- How many panels fit on your roof? A company should be able to provide a professional drawing showing where the panels will go. S, W, E roofs are recommended. North should be used only as a last resort and will never deliver the power of the other roof orientations.
- What size is your main electrical panel? There are back feed limitations with solar. It is often the case that your existing Utility service will dictate the maximum system size that can be reasonably installed, without a proper site inspection you could easily be looking at a huge change order to bring the electric service up to code, this is a perfect example of understanding the scope of work upfront and avoiding costly change orders later.
- How old is your roof? If your roof is 20 years old or more then you should consider re-roofing before going solar, as it is costly to remove and reinstall a solar system. We recommend you consider finding a contractor who has an electrical license and a roofing license. This will prevent future finger-pointing should the roof ever leak.
- Review the contract in detail before signing. It is not uncommon at all for less scrupulous companies to send you a contract that doesn’t include any specifics. Your contract should include at a minimum the following:
- Inverter type – Manufacturer and model number *Make sure they are specifying Enphase microinverters*
- Panel Manufacturer and Model number
- System size should match the quantity of the panels times the panel wattage; ie 20 LG 335w panels is a 6.7kw system size
- Are all warranties detailed and understandable? How long will the installer stand behind their work? Our microinverters and most panels have a 25-year warranty.
Just to recap:
- Do your own research first before contacting the three companies you want to consider.
- Schedule consultations and site visits with your top three. Listen and ask questions of all three before making your decision, don’t fall for any special deals if you will sign today.
- Make sure you are provided with drawings, proposals, spec sheets, and contracts for your review. Review them, don’t assume!
- Never make a decision on the first visit!