Top Solar Energy Questions Answered 2020

Solar Panel Efficiency: 2020 Top Questions Answered

Solar Panel Efficiency

Which solar panels are the most efficient?

Currently the top manufacturers include LG, Sunpower, Panasonic and Qcell

  • 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 %.

 

Solar Panel production by month

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.

 

 

 

Solar Panel direction

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.

 

Contact Us Today

And find out if solar panels are right for you.
Email or call 1.760.504.0388.

Residential Solar Installation in Del Mar, CA 92014

Del Mar Roof Mounted Solar Panel Project

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.

Solar Panels Eco-Friendly

Are Solar Panels Eco-Friendly

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.

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Email or call 1.760.504.0388.

Can solar panels damage my roof

Solar Panel Damage: 2020 Top Questions Answered

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“.

 

Solar Panel Catch Fire

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.

 

Solar Panel Removal

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.

 

Contact Us Today

And find out if solar panels are right for you.
Email or call 1.760.504.0388.

How To Clean Your Solar Panels

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:

 

  1. 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.
  2. Gently wet down the solar panels. (don’t use a high pressure water attachment).
  3. With your non-abrasive sponge and soapy water wash down each panel.
  4. 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. 

Contact Us Today
Email or call 1.760.504.0388.

TOU-DR1-TOU-DR2-Standard-DR

SDG&E Introduces New Default “Time-of-Use” (TOU) Plans

SDG&E is Acting on The New “Time of Use” TOU Plans

You know those summer days when you arrive home from work exhausted, hungry and hot – on the way in you grab your mail, kick on the AC, and preheat the oven in preparation for dinner. Well, you may want to open a window, opt for pizza, oh, and be sure to read that notice from your local power company & their new time-of-use TOU plans instead. There’s a change in how you’re being charged for your electricity usage and it’s already underway.

**Updated as of April 2020**

As a solar customer, have you received this message from SDG&E?

Your current pricing plan is changing to Time of Use (TOU-DR1) on May 20, 2020. Please see below to learn more about your pricing plan or compare other pricing plan options to choose the best plan for your energy needs.

Utility companies have pushed the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and California legislature to move from a tiered billing system to a “time-of-use” (TOU) billing system. Among three of California’s major power companies, San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) is the first company to act on this new directive. The billing system includes revised “peak hours” and two new time-of-use rate plans, one of which will replace the current default billing format.

Rob Nikolewski from The San Diego Union Tribune states that “California’s policy makers also hope the wide spread adoption of time-of-use will lead to a boost in sales of battery storage systems paired with solar panels.” On the contrary, a boost in battery sales might just be an unintended consequence of the drastic and recent changes the power companies have been making. And coming from a practical standpoint, these peak hours could potentially counteract solar energy production. This is because the peak hours that SDG&E has allocated for their customers are also the same hours when a power surge is almost inevitable and even mandatory in some homes.

The Lowdown… what you should know about the change to Time-of-Use plans.

The shift began in March of this year and is set to be complete by mid-2020 with 75,000 to 100,000 SDG&E customers. The pattern will continue each month until almost all 750,000 customers in SDG&E’s service sector have been switched. The new billing system also includes new “peak hours.” Initially, peak hours fell between 11a.m. and 6p.m. The revised peak hours are now from 4p.m. to 9p.m. but didn’t the utility companies spend the early 2000s persuading us that these hours were the best hours to use electricity? Ah, the ole switcharoo. Nice job power companies. SDG&E has introduced TOU-DR1 as the new default billing format (DR-SES for most NEM customers with solar systems). TOU-DR1 divides the day into three intervals: on-peak, off-peak, and super off-peak. Also introduced are TOU-DR-P and TOU-DR2 who’s plan is similar to TOU-DR1, but the days are only divided into two intervals. There is no super off-peak. FYI, customers can opt to stay on SDG&E’s standard tiered plan at no extra cost! But there’s a catch: you have to call SDG&E and specify your preference. Be forewarned, it may take a call or two to accomplish going back to your original tiered rate plan. If you would like to test the time-of-use waters, SDG&E offers “bill protection,’ which will allow customers to receive a “shadow bill” included with their monthly billing statement. Shadow bills will show the difference between the time-of-use rate you opted for and the tiered rate you were previously on, giving you an idea of the new billing format’s performance. 

What does this mean for solar customers?

Although SDG&E will switch both solar and non-solar customers to time-of-use rate plans, NEM 1.0 customers may be eligible to remain on the tiered rate for another 5 to 20 years starting from their PTO date by being “grandfathered” in. This is something you will need to speak with SDG&E about. You may have to press the issue for your billing format to be switched back to the tiered rates. In fact, when you contact SDG&E, ask to speak with one of their Solar Specialist. Solar Specialists are knowledgeable and will be able to walk you through the available plans that will most benefit you. Changes for new NEM 2.0 customers include mandatory default time-of-use rates and taxes/charges that cannot be bypassed. time-of-use rates will also vary depending on time of day (keep the revised peak hours in mind) and energy demands. Credits for solar customers and production also varies dependent upon time-of-use. Potential NEM 2.0 customers can reach out to one of our solar consultants to inquire about the design of their solar panel system that will benefit them.

Choosing the plan that’s right for you.

Example of TOU Plan Options (TOU-DR, TOU-DR1, TOU-DR2, TOU-DR-P & DR-SES)

TOU Plan Option Examples          TOU Plan Option Examples - 2

  • First thing first – become familiar with all of the available rate plans. SDG&E may suggest and even advertise only two or three available plans to opt from, but there may be a third or fourth option they might not want you to know about.
  • Talk to SDG&E about being grandfathered in. Customers who are eligible to be grandfathered in will receive more time to maximize their savings, build new and beneficial energy preservation habits, and it gives you some time to prepare for the switch.

What if I can’t be “grandfathered” in?

Once you’ve been informed of all available plans, old and new, take a moment to compare them to each other. Review your past and current electricity bills. Then consider what days and times you use the most power to determine where you can afford to cut energy usage. Laundry could wait until the weekend, dishes could be hand washed (instead of using the dishwasher). Tablets and phones can be charged after 9p.m., and you could use those same devices for entertainment instead of turning on the TV. The more electricity you use during peak hours, the more you pay.

Another option would be taking a look at your solar system’s energy production. Are you producing enough energy to offset your usage? If not, this could pose a reduction in your yearly savings. Adding to your solar system is an option you might want to consider. It’s best to speak with one of our solar energy consultants to inquire about the benefits of adding to your solar system.

And don’t fret – even with the current inconvenience of the power companies’ new rate plans, solar still makes sense. And every time these power companies’ contrive blows in the form of soft-pedaled penalties at the solar industry, solar makes even more sense. Here at Palomar Solar we pride ourselves on ethicality and will always be upfront when it comes to providing you with the information you seek. No gimmicks, no change orders, and honesty, 100% of the way. They say knowledge is power: and while we may not have complete control over the power companies, if we’re knowledgeable and informed, we might just be able to outsmart them.

Top Solar Energy Questions Answered 2020

Social Distancing and Remote Solar Panel Project Estimates

As we monitor and learn more about the spread of Coronavirus, we want to be transparent about what we are doing as a company to protect our customers and employees.

Palomar Solar and Roofing understands your social distancing concerns.  Our certified PV consultants have the necessary tools and are able to propose your custom solar panel system by phone and email.  In light of social distancing we urge you to take this extra time to get your solar panel and roofing questions answered by one of the most trusted names in the business.

Even during these uncertain times, solar is one of the greatest investments you can make depending on the contractor you hire. And now is the perfect time to get your PV started.  We are seeing a large increase in solar panel projects moving into the summer, as warming temperatures remind homeowners just how expensive it is to run their air conditioners.

Get started today to ensure you are setup for reduced electric fees before the heat hits.

Get Started Today, Enter Zip Code!

What to do if your solar company goes out of business?

What to do if your Solar Company Orphans You?

Are you an orphaned solar customer (solar installer disappears)?

We are here to help!

A growing issue in our industry is customers being abandoned when their solar installer disappears or goes out of business. We consistently receive calls similar to the example below:

CallerHi, I already have solar system on my house but something is wrong, can you help me?

Palomar: We likely can, but have you tried your original installer? As we were not the original installers we would need to charge you for our time.

CallerWell,I tried that.  At first, no one would answer the phone.  Upon further investigation, we discovered they went out of business.  Please help!

PalomarI’m sorry to hear that, let’s start by getting some information.

Unfortunately, the volume of these types of calls is increasing dramatically.   We estimate 90% of the our inquiries are customers looking for someone to service their previously installed system because the company no longer exists, while the other 10% are simply unhappy with their current installers level of service.  We call these the “Orphaned Customers.”

The issue began when these customers agreed to do business with an installer, but failed to thoroughly verify them.  These companies were happy to take the contract and the customer’s money under false pretenses and with empty promises of worry-free service for the next 25 years at no extra cost.  Unfortunately, once these companies got their money, they went off the radar, abandoning the customer with nowhere to turn when problems arise with their system.

Orphaned solar customers will call us expressing regret they didn’t use a reputable company like Palomar initially.  After learning a tough lesson, these customer are now experts at due diligence – they want a company who isn’t going to put them in a deeper hole than they are already in.  After making a few calls, we seem to be the only company who is actually willing to step up to help those who have been orphaned by their original installer. Most companies turn these individuals away – mostly because there’s no large profit to be made.  Although we didn’t do the install we’re willing to help.

 

I’m an orphaned solar customer, what can I do?

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.

If Palomar can help an orphaned solar customer, we forward them our service agreement where we have established relatively inexpensive fees.

 

Why are there fees?

It’s an unfortunate situation as customers were initially sold the concept that once you pay for a solar system, the rest is history. So naturally, having additional expenditures that were not expected is going to be uncomfortable and unwelcome.  We understand the frustration involved by trusting a company that has gone out of business and is not living up to their part.  Palomar is a respectable and trusted resource to help orphaned customers and offer potential solutions.  While we are fully accountable for our solar installations, certain fees are necessary as part of those ongoing solutions for orphaned customers.  A Palomar certified expert can explains the fees in more detail.

 

Why Palomar?

solar-installer-disappears

 

Few companies will even offer help to orphaned solar customers.  We understand how difficult and desperate your situation can be and the frustration caused solely by your initial installer.   At Palomar, you’re not only receiving “help” with your system, you’re receiving service from a reliable and honest company to take you on as our own customer with the benefits offering per-panel monitoring, taking over the RMA process when needed, and providing leading customer service.

Additionally, as a Palomar customer, you can rest assured that if you experience any issues to work we completed, we will take care of them in a timely manner with no service charge.  We make it our duty to help you maintain your investment.

When your solar installer disappears, call us!

Contact us! We would love to chat with you 1.760.504.0388.

Happy New Years 2020 Palomar Solar

Happy New Years 2020

“New year—a new chapter, new verse, or just the same old story? Ultimately we write it. The choice is ours.”

Happy New Years from our family to yours.

Happy Thanksgiving 2019