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Is Your Roof Right for Solar?
Nov15

Is Your Roof Right for Solar?

If you look around, you are likely to notice that more and more roofs in your neighborhood are getting filled with solar panels. Which makes sense because all those homes use electricity and the solar panels are going to save those homeowners lots of money. But not every roof is the ideal place for solar so let’s talk about what makes a roof right for solar. First, the weather where you live will make a difference in your solar output, but even places where it rains a lot like Portland get enough sun for solar to make sense. If you are getting a solar production estimate, it is important that you use the correct zip code so you get an accurate estimate, but any location is going to have enough sun to save you money. The next thing to look at is the orientation of your roof. Solar panels produce the most power when the sun is hitting them directly. While you may think that north-facing roof looks bright and sunny, the sun never hits it at a direct angle and it is not a great place for solar panels. But sometimes people do install solar on the north facing roof so let’s get into some details on this. In the continental United States, solar panels facing South at about a 30 – 40 degree tilt angle will produce the most electricity annually. If you are in the southern states, the lower angle is better because the sun is higher in the sky. If you are in the northern states, the steeper tilt angle is better because the sun is lower in the sky.  If your roof is not quite facing due south but it’s close (within 30 degrees of south on a compass), it will still produce almost the full amount of power. If it is facing east or west you will lose about 15% – 20% of the annual production. The steeper the roof is, the more you will lose. So if the roof is pitched 10 degrees to the west, it will only be a 15% loss but if it is at 35 degree pitch to the west it will be more like 20%. A north facing roof will be a 30% – 50% annual loss depending on the pitch.   The pitch also matters on a south-facing roof 30-40 degrees is ideal for annual production and a roof that is totally flat will be at a 10% loss in the southern US and a 15% loss in the northern US.    Now, there are times where annual production is less important and you want to optimize production...

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California upholds its vision to build all new homes with solar in 2020
Nov14

California upholds its vision to build all new homes with solar in 2020

The ink has yet to dry on California’s paradigm-shifting new proposal, Title 24, which will require solar on all new homes, and, already, utility companies are looking for ways to undermine the decentralization of power. Unfortunately for utility companies, California state commissioners doubled down on their vision of a state powered with a more decentralized grid.  Most recently, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) submitted a proposal to the California Energy Commission (CEC) that would create a loophole in the state’s solar mandate making it ineffective. SMUD’s proposal attempted to exploit the community solar option in California’s Title 24 mandate, allowing new homes to use power from far-off centralized solar farms, rather than requiring them to be built with self-sufficient solar systems.  During a time when power utilities have begun shutting off electricity to millions of consumers to avoid wildfires caused by downed power lines, many believed that SMUD’s efforts were an attempt to hold on to power and keep consumers paying high-utility rates. “This will be the end of the new home solar mandate as we know it,” said Benjamin Davis, a staffer at the California Solar & Storage Assn. The CEC voted to turn down SMUD’s proposal on Nov 14, securing a victory for California’s distributed solar and storage. The decision sends a loud and clear message that the state is serious about seeing its new buildings outfitted with solar power, drafting a more restrictive definition of community solar as it exists under Title 24.  A projected 2020 increase in demand for solar systems in California, coupled with the 30 percent Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) which is scheduled to phase out over the course of the next few years, has inspired a sudden uptick in homeowners contacting solar installers such as Go Green Solar, hoping to become more independent from large scale utility...

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3 Big Benefits of Microgrids
Nov11

3 Big Benefits of Microgrids

Wildfire season in Southern California has become synonymous with rolling blackouts for homes relying on grid power, shinning the spotlight on microgrids as one of the best solutions to providing the state with its energy needs and spurring a significant increase in inquiries about solar + storage.  Solar microgrids work as a localized source of energy generation, which is connected to a more extensive energy network, but can disconnect, or “island off,” from the system.  While numerous benefits come with microgrids, we’ve condensed it down to the top three reasons they rock. 1. COST Installing an energy storage solution and microgrid along with PV panels allows a solar system to store energy during peak sunlight hours and ration it for when power companies increase the time of use rates for electricity. Not paying a premium for electricity can save homeowners up to $1000 a year or more.  The development of better and more affordable batteries, coupled with lower-priced solar systems and government subsidies, makes the homeowner’s cost of going solar competitive with paying for energy generated by a coal or nuclear power plant at a centralized location.  Because solar microgrids allow people to work as a decentralized network, producing power close to its point of use, they cut down on the need for long-distance infrastructure. Reducing the need to build new transmission towers, power poles, transformers, and power lines will allow utility companies to improve the infrastructure they already have. On a macro scale, the cost of utility-scale solar has dropped to around $36 per megawatt-hour, which is cheaper than the MWh cost of building new power plants and equivalent with the cost of running existing ones.  2. AGILE ENERGY SOLUTION TO CALIFORNIA’S BLACKOUTS AND FIRES Recently PG&E chief executive, Bill Johnson, said it could take a decade for the company to improve its electrical system enough to reduce the number of customer blackouts. California’s Energy Commission can read the writing on the wall and has invested over $100 million in microgrid projects.  Solar microgrids provide homeowners with enough backup power generated from the sun to continue with their lives as usual in the ever more frequent instances when energy suppliers such as PG&E and SCE need to shut down.  The change would be beneficial for utility companies, too. Currently, in California, such companies are caught between a rock and a hard place. If a high wind is forecasted, companies are incentivized to be overly cautious and shut off power to millions of people so that downed lines won’t cause another wildfire. But leaving paying customers in the dark is not a viable long-term solution. Smaller microgrids can be...

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GoGreenSolar Solves the Frustrations of DIY Solar
Oct30

GoGreenSolar Solves the Frustrations of DIY Solar

Many aspects of a solar project can be frustrating, which is why contractors charge so much for a turnkey solar installation. But, if you are smart and get your system from GoGreenSolar, you can avoid the cost of the contractor and keep clear of the most common issues of a do it yourself solar project. With solar, the headaches start long before you begin installing. First, you have to decide how big of a system to get. This means evaluating your roof and understanding your local fire code rules about setbacks and walkways. You will also have to determine how much solar your existing main service panel can accommodate and what your options are to modify it to so you can install more. Finally, you have to figure out what the system size will do for you in terms of saving money on your electric bill. This means understanding your current electric rate and what options you will have for your rate after installing the solar. Fortunately, the experts at GoGreenSolar can walk you through this whole process. Once you have decided on a system size, you still have to choose what equipment to get. With dozens of brands of solar panels, multiple inverter types and all sorts of different racking options this can be a bit daunting. Researching it yourself could take months and every manufacturer says their product is the best so if you read every brochure available, you will even more confused than when you started. You definitely want help from someone with experience who can tell you what will work best for your individual situation and make sure you get a system where all the components are compatible and nothing important is missing. Now you’ve finally selected all your equipment, but you still have to pull a permit before you can start installing anything. Solar is very complex and building departments expect a lot more than a few hand drawn sketches and some specification sheets. A typical solar permit (like the one you will get from GoGreenSolar) is 10-15 pages with all the notes, calculations and details that will get your permit approved easily. As a bonus, this permit paperwork will also be a guide for your installation as it includes helpful things like your wire and conduit sizing so you will save all the time of trying to figure that out. But wait, you’re not done with the paperwork yet. You also have to apply for “net metering” with your local electric company. This is rarely a simple process and the timing of the submittal is different depending on which electric company you are...

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Should You Go Off Grid?
Oct22

Should You Go Off Grid?

Let’s face it, most of us have no choice where we get our electricity from. The local electric company is your only option and when a company has no competition, they have no incentive to make you like them.  So customers often look at solar panels and get to thinking… can I go off the grid? Typically, off grid systems are only installed on homes built where the grid isn’t available. It is not uncommon for an electric company to quote $100,000 or more to bring power to a rural property that is being newly developed. So they want you to pay $100,000 to bring in the lines so that you can pay them ever month for electricity when $100,000 will buy you an absolutely amazing off-grid solar power system. If this is your situation, you should definitely go off grid.  But if you currently own a house that is connected to the grid, the answer is not that clear. Yes, we know you don’t like the electric company and nothing would make you happier than to divorce yourself from them permanently but let’s look at the options before jumping into that decision. First, the cost of a solar power system increases dramatically when it changes from grid-tie to off grid. In order to be completely independent from the electric company, you need to have a system that generates the maximum amount of power you may need even in during those months when the days are short and the sun is low in the sky. You also need batteries to store the solar energy produced during the day so you have power to get through the night. Even more batteries if you want to have enough stored energy to get through a rainy day when the solar is producing little to no power.  Also, you shouldn’t have solar be your only power source. People who live off the grid usually have a diesel or natural gas generator as backup. This is necessary because the amount of batteries needed to run a house through a whole week of cloudy/rainy weather would be ridiculously expensive and take a up too much space. The generator may also be needed to cover your needs when a piece of equipment like an inverter or charge controller needs to be serviced. So you have to add the cost of a generator to your already too expensive solar power system to comfortably disconnect yourself from the electric company. Example of a gas generator When you stay connected to the electric company, you can put the solar panels on the roof without needing the batteries. You can...

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California Homeowners Look to Solar Following Massive Power Shutoffs
Oct21

California Homeowners Look to Solar Following Massive Power Shutoffs

More Californians are looking to switch to solar after two of the state’s largest utility providers cut power to nearly a million of its customers with little to no warning on account of high winds — an incident which many experts warn will become more common.  “I suspect for the next few years these are going to occur,” said Severin Borenstein, faculty director of UC Berkeley’s Energy Institute to the LA Times. “No one involved in this thing thinks it was a one-time event.” The outages ranged from Humbolt to Ventura county and in some cases, lasted up to 72 hours.  Northern California was most heavily affected, with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) leaving an estimated 800,000 people without electricity.  Northern California was most heavily affected, with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) leaving an estimated 800,000 people without electricity.  “PG&E’s mismanagement of the power shutoffs experienced last week was unacceptable,” decried California Governor Gavin Newstrom following the event. “We will continue to hold PG&E accountable to make radical changes – prioritizing the safety of Californians and modernizing its equipment.” Likewise, Southern California Edison (SCE) shut the power off for nearly 30,000 of its customers.  Following last year’s deadly fire season, during which a PG&E caused fire destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people, California has given utility companies unilateral control for deciding when to shut off the power.  Legislators intended utilities to use the provision as a last resort. However, many worry the utility companies are being overly aggressive with outages since they will bear full liability for any blaze that occurs from their equipment.  “Californians should not pay the price for decades of PG&E’s greed and neglect,” Governor Newsom said, going so far as to suggest that PG&E give $100 to each of the hundreds of thousands of customers who experienced blackouts.  Rather than wait for legislators to resolve the issue or cross their fingers and hope that utility companies will solve it for themselves, October saw an uptick in Californian homeowners wanting to take their power supply into their own hands and switch to solar.  The trend comes nearing the end of 2019 when a lucrative 30 percent Federal Incentive Tax Credit for going solar is scheduled to be massively reduced for the next two years until it expires.  Realizing that such power outages due to increasingly arid weather and higher than normal seasonal winds will become an annual occurrence, the homeowners switching to solar are hoping to get ahead of the problem.  “Utility companies might randomly shut down the grid, but if you have solar panels, inverters, and batteries to store the excesses energy, you...

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