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Nevada legislator pulls plug on solar incentives
Aug18

Nevada legislator pulls plug on solar incentives

  The Nevada Supreme court dealt its state solar industry a blow Aug. 4 after denying a ballot measure to halt recent rate hikes for solar users. Previous to the court’s denial, the chances for the measure to pass had looked promising, with it gathering more than double the number of needed signatures to place a referendum on the November ballot. According to FoxNews, until this year net-metering subsidies for Nevada’s 17,000 homeowners using solar totalled an annual $16 million. A state commission subsequently decided that since the state was a approaching a cap on the number of net metering participants, it would allow the Nevada Power and Utilities Commission to enact new rates for rooftop solar customers. Last spring the state legislature voted accept the PUC rates and end subsidies, nearly tripling fixed monthly fees for solar customers from $12.75 to $38.51. “What started as a legislative policy to kickstart the industry, now 18 years later, it’s time for that industry to stand on its own two feet,” Fox News quoted Paul Thomsen, chairman of Nevada’s Public Utility Commission. If there is a silver lining, however, it’s that Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has requested that next year’s bill “grandfather” existing customers back to their old rates. NV Energy took similar steps, pursuing an effort to do the same through the PUC. In other words, those Nevada citizens that seized the opportunity to convert their homes to solar before the subsidies were ended, will still get to enjoy the low, fixed energy rates promised to them by the state. As for the fate of the Nevada homeowners that weren’t quick enough to secure the grandfathered rates in time, advocates are looking to take a more long term approach to winning back subsidies by going through the state...

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5 Ways To Prepare For Solar
Jun16

5 Ways To Prepare For Solar

In the same way you’d tape off areas before painting a room, or stretch before running a marathon, there’s some steps you can take to prepare your house before switching to solar.     X2 check permitting guidelines   Often times the most difficult part of converting to solar is dealing with local regulations and permitting processes. Most city utility companies require the following documentation before installation can begin: Level 1 interconnection Application and Agreement for inverter-based generating systems Electrical diagram of proposed generating system Specifications of inverter Application for electrical service (if you’re going to use meters) If you’re the do-it-yourself type of person, perhaps the best place to spend money on outside help is on a solar design and permit service. Municipalities are not known for their speed, and a red-flagged permit takes longer to get through the second time than the first. Also, it makes sense that you know the rules before you play the game. In some cases you might even uncover hidden rebates or government incentives.     Make sure your roof can handle the weight   Consult with a building inspector or engineer to determine the maximum load that is safe to put on your roof. Solar arrays can be heavy, and the weight of these plus any racking systems and microinverters can add up. So think of this maximum load number as Gandolf…     …and make sure to tally up the weight of every item you install.   3) Check your roof’s condition Any repairs you’ll need to make to your roof after installation will require the removal of the solar panels. Make roof repairs before adopting solar energy and don’t cut corners on using the best materials. Saving a few dollars in the short run could end up costing you thousands down the road.   4) Plan your angle of attack In the northern hemisphere most panels are mounted on south-facing roofs to capture the maximum amount of sunlight. If you have a roof with an east or west orientation you or an installer will need to position the array at optimal angles. If it’s too flat it will collect water and if it’s too tilted you’ll miss out on precious rays of power. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the United States Department of Energy has helpful guidelines on how to optimally angle your array.   5) Build a Sun Cabinet Call it a utility storage nook or sun cabinet–we just like the fancy name–but build or designate a closed space to house all your solar equipment. Batteries, inverters, Balance of System (BOS) modules all help enhance a home’s...

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Why home solar works better than solar power plants
May27

Why home solar works better than solar power plants

If you’re thinking about making the switch to clean energy, but are waiting for a community solar farm to pop up in your area or a utility company to construct a massive project that harvests the sun, might want to think again.   But first, let’s talk about Blockbuster. Remember them? That blue and yellow chain of video rental stores that could be found in nearly every suburban neighborhood in the 90s?     Yeah, I barely do, either. And that’s because when the internet changed the way people consumed movies, the behemoth company stubbornly refused to shift its model of distribution.     With the conversion rates of people switching to solar becoming more common across the globe, we’ve begun to notice a similar flub on the part of large scale solar production plants.      While these grand undertakings are exponentially better for the environment than their carbon emitting alternatives, recent problems with such projects prove the energy source is much better suited to be captured by autonomous individuals than in concentrated areas on large tracts of land.   This past March a sector of Ivanpah, one of the world’s largest solar power plants, emphasized this point as it went up in flames.     With nearly 200,000 sets of focused mirrors superheating steam to generate electricity and tons of small moving parts, it was a difficult (and expensive) project to keep running smoothly. Add to this the sprawling 3,500 acres of land it takes to house the plant and you’ve racked up a bill costing nearly 20 cents per a kilowatt hour.   Photovoltaic home solar systems on the other hand are much more scalable, only require rooftops or backyards as necessary real estate and have the advantage of making electricity where it is used–reducing its kilowatt per hour cost down to 6 cents or less.   When it comes to solar, it’s not hard to imagine a future where the outdated energy production models of the 20th century have gone the way of Blockbuster, and the companies that come out on top are the ones that shift their thinking about how the public produces, access and consumes electricity....

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The U.S.-China Trade Case Determination and What It Means for Solar Installers and Consumers
Jun19

The U.S.-China Trade Case Determination and What It Means for Solar Installers and Consumers

A few months back, we published a post on All You Need to Know About the US-China Solar Trade Dispute and how it might affect solar installers and consumers if the case isn’t settled. Well, a preliminary decision is in. The Department of Commerce (DOC) has made a preliminary determination on June 10th in favor of SolarWorld, the German/U.S. solar panel manufacturer who filed the suit. Before we get into the penalties being proposed and finalized, we should remind readers that there are two parts to this case: Part 1: The DOC Decision The first part, now in the preliminary determination stage, has to do with SolarWorld accusing China of illegally subsidizing its solar panel manufacturers with low interest loans and other cash-related subsidies that allowed Chinese manufacturers to manufacture solar panels and export them to the U.S. (and the rest of the world) at below their actual cost. The 2012 DOC decision determined that was the case and imposed over 23% to 254% in countervailing duties (CVD) on various solar cells made in China. However, Chinese manufacturers got around these tariffs by manufacturing their solar cells in Taiwan and other nearby countries, then assembling the rest of the panel in China. Consequently, this new 2014 DOC preliminary determination now includes solar cells and other basic solar panel materials being made in Taiwan and shipped back to China for assembly and export. So, how much in duties will be tacked on to the price of imported Chinese solar panels? The preliminary CVD varies and depends on the brand: For Suntech solar panels, the tariff is 35.21%. For Trina SolarEnergy, the tariff is 18.56%. For all other Chinese brands, the tariff is 26.89%. That means that the wholesale price of all Chinese-made solar panels coming into the U.S. may be increased by as much as 35.21%, and at the very least, by 26.89%! The DOC will make its final determination by August 18, 2014. But wait, there’s more: Part II: The ITC Decision Remember, we said that there were two parts. Now that the DOC has ruled, their evidence has been handed over to the International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC is deciding whether China is intentionally overproducing (“dumping”) their artificially inexpensive Chinese solar panels on the U.S. market in order to flood the U.S. solar market, forcing SolarWorld to lower their prices to compete. The ITC previously said this was the case in the earlier 2012 decision, so most industry analysts think they’ll do so again, but now include solar panels and cells from Taiwan. Should the ITC rule in favor of SolarWorld again, then additional antidumping duties may...

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How much is a solar panel system for a 2,700 square foot home?

Everyday I get at least one email from a customer that asks, “How much is a solar panel system to power a {insert number of square feet here} home?” It’s quite impossible to quote you the size of system that will meet your goals without understanding your individual project site and needs. People who ask this question to me have not done enough research and typically indicate that they are just starting to explore solar power. More than often I lead customers who ask that question to the solar power calculator since it helps them realize all the variables required to figure out how many solar panels you really need. The following reasons are why I can’t give you clear cut answer to, how many solar panels you’ll need for a 1,ooo square foot home: #1 – The size of your home is not as important as how many kWh (kilowatt-hours) per year. This information can be found your last 12 months of electric bills #2 – Typically grid tie solar panels are used to offset your highest cost of electricity if your being charged on a tiered rate structure by your utility company. Solar panels are most cost effective if you use them to stay out of consuming electricity in higher tiers. Therefore not always do people purchase a system that “eliminates their entire bill”. #3 – Your location matters, in particular if there is shading due to trees, vents, chimneys, other buildings..etc. You’ll need more solar panels to meet your goals if you have to compensate for unavoidable shading. Different places across the world have variances in the number of sun hours they receive per day, which has an influence in the number of kWh you can generate per year in your location. Also the orientation #4 – what’s the intent of your solar electric system? Is it just to get started? Some people are satisfied to get started with a small solar electric system and then add more panels to their system later to keep the upfront investment of the system as low as possible to get started. The great aspect of a solar electric system it’s completely customizable to your requirements, particularly your budget. I hope this post highlights the most important key points that need to be analyzed before you can figure out how many solar panel you’ll need. got any...

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