Worker installing solar panels outdoors

How to Prepare Your Home for Solar Panel Installation

Solar has picked up a lot of ground in the last few years, not least of all because of the many solar panel benefits you can enjoy. You can see utility bill reduction, better home value, and do a little good for the environment.

Even the federal and state governments are encouraging homeowners to install solar panels. You can get federal tax incentives and state-level incentives and rebates.

If you’re considering renewable energy for your home or have a solar panel installation coming up, you’re likely wondering how you can best prepare your home. Keep reading for our quick guide on getting your home ready for solar.

Consider Positioning

Most homeowners assume that the solar panels will go on their roof. That’s one option and a popular one.

Many home builders aim for good southern exposure. That means your roof will get excellent southern exposure as well, which maximizes the amount of electricity your system can generate. That doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get a roof installation.

Some homeowners go in for a ground installation instead. Why?

Not every roof enjoys good southern exposure. Natural features on the land might mean your home is positioned with poor southern exposure. In cases like this, you may favor a ground installation.

A good ground-based solar system still requires good southern exposure and enough clear space to install it. Yet, it typically provides more options for positioning than a permanent structure like an existing home.

Engineering Meeting

Once you firm up where you want your system, you’ll likely have a meeting with an engineer or with the solar company for ground installation. These meetings let you pin down exactly how large of a system you need or want to meet your needs.

For example, do you just want to trim down that monthly utility bill and give mother nature a high-five? A 3 kW system can produce enough electricity in many locations to achieve that end.

If you’re looking for a system that all but replaces your grid-based electricity needs, you’ll need something bigger. Such as a 5kW or even 9kW system. That means more panels and possibly more expensive panels.

Once the engineer or solar panel installation company knows the size of the system, they can start doing the math. The structural engineer will evaluate your home’s roof for strength. For ground installation, the solar company can tell you how much clear space you’ll need on the ground.

Roof

Speaking of your roof, it may need some work. If you plan on installing a large system, that’s a lot of extra weight on your roof. There is a good chance your roof can’t support that weight as it stands.

That means you’ll need a contractor to come in and shore up the roof so it can support that additional weight ahead of the solar system installation. Your solar company can often help you pick a reliable general contractor for this work.

You must also consider the state and age of your roof. Barring some kind of damage, a typical solar system holds up for about 25 years. Your average asphalt shingle roof will last, give or take, around 20 years. Unless you put a new roof on very recently, you’re looking at uninstalling and reinstalling your solar system in 5 or 10 years.

If your roof is showing its age or is more than about a decade old, you might want a new roof installed in addition to shoring up the general contractor does. That means your roof will likely hold up for most of the solar panel system’s working life.

You may also need a different roofing material. Solar systems can go over most roofing materials, such as shingles and tiles. If your home uses wooden shakes or slate for a roofing material, solar companies usually won’t install over them.

Landscaping

Remember that all-important southern exposure. If you want that for your solar system, it can mean some landscaping in advance. If there are a lot of trees near your house, you may need some of the limbs removed or even some of the trees removed.

Solar systems work most efficiently under direct sunlight. Any shade will cut deeply into the systems’ overall efficiency.

If your ground installation will take more room than you expected, you might also need some professional help. You’ll likely need the help to clear away brush and knock back any ground cover plants or overgrown weeds.

Electrical System

While there is an electrical code that applies to all new buildings, older buildings often get a pass on those requirements if the existing system isn’t dangerous. For example, a home built in the 1990s likely doesn’t meet all the current codes but probably isn’t unsafe if it was installed properly.

Solar system designs more or less assume that your home meets current code standards. So, you might discover that your current electrical panel won’t work with a solar panel system.

In some cases, the panel is fine but can’t carry enough amps. Let’s say your older home came with a 100 amp panel. If your solar system needs a 200 amp panel, that old panel must come out.

You need the new panel in place before the solar system installation.

This information should come out early in the consultation process. Since almost all locales require a licensed electrician for grid-connected solar systems, your solar company can likely help you find a local electrician to do the work.

Prepping Your Home for Solar Panel Installation

Since there are homes dating back as much as a century or two, there is no formula for prepping your home. What your home needs may not look anything like what your neighbor’s home needs for a solar installation.

The areas where you should pay special attention are your roof, electrical system, and landscaping. As those are the areas where you can exert the most control and make the most fixes.

Altair Solar specializes in solar installations and repair for Orange County. For questions or more information about a solar installation, contact Altair Solar today for a consultation.

solar-panel-array-roof-home

Top Tips for a Sustainable Home

A sustainable home not only helps the environment but also saves you money.
The threat of global warming is becoming more serious. With this comes the increasing momentum of the sustainable design movement. It is an accessible solution where individuals can contribute to a cleaner future.

A sustainable design allows you to cut the costs of running your home. It does this by optimizing energy and water use, among other resources. A sustainable home also means a healthier environment for yourself and your family.

If you’re interested in making a home that’s eco-friendly and cost-efficient, read on! 

What are the top ways to create a sustainable home?

New Construction vs Retrofitting

A new building means you’ll be able to include the latest technologies and approaches. Building a sustainable home from scratch allows you to optimize the design completely. This ranges from waste management and resource efficiency to long-term durability.

However, building new structures costs the environment, not to mention your pocket. You’ll need to consider the costs of moving, location, and other life disruptions.

A house doesn’t need to be new to be efficient. Retrofitted green buildings also deliver sure results with minimal cost. Retrofitting your current home may be the more cost-effective route for sustainability.

Sustainable HVAC Systems and Energy-Efficient Appliances

Optimizing your home’s HVAC system is a big step towards sustainability. A sustainable design HVAC system gives years of clean comfort and low energy costs.

Geothermal heat pumps are a technology that uses heat from the earth. It converts it into energy used for powering HVAC systems.

Heat pumps installed underground near a building absorb geothermal heat. They can work to heat the home in the winter and cool it in the summer.

Smart thermostats are also another way to make your HVAC systems efficient. As part of home automation, they can auto-adjust themselves. You can also connect them to your smartphones or tablets and use these as remote controls.

Appliances are next to HVAC systems in energy consumption. Imagine them with 2 prices: the cost of buying and the operating costs.

Energy-efficient alternatives allow you to cut the second price. Consider energy-efficient refrigerators, dishwashers, and stoves/ovens.

Passive Solar Design

Besides a full solar power system, you can also have a passive solar design. This uses natural energy from sunlight to help in cooling or heating living spaces.

A passive solar design does not use mechanical or electric equipment. Instead, it relies on building materials to absorb, reflect, or transmit solar energy.

The architecture of living spaces aids the flow of sun-heated air without fans. This reduces the energy needed to heat or cool your home.

Living Walls or Roofs

Living walls and green roofs make use of plants’ natural ability to filter out ambient toxins and improve air quality.

A living wall system gives a growing environment on interior surfaces for plants. Green walls can purify and humidify the air.

They can also reduce volatile organic compounds. This means your home’s walls themselves promote a clean and healthy environment.

This can also improve your and your family’s mental well-being. Being surrounded by greenery has several positive effects on the body and moods. Besides cleaner air, you’ll experience enhanced comfort and creativity.

Meanwhile, a living roof incorporates greenery. They’re made from living vegetation with a water-retaining layer.

The vegetation includes grasses, shrubs, and flowers. They add energy-efficiency, eco-friendliness, as well as beauty to your home.

Reclaimed and Recycled Building Materials

This makes use of scrap that would otherwise go to a landfill. However, don’t think that recycled and reused means poorer quality. Recycled composite materials are as durable as other regular ones.

Consider recycled roof and wall materials, tiling and mosaic, or insulation and doors. You can even avail of recycled steel beams.

Rainwater Collectors

Using rainwater collectors is a simple yet effective way to cut your water bills. One way to set up a rainwater collection system is with a rain barrel or tank. Place them under the roof to collect the rain flowing down through your roof gutter system.

There are several methods to filter and clean the collected rainwater. Common techniques include chlorination, UV light, or ozone. You’ll then be able to use the water for drinking.

Even without filtering it, you can already use it for things like gardening. Rainwater collection systems are easy to build using cheap local materials. Household systems are ideal in areas with an average rainfall of more than 200mm per year.

After a dry season, the first flush of rainwater will have dust, bird droppings, and other waste. Allow this first flush to run to waste.

Solar Energy

Installing a solar panel system is one of the best and most accessible ways to create a sustainable home.

As a renewable energy source, it produces zero pollutants. You’ll be making a large reduction in your carbon footprint.

You’ll also generate your own electricity, allowing you to be energy independent. Solar can make drastic cuts to your energy costs. You can also exchange your extra energy with the power grid through net metering.

Solar panels also have an average lifespan of 25-30 years. This means you’ll have renewable and cheap energy for decades in the future. This also secures you from the volatile and ever-rising costs of electricity.

Solar panels have seen increased efficiency and dropping prices. Installing them now is more favorable than ever.

Create a Sustainable Home for the Environment and Your Family

Sustainable homes are good for the environment, your health and are cost-efficient. You don’t have to build one from the ground up either. With retrofitting, you can optimize your existing home and make it sustainable.

Energy-efficient systems like solar can cut your expenses for decades to come. Green interior design also helps in creating a healthier home environment.

Altair Solar can help you get started in creating a sustainable home. Contact us today, and we can walk you through the process of energy independence!

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What are the Tax Benefits of Solar Panels?

Have you ever wondered whether it was a good time to go solar? Does the allure of harnessing the sun for all your power needs pull at your eco-friendly heart?

With the recent tax package issued into law on December 27th of 2020 by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, there has never been a better time than now to go solar.

Read on to find out how much money you could save by installing solar panels on your property in our comprehensive guide to the tax benefits of solar panels.

Congress Increased Tax Incentives to Go Solar

Solar energy still only accounts for 2.5% of the energy produced in the U.S., but Congress is taking the initiative to increase this number by providing Americans the opportunity to claim solar tax credits.

This credit can equal up to 30% of the total cost of installing your solar panels.

Be on the lookout for the duration of this program. Eligibility for full credit began in 2019. It dropped down since then and will cease at the end of 2023.

You must also make sure your equipment qualifies for the tax credit. For your equipment to qualify, it must heat water or generate electricity. It also MUST improve your place of residence.

This means that solar panel projects used for experimental or scientific study will not be approved for credit.

How the Life of Solar Panel Tax Benefits Has Changed Over the Years

Beginning in 2005, the solar panel tax credits were implemented by the U.S. federal government in 2005, but have since decreased over the years. With the new Energy Star program, incentives to go solar have been revitalized.

The time table is as follows:

  • Was initially established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
  • Meant to expire end of 2007, but the ITC kept it at 30% until 2019.
  • It dropped to 26% in 2020.

Before this new legislation, it was set to be zero at the end of 2021, but it has since been extended to remain at 26% until the end of 2022.

  • It will drop to 22% in 2023.
  • It will drop to 10% in 2024.

Judging by the history of changes made to the life of this policy, one can expect but NOT rely upon modifications to be made in the future.

Also, credit can only be claimed during the year of completion. For instance, if you bought the tools and equipment in 2020, but didn’t complete the project until 2023, you will only be able to claim 22% as opposed to 26%.

How Does Solar Tax Credit Work?

It’s quite simple. All you have to do is own a solar energy system to be eligible for the solar tax credit. This means that you must strictly be the owner of your solar energy system.

You will not receive credit if:

  • You sign a lease with a solar installer
  • You sign a PPA with a solar installer
  • You don’t have enough tax liability to claim the credit

There are several different expenses you can claim as they pertain to the Federal Solar Tax Credit, including:

  • Solar equipment
  • Solar consulting fees
  • Electrician/engineer fees
  • Tools used
  • Shipping costs
  • Wiring
  • Screws, bolts, nails
  • Permitting fees and service costs
  • Equipment rented
  • Hired contractors
  • And more…

Although you could install the equipment yourself, keep in mind that you can claim hiring a contractor as an expense, so consider weighing your options to decide which approach will yield the greatest return on investment.

How to Claim the Tax Benefits of Solar Panels

You can claim solar tax benefits on your federal tax returns. You can either work with your accountant on the matter or do it yourself.

If you choose to claim solar tax benefits on your own, be sure to use EnergySage’s step-by-step process to help guide you through your ITC Form 5695.

Make sure your credit is less than the income tax due. If your credit is larger than your tax bill, the IRS won’t give you your money back (using your credits).

This doesn’t mean that the money is gone forever, though. You can carry over those credits to the following year.

Understand that the tax credit plays a crucial role in getting the best bang for your buck as it pertains to the investment benefits of using solar energy.

But as the year unfolds, you’ll find that grid-tied solar systems pay for themselves in the long run.

Claiming Solar Tax Credits for Rental Properties

Unfortunately, you can only claim solar tax credits for properties you live in. This means that if you have multiple rental properties with solar panels installed, you can’t claim them if other residents are living there.

You can claim partial credit if you live in those properties for a set period of time.

For instance, if you reside in that rental property for 6 months, you can claim 50% of the percentage you could claim if you had left there the whole year.

This is what it would look like:

  • Let’s say it cost you $10,000. You get 26% credit ($2600).
  • You live there for 6 months. You get 50% of that 26% credit ($1,300).

The rules are quite strict but if you understand how they operate, you can be sure to get the best bang for your buck.

A Promising Future

Although solar tax benefits are dwindling as the years go by, the fact remains that going solar is its own reward both environmentally and financially.

Be sure to keep an eye out for changes in the political atmosphere that may impact initiatives made by organizations like The Solar Energy Industry Association and Biden Administrations 117th Congress.

The Solar Vision is sure to pick up speed as the years unfold!

Did You Find This Information Useful?

We hope this article provided you with all you need to know about the tax benefits of solar panels.

If you’d like to learn more about the financial benefits of going green, be sure to check our Altair Solar Blog!

solar panel on the roof after snow in winter

How Long Do Solar Panels Last on Average?

There’s been a huge adoption of solar across the country in the past few years. There’s never been more of an interest in this kind of technology from homeowners, who are making the switch to solar more and more frequently. 

You might be interested in making the switch yourself but are on the fence about a few different elements. Some additional information may help to make up your mind on the matter.

For example, you might be curious: how long do solar panels last? The longer a solar panel system lasts, the less you’ll have to worry about repair and replacement costs down the line. What should you come to expect? 

Read on and we’ll walk you through the basics.

How Long Do Solar Panels Last? 

There is no one simple answer to this common question. The lifespan of solar panels will depend on a great many factors, after all. The type of solar panel you’re using, the setup of your system, your location and climate, and the amount of maintenance you perform will all factor into the lifespan.

The length your system goes without the need for repairs might be different than someone else’s. However, there is a general sense of how well the average system will last and it’s a pretty decent amount of time.

Most solar panels last for a minimum of twenty years without the need for much maintenance, repair, or replacement. That’s two decades of service from installation without much need for work on your end. They might be able to go even longer, up to thirty years. 

There are things that can bring down the overall efficiency of your system and impact the length of its life. Understanding what causes these issues can help to ensure your system remains in good shape for many years to come.

Solar Panel Degradation Rate

In 2012, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory did a major study on the lifespan of solar panels. They found that the output of the average solar panel falls by only 0.8 percent per year that passes.

Premium panels were found to have even less degradation per year, hovering around something as low as 0.3%. As solar technology has continued to progress in the previous years, this rate has continued to lower, with rates still far below 1% across the whole of the industry.

That means even at the end of a solar panel’s lifespan, it will still be operating at around 85% efficiency, which isn’t at all terrible. This gives you a sense of just how durable this technology really is.

Many solar panel companies will offer also warranties that will give you a sense of how long these systems last. Most solar panel warranties will be issued for up to twenty-five years. 

Factors That Impact Solar Panel Health

What might limit the long-term health of your solar panel system? There are a number of factors that could contribute. 

Rough weather conditions are the biggest thing that you’ll need to keep an eye out for. If a solar panel isn’t installed correctly, rain and wind have the potential to create issues. Corrosion might occur, or strong winds might shake and pull apartment the bonds that hold together the equipment.

Huge amounts of extreme heat or lots of snow could also potentially do damage. Extreme heat can make a solar panel brittle, making it easier for moisture to get into the system itself. Freezing temperatures can also potentially warp or crack panels and weaken the overall system.

Most solar power systems are built and installed so as to hold up to even the more extreme weather conditions we fight through. However, damage could occur and so it’s important to check on your system from time to time to ensure it’s running as it should.

Even when this damage does occur, the amount of efficiency that is impacted is typically less than one percent. 

Increasing Solar Panel Lifespan

What kind of actions can you take to ensure your solar panel system lasts as long as humanly possible? The system you will have installed will already be just about as durable as can be.

There are no moving parts in a solar panel system which means the need or maintenance is very low.

The most important decision you can make to ensure the long-term health of your solar power system is to work with a reliable and reputable solar panel company

The proper installation of the system will be key to ensuring all works as it should in the coming years. If a solar panel system is installed incorrectly, it could lead to problems.

As long as everything is installed just as it should be, you should be able to enjoy the maximum lifespan from your system with little difficulty. A reputable company should also be able to last you a lengthy warranty that will ensure that you won’t have to foot the bill should something eventually go wrong with your system. 

The only thing you’ll need to do on your own is to check on your system after big storms and make sure that it remains clear of debris. 

Investing In Solar Energy

How long do solar panels last? 

There are many reasons to make the switch to solar, but the long lifespan of these systems is a major reason to consider making the switch. Once installed, there’s little you’ll have to do to enjoy the full, long life of your new solar panel system.

Have more questions about getting your own system installed sometime soon? Give us a call for more assistance.

solar panels on roof of house. horizontal orientation, blue sky, gray panels on brown roof.

7 Common Signs You Need to Install Solar Panels

It’s great to walk on sunshine. It’s even better to live off of it. 

Residential solar capacity in the United States has more than doubled over the last five years. Millions of homes have solar panels on their roofs, allowing homeowners to reduce their carbon footprints and utility bills.

You should install solar panels on your roof. But don’t assume that the only thing you need is sunshine. Other factors can improve the quality of your panels.

What are the signs you need solar panels? Here are seven. 

1. You Get Direct Sunlight 

Having a high amount of sunshine makes your panels effective. But you need more than just sunny days. 

Your roof has to receive sunlight directly. Shade or overhanging objects will prevent solar rays from hitting your panels. You need to trim trees and branches that block sunlight from getting through. 

You do not have to have 24/7 sunshine. On cloudy days, solar panels produce 10 to 25 percent of their normal output. What matters is that sunlight can reach your panels without other objects in the way. 

You can install panels on any surface. If your walls have better sun exposure, you can place thin-film panels on them. 

2. Your Roof Faces the Right Way 

People assume that any roof will catch a lot of sunlight. That is true, but the direction your roof faces can increase your energy production. 

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. If you set your panels in either of these directions, you are missing a lot of sunlight. 

A southern-facing roof faces the sun as it rises and sets. This means that your panels can produce a constant stream of electricity. 

Your roof should not tilt your panels too far down. They should remain level toward the sky so the sun can shine on them evenly. If your roof tilts too much, you can work with the installer to tilt your panels in the right direction.

3. Your Roof Has the Right Materials 

Installers can fit solar panels onto any roof. But some roofs work better than others. 

Wood, gravel, and cement tile support the weight of panels without chipping. The tools that installers use to fix panels in place can break through cedar and clay tile roofs. 

Metal roofs are great for installation because they have seams. You can drill into the seams and fit the base of your panels onto them. 

You should make sure your gutters are empty and functioning. Rainwater and snow pour off of panels, so your gutters will fill up during a storm. 

4. Your Local Climate Is Mild

Solar panels need sunshine, but they do not need heat. Panels contain substances like silicon that operate at moderate temperatures. When they become too hot, they do not conduct electricity at a good rate. 

If you live in a mild climate, your solar panels will work best. They can operate at a strong capacity in low temperatures, even freezing ones.

5. You Qualify for Government Incentives  

The federal government offers tax incentives for solar panel installations. If you install your system before the end of 2021, you can claim 26 percent of the cost as a tax credit. This can total thousands of dollars. 

Many states have their own incentives for installations. The California Public Utilities Commission runs Net Energy Metering.

This allows residential systems to sell the excess energy they produce to the grid. Homeowners receive credits back, allowing them to pay their utility bills. 

6. You Will Live In Your Home Long-Term

The biggest reason why many people don’t buy solar panels is the cost. You may need to pay thousands of dollars for panels. 

But the cost of installation in California has gone down by 45 percent over the last five years. This means that you will reach your break-even point sooner. 

You begin making money on your panels on their first day in operation. Most people reach their break-even point within a decade. They then start making money on their panels, which can total thousands of dollars. 

Manufacturers design their panels to last for decades. You will renovate many other aspects of your home before you need to replace your panels. You do not need to maintain them, allowing you to turn your attention to other home improvement projects. 

7. You Will Sell Your House

People want to buy a house with solar panels on them. Studies from the Department of Energy found that homebuyers are willing to pay 15,000 dollars more on homes with solar electricity systems. 

The increased home value in and of itself can offset the cost of installation. You can install panels, then sell the house right away and make a profit. If you live in your house long-term and then sell it, you can make tens of thousands of dollars. 

You can pursue financing options to increase the profits from the sale. You can lease your panels to someone else, giving them electricity while the panels stay on your roof. You pay less for installation, but you receive the full increase in home value. 

The Seven Signs You Should Install Solar Panels

Every American should install solar panels, especially the ones who live in optimal conditions. Your roof should have access to direct sunlight, facing south. It should have materials that support installation and allow rainwater to drain off.

Your climate should be mild or cool. You should take advantage of government incentives, including tax rebates. 

It may take years to reach the break-even point, so you should live in your home long-term. But panels increase your home value as well. 

Turn to experts for solar panel help. Altair Solar has more than thirty years of experience. Contact us today. 

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How Much Does It Normally Cost to Install Solar Panels?

The cost to install solar panels can run you anywhere from $10,000-$28,000. Depending on the size of your installation when you consider the amount you will be saving . Not only will you be saving, but you will do a service to the planet.

Solar panel installation draws clean, pure, renewable energy from the power of the sun. The beauty of solar is its production and usage are carbon-free and leaves no toxic footprint on our ecological systems.

With all the good aspects of solar panel installation, you wonder how much will you be paying out of pocket for solar?

The good news is there are many incentive programs from both manufactures and government associations. These incentives come in the form of monetary compensation, tax breaks, and rebate offers from manufacturers.

If you plan a solar project for your home or business, this article will be your guide. Start with the basics of understanding your solar needs. Begin planning the early stages of your green upgrade. The power of solar can do good for the planet and your energy savings.

How Does Solar Panel Installation Work?

Solar panels are exactly what you would expect. A panel absorbs powerful rays from the sun and then transfers this into solar-powered energy. This energy can power a home’s electricity, clean water supply, and many other components like heating or cooling.

Before you begin your solar installation in your home or business, you will need to plan for the number of solar panels you will need. You can do this by calculating the square footage of where you are installing your solar bay. The number of solar panels you will need depend on the amount of energy you need to power your home or business.

To figure out the exact number of panels you should install, consider the amount of electricity you consume in your home . As well as the variety and size of panels you intend to build. The average home in the US consumes approximately 800-kilowatt hours per day, averaging approximately 11,000 kilowatt-hours per year.

Through reviewing your previous energy bills, you can determine your current consumption. This will be the simpleist way to figure out your useage.

A 3 kilowatt per hour solar panel system can produce between 3,600 and 4,800 kilowatt-hours yearly. A 5-kilowatt-hour system can generate 6,000 to 8,000 kilowatt-hours per year, while a 10-kilowatt-hour operation will generate 12,000 to 16,000 kilowatt-hours per year.

You will need to know how Much Does it Cost to Install Solar Panels?

The difference between a small investment and a larger extensive solar panel project depends on the size and shape of the panel installation you are planning.

A 6kW solar panel system for a 1,500 square foot home costs about $18,500 to build, and the price per watt for solar panels will vary from $2.50 to $3.50. Residential solar panels are 3-kilowatt hours to 8 kilowatt-hours in size. They range between $9,255 and $24,552 in construction costs.

See the total cost of a solar panel device by scale (before tax credits or discounts).

If you plan a commercial solar panel installation, expect to pay much more during the initial construction and set-up phase. A commercial job must integrate solar energy in a much more complicated way. This may have to do with machinery or specialized equipment the business is running.

With the decrease in solar panel rates, these “soft solar costs” now account for most of what you spend when installing solar. As more countries switch to solar electricity, soft costs have decreased—a trend experts expect to continue in the future. It is always a good idea to contact local solar installers in your region to address the estimated costs of solar installation in your area.

Installing Solar Panels Will Save You Money

Installing solar panels is good for your wallet and good for the environment. If you live in a warm climate like Southern California, your utility bills in the summer months can be something you dread all year. With over 3-6 dry and hot months a year, people in the southern part of the state see a sharp incline in the amount they pay for cooling and electricity.

The amount you can save your utility bills will more than cover the expense of installation in 10. Solar deductions and benefits are available from both the state and municipal electricity suppliers. This will increase your financial return.

While providing you with an accurate solar panel cost. You will also be able to engage in selling excess energy produced by your solar panels in your region if smart metering is accessible.

The Cost to Install Solar Panels Is an Investment

The cost to install solar panels is insignificant when you consider how much you will save on your energy costs over the long run. The initial installation of your solar panels has many moving parts, so you will want to plan for every expense so there are no surprises.

Every household has unique energy goals, budgets, and properties, which is why you need professionals who approach each customer with a unique solution for a personalized energy bill reduction.

You need a service to prepare a no-obligation quote designed for your home using best-in-class products.

Planning to this amount of detail and with a team, you can stand behind will assure your solar panels will be ready to save you money in no time. Contact us to begin your solar transformation in Southern California today. While you’re there, check out our blog.

Solar Panels On House Roof. Sustainable Renewable Energy

Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?

Solar panels are sweeping the nation. In 2008, the United States had .34 gigawatts of solar power capacity. The country now has 97.2 gigawatts, enough to power 18 million homes. 

Solar power is cheap and environmentally friendly. Despite its benefits, many people have questions about it. Perhaps the most common one is “Do solar panels work on cloudy days?” 

To fully answer that question, you have to answer a couple of more. How do solar panels work? What can homeowners do to optimize their systems? 

Get the facts and you can start saving money and energy today. Here is your quick guide to solar panels. 

How Do Solar Panels Work? 

Solar panels convert sunlight into direct current electricity. Panels contain individual cells with substances like silicon. Silicon contains electrons, subatomic particles that create an electric charge when they move. 

Sunlight strikes the silicon, knocking its electrons free. They travel to metal plates that collect them and transfer them into wires. As they flow through the wires, they generate electricity. 

But homes do not use direct current electricity. Panels contain a power invert that changes the direct current into alternating current. Wiring then takes electricity into the home so residents can use it. 

Solar Panels and Cloudy Days

When the clouds are out, it may seem like the sun is not shining through. But ultraviolet radiation can penetrate through thick clouds and knock electrons in solar panel cells. 

Solar panels do work best in direct sunlight. Yet they can produce 10 to 25 percent of their typical output on overcast days. This is enough to power appliances and turn on lights. 

Solar panels can even produce power from streetlights and moonlight. It does not provide enough electricity to power an entire home, but it can be enough for small devices. 

Solar Panels and Inclement Weather 

A rainstorm is good for solar panels. Dust can build on their surface, preventing sunlight from entering into the silicon. Rain cleans the panels off. 

You may need to clean your panels after a snowstorm. But after the snow melts, your panels will work fine. 

Manufacturers test their systems for extreme weather conditions, including hurricanes and tornadoes. Installing a rooftop solar system does not increase the risk of a roof leaking or falling off. 

Panels do work better in cooler climates. At 77 degrees Fahrenheit, electrons lie in a ground state. Once they receive energy, they enter the excited state and begin moving. 

But the electrons are also expending energy that they could use to convert electricity. This means that panels should operate at 77 degrees or lower. You can install panels in hotter climates, but you should keep in mind that they won’t be at maximum efficiency. 

Solar Storage and Net Metering

When your system is not producing power, it is storing power. Most solar systems contain battery storage. The electricity that you are not using goes to the batteries, and you can use power at any time you want. 

If you select a system that does not have batteries, you can still get power at night. You can connect your home to the grid and receive electricity through conventional wiring. 

You should engage in net metering. This involves sending your excess electricity to the power grid. Utility companies send you credits back, which you can use to pay for your electricity. 

If you use solar storage, you may be able to move off the grid entirely. Net metering can reduce your electricity bills while giving you a constant supply of power.

How to Optimize Solar Panels 

There are a few ways you can optimize your panels. Make sure they have good access to sunshine. If there is shade on your roof, trim the trees that cast it. 

You do not need extensive maintenance for your panels. They last up to 30 years, and your batteries last five to 15 years. 

Check to make sure your batteries are functioning. If they are not recharging, get replacements as soon as possible. Your system can operate without batteries, but you will have less power at night. 

Inspect your panels to make sure there is no dust or mud on them. But leave them alone. Do not place corrosive substances on them.

If you don’t have a wide roof, you can place small panels on your walls and in your yard. This is a good option for homes that have a rooftop patio. 

There are several types of solar panels. Monocrystalline panels are made with single-crystal silicon, giving electrons more room to generate electricity.

They have the highest efficiency, meaning you need fewer panels to create a lot of power. They are also the most expensive. 

If monocrystalline is not an option for you, you can purchase polycrystalline or thin-film panels. You should pick one type and stick with it. 

Your panels should produce enough power for all necessary operations. But you should still try to avoid using too much electricity. The less electricity you use during the day, the more you can store for the night and send to the grid. 

So Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days? 

There are a lot of good questions about solar panels. How do they work? They incorporate conductive substances that react to sunlight and produce an electric current. 

Do solar panels work on cloudy days? They do, though they are not operating at maximum efficiency. They also work during rainy days. 

You can receive electricity at night through batteries and connections to the grid. To optimize your panels, put them in direct sunlight. Select monocrystalline ones that go on your roof. 

Turn to expert solar contractors. Altair Solar offers the best services in Orange County. Contact us today. 

Rear View Of Couple Standing In Front Of Their House

Why Solar Energy is the Future

Nobody likes rolling blackouts.

Power disruptions are indicative of a shortage of electricity. Demands for electricity continue to grow with all the technological advancements these days.

Are you using the latest side-by-side refrigerator? How about the latest 8k resolution Smart TV? They would be a waste if you won’t use them due to rolling blackouts.

Why should you allow this to happen when there’s an alternative?

Solar energy is a great power source in Southern California. Los Angeles alone experiences 284 days of sunshine every year. It even works at night, gathering solar energy from the sun’s light reflected by the moon.

Still on the fence about switching? These eight benefits are proof enough of why solar energy is the future:

1. Reliable Source of Energy

When you start using solar power at home, you no longer rely on conventional power companies. Rolling blackouts become a thing of the past.

Some energy providers use non-renewable sources to provide electrical power. Since fossil fuels are becoming scarce, the cost of electricity is now steeper than ever.

You can switch to a power company that uses geothermal energy. Even so, you’ll have to take your share from their pool together with other consumers.

However, if you have your own solar panels at home, you have your own pool. You don’t have to take a slice of the pie; you have your own pie.

Going solar allows you to rest assured, knowing you’ll always have power for your home. There’s unlimited solar energy, so there’s no scarcity.

2. Save Money on Electric Bills

California enjoys the lowest average monthly electric bill compared to other states. Still, wouldn’t it be magnificent to slash around $100 from your monthly expenses? This number translates to more than a thousand dollars in savings each year.

Generating your own electricity eliminates the need to pay for electric bills. You get to save 100% of your power costs when opting for solar energy. You’ll be enjoying free electricity for the entire 25+ years of your system’s life.

Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about keeping your AC throughout the summer. You can have your system set up to accommodate your electricity requirements. You also don’t have to compromise using your electric-powered appliances and gadgets.

3. Earn Government Incentives

Even the government is encouraging citizens to start using renewable energy sources. They make it easier to switch to eco-friendly solutions. In California, they even offer two substantial incentives.

The state provides tax exclusions for qualified new solar installations. This exclusion extends up to January 1, 2025. If you qualify for this, your property tax will not increase if you have solar installations in your home.

Another incentive for California residents is tax credits. It’s for taxpayers who installed solar-powered systems in their homes.

The tax credit does not even have a maximum limit. You can claim the full 26% credit regardless of the total amount of your solar panel installation.

However, you can only receive 26% credit if your system was in service before the end of 2022. The credit goes down to 22% if you decide to switch to solar energy the years after.

4. Improves Your Home’s Value

Aside from saving money, installing solar panels in your home increases its value. You’ll get more bang for your buck if you decide to use this renewable energy. Solar installation adds more value to your house than other home improvement solutions.

You’ll get a better assessment of your home’s value if you have solar panels installed. This benefit alone can more than offset the added cost of installation.

5. Versatility in Installation

Solar panels are modular and flexible. They can be set up in both horizontal and vertical spaces. Regardless of the type of home you have, there’s always a place to install the panels. It can be on the roof of the house itself or on an empty area in your backyard.

Solar-powered systems are free from being dependent on power lines. They are also independent of other traditional electrical distribution. Plus, installations can be on remote locations not reached by power lines.

6. Little to No Maintenance

There are lots of misconceptions about solar panels. One of the not popular ones verging on being close to the truth is that they are hard to maintain. In reality, it needs almost no maintenance at all.

You don’t have to schedule regular checkups of the system. In fact, it’s even self-cleaning. The wind can blow off any particles from the surface, and the rain washes the panels clean.

7. Participate in Clean Energy

The more residents switch to solar energy, the lesser the need for power plants. Power plants are one of the major contributors to air and water pollution. With fewer consumers using traditional power sources, power plants’ operations will decrease.

Burning fossil fuels for electricity creates harmful gases. They cause pollution, resulting in the global climate change we’re all experiencing today.

Solar panels help you become an advocate for protecting the planet. At the same time, high energy costs won’t affect you since you’re producing your own.

8. Matches Technological Advances

There are several technological advances taking place today. Some of them are electric motor vehicles, extended reality, and computer vision.

All these developments have one thing in common, though. They all need electricity to operate.

Even at home, you need reliable power to use your OLED TV. You might even need to have an electric car charger installed in your garage sometime in the future.

The shift to unlimited power sources provided by the sun is not only happening in your community. It’s already spreading like wildfire on a global scale. Solar panels give you scalability for future technology. 

Experience a Brighter Future with Solar Energy

These eight benefits you’ll get when using solar panels will help offset energy costs. Getting them installed allows you to contribute to the healing of the environment. Solar energy meets the massive demands due to technology without depleting the planet.

Are you ready to make the switch? Contact us and allow Orange County’s leading solar contractor to help you get started.

Solar panel on the roof of the house and coins in hand. The concept of money saving and clean energy.

How Can Your Commercial Business Benefit from Solar Panels?

Commercial solar panels cost a pretty penny—anyone who tells you otherwise is probably lying to you. 

Still, there’s a problem with that statement. Saying that “solar panels are expensive” is misleading because it doesn’t talk about the ROI, the reduction of overhead, and the myriad of other benefits that solar panels can provide to your commercial business. 

Instead, we should be saying that “gaining the benefit, quality of life improvements, and energy security that solar panels give us requires an investment.”

Think about it; solar panels are a single circuit electrical grid that you own. Even better, instead of investing millions like the city has to, you only have to invest thousands. That’s still a considerable expense, but it’s a worthwhile improvement.

Here are some ways you can expect your business to benefit and some reasons why now is the perfect time to invest. 

Solar Increases Energy Security

You don’t depend on a single product’s revenue to make your business function; why would you rely on a single energy source?

If there’s a blackout, then that’s it. Your business can no longer produce. Worse, we currently depend on a national energy infrastructure that was built in 1950.

1950’s America would have had no clue that the power demand would be at the point it is today. From 1950-1980 there was an average of 5 blackouts a year. In 2007 the number of yearly blackouts had climbed to 76.

So, the upgrade to solar energy helps you become partially independent from a solution that’s becoming outdated fast. 

An upgrade to solar can also help prevent power surges if a power outage does occur. 

The Cost of Solar Is Decreasing

As innovation progresses, the cost of solar has plummeted—solar installation has fallen by 89% in the last ten years.

So, even if you got a price estimate of solar installation a year or two ago, then you might want to check back with your local solar company. The price could be much lower than you remember it being.

Additionally, the falling cost of solar is offset further with Federal tax credits. You will receive one or all of the following—tax credits, a reimbursement, or cash rebates. So check your local tax codes (here are some of Califonia’s regulations) to see how much you’ll be saving by adding renewable energy to your arsenal.

Just remember that the initial cost may not be the final cost.

Solar Reduces Overhead

Do solar panels, and other renewables affect your bottom line? YES! 

Solar is, and always has been, an investment in the future of your business. Solar customers can expect up to a 50% reduction in their energy costs (depending on the install location and overall geographic location). That means that you’ll be paying off your initial investment in around 3-10 years, depending on the initial cost and the cost of energy in your area.

The best part is, you get to pocket the difference. (You can even sell unused solar to energy companies to make your money back faster.)

So, in commercial buildings where the average power drawn far exceeds the power drawn by an average home, switching to solar makes a lot of sense. 

Solar Increases Your Property Value

For residential homes, “each additional $1 in energy bill savings (from your solar installation) adds $20 to your home’s total value” according to costofsolar.com.

The same difference is true for commercial buildings. When you install solar, your property value will increase, meaning that you can use the increase in your property’s value to either buy a new location or pursue other interests after you pay off the install.

Adding solar also means that your building will likely sell much faster when it’s time to move on. Having lower electricity bills is attractive to anyone. 

Solar Makes Energy Bills More Predictable

Operating costs can be unpredictable at times. Energy costs fluctuate, employees come and go, and life happens.

A big benefit of solar is that it gives you a more predictable financial crutch to lean on. By offsetting your energy cost with solar solutions, you’re reducing the risk that you take on by being an everyday customer of the power grid.

Another significant benefit here is taking the edge off of seasonal price fluctuations—depending on what methods you use to heat your space, of course.

Offsetting the cost of city energy with solar energy can turn a price jump that would make you say, “we used how much power!?” into a price jump that has you saying, “oh, guess we used a little more power this month—wonder why?”

Solar Is Sexy

That’s right. Solar looks good on your building and your brand. It improves the green image of your business to the average passerby faster than most forms of press.

Solar panels on the top of your business are physical reminders that you’re investing in a greener future for everyone. Your solar panels will make paper and social capital at the same time… That’s two birds with one stone. 

Solar Panels Are Low Maintenance

Solar panels may not look like it, but they’re eco-friendly tanks. Commercial solar panels are covered in tempered glass, filled with non-toxic silicone, and surrounded by rust-free aluminum.

Like the postal service, “neither snow nor rain nor heat. . . stays these [panels] from the swift completion of their…” energy-generating duties. 

So long as sunlight can pass through the glass on top of the panels, they will generate energy. With maintenance included for the lifetime of the panels, you’ll rarely have to worry about your panels again. 

Additionally, solar panels generate virtually no noise like other generators, meaning that you get to enjoy peace, quiet, and electricity in the event a blackout does occur. 

So, Is Solar Right for You?

It’s obvious that we think the answer is a resounding YES!

Still, every situation is different, and that’s okay. If you’re thinking about adding on commercial solar panels, reach out to us for an evaluation.

We can’t wait to speak with you about adding solar to your commercial space! 

solar-panels-placement-green-e

What Are the Different Types of Solar Panels?

In 2019 the U.S. surpassed 2 million solar installations nationwide with forecasts expecting that number to double by 2023. With so many people eager to embrace this new wave of clean energy, it can be difficult to know what types of solar panels are best suited to your specific needs.

Thankfully, this simple guide should help orient both first-time and returning solar power users to the pros and cons of each solar panel variant and allow you to discover which is the best solar panel choice for your home, business, or otherwise.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

The first and most common type of solar panel is the monocrystalline solar panel. These are typically used for smaller, residential building projects. These panels are noted for their higher efficiency rates when compared to alternatives. They also sport a much sleeker appearance.

Monocrystalline panels are produced using single-crystal silicon. This means that the electrons flowing through the material have more room to move and generate electricity. This results in an efficiency rate ranging from 17% to 22%. This is the highest of the three major types of solar panels on the market today.

The appearance of these panels is attributed to their creation using the Czochralski method. This method involves dipping a “seed” silicon crystal into a large vat of molten silicon. The seed is then removed from the vat. The molten material is allowed to cool around the seed and create a single silicon crystal. This results in a uniform, dark black color across all monocrystalline panels.

This unique process means that monocrystalline panels are generally sold as “premium” products. This makes them one of the most expensive types of solar panels on the market today.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Polycrystalline solar panels are a frequent choice of the homeowner looking to install solar panels on a budget. These panels are noted for their moderate energy rate. They also tend to be generally less “attractive” than their counterparts.

Polycrystalline panels are produced using multi-crystal silicon. This makes it difficult for electrons to flow freely through the material. This results in an efficiency rate ranging from 15% to 17%. This puts it slightly below monocrystalline’s output.

Similar to monocrystalline, polycrystalline panels are formed by dipping a “seed” crystal into a vat of molten silicon. However, instead of removing the seed from the vat before allowing it to set, the entire vat is allowed to cool and set around the seed. This method creates a panel with multiple crystal structures. This results in a marbled blue-ish tint to the material which some homeowners view as an eyesore.

However, This more streamlined creation process makes polycrystalline solar panels much more affordable. Unfortunately, they also have a slightly lower energy output.

Thin Film Solar Panels

Thin film solar panels are completely unique from other crystalline solar panels. They are the only type of solar panel constructed without the use of silicon crystals. These panels are rarely used in residential installations as their efficiency is low. However, they make a popular choice for large-scale or industrial construction projects.

Thin film solar panels can be produced using a variety of substances. Each substance results in different variants of thin film paneling. Despite this, thin film panels still have the lowest efficiency rating of all. Their efficiency can range anywhere from 10% to 13%.

In place of crystals, thin film solar panels use what are known as “photovoltaic substances.” The panels are produced by placing a thin layer of a photovoltaic substance onto any preferred material type. Common paneling materials include glass, metal, and plastic. This results in a solar panel that is not only dark black and incredibly lightweight but also flexible.

Because of their simplistic design, thin film solar panels are the most affordable option for solar energy on the market. However, due to their low efficiency rating, most homeowners use crystalline panels instead.

Which Types of Solar Panels Are Best for You?

Now that we have covered the general pros and cons of each solar panel type, you are probably wondering how to decide which solar panel is the perfect fit for you. Well, the final answer is completely dependent on your own energy needs, roof space, and budget.

To make your decision a little simpler, unless you are planning on building a skyscraper or condominium in your backyard any time soon, you can more than likely rule out thin film solar panels as an option. Their low efficiency rate is only made up for on buildings with a large enough surface area, which residential roofing does not provide.

When comparing solar panels, remember that the higher the efficiency of each panel, the fewer panels you will need to meet your energy needs. Therefore, if you have a smaller home with limited roof space, monocrystalline panels may be the only way to meet your energy needs.

Likewise, if you have a larger home with more roof space, you may be able to meet your energy needs with the less efficient polycrystalline panels. Just keep in mind that you will not be getting the sleek, dark black look of the monocrystalline panels.

So What’s the Right Choice?

Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” answer to this question. However, with the information provided here, you should be well equipped to decide which types of solar panels best suit your needs.

If you still have some unanswered questions, or you are interested in getting a free quote on your own solar panel installation, feel free to reach out to us at Altair Solar!