Solar Power is not a new technology; it was originally
developed for commercial use in 1954, by Bell Laboratories here in the United
States. Despite steady growth of solar as a residential and commercial source
of power, there are still common misconceptions about this renewable technology.
1. “Solar technology is going to advance so quickly that if I go solar today my solar panels will be obsolete, so I’m waiting for that new technology to be developed… “
The first commercially viable solar systems were developed with an efficiency of six percent. Today, fifty nine years later, silicon solar cells are currently producing at an efficiency of about 20 percent. Silicon solar cells have a theoretical maximum efficiency of 25 percent, this technology has increased at an average of a quarter of a percentage each year over the past six decades. Based on historical trends, we can expect to see a maximum efficiency reached in 20 years. Therefore, unlike your first iPhone, purchasing a solar power system today will not be obsolete in the next few years. The truth is, that the technology available today is able to fully offset most home or businesses’ electrical consumption.
The other piece of equipment associated with a solar power system is the inverter. The inverter is the workhorse of your solar system, converting the direct current (DC) coming from your panels to an alternating current (AC) which powers our homes and businesses. During the lifetime of your solar power system, the inverter will be the only piece of equipment that needs to be replaced which will occur around 15-18 years after your solar system has been installed.
2. Solar Power is not affordable, I don’t have money for a down payment…
Solar power has been one of America’s fastest-growing industries for the past two years because property owners are able to go solar and save money. The early solar power adopters were primarily environmentalists with disposable incomes; today, there are different types of financing options that make solar available to the masses. Someone with a $150 electric can go solar for $0 upfront payment, eliminate their electric bill and have a monthly payment for their solar power system that is less than the avoided cost of power from the utility, saving money from the first month their solar power system turns on. Homeowners are able to do this with a solar lease, and, more attractively, a solar loan. Cash purchases and other financing options are available, but the solar lease and solar loan have allowed many property owners the opportunity to save money by going solar without any money needing to be spent upfront.
In addition, there is also a 30 percent federal tax credit that property owners are entitled to when they purchase a solar power system. This tax credit is slated to run through 2016. California hosts 87 percent of all of America’s solar. In the Southern California Edison (SCE) utility territory, homeowners can still receive a state rebate of $0.20 per watt. It is anticipated that this rebate will be fully exhausted by the end of this year.
power systems require more maintenance than I am interested in dealing with…
A huge benefit of solar power systems is that they are very low maintenance. With no moving parts, the modules themselves simply need contact with sunlight to do their job. The only maintenance involved in solar power systems is the recommended rinsing of the panels four times per year to remove any dust or build up that can bring down the production of the system. Some homeowners will have window cleaners come out and take care of this for them, while others simply aim a power hose towards the system to complete the rinse. Because Sullivan Solar Power provides free monitoring for 10 years, their customers have the ease of knowing their systems are producing at the expected capacity – and that, if for any reason it is not, Sullivan Solar Power will be on top of fixing any issues that arise.
4. My homeowners association (HOA) will not
allow me to go solar…
Aesthetics of a solar power system are important to many homeowners and homeowner associations. This is the primary reason why many homeowner associations do not encourage some residents to go solar. In California, however, the Solar Rights Act of 1978 states that a HOA cannot prohibit you from installing a solar power system on your roof. They can, however have a say on where it is installed, as long as it does not significantly impact the production of the system design. If you do not want a system installed on your roof, other viable options are ground-mount PV systems and shade structures. As always, it is important to choose a solar contractor that strives to install the most clean, aesthetically pleasing systems and can be evidenced by an impressive residential and commercial portfolio, or even contacting a solar company’s references. In comparison to a coal burning power plant, solar is a beautiful technology for education and our future generations to see. Not only can solar look good on your roof, it can also increase your property value – a recent study has shown that properties with solar systems increase 17 percent in value and sell for 20 percent faster.
5. When you go solar, your ‘off the grid’
When thinking of solar, many envision being ‘off the grid’ and disconnected entirely from the conventional utility grid. However, 99% of the time, solar is grid-tied, and the grid infrastructure essentially acts as your back up battery and solar storage system. Once you go solar, you will enter a ‘net metering’ contract with your local utility. As a part of net metering, you transition from a monthly electric bill to an annualized billing cycle. This allows you, as an energy producer, to have a 1 to 1 credit for all solar energy that you produce and consumer. During the day your system will produce more energy than you will consume, and at night when you are not producing, you can pull back electricity from the grid using credits from when your system was over producing during the day. One year after your solar power system is turned on, you will have your actual bill, or “true-up” with the utility and look at all of the energy you’ve produced and all that you’ve consumed. While you will get full retail credit for every unit of energy that you consume, any excess generation will be credited only at the wholesale rate; so it is very important that all solar power systems are accurately sized.
Now that you have a better understanding of solar, and we have de-bunked some of the common solar misconceptions for you, we hope you will begin to consider solar as an option for your home. Please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-SULLIVAN or visit our web site at SullivanSolarPower.com to obtain a free quote for your solar power system.