Thanksgiving is nearly here, which means after the Black Friday crowds comes Small Business Saturday.  Small Business Saturday started as a reaction to the large chain stores that offered big savings and often took business away from local stores.  In an effort to support local small businesses, Small Business Saturday was born.  Small Business Saturday isn’t just about shopping local retailers for stocking stuffers.  It can also include deals on solar power.  Local to the Inland Empire, Orange County and Los Angeles resides Top Tier Home Energy (949) 296-2296.

If you’ve ever considered shopping for solar power, Small Business Saturday is your opportunity to save.

The Savings Add Up

When consumers make the switch to this renewable energy source, they find the savings really add up.  Expensive electricity bills, costly air conditioning and heating are drastically reduced.  Manufacturers are able to guarantee the best quality, offering consumers the ability to hang onto their solar panels for decades to come.  Once they’ve drastically reduced their electric bills, consumers find that the cost of maintaining solar panels is extremely inexpensive and easier than continuing to pay excessive fees.

Shop Solar Power Locally

Households and businesses across Southern California have saved exponentially by shopping for their solar power locally.  Whether it’s a first time home buyer or a large condominium or industrial complex, solar power is a huge energy saver and a source of renewable energy.  By shopping for this source of green energy locally, consumers can help local businesses to thrive.

As good members of the community, solar power businesses such as Top Tier Home Energy contribute to a healthy environment and a better future for everyone.  Those interested in finding an exceptional solar power business should schedule a free consultation today.  Top Tier Home Energy is available to guide you through the process of converting to sustainable energy. Call us today for a free consultation at Top Tier Home (949) 296-2296.

 

 

We’ve all heard about the 2020 mandate for solar panels in all newly constructed California homes, but what about homes that were built before 2020?  Title 24’s mandate didn’t include upgrading older homes in the state. Many of these old homes can benefit from solar panels as well. Consider the following benefits for California home owners who switch to using solar panels:

Solar Panels Can Improve Our Air Quality

It’s not hard to see that as wild fires rage uncontained at the moment, that California’s air quality is not good.  Even in times without crisis, our air in California is often described as smoggy.  Smog alerts encourage children to stay indoors and off the playground because the air quality is often so bad.  With solar panels, Californians can do their part to improve our air quality. Because solar energy is a renewable energy, it doesn’t pollute the air.  Homes which are using solar panels to generate electricity and for heating and cooling don’t produce any harmful emissions.  Instead, they harness the power of the sun, a clean renewable source of energy.  Because panels are so affordable, homes in especially dense urban areas like Los Angeles, San Francisco, or even Orange County can do their part to improve air quality.

Increased Money in Your Bank Account

Homes can be extremely expensive, especially to heat and cool.  Apartment dwellers may have it easy but for new home owners, the cost of electricity can be shocking.  The larger your home, the more expensive it can get. Electricity in large homes is already expensive, but when the temperatures soar or dip dramatically, Californians’ electric bills can look like your paycheck from your first job out of school.  Solar panels, in contrast, are affordable and easy to maintain, reducing your need to buy electricity and pay half of your paycheck for it. Keep more of your money where it belongs- in your bank account by switching to clean solar energy.

Low Maintenance Costs

Maintaining your solar panels is easy and cost effective.  In fact, they are so sturdy that manufacturers generally offer 20 to 25 year warranties on their products.  You won’t have to spend more money every year replacing equipment.  No matter how much the elements beat at your panels, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of solar energy for decades.  No other source of energy can claim to be so affordable for so long.

It’s clear that Californians need solar energy.  For more information on how you can benefit from installing solar panels, contact us at Top Tier Home Energy (949) 296-2296.

 

 

 

July and early August 2018 boasted some of the hottest days on record in Southern California. Air conditioning units throughout the region ran 24-hours a day. The rest of the summer promises more of the same.

As grateful as we are for the air conditioning units that make these months bearable, we are markedly less pleased with the energy bills that arrive in the following weeks. That is, unless we have solar panels. Solar panel systems deliver homeowners significant savings over non-solar systems—typically several hundred dollars during the hottest months of the year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

And with more than 300 days of sunshine a year, very few states are as ideal as California to make the most of solar panel technology as a renewable and reliable energy source.

Add to that the fact that there has been a 53% drop in the price of solar panels over the last five years, according to figures from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), and it seems like every California home would have a raft of solar panels on its roof.

But that’s not the case: the SEIA says that while California continues to be a leading solar panel market in the United States with nearly 5.8 million homes powered by solar, there are 7.2* million households in the state that do not.

So why aren’t solar panels on every roof in California? It turns out there are valid reasons that not all California consumers have embraced the movement toward solar panel energy. Here are the top five:

1. Average Utility Bill is Manageable (for Now)

According to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), residential electric customers in California pay an average of 16 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), among the highest rates in the nation. However, monthly average bills in the State are among the lowest in the United States at $90 per month. That’s because California homes use less energy on average than households in other states, due to a milder year-round temperature average of 70 °F.

But CPUC average findings aside, each household uses energy in different ways. Bills may range from as little as $40 to $800 a month or more. It depends on how the air conditioning is used, how many people are in the home, when the appliances are in use and many more factors.

The CPUC divides California into six into six regions based on climate: North Coast, Mountains, Central Valley, Central Coast, Desert, and South Coast/Inland. If you’re living in the North Coast, Mountains and Central Coast, for example, you’re less likely to use air conditioning during the summer months because you simply don’t need it thanks to cooler temperatures.

People in the Central Valley, Desert and South Coast/Inland areas are far more likely to be solar panel customers. In fact, in April Los Angeles mayor Gil Garcetti announced that Los Angeles—firmly situated in the South Coast/Inland region of California– as the most installed solar power of any city in America. And it’s been worth it: a 2018 study by Solar Reviews found that in the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego and Long Beach, the average monthly savings for an 1,8000-square-foot home with solar panels was around $128 per month.

It’s safe to assume that, even if a home’s energy bills are low without solar panels, public utilities will continue to raise rates just as they have been doing for years. Between 2006 and 2012, for example, residential electricity prices shot up 30%, adjusted for inflation, according to Energy Department figures. Experts say the price could jump an additional 47% over the next 15 years.

2. You Rent Your Home

Unfortunately, people who rent their homes—46.2% here in California, according to the US Census Bureau—usually aren’t candidates for solar. However, just because you don’t own your home there are ways to reap its benefits.

If you’re paying your own utilities, even as little as the $90 a month average referenced above, you may want to consider approaching your landlord about installing solar panels.

After all, both you and your landlord want to save money. A landlord may consider leasing a system at, for example, $75 a month, and charge that amount to the tenant. The tenant ends up saving money, the landlord has his or her costs covered on solar panel installation, and it is a win-win for both.

If you aren’t comfortable about approaching your landlord or you’re part of a large apartment community without much of a relationship with the property management firm, you still can access solar energy.

In California, many cities are experimenting with “community solar,” a group of people in the same community or neighborhood, going in on solar together, usually in what is referred to as a solar garden. The community group can take advantage of the cost savings and environmental benefits of solar without having to put the panels on their own roof. You don’t need to be a homeowner to do it, either. A quick Google search can tell you if there is a community solar program near you.

3. Some People Don’t Qualify

Another reason that solar panels are not ubiquitous throughout California is that not all would-be customers qualify for financing for solar panel payments. Experian lists the average credit score in California as 687, ranking 30th out of 50 states. But while that score is on the lower end of average, it doesn’t mean that someone with that credit score can’t buy a solar panel system.

Solar panel systems can range upwards of $15,000 – $30,000, before tax credits and incentives. That’s a big number and there are different ways to make it happen for you.

Basically, there are two types of solar financing. The most popular kind of financing is a solar panel-specific loan through the solar panel manufacturer. An applicant needs a minimum 650 credit score to qualify. These loans are specific to solar because of the federal solar tax credit, also known as the investment tax credit (ITC), which allows you to deduct 30 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system from your federal taxes.

In this case, the solar panel manufacturer receives the 30% tax credit, and deducts that amount from the principle of the loan. For example, the solar system has a price tag of $15,000. The tax credit is $5,000. You agree to pay that $5,000 tax credit to the solar panel manufacturer and the solar panel manufacturer provides you with a loan with payments based on $10,000.

Typically, such loans are 18-months, interest free. According to EnergySage, these loans are generally available for 10 to 20-year terms, with interest rates ranging from 3 percent to 8 percent if you have a FICO credit score of 640 or above. You own the panels outright and are responsible for maintenance, but since the majority of solar panel systems come with 20-year-warranties, that isn’t as much of an impact as it might otherwise be.

One thing to keep in mind with loans, however, is If you don’t send in the $5,000 tax credit from the IRS, then your payment will go up. It will now reflect a $15,000 loan. So if your original payment as $75 a month, it will go up to $106 a month if the tax refund is not sent to the lender—a 42% increase.

Customers can also lease their solar panels from the solar panel provider. Leasing can bring instant cost-savings benefits with little or no money down. The power you produce will lower your monthly utility bill. The solar company owns the panels and is responsible for maintenance. In order to lease, however, the customer must have a higher credit score, around 700.

The typical lease period for solar panels is 20 years. At the end of the lease, you have the option of buying the panels outright for fair market value or having the solar panel company remove the system from the house. It’s up to you. Leasing may be a good option for people who want to keep their options open.

If the idea of financing through the solar panel manufacturer or leasing panels isn’t appealing, another option is to get a traditional loan from your bank or financial institution. The monthly payment may be slightly higher, and the credit score requirement may be different, but the 30% tax credit can be used to pay down your principle.

4. Some Roofs Don’t Have Enough Useable Space

The fact of the matter is that some homes aren’t candidates for a solar system. Their “footprint” isn’t large enough to accommodate the system that the home needs to produce the most solar energy. Covering every available inch of a roof is simply not practical, especially given that fire code requires three feet of clear space from all ridges. Solar panels are rectangular; a roof with many varying levels can preclude any installation.

While solar panels can be installed on the ground on a separate structure, that isn’t always a practical solution. You’d need to add trenching, conduit, concrete and steel framing, which generally will add 20- 30% more in costs to your solar panel system.

Another problem homeowner sometimes encounter is an overabundance of trees and shade. If the shade only cover the solar panels a portion of the day, it is possible that they still absorb enough sun. Or, if the problem can be addressed through a good tree trimming, then by all means a solar system can work. The important thing is taking shade issues into consideration before installing panels to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

 

5. Some People are Skeptical

Throughout history, the introduction of technology has given some people pause. A 1933 New Yorker article recalled what it was like when telephones were first for sale: “People admitted that telephones were ingenious contraptions and wondered just how they worked, but they no more thought of getting one of their own than the average man now thinks of getting an airplane. As a matter of fact, for a long time they were of little use in a home. Since almost nobody had them, there was no one to talk to.”

Solar panels are a little like that. When they first debuted 20 years ago, they had their share of naysayers. Even now, some people are skeptical. And many have good reason: they may have encountered a fly-by-night solar company or been subjected to an annoying “hard sell.” They may have had friends who installed solar panels, only to find that the company they used overcharged them or did not customize a solar panel system that worked best for their home.

Sadly, when solar panels did appear on the scene, there were disreputable companies who took advantage of people’s trust. One company, since gone out of business, would require an 80% down payment, deliver a few pieces of racking, but never come back to install the system. Another company, also now defunct, would form an alliance with another company to fix prices. In the Wild West days of the early solar panel industry, things sometimes got out of control.

Now, twenty years into it, companies take pride in providing customized, cost-efficient systems that provide energy savings for years. Yet people still may not believe that a solar system is right for them.

Some say that they’ve been watching the prices for solar panels come down over the years and they are waiting for the costs to drop further. At first glance, this seems reasonable: after all, solar panel systems have dropped significantly in the last five years. But now the prices have stabilized and are not expected to drop further. Plus, depending on what part of California you are in, local incentives may be phased out. The federal tax credit, currently 30% of the price of your system, will be changing.

The Department of Energy says that the 30% tax credit is for systems installed by 12/31/2019, After that, the tax credit drops to 26%. After 2021, the tax credit drops to 22%. Given this information, it’s better to buy or lease a solar system before the tax credit changes.

Another reason that some may not believe a system is for them is that they haven’t done their own research on the right solar system for them. They may have a friend with a different sized home and a different number of people in their household, from whom they got their information, and decided solar panels weren’t for them based on someone else’s energy needs. It’s important to have a qualified solar professional make an in-person assessment of your home so that the information you have is the most recent and most accurately reflects your needs—and your eventual savings.

Find Out More about Solar

The best time for solar companies is the month after a spell of hot weather when folks open up their energy bills. That said, Top Tier Home Energy, one of Orange County’s top solar panel companies doesn’t want people to buy solar panels because they’re motivated by a big bill. They want them to make the investment before the hot weather ever hits so that they can access the savings all year ‘round.

*California Department of Housing and Community Development, January 2017

Top Tier Home Energy is Southern California’s premier solar panel installation company. The Top Tier Home Energy team is passionate about the Solar Revolution and offers the newest in solar module technology. Every solar system Top Tier Home Energyinstalls is custom designed in-house by Top Tier Home Energy engineers. Top Tier Home Energyis not a subcontractor and does not subcontract. Whether your project is residential or commercial, Top Tier Home Energy handles all of the permitting and construction. Find out more at www.toptierhome.com.

Determining how many solar panels you’ll need for your home means first knowing what your goals are. Do you want to minimize your carbon footprint?  Maximize your return on your investment? Save as much money as possible?  Most people want to save money while minimizing their environmental impact.

To calculate how many solar panels you need, you need to know the following: how much energy your household uses; your roof’s usable surface area; the climate and peak sunlight in your area; the wattage and relative efficiency of the photovoltaic (PV) panels you’re considering; and whether net metering is available.

One simple way of answering the “How many solar panels do I need” question is to consult a professional solar installer, who can give you a free home solar evaluation.

1. How much solar power will you need?

To determine your home’s average energy requirements look at past utility bills. You can calculate how many solar panels you need by multiplying your household’s hourly energy requirement by the peak sunlight hours for your area and dividing that by a panel’s wattage. Use a low-wattage (150W) and high-wattage (370W) example to establish a range (ex: 17-42 panels to generate 11,000 kWh/year). Note that how much sunlight your roof gets and factors such as roof size and battery storage will figure in as well.

If you work with Top Tier Home, our solar experts will handle all these calculations for you. But to give you some idea of how many solar panels are needed for the average home (or for your home in particular), here is a sample set of questions that a solar professional might use to figure it out:

2. How many watts do you currently use?

Look at your electricity bill for average usage. Look for “Kilowatt Hours (or kWh) Used” or something similar, and then note the time period represented (usually 30 days). If your bill doesn’t show kilowatt hours used, look for beginning and ending meter readings and subtract the previous reading from the most recent one.

You want daily and hourly usage for our calculations, though, so if your bill doesn’t show a daily average, just divide the monthly or annual average by 30 or 365 days, respectively, and then divide again by 24 to determine your hourly average electricity usage. Your answer will be in kilowatt-hours (kWh). (And just in case you are wondering, a kilowatt-hour is how much power you are using at any given time multiplied by the total time the power is being used.)

A small home in a temperate climate might use something like 200 kwh per month, and a larger home in the south where air conditioners account for the largest portion of home energy usage might use 2,000 kWh or more. The average U.S. home uses about 900 kWh per month. So that’s 30 kWh per day or 1.25 kWh per hour.

 

Your average daily energy usage is your target daily average for to calculate your solar needs. That’s the number of kilowatt-hours you need your solar system to produce if you want to cover 100 percent of your energy needs.

It’s important to note that solar panels don’t operate at maximum efficiency at all times. (See Solar 101: How Does Solar Energy Work?). Weather conditions, for example, can temporarily reduce your system’s efficiency. Therefore, experts recommend adding a 25 percent “cushion” to your target daily average to ensure you can generate all the clean energy you need.

​3. How many hours of sunlight can you expect in your area?

The peak sunlight hours for your particular location will have a direct impact on the energy you can expect your home solar system to produce. For example, if you live in Phoenix you can expect to have a greater number of peak sunlight hours than if you lived in Seattle. That doesn’t mean a Seattle homeowner can’t go solar; it just means the homeowner would need more solar panels.

The Renewable Resource Data Center provides sunlight information by state and for major cities.

Now multiply your hourly usage (see question No. 1) by 1,000 to convert your hourly power generation need to watts. Divide your average hourly wattage requirement by the number of daily peak sunlight hours for your area. This gives you the amount of energy your panels need to produce every hour. So the average U.S. home (900 kWh/month) in an area that gets five peak sunlight hours per day would need 6,250 watts.

​4. What affects solar panel output efficiency?

Here’s where solar panel quality makes a difference. Not all solar panels are alike. Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels (most commonly used in residential installations) come in wattages ranging from about 150 watts to 370 watts per panel, depending on the panel size and efficiency (how well a panel is able to convert sunlight into energy), and on the cell technology.

For example, solar cells with no grid lines on the front (like SunPower ®  Maxeon cells) absorb more sunlight than conventional cells and do not suffer from issues such as delamination (peeling). The construction of our cells make them stronger and more resistant to cracking or corrosion. And a microinverter on each panel can optimize power conversion at the source, in contrast to one large inverter mounted on the side of the house.

Because of these wide variations in quality and efficiency, it’s difficult to make generalizations about which solar panels are right for you or how many solar panels you’ll need for your home. The main takeaway is that, the more efficient the panels are, the more wattage they can produce, and the fewer you will need on your roof to get the same energy output. Conventional solar panels usually produce about 250 watts per panel, with varying levels of efficiency. In contrast, Top Tier Home Energy panels are known to be the most efficient solar panels on the market.

To figure out how many solar panels you need, divide your home’s hourly wattage requirement (see question No. 3) by the solar panels’ wattage to calculate the total number of panels you need.

So that average U.S. home in Dallas, Texas, would need about 25 conventional (250W) solar panels or 17 SunPower (370W) panels.

5. What is the effect of solar panel size?

If you have a small or unusually shaped roof, solar panel size and numbers are important considerations. With a large usable roof area, perhaps you can sacrifice some efficiency and buy more larger solar panels (at a lower cost per panel) to get to your target energy output. But if your usable roof area is limited, or if it’s partially shaded, being able to use fewer smaller high efficiency solar panels may be the best way to make the most possible power over the long term, ultimately saving you more money.

Typical residential solar panel dimensions today are about 65 inches by 39 inches, or 5.4 feet by 3.25 feet, with some variation among manufacturers. Top Tier Home Energy solar panels are 61.3 inches by 41.2 inches.

These dimensions have remained more or less unchanged for decades, but the efficiency and output from that same footprint have changed dramatically for the better. In addition, Top Tier Top Home designs entire systems to have virtually no gaps between panels and uses invisible framing and mounting hardware to keep the rooftop footprint as tight, efficient and attractive as possible.

Knowing the answers to the above questions will give you an idea of the ideal number of solar panels for your electricity generation needs — or at least a realistic range. Next, a professional installer needs to assess your roof architecture, angle to the sun and other factors to see if and how you’d be able to physically arrange the right number of panels on your roof to achieve your daily energy production goals.

You should also consider net metering as you’re considering figuring out your ROI for your solar system. Net metering is how your utility company credits you for producing excess solar energy when the sun is shining and then lets you draw from those credits when you’re using conventional power grid at night, if you don’t have a solar battery storage system.

To get started, check out our solar calculator, which can help you figure out how much you might save going solar.

“Don’t solar panels need a lot of maintenance?”

Top Tier Home Energy gets this question from homeowners regularly, and it’s understandable given that no one wants to worry about climbing up on a roof to care for their solar panels.

Solar panels work by converting sunlight into electricity, so the cleaner your panels are, the more efficiently they’ll be able to generate clean energy for your home or business.

Since Top Tier Home Energy panels are the most efficient on the market, they’ll make more energy than competing panels in a variety of low-light situations, but any panels covered with too much dirt or debris will produce less power.

In most cases, the loss of power isn’t significant — maybe 1 to 4.7 percent. But one study found that long-term dirt buildup can reduce a solar panel’s electricity production by as much as 20 percent.

How to Clean Your Solar Panels

Typically, we say to stay off your panels – they clean themselves: The good news is that seasonal rain usually washes off any dirt or animal droppings that may have accumulated. But if your area receives very little precipitation and has dusty, windy weather, you may need to occasionally clean your panels. Some homeowners are able to do this themselves or they may choose to have them professionally cleaned.

For example, in Riverside area, where we install Sunpower solar systems, it doesn’t rain much between spring and the wintertime, making regular monthly or bimonthly cleanings a good idea. Because the desert is dry, a lot of dust or ash (from California wildfires) can rest on the panels.

Fortunately, cleaning solar panels is easy for ground-mounted systems, or for rooftop solar systems. We recommend homeowners use a soft-bristle brush with an extended handle, like the type used to clean off an RV. And don’t forget to choose an environmentally friendly soap.

If the solar panels are hard to access, such those on a two-story home, buying a high-pressure hose nozzle with an attachment that holds soap typically does the trick. These can be found at any home maintenance store. Find a safe place to stand, spray soapy water on the panels and then quickly rinse them off.

Yes. It’s really that simple.

But you Do-it-yourselfers should keep some other things in mind:

  • As a rule, stay on the ground. Never get up on your roof without a secure ladder and proper fall-protection equipment.
  • Turn off your system before start you cleaning. Consult your SunPower® solar manual to see how you turn off your system to protect it. If you’re unsure, ask your SunPower dealer for help.
  • As a rule, avoid using hard, or mineral rich, water. It can damage panels over time. If your area only has hard tap water, you can buy an inexpensive water-softening hose attachment to filter out minerals. Otherwise, you can use distilled or de-ionized water.
  • Use soft brushes and squeegees. Don’t use abrasive brushes, pads or powders.
  • Clean your solar panels early in the morning or in the evening when the solar panels are cool. During the heat of the day, water and soap can evaporate quickly, which risks smearing the soap and dirt.
  • When using a high-pressure water nozzle, don’t get close to the panels. While they’re extremely durable, you don’t want to damage them.

Still nervous to do it yourself? In many cities there are businesses that specialize in solar panel cleaning, but it’s also a service that many window washing companies now offer. They typically only charge about $2-4 per panel, depending on how accessible and dirty they are. Better yet, the process is quick: 15 to 30 minutes.

Still, here are some other tips:

  • Do a monthly visual inspection to look for any dust buildup. Also, you can watch your bill for any noticeable drop in efficiency. Only then should you worry about cleaning. Even then, in most cases, nature is going to clean them for you.
  • Don’t expose yourself to any risk. If you have any doubts about your ability to safely clean your panels, hire a professional.

Now that you can see that having solar panels is not a high-maintenance commitment, visit our solar calculator to see how much you might save going solar.

 

 

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released a new free online tool that allows anyone to enter in a building’s information and receive an estimate on how much solar PV and battery storage (solar+storage)  would be required to maintain critical loads powered during an emergency.

The REopt Lite web tool was designed with energy managers, community partners and building owners in mind. Here are some key functions:

  • evaluates the economic viability of grid-connected PV and battery storage,
  • identifies sizes of systems and operational strategies to minimize energy costs, and
  • determines system sizes required to sustain critical loads during a specified outage period.

solar power benefits

New features let users determine the benefits and costs of a solar and storage system enhances to power necessary functions such as, lighting and refrigeration, during an outage.  

These newly optimized tool has an easy-to-use interface. Required data is simple such as building location and electricity rates. This tool allows users to analyze solar and storage systems for any commercial buildings, including but not limited to, schools, libraries, multifamily housing units.

ReOpt calculates and generates estimates for the ideal solar and storage system size the building will need to meet two design goals:

  • Create Financial benefits. Many tools can evaluate the economic benefits of solar, however, adding a storage system into the equation makes things much more complicated. The main economic benefit of adding battery storage for commercial customers is to reduce demand charges. Demand charges range from 30 to 70 percent of a monthly utility bill for commercial clients. Storage batteries can directly target and manage periods of high electricity demand, which save commercial clients substantially.

 

  • Create Resilience benefits.  Making sure a commercial building can withstand an outage is now the second most important goal for clients. Recent disasters in Florida and Puerto Rico, where outages contributed to devastation, have brought to the limelight the importance of power resilience. The tool provides building owners and emergency planners straightforward tools to determine how to make buildings more resilient.

 

REopt Lite allows users, for the first time, to factor in economics and resiliency together-two goals previously considered independently- in a simple, side-by-side comparison.

 

The REopt Lite tool allows its users to determine how financially beneficial an avoided outage gives users, by permitting them to assign and adjust a value. This feature makes it possible to consider the financial benefit of improved resilience. Enhancing customization and accuracy, another new feature permits users to incorporate existing on-site generation, like a diesel generator into their evalutation.

The above features and full resilience tools were collaboratively produced

with Clean Energy Group through its Resilient Power Project. Funding support is thanks to The Kresge Foundation and the Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program and Solar Energy Technologies Office.

 

Here is the link to the calculator: https://reopt.nrel.gov/tool

 

For all your commercial solar panel installation needs, contact Top Tier Home Energy (949) 296-2296.

Ins and Outs of Industry Leading Solar Panel Warranties

 

Solar Panel systems for your home are a huge purchase to make, a costly investment in your home. A big factor involved in your purchasing decision should be the solar panel warranty of your solar panels.

 

Solar Panels are made to be durable and withstand extreme weather. They are built to withstand the elements: winds, snow, hot dry summers, hard rainfall and freezing winters. But there are always exceptions and some panels maybe faulty. This is where your warranty can make all the difference.

 

The Importance of a Solar Panel Warranty.

 

Solar Panel purchases are a big upfront expense with the promise of long term savings. Solar Panels generate energy and cut the cost of your electricity bill. But if you happen to get a faulty Solar Panel and it stops generating the expected energy promised at purchase than your savings can dwindle.

 

Your Solar Panel warranty is a guarantee your system will work and generate the energy you bought it for. All to often people fail to overlook the solar panel brand and accompanying warranty. Do not fall into this category. Make sure you select an industry leading brand (SunPower Panels offer the best warranty in the business).

 

Types of Solar Panel Warranties

 

There are different types of Solar Panel Warranties. The two most common warranties are a Product Warranty and a Performance Warranty.

 

 

  • Solar Panel Performance Warranty

Technology is a wonderful thing but like any technology product it will degrade over time. A Solar Panel Performance warranty will guarantee the expected production of the solar panels.  Solar Panels lose efficiency at a pretty reliable rate.

 

A typical Solar Panel will lose about 0.6-0.8% efficiency each year. This means your Solar Panels will not be able to generate the same amount of energy as they did brand new.

 

A performance solar panel warranty may guarantee 90% performance for 10 years and 80% performance for 25 years. While two warranties may guarantee the same performance overtime. You should definitely factor in the max efficiency rate of the panels as they may differ substantially depending on the brand. One brand may have a ME rate of 22% while another brand’s ME is 17%.

 

How do you determine when you need to use your Performance Solar Panel Warranty?

 

When checking your energy production, if you are producing dramatically less energy suddenly than there is probably an issue with the Solar Panel materials. If you’re generating less energy than you were at a steadier rate, call your solar installation company to assess your panels. If your performance is not meeting the solar panel warranty guarantee, the manufacture should replace your panels. Some companies will cover shipping and replacement costs under your solar panel warranty.

 

 

  • Solar Panel Product Warranty

solar panel warranty

The Solar Panel Product warranty is also referred to as the material warranty. It covers the material in the event something is faulty. For example, faulty wiring (caused by manufacturing defect), corrosion from water and sun exposure, premature wear and tear, and issues caused by elements would be covered under this form of solar panel warranty.

 

A typical product warranty is for 10 years. If you purchase your panels from a reputable company like Top Tier Home Energy you will get a 25 year Product warranty. A long solar panel warranty demonstrates confidence in craftsmanship. A long warranty, backed by a reputable brand is a great investment in the long run.

 

How do you determine when you need to use your Product Warranty?

 

You should contact your Solar Panel installation company if you notice some of your panels are not working. After an assessment, if your panels are determined faulty, your next step is to contact the manufacture. Your manufacturer should cover the shipping and installation costs along with the new Solar Panels.

 

Other Warranties

 

There are two other warranties to consider: Inverter and Battery Warranties.

 

An inverter warranty is typically shorter than that of Solar Panels. An inverter is one of the main components in the Solar System; it converts the generated energy into usable energy for your home. It doesn’t last as long as the panels and you can expect to replace it at least once in the life span of your Solar Panels. The average warranty for your inverter is 5-10 years.

 

A solar battery warranty has the same life span as an inverter: 5-10 years. The expected life for a battery is 15 years. A solar battery is used to store extra energy that was generated to use at a later time, like night time or peak times.

 

Voiding Your Warranty

 

When you receive your paperwork for your solar panels and Warranty it is best to read all the information and care instructions. Read all the fine print.

 

An example of something that will void your warranty is having an unlicensed worker repair your system or if you do not upkeep the surrounding environment to protect the Solar Panels like keeping trees trimmed.

Make sure a licensed installer comes out to look at or repair your system. This will ensure the life span of your warranty and your system.

 

The best warranty on the market becomes meaningless when voided: beware!

 

Why SunPower Warranties are Great

 

Top Tier Home Energy only works with the best solar panels on the market: SunPower solar panels. SunPower offers a 25 year warranty on your complete solar panel system, not just the panels. SunPower covers 100% repair, labor, shipping and parts cost. Additionally, SunPower guarantees your panels will not lose more than 8% of their original power output in 25 years.

 

Call us for your FREE Solar Panel Installation Consultation: Top Tier Home Energy (949) 296-2296.

 

Most new homes built in California are solar-powered. In fact, by 2020, ALL newly built California homes will require solar panels. That’s good news for our Earth. In spite of this mandate, however, homeowners desire solar panels and other features for a green home.

Here are three things to put into consideration if you’re thinking about building your dream green home.

1.   Understand the Terms ‘Green Home’ vs. ‘Net-Zero’ Home

  •      You might think a “green home” and “net-zero” home mean the same thing, but they are significantly different. A “net-zero” home has basically one goal: Reducing the home’s carbon trail to the point where it has zero carbon effect on the environment. This is achieved by generating electricity with bio-fuels and by efficient utilization of energy.
  •      A “green home” often refers to a home that is built using 100% (or close to) sustainable and environmentally non-toxic building materials and combines energy efficient technology to power the home. Besides using solar panels, that means building with materials such as refurbished wood, using tiles made from recycled supplies or using paints free of volatile organic compounds, often referred to as “VOCs.”.

By understanding these two distinct terms, you can more clearly build your custom green home. A net zero energy home is primarily focused on using no outside energy. A green home is almost fully built with environmentally friendly materials and powered by solar panels. Both homes use less energy and will be less damaging to the environment. If the goal of your family is to build a net-zero home, your architect’s choice of roofing materials, insulation, paint, and other building materials will be explicit to that energy-savings goal and may be less focused on materials used to build your home (such as reused or sustainable options). Make sure you know what your goals are.

2.   Design with Energy-Efficiency Codes and Future Market Trends in Mind

Your builder or architect should be familiar with the modern energy efficiency requirements for new construction, nevertheless, make sure you bring the codes up. You always want to be code compliant.

 In 2016 there was a 33% increase in the number of net-zero housing units built in the U.S. and Canada. Cities are setting green standards, such as in Austin, Texas, which has a 2050 target to reduce carbon footprint to zero for all new structures and homes.

As previously mentioned, in California, Title 24 regulations will into effect by 2020. Thus, all new California homes will soon be solar-powered. Consequently, if you’re asking your builder to include solar to your home now, you’ll be placing your home in the forefront of the real estate market.

3. Determine Your Budget for Energy Efficient Fixtures and Add-Ons for Your Green Home

Technology is always improving and advancing. There are countless fixtures and add-ons to consider when modernizing your home and making it more energy efficient to become a green home.  

The most common technologies that help reduce a home’s energy footprint are:

Energy-efficient windows

  • Energy-recovery ventilation
  • High-efficiency solar panels
  • LED lighting and maximized natural lighting
  • Heating and cooling pumps
  • Lighting sensors, smart thermostats, and other intelligent devices that reduce energy use when you’re at home and when you’re away.
  •  R-49-rated insulation and other caulking materials
  • Energy Star-rated appliances (refrigerators, washers, dishwashers, etc.)

 

The sun can now power more than just your light bulbs, there are solar powered pool heaters, water heaters, not to mention, electrical car pumps.

 

While some energy efficient items may be costly up front, the long term savings is typically substantially more. Determine your budget, then have a through conversation with your architect to decide what amenities and features your green home will have.

 

Top Tier Home Energy is committed to helping you accomplish your green home needs. We have the most aesthetically pleasing solar panels on the market. Our solar panels have an all black surface rather than a grid like surface which is often a architect and green home builders dream.

 

Building your own green home can be accomplished with careful planning and organized goals. It is always best to consider important factors before you begin construction. Consider the above-mentioned factors for a good start in building your green home.

 

For your green home solar panel installation, contact Top Tier Home Energy. We offer the most aesthetically pleasing solar panels and expert installation to make sure your design comes out perfectly. Call Top Tier Home Energy (949) 296-2296.

 

 

You may know that solar energy is popular in California but what you probably didn’t know is that by 2020 all new homes must have solar panels installed. Title 24, the State’s energy efficient building standard was updated in March of 2018 to require solar install in newly built homes. It has been called the 2020 California Solar Mandate. 

If you are new to solar, you may be asking if the 2020 California Solar Mandate is going to be a good thing and if this will increase home buyer cost?

California is set to reduce the amount of carbon emissions that pollute our air. California has the World’s 5th Largest Economy! That means there is a huge population in California that is contributing to carbon emissions through transportation and through electricity use. The 2020 California Solar Mandate will make a huge impact to cleaner air and reduced emissions. 

The California Energy Commission unanimously approved the decision of Solar installations on all new homes under the 2020 California Solar Mandate. There will be a huge demand for Solar coming in the near future. California is already the leader in Solar with over 5.2 million homes with solar panels.

This is not a trend being set by lawmakers but also a trend set by homeowners. Homeowners are the key buyers in solar. Energy efficient homes are a big trend that won’t be going out of style. The 2020 California Solar Mandate will only push this trend further to the benefit of home buyers. 

 

Now as a consumer lets look at the benefits of buying a new home with Solar.

California has some of the highest electricity rates in the country. With Solar installed on your home you can beat those rates and beat the future rate increases. In some cases you can even earn credits from your electricity company for the solar energy you generate. This means you’ll be a leader and an example to the rest of the state by complying with the 2020 California Solar Mandate. 

The value of your home at resale will go up even more. Even a medium sized home with a small solar system, will increase around $20k. That’s a substantial increase and a great investment.

Lets not forget the tax credit! If you purchase your solar system you can qualify for a 30% Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit. Who wouldn’t want to receive money back on their taxes from the government? Everything lines up to be a great investment for the home owner.

Exemptions:

California (the Golden State), is sunny all year long. But some new homes may be exempt from the Solar Panel law due to Tree Shading and existing buildings shading the homes roof.  But that percentage is pretty low.

Constructing your dream home?

Contact us! Home building takes time and if you looking to do so we would love to partner with you in making sure your home is compliant. Forgetting compliance all together, we would love to help you make your home energy efficient.

At Top Tier Home, we treat you like family.  We can set up a consultation and go over your energy options before construction to ensure you comply fully with the 2020 California Solar Mandate.

When looking for a builder and a solar company you want to find the best options that fit your needs. A company that has experience in engineering and installation. We have been in business for over 10 years and we use top of the line quality products that will last for you and not break the bank. We provide you quality installation and outstanding customer service.

 

Call Top Tier Home Energy (949) 296-2296.

 

“Will my Solar Panels also charge my Electric Vehicle?”

This is a question often asked by customers new to solar panels and electric vehicles. The answer is, yes! Yes you can charge your electric vehicle with your home solar panels.

There are two options to charging your electric vehicle from home.

Option One is going through the electric company and purchasing an electric charging station. You will pay more on top of your current electric bill to charge your car. This can get pretty expensive depending on how much you drive your vehicle.

Option Two is with solar panels. Since you already have solar, you will only need to factor in how many solar panels you need to charge the car and add that into how many you need total for your home. If you owned your electric vehicle prior to solar installation, the number of solar panels necessary should have been calculated for you.
If you purchased your electric vehicle after your solar panel install, the good news is the number of panels you need is very small.

Here is a step by step guide to determining how many solar panels you will need for your vehicle.

Step 1: Determine by how many kilowatt-hours it takes your car to go 100 miles. This is called Miles-Per-Gallon equivalent or MPGe. You can find this at fueleconomy.gov.
Step 2: Once you knows your kWh, ask yourself how many miles you drive per day.
Step 3: Estimate (round up) how many miles you will drive per year.
Example: If your car rating is 30 kWh/100 miles and you only drive 25 miles a day than you’re only using 7.5 kWh per day. That’s around 2,700 kWh energy usage in a year. With this estimate you can add up your household usage and add the required number of panels to your system.

Once you have the solar panels you need to power your home and vehicle, you will need to purchase and install an electric vehicle charger. You can purchase these just about anywhere now. Your car dealership will sell them, you can purchase them off Amazon, Ebay, Craigslist, even Walmart.

If you are in the process of solar panel installation, that the inverter you install can handle the amount of power you will be using for your vehicle charger. If you already have a solar panel system installed, you will need to install a new inverter that can handle more power coming from the panels.

On average, you will need about 10 solar panels per electric vehicle.

That’s about it for the nuts and bolts of charging your electric vehicle using solar panels.

Here are some added bonus to electric vehicle charging with solar panels:

The first is you aren’t paying the electric company to charge your car, if set up right the electric company may even give you credits for solar they purchase from you.

You will support the environment with less vehicle emissions and less electricity emissions affecting the environment.

If you already have a Solar System installed and you claimed the Solar purchase on your taxes and you install another system to charge your car than you can claim the second solar panels purchase on your taxes also and save even more money.

You will reduce the cost of your car a great amount with not paying for gas and receiving bonus credit on your taxes.

Just as you did before you purchased your Solar Panels, make sure you do your research on your best options for Electric Vehicles, Chargers and Solar Systems needed. Make sure you are purchasing solar panels that will meet your needs and will save you money in the long term. At

Call Top Tier Home Energy (949) 296-2296.
 

 

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