How Can Solar Panel Installation Help Me?

One of the best perks of living in Southern California is undoubtedly our weather. Going to an Orange County or San Diego County beach in the summer is high up on nearly every resident’s list of favorite activities. But increasingly, our summers are plagued by heat waves wherein our perfect weather takes a turn for the worse. Surprisingly, solar panel installation may hold the key to beating the heat this summer.

The last thing you want to be worrying about during one of these heat waves is your energy bill.  California has the 7th highest energy prices in the nation according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, with prices even higher in Orange County, San Diego County, and even Riverside County. 

Solar Panels Save Summer

The very same sun that is beaming down on you can be utilized to actually cool your home. Reliable solar panels from Top Tier Home Energy can not only lower your energy bill, but also eliminate the guilt you feel when you turn down the thermostat. Top Tier Home Energy is not only a leading provider of solar panels in Orange County, San Diego County, and Riverside County, but we also install custom heating and air systems that are built to take full advantage of solar panel installations.

Top Tier Home Energy installs Sunpower solar panels, which are consistently rated among the highest grade solar panels on the market. Not only are these durable solar panels the most efficient solar panels on the market, we at Top Tier Home Energy back them up with an industry-leading 25 year warranty which make our solar panel installation services risk free!

Yes, you read that right: 25 years of guaranteed lower energy bills, guilt free air conditioning, and the knowledge that you are doing your part to help save the environment. Even when the sun isn’t shining, our industry-unique battery storage systems will keep your home powered in the greenest possible way. 

Whether you’re a resident of Orange County, San Diego County, or Riverside County, Top Tier Home Energy can help reduce your monthly energy bill and keep your home cool. While summer may seem months away, it’s only a matter of time before the weather warms up and you’ll be wanting to turn the thermostat down. Be prepared for the summer’s heat wave today with Southern California’s leading solar panel installation provider. 

 

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.

We’ve seen a lot of growth in the Solar Industry, and, as a result, we have also seen a lot of companies come and go. Why, do you ask? It’s due to how companies define their success. Many homeowners are in a panic due to the inability to dissolve their solar contracts with their current solar power contractor, even if that company is no longer around.

How does a solar power contractor define success? In a number of ways: Gross Sales, Wattages Sold, or even the total number of installations.

At Top Tier Home Energy, we have been in business for over 10 years. We define success by quality installations and happy customers. We welcome our customers into our Top Tier Home Energy family because that is the dynamic we strive to create. A long lasting bond reinforced with a genuine, caring staff. Not all solar power contractor businesses are the same. Top Tier Home Energy is not looking to make a quick buck, but to deliver the best quality solar installations. We have over a thousand happy customers and over eleven thousand kilowatts installed, but our priority has always been establishing an excellent reputation through quality work as your solar power contractor.

How can you, the customer, know which solar power contractor is the best choice for your Solar project?

We recommend doing some research. Look into companies, parts, and the installation process. Call the offices, ask questions and communicate with contractors. A little time invested can yield big rewards and avoid headaches in the long term.

At Top Tier Solar, we support our customers by offering honest answers and making ourselves available.

Here are some topics for you to look at when choosing the best company:

  •  Check with the BBB and State Licensing Board for any complaints towards the company from previous clients.
  • Check with the State Licensing Board if a solar power contractor has a State License that they’re current with.
  • Check to make sure the companies Worker’s Compensation and General Liability Insurances are current.
  • Check that the employees are NABCEP PV installer verified and that you are getting proper and quality work done.
  • Check Google, Yelp, Facebook, BBB, etc. for reviews on the solar power contractor.
  •  Ask to call prior customers of the company for references and referrals. Even customers from a few years back.
  • Make a list of your concerns, wants and needs and ask the solar power contractor questions to make sure all your needs are being met.
  • Make a visit to their office and meet the employees and see how the business is operating.
  • Ask about Financing availability, including leases and PACE.
  • Ask if the solar power contractor is outsourcing the labor. If so ask which company they are outsourcing to and do the same research on them.

When selecting a solar power contractor, follow the above tips and take your time. At Top Tier Home Energy, we are happy to help you during your decision making process. In Southern California, Top Tier Home Energy is your premier solar panel installation company.

We are happy to help you with any Solar Panel questions you have:
Top Tier Home Energy  (949) 296-2296.

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When you’re choosing the best solar panel for your home or business, the manufacturer makes a difference. Here’s a helpful infographic that summarizes why SunPower is different. SunPower is one of the leading solar panel manufacturers in the industry, known for quality and durability.

Visit our solar products page to learn how we design and manufacture our solar technology to meet rigorous standards for performance and reliability.

 

Why Homeowners Choose SunPower Solar Panels

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