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Category : Roof Solar Energy

Do HOAs Have Any Say on You Putting Up Solar?

Going Solar

Our Solar Ready department often hears “Oh, I would love to do solar, but my HOA won’t let me.” This is a common misconception we hear about areas with strict HOA’s. They in fact have little say in you putting solar on your home, and have not had that ability since the late 70’s when the Solar Rights Act (AB 3250, 1978) passed.

The Solar Rights Act guaranteed the right for homeowners to put solar on their home, and no municipality or HOA can restrict you. They can ask you to make it more cosmetically appealing in two ways however.

First, they can ask you for cosmetic improvements to the array costing no more than $1,000. This would include using a good looking mounting system and installing a skirt at the bottom of the array.

Second, they can ask you to put the array somewhere other than the ideal location, if and only it does not limit the production of the array by more than 10%. An example of this might be if they ask you to put the array on an east facing roof instead of south facing. Often times there is no secondary roof area that will fit an array, so this rule is not applicable in many cases.

So if you live in an area with a strict HOA and they are fighting you on your solar project, remember that California law has your rights protected. If you want to go solar and need a strong advocate at your side, contact our team and we will be glad to help!

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Solar Homes Sell Faster

Solar homes sell faster

A main reason we hear for homeowners not going solar is that they are planning to move in the next few years. Studies have shown that homeowners with solar actually sell their homes for more. If you compare the results of the study to solar pricing, you will have a net gain in the value over the solar cost. Basically you would lose on not to get solar on your home before you sell it.

Your House will Sell for a Higher Price

Many reputable sources back this up. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) released a report that definitively showed that homes with solar sold for more than homes without solar. Their study is not the only one to prove that solar homes sell for more. The Appraisal Journal, the nation’s largest professional association of real estate appraisers, published a study titled  An Analysis of Solar Home Paired Sales Across Six StatesIt found that solar homes sold for an average premium of 3.74% of the sale price.

It is important to note that neither of these studies looked at solar leases or PPA’s, only owned solar systems. Leases and PPA’s can actually have a negative effect on your home sale as many will put a lien on your home until the lease term is up (typically 20 years). They also have to be transferred to the new homeowner which can be a problem.

A Solid Investment

If you compare pricing at various solar installers to the LBNL study’s results, every single one of their solar customers to date will garner a home value than what they spent on their system. The study found that solar increased the value of homes in California by $4.00 per watt. If you used the example of an average sized system in California (5kW), you would garner an increase of $20,000.

If you are not sure whether you are going to move soon or not, solar is still a sound investment. Your solar system will either increase your home value significantly should you decide to sell your house, or it will pay itself off in utility bill savings before you move. Either way, solar is a solid investment.

Your House will Sell Quicker

Another study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) looking at  homes in California found that homes with PV systems sold 20% faster (and for 17% more) across several subdivisions built by different California builders. Their study of several hundred home sales also revealed that if a solar system was already installed and factored into the price, buyers were more likely to choose that house over others without solar.

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How did Solar Power get Commercialized?

In 1883, American inventor Charles Fritz created the first working selenium solar cell.

In 1888, a scientist from Russia named Aleksandr Stoletov built and patented the first true solar cell. In 1891, Baltimore inventor Clarence Kemp patented the first commercial solar water heater. In 1905 solar power was brought into the world’s spotlight when famed physicist Albert Einstein published a paper on the photoelectric effect and how light packets carry energy.

Further innovation would come in the wake of Einstein’s momentous discoveries regarding the underlying mechanisms of the photoelectric effect. This new knowledge enabled Bell Labs to produce the first modern solar cell in 1954. While this project pioneered solar energy technology as we know it today, it was terribly inefficient. It cost $250 to generate a mere 1 watt of electricity, compared to $2 – $3 per watt from coal plants of the time.

Solar cells at that stage were still suitable for use in space, and in 1958, the Vanguard 1 spacecraft used solar as a backup energy source. A year later, a solar cell was developed with 10% efficiency, but still saw little usage outside of space flight.

Oil shortages fueled solar power’s growth

The early 1970s brought a surge of renewed interest in solar energy’s potential as a renewable source of electricity.

At the time, a worldwide oil crisis and growing environmental concerns led to new efforts to develop alternatives to fossil fuels. The advancements in solar efficiency decreased the price per watt from over $100 to about $20.

The 2000’s and 2010’s have brought even more advancement to the world of solar energy technology. The cost has dropped dramatically, with efficiency increasing. Today, nearly one million homes in the United States use solar power for all or part of their electricity.

The Future of Solar: New Improvements in Photovoltaic Cells

Today, PV cells have around 15% efficiency.

This means that 85% of the light they receive is not converted into usable electricity. Scientists are continuously experimenting with new technologies that can boost efficiency, making solar
panels more effective. New developments like light-sensitive nanoparticles and gallium arsenide may potentially be able to capture sunlight more efficiently than existing PV cells, and advancements in solar energy storage technology are also being developed. Just recently, Ohio State University researchers created a solar battery that is both 20% more efficient and 25% less expensive than those on the market today.

As solar technology continues to improve, new solar cells made from novel materials will continue to become more efficient at converting light into electricity. Combined with increasingly lower cost, solar power is poised to be one of the most important renewable energy technologies of the coming decades.

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Where did Solar Power Start?

Solar power was first discovered by a very old bacteria. The sun has been the driving force for all life on Earth since the first microbes developed the capability for photosynthesis, around 2.3 billion years ago.

Ironically, this led to a devastating environmental catastrophe known as the Great Oxygenation Event1, caused by the emission of oxygen gas as a byproduct of photosynthesis. While these first solar powered organisms caused a mass extinction, solar power today might hold the key to preventing a planetary crisis.

Where did modern solar power get started?

The roots of modern solar power can be traced back to 1839.

It was at this time that a 19 year old French physicist, A.E. Becquerel, whose focus up to that point had been related to phosphorescence and luminescence, discovered the photovoltaic effect. He found that when gold or platinum plates were submerged in a solution, then exposed to uneven solar radiation, an electrical current was generated. This discovery was seized upon by scientists across the globe.

In the early 1860’s, a French mathematician named August Mouchet began registering patents for solar powered engines. In 1878, Mouchet and his assistant Abel Pifre who would go on to develop the first solar powered printing press exhibited their solar powered engine at the Universal Exhibition in Paris, winning a gold medal for their efforts. Unfortunately, Mouchet’s work was ahead of its time. The French government determined that solar power was not economically viable, and they terminated his funding. Fortunately, solar technology trudged on.

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What are the Requirements for Going Solar?

After all the battles that have been fought and won in the solar war, renewable energy advocates are finally bringing solar energy to the forefront of mainstream discussion. And with the recent advancements of solar photovoltaic technology, going solar is cheaper to the homeowner than ever before—even outpricing coal!  This is allowing homeowners to find all of the long-term financial benefits to going solar more immediately achievable.

Having said this, there is still a qualification process that is necessary to approve residential and commercial solar projects.  Below I will break down all of the basic qualifications that must be met in order to move forward with a transition to solar energy.
 

REQUIREMENTS FOR GOING SOLAR

  1. Be the Legal Home or Business Owner: Before anything else, in order to go solar you will have to be the home or business owner. The reason is simple, if your name is not the name of on the title, then you cannot legally sign for the installation. However, there is still a chance for renters to go solar. Read our blog about that one!
  2. Solid Roof or Extra Land for Ground Mount:  After we have established homeownership, we need to make sure your property is adequate to install solar. Is your roof safe to hold solar panels? If not, we do provide roofing services as well. There is also the option of a ground mount installation if you have extra property beside your home.
  3. Property in Solar-Friendly Location: If you’re some place that rains or snows 5 days a week, solar might not be the best choice for you. Also, if there is shade from a tree or building next to your property that is blocking the area where we would install solar panels, that could sabotage your solar energy production. So your property needs to be evaluated to make sure you are receiving the highest value for your money.  
  4. Cash or 650+ Credit Score: Most homeowners that go solar take a loan of 10, 15, or 20 years. The better your credit score, the better your chance of getting approved for a solar loan and also the lower your interest rate will be. 650 is generally the lowest credit score accepted for full approval, but we recommend getting your score over 700 just to get a better term. If you want to pay in cash, then your credit score wouldn’t play a role as approval for financing will not be needed.
  5. Net Metering/Net Billing or Purchase Battery Storage: When you go solar, your solar electric system will overproduce some days and underproduce other days. You don’t want to lose that extra electricity. It is rightfully yours and some months you may need it to offset your power bill. This is why you your utility company must provide net metering or net billing. Read the previous blog to learn more about how each of those two utility programs can be an integral part of your experience. If you want to go completely off-grid, a battery storage system and possibly even a backup power generator might be the option you are looking for, but it will naturally cost more for the extra equipment.
  6. Have Power Bill with 6–12 Month kWh Graph ready: Once all the other criteria are met, we’ll need to customize your solar estimate. A blog was written as well about why every solar quote is unique. We’ll need to look at your power bill to determine your monthly kWh usage. This will help us determine the system size which is most accurate for you.


So to summarize, most homeowners with good credit and little to no shade can be perfect candidates for solar PV technology, but there is no guarantee. Unlike other companies who will sell you anything to help their bottom line, we go through this careful vetting process to make sure you are best positioned for long-term value, vanishingly low utility bills,  and decades of energy independence. If the items on the preceding list apply to you, we look forward to helping you take advantage of this great opportunity to go solar!

Source: Green Solar Technologies

Tips For An Energy Efficient Building

(Adco) Tips For An Energy Efficient Building

It never takes long for winter to settle in and as the temperatures drop, your heating bill rises.  Luckily, there are ways to keep your home warm and toasty during the winter months without having to make your wallet cry.  The tips below are guaranteed to heat up your home in the most energy-efficient way and keep that money in your wallet for the hot cocoa and marshmallows.

Get some insulation

Adding insulation is a great way to lower utility bills.  When you are in your attic if you notice any ceiling joists as you look up, then it might be wise to get some extra insulation.  Fiberglass blowing insulation typically works best because it reaches and fills all the hard to reach spots that attics tend to have.  Those spaces are the major culprits for air leakage so you want to get them filled.  Exposed pipes, crawl spaces, and the garage are additional places you should consider adding insulation too.

There is also a material polyurethane sandwich panel, which is a versatile and highly promising energy-efficient building material. It is composed of galvanized steel or color coated steel and polyurethane.

Prep the outsides

Be sure you check the roof for old shingles and replace any that are worn out.  You want to remove any debris from the roof and gutters because they are likely to cause ice dams once the snow falls.  You also need to shut off all water supplies to the outdoor hoses and faucets to prevent any freezing.

Additional tips to remember

  • Have a professional service your furnace to be sure it is in good working condition.  Ideally, you want to change the furnace filters every 1 to 3 months.
  • Bring a humidifier into the house to create extra moisture.  This helps to make the air feel warmer and helps lower your chances of getting a cold.
  • Warm air rises and gets trapped by the ceiling, so you can get that warm air to come down by reversing the actions of ceiling fans.
  • The most simple thing you can do is to keep drapes and curtains as this will prevent drafts and any warm air from escaping.

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How To Prepare Your Roof For Solar Panels?

How To Prepare Your Roof For Solar Panels

A solar roof may seem to be the answer to so many of your concerns. Over time it will save on your energy bills. Investing in solar energy also identifies businesses as committed to green energy solutions, which may attract the kinds of customers you seek. Building owners who install in solar panels likewise want energy savings and a way to make a sustainable difference in the way the building is warmed, cooled, and provides power to the many appliances, lights, and other electrically operated items.

In order to install and use solar paneling technology, you must be certain your roof is up to the challenge. Here are the most important concerns you must resolve before equipping a commercial building with solar panels.

Ensure Your Current Roof Can Manage The Load

A solar panel system is a weighty affair, with each panel imposing at least 40 pounds of extra weight upon your roof. The panels also require mounting hardware. To provide the power you need to operate your business or keep your building lit, cooled, and heated, you will need dozens of solar panels to be put in place.

The added weight will be considerable, and you cannot risk the damage done to your building if the panels are too much for the structure. You also must be certain that the present roofing configuration can accept the type of installation parameters your choice of solar panels imposes. An evaluation of whether the installation may impede your roof’s other functions, namely to keep the interior of your property dry and comfortable, is also necessary.

A licensed roofing contractor familiar with the codes and conditions in your location must be engaged to inspect your roof. Any problems concerning the load or the ability of your roof to both support the panels and protect can be identified, and a plan developed to respond to the issues, are exactly what an experienced roofing firm can provide to you.

Follow The Post-Inspection Plan

After the roofing contractor has evaluated your roof, work with them to begin repairs and improvements necessary to make the solar installation work well. Do not even think of moving forward with the solar panel installation until all the issues presented are resolved. The investment you are considering when placing a photo voltaic array upon you roof is both expensive and long term. Once the panels are in place you should expect them to last at least 25 years. You want the roof beneath them to be in good repair and sturdy enough to last as long as the panels.

Resist any thoughts of putting off repairs or ignoring what seems to be superficial damage. All damage must be found, a fix determined, and the proper steps taken to complete the repairs. If upgrades were suggested they, too, must be in place before the solar panels are installed. Keep in mind that 25 years of use is a minimum for the lifespan of solar panels. Often they still operate well and may give many more years of use. You want the roof to be in the same category.

You do not want to deal with the cost of dismantling and reinstalling the panels. A sound roof will avoid this, and you should do all in your power to make that happen.

Here Comes The Sun

To work appropriately, your solar panels must not have any barriers because of roofing materials, building protuberances, or shade from nearby buildings or trees. Make sure to work with both the company that will install the panels as well as a reputable roofing contractor to scan all areas of the roof to see where structures or other barriers will shield your panels from the sunlight. If you work with a competent solar panel installation company it is highly likely they have seen these problems before and had strategies to work around anything that blocks the rays of the sun from the panels. Let them suggest which of these fixes may work for your roof.

If any reconfiguration of the roofing landscape will help, a good contractor may be able to adapt things to make them work better. Once the sunshine streams in unimpeded you can begin to enjoy the benefits of solar panel clean energy generation.

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