Tag: "residential solar"

04/08/18

  11:21:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 359 words  
Categories: Solar Economics, Residential Solar

Coming next week: A 3 part-series: My Electric Bill is So High - Will Solar Help?

On of our most popular blog posts ever - I’ve Got Solar - Why is My Bill So High? -  looked at how to understand solar economics after your system is installed.  My (nearly five-year-old) book, Commercial Solar: Step-by-Step, outlined the decision-making process for facility managers and commercial building owners thinking about going solar. 

But it is high time that we wrote about this all-important question from the homeowner’s perspective:

My Electric Bill is So High - Will Solar Help?

Here’s an overview of what we will be covering in the series:

Why are my bills so high?

Part 1 - How High is High?

We will explore how to get a sense of what solar can, and cannot do for you.  A solar power system can be a great investment, but it isn’t a silver bullet, and not every home will be a good candidate for that investment!

Part 2 - How to Choose Installers to Bid

Ask anyone who has had solar installed on their home, and they will tell you: the choice of the installer makes all the difference. 
Find a good one - and there are many of us out there - and the process should go smoothly, and you will be happy with your choice for many years to come.  Pick a bad one - and sadly, there are far too many of them out there - and you will live with that decision for a long time to come.

We will arm you with the facts you need to make the right choice.

Part 3 - How to Evaluate Solar Proposals - Including Financing

For most homeowners, this is your one and only experience having solar installed.  You will get multiple proposals from your selected installers - but they will probably look nothing at all alike!  In most locations there are no required disclosures, so the amount of information presented, and the way that it is presented, will vary dramatically from one installer to another! 

We will explain what to look for as you try to pick the perfect “apple” from the “fruit salad” being presented to you!

So that’s it - we will be publishing the first installment on Tuesday.  If there is something you would like us to cover that we haven’t alluded to, please let us know.

 

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06/09/16

Video Release: Making the world better...one roof at a time

Its not every day that we get to unveil a beautifully crafted video showcasing just what it is that makes Run on Sun tick. Happily today is different! Our fabulous distributor, Baywa r.e., has partnered with us to create our very own professional marketing video:

Baywa r.e. has been more than just a products distributor for Run on Sun. We began our partnership with Baywa, formerly Focused Energy, back in 2009 when we found them to be a much more detail oriented operation than their competitors. They proved to us they could translate what happens on the roof to ensuring we got all the pieces necessary to make installations run smoothly. Now, our primary reason for continuing to partner with Baywa r.e. has evolved. Their management and staff all share our vision for a solar industry that is better. One that operates with the highest degree of ethics and transparency and a mission to help consumers save money while reducing our impact on the environment. They have supported us, and other small installers, in many ways far beyond the normal functions of a distributor. Case in point is this video which they produced to help us share our message with our community.

I’d also like to point out a few details on the installations featured in this video: 

LAWC Reservoir

Lincoln Avenue Water Company Reservoir Project: 

This was our second project with Lincoln Avenue after helping their administrative office go solar in 2011. The 2015 Reservoir project was in partnership with Baja Construction building the ground mount structure to support the 246 LG280 watt panels and Enphase M250 microinverters. Run on Sun installed the solar system to utilize otherwise unused land below the reservoir offsetting nearly 50% of the energy required to run their pumphouse.  

Westridge School for Girls:

Westridge School for Girls

While we didn’t end up shooting video at Westridge we really wanted to be sure to include this project as it is near and dear to our hearts. As Run on Sun’s first school installation and Jim Jenal’s (Founder and CEO) daughter’s alma mater we really enjoyed helping them go solar. In 2012 we installed a solar array on their Performing Arts Center consisting of 216 LG250 watt solar panels which were the cream of the crop back then! Working with Westridge School for Girls was a wonderful experience which included our very own Jim Jenal leading a science class tracking a solar eclipse using the Enphase microinverter data! We believe solar at schools offer such great added benefits providing a resource for students to learn about renewable energy as well as math, engineering, environmental issues and more! 

Chandler School Solar Installation

Chandler School:

In the Fall of 2015 we completed the installation of 147 LG300 watt solar panels on the gym at Chandler School. Chandler was also a fantastic partner to work with partially because we share their values in environmental stewardship. We hope that growing up in an educational environment where solar power is the norm will help students navigate a future where sustainable clean solutions will be the only way forward. We would also like to give a huge shout out to the amazing Trevor Spicer, Director of Operations and Information Technology, for the off-the-cuff cameo and kind words in the video. 

Residential 14kW Project:

Residential Installation

This was the most recent Run on Sun installation featured in the video, where a lot of the dialogue with Jim Jenal takes place. This is the second home these particular clients have installed solar with Run on Sun as they recently moved into this beautiful Altadena mid-century modern home. Their roof was a perfect slate for a solar array, and we wouldn’t be surprised if this particular feature was one reason they chose the property! Owning electric vehicles and wanting to offset as much of their electricity as possible we maxed out the space with 44 LG320’s, top of the line panels today! It didn’t hurt that the view from the roof was one to die for, spanning much of the valley with Los Angeles skyscrapers in the distance. Of course, as evidenced by one of the shots in the video, we could also see the smog levels each day we worked at this site further enhancing our resolve to continue to get more solar out there!

Thanks for reading as we share some of the projects we are most proud of. And of course, let us know if you’d like to get a free quote today and share in our commitment towards the belief that the world can be better one roof at a time!

11/27/15

  07:21:00 am, by Laurel Hamilton   , 276 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Residential Solar

KPCC Auction Features the Gift of Solar with Run on Sun

KPCCAs a Pasadena-based company, Run on Sun is proud to support our local public radio station, KPCC. A truly invaluable resource, KPCC is Southern California’s premier NPR affiliate bringing comprehensive, unbiased news coverage to our community. However, as a public station, they can only do so through the support of listeners. Which is why, as daily listeners ourselves, Run on Sun is donating to the annual KPCC Winter Online Auction

So as you recover from the trials of yesterday’s annual overeating holiday, avoid the dangerous Black Friday shopping sprees! Instead kick back and check out the online auction going live on November 27th! Many exciting gifts and adventures are included in the long list of items up for grabs. And for one lucky homeowner, the gift of solar just got a huge discount!

Run on Sun is auctioning a gift certificate for $750.00 toward a residential solar PV system!!!

KPCC GIFT

This is the largest discount Run on Sun has offered on a single residential solar project to date! But what better way to celebrate the holidays than to give the gift of solar?! With the help of this steep discount you can be on your way to continued energy independence, bill savings, and a greener future.

So don’t delay, the online auction closes December 6, 2015 at 1:00 PM so be sure to keep an eye on your bid. 

Request your free solar site assessment today to ensure your property is a good fit. Don’t worry, in the unfortunate event that you win the auction and your home turns out to be a poor candidate, Run on Sun will honor your gift certificate with a friend or neighbor of your choice. 

Gift of Solar

Happy Holidays and Happy Bidding! 

 

 

10/08/15

  01:37:00 pm, by Laurel Hamilton   , 1431 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Residential Solar, Ranting

Assessing My Home's Solar Potential: Step-by-Step

Run on Sun

Congratulations, you’ve decided to look into going solar!

Regardless of your reasons…be it economic, environmental, energy independence, or otherwise…it is a sad reality that not everyone can go solar. So how do you know if your property is even a good candidate? Of course, it is important to select a few different installers to do a professional assessment, but even someone with zero solar knowledge can learn how to do a quick preliminary assessment. Here are some simple steps to determining if your home may have a great solar powered future. 

1. My electric bills are killing me!

If your electric bills average $100 or under each month, solar probably won’t be more cost-effective than paying the utility. The costs for permitting, design and engineering all stay the same whether you buy a 3kW system or a 10kW system. Indeed, the labor required to install 5 panels and 10 panels is not very different since installers still have the same amount of electrical ground work. The installation of the actual panels is only a fraction of the total labor. Even the costs of products improves in bulk, so the bigger the system, often the better price per Watt you can get. 

Beyond this, there are many other things to consider such as whether you plan to increase your usage significantly in the future. But since utilities don’t want you to be an energy producer they won’t actually allow for more solar than your historical needs indicate… unless you plan to buy an electric vehicle. These are things you should discuss more in detail with your qualified installer.

2. My roof is perfect for solar…right?

In my blog piece “Roofing Reality Check”, I outlined the main things to consider when you examine your roof’s potential. Here are the highlights:

Steep Tile Roof

You could put solar here,
but it will cost you!

Space: First and foremost, to be a good solar candidate you must have adequate obstruction-free space for rows or columns of solar panels facing South, West, or East. The solar array must be three feet from any roof ridge or rake, and 18 inches from valleys to satisfy Fire Marshall guidelines. In addition, most panels are about the same size…roughly 65 inches by 40 inches. An average home in SoCal needs between 15-20 panels to offset their energy needs. This means that triangular spaces and roofs with many small faces are not going to work well for solar, but big open spaces with right angles are perfect. 

Pitch and Height: Labor costs go up when installing on more difficult-to-reach roof spaces. Second story and steeply pitched roofs both increase the overall cost due to the time and effort required to keep crews safe. If you have a very steep roof solar isn’t necessarily impossible, but it will affect the bottom line, and some installers may not feel comfortable at all depending on just how steep. If it looks like an Appalachian incline more than a Rocky Mountain then you should be safe. But if we’re talking summit of Mount Everest, you may have a harder time finding a competent installer who doesn’t run when he sees the pitch. 

Roofing Materials: The best roofing material for solar is composite shingles. Developments have been made to safely attach solar panels to metal and tile roofs but the cost for the racking attachments and labor are frequently higher. Run on Sun prefers to remove tile where the array will go, re-roof with composite shingles, install the solar, and backfill with remaining tiles. This incurs a re-roofing cost but is the safest way to avoid roof leaks and ensure safe attachment of the array to the rafters.

3. Solar’s arch nemesis…shade.

One of the first things an installer will do is take a quick look at a satellite image of your property to check for shade elements as well as the layout of your roof. A useful tool in the Los Angeles area is the LA Solar Map. This takes into account shading throughout the year and provides a handy report on your property’s viability for solar. It isn’t a perfect tool, however, so take a look around your property and note if there are any trees shading the roof spaces that you’ve identified as ideal for solar. Trees to the north would not pose a threat since solar will never be placed on a north-facing roof. But tall foliage to the south could negate any energy production value of a solar array. All may not be lost as microinverters, like the ones from Enphase that we feature on our projects, can do a lot to salvage a site plagued with shade. But even with this technology, 100% shaded areas are a non-starter. In addition to trees, note tall parapets on a flat roof, chimneys, satellite dishes, HVAC units, and second story walls which directly shade your ideal roof spaces.  

4. Can my electrical system handle it?

Full Center-Fed Panel

Center-fed panels, like this one, can be a problem for going solar.

This is something many people are uncomfortable with, but a quick glance at your main electrical service you can be very informative. First, find your main service. This should be located on an outside wall of your home with circular enclosed meter protruding out. Open up the main panel where you’ll find a column of breakers. The main breaker, the one with the largest number stamped on it, is either at the top or sometimes in the middle of the column of breakers. If it is in the middle, this is called a center-fed panel and you may need to upgrade your electrical service before going solar.

If you find yourself tripping breakers every time you turn on a hair dryer, that is also a sign you should upgrade your service. Even if you aren’t tripping, depending on the size of your home, if the main breaker is stamped with anything under 200 you may need a higher electrical service before going solar to avoid tripping in the future.

Next, take a look at the rest of the breakers. Does it look like the entire column is full? Sometimes there are rectangles in the metal face plate which can be punched out to add breakers when needed. If there is no space at all for a new breaker for solar, then you may need to upgrade your service. 

Unfortunately upgrading your service will add some cost. Ask your solar installer for their opinion but if any of the above rings true be prepared for this additional hurdle to sunshine power.

5. It’s all about the money…

The reality is, solar is an investment. While some companies may insist you can go solar for free, I would never count on getting something for nothing. We have outlined some of the myriad reasons we recommend avoiding zero-down solar leases in other posts like “Top 5 Reasons to Stay Away from that Solar Lease” and “The Perils of Solar Salesmen”. Frankly, the costs can more than double over time when you lease instead of purchase your system. 

So the last step to assess if you are a good candidate for solar is to assess your financial position. There are many low-interest solar loan options out there as well as property-assessed PACE financing, but in order to get the economic value of solar you need to be prepared to own the system outright. This way you can take the 30% federal tax credit and any additional rebates if available from your utility. 

To give you a ball-park idea of the cost for going solar in Run on Sun’s service area (LA Metro area) today, including design, labor, permit fees and the whole shebang, is roughly $4 to $5 per Watt. This means that an average house with a 5kW system will cost between $20,000 and $25,000 before rebates and incentives. Obviously the cost will be on the low end if you have a composite-shingle, single-story, low-pitched roof with no need for a service panel upgrade. Depending on your electric bills pre-solar, this investment can pencil out with a return in as early as year 5 or as late as year 10+. But deciding if the financial outlay is worth the long term investment is something you must assess before signing on the dotted line. 

 After going through the above steps you should have a solid idea of whether solar is right for your home or not. If you’ve determined its a go, the next step is to call your local installer and make sure they check all the same qualifiers and more. Now that you’re an expert on solar assessment 101 you can even suggest solar to any neighbors with homes that beg to be powered by the sun!

02/24/15

  10:43:00 am, by Laurel Hamilton   , 488 words  
Categories: Energy Efficiency, Residential Solar

Energy-Efficient Homes are Hot!

Run on Sun PV installationLast I checked, people keep having babies, so the demand for homes is not going to slow down any time soon. But the fact is, times are changing. What was valuable in your home when you bought it may not be as important to prospective buyers today.

The challenges of climate change are becoming more widely accepted—a New York Times poll found that 83% of Americans now believe global warming will be a serious problem in the future. Thankfully, gains in residential energy-efficiency improvements offset  more than 70% of the growth in both the number of homes and increasing footprint sizes, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). However, these gains in recent decades will need to significantly improve to make any kind of difference in terms of climate change.

But there is hope! The trend toward more efficient homes in the housing market is already getting attention. After surveying both home builders and home buyers, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that Millenials want energy-efficient appliances and features as well as smaller homes. Smart technology such as programmable thermostats will also become the norm. Respondents said they were willing to pay 2-3% more for better energy-efficiency if they could see a return through lower electric bills. Respondents also said they’d be happy to sacrifice extra finished space for a more affordable first home.

If you are a home owner you should be tapping into the energy-efficiency trend to not only lower your utility expenses but improve the marketability and value of your home. If you follow our blog you may have seen our recent post discussing new evidence supporting the idea that solar increases property values. While installing a solar system is the granddaddy of all home energy-efficiency projects, we at Run on Sun always encourage clients to address low hanging fruit first, and make sure your energy usage is as low as possible. This will lower the size of the solar system you need to offset your usage, and thus, the overall cost of your solar investment.

Way too much of the energy we consume is wasted through poor insulation, leaky ducts, or inefficient household appliances. Fixing these problems can cut energy costs up to 25% for the typical home. One option is to ask a professional energy auditor to find exactly where your energy is going (we have some folks we can recommend). However, many energy saving tips are intuitive…installing double pane windows, better insulation, CFL or LED light bulbs, and ENERGY STAR appliances are all ones you’ve likely heard before. Others may be lesser known such as using power strips to avoid vamping power. And if you have a pool, upgrading that antiquated pool pump could save you a lot!

Once your home is up to snuff, going solar is a great investment to make your home even more desirable in the current housing market. Call Run on Sun today for a free site assessment!

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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