Author Archives: Sara Matasci

What are the top SunPower solar panels for sale in 2017?

sunpower solar panels for sale 2017

SunPower makes some of the most popular solar panels for sale in the U.S. in 2017, and for good reason: their products are some of the most efficient panels in the industry, they come with an industry-leading warranty, and many of their panels have a sleek, low-profile look.

Want to get SunPower solar panels for sale near you? Homeowners across the country receive SunPower offers from solar installers in their area on a daily basis on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace, a solar shopping and quote comparison platform.

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The Tesla roof: when will it be available and should you wait for it?

should I wait for tesla solar roof

For those asking themselves, “should I wait for the Tesla solar roof?”, you are not alone. Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla Motors, has a well-earned reputation for creating innovative 21st-century products that combine attractive designs with exceptional performance – and generate high levels of consumer interest as a result. The latest Musk technology to make a splash is the Tesla solar roof, which he revealed to great fanfare in October 2016. Here’s everything you should consider before making your decision, including what Tesla roof rivals you should consider.

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How the Tesla referral program works: rewards for solar, Model S, and Model X customers

tesla referral program review

Tesla’s referral program offers incentives to its customers for referring their friends and family to the company. Now that Tesla has acquired SolarCity, the country’s largest solar installer, the leading cleantech company’s referral program includes rewards for referring solar customers as well as car buyers. Whether you purchased a Tesla electric vehicle (EV) or Tesla solar panels, you can earn rewards when your friends buy Tesla cars or go solar with Tesla.

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DecoTech Roof-Integrated Solar System: a solar roof from GAF, America’s largest roofing manufacturer

GAF solar decotech roof review 

Homeowners across the country have their eye on Elon Musk’s Tesla solar roof, a much-heralded innovation for the solar energy industry. However, Tesla is just one company offering a roof-integrated solar option for homeowners and businesses. Roofing company GAF’s solar solution, DecoTech, hit the market in early 2017 and promises to be “the beautiful affordable alternative to typical rack-mounted solar systems.” Here’s EnergySage’s complete review of everything you need to know about DecoTech solar, from performance to price to warranties.

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Should you buy grape solar panels from Costco or Home Depot?

Grape Solar panel kit review EnergySage

Installing solar panels is fast becoming a home improvement project that any homeowner can take on. Now that you can buy solar panels at Costco and Home Depot, you may even be considering installing a home solar energy system yourself. One of the most popular DIY options is to purchase a solar panel kit from Grape Solar, an Oregon-based solar panel manufacturer whose products are for sale at Costco and Home Depot. But before you make a Costco solar purchase, we recommend you learn more about how Grape Solar panels compare to other solar panel brands.

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NRG Community Solar: the complete review

NRG community solar review

NRG Energy is one of the biggest builders of solar energy systems in the United States, including utility-scale, commercial, and home solar. In 2015, the company began building community solar farms for homes and businesses in the United States. In EnergySage’s NRG community solar review below, learn how it works, what NRG is offering, and whether community solar is the right option for you.

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How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in the U.S. in 2017?

solar panels cost in the u.s. graphicYou’ve probably heard about how solar energy can reduce your electricity bills, but how much do solar panels really cost? The easiest way to calculate the average cost of solar panels is to look at its price in dollars per watt, which is relatively consistent across the United States. Continue reading

Highlights from EnergySage’s fifth Solar Marketplace Intel Report™

This week, EnergySage released its fifth Solar Marketplace Intel Report™. In this report, you’ll find trends on solar pricing over the past 12 months, as well as equipment and financing options for solar. In addition, this report includes new information about community solar and the level of solar interest in states across the country. Read on for some of the top takeaways relevant to today’s solar shoppers.

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Storage-ready solar Q&A: Pika Energy

Designing a “storage-ready” solar panel system is the first step to ensuring that you’re set up for success when you decide to move forward with a solar battery for your home or business. EnergySage spoke with Chip Means, Director of Marketing at Pika Energy, for his perspective on storage-ready solar.

What is the value proposition for a “storage-ready” solar product for residential customers?

We see the value of storage-ready solar as being the difference between buying what you need today versus ensuring stability and flexibility for what you might need tomorrow. Your load profile for your home will change as you add devices such as air source heat pumps and EV charging, and along with those changes, grid-provided energy is likely to change in cost as well. We see increasing cases for solar-connected storage where Time of Use billing is taking effect, or where net metering benefits are on a declining schedule. In addition to offering a backup power resource, storage-ready solar ensures a residential customer has a clean, simple path to upgrading their system with a smart battery should the need arise.

Who should consider installing a storage-ready solar option now?

Anyone who wants clean backup power or is working with scenarios like Time of Use billing or residential storage incentives is a great candidate for adding a battery today. Furthermore, adding a battery appeals to residential customers who want to self-consume more of their solar-generated power directly. Having a battery “behind the meter” reduces transacting with the fossil utility grid, maximizing the homeowner’s direct use of clean power.

Commercial entities that are billed for peaking demand periods are also looking at adding batteries with solar to shave peaks are among the present buyers for solar-plus-storage.

What criteria do you recommend shoppers look for when considering their storage-ready options?

Take a long look at the differences in power capacity you get from the batteries that are available to you. The amount of available power when the system is islanding (performing without a grid connection) is a major factor in the buyer’s satisfaction with the system’s performance; it can be the difference between whether or not you have a well pump running when the grid fails.

Also ensure you get a system that offers scalability — as your home’s electrical loads change over time and the price of lithium ion batteries continues to fall, you may find yourself wanting to upgrade your energy storage capacity down the line.

How is Pika Energy’s storage-ready offering different from other options on the market?

The Pika Energy Island is designed with three key principles in mind:

  1. Simple installation
  2. Scalability & flexibility
  3. More power and efficiency

We made the Energy Island simple to install by eliminating the autotransformer that other systems require for islanding performance and by building the automatic transfer switching into the inverter, so it seamlessly disconnects from the grid and powers the home’s protected loads instantaneously and automatically.

We made the system flexible and scalable by building a DC combiner box into the inverter itself, so you can connect any combination of solar and batteries on the combiner (e.g. with a single Pika Islanding Inverter, you can use 10kW of solar and up to 30kWh of batteries, or 7.5kW of solar and 45kWh of batteries, etc.)

We delivery more power than other options on the market because the Energy Island system is transformerless and can surge at up to 10kW of AC power.  We deliver higher efficiency because the Harbor Smart Battery™, which we co-developed with Panasonic Eco Solutions, is DC-coupled to the Energy Island system for exceptionally high conversion efficiency, whereas other systems on the market are often AC-coupled, meaning they require two inverters and incur more efficiency losses.

What types of storage options (e.g. battery systems) are compatible with your offering?

We offer three compatible battery options as of August 2017.

The Harbor Smart Battery™ is available in two sizes, 10kWh and 15kWh of usable energy. The third option is Coral™, our deep-cycle backup battery solution using conventional AGM batteries. These options are all UL-listed and available to order, and all are directly DC-coupled to the Energy Island system.





Don



Storage-ready solar Q&A: SMA America

Designing a “storage-ready” solar panel system is the first step to ensuring that you’re set up for success when you decide to move forward with a solar battery for your home or business. EnergySage spoke with Timothy Stocker, Product Manager, Energy Storage at SMA America for his perspective on storage-ready solar.

What is the value proposition for a “storage-ready” solar product for residential customers?

The value proposition for an on-grid storage-ready solution for residential customers is that it gives the end customer the option to add storage at the time of PV installation or at a later date with minimal effort. The customer may not have the resources to install storage at the time, or may not be in a utility service territory where it would make sense to add storage, so a storage-ready solution offers great flexibility. For backup-based applications, it makes sense to install storage at the time of the solar project due to the complexity of such installation.

Who should consider installing a storage-ready solar option now?

People in high energy usage areas like Hawaii and Arizona should consider installing a storage-ready solar option now, as well as people who live in areas where utility policies are in flux (such as Nevada, where the net metering debate is happening) – or anywhere where rate structures have shown some volatility. Anyone who lives in areas of inclement weather where hurricanes, superstorms and other unpredictable weather patterns are common should also consider this option.

For on-grid customers who cannot budget for a storage system at the time of installation or are in a utility territory where storage doesn’t make sense right away, a storage ready system can help alleviate some burdens. This is really only the case with a DC-coupled architecture that requires you to add hardware that will not be used until the energy storage system (i.e. battery) is installed. Installing a storage-ready system in an AC-coupled architecture is quite simple and can be as easy as adding a breaker, or for more advanced installers, installing an “energy system ready” load panel, which includes a 60+ amp-rated feeder directly tied to the meter.

Consumers should keep in mind that in order to easily claim the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for the storage portion of a system, it should be installed at the same time as the PV portion. If the storage system is installed later, claiming the ITC is more difficult. Other incentive programs can help with this problem, such as California’s Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), which helps fund the capital investment and has performance guarantees associated with it.

What criteria do you recommend shoppers look for when considering their storage-ready options?

Power capacity vs. energy capacity – Customers should be familiar with power and energy requirements, and kilowatt (kW) vs. kilowatt hour (kWh). Customers and installers should be aware of the power requirements for a customer’s household load, depending on the application. Batteries are sized in kW and kWh, whereas inverters are just sized in kW or instantaneous power. It’s best to make sure the inverter is properly aligned with the battery in terms of power capacity to fully utilize the inverter’s power output. Shoppers should also ask how to increase their capacity in a system without having to add another inverter, even when they don’t need the extra power.

Backup needs – Customers should be aware of the product’s backup options. They should ask how it works, what other hardware is required, and what the load/power requirements are. Backup calculations can quickly get complicated because the calculation requires a load study to determine what the system characteristics should look like.

Future proofing – Customers should familiarize themselves with the brands that will be installed. How stable is the company/brand? How long have they been around? What will happen if they go bankrupt, and how will that affect the customer’s warranty? What does their service and support structure look like? This is extremely important with battery manufacturers, as we have seen many come and go, and this will continue to be the trend as the market grows. Another question to ask is, “What happens when I want to add more energy capacity (kWh)”? Choosing the right products and right technology will ultimately allow the customer to hit their ROI sooner and complete the shift from a consumer to a prosumer.

How is SMA America’s storage-ready offering different from other options on the market?

SMA’s new Sunny Boy Storage–US battery inverter, which will start delivery later this year, is an AC-coupled architecture inverter that allows for easy installation regardless of the PV system. This means you design and install it independently of a renewable energy system, which allows for the best flexibility and scalability. It features three independent DC inputs that can be attached to three different batteries from three different manufacturers with three different chemistries and three different voltage windows. This is incredibly unique, and allows for ultimate future proofing. As we saw with Tesla’s Powerwall 1, it’s hard to know how long a battery storage manufacturer will produce and support its products. Having multiple independent DC inputs allows customers to use the latest technology without having to worry about compatibility issues in the future.

The Sunny Boy Storage-US product line includes built-in energy management functions to best match different use cases, such as time-of use (ToU) or zero-export using a meter from our qualified energy meter supplier list.

SMA’s Backup Unit will allow for whole-home backup or a protected-loads panel, depending on the customers need.

What types of storage options (e.g. battery systems) are compatible with your offering?

Ultimately SMA’s inverter is battery agnostic, but the battery does need to fit within the voltage input window of the inverter (150 – 550 Vdc) and the battery needs to communicate with the inverter though the BMS interface. The Sunny Boy Storage-US inverter is compatible with many battery manufacturers including LG Chem and others as they come to market with their products. SMA specifically engineered the Sunny Boy Storage to offer the industry’s most versatile solution, simplifying the job of PV installers.





Don