Category Archives: EnergySage

Articles & advice from EnergySage about solar power and other clean energy systems for your home, business or non-profit.

New solar panel technology: learn about advances in solar energy

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Solar power was in a constant state of innovation in 2016, with new advances in solar panel technology announced almost every week. In the past year alone, there have been milestones in solar efficiency, solar energy storage, wearable solar technology and solar design tech. Read on to get the complete update on all the breakthroughs you should know about in the world of new solar panel technology.

With community solar, anyone can switch to solar technology. Learn more

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How many solar panels do I need for my home?

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Determining the size of your solar energy system starts with a simple question: how many solar panels do I need for my home? As most people want to produce enough energy to completely eliminate their electricity bill, the first step is determining what size solar system will produce enough power to meet your household consumption levels. Ultimately, you will be calculating how many kilowatt hours of power you will need and finding the correct system size and number of panels to power your house.  Continue reading

How do I choose my solar panels? Guide to choosing your solar equipment

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Installing a home solar energy system is a smart financial investment for many homeowners. As you evaluate offers from solar companies, there are many different factors to consider – the equipment that you choose for your system, your financing options, and the installer that you select all have an impact on your solar savings. This guide will help you evaluate the different solar panels and inverters available so that you can choose the best equipment for your home.  Continue reading

Top Community Solar States: Minnesota vs California, Massachusetts Colorado Community Solar

comparing the top states for community solar graphic

Community solar – the concept of leasing or owning a share of a large solar array rather than having a personal solar installation on your rooftop – continues to gain popularity across the continental United States. According to the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), there will be a 1.8 gigawatt (GW) increase in installed photovoltaics from community solar arrays over the next five years.  Minnesota, Colorado and California – the undisputed best states for community solar – will drive the majority of that growth. You might wonder, why are these states so ideal for roofless solar compared to the 47 others in the U.S.? Here’s how these community solar leaders rose to the top.

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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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How much do solar panels cost in Pomona, California?

solar panels pomona

As solar continues its remarkable growth in the United States, California continues to lead the way. The Golden State is the behemoth of the U.S solar market boasting 19,000 megawatts of installed solar to date, which is almost as much as the other top ten solar producing states combined. Pomona, like much of California, has consistent and strong sunlight totals in addition to below state average prices for solar panel installation. In this article we’ll explain why Pomona, California is a great spot for solar power and how Pomona homeowners can maximize their solar savings.

How much do solar panels cost in Pomona?

As of mid-2017, the average price for solar panels in Pomona was $3.41 per watt. Thus, since the typical system size in the U.S. is 5 kilowatts (5,000 watts), the average cost of a solar panel system in Pomona is $17,050 before any rebates or incentives.

While this price is low, it is also very competitive for the overall state of California. Prices for solar panel systems have dropped by over 64% in California over the past 5 years and homeowners are taking notice. Check out this comparison table of Pomona and state pricing for various system sizes:

Solar pricing table: Pomona compared to California

System size State average cost
(after ITC)
 Pomona average cost
(after ITC)
3 kW $7,224  $7,161
6 kW $14,448 $14,322 
10 kW $24,080 $23,870 
12 kW $28,896  $28,644

The above table, which uses pricing data from solar quotes received by homeowners on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace over the last 12 months, offers a comparison of prices in California and Pomona for solar energy systems. As the data illustrates, typical solar prices in Pomona, California are significantly lower than the rest of the state.

California is an affordable and pragmatic places to install solar. But when you zero in on Pomona’s market and compare it to the rest of the state, the advantage for homeowners is even clearer. The good news for Pomona homeowners is that these low costs do not even incorporate the added benefit of net metering, offered throughout the Golden State.

California’s net metering and other incentives

Net metering has faced recent legislative battles in California but remains one of the biggest incentives for going solar in the state. Every California solar homeowner is eligible to receive bill credits for their excess solar generation at retail price from his or her utility.





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Other incentives in California include the California Solar Initiative which is a cash rebate available to customers of either Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE) or San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E). This program is for low-income homeowners who receive cash back for installing solar panels on their homes. The rebate amounts can be as high as $10,000.

Some local utilities also offer homeowners rebates that can pay anywhere from $0.20 to $1.25 per watt of installed solar capacity. For example, Silicon Valley Power offers a cash rebate for every watt of solar power installed up to 10 kilowatts, and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power offers a rebate of $0.30/W of installed solar power.

How Pomona homeowners can save big with solar

Though Pomona residents are already seeing low solar prices with continued cost declines expected over the next five years, low prices aren’t necessarily the biggest selling point. When it comes to going solar, the long term ROI and savings from avoided bill payments is often the biggest deciding factor – and the figures can be staggering even in states where utility rates are reasonable.

In 2017, solar quotes received by Pomona homeowners yielded 20-year savings estimates of over $107,588 on average. Checkout the breakdown of average net savings by solar system size:

Pomona net 20-year savings from solar

System size Average solar savings over 20 years
3 kW $24,937
6 kW  $57,791
10 kW  $96,303
12 kW $122,141

Three tips for solar shoppers in Pomona

  1. Homeowners who get multiple quotes save 10% or more

    As with any big ticket purchase, shopping for a solar panel installation takes a lot of research and consideration, including a thorough review of the companies in your area. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recommended that consumers compare as many solar options as possible to avoid paying inflated prices offered by the large installers in the solar industry.

    To find the smaller contractors that typically offer lower prices, you’ll need to use an installer network like EnergySage. You can receive free quotes from vetted installers local to you when you register your property on our Solar Marketplace – homeowners who get 3 or more quotes can save thousands on their solar panel installation.

  2. The biggest installers typically don’t offer the best price

    The bigger isn’t always better mantra is one of the main reasons we strongly encourage homeowners to consider all of their solar options, not just the brands large enough to pay for the most advertising. A recent report by the U.S. government found that large installers are $2,000 to $5,000 more expensive than small solar companies. If you have offers from some of the big installers in solar, make sure you compare those bids with quotes from local installers to ensure you don’t overpay for solar.

  3. Comparing all your equipment options is just as important

    National-scale installers don’t just offer higher prices – they also tend to have fewer solar equipment options, which can have a significant impact on your system’s electricity production. By collecting a diverse array of solar bids, you can compare costs and savings based on the different equipment packages available to you.

    There are multiple variables to consider when seeking out the best solar panels on the market. While certain panels will have higher efficiency ratings than others, investing in top-of-the-line solar equipment doesn’t always result in higher savings. The only way to find the “sweet spot” for your property is to evaluate quotes with varying equipment and financing offers.

For any Pomona homeowner in the early stage of shopping for solar that would just like a ballpark estimate for an installation, try our Solar Calculator that offers up front cost and long term savings estimates based on your location and roof type. For those looking to get quotes from local contractors today, check out our quote comparison platform.

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



Solar Panel System Design: How Solar Installers Map Out your PV System

solar panel system design

The process of of how solar installers design a solar energy system is often a mystery for most consumers. Because of this, we would like to give you some insight into how solar installers design a solar power system for your home or business. A solar power system is designed considering two important factors – the amount of space that you have available for installing solar panels and the amount of electricity you consume annually. Other factors, like shading analysis and the efficiency of solar panels and inverters also come into play.   Continue reading

Solar Panels to Power Grow Lights: How PV Benefits Urban Agriculture

solar grow lights and urban planningWhat does growing cannabis in Colorado, greens in South Korea, and sustaining life in space all have in common? While it may sound like the setup to a bad joke, all three are actually related to the future of modern agriculture. Indoor agriculture enables individuals to control all of the variables that go into farming, but it also means that the farmer has to recreate all of the natural conditions on earth — from the soil in the earth to the sun in the sky. Solar power can and will play a big part in making this all achievable. Continue reading

Solar news: 40+ cities commit to 100% renewables, colorful solar panels, and how the solar eclipse will impact solar energy generation

More than 40 cities committed to 100% renewable energy, a unique colored solar panel breakthrough, and the impact of the coming solar eclipse on U.S. solar power generation are the headlines from this week’s Solar News Report.

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