Articles highlighting the benefits of a solar power system from Heritage Solar serving Orange County and San Diego California.

homeoftheyearbackyard

Ranch and Coast Magazine Home of the Year

Ranch and Coast Magazine awarded their Home of the Year award to a home in Poway California.  The 50 kW solar system was designed and installed by Heritage Solar.

According to Ranch and Coast Magazine, “Our 2012 Home Of The Year is a cutting-edge, eco-friendly Old World retreat located in Poway. Completed in 2010 by award-winning architect and builder Kurt Erlbeck of Elevation Architectural Studios and Ensemble Homes, the sprawling estate has 2.5 floors and offers every high-end amenity imaginable — a chef’s kitchen, walk-in wine cellar, outdoor cigar patio, theatre, game room, covered exterior patio, fire/water features, top-of-the-line appliances, RV garage/man cave complete with a machine shop-quality work area and three large-screen TVs, outdoor kitchen and bar, professional horseshoe pit with custom reclaimed wood backstops, vanishing-edge pool, swim up bar, “Baja beach,”waterfall, grotto, Jacuzzi with a lazy river, the list goes on.

Erlbeck worked with Heritage Solar to install a 50-kilowatt photovoltaic system that produces enough energy to run the home. Monitored 24/7, its real-time energy production can be viewed by the owners or service technicians on a Web site that provides minute-by-minute status reports and analysis of the information for the day, month, and year.”

See the entire article here.  Home of the Year

Heritage Solar specializes in large residential solar PV systems in San Diego County and Orange County.  For more information, contact us at 866-960-9873 or Click Here.

 

2011-11-03 14.18.20

Best Solar Panels

Choosing the Best Solar Panels — SunPower Leads the Pack

Sunpower Solar Panels better PerformanceSunpower produces the World’s Most Powerful Solar Panels.  Not All Products are Created Equal.  Solar systems are often described in watts and kilowatts, however, the most important factor to consider is the amount of actual electricity it is expected to generate during its lifetime (kilowatt-hours). When compared to other brands, SunPower panels produce the most electricity in a range of conditions.  Recently, Sunpower announced a new 25-year warranty on its solar panels that guarantees the amount of energy they will produce.

Solar panels slowly degrade over time. SunPower guarantees its products will produce at least 95 percent power for the first five years, followed by a maximum degradation rate of 0.4 percent a year each year thereafter. SunPower’s warranty guarantees that its panels will still produce at least 87 percent power at the end of 25 years.

“This is a big deal,” SunPower CEO Tom Werner said in an interview. “Not all solar cells are created equal. As the solar industry matures, we’ll be focusing less on the cost of panels and more on durability and the reliability of the technology. It’s as good as it gets from a warranty perspective.”

Solar cells produce direct current electricity from sun light, which can be used to power equipment or to recharge a battery. The first practical application of photovoltaics was to power orbiting satellites and other spacecraft, but today the majority of photovoltaic modules are used for grid connected power generation. In this case an inverter is required to convert the DC to AC.

There are 3 main types of solar panels. Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline and Amorphous.
  • Monocrystalline solar panels such as SunPower, are the most expensive as they have the highest
Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

power output. These modules are made from a single large silicon crystal. Typically, a monocrystalline panel will begin producing electricity at about 5% of maximum sun energy while a polycrystalline panel will start producing power at about 10% maximum sun energy. This means that the monocrystalline panel will produce energy for more hours per day and in lower light conditions. Additionally, the monocrystalline panel will perform better and produce more energy in hot conditions.

  • Polycrystalline solar panels are made by taking raw silicon and forming it into an ingot. This ingot is sliced into cells. Polycrystalline cells typically are less efficient than are monocrystalline panels as they require slightly more light to start up and they output less energy at higher temperatures. Typical Polycrystalline panels are the Sharp 208, 216 and 224, Solon and Trina and most of the Chinese manufactured product.  
  • Amorphous solar panels come in a film that is deposited on a substrate. This substrate can vary and include glass, plastic or metal. This is often called thin film. While polycrystalline and monocrystalline panels will have efficiencies of 13% to 20%, amorphous silicon is typically around 8%-9%. Amorphous silicon is much less expensive. However, the cost of installation is typically much greater for residential installations due to the fact that it requires much more area, more material and more labor.

 

Introducing the SunPower E20 Solar Panel Series


Solar Panels come in many varieties. All of the solar panels we carry are high output mono and polycrystalline with a 25 year warranty. The things to look for in a solar panel are:

1. Cost per watt
2. Warranty of 25 years
3. Output tolerance
4. Temperature Coefficient
4. CEC rating vs. STC rating
5. Availability

Not All Warranties Are Created Equally

Sunpower Solar Panels are designed to last more than 25 years.  Most solar panels have basic instrinsic design flaws that will reduce there longevity, regardless of the stated company warranty. Sunpower is different.

 


 

 

Why Do More Homeowners Choose SunPower® Solar?

 

SunPower solar panels use more sun than conventional solar panels, which means we generate more electricity per panel, and we use less roof space to produce the energy you need. The result? With SunPower, you can enjoy the greatest savings on your utility bill over the lifetime of your solar energy system.

 

  • Superior Solar Panel Electricity Production

    According to third party tests, SunPower solar energy systems produce more electricity than other solar solutions. This means you can virtually eliminate your electric bill while greatly decreasing your environmental impact.

  • The Planet’s Most Powerful Solar®

    SunPower solar panels produce more power than other panels within the same amount of space. This means you’ll need fewer solar panels to produce the energy you need. And you can maximize your available roof space to choose the best, unobstructed location for electricity production.

  • Greatest Savings from Solar Energy

    Among the many benefits of a SunPower solar energy system, the fact that it offers the greatest savings on your utility bill may be the most important. There is no better way for you to maximize the return on your solar investment and increase the resale potential on your home than with a SunPower home solar system.

 The Bottom Line

If you have decided that you want to put Solar Panels on your home, talk to one of the experts at Heritage Solar. There are so many solar panel choices available that it is hard to find the best modules and inverters. Contact us if you have any questions or would like a free site visit.

Solar panel installation

Evaluating Solar Companies

Narrowing down Your Choices

Right now, we are seeing a flood of new solar companies joining the solar installation ranks in Southern California.  Every day, a new website goes up proclaiming years of experience and yet, there are only a couple dozen real players out there.  Every year, several hundred solar companies try their hand at solar and you never hear from them again.  The next year, a whole new group of 200-300 companies enter the field.  The question becomes, how do you choose a solar company that knows how to properly design and install a solar system that will be safe, will function at a high level of efficiency, and will be supported over the long haul?

Solar Companies–Large or Small, Local or Global

There are a number of very large solar companies in the United States that are trying to gain market share by keeping their prices low and expanding rapidly into new markets.  These companies are losing staggering amounts of money.  Most of these companies are privately held and it is difficult to show just how much money they are losing.  However, one good example is Akeena and here is a link to their financials.  Just looking at it briefly, Akeena stock went from a high in 2008 of $15.00 to a current price just below $1.00.  This company has posted huge quarterly losses as far back as I can remember.  This past quarter, Akeena lost $2.4M on $6.5M in Revenue.  There are a number of other large solar companies in this same boat.  Losing money at this rate in the good times isn’t sustainable.  So the question is, should you choose a large solar company for your solar installation because they seem on the surface to be a safe bet, or should you choose a smaller, well run local company that is financially stable?  If you decide to invest in a solar home, you will have to answer this question for yourself.

Check the Solar Installation Company Contractors License

 

California State License Board

Click Here to Check a Contractors License

The first thing I would do before choosing a company and investing in a solar home is look their contractors license.  Typically, the best type of license for solar electrical installation is the C-10 Electrical license.  The State of California allows General Contractors (B), Grading Contractors (A) Electrical Contractors (C-10) and Solar Contractors (C-46) to install solar in California.   You can check a solar company’s contractors license here.  You can determine from this site if a Contractor has Workers Compensation, is bonded and if their license is current or expired.  You can also tell how long they have had their license and/or how long the license or licensee has been affiliated with the company.

NABCEP Certification

 

NABCEP Certified Installers

Click Here to Look up NABCEP Certified Installers

The next thing to do is see if the company is staffed with NABCEP certified installers.  There are only a few hundred certified installers in the State of California so this certification is somewhat rare.  It is important that a company have at least one NABCEP certified installer overseeing the design and installation processes for the company.  If a company doesn’t have an NABCEP certified installer, you should seriously consider going elsewhere.  California allows general contractors, grading contractors, electrical contractors and solar contractors to install solar.  The NABCEP is the only organization that requires documented solar experience and rigorous testing.

Corporation, Single Proprietorship or Partnership

Many of the mainstream solar companies are corporations.  You can look up a solar corporation’s status on the California Corporation page.

Check out Their Web Page

solar istock photo

This is a photo from istock. Does it look like California?

Photos of solar installations on a web page are very telling.  If the photo of a solar installation on a home looks like it was taken in Germany, it probably was.  If you live in California and are looking for a solar installation company with local experience, look at the photos on their website.  There should be dozens and dozens of different installations featured and they shouldn’t look like they were photos plucked off the web or purchased from istock.  Local experience with local building codes and local officials is very important.  Experience with local codes makes the solar permiting and inspection process go much smoother and end up costing you much less.

Check out their BBB listing

Better Business BureauA solar company should have a listing on the Better Business Bureau.  You can check out the listings for:

Los Angeles and Orange County

San Diego

Make Sure they are Listed on the CSI database

 

California list of Energy Providers

Click to see list of Authorized Installers

The California Solar Initiative has a list of Resellers and Installers  that are approved to sell and install solar in California.

Check out their references

Most Solar Companies are very proud of their reference lists.  Ask for a list and call a past customer at random.

Check out their Local Installations

Most solar companies that have been around for awhile will have at least one installation in your area.  Ask to be able to at least drive by one installation.

Evaluation Solar Companies–The bottom Line

If you have decided to go solar and need to evaluate solar companies, look for a contractor you can trust.

Best Solar Panels

Heritage Solar Advantage

THE Heritage Solar Value Proposition:

One of Heritage Solar’s goals is to help customers evaluate the wide variety of solar equipment available on the market today.  The California Solar Initiative Eligible Equipment database currently lists 1757 solar panel models from 156 companies.

The California Solar Initiative Eligible Equipment database also lists 532 Inverters from 45 different companies.  After years of designing and installing systems in Southern California, we have zeroed in on a few solar panels and inverters that truly perform.  We prefer solid companies that will be around in 20 years should in the rare case that there is a warranty issue.  There are so many fly by night companies, especially with the flood of Chinese imports and private labeling of Chinese solar panels that it pays to work with professional design consultants before you invest in a long term solar solution.

OUR PROCESS: Site Assessment, Consultation, Design and Approval

When you request a site assessment, one of our Solar Design Consultants will take a look at your roof in the case of a solar roof mount, or the area where a solar ground mount would make sense.  We are very cautious when it comes to installing solar on your roof.  For example, on clay tile roofs and shake roofs, we believe that the best methodology is to replace the roofing material under the array so that you won’t have to remove the array and reroof in the future.  Many companies don’t go that far and will simply drill holes in the roof, apply some Henry’s and pray for the best.  When they are long gone, the warranty will be up to you.

After we complete a solar design for your site,  we work with you to make sure you approve solar panel placement, inverter placement and conduit runs.  Solar installation is almost always a trade off between aesthetics and solar performance.

OUR RECOMENDATIONS: Best in Class Solar Panels for Your Home

Over the years, there are a number of solar panels we have evaluated and have come to trust.  Their performance in the field has been verified many times over.  We specify Sanyos when space or weight is an issue and we specify Solon modules when there is plenty of roof space or ground mount space.  Our evaluation is based not only on our experience but data collected from the Photovoltaic Utility Scale Test Conditions and on the Manufacturer’s published test specifications.

SUNPOWER–High Performance Monocrystalline Modules
SANYO–High performance Hybrid Modules
TRINA–Fully Vetted Asian Manufacturer
We Only install modules we can stand behind

 

Module Comparison From Mfgs. Specifications
Sunpower Makes the Top of the List

Solar Module Comparison 

 

 

 

 

The Bottom Line

The owners and engineers from Heritage Solar have spent years evaluating our solar installations in the field, new products available on the market and products that will never quite make it.  We bet our reputation every day on the quality of the solar panels, inverters and installation processes that we recommend.