Ground Mount Solar Installlation in Encinitas

San Diego and Orange County Solar

Sunpower - San Diego and Orange County Solar Panel Performance 


 San Diego and Orange County Solar Power

Heritage Solar – The Go To Solar Company

Heritage Solar is a long term San Diego and Orange County solar installer.  The owners of the company as well as sales, installation and engineering personnel live in Orange County, San Diego County and Riverside County.  We have been installing in the Southern California region for more than 6 years.

Investment for a Lifetime

Now is a great time to go solar. California has lots of sun, high electricity prices that continue to go up, great State rebates and a 30% Federal Tax credit. Compared to most other investments such as Stocks, Bonds and Money Markets, Solar outshines them all. With 25 year internal rates of return between 14% and 18%, no other investments come close. Solar is one of the best ways to take control of your power bills and prepare for retirement. 

Why Heritage Solar?

Heritage Solar is San Diego and Orange County’s premier solar installer and a leader in the Photovoltaic (PV) solar contracting business. Heritage specializes in the design, development and installation of solar electric systems. The Heritage Team has designed, installed and commissioned over 600 PV solar systems in more than 70 cities in Southern California. If you live in the area we believe you’ll agree that Heritage Solar is the right choice for a your solar installation. 

Call Heritage for a Free Site Visit866-960-9873

Better Business BureauOur staff includes an NABCEP certified installer to oversee installation methods and processes, degreed Engineers with decades of electrical hardware design as well as years of contracting experience. Our solar installation crews are lead by C-10 Electrical Contractors. A large portion of our business comes from referrals from happy customers and our projects include hotels, businesses, churches, and large and small residential. We have installed some of the largest and most complex residential solar systems in San Diego California.   We have an A+ BBB rating in both Better Business Bureau in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego.

Our Products

We Use Only the Best Solar Panels and SunPower Panels Top the List 



  Heritage Solar Licensed and Insured Solar Power in San Diego California

San Diego and Orange County 866-960-9873

If you are looking for a cost effective solar power system in San Diego or Orange County using some of the best solar panels and inverters available, Heritage Solar is the right choice. Solar electric systems are our specialty. Our goal is to provide the best San Diego solar power system at a great price. 


Solar Energy System Costs

An average solar system in Southern California usually ranges from 10 and 30 solar panels and an inverter. A Solar Powered Home Could Save $100,000 to $300,000 or even much more in future Energy Costs. You could also protect your retirement by purchasing a solar power system for your home today. Heritage Solar Photovoltaic generating systems are competitively priced. For a ballpark solar estimate for your home that includes State and Federal Rebates, try our Solar Calculator.  

Federal Incentive Tax Credit

The Federal Government is offering a 30% tax credit for solar power installations on your home or business. This tax credit, combined with the California Solar Initiative Rebate significantly reduces the cost of a Solar Energy System in California.  

California State Cash Rebate

The California Solar Initiative is offering a cash rebate for solar electric systems that are connected to the utility grid. This is not a tax credit. It is a cash rebate. SDGE and SCE manage the rebates for solar electric systems and the exact rebate can be found at the trigger tracker.  

Net Metering

Net metering for your solar home measures the difference between the electricity you buy from the utility and the electricity you generate with your solar electric system. When your home solar system is generating more electricity than you are using, like typical summer days, your extra electricity is metered back out (sold) to the utility grid. You receive credit for the solar power at the same rate they sell it to you. Net Metering allows you to use the electric utility grid as solar electric storage system instead of costly batteries. You can generate solar electricity when it is most expensive and use it in the evenings and at night when it is least expensive.  

Additionally, the Utilities must pay you for any excess electricity generated.  

California Electricity Penalty Zones

Heritage Solar Home Electric Analysis
Click Here to See a Sample Home Solar Electric Analysis


During the California energy crisis, the utility companies adopted a complex tiered electric rate structure for residential customers. This rate schedule establishes a ‘baseline’ rate for all usage each month, up to a baseline amount that varies based upon the region in California. Usage up to the baseline amount is charged at one rate and usage above the baseline is charged according to a rapidly ascending tiered rate structure.  

Residential customers who exceed their baseline quantities face steep penalty rates.  

If you are in Tier 1, paying 11.8 cents per kWh, the cost of running a 100 watt light bulb, 24 hours a day, 30 days a month will be $8.49 per month.  

If you are in Tier 5 because you have a large house or a pool, the cost of running the same light bulb is $24.40  

California Grid Price Inflation Rate

Average California Energy Inflation
California Energy Inflation


The biggest savings from installing a solar electric system on your home will be realized in the future years. Data from the California Public Utility Commission shows that average electric rates have increased from approximately 2 cents per kilowatt hour in 1970 to approximately 20 cents per kilowatt hour now. This is an average rate increase of 7% per year.  

The most important fact, however, isn’t historical grid price increases but what is going to happen in the future. Global oil shocks will drive the price of oil to $150 – $200 per barrel. Natural Gas prices will rise dramatically causing electricity prices to jump, not slowly, but quickly like a step function. In order to preserve your lifestyle, you will need to invest in solar.  

Cost Savings Analysis

The monthly payment on a your home solar electric system is less than the monthly electric bill today. In the future, however, energy prices will rise and the savings will be enormous. The total cash flow savings on a residential system is many times the initial investment.  

Additionally, investing in a Solar System today is an investment in your home. If you sell your solar home, you will have increased its value significantly  

Solar Home investment for Retirement

For a typical larger home, the homeowner would save far more than $200,000 over the life of a solar powered home. Additionally, the $890 ($10,680 per year) electricity bill would require you to save an additional $267,000 for retirement (based on a 4% withdrawal rate from your retirement fund).  

Solar Power for your Home is one of the best investments you will ever make.  


Solar Home Investment Bottom Line

The modern solar home provides one of the best investments you could make. You will get a better return than stocks, bonds or other investments, and the solar home is safer than cash as it’s value goes up every time the utility raises rates.  

Mission Viejo Solar Installation

Solar Energy Design Considerations for your Home

Poor Design Reduces Power Output

Solar Energy is becoming more common in the United States and especially in Southern California including Orange County and San Diego County.  If you are considering a solar energy system for your home, there are some design considerations that will help make your system cost effective, reliable and safe.

Cost Effective Solar Energy

The first and most important consideration for a solar array is to make sure it has sun on it.  Although this seems obvious at first glance, there are many examples of installation of solar panels behind a chimney or under a tree.  There will always be trade offs, as you can’t cut down all the trees or remove chimneys just for the sake of a little more energy.

current vs. voltage

IV Curve for Maximum Power Point Tracking

Solar cells are extremely sensitive to shading.  If a single cell is shaded, it will affect all of the cells wired in series in the solar panel by acting as a resistor.   One of the few exceptions to this are the Sunpower Panels which are designed to significantly reduce shading affects.  Solar panels have a number of bypass diodes which will bypass a series of shaded cells and will mitigate the problem to a certain extent.  The easiest way to illustrate this is by wiring in a 12 volt RV fan directly to a lower voltage panel.  When placed directly in the sun, the fan runs extremely fast.  When casting a shadow over a number of cells, the fan speed drops significantly.  Another more expensive method is to use a clamp on DC current meter.  When casting a shadow, the DC current will drop off quickly.

Shade analysis toll

Shade Analysis Tool

There are design methods that can reduce the impact of shading.  One of the more important tools is a Solmetric Suneye.  The Suneye is a great tool for Solar Companies because it provides an indication of how much shading will occur on an array at different times of the day and different times of the year.  It also predicts, however crudely, what affect the shading will have on energy generation.  As the shade tool only predicts gross reductions in sunlight striking the surface of the module and doesn’t model individual solar cell characteristics or array IV curves, a little interpretation by by good solar designer is still required.  Minimizing shading or eliminating it are the still best courses of action.

Array Orientation for Best Energy Production

Azimuth and Roof Pitch Effects

Click Here to Enlarge

Generally, if you want the best energy production out of a solar array, you would orient it to the South.  A 10 degree tilt would give you the best summer production and, in California, a 30-35 degree tilt would give you the best year round production if the array is facing South.  The further East or West the array is oriented, in general, the flatter the array should be for best production.  The Azimuth and Roof pitch chart illustrates this concept.  Note that, in general, most residential roofs are 4:12 pitch to 6:12 pitch.  Anything steeper than this is pretty tough to walk around on.

Coastal areas and even up to 5 miles inland, will often have morning haze or “June gloom”.  The Azimuth chart shows that SE and SW are equal, when in fact, depending on the micro-climate, a West facing roof will sometimes outperform an East facing roof.  On occasion, we have seen a West facing roof outperform a South facing roof in areas with a lot of morning fog and haze.

PVWatts first screen

PVWatts first screen for entering zip code

There are a number of simulation tools available to determine power output for Solar arrays. One of the better ones is called PVWatts V2.  The first page that comes up allows you to input a zip code.  For this, I used 92660.

PVWatts input screen

PVWatts Input Screen

The PVWatts input screen is where you can input parameters in order to simulate your array.

In the DC rating cell, you can put in the size of the system.  If you have a (20) 200 watt panels, the DC Rating would be 20 x 200 divided by 1000 = 4.0kW.

Here are a few assumptions.  If you keep the array clean, you don’t have to derate the array by 5%.  If you buy a -zero tolerance module, you don’t have to derate the module by 5%.  Most Grid Tie Inverters are also in the 96% range.  With good design, you can easily reduce the voltage drops for AC and DC wiring.  I suggest using a derate in the DC to AC derate factor of around .88 or 88%.

PVWatts AC Energy Output

Click Here for a larger view

In the Array tilt, you can simulate different tilts and in the Array Azimuth, you can simulate orienting your array at different compass directions.  Using a 4.0kW system, .88 derate, 33.793 array tilt and 180 degrees South, you will get the the output shown to the left.

PVWatts will output the solar energy predicted per day, based on 30 years of flat plate data and simulates the predicted energy output per month and year for your solar energy system.

Many solar designers, sales persons and even solar energy companies do not fully understand how IV curves and Maximum Power Point Tracking work nor do they understand the ramifications of poor design on the solar energy output of a system.  A good designer can squeeze the last few kWhs out of a system.  System design is almost always a trade off between the space available, shading from objects including inter-row spacing, and the budget for the system.



PVWatts AC Energy Output

Sizing Your Solar System


Electric Meter for Home Solar

Spin your meter backwards

How Much Power will Your Solar System Really Produce?

Power output depends on the microclimate that you live in, temperature, cloud cover, azimuth orientation, roof or ground mount pitch, and wind speed. Additionally, losses can be mitigated with good design techniques, proper wire sizing, and by proper string sizing. Choosing the right modules for hot climates is extremely important.

STC ratings are approximately 25% higher than real world output. Call one of our Technical Representatives for a Real World Estimate.

Electricity Production Estimates for Standard Crystaline Modules

Solar Energy Panels

Solar Energy Panels

The Solar Photovoltaic industry is relatively young and immature.Data from the California Energy Commission shows that 98% of all Solar installations in California occurred in the past 6 years. In fact, 71% of all installations occurred in the past 3 years. There are very few standards and it is quite common for Solar Companies to quote Standard Test Conditions (STC) which are very specific laboratory tests. Your system will not be in a laboratory. If you want to acquire a system that will perform to your expectations, you will need to reduce the STC rating by at least 23%-25%. After this, you will need to account for inclination, compass direction and shading. Call us for an honest Real World Estimate. One of our Technical Representatives can provide this information for you at no charge.

Sample 3000 watt System

For example, a 3,000 watt (3 kW) system (STC) would have the following more conservative ratings:

3,000 watts Standard Test Conditions (STC)
2714 watts PVUSA Test Conditions (PTC)
2578 watts California Energy Commission (CEC AC)
2315 watts including losses due to AC/DC/Diodes/Inverter mismatch

2315 watts is a real world estimate.

This system assumes no shading, 34 degree tilt and due South roof placement.

Predicted Monthly System Output
STC 3000/1000 watts/kw x 5.5 sun hours/day x 30 days = 495 kWhs
PTC 2714/1000 watts/kw x 5.5 sun hours/day x 30 days = 448 kWhs
CEC 2578/1000 watts/kw x 5.5 sun hours/day x 30 days = 425 kWhs
A real world estimate for most Crystaline Modules
—–2315/1000 watts/kw x 5.5 sun hours/day x 30 days = 382 kWhs

Azimuth and Roof Pitch EffectsAlthough the example above is for a standard crystaline module, on a standard day on a standard month, system outputs can vary a great deal. Sanyo modules produce much higher output than standard crystaline modules due to their high temperature efficiency. Local microclimates and variation in installation techniques also have a significant effect on power output.

Poor Design Reduces Power Output

A poor solar design can really reduce the power output.  Here is an example of an installation in Colorado installed in the shade.  This system (not installed by Heritage Solar) will produce very little energy.

Energy Savings

Going solar is one of the best Energy Investments you will ever make. Depending on your energy use, how hot or cold your climate is, how old your house is, you may or may not be able to pay off insulation, new windows and doors, new air conditioners, new furnaces or new water heaters in your lifetime. Many of these ideas are expensive and may have poor payback periods. On the other hand, there are many small inexpensive changes you can make without changing your lifestyle.

  1. Buy a Kill A Watt meter to measure each appliance in your home. Cost around $25-30.
    • A Kill A Watt meter allows you to measure all of your appliances
    • You can see how much each appliance is costing you
  2. By a Smart Power strip for your computer, monitor, printers, modems, routers and speakers. Cost $30-40
    • When your computer “goes to sleep”, the smart power strip turns all other appliances off
    • This can save you $75 per year or more
  3. Buy a Smart Power strip for your TV, satellite or cable set top box, DVD player or other electronics. Cost $30-40
    • When your TV is turned off, the smart strip turns off all peripheral equipment
    • This can save you $25 per year or more
  4. Replace your Coffee Pot with a Cuisinart Dual Wall Thermal Carafe Coffee Pot. Cost $70
    • This can save $233 per year
  5. Install a programmable thermostat. Cost $30-70
    • This allows you to turn down the Air or Heat when you aren’t at home
    • This can save you $200 per year

Summary. These quick tips can save you $533 per year with minimal cost.

If you have a pool, seriously consider buying a two speed pump. By running your pool on the lower speed, you will save another $300-400 per year.

REDUCE ENERGY BILLS YEAR ROUND Catalina windows are among the most efficient dual-pane windows ever built. If you live in Orange County, CA, contact one of our partner companies, Web Roofing and Windows.

Did you know that you could reduce your lighting load by 75% by changing to low power light bulbs. A normal light bulb burning 24 hours a day for a month at the top tier can cost up to $36/month.

Ceiling fans provide cool breezes in the summer and circulate warm rising air in the winter, helping you reduce your energy bills.

A programmable thermostat can save you a lot of money. They are inexpensive and easy to use. Don’t use air conditioning and heat while you are away from home during the work week.

Have a barbecue. Get out of the house, turn off the electric oven and save energy. Use a gas grill, though, and have fun.

Purchase a Kill A Watt Meter to monitor your household appliances. Plug in that old refrigerator and see how much it is costing you per month.