Top 10 Reasons to Get Solar Energy for your Home in 2018!

1. Solar Power is Good for The Environment.

Solar energy is a clean, green source of energy and is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Solar power doesn’t release any greenhouse gasses and it’s safe and environmentally-friendly.

Solar power is self-sufficient and installing solar panels on your roof is a safe and easy path to contribute to a sustainable future.

2. Solar Power adds Value to your Home

Studies have shown that installing a solar system adds value to your home. Installing a 5kW solar system adds about $30,000 to the value of a medium sized home in California. And it sells 20% faster than non-solar properties!


creating jobs in the us solar energy industry

3. Solar Power Creates Jobs and Economic Growth

Our national economy can be helped by solar power. The more people who opt for solar, the more companies are needed to install solar panels. This creates additional jobs for skilled workers, and consequently keeps the economy growing.

Last year solar energy jobs grew 17 times quicker than the total US economy, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, and is currently the leading field to create new jobs over any other industry.

4. Solar Electricity Takes Your Home Off-the-Grid

Today’s low solar electricity prices serve as a great example of why there should be an increase in the use of solar energy. Traditional electricity is now more expensive than solar and relies heavily on fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. Not only are these fuels bad for the environment, but they are also limited resources.

Fossil fuel based electricity is now a volatile market, with prices peaking at the times we most need electricity.

Solar electricity boosts your electricity independence! You can easily protect yourself against expected increases in utility prices, and enjoy cheap electricity throughout the entire day – the sun will never increase its rates and it gives you energy security.

Solar Power Can Use Underutilized Land

Across California, there are lots of sunny land areas that are not used. With solar power, we can actually make use of the land and increase its value with solar farms.

Solar farms are large arrays of solar panels arranges to harvest solar energy and shows how solar power makes use of underutilized land.

For instance, the 550 MegaWatt solar farm near Joshua tree National Park was the world’s largest solar farm back in 2015. It covers 3,800 acres and generates enough power for 160,000 homes.


top 10 reasons you need solar energy

5. Solar Power Improves our Grid Security

When more of us switch to solar power, peak demand drops and we are less likely to experience blackouts or brownouts. Every house that has its own solar system acts as a small power plant. This creates greater electricity grid security, especially in terms of natural or human-caused disasters.

6. Solar Power Reduces Electricity Transmission Losses

Electricity needs to be transported from big power plants to end-consumers on extensive transmission networks for many miles, causing significant power losses of 8 to 15%. Your solar power energy does not create losses and puts you in control of your bills and energy usage. And solar power systems are durable, so chances of service interruptions are greatly reduced. Many transmission systems are old and in need of repair all over the state. They can break down in remote areas and some have caused out of control wildfires before they are located.

8. Solar Power Is a Free Source of Energy

The sun provides us with more energy than we could ever use, and no one can monopolize the sunlight. Your solar power system starts reducing your energy costs the moment it’s turned on. With the biggest advantages in the long-term.

Aside from solar electricity, it’s also possible to use the energy generated by the sun for heating purposes. This is done by installing solar heaters.

9. Solar Power Protects you from Increasing Electricity Rates

The large power companies are converting to expensive utility rate structures such as Time of Use which can triple the Base cost of energy between 2pm and 8pm, when you need it most, in the summer hot months.

Other power companies use Tier 1,2,3 and 4 rates and again prices rise sharply in the summer. Others use Base, Low Peak and High Peak rates and again High Peak rates are typically 3 times the Base charge rates

how to save money by going solar for your home

10. Solar Energy Production Costs have Dropped almost 90% in the Past Decade

With advances in solar cell technology, and huge increases in manufacturing volumes, and now statewide acceptance, the cost of solar energy is now cheaper than natural gas fueled electricity in power plants, creating more savings than ever!


Alex Nicolson, Solar Consultant


Could California Use Solar and Other Renewables for Most of its Electric Power?

Back in 2015, California opened a 550 MegaWatt solar farm near Joshua Tree National Park. It was the world’s largest. It spans 3,800 acres and generates enough power for 160,000 homes.

Could California get most of its electricity from solar power and other renewables?

First let’s look at the state’s current electricity sources. It gets 10% from solar and another 19% from other renewable sources. That’s a great start and now we need to keep going!  

California used about 292,000 GWh of electricity in 2017 from all sources. See Table below from California Energy Commission (CEC).


California Energy Commissions Total System Electric Generation Chart on Website For Solar Energy

Ref Cal Energy Commission:


Could Renewable Energy Sources produce most of California’s Electric Power?

Lets look at the numbers. Electricity from non-renewables like coal, gas and nuclear account for 47% of the energy produced. We used 292,039 million kWh of electricity in 2017 so 47% is about 137,000 million kWh.

That would require about 94,000 Megawatt of solar installations. And they would cover about 650,000 acres which is 102 square miles. Assume a total of 5 times that amount, to allow for access and service areas around the solar arrays, transmission lines and include large battery storage sites, that would total 513 square miles.

The state of California’s official land area is 164,000 square miles. So the solar energy systems would cover about 0.3% of the land area, which is tiny. California contains lots of mountain regions, rivers and other unsuitable regions, but 513 square miles of solar array zones spread through the state at suitable locations would use a very small amount of the total land area!

Solar Panels needed for Yearly Production

In California a standard 0.27kW solar panel, at full capacity equivalent of 4.5 hrs per day, produces 0.27×4.5×365= 443 kWh a year.

This would require about 137,000 million/443 = 309 million solar panels.


For California to become an all renewable solar energy State, large solar panel arrays scattered through California in suitable places would require 513 square miles of area, which is about 0.3% of the state’s land surface.

The solar arrays could be installed in the many desert and uninhabitable regions located within a suitable distance to a town or city and to existing transmission lines. Also on the roofs of homes and businesses.

The state would become independent of outside power agencies and be self-sufficient for electricity production to meet all commercial and residential needs.

And its carbon footprint would drop steeply! But that’s another story.

Alex Nicolson
Solar Consultant




From January 1st 2020 All New homes in California Must Have Solar

Latest News on Solar for New Homes

The California Energy Commission (CEC) recently voted unanimously that rooftop solar must be installed on all new homes.

The new rules apply to all new residences and includes some existing homes going through major home renovations, starting in Jan 1st 2020.

Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, covers the details of the new requirements.

The CEC stated that about 15,000 new homes have already been built each year with solar panels.

In 2020, that number is expected to jump to about 100,000 new solar homes per year in California.


Added Cost of Solar

Estimates for solar complying with the new CEC code will add $8,000 to $12,000 to the cost of a new home.

The estimates show that consumers will pay about $40 per month more for the extra solar cost  on their mortgage and save $80 a month in electricity, for a net $40 per month reduction.

The Title 24 standards are projected to reduce home energy use by 53% compared to the current code requirements.

This will save about $60 million a year in energy costs over the next 30 years.

As well as solar, the code includes requirements for improved insulation and window glass, low energy use lighting, motion sensors to turn on and off lights, etc.  

The code follows the current solar industry standards where the solar system must be sized with annual electrical output equal to the home’s annual electrical usage.

The size of the solar system is defined by an equation specified in the code.


California Climate Regions

california climate regionsCalifornia is about 250 miles wide and 770 miles long and has 16 climate regions (as shown in map).

The coastal regions, inland, desert, central valley and mountain regions produce different environmental conditions and varying amounts of energy demand.

Because of these differences, a solar system size for an average new home can vary from 2.7kW in San Diego to 5.7kW in Palm Springs.

With an average solar panel capacity of about 0.27kW each, that would require about 10 to 20 panels.

That requires 200 to 400 square feet of roof space. Ideally in a south facing area of your home.



This new rule is a huge boost for solar and at the same time will likely cause a spike in solar equipment demands and create shortages, extend installation lead times and cause major delays in getting approvals.

If you are thinking of solar for your current home, now is the time to go into action! You have only 18 months to get it done!


Lease Option

Do it now and beat the rush!

As an example, Tesla (Solar City) offers a really great solar leasing option, with no money up front.

“Renewables Now” reports that Solar City (Tesla), is at the top of the residential market in California with almost 18,000 installations and 16% of market share.  

You pay a flat rate for the power, so don’t have to worry about very expensive and rising Time of Use or High Peak or Tier 3 and Tire 4 charges in the summer months from your local utility.

You can run your air conditioner when you want to and need it most!  

With the lease option, you can save from the first month onwards!


Click here to learn more and get a free estimate! 

Alex Nicolson
Solar Consultant, Burbank, CA

Why Now Is The Best Time to Transition Over to Solar Energy!

Massive Drop In Solar Power Costs In The Past Decade

Solar Energy has gone through some major changes in the last decade. It was an interesting new high-tech source of clean energy which could be installed in areas with good sun exposure for most of the day.  

But back in 2009, solar power cost about 36c/kWh for electricity produced, when coal fired power cost 70% less and natural gas power was a whopping 80% cheaper.

Even though solar is clean energy, that was a big hurdle to overcome!

Then as advances were made in solar power manufacturing and technology and solar efficiency of panels greatly improved, the cost to produce solar panels and install them started to drop steeply and by the end of 2017 solar was producing power cheaper than natural gas!  (See chart below)

cost of solar energy today

So there has never been a better time to go solar in your home and business!

Also solar power is environmentally friendly and produces no greenhouse gases or other atmospheric pollutants. Unlike conventional fossil fuel fired electricity which is produced in large centralized power plants. The power is distributed on expensive high voltage power lines, often over hundreds of miles to your neighborhood with significant power loss.  

Many of these distribution systems are already old and in dire need of major repairs and upgrades and power outages are becoming more frequent.

Some power companies are now being sued for starting fires when components in their distribution systems break down, give off sparks and start fires in remote regions which then spread unnoticed until they are out of control.

This happened last year with the massive fires in Montana and locally in Napa Valley, Santa Paula and Montecito.  

Solar power bypasses all these problems.

The best power source for a town or city is one which is environmentally clean, has no carbon footprint, is already widely distributed, does not need to be transported long distances, is easily available to install anywhere and is inexpensive.

Today’s solar meets all these needs!

Need a free quote?

Let me know!



Top Ten Countries with the Most Installed Solar Power

I just saw this data online about installed solar around the world and plotted it out.

China is well ahead with total installed Solar, followed by Japan, Germany and USA, which are all about the same!


Top 10 countries with solar power


The numbers change a lot when population is taken into account as shown in the graph below. Australia and Germany are well in the lead, then Japan and Italy at the same level.

The US is surprisingly low, at only 25% of the top 2 numbers and came in 6th on the list, behind the United Kingdom!

                                    amount of people in the world with the most solar power

With much lower solar energy per square foot in high latitude countries like the UK and  Germany, it must be a lot more expensive to install Solar Power in these northern countries than in the US.

Also they have much more cloud coverage through the year and snow cover in winter!

So they must have much better incentives for installing solar!  Or maybe their fossil fuel energy costs are a lot higher?

New IKEA in Burbank goes Solar

In February 8th 2017 the largest IKEA store in America opened in Burbank. The 456,000 square feet store draws lots of customers for their wide range of popular goods. 

The roof of the building is covered in solar panels!

There are 1,260 solar panels covering 35,000 sq ft. installed and are estimated to produce about 421,300kWh per year, which is enough for 37 homes.

At 0.23kW per panel, that’s a total capacity of 290kW. At $0.25c/kWh the solar system will save IKEA about $105,000 a year in electricity bills.

It is the 4th IKEA store to go solar in the US and there are 8 more IKEA stores in California which will go solar soon.

Here’s a rundown of each IKEA solar project:

Burbank: 35,000 sq. ft. at 290 kW; 1,260 panels generating 421,300 kWh/year

Costa Mesa: 30,000 sq. ft. at 248 kW; 1,078 panels generating 353,800 kWh/year

Covina: 54,000 sq. ft. at 451 kW; 1,960 panels generating 651,800 kWh/year

East Palo Alto: 36,000 sq. ft. at 302 kW; 1,316 panels generating 427,900 kWh/year

Emeryville: 65,000 sq. ft. at 537 kW; 2,338 panels generating 760,300 kWh/year

San Diego: 30,000 sq. ft. at 251 kW; 1,092 panels generating 366,400 kWh/year

West Sacramento: 69,000 sq. ft. at 573 kW; 2,492 panels generating 795,500 kWh/year

And last but not least, its distribution center in Tejon will be their largest solar system.

Tejon: 216,000 sq. ft. at 1,800 kW; 7,980 panels generating 2.8 million kWh/year

As you can see, the distribution center in Tejon, not the retail stores, has the lion’s share of the investment.

Alex Nicolson
Solar Consultant
Burbank CA


The Next Revolution in Green and Solar Energy

Discarding Outdated Fossil Fuel Accounting Practices

The green revolution and in particular, renewable energy products such as solar power, wind turbines, geothermal and algae based fuels are not waiting for viable technology; it already exists in many forms. What they are waiting for is a massive sea change in our antiquated financial accounting systems.

Continue reading “The Next Revolution in Green and Solar Energy”