BBB Offers Tips For Homeowners Considering Solar Power Installation

solar panels on small houseNow that summer is here, many homeowners may be considering solar power as an alternative to saving energy. However, the Better Business Bureau has thrown out words of caution to customers to ensure they are well informed before they make an investment in solar power energy.

This advice comes as the agency has received several reports of scams regarding solar energy contractors. The complaints filed range from contract issues to issues with customer service.

The bureau offers the following advice to customers who are considering installing solar power in their homes.

1. Assess if the Investment is Worth it

If your energy bill is less than $100 per month, then you should consider other ways of reducing energy cost. This is due to high initial investment needed for solar energy installation.

2. Sun is Vital for Solar Energy

Since solar energy is generated by the sun, check how many sunny days you get on average annually in your neighborhood before making the investment.

3. Exercise Caution With Solar Installers

If a solar deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If an installer offers low costs due to rebates and then makes a suggestion for you to obtain credit for the full amount of the system, then that is a red flag that something is not right.

4. Ensure you have a Sturdy Roof

To avoid any future problems, ensure that your roof is in good condition before installing a solar system.

Leased Solar Panels Hampering Sales For Real Estate Agents

Solar panels on roof of new homeSolar installations in San Diego are growing rapidly every year. In fact, one solar installation company has experienced a 50 percent growth in the past 3 years. In 2008, solar leases were introduced and the number of systems acquired through this means increased drastically.

Leasing a solar system may be convenient and cheap electricity option for many homeowners. However, it can prove quite a challenge when the house is to be sold. This is the plight of many homeowners in San Diego as the leased system means that a future buyer will have to undertake the existing contract. This factor alone can be a huge factor in the decision process for prospective buyers.

Homes that feature leased solar energy systems is also now a challenge for Real Estate Agents in the area who are trying to educate sellers and buyers on the pros and cons of owning vs leasing. If it was as simple as just transferring the lease it would not be so bad. However, prospective home buyers also have to qualify for the lease of the solar panels. The criteria for the lease assumption was, in some cases, more stringent that that of the loan purchase for the home.

Residential Solar Panel Owners Face a Monthly Levy From Arizona Public Service

residential solar panelsHomeowners in Arizona who install solar roof systems after December 31, 2013 will be required to pay monthly levy to Arizona Public Service.  This is based on a recent approval by the Arizona Corporation Commission which authorizes the company to charge consumers to plug into the grid . Arizona Public Service had initially sought to get $8 per kilowatt but the amount approved was 70 cents per kilowatt of installed capacity.  This means that residential solar panel owners will pay between $3 -$6 per month based on the size of their home system.

Previously, Arizona Public Service credited solar panel owners the retail value of electricity that their solar panels fed to the company’s grid.  They also paid cash to homeowners who installed solar panels in a bid to fulfill regulations to get 15 percent of their power from non-renewable energy sources.  The incentive resulted in many homeowners installing solar panels which meant that the 15 percent compliance rate would be surpassed.  As a result, the company reduced its cash payments.


Sun Number Pioneers New Technology To Assist In Determining The Viability of Solar Energy

neighborhhod of solar panelsHome owners and solar panel installers will soon be able to use web based tools and data bases provided by Sun Number to determine if rooftop solar energy is viable in their area.  The web based tool was developed by the Chief Technology Officer, Ryan Miller and utilizes 3-D analytics to get a snapshot of the landscape. The 3-D model captures the roofing characteristics, shading from buildings and vegetation and other factors that impact local solar conditions.

Eight metropolitan regions consisting of 7.5 million properties have already been given a solar potential rating. Homeowners in these areas can visit and type in their address to see the solar potential score for their roof top. Scores above 70 are viable for solar panels.  Solar installers will also soon benefit from the development of tools that will screen out homes with a low solar potential.


Real-World Home Solar Energy System

We’ve always had a rather challenging time trying to track down  real-world wiring diagrams of a actual home solar energy systems.

One of the most useful examples we’ve found online was discovered on YouTube.  Not only does he list out what items he’s using, he also gives a diagram of the system and takes several minutes to discuss it.


Real World Use of RV Solar Panels

We’ve been enjoying the Wynn’s RV blog for quite some time.  The have had many fun adventures, and their narration of the activities are always very humorous.

The first year of their blog detailed their cross-country driving in a beautiful RV, but one that was equipped with suboptimal solar panels that were installed in a subpar manner.  This obviously produced lower electricity output than would be possible with a better electrical system.

Well, they have finally upgraded to a very nice high-output solar electric system, one that can generate 4 times the amount of their previous solar electric setup.

ALEC Promoting Legislation To Penalize Homeowners Who Own Solar Panels

Solar panels on roofThe American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) will be seeking to promote a number of legislation at their next policy summit, in a bid to stifle the use of renewable sources of energy.  Topping their agenda is the imposition of penalties on homeowners who install their own solar panels, as well as blocking the Environmental Protection Agency.  The group views homeowners who install their own solar panels as free riders as they are not paying for the infrastructure that they use.

There will be over 800 state legislators in attendance at the meeting.  The group is aiming to provide resolutions that will prevent President Obama from using the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce the green house gases emitted by power plants.  The plans also aim to prevent state governments from promoting renewable sources of energy.

ALEC’s main sights are however set on state Renewable Portfolio Standards.  Under the Renewable Portfolio Standards, electricity companies are required to use renewable energy to power their operations.  In 2012, ALEC drafted a model pushing for the abolition of RPS but failed in its attempt.  Despite that, the group has a new strategy to weaken the pro-clean energy laws.


Toshiba Set to Venture In Solar Power Business

Solar Panels 1Japanese engineering and electronics company Toshiba, will be venturing into the solar power business.  The project is set to launch in March 2014 in Germany with the installation of photovoltaic (PV) systems in some apartment buildings operated by a German real estate company.

Germany is seeking to deregulate their energy market following a yearly spike in consumer electricity bills. Independent power providers are now able to deliver electricity.  Toshiba will be one of the companies participating in Germany’s reformation of power generation and transmission and will operate a consumption model that will alleviate the burden on the regional grid.

The power generated by Toshiba’s PV systems will be sold to apartment residents at a lower rate than what is normally charged by the electricity companies.  The company plans initiate the project with 3 megawatt solar systems and later expand to 100 megawatts by 2016.