Solar panels on the rooftop of a building with a view of a city skyline during the day.

What Are the Benefits and Advantages of Commercial Solar Panels for Businesses?

If you’re a business owner, the concept of commercial solar panels on your office roof might not seem like it makes sense.

 

However, if you own a building (or multiple buildings), being able to have solar panels, actually makes great sense for your business and comes with many advantages.

 

Many small businesses today have discovered that commercial solar panels are an excellent investment.

 

With more prominent companies such as Apple going to 100% renewable energy sources, it is a great way to enhance the image and appeal of your company.

 

Let’s take a look at some of the ways that a solar energy system is a key strategic decision that virtually guarantees a solid financial return for your business.

 

Commercial Solar Panel Costs

 

The average commercial property owner in California pays around $1,950 in monthly electricity bills. 

 

After a solar panel installation, the electricity bill is typically reduced to $500 a month. ­­This represents a 75% reduction in monthly costs and saving of over $17,000 a year for commercial property.

 

Of course, this estimated saving does not factor in the cost of solar installation. To do this, you must determine some numbers:

1) The size of your office in square feet

2) The average cost of solar per watt (W)

3) The annual consumption per kilowatt (KW)

 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average, annual electricity use for commercial building space is 14 kWh per square foot. In 2019, the average national solar panel cost is $3.05/watt. 

 

At the average solar price, this works out to about $18,000 – $40,000 upfront for a small to medium-sized company. However, businesses can apply for a solar Investment Tax Credit that can potentially offset up to 30% of their system cost via a credit that can be used for Federal taxes.

 

There are also purchasing and financing strategies that can bring this cost even lower.

 

Even if the solar panel system takes 5 years to pay off, it is still reducing the cost of electricity at the same time and providing a future asset once the system is paid for.

 

The biggest challenge is to determine how much electricity your business uses. For example, an office with computers, lighting, and air conditioning will use less power than an industrial factory unit with machinery.

 

The solar panel system size is measured in watts and is dependent on how much electricity you need for your business. The cost of a solar panel system is usually measured in dollars per watt. 

 

Harnessing the benefits of solar energy with commercial solar panels for cutting costs to the electric bill is more than enough reason to make the change.  If you’re still not convinced, read on!

 

Additional Benefits & Advantages of Solar Power for Businesses:

 

  • Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC): A significant financial benefit for businesses interested in using solar panels. Owners of newly installed solar panel systems get a federal tax credit for 30 percent of the cost of the system. (Some states also offer additional tax credits.)
  • Depreciation: Businesses can deduct 85 percent of the value of the solar asset from their taxes, providing another significant offset to the upfront cost of a system array.
  • Performance-Based Incentives (PBIs): PBIs, including solar renewable energy certificates, are a way for solar owners in some markets to receive payment from their utility for the solar electricity that their system generates.

 

 

Beyond these direct short-term financial benefits, installing solar panels can also help your business to hedge against electricity price volatility and inflation. 

 

In many states, the price of electricity can fluctuate significantly due to demand, or during peak summer and winter months. In this way, going solar makes it easier for companies to budget and plan for the future.

 

For many businesses considering solar, the numbers add up. Solar panel systems are a smart capital investment for businesses. 

 

With a short payback period, they can provide steady financial returns and help business owners get some relief from rising energy prices. 

 

Considering solar panel for your office or home? G C Electric Solar is the premier commercial and residential solar panel installers based in San Diego, California. Our experienced engineers and solar installers who ensure that your system will be installed according to the highest quality of workmanship available in the industry. We custom design each project based on your needs and pay close attention to all details. Contact us today to see how we can help your commercial business or residence save money with solar panels and decrease energy costs.

which appliances use the most electiricity?

Which Home Appliances Use the Most Electricity?

When considering installing solar panels in your home, it is important to understand which of your appliances might be draining the most energy.

The reality is that not all appliances are made equal when it comes to energy usage. Some use surprisingly little, while others can ring up your electric bill very quickly.

Which Devices Uses The Most Electricity in Your Home?

Here is a breakdown of the power consumption of household appliances, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA):

  • Over 30% of all residential electricity consumption is from heating and cooling. Air conditioners are one of the biggest electricity draining sources, however, modern HVAC systems can decrease electricity usage.
  • Water heating accounted for 12% of all residential electricity consumption.
  • Lighting and refrigeration both account for an additional 6%each of total residential electricity consumption.
  • Computers and similar electronic devices only consumed 2% of all electricity used by residential houses.
  • Power required to heat water, dishwashers, and clothes washers actually consume less than 1% each.
  • The remaining 30% of all household electricity consumption is from small electric devices, ceiling fans, heating elements, exterior lights, outdoor grills, pool and spa heaters, backup electricity generators, and motors.
  • Additional sources of electrical use can be from ‘phantom sources’ which is any device which while not directly being used can draw power.

How to Measure Electricity Usage By Each Appliance

A great resource for calculating your home’s appliance electricity usage is the Department of Energy’s Appliance and Home Electronic Energy Calculator.

You can make a list of the appliances in your home and how often you use each of those appliances over the course of a given month. This breakdown should give you a feel for the average electricity usage you should be expecting.

Keep in mind that if your bill is higher than your estimate, it may mean that some appliances are not running as efficiently as it could be. In some cases, it might be worth updating older appliances to more energy efficient models.

 

Offset Your Energy Use & Save Money With Solar Panels

No matter what level of monthly energy consumption, one of the best ways to dramatically reduce your electricity bill is to invest in solar.

By installing solar panels on your property, you are able to offset your electricity consumption. In some cases, you can even earn tax credits for solar installation, so the investment pays off in more ways than one.

G C Electric Solar is a San Diego-based solar panel installer. We specialize in Solar Panel installation in Escondido, Temecula, Oceanside, Del Mar, and Poway. Our solar panel installers will ensure that your system is installed according to the highest quality of workmanship available in the industry. We custom design each project based on your needs and pay close attention to all details. Contact us today to find out how our Solar panel systems can work for you.

How to Claim the Solar Tax Credit (ITC) in 2019

How to Claim the Solar Tax Credit (ITC) in 2019

If you are thinking of installing solar panels into your home, then you may want to do it sooner rather than later. The current Solar Tax Credit will end in 2022, and until then homeowners and businesses can claim up to 30% tax credit for their solar panel installation.

What is the Solar Tax Credit (ITC)?

The Federal Solar Tax Credit, which is also known as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), allows a homeowner to deduct 30% of the gross cost of installing a solar energy system from federal taxes.

The main requirements of the solar tax credits in 2019 are:

  • You must own the solar panel system by purchasing your solar via cash or a solar loan (a lease or PPA financing cannot claim the solar tax credit)
  • You owe income taxes, which the solar tax credit then reduces

One important benefit is that you can roll over your 30% tax credit to another year, so if you have already paid all your taxes for this year, you can allocate it to next year’s income taxes. This incentive has been huge for home and business owners since 2005 as part of the Energy Policy Act.

Although the Federal Government extended the incentive expiration date twice, the most recent 2016 solar panel extension in 2016 added a ‘step-down’ schedule. This step-down schedule gradually phases out the solar tax credit over a few years.

Here is the breakdown for the Solar Tax Credit step-down from 2019 to 2022:

2019: 30% tax credit
2020: 26% tax credit
2021: 22% tax credit
2022: 10% tax credit (for commercial solar only)

For this reason, being able to claim the solar panel tax credit in 2019 makes it more valuable,

Solar Energy is Good for Business and Homeowners

The solar panel tax credit applies to both residential and commercial systems, and there is no cap on its value. This means that most homeowners are essentially receiving a 30% discount on any solar panel installation they do in 2019.

In previous years, owners of new solar energy systems could not claim their tax credits until their solar panel system was operational.

However, the new legislation allows them to claim the tax credit as soon as the construction of the solar panel system is completed (as long as it is operational by December 31, 2023.)

How to Qualify for the Solar Panel Tax Credit

As long as you own your solar panel system, you are eligible for the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) credit.

And even if you don’t have enough tax liability to claim the entire credit in one year, you can ‘roll-over’ the remaining credits into future years up until 2022.

However, keep in mind that if you sign a lease or PPA with a solar panel installer, you are not the owner of the system, and cannot receive the solar panel tax credit.

If you have recently installed solar panels, remember to let your accountant know. Or if you file your own taxes, complete the IRS Form 5695, known as Residential Energy Credits,” and include the final result of that form on IRS Form 1040.

Remember to seek proper tax advice before filing, as GCE are expert solar panel installers, and cannot offer tax credit advice.

G C Electric Solar is recognized as one of the best rated solar panel installers in San Diego. We offer solar panel installation in Escondido, Temecula, Oceanside, Del Mar, and Poway. Our experienced engineers perform solar installations and ensure that your solar system will be installed according to the highest quality of workmanship available in the industry. Each project is based on your needs. Call us today to learn more about our Solar panel systems and how we can help you.

average lifespan of solar panels

How many years will solar panels last?

When considering a solar panel installation, one of the top questions we get asked is “How long can I expect solar panels to keep working?”

While a residential solar system might be about the environmental benefits for some people, but for most people, it’s also the savings that are possible. For this reason, people are concerned whether the investment in a home solar panel system is worth it.

What is the Lifespan of Solar Panels?

When looking at different brands of solar panels, you will notice a similarity. Almost every solar manufacturer offers a 25-year standard solar panel warranty. This means that power output should not be less than 80% of rated power after 25 years.

This is quite impressive when you think about it. How many other types of technology can you find with a 25-year guarantee?

Some solar panels last beyond 40 years

Solar panels are still a reasonably new technology, with their popularity starting in the late 1970s or early 1980s. This means that today most solar panels are within the 25 year age range, and some being up to 35-40 years old.

The good news is that experts are finding most solar systems are outperforming all expectations, lasting between 25-40 years.

The results of 2012 studies are showing that solar panels are only losing approximately 0.5% amount of efficiency annually, meaning if you install solar panels they could last as long as initially expected.

When you combine this long-term lastability with incentives such as net metering or government rebates,  it is easy to see why so many homeowners are choosing to install solar photovoltaic panels in their homes.

G C Electric Solar is one of the best rated solar panel installers in San Diego. We offer Solar Panel installations in Escondido, Temecula, Oceanside, Del Mar, and Poway. You can trust in our experience helping to reduce energy costs for many homeowners. Our experienced engineers and solar panel installation team will ensure that your system will be installed according to the highest standards of workmanship available in the industry. Contact us today to learn more about Solar panels for your home.

how to clean solar panels

A Quick Guide to Cleaning Solar Panels

If you purchase your electricity from a conventional supplier, then any maintenance that is needed is done by the electricity company.

However, when it comes to solar panels it’s not as simple. The solar panel system is purchased by the homeowner, and although there is a warranty on parts, the responsibility of maintenance falls to the homeowner.

Regular solar system maintenance can ensure a better energy efficiency for the panels, and a greater amount of electricity being generated for net metering and home use.

Helping your solar panels to remain efficient

Most solar panels installed today will have a lifespan of approximately 25-30 years. They typically come with 20-year manufacturers warranties stating they’ll produce at least 80% of the rated power after two decades of usage.

On top of this, some solar panel providers offer comprehensive maintenance packages for the life of their products to ensure they efficiently continue generating clean, affordable, and reliable energy for years to come.

 

Cleaning Your Solar Panels

So you’ve decided you want to clean your solar panels yourself. The good news is that in most cities, rain will take care of keeping your panels clean.

Solar panels that are installed at steeper tilt won’t tend to get covered in dust and pollen, and it will typically be washed off with every rainfall. If they are flatter, the dust may not wash off as easily.

In cities such as San Diego and most of Southern California, rain is not as common. (Remember that old Albert Hammond song?)

If your solar panels start to accumulate dust or pollen, you can easily clean them with plain water. A simple hosing of the rooftop every 3-6 months is typically all that is needed.

Cleaning with Soapy Water

If you are willing to climb onto the roof, the most effective way to clean your solar panels is with a hose and a bucket of soapy water.

When washing by hand, there can be a danger of scratching the glass, which will reduce the light that gets to the solar cells. For this reason, when you choose solar panel cleaning products, it’s important to avoid any type of abrasive cleanser. As a rule, if you wouldn’t use it on your car, then don’t use it on solar panels.

Detergent cleaners can cause problems if they leave streaks and smudges that may be hard for you to see. These can also decrease the light that passes through.

Rubbing alcohol dissolved in water can take care of any oily residue or other dirt that may have found its way onto the glass.

When wiping down your panels, you can use a soft cloth or squeegee. As solar panels are made of glass, you don’t really need to shop for specialized solar panel cleaning tools. It’s basically the same products that you would use to wash your car.

 

Sun and Shade Monitoring

When they are first installed, solar panels are placed in a location that allows maximum sun exposure. Over time, trees can grow taller, and cause the patterns of sun and shade can change. Also, new construction on adjacent properties may have an effect on how much sun your installation gets.

Because of this, during the lifetime of your panels, it’s important to make sure that they are still located with the optimum sunlight orientation.

Overall, solar panels don’t require a lot of maintenance as there are no moving parts.

Always remember to be safety conscious when inspecting your panels and if your panels are too high up on the roof, consider hiring a professional cleaner.

 

G C Electric Solar is known as one of the best solar panel installers in San Diego. We do solar panel installation in Escondido, Temecula, Oceanside, Del Mar, and Poway. We employ experienced engineers to perform our solar installations, to ensure that your system will be installed according to the highest quality of workmanship available in the industry. We custom design each project based on your needs and pay close attention to all details. Call us today to learn more about our Solar panel systems and how we can help you.

Can I install solar panels myself?

Can I install solar panels myself?

When people contact us a solar panel installer, we often get the question “why can’t I just install these panels myself?”

This is a valid question, and obviously, yes, you can do anything yourself. However, there are several benefits to having a professional installer. Here are the main reasons our customers usually decide to work with a professional.

1) Solar panels require a lot of research

If you are the type of person that loves to look into the details of every different product you purchase, then this might be appealing. For most of us, however, the idea of reviewing a whole list of solar products can be mind-numbing. This is where a professional can help. We have worked with a variety of brands and know the pros and cons of each type. We can give you an experienced overview of the best solar panels for your style of home, and electricity needs.

2) Quality of the DIY solar panel kits can vary

Most DIY low-cost solar panels are made overseas and travel thousands of miles from to reach your home. Many of them are made with outdated photovoltaic technology and provide less efficiency. If you do choose to purchase the DIY solar panels, ensure you get high-quality, top-output panels as part of your kit.

Also, keep in mind, any returns for broken or damaged solar panels may not be a simple process. Especially if bought from overseas, or through a third party distributor. While the appeal of cheaper panels is tempting, remember that often the add-on costs and risks can cause more expenses.

3) Understanding the correct sizing

In just about every case, panels from a kit designed for DIY installation won’t be as effective as a custom-designed system. This is because a custom solar panel installation is based on your property’s specific energy needs. When installing, it is important to consider what size solar panel system is best suited for your electricity usage, today, tomorrow and potentially 25 years from now?

4) Understanding the requirements of your home

A lot of the role of a professional solar panel installer is to do with measuring up your roof and considering the needs of your home. We will look at issues such as:

  • If your roof has sufficient space at the correct angles for sunlight
  • Where solar panels should be positioned and the optimal tilt
  • If your roof can bear the load of solar panels

Also keep in mind that if solar panels are not placed correctly, it is difficult to get the optimal amount of power. Over time, this may be the biggest issue that causes your costs to rise. The offset cost over time may not be worth the initial investment.

5) Getting the paperwork completed

Even if you decide on a DIY solar power installation, you’ll require a local licensed electrician to prepare the sign-off paperwork for connection to the grid. This is crucial if you are planning to take advantage of net metering.

Also, keep in mind that many of the local, state, and federal rebates which solar savings actually require the installation be completed by a licensed installer.

In conclusion: The most significant part of the process of getting solar panels isn’t just putting them up on the roof. It’s taking the time to research and plan every part of your system beforehand. The assistance of a licensed solar panel installer can help you understand how solar panels work and the basic principles in the planning process. Even though you may appear to save a few dollars up front, the small cost savings over time can work against you.

G C Electric Solar is known as one of the top solar panel installers in Escondido, Del Mar, Oceanside, Poway, and Temecula. You can trust in our experience helping to reduce energy costs for many homeowners. Our experienced engineers and solar panel installation team will ensure that your system will be installed according to the highest standards of workmanship available in the industry. Speak to us today to learn more about Solar panels installation for your home.

solar panel payment options

Everything you need to know about solar panel loans, leases and purchases

When considering purchasing a solar panel system in Southern California, it is important to decide which payment option is best for you.

There are several options that you can consider depending on the amount you want to spend up front, and if you are willing to pay interest on the purchase.

Solar Loans

Exactly like a home loan or a car loan, a solar loan is specifically for paying for adding solar to your home. You can begin receiving tax credits and incentives associated with solar. Many solar loans are now available via banks, credit unions, and solar companies themselves.

Ideal for: Homeowners who want to save a large payment up front and place $0 down, and who will be able to use the corresponding tax credits to offset the cost over time. Keep in mind that you will be paying additional interest on the loan over time, which increase the cost of the product.

Solar Leases

Just like leasing a car – you pay a monthly fee and the solar leasing company installs your panels on the roof. The solar leasing company services them, and you receive the energy they produce while saving on your electric bill. Obviously, this option is best if you are planning to stay for a medium amount of time in one home to reap the full benefits. Leasing also takes away the worry of any damage or problems with the system as the company services the panels regularly.

Ideal for: Homeowners who want to go solar with $0 money down and as little hassle as possible. Also good to let someone else manage the solar panels maintenance.

Solar PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements)

A Power Purchase Agreement is where you pay for the power your panels produce each month from a solar company, just like your regular utility contract. Usually, this is at a reduced price for the length of the contract. A solar company installs and services the panels. So essentially you are paying a reduced rate for electrical power, as well as adding to the environmental benefits of solar.

Ideal for: Homeowners who would want to benefit from the power coming off the panels, and saving money due to the discounted power rates. In most cases, the final savings are typically equivalent to a lease option but could vary if you have exceptionally sunny or cloudy days.

Solar Cash Purchases

A cash purchase is where you pay for the whole solar unit and installation upfront. The clear benefit is that you own the system outright, which provides you with a free source of electricity and considerable utility savings over time. As well as this, you receive any tax credits and incentives associated with installing solar in your state. Adding solar panels to a property can also increase the overall value of the home.

Ideal for: Homeowners who have the funds ready, and are willing to pay for their system upfront in exchange for the highest savings in the long-run. A cash purchase is a long-term investment that definitely continues to pay for itself.

 

G C Electric Solar is a San Diego-based solar panel installer. We specialize in Solar Panel installation in Escondido, Temecula, Oceanside, Del Mar, and Poway. Our solar panel installers will ensure that your system is installed according to the highest quality of workmanship available in the industry. We custom design each project based on your needs and pay close attention to all details. Contact us today to find out how our Solar panel systems can work for you.

solar panel installer san diego

The 5 Components of a Solar Panel System

Ever wondered how Solar Panels work? How does that light get stored, converted, and even sent back and forth to the Utility company?

Here is a basic guide to help you understand how the sun on your roof turns into savings and free energy for you.

To make it simpler, each solar panel system has five different components

1) Solar Panels

These are sometimes known as solar modules and are made up of silicon cells that absorb photons (sunlight) to create a ‘photovoltaic’ effect. This is the process that converts sunlight into electricity. When the panels are connected together, they are called a ‘solar array’. This solar array is then connected to your home via an inverter, delivering the electricity you need.

2) Solar Inverter

A solar inverter is an electrical box that turns the direct current (DC) electricity that is produced by solar panels into alternating current (AC) electricity that is used in your home. When solar inverters are connected to the grid, this allows the AC electricity to be sent back to the grid if you solar panel system produces more energy than you use.

3) Solar Meter

A solar meter monitors the electricity your system produces to ensure it is working well. With most solar meters today, you will have access to assess your solar system’s performance, both online and from your mobile device.

4) The Grid

The ‘grid’ is basically the network of power lines that carries and transmits electricity from power plants to individual homes. A lot of systems today are grid-tied (ie. connected to the grid), so you are still able to power your house when the sun doesn’t shine, and take advantage of tax incentives and rebates.

5) Utility Service

Depending on where you live, either a local municipality or a large power producer will send power to you via the grid. At the end of the year, if you’ve produced more energy than you used, some utility services may compensate you for this extra power. To find out if this is an option where you live, contact your local utility service provider or visit their website.
Of course, as a solar-enabled home, it is unlikely that you will need to be dealing with any of these components, except to engage a solar panel installer. They will set up and connect your home, and arrange all the paperwork for you to connect to the grid.

If you need help getting started with Solar Panels, you can trust GCE. We are known as one of the top San Diego solar panel installers in Escondido, Temecula, Oceanside, Del Mar, and Poway. Our experienced engineers and solar panel installation team will ensure that your system is installed according to the highest standards of workmanship available in the industry. Speak to us today to learn more about Solar panels installation for your home.

Is my roof too small for solar panels?

Is your roof ready for solar panels?

Many people who live in Southern California realize that having solar on their roof can be a great way to save money, increase the value of their home, and reduce energy consumption. However, with the shrinking size of homes in the US, it can sometimes be confusing whether solar panels are an option for houses with small roofs.

Is my roof too small for solar panels?

The average size of a solar panel installation used on rooftops is approximately 65 inches by 39 inches (165cm x 99cm). Photovoltaic cells come in a standard size of 156 square millimeters, (approx 6 inches x 6 inches).

The average solar panel system in the U.S. is 6 kilowatts (kW). Therefore, if you install a 6kW system with 20 average-sized panels, your system will measure approximately 352 square feet (32 square meters).

To measure square footage multiply the length by the height. So for example, a 15’ x 20’ roof has 300 square feet. This amount of space is generally enough to manage a solar panel system.

Of course, not all roofs are rectangular, so it can make sense to have a licensed professional solar installer take a look.  Most solar panel installers can design solar energy systems for all kinds of roof configurations.

Dormers, vent pipes, chimneys, and skylights take up roof space and can also cast shade on panels. However, the good news is solar panels still often works on those homes.

Is my roof too old for solar panels?

If your house is older than say 30 years, then the roof itself may need repair before you can install panels. It may be worth checking with a licensed builder to determine the lifespan of your roof.

If your roof doesn’t have at least ten years of lifespan left, meaning the shingles are cracked or in poor condition, you should consider replacing your roof before installing solar.

These are usually the two biggest reasons why people cannot install solar panels on their roof. However, with planning and the assistance of a licensed and experienced solar panel installer, this can easily be overcome.

If you are looking to install solar panels onto your southern California home, then look no further than GC Electric Solar. We are one of the top rated solar panel installers in San Diego and have been installing solar for over ten years.

Do I need a permit to install solar panels in California?

Do I need a permit to install solar panels in California?

If you’re considering installing solar panels in your California home, one of the biggest questions is whether you need a permit to install. The short answer is yes.

But the good news is that it’s relatively simple and straightforward to do, especially when you work with a licensed Solar Panel Installer.

It is essential to speak with an experienced professional, as installing photovoltaic panels without applying for the proper permissions can have serious consequences. In some instances, there can be fines, or you may be required to remove the panels.

Permit requirements for Solar Panel installation in California

A great resource to review is the California Solar Permitting Guidebook, produced by the Center for Sustainable Energy.

Since 2015, the requirement for installing solar panels has been somewhat expedited for homeowners.

The Assembly Bill 2188 (Muratsuchi, 2014) requires local governments to adopt an administrative ordinance that creates a streamlined permitting process for small rooftop solar system installations on or before September 30, 2015. It also limits the number of inspections that may be required.

To comply, you must ensure that your solar panel system meets the following criteria.

1. Are no larger than 10 kilowatts alternating current nameplate rating or 30 kilowatts thermal

2. Conform to all applicable state fire, structural, electrical and other building codes as adopted or amended by the city, county or city and county and paragraph (3) of subdivision (c) of Section 714 of the Civil Code

3. Are installed on a single-family or duplex family dwelling

4. Do not exceed the maximum legal building height as defined by the authority having jurisdiction

Most solar panel installers will know about and abide by these conditions, which will ensure the process for application is relatively straightforward. They will guide you through each step and explain what is possible for your home.

 

If you have questions about getting a permit for your home for solar panel installation, you can contact GCE, based in San Diego, California. We employ experienced engineers and solar installers to ensure that your system will be installed according to the highest quality of workmanship available in the industry. We custom design each project based on your needs and pay close attention to all details.