Author: Wholesale Solar

Wholesale Solar of Mt. Shasta, CA, is an employee-owned company specializing in the design and distribution of custom solar systems and components. Since launching in 2002, Wholesale Solar has helped thousands of DIY homeowners achieve lower power bills and energy independence. Learn more at WholesaleSolar.com.
So When Does Solar Pay Off?

So When Does Solar Pay Off?

We’ve already discussed maximizing the ROI on your grid-tied solar power system, but when does solar truly start to pay for itself?

At first glance, pricing your solar array and determining  cost-offsets, payback period, and overall ROI might seem like a complex formula, but we’re here to help simplify the process. After reading this article, you should have a clear understanding of how much to spend and when you should expect it to pay off.

To figure out when your solar power system will begin to pay for itself, there are a few things you must consider:

  • Gross cost of purchasing the solar panels and all equipment (racking, power center, inverter, battery bank, etc). This is the “up front” price.
  • Tax incentives and rebates which can save you money once you install a solar power system. These can save you a significant amount on the back-end, at state, local, and federal levels.
  • Your monthly wattage use. You should know this right away, using our solar power cost calculator online you can predict how much electricity you’ll need to produce with your solar array, based on the electronics you use in your home and your average power consumption per month. The higher your electricity bill, the shorter your overall payback time if you’re able to zero that bill out on a grid-tied solar system.
  • Average electricity generation is another important factor - it’s often beneficial not just to provide enough power to keep the lights on at home, but also providing over the amount you need. With grid-tied systems, over-production can be paid back to the utility company, which can yield credit paid to you. With off-grid systems that have a battery-backup, this can give your home extra power on-hand should an outage or mechanical failure occur, or provide some extra juice for unexpectedly high usage (say, having guests over).

These are the basic factors to consider when buying any solar power system, but now we’ll delve into the differences in payoff period between different types of solar. Grid-tied and off-grid systems both pay off in different ways and over a different time period, so understanding the specifics of your situation.

This helpful chart from Understand Solar visualizes all of this data into a helpful chart on a state-by-state basis. As you can see, ROI on a solar system is at its absolute peak in Hawaii due to the state's extreme cost for utilities. If you're planning a solar installation on your home, this chart can provide a very helpful at-a-glance analysis.

average solar ROI per state

As a rule of thumb - the higher the price of electricity in your area, the quicker your payoff period as you offset the cost of the monthly utility bill.

For more information on getting the best ROI for your solar array, Wholesale Solar has a dedicated information page to assist you. 

Grid-Tied Solar:

Most solar customers in residential areas choose grid-tied solar, for obvious reasons! With a return on investment of only 4-6 years, your grid-tied systems start paying for themselves in very short order. If you’re producing more electricity than you need and paying it back to the power company, you can pay back your investment even faster. Government incentives pay up to 30% back, so your barrier to entry is comparatively low, and you will start seeing the difference in your power bills almost immediately.

With grid-tied power systems, this short payoff period means a much greater boon for you long-term. Power companies’ prices are only getting higher, and since most panels and inverters have 10 to 25-year warranties, you’ll be living off essentially “free” electricity for the majority of that period.

Off-Grid System:

Off-Grid solar is a very different investment from grid-tied. Generally more expensive than their grid-tied counterparts, off-grid systems give you nearly double the investment, however, as they start paying off immediately - having no connection to the grid at all and providing 100% of the power for your home (with the slight downside that the system can’t be backed up by the local grid if it fails for some reason). This minor downside is of course compensated by having a battery bank to store excess power and keep the lights on even if something goes wrong with the main system.

Installing an off-grid array using a DIY solar power kit helps you save even more money - no need to pay for an electrician or professional installer when doing it yourself. You’ll still need to file for permitting your solar array, but beyond that it’s all up to you to purchase and install.

One of the main reasons off-grid solar yields such a high ROI is the cost of wiring. If you wanted to get grid-tied solar in an extremely rural area, the price to install wiring alone can cost upwards of $50,000 - an added expense you definitely don't want! By going off-grid, you save yourself a bit of time and a ton of money. 

The More You Know

So there you have it, the lowdown on getting the best return on your solar investement. Remember, the higher your utility costs without solar, the quicker your new array will pay for itself as it cancels those costs out once installed.

Install of the Month – September 2017

Install of the Month – September 2017

A Long Install With a Big Payoff, with Larry E.

This month we get a look at an install that took a little while, but paid off in a big way for Larry E. Working for three months on-and-off (weather permitting), he was able to build a stellar ground-mounted solar power system on his property, with 24 solar modules providing plenty of power to his home.

Larry was great to work with. Easy going, confident and comfortable with DIY with good previous knowledge of grid tied solar.
- Solar tech Salesperson Zach S.

Larry had a little help for a day or so, but after that he was on his own, installing his system one panel at a time over the course of the project - although he also hired an electrician to help out towards the end. Larry has been a general contractor for 45 years, so installing on his own was no problem and he was no stranger to DIY projects!

Interview with Larry

How long was the full installation process from receiving your equipment to flipping the switch?

The project took me 3 months, but it was only "part time" - working on my solar installation when I had the free time to do so. It took a bit of time to finish since I wasn't able to commit full days of work to the project.

How many people did it take?

I had two people helping with the installation for one day, but after that, I was on my own. Towards the end, I hired an electrician to help me with the wiring and final testing before we flipped the system on.

Did you have any previous construction experience?

I've worked as a general contractor for 45 years, so a DIY project such as this was right up my alley.

What was the most difficult part of the installation?

Permitting my solar system and dealing with the utility company was the hardest part of the process. Getting my paperwork in order and checking everything off with my local AHJ was a difficult step that took a lot longer than I expected it to.

Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?

There were a couple of tools I didn't have in my toolbox: a 10-150 in/lb torque wrench, a DC disconnect, and a Kwh meter. The torque wrench I could pick up at my hardware store, but the other two items were a bit more difficult to find. 

How/Why did you choose to self-install and add solar to your home?

Primarily to save money on my monthly utility bills, the choice to install solar was an easy one once I realized how much I could save each month, and with the size of the array I installed, I expect my decision to pay off very quickly.

Larry's primary objective was to save money and make a solid investment. We collaborated on components for the system, with the Suniva sale, and it being a ground mount I recommended the 340's as it is all ground work so easier to handle bigger panels, and there were no space constraints
- Solar tech Salesperson Zach S.

Components in Larry's System:

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Questions about Larry's install? Ask us in the comments below.

Install of the Month – August 2017

Install of the Month – August 2017

A Real Contender of an Installation with Rocky H.

This month’s install is a real contender, with a difficult project that took three hard, 12-hour-long days of work to complete, proving that with a little patience, anyone can be a champion.

Rocky H., the champion in question, rose to the challenge and ended up with an exceptional solar array for his home!

An “extreme DIY’er,” Rocky H. had no professional construction background but built his own house, garage, and workshop by himself.

“There was a large learning curve as I didn’t know anything about solar or DC wiring/properties, but it wasn’t anything that can’t be learned.  You don’t have to be a licensed electrician to complete a solar system.  Willingness to learn and research what you don’t know will get you there.”
– Rocky H.

Rocky had the help of a little manpower from friends and family, as well as a 60ft. man-lift to help reach the rooftop a bit easier – with an 8/12 pitched roof, a ladder wouldn’t be quite as simple!

Interview with Rocky

How long was the full installation process from receiving your equipment to flipping the switch?

I ordered my equipment in May, but didn’t start installing until June. I had some things to install on my existing electrical systems before starting on the solar system. The actual installation took 3 twelve hour days. I installed the disconnect and inverter before starting on the roof. It took about 4 hours. The electrical inspection was two days later, and the system test with my utility company was two days after the electrical inspection. I will admit I had all my i’s dotted and my t’s crossed!

How many people did it take?

The first two days, it was just my father in law and I. We installed all the anchor points for the racking and then the racking itself. The second day we installed all the optimizers, optimizer cabling, grounded the racking system and starting running wiring to the inverter. The third day I had two more friends help. Finished up wiring to the inverter first thing in the morning and then installed all the panels. The 36 panels took us about 6 hours.  It probably would have taken twice as long if we didn’t use a man-lift. I used a 60 ft. man-lift as I have an 8/12 pitched roof and the peak is about 40 ft high. I would recommend one if you can get one. It’s much easier than hauling everything on a ladder. Unless you have a big crew.

Did you have any previous construction experience?

I have never worked in construction, but I built my house, garage, and workshop.  I’ve also helped my friends with their projects, etc. I’m 37 years old. I’m an extreme DIYer. I would say my working knowledge is probably better than most. There was a large learning curve as I didn’t know anything about solar or DC wiring/properties, but it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be learned. You don’t have to be a licensed electrician to complete a solar system. Willingness to learn and research what you don’t know will get you there. Will Burlin at Wholesale Solar was a big help. I probably came in thinking I knew more than I did, but he helped me bridge the gap on things I didn’t have experience with — like derating a panel to land a large enough breaker for my system. Trying to wrap my head around that one was interesting.

“Will Burlin at wholesale solar was a big help. I probably came in thinking I knew more than I did, but he helped me bridge the gap on things I didn’t have experience with like derating a panel to land a large enough breaker for my system. Trying to wrap my head around that one was interesting.”
– Rocky H.

What was the most difficult part of the installation?

This may sound lame, but I stressed a ton about locating the center of my trusses. You can try to measure from the end of your roof, but that isn’t always accurate. I couldn’t find them using a stud finder, so I ended up doing it the old fashioned way and used a hammer and my ear just like finding a stud in the wall. It was pretty dang accurate. Within 3/8’’. Pounded a nail where the sound was more solid. If it was off, the flashing from the anchor would cover it easily. Overthought that part 100 times over. Also stressed about handling the DC wires coming from the optimizers. Was afraid of getting shocked, etc. After a little research, I found out that each panel in the string would carry approximately 1V until activated by the inverter. The system comes in many parts and seeing it sitting in my garage for a month before I attempted the install was intimidating. I just hoped it would all fall together once I began… and it did! The way they piece the system together makes it easier. I didn’t have to cut any of the rails. They come in lengths that seem to go together for any number of panel rows. All the paperwork they gave me had all the answers I would need. There were several attachments emailed to me that I had to read a couple of time before they were clear.

Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?

There really weren’t any tools. Like I said before, I over-researched the process. I have most tools a general contractor would have, so I was ready. The one tool I’d recommend if you have a shingled roof is a Dasco shingle ripper pry bar. $20 on Amazon. It worked way better than a regular pry bar, saving me a ton of time. I found a guy using it for his panels via YouTube. You’ll have to supply the AC wiring and the breaker from the inverter to the disconnect and then to wherever you connect to the utility (meter socket, sub-panel). Any conduit needed. Metal conduit for DC/strings to inverter and metal or PVC conduit for AC wiring. I think labels now come with Wholesale Solar packages, I didn’t get any with mine (Our solar packages now come with a 55 piece pack of labels designed to meet 2017 NEC – Ed.) . I also had to supply some engraved plastic labels required from the electrical inspector and a couple from the local utility. pvlabels.com got them to me in 3 days and cheap!

How/Why did you choose to self-install?

My neighbor had a system installed by a contractor. I started asking him questions and we both thought we could install it ourselves and save a bunch of money. We were right! I have a 4,000 sq ft home and also a 2,000 sq ft home and was tired of high utility bills! Plus there are great rebates and tax savings. I’ll get 30-45% of my money back in tax credits and rebates.

“Rocky was on top of all the technical aspects of his project, he had clearly done his research and was asking all the right questions. Besides a little advice here and there, and a quick revision of the diagram, everything was smooth sailing”
– Wil Burlin, Solar Technician

What was your primary reason for adding a DIY Solar Kit to your home?

To save money.  After all my expenses it only came to $15,000. Another neighbor had a similar size system installed for over $26,000.(my system is a little larger too). I will be saving hundreds per month!

Anything else you’d like to add?

I will say I was a little skeptical to work with any solar company. I was afraid that after giving them money that I would be left in the wind if I ran into problems. Wholesale Solar really helped with everything. Everything from ordering to shipping was pretty easy. They provided all the engineering required for permitting and required by my local utility. I had a couple questions about grounding and some other minor things that were answered within a day if not the same day. At the end I needed my line diagram changed for my final inspection. My rep was on vacation, but another rep stepped in an handled it the same day. My rep came back the next day and made sure I had what I needed. There was a point were I got really frustrated with my rep because I couldn’t understand some of the technical aspect (derating I mentioned earlier) and my rep was very patient with me. I will be honest, I’m not the easiest person to deal with. My patience is really short when dealing with salespeople. But these guys aren’t pushy. They are really laid back. They don’t seem like they are pushing for a sale. They must really love solar! (We do! – Ed.) I’m now thinking about installing a system on my business office!

Components in Rocky’s 11.16 kW Grid-Tied System

Questions about Rocky’s install? Ask us in the comments below.

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Go Solar While You Still Can: Trade Dispute Casts a Shadow on The Industry’s Bright Future

Go Solar While You Still Can: Trade Dispute Casts a Shadow on The Industry’s Bright Future

Business Tactics Dimming Solar Prospects At Home and Abroad

Go solar while you still can: 2017 may see the end of solar’s rapid growth period – at least, for the moment. Recent trade disputes between Suniva and overseas solar manufacturers are set to spark a significant increase in the price of solar panels before the year is out, which could spell doom for the already-struggling American solar industry. This dispute comes hot on the heals of SolarWorld’s insolvency in Germany – the company currently survives only in its Portland, Oregon-based offices (with manufacturing in nearby Hillsboro, Oregon).

In 2011, SolarWorld was right there alongside Suniva – alleging that Chinese manufacturers used unfair practices through government subsidies to finance the manufacture of solar products at a much cheaper cost than American competitors could manage – in some cases allowing those manufacturers to sell their product for lower prices than were even required to build them. Essentially, the case alleged that Chinese manufacturers were undercutting their overseas counterparts illegally. The American manufacturers (six in all, including Suniva and SolarWorld) won that case, and now 2017 sees a new battle in the ongoing trade war.

Suniva has requested that the International Trade Commission look into the impact that imported solar cells and modules (and their lower pricing) has on domestic solar manufacturers – alleging that the competition has dissuaded the development of American solar products in favor of cheaper, less regulated foreign products. At Suniva’s urging, the ITC is taking a thorough look at the case – but if they decide to act on the company’s proposed tariffs and pricing increases, industry experts are worried it could put solar power in a downward slump for the foreseeable future.

The Price of Trade War

With the proposed price increases, solar power would reportedly be set back to pre-2012 levels in terms of pricing for equipment and 2015 levels for installation – a nearly 40% increase, which would be disastrous for many solar projects – including California’s recently-announced renewable energy initiative. Some sources suggest even greater increases – predicting solar cells and modules could rise nearly 70% in costs!

Suniva tariff price increase predictions

Industry experts estimate, should Suniva’s proposed tariffs and price increases be approved, 47 Gigawatts (GW) of planned photovoltaic projects currently in the works could be canceled – to give some indication of how much 47GW is, that’s enough power to keep the lights on for over 4,000 American homes for an entire year. And that’s just the basic wattage of the proposed systems – they would provide continuous power for residential and industrial projects for years to come if installed.

Buy Solar While it’s Still Affordable!

The only good news in this potential trade deal is that you, the DIY customer, will be largely unaffected. Low prices are a market expectation that customers have come to know and love, so most retailers are locked in. The trade war and its looming price increases largely effect industrial and municipal solar projects, which while bad for the country as a whole, have little effect on retail. Utility projects will be worst hit, and many planned projects may well be abandoned, so if you’re a residential customer whose on-the-grid power is currently or will in the future be provided by solar – now might be the time to look into a DIY system. Save yourself money and spare the politics by switching to a grid-tied or off-grid solar system to cut costs and avoid the hassle that comes with being a utility company customer. But act fast, as this trade war shows, the market can change on a dime, and you may not have long before prices skyrocket! Many manufacturers who sell to utility projects also provide solar installation for residential customers, so they may raise prices there to compensate for the difference, so don’t wait.

 

Install of the Month – July 2017

Install of the Month – July 2017

A Group Effort With Great Results - Install of the Month with Matt M.

"Do It Yourself" doesn't mean you have to go it alone: this month's install proves that a lot of friends and a little foreknowledge can go a long way. Matt M. knew what he wanted - to offset his power bill, and he knew exactly what he needed to install to get the job done. Six friends and 20 or so hours later and Matt has a fully functional grid-tied system that looks fantastic.

"The moment I got on the phone with Matt I could tell that not only was he knowledgeable, but he also had the confidence of a do it yourself installer. He came to me with the usage he was looking to offset, and we were able to easily design a system to fit his needs. He knew he was planning to build a structure to mount the panels on which gave us nice flexibility for panel layout, and allowed for ideal panel orientation. Matt's knowledge of construction and familiarity with solar made him an ideal customer for this DIY project. "
- Solar tech Ian S.

Matt's install was done on his 6/12 pitch metal roof, which proved a bit fiddly, but worked extremely well for racking the system. S-5! brand racking clamps allowed him to secure his IronRidge roof racks and mount his solar panels with ease.

A union sheet metal worker for over 20 years, Matt is no stranger to hard work and hands-on projects like this. His neighbor, a professional electrician, installed a solar array 5 years ago, which inspired him to install his own solar power system now. Matt knew he had to act fast, however, as Indiana just passed a law that drastically alters their solar incentives!

Indiana's new incentives pay back solar customers for over-wattage power (the power produced that exceeds what they use, and is then sold back to the utility companies) at wholesale rates rather than the past retail rate, drastically lowering ROI for solar-powered homeowners. For new customers, this goes into effect in 2022. For customers looking to replace or expand their systems, this goes into effect at the end of 2017. By installing his entirely new system now, Matt manages to slip in under the deadline and gets a solid 5 years of ROI before the payoff rate drops. Now, the rate lowers to an amount that's on par with most of the rest of the country, but what Matt M. found frustrating is that Indiana already has relatively cheap electricity - so the incentive to go solar needs to be as high as it has been in the past to make renewable energy worthwhile.

Interview with Matt

How long was the full installation process receiving your equipment to flipping the switch?

It took 10 hours to install the racking and panels with 6 friends helping me, then it took another 10 hrs to pull the main feed and wire everything together with 3 friends helping me.

How many people did it take?

7 people installing the racking and panels and 3-4 people to wire up the inverter.

 Did you have any previous construction experience?

I am a union sheet metal worker with 20 years in, and my neighbor is a union electrician with 20 +years.

What was the most confusing or difficult part of the installation?

The most difficult part was installing the racking and panels on the 6/12 pitch metal roof.

Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?

Working with Ian was great, he was very helpful and answered every question I had. Thanks Ian! The only thing I was missing were two grounding lugs for the racking which was not a big deal: I made two out of 1/4-20 s.s. bolts w/ a button head that slid in the top of the racking perfectly.

How/Why did you choose to self-install?

I installed myself because I had great friends that took the time to help me out, I couldn't have done it without their help.

"Matt knew what he was doing, he never once called in for technical support, he already had himself an install crew and was ready to go! "
- Solar tech Ian S.

What was your primary reason for adding solar to your home?

I installed solar because our neighbors had done it 5 years ago and Indiana just passed a law to start shutting down net metering, which doesn't make any sense to me.

Components in Matt's 11.16 kW Grid-Tied System

Questions about Matt's install? Ask us in the comments below.

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The Simple Math Behind Saving Big On Solar

The Simple Math Behind Saving Big On Solar

Solar Payoff: It’s Simpler Than it Seems

Let’s face the facts: we all need electricity.  It’s a necessity that we pay for every month.  The idea here is to pay off your solar system with what you would normally spend on your utility bill.  Month after month and year after year you’re spending money on power with no end in site.  Why not spend that money on a solar system instead with the goal in mind to never pay for power ever again!

You’ve probably heard talking points like payoff period, ROI and many other money-saving terms when it comes to buying solar.  The payoff period is how long it takes to pay off the cost of your solar system with the money you would have spent on your utility bill.  The money you save on your utility bill over X amount of years will play a key role in figuring out your payoff period, so knowing how many years that will take could be the deciding factor for a lot of people looking to convert to solar. Once the payoff period has been reached, every cent saved afterwards is pure ROI – return on investment.

The Basic Formula

To figure out when your solar power system will begin to pay for itself, there are a few things you must consider:

  • Gross cost is the sum of your solar system and additional contractor work.  This includes components like Solar Panels, Racking, Charge Controller, Inverter, Battery Bank, etc. This is the “upfront” price.  (Note: Always talk with a Solar Technician before building your system.  They’ll be able to help you with designing a highly efficient solar system tailored for your location.)  Hiring someone to help with part of the install is totally fine and often recommended when it comes to hooking up some of the electrical components to your house.
  • Tax incentives and rebates can save you money once you have installed your solar power system. These will save you a significant amount on the back-end.  You can cash in on these incentives at the federal, state and local levels.  That’s an opportunity to 3X your savings.  Now, combine that with the HUGE discount you get with a DIY solar system, and watch your path to savings quickly accelerate!
    1. 30% of the cost of your Solar Electric System and installation can be deducted from your federal tax bill.
    2. Selected states have their own additional incentives.
    3. Regional or local districts can also have additional incentives.  Be sure to do a quick Google search to find out.
    4. The DSIRE database shows both state and local incentive programs. Utility providers will have info on their website if they offer an incentive. For example, Google: “PG&E solar incentives,” or whoever your utility company is.
  • Your monthly power usage can be found in your monthly utility power bill. Ideally, you’re going to want to enter that into our solar power cost calculator.   This should help you to figure out what kind of solar power system you’ll need to power your home.   If you don’t have your monthly power usage, you can select the option to use your average monthly utility cost.
  • Average electricity generation: Under Net Metering, power produced by a Grid-Tied PV system is sent into the household load panel, where it powers appliances. Any excess power feeds into the grid, turning the utility meter backwards and applying a credit towards your bill for every kWh generated.  The utility will take a look at your usage, typically once annually, to determine if you over-produced or under-produced. If you under-produced, they send a bill. If you over-produced they offer to roll over credit to next year or pay you for the credit. But they only pay a small amount for extra power — for example, if you buy power at $.12/kWh, they may only pay $.06/kWh.  With Off-Grid Systems the approach is different.  Off-Grid Systems are eliminating the dependence on the utility grid and going completely independent.  Basically, you become your own power plant.  Off-Grid Systems require a Battery Bank to store energy for night time use and when the sun isn’t as efficient. We also recommend a Backup Generator for recharging during long periods of overcast weather and as a backup power source. These are additional costs that you must consider when using an Off-Grid Solar System, and therefore a longer wait until it’s paid off.  Usually, the goal of an Off-Grid system isn’t directly tied to long-term payback.  Normally people go Off-Grid because there is no utility power source close enough to power their home and it’s much cheaper to use solar than to run cables from the grid.
  • Additional Cost:  Before you get your Solar System, you’re going to need to get a solar permit.  Getting a permit is often accompanied by some light weight fees that your local authorities will add on.  But, there’s good news.  We have a free Downloadable Solar Permitting Cheat Sheet that is a great asset for anyone trying to save time with getting their permit.  Time is money, so considered this a way to off-set any permitting fees.

How do you equate an accurate payback timeline so that you can mark on your calendar the day you don’t have to pay for power anymore? Simple! We’ll show you:

Easy Math, Big Savings

Now that we have all the components, we can begin to see how long it will take pay off your solar system investment. let’s run an example:

A typical equation might look something like this: 12,900-4,370 = 7,530 / 1,440 = 5.3 years till solar system is paid and you’ll never pay for power again.

Based on 1,000 kWh per month usage, package #1890914, price of $.12/kWh for power.

Costs

  • Exp: DIY Solar System $11,000
  • Exp: Electrician costs: $1500
  • Exp: Permit Costs $300

Total Expenses: $12,900


Savings

  • Save: 30% Federal tax rebate $3870 (12,900 x 0.30)
  • Save: State and Local Level incentives $1500 (estimated additional state & local incentives)

Total Upfront Savings: $5,370

Annual Utility Savings $1440/yr ($.12 x 1,000 x 12)


Total Expenses (minus) Total Upfront Savings (divided) Yearly Savings = Payoff Period In Years

or based on our example: 12,900-5,370 = 7,530 / 1,440 = 5.3 years

If you’ve ever considered solar, you should grab our free Downloadable Solar Permitting Cheat Sheet.  It can save you hours of time when you’re ready to invest in solar.

Solar Outshines Coal In Uncertain Times

Solar Outshines Coal In Uncertain Times

Solar Waxes Strong In Spite of Stiff Resistance

Has the energy industry finally reached the tipping point? Certain industry professionals seem to think so! Optimistic early adopters of solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal and other renewable energy sources have long envisioned a future free from fossil fuels, and the latest outlook report from Bloomberg shows that the real world is finally falling in line.

renewable energy surpasses fossil fuels graph

It’s no secret that renewable and green energy is so named because it relies on consistent, sustainable resources that won’t run out anytime soon, so it’s good news to see that major industrial sectors and first world countries have gotten in on the adoption of these power sources over coal and oil.

The secret to any industry, of course, is cost – as prices drop, more people buy in. Whenever a new technology (such as solar panels, electric wind turbines, etc) enters the marketplace, it does so at an increased cost that eventually lowers in price as new methods of manufacturing it are developed, new resources for that technology are found, and an increase in customer demand drives the economics behind it. Solar panels in 1977 cost around $76 per watt, compared to an average of $0.74/watt in 2013. That’s a massive decrease in price over a course of 36 years, all due to more affordable manufacturing, an increasing customer base, and government incentives to help people embrace solar power more readily.

A Sign of the Times

According to the report from Bloomberg, within 4 years, solar will be cheaper than coal, with some of the biggest new marketplaces being highly industrialized countries such as China, India, and Pakistan. By 2040, the report estimates that solar prices will have decreased 67% in the US and 85% in Japan, which will allow more and more people to access affordable renewable energy for their homes and devices – indeed, entire cities may soon be powered by solar.

solar to outperform coal and oil by 2040

The Bloomberg report comes in at a vital time – with California announcing an initiative to go 100% renewable by 2045 only a few weeks ago. The drastically lowered cost of entry to install solar power is likely to help this plan in the years to come, as the cost of converting from oil and coal to renewable energy sources has been cited as a major hurdle to overcome.

The transition is not going to go uncontested, however, oil and coal are still major industries which many political and corporate interests are heavily invested in. Just recently, political commentator John Oliver came under fire from coal magnate Robert E. Murray, owner of Murray Energy, regarding “defamatory comments” made during his assessment of the coal industry and President Trump’s statements regarding the importance of the diminishing industry (current estimates place coal industry jobs are around 76,000 in the US, compared to a growing 800,000+ jobs in the renewable energy sector as of March 30, 2017).

John Oliver speaks out about Coal and it's value

The Future Looks Bright

So the question must be asked: can solar and coal coexist? Of course they can, but should they? While keeping people employed is an important factor to consider, there’s no question that renewable energy is dominating the job market with new opportunities every day. There’s also the environmental factor to consider, of course, over 70% of Americans believe climate change is a very real threat and support initiatives to stop or slow it. States beside California have gotten in on green energy initiative, in fact the top “solarized” states are California, North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey, Utah, Massachusetts, Georgia, Texas, and New York.

The fact that these top solar states include states of both major political persuasions is a major boon for successful renewable energy initiatives. While coal and oil are traditionally associated with the “red state” mentality, renewable energy concerns and affects both sides – it’s not only good for environment and has the potential to help combat climate change, but it’s also a growth industry providing thousands of jobs and also cutting down on costs long term – a solar array is a lot lower maintenance than an oil refinery, after all!

The future looks bright for solar while coal and oil’s flame starts to flicker out.  As solar prices go down, turnkey solutions and DIY solar power systems are at an all-time low, reducing your barrier to entry and allowing you to help influence future renewable energy growth on a personal level.

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SolarWorld Americas Sheds Some Light On Company Status

SolarWorld Americas Sheds Some Light On Company Status

Some of our readers may have heard that SolarWorld was facing some financial trouble in May 2017. While that is true, and some difficult decisions had to be made by the company at an international level, rest assured, SolarWorld is still with us in the form of SolarWorld Americas.

SolarWorld Americas, based in Portland, Oregon, strived to pick up the slack from its German home company and continue the tradition of providing the highest quality crystalline-silicon photovoltaic panels and solar power systems on the market, retaining a standard of excellence even in the face of stiff competition from overseas manufacturers.

The 42-year-old solar company aims to improve its services immediately with the introduction of dual-warranty protection. A little extra peace of mind at no added cost, the Dual Warranty plan goes into effect immediately in the event the original warranty can no longer be supported (due to expiration, invalidation, etc.). This provides an extra layer of protection guaranteed on your expensive solar equipment, so you can worry less and enjoy the summer weather more.

This new package, dubbed SolarWorld Assurance, offers these protections with zero premiums, zero deductibles, and transferable policy ownership – you, the customer control the policy with no strings attached. In the wake of the parent company’s insolvency, this shows SolarWorld Americas sending a clear message: quality matters, the customer is king, and they intend to keep American-made solar coming for a long while yet.

Dual Warranty SolarWorld With Wholesale Solar

This shows SolarWorld Americas sending a clear message: quality matters, the customer is king, and they intend to keep American-made solar coming for a long while yet.

So what does this have to do with Wholesale Solar? Well, SolarWorld’s Dual Warranty is 3rd-Party backed and guaranteed, meaning we get to offer it when we sell you solar power systems featuring SolarWorld products – such as our 4th of July Free Shipping offer! We always help our customers ensure their warranty info is filed with the manufacturer and guaranteed to be honored, so this new SolarWorld Assurance policy provides a new level of customer confidence, offering peace of mind at the perfect price: free.

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Install of the Month – June 2017

Install of the Month – June 2017

“Making it Look Easy” with Bryan W.

Sometimes installation is a breeze! With Bryan W., the recipient of our Install of the Month, it was just so. Our customer was familiar with DIY projects and decided to install a  grid-tied solar power system to save some money. After a few conversations with our techs he got set up with the right equipment and was able to install an amazing solar array in a short time frame, a high quality one that would help him get a return on investment.

“Bryan was great to work with. He came to the table with a good understanding of what he wanted, and after a few conversations we had his system designed and quoted. It took about a month from start to finish.
– Solar tech Wil B.

Bryan W. built his own home and did all of the wiring himself, so a solar installation project was no problem. His past expertise came in handy with installing his grid-tied solar system, with few problems to get in the way. This kind of experience isn’t necessary for a DIY solar installation, but comes in very handy all the same. With his experience, Bryan knew how to wire his system, determine wattage requirements, and was familiar with the ins and outs of the permitting process before he got started.

“I enjoy the satisfaction of completing my own projects and, of course, there was a significant cost savings vs. having a contractor perform the installation. I did receive an estimate for having someone else perform the installation before making the decision to do it myself” – Bryan W.

The layout was among the first steps in installing Bryan’s grid-tied system. Bryan found this part slightly difficult, remarking that “a stud finder didn’t work for locating the roof rafters,” so he was forced to use different means in finding them, so he could figure out the space between rails to mount his racking on. With projects of this scale, especially on an 8/12 pitched roof, it can often be handy to have a second pair of hands in the form of a friend or neighbor to help you out.

Although we strive to provide a complete DIY kit with all of the components necessary, planned out and customized to fit each customer’s needs, Bryan W. found himself needing one additional piece – a pass-thru enclosure for bringing the wiring into his attic space. After a little research, he found a SolaDeck enclosure made by RSTC Enterprises, which flashed under the roof shingles and met all UL approvals. It made for a very clean pass-thru and Bryan was able to locate it beneath the panels.

As you can see, this installation project looks fantastic now that it’s complete, and Bryan W. is the proud owner of a working grid-tied solar power system.

Interview with Bryan W.

How long was the full installation process from receiving your equipment to flipping the switch? How many people did it take?

The installation took two weeks, including inspection and final approval. I installed all of the racking and wiring myself and had a friend help with setting the panels.

Did you have any previous construction experience?

I built my house and installed all of the wiring myself.

What was the most difficult part of the installation?

Laying out and snapping the chalk lines for the racking was challenging. A stud finder didn’t work for locating the roof rafters, so I used a hammer to tap along each one to make sure I was on it and figuring out the spacing between rails was a difficult task to perform by myself. I would definitely recommend having a second person. Everything is challenging when working on an 8/12 pitch!

Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?

The only additional component that I had to research and purchase separately was the pass-thru enclosure for bringing the wiring into my attic space. I used a SolaDeck enclosure made by RSTC Enterprises, which flashed under my shingles and met all UL approvals. It made for a very clean pass-thru and I was able to locate it beneath the panels. I would definitely recommend their product.

How/Why did you choose to self-install?

I enjoy the satisfaction of completing my own projects and, of course, there was a significant cost savings vs. having a contractor perform the installation. I did receive an estimate for having someone else perform the installation before making the decision to do it myself.

“This was one of the smoothest sales and installations I have been involved with. I did not have to provide any technical support for Bryan, I am very proud of his “get r’ done” mentality.”
– Wil B.

What was your primary reason for adding solar to your home?

The primary reason was for saving money on our electric costs, but I also take pride in knowing that we are producing our own clean power and reducing our carbon footprint.

Components in Bryan’s 8.97kW Grid-Tied System

If you want to save money on your electric costs with a grid-tied system like Bryan’s, now is a great time to start because through June 21st 2017 we’re offering free shipping on grid-tied systems! Learn more here.

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California Aiming For 100% Renewable Energy by 2045

California Aiming For 100% Renewable Energy by 2045

In a time where green energy initiatives are at risk across the country, the state of California seeks to take a stand and reinforce its long history of strong progressive policies: by 2045, 100% of the state’s energy will be powered by renewable sources such as wind and solar.

SB100 passed in the senate Wednesday, May 31, 2017, outlining a transition to renewable energy, with California expected to reach the 50% mark by 2026 and 100% by 2045. Overcoming this hurdle is a major step – though not the last, as SB100 still has to clear the Assembly House to be passed into law.

The goal of supplying the state with 100% renewable energy, completely phasing out fossil fuels and other sources, is a lofty one – which has raised its fair share of concerns from opponents. Much of the initiative’s future depends on affordable prices and advances in technology over the next 20+ years, and many estimates take into account the installation of new wind and solar farms, wiring, electrical substations and other infrastructure to support them.

California is currently the country’s leader in solar energy production and home to over 40% of solar energy jobs in the US. Senate president Pro Tem Kevin de León, spearheading SB100, firmly believes in the bill, stating, “We’re showing the way forward, we’re sending a clear message to the rest of the world that no president, no matter how desperately they may try to ignore reality, can halt our progress.” If SB100 passes in the Assembly House, it will prove de León quite correct.

Perhaps most importantly, SB100’s success so far, as well as growing concerns over sustainable energy in recent weeks, has put solar and wind power at the forefront: with one of the most influential states in the US aiming for 100% renewable energy, people are taking notice!

The solar market has grown 97% since 2015 alone, and PV system prices have dropped 60% in the past ten years, meaning solar power is more affordable and more readily available than ever, and with new companies entering the market every year to offer solar power across the country, California may be the very first state to reach a 100% renewable energy standard, and it’s likely many other states will soon follow.

At Wholesale Solar, we believe solar power is a nonpartisan issue: right wing, left wing, republican or democrat, we can all agree that cutting down utility costs and harnessing unlimited energy from the sun is both good business and good for the planet.

We support solar energy not because it’s profitable for us, but because we believe in what we’re doing. Every customer we sell on solar is potentially megawatts-worth of energy provided through renewable systems rather than oil or natural gas. Every solar panel we help you install goes a long way towards building a better future for us all.

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