July 2016 | Shine Solar

Month: July 2016


Solar Financing 101

When we think about financing, we might think about that brand new car or white picket fence house that was just listed on the market.  Financing is the way we have been able to afford the not-so-affordable upfront.  Now what if I told you there was a way to finance, invest, and increase the value of your home all in one purchase?  That’s what we’re here to talk about today!  The honest, raw, truth of how it’s now possible to own a solar system for zero money out of pocket.  You heard correctly: Zero.  Nada.  None. Well it’s true, but it didn’t always use to be this way.  Until recently if you wanted a solar system there was only one payment option available: You guessed it – cash.  Now, I probably don’t have to tell you that paying with cash isn’t an option for most people especially when a solar system can cost several thousands of dollars.  You can imagine how many fewer people would own fancy cars or boats if there weren’t any financing options available.  Solar is no different – except for one point: Instead of borrowing money to buy an asset that will go down in value, like that fancy car or boat, you’re borrowing money to invest in an asset that will become more valuable year after year.  Solar panels! Let me explain.  Each year the utility company increases their rates, sometimes by double-digits.  This shouldn’t be a surprise, but this trend is expected to continue for a really long time.  That means every year for the rest of your life you’ll pay more and more for the same amount of electricity. On the other hand, when you take out a solar loan it’s short-term with a fixed rate and payment.  Most importantly, you fix the cost of your power permanently and now can introduce some predictability into your life.  No more raising rates! Wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly what your electricity payment will be each month? Better yet, once your solar loan is paid off you will have nearly free electricity for the next 30 years or more. Here’s the best part: Even with a monthly solar loan payment your overall electricity bill will be less than if you stayed with the utility company, usually to the tune of 15-25% less.
Ready for the cherry on top?  The interest you pay for your solar loan is most often fully tax deductible.  This mean you could potentially pay less in income tax which further increases your return on investment.  So not only can you finance your new solar system with zero money out of pocket, you can start saving money from your first month.  Now that’s what I call a smart investment!  Learn more about solar loan options by giving us a quick call at 1-844-807-4463.

The History of Solar Energy

Scratch the textbooks!  Today we’re diving into the history of residential rooftop and commercial solar in NW Arkansas, the US and the world.  It’s made a huge impact in our community already and it’s promising great rewards for the future.  Hope you brought your swim trunks for this one, let’s get started!
When Solar Was Born
The history of solar power can be traced all the way back to 1876 when William Grylls Adams discovered that selenium – a crystalline nonmetal – when exposed to light, produced electricity!  The experiment was hailed as “scientifically of the most far-reaching importance” by Werner von Siemens (a very important German inventor and founder of the Siemens electrical company).  Even though the selenium cells were not efficient at the time, the fact that Adams had discovered the potential of creating electricity without moving parts or heat was a huge breakthrough for mankind.
Several years after this, in 1953, Calvin Fuller, Gerald Pearson and Daryl Chapin, discovered what we call “silicon solar cells.”  These cells were a lot more efficient than selenium and even produced enough electricity to run small electrical devices.  Three years after they discovered this, the first “solar cells” were created and made commercially available everywhere!  As with all new technology, they were insanely expensive with a 1-watt solar cell costing as much as $300 – compared to our $3.00 per 1-watt today. Yes, you read that correctly.  The cost has come down by 100x! Over time, solar cells started being used in toys and radios and eventually made their way into space, via the USA’s and Soviet Union’s satellites in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  Ever since then solar has transformed into what it is today.
The Impact Solar Has Made As A Renewable Energy Source
As solar power evolved from the 1960’s, the price per watt slowly started to decrease.  In 1970 a big breakthrough hit the market due to research carried out by Exxon.  This research brought the price per watt down from $100 to a staggering $20, making solar power more accessible to all of us!  During the 80s, developments in solar power technology gave rise to smaller, cheaper and more efficient solar panels, allowing an increase in residential solar installations, vehicles and everyday household items.  Then in 1999, Spectro La, Inc. teamed up with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and developed a “photovoltaic solar cell” that could convert sunlight into electricity with a 32.3% efficiency increase.  Since then, governments around the world and in the US, have taken numerous initiatives to promote the use of solar power as a renewable energy source.
Future Prospects
Solar power has made a permanent home in our future and will continue to provide us with pure, clean, uninterrupted energy – without any of the nasty greenhouse gas emissions and environmental hazards that come with fossil fuels.  With the continuing price decrease of solar power and the ever increasing concerns about the environment, there is no doubt that solar energy will continue to grow at a rapid pace. In fact, solar power is on the rise!  Estimates suggest that 2016 is going to be a record-breaking year for US solar power installations (and we have the testimonials to prove it).
Here’s the best news: As utility companies keep increasing the price of electricity it means that solar will become more and more affordable for homeowners.  To accelerate the curve even faster, consider the fact that as more people go solar the price of solar will drop even further as solar manufacturers lower prices and increase efficiency in order to compete with one another and maintain their market share.
Stay tuned for our next post where we’ll let you know all about state and federal tax incentives that will actually put money back into your pocket by next spring.  These incentives are the secret sauce that enable solar to make financial sense for so many new homeowners!

Why Solar is The Best Investment You Can Make in 2016

I know what you’re thinking: “How the heck is solar an investment?”  If you thought investments were just for the stock market, think again!  We’re here to change the game in “investing” and help you get the most bang out of your hard earned cash – the energy efficient way.
Since the cost of solar technology has steadily decreased over the years, the power output cost from solar is almost reaching the same means of producing electricity today…and in some areas, the cost is even less than traditional power!
The big question for the homeowner is: Are the ROI and safety compared to other investments worth it?  The answer is a big YES (at least in our opinion), and here’s why:
The drastic reduction in capital cost of solar systems paired up with financial incentives from Federal and State governments make solar a great investment option.  And, installing solar protects you from the ever increasing electricity rates by locking in your price with the utility companies.
Government Incentives
The Federal government has offered a 30% tax credit off the entire cost of your system including equipment, shipping, fees, installation, etc.Some states are offering further tax credits which can help you save on the initial cost depending on your locationSome utility districts offer rebates to customers who install a solar system which can further help increase your overall ROI
Net Metering
Depending on your location, if your solar system is producing more electricity than what is being used in your household, you can send it back into the grid and get a credit in return, allowing you to lower your bill or possibly even making you money – if the sunlight hours are long enough in your area.
House Value
According to data from the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, for every one dollar saved annually on utility bills, the home value rises by up to $20 per watt.  This means that if you currently save $100 per month ($1200/yr) on your electric bill due to solar, your property value would increase in value by up to $24,000 depending on the real estate market condition in your area.
Stats Don’t Lie
By taking into account the cost of solar energy in your state, conventional electricity rates, and solar incentives, it is safe to say that solar is a great investment option for most of us.
According to data collected by Geostellar in 2013:
Homeowners, on average, can get a better ROI from going solar than from S&P stock index in more than 25% of U.S states.In 2/3 of states, solar offers better average ROI than 30-year treasury bonds.In 86% of states, ROI from solar beats 5-year certificated of deposit.
The stats above might come as quite a surprise, but that is the gospel truth.  If you are looking for a way to invest your hard earned money in a secure way, while enjoying uninterrupted electricity, solar really is the way to go!
Here at Shine, we take you through all the important steps from financing, solar system design, permits, installation – All the way up to monitoring after the solar system is installed.  We are here to protect your investment from start to finish.  Let us know if this investment is worth taking the risk.

A Deeper Look Inside Energy Efficient Homes

Efficient Light Bulbs
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the single most cost-effective strategy for reducing your heating and cooling bills is by improving the energy efficiency of your home.  There are two ways of thinking about this – you want to use as little energy as possible to power your home, and you want to make sure that this power is being delivered as cheaply and as efficiently as possible.
That’s why so many people in Northwest Arkansas are embracing solar energy – sunlight is free and there’s tons of it, and it’s just a matter of converting all the natural goodness of the sun into energy as efficiently as possible.  To maximize your solar efficiency, you’ll want to have the best possible solar panels possible for converting all that free, natural sunlight into electricity.
The more efficient your solar system is, the more sunlight is converted into electricity.  And while sunlight is a free natural resource, it’s not free to convert it into electricity.  Even the very best solar panels on the market are only able to convert 10-15 percent of all available energy into electrical power.
That’s where a good solar installer can make all the difference in optimizing your home for energy efficiency.  An experienced solar installer, (such as ourselves) can make sure that all the solar panels are installed in a way to maximize the number of hours of sunlight that they receive.  We take into account a number of factors here – the direction and angle of the roof, the presence of any shade (think leafy trees), and the amount of airflow between the solar panels.
But before you even think about installing solar panels on your roof, you’ll want to make sure that you’re using as little energy as possible.  That’s because the less energy your home uses, the smaller the solar system will be for your home.  That means fewer solar panels on your roof, and more cost savings for you as a result of cheaper heating and cooling bills!
The way to start here is with an energy audit of your home.  The general rule of thumb is that 40 percent of all energy consumed by homes is actually wasted, due to factors like poor insulation, leaky ducts and inefficient appliances.  So the goal of an energy audit is to discover all the places where your home is “leaking” energy.
There are usually a number of easy fixes – improving home insulation, replacing old windows with double pane or low-emissivity windows, shifting to energy-efficient lights and sealing up any cracks or leaky ducts.  Plus, there are simple steps that you can take that don’t require any investment at all – switching off the lights when you leave a room or minimizing the use of your washer and dryer.
The energy efficient home, then, really starts from the inside out.  It starts with all the little behaviors that really add up inside the home.  Your goal should be to optimize the energy efficiency of the home before you install even a single solar panel.
And then, once you’re ready to flip the switch on your solar system, the cost savings will impress you.  For starters, there’s no out-of-pocket money to get started – you only start paying for the solar system once it’s been installed and it has started to produce energy.  Contrast that to buying a new energy-efficient appliance or installing new home insulation, where you have very definite up-front costs!
The good news is that it’s possible to save money by making your home energy efficient before going solar.  And once you go solar, you’ll improve the energy efficiency of your home even more.  All those cost savings should light up anyone’s day.