Cantor’s Corner: Freedom From The Power Company
by Gregg Cantor
Resident Expert, Home Pro Show
President, Murray Lampert Design, Build, Remodel
Last year I had solar installed at my home. In just over a year, I have generated more than 23,000 kilowatt hours of my own clean energy. There is no question I made the right decision going solar; it has given me freedom from the power company. It is great being in control of my energy costs and not being dependent on the utility company. With the available financing options, government incentives, tax benefits and the Hero Program, there is no better time to take control of your energy costs with solar.
For solar installation, electrical contractors are the best choice because most homes need upgrades to the existing electrical system before a solar system can be installed. Knowledge of wiring, electrical loads and electrical codes is a critical part of solar installation. When you hire a professional company who specializes in solar, the system will be designed specifically for your needs after an energy audit is performed. This will determine the proper size for your new solar system, and save you money overall.
How to get freedom from the power company
Getting freedom from the power company is not as daunting as it may seem, but hiring the right solar company is key. Knowing what questions to ask can help get you started. When interviewing potential solar companies, important questions to ask are:
- Who manufactures the equipment? Sunpower and LG are the two best two companies available.
- How much does the solar energy cost per kilowatt? This will help you evaluate purchase, financing and lease options.
- Does the solar company have their own factory-trained installers or do they use sub-contractors? In most cases, the best performing solar systems are installed by factory-trained employees.
- What is the warranty on the panels and inverter? Typically solar panels have a 20-year warranty and inverters have a 10-year warranty. With a lease, the inverter should be warrantied for the entire term.
- Is performance monitoring included? In order to realize the maximum output of your solar system, it should be monitored and maintained by the company who installed it.
In San Diego, there is no shortage of solar companies to choose from. Many of these firms are purely marketing and sales organizations or unqualified opportunistic contractors who are trying to ride the solar wave. Energy engineering and property system design is extremely important, so make sure the company you choose is qualified. At the home pro show, we recommend Jamar Power Systems, Mauzy Heating, Air & Solar, and Milholland Solar & Electric.