Category: Solar News

A1A Solar

Get off the Grid

Get off the Grid

Solar plus storage is smart

Don’t let utility electric have the advantage.

Under Florida law, privately owned utilities are required to “net-meter.” This means that they pay solar customers for excess electricity essentially the same rate that they charge them. JEA, Jacksonville’s largest utility provider, is not privately owned, and they changed their net-metering policy effective April 1, 2018. Honest solar salespeople understand the impacts of this policy shift and explains this information to new customers. Out of town companies frequently either do not know or care, and this leads to both misconceptions and disastrous results.

 

What does it mean?

Harness the power of the sun.

With most systems during peak sunlight hours, between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM solar will power the house and still be generating considerable excess electricity. This electricity has no where to go but either back to the grid, or to a battery storage unit.

If the electricity goes back to the grid, the meter will spin backwards, and JEA will credit the homeowner at 3.25 cents per kWh. They charge a weighted rate of 12 cents per kWh, though. That means they’re paying wholesale, and charging retail.

A1A Solar strongly recommends adding storage

Home with Tesla Powerwall

For this reason, A1A Solar strongly recommends adding storage to new installs within JEA service area. By adding storage to the solar system, homeowners capture the excess energy during peak sun hours, and draw from the battery during the evening. This preserves the economic benefits of solar for the homeowner, and it’s good for the environment since the more energy that is self-consumed the less coal gets burned.

Solar but no battery?

Renewable energy industry detail with photovoltaic panel

Alternatively, if you elect not to install a battery system but still want solar, we can design a smaller PV system which minimizes the amount of electricity sold back to JEA. For most customers without batteries, self-consumption accounts for roughly 2/3 of solar production. For this reason, we would recommend a PV system that did not exceed  66% of your current usage. In this scenario, you would want to maximize your solar harvest by running your a/c during the day, doing laundry during daylight hours so that you would be using the electricity you are generating rather than selling it back to JEA at a reduced rate.

Many companies do not bother to tell potential customers about the impacts of JEA policy upon new solar installations, and offer blatantly misleading proposals which show a much greater offset than the customer will actually see.

A1A Solar strives to over-deliver and under-promise, and as part of this philosophy, we use sophisticated software which provides a detailed production and financial analysis for our customers.

While solar industry jobs decrease around the country, they’re increasing in Florida

Solar Jobs in Florida

While solar industry jobs decrease around the country, they’re increasing in Florida

Floridians love a hot summer day. “Sunny and 75” is a motto we know and love. When the weather reaches 50 degrees, we’re reaching for our winter coats. So, solar power seems like a no-brainer to meet the energy needs of any Floridian. In the last year, there has been a significant increase in solar industry jobs in Florida due to a high demand for solar energy systems. Across the rest of the nation, however, solar industry jobs last year decreased. The U.S. as a whole shows a 3.2 percent decrease in solar industry jobs, whereas the number of jobs in Florida have increased by 21 percent. The Solar Foundation believes that the decline in jobs in the U.S. came from a pause in work due to a petition about new tariffs on solar panels and cells. However, in spite of that petition, Florida is seeing more high-profile solar projects.

Florida is now in second place for states with the highest number of solar industry jobs, with 10,358 people employed in the solar energy industry. California is first, with 76,838 people working in solar-related jobs.

Statisticians predict solar industry jobs will continue to increase in Florida over the next few years. JEA has planned for five new solar facilities by 2022, and it plans to increase its solar capacity from 39 megawatts to 289 megawatts by that time. JinkoSolar will employ 200 people at its new plant at Cecil Commerce Center. Another solar employer is Florida Power and Light Co., which has 18 plants in Florida.

Despite current trends across the U.S., The Solar Foundation shared a report that predicted jobs in the industry will increase in 2019 by 7 percent. And by 2026, employment in the solar energy industry will increase by 63.4 percent.

Solar tax credit: Why 2019 is the year to think wise and solarize

Solar Tax Credit

Panel of the solar batteries in the garden.

Why 2019 is the year to think wise and solarize to save big on your taxes.

In 2005, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act, a law that, among other things, allows a federal tax credit for up to 30 percent of the cost of a new solar energy system for a commercial or residential property, including installation fees. Originally set to expire in 2007, the credit now extends until 2021 for residential solar energy systems, with benefits for commercial solar energy systems continuing beyond 2022.

However, there’s a catch. Starting in 2020, the amount you can save on a newly installed solar energy system will decrease. This year is the last year you can get the full 30 percent federal tax credit. The percentage decreases year over year until 2022, when those with new residential solar energy systems get no federal tax credits at all. New commercial solar energy systems will get 10 percent.

Federal tax credit value per year for solar energy systems:

  • 2019: 30 percent for new residential or commercial
  • 2020: 26 percent for new residential or commercial
  • 2021: 22 percent for new residential or commercial
  • 2022 and on: 0 percent for new residential, 10 percent for new commercial

If you’re thinking about getting a solar energy system for your home or commercial property, 2019 is the year to do it.

Solar energy batteries are getting less expensive

Solar energy batteries are getting less expensive

Now is the time to purchase a backup battery for your solar energy system

A solar energy battery is a wise investment for anyone with a solar energy system, as it allows your system to keep operating when the sun isn’t providing enough energy on its own. In the beginning of 2010, solar energy batteries were rare to see with solar energy systems. Now, most solar system owners have a backup battery. What changed?

Originally, few people purchased solar energy batteries because they were expensive. Then, around the mid-2010s, solar battery prices began dropping dramatically. While there isn’t any solid data yet, many believe the price decrease was due to a huge spike in demand for solar energy systems. As more people purchased systems for their homes and businesses, they realized they needed a backup battery to keep their systems running without interruptions.

Why did the demand for both solar energy systems and batteries increase? Home and property owners wanted to save money on their utility bills and through tax breaks. There was also a trend toward being more environmentally friendly. What better way to reduce your carbon footprint than by having an energy system that draws power straight from the sun, instead of relying on coal-powered energy plants?

Thanks to the popularity of solar energy systems, it’s more affordable than ever to have a solar energy battery. It’s the best time to get one.

Solar as an investment

Solar as an investment

Why investing in solar panels can get you free electricity and more

rooftop solar panels

What’s one of the biggest reasons people make the switch to solar-powered energy? To save money, of course! Having a residential or commercial solar energy system allows you to avoid nearly every added cost and fee that utility companies require.

On average, FPL customers pay $211 every month to power their homes and businesses. Electric bills include hidden or added fees like storm charges, franchise charges, utility taxes, and discretionary sales taxes. These fees pile up month by month and can be frustrating for families or businesses on a budget.

Choosing to go solar is a smart investment that will save you both money and energy. Once you install a system, you’ll immediately see a decrease in your electric bill. According to SolarReviews, solar power users see an average of a $24 decrease in their monthly electric bills after installing solar panels.

While you’ll consume most of the energy that the panels produce, your system absorbs any unused energy and sends it back to the grid. You’ll receive credit for every excess kilowatt hour on your FPL bill through its buyback program, saving you even more money!

The system eventually pays for itself over time, and then you’re producing your own power at little to no cost for the entire lifetime of the system.

If you’re still not sure if solar is right for you, here are more reasons going solar is an investment to consider for your home and business.

Rooftop solar panels increase northeast Florida home values

Rooftop solar panels increase northeast Florida home values

Study shows a solar energy system will increase your home’s resale value by 3.5 percent

There is no doubt that solar energy systems offer a multitude of benefits. Beyond being good for the environment and providing savings on utility bills, solar panels also increase a home’s value. In the past, there hasn’t been sufficient research to enable appraisers and real estate professionals to confidently value homes with solar panels. However, in recent years, new studies have offered data that proves homebuyers are willing to pay more for a home with a solar energy system across a variety of states, markets, and home types.

According to a study from Berkeley Lab that spanned eight states, including Florida, a solar energy system can increase the value of your home by a 3.5 percent increase. The study suggests that the increased value for your home depends on the watts the system produces. The more watts your solar energy system makes, the more it will increase your home’s value. Therefore, a larger investment in a solar system will pay out more when it comes time to sell your home.

In the study, homeowners owned rather than leased their rooftop solar systems. The homes were less than $900,000, and researchers used methods to account for neighborhoods, models, and market characteristics.

Berkeley Lab’s research shows that a solar energy system would be a wise investment for your home – for monthly energy cost savings as well as for the increase in the value of your home.

How solar energy has evolved over the past 5 years

How solar energy has evolved over the past 5 years

A1A Solar shows you why now is a great time to go solar

It’s no secret that the rooftop solar industry is constantly evolving. The good news is that time has brought positive changes for solar energy. Over the last five years, rooftop solar panels have increasingly become more efficient and affordable. Improvements in the industry mean more benefits for customers.

Improvements and efficiency

Technological advancements are responsible for better, more reliable solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Five years ago, the most efficient solar panel you could purchase was 17.8 percent efficient. Now, solar panels ranging from 20 percent to 23 percent efficient are readily available to homeowners.

In comparison to the heavy, hard-to-manage systems of the past, modern solar panels produced in the past five years are lighter and do not require as much rewiring or hardware to install. This leads to quicker, one-day installations for homeowners and business owners.

New technologies in solar energy

  • sonnenBatterie: This smart and reliable energy system provides backup power and also maximizes solar use every day of the year. The sonnenBatterie allows customers to continue using their solar panels even when the grid goes down.
  • Flexible printed solar panels: Industrial printers started manufacturing solar cells as thin as paper in 2015. The printed solar panels are flexible, produce up to 50 watts per square meter, are inexpensive to make and have 20 percent conversion efficiency. However, the printed panels are still undergoing testing since they’re highly susceptible to moisture problems and could result in lead contamination if broken.  
  • Microinverters: A new alternative to traditional inverters, microinverters improve the efficiency of a solar system by converting the electricity supplied by each panel individually.

Falling prices in the solar industry

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, solar prices have dropped 55 percent over the last five years. Over the past decade, the average gross cost for a standard 6-kilowatt home solar system has decreased from $52,920 to $20,160. Quicker installation times helped contribute to the fall in prices. The overall reduction of prices enables the industry to expand into new markets and deploy thousands of solar systems throughout the nation. In Florida, A1A Solar Contracting is the No. 1 residential rooftop solar contractor, according to Solar Power World Magazine.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s report reveals that since 2012, module prices have stayed relatively stable while installed prices have continued to decline. Because the price of solar panels themselves has not changed much during this time, this means that the drop in installed cost was the result of a decline in the cost of inverters that convert solar power to AC power as well as other factors such as installation and system design.

Converting to solar energy

With efficiency increasing, more power is produced in less space. This is great news for homeowners and business owners because it means fewer panels to purchase, more energy and more savings!

Solar power for your home is more attainable today than ever before.

What’s the deal with solar roof tiles?

What’s the deal with solar roof tiles?

A1A Solar gives you the facts about solar energy

Information about solar roof tiles is all over the news and social media lately. You may be wondering what all the fuss is about and what’s really going on with this technology.

Although solar power has been around for more than 100 years, it’s only been in the last few decades that people have begun to use it on a global scale. If you’re among those who are just waking up to the benefits of rooftop solar, now is a good time to discover what’s new and how you may be able to take advantage of this important trend.

Understanding rooftop solar

Solar energy is abundant as long as the sun is shining. Researchers at Bell Laboratories created the first silicon solar cell in the 1950s to harness a significant amount of that energy. Their work was the precursor to the modern rooftop solar tiles used to produce energy for homes and businesses today.

The sun hits your roof with photons. Rooftop solar panels convert those photons into electrons of direct current. These electrons flow out of the panels into an inverter, which changes them from DC power, like that found in batteries, to AC power, which is the kind that powers your television, appliances and other devices.

How much do solar panels cost the consumer?

A rooftop solar system is an investment that will serve your home and family well into the future. However, the steep, upfront cost may make them seem prohibitive.

Purchasing a system can cost $15,000 to $20,000. The actual cost depends on the orientation of your roof and how many panels you’ll need. Since solar panels will significantly reduce your energy bill by 70 percent or more, a solar system will pay for itself in five to seven years.

Leasing your system is an option, however, there are numerous disadvantages. For example, the leasing company may control how many panels they install and where they install them. Also, if you decide to sell your home before the lease is up, buyers may not be willing to assume the payments. You are better off purchasing, so you get the tax credits and other savings.

What’s all this about the Tesla solar roof and when will it be available?

One reputed drawback of rooftop solar panels is their appearance. In other words, people think they’re unsightly and choose to forego them despite the sizeable energy savings.

Tesla, an American automaker, energy storage company and solar panel manufacturer, has created a system using a high-efficiency solar cell created by Panasonic. These cells are designed to blend into the roof because they look like regular roof tiles. They come in different styles so you can integrate them into any type of roof.

On the downside, the sticker price is pretty substantial. For the average home, the cost of the Tesla solar panels is approximately $40,000 to $60,000. Some people have already made down payments on these systems, expected for delivery in 2018.

Is rooftop solar right for you?

With energy costs rising each year, everyone should be looking to save money. Rooftop solar panels represent a clean, cost-effective way to lower your bills and to help the environment by using a renewable energy source.

Improved technology has made solar power more affordable than ever. Researchers estimate that 700,000 U.S. homes are now reaping the benefits of rooftop solar. 

Turn on the tax savings with solar energy

Turn on the tax savings with solar energy

Discover how much you can save on your taxes when you install a solar system

Installing a solar energy system helps save the environment. Did you know it also saves you money on your federal taxes? Under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, you can claim a tax credit for up to 30 percent of the cost to install a solar energy system. However, the amount you claim depends on when you installed your system.

  • If you install a system before Dec. 31, 2019, you’ll get a 30 percent credit.
  • If you install a system between Jan. 1, 2020 and Dec. 31. 2020, you’ll get a 26 percent credit.
  • If you install a system between Jan. 1, 2021 and Dec. 31, 2021, you’ll get a 22 percent credit.

Unfortunately, Florida doesn’t have a state tax credit system in place for in-home solar energy systems. However, you won’t have to pay sales tax if you get a property tax exemption on the solar energy system installed on your home or property.

If you’d like to save the most on your taxes when you install a solar energy system, it’s best to do it before Dec. 31, 2019. When you’re ready to harness solar energy for your home, call us at 904-GOT-SUN1 (468-7861), and we’ll be happy to set up a solar energy system for you.

New data on home premiums could change your mind about rooftop solar

New data on home premiums could change your mind about rooftop solar

A1A Solar provides the information you need to know

How much is your home truly worth? When you make home improvements, will you reap a fair return on your investment? If you install energy-saving rooftop solar panels, the answer is yes; they do increase your home’s value. And now, there is proof.

Researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and other institutions have completed the most comprehensive study ever on home premiums and the true value of rooftop solar panels. The study spans more than 10 years and eight states and determined that solar photovoltaic (PV) systems progressively add value. This data is very valuable for real estate agents, appraisers and homeowners.

How researchers collected data

Limited studies in the past have suggested an increase in PV home premiums, but the information hasn’t really trickled down to make an impact on the housing market. The ability to value these homes appropriately will have a significant impact in the PV housing market nationwide.

Using data from LBNL’s Tracking the Sun report as well as real estate information and comparisons with non-rooftop solar homes, the researchers conducted the study to help fill in the gaps of understanding what all the information means for housing markets and homeowners. They studied homes in Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, New York and Pennsylvania.

In the study, homeowners owned rather than leased their rooftop solar systems. The homes were less than $900,000 and researchers used methods to account for neighborhoods, models and market characteristics. You can learn more at https://www.energy.gov/eere/sunshot/sunshot-initiative.

The findings
  • Homebuyers are consistently willing to pay more for homes with rooftop solar panels.
  • The increase in value extends across various states and home types. This is for both newly built homes and those that were not new when rooftop solar was installed.
  • Photovoltaic systems can save homeowners up to $4 per watt or approximately $15,000 for many homes.
  • Homebuyers get double rewards. In addition to the energy savings achieved by solar panels, they may also receive tax credits.
  • Besides helping you sell your home for more money, rooftop solar panels can also be a factor in selling your home faster.
  • You can experience a possible 200 percent return on investment, which more than makes up for the cost of solar panel installation. By contrast, most kitchen remodels fetch about 60 percent return.
How the study helps homeowners

When buyers and real estate professionals better comprehend the value of rooftop solar systems, home prices will be more rational, based on data instead of conjecture. Additionally, the more people understand the effect on home premiums, the more they will be willing to invest in rooftop solar.

As an added benefit, the popularity of rooftop solar may continue to bring costs of installation down. With attractive, innovative financing options, rooftop solar systems are more affordable than ever before.

There are now more than half a million U.S. homes enjoying the benefits of rooftop solar. If you decide that it’s for you, make sure you hire someone certified and experienced for maximum benefits when buying or selling your home.

Other benefits of rooftop solar installation

Even if you never decide to sell your home, rooftop solar panels have numerous other benefits. For instance, as utility rates rise, your electricity bill savings increase. In fact, you’ll begin to see energy savings immediately, before you pay your next bill.

Also, sunshine is free and abundant. The more homeowners turn to rooftop solar, the less we rely on fossil fuels. This leads to better health, cleaner air and more green jobs.