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Can’t We All Just Go Solar?

May 1, 2012 by Amy Bowman in Solar Stories with 0 Comments

I bet that if you asked a room full of people – any people – if cost wasn’t a consideration (which, as many of you already know, it isn’t) would they go solar, a significant majority of them would raise their hands.

Most people like the idea of solar – It’s clean! It’s green! It’s renewable! It offers independence! Unfortunately for solar installers like Real Goods Solar – and for the environment – there are a lot of other variables that go into determining if solar is right for your home.

  1. Your view of the sunrise (aka your home’s orientation)
    Your view of the sunriseEveryone knows the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. And just about everyone’s house gets at least some sun. But having a sunny house and having the sun go over your house to optimize production on solar panels on your roof don’t always go hand in hand. The bright side: while there is no question that south is the best orientation and will produce the most electricity in the northern hemisphere, new panel and inverter technology and appropriate analysis mean that homes with other orientations can benefit from solar.
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  3. Your beautiful backyard (aka solar panel shading)
    Trees! We all love trees! They produce oxygen and they are beautiful and leafy. Some people choose their home based on its proximity to old growth trees. And, while having trees on your property won’t preclude you from going solar, it may make it more challenging. The good news is that unless a tree produces substantial shade over your solar panels, it won’t need more than a trim. Your solar provider will use specialized tools to measure any shade prior to designing your system to ensure that maximum production will be achieved without having to cut down any trees. Additionally, there are many tools – like micro-inverters – on the market today that can help minimize the effects of shade on your panels.
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  5. Location, location, location (aka state and local incentives)
    As of 2011, California had installed over 1,022MW of solar. New Jersey had installed the second largest capacity, with 260MW. California’s solar installations account for almost 50% of the entire national market. A significant reason for these data points have to do with state renewable energy programs. Fortunately, solar affordability is no longer dependent on state rebates. Sure, subsidies can make anything more affordable, including solar. But home solar power is cost-effective even without government incentives. As solar financing continues to evolve, solar electricity is becoming affordable to more and more homeowners. And as the price of utility-sourced electricity goes up and the price of solar comes down, solar electricity moves toward grid parity – the point at which it will cost the same or less than utility power with no subsidies at all.
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    So even though solar may not work for everyone that puts up their hand, it is becoming more viable for more people every day.

    Want to find out if solar is right for your home? Contact a Real Goods Solar Power Consultant today to schedule your free solar evaluation.

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  • Leasing cost speculation - Smart Car of America Forums : Smart Car Forum: [...] While we're on the subject ... Contest where you can win a smart electric drive (3 year lease) plus a solar recharging station which is pretty cool ... only negative I see is that it's limited to who all can enter ... as I don't personally live in any of those states I'm out. Have often thought of adding solar panels to offset my electricity cost but being in the Midwest as well as house facing the wrong way and the looong payback I'll stick to my soon to be new 4.96 cents/kWh fixed rate which isn't 'free' but not bad ... "The sweepstakes is open to residents of CA, CO, CT, MA, NJ, and VT age 21+, and runs through September 30, 2013 at 6:00pm PDT." Real Goods Solar Smart Electric Sweepstakes | Real Goods [...]
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  • Harry Simmelink: I agree, but people need to understand that adding Solar to their home is an asset that will increase the actual value of their property if / when they choose to sell. With the environment the way it is going we are unable to ignore any product that offers free energy at no cost to both the buyer and more significantly the earth!
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  • Carina Whitham: I loved how Sera explained the benefits of solar! I am going to show this to my five year old who I am also teaching about the value of renewable energy. Great video!
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