Solar heating is no stranger to California homes. It’s actually been around for many moons! The technology has been evolving for many decades. Here is a brief synopsis of what solar has been up to.
Solar heating got its California start in the 1890’s by an inventor by the name of Clarence Kemp, and the “Climax”, which was the beginning of commercial solar water heaters. Then onto the 1920’s when William Bailey brought us the “Thermosyphon” System, also known as the Day and Night System. These were popular in the sunshine states, California and Florida. Then with the discovery of natural gas here in California, these systems became less popular, due to the low cost of gas. During WWII, production of solar systems stopped because the copper was all being allocated to the military effort. Once the1950’s rolled around, electricity became inexpensive, so enthusiasm for solar slowed again. With the arrival of the 70’s, oil embargo and resulting gas prices, the government started offering grants and tax rebates for domestic solar water heaters, until Reagan stopped those in the 80’s. Folks during that time had many of the same reservations about solar that some have today:
*Stories of fly by night companies just taking advantage of folks and the tax credits –
*Systems with design flaws – Many bugs weren’t worked out yet –
*Poorly installed systems that caused problems and roof leaks –
*Not enough qualified solar repair technicians –
*The equipment cost more to purchase and install and operate than the supposed savings.
Generally there are four components in a solar system.
1. Solar panels – captures sun’s energy and converts it to electricity
2. Controller – protects batteries by regulating the flow of electricity
3. Batteries – store electricity for later use
4. Inverter – converts energy stored in the battery to voltage needed to run typical electrical equipment
Generally, the average house uses electricity at 1 kW per hour (kWh). Figure that there are about 730 hours in each month, and an average price of a kWh of electricity is $0.10. So an average monthly bill could be about $73 for 730 kWh. Not too long ago, the installed price of solar panels was between $7-$9 per watt: A 5 kW system might be around $25,000-$35,000. Ask your local utility company – many offer incentives, and some may even subsidize up to 50% of system costs.
So here we are today in 2013. It seems that there are solar companies springing up all over, canvassing the streets, knocking on doors, appearing in commercials. It is easy to feel skeptical or suspicious until remembering the history that solar has in this state. Many solar contractors have the benefit of learning from the trials and errors of those companies that came before. The technology continues to improve, and the time it takes to break even on the installation price continues to get lower. There are lease options and purchase options. Maybe it’s time to see solar in a new light!
Are you wondering if having solar panels in California homes increases the value and appeal of your home? Call or email us today. We can help you determine the value of your home in today’s market. Or if you are thinking of adding solar, we would be happy to recommend a few companies to talk to about it.