What should you consider before having solar panels installed in San Diego ? How should you decide which installation company is right for you? What type of solar should you choose? photovoltaic or solar thermal? Are there upkeep or maintenance costs?
All of these are valid and common questions when considering solar panels. It’s a big investment and so it’s understandable that you will have questions and concerns. I’ve collated some basic knowledge, tips and advice on how to ensure you find a good company to install your solar panels and highlight some of the points you should consider when having photovoltaic panels installed at your property.
1. MCS Approved Installers
Firstly, and most importantly, ensure that your chosen installer is an “MCS approved installer”. MCS stands for Microgeneration Certification Scheme and it is an indication to consumers that the installer has been assessed and adheres to standards and regulations that are set by the MCS.
MCS Approved Installers are awarded certification as a result of a thorough assessment of the supply, design, installation, set-to-work and commissioning of renewable microgeneration technologies, solar panels.
2. MCS Approved Solar Panels
Alongside MCS Approved installers, make sure that your panels are also MCS approved. MCS Approved Solar Panels also undergo rigorous standards.
To receive certification, MCS Approved Solar Panels not only receive product testing, but the manufacturing processes, materials, procedures and staff training also undergo assessment. Certification is only awarded if every step and stage meets the criteria.
3. NIC EIC Certification
All electricians who provide services in the UK should be NIC EIC certified. Solar installers are no different and you should make sure the company you choose has received certification. You will then be safe in the knowledge that your system complies with national safety requirements as stipulated by the governing body responsible NIC EIC certification.
4. Solar Panel Quotes
Don’t rely on the first or cheapest company you find – ask for quotes from a number solar installation companies, and let the companies know that you plan to do this. This should help ensure that you receive competitive quotes and it also gives you a benchmark from which you can compare quotes against quotes. It might give you some leverage to “play” companies off against one another to get that quote figure knocked down a little. Companies only exist to make money, so they won’t want to lose a potential customer.
Talk to companies who visit your property to provide you with quotes and ask plenty of questions. This will give better understanding and knowledge of what to expect and what you are told. Consider all your quotes before committing to any one in particular.
5. Cheapest Doesn’t Mean Best
As with most things in life, the cheapest quote you can find won’t necessarily get you the best end result. That doesn’t mean you should opt for the most expensive solar panels either. Find a quote which you feel is fair and just as importantly, choose a company that you feel comfortable about dealing with, a company who answers your questions and takes time to explain the technical side of things in a manner that you understand.
This doesn’t just apply to the company’s bottom line figure, but also the individual materials and equipment the company quotes for. If you haven’t been provided with a detail or itemised quote, ask for one. This way, you will know what equipment and materials you are paying for, and you can compare this to your other quotes.
The technology is constantly evolving and in terms of energy generation for the masses, it is still quite new so there will always be improvements and enhancements being made. Ask your company what products they will be using for your install and take some time to do some background research on them: Are there any problems with the panels? Are there newer versions? Is the price about right? Are there any forums which advise for or against them? Learn about solar panel technology and the terminology used, this will help you avoid being “blinded” by jargon.
7. Calculate Potential Feed in Tariff Earnings
The Government’s Feed in Tariff has been extremely influential in the popularity of solar panels. You get paid for all electricity generated from your solar panels, even if you consume it personally. As a general overview, from 3rd March 2012, the rate is 21p/kWh and then from 1st July 2012 the rate of return will be between 16.5p/kWh – 13.6p/kWh. This rate will depend on the number of panel installations completed between March and April 2012. You can also use one of the many online calculators to see how much money you could be earning on your potential investment.
The Feed in Tariff means that whilst your initial investment may be a big outlay, not only will you save money on your energy bills, but you will also generate an income. This takes the investment in solar panels way beyond most returns from other “normal” monetary investments. If you have money invested in savings accounts, maybe consider solar panels.
8. Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic Panels
Take some time to decide whether solar thermal or photovoltaic systems would be more beneficial to your property. Solar thermal generates hot water, whilst photovoltaic panels will generate electricity.
If you are unsure as to the system you want, contact companies and ask which system they would recommend. There’s no reason why you cannot have both systems installed and if you decide that solar thermal panels are your best option, still consider photovoltaic panels, if for no other reason than it could in theory pay for itself and your solar thermal panel system.
9. RHI – The Renewable Heat Incentive
The Renewable Heat Incentive does not provide such a good return on your investment as the Feed in Tariff, but it is still a good incentive that deserves careful consideration. The scheme’s aim is to encourage property owners to reduce their heating energy consumption and carbon foot print by providing the following benefits:
0.085p per kWh return for 20 years
energy consumption reduction
A Government payment contribution
10. Maintenance Costs
You will undoubtedly be told that there are no upkeep or maintenance costs involved with solar, and throughout life expectancy of a solar panel installation, there should in fact be little maintenance or upkeep in regards to the panels themselves. However, the inverter, which converts direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC), will, at some point in the 25 years, need replacing. The cost to replace your inverter will be somewhere near 1000, and so this should form part of your calculation and consideration for solar panels.
Normally, solar systems will be installed on rooftops or high up above the ground in order to get the best exposure to direct sunlight especially in San Diego. The result of this is that less able-bodied people may require assistance to have the solar panels cleaned or to clear any fallen leaves or debris from on and around the panels to keep them working at their maximum capacity.
How to Build a Solar Energy System
Solar Power, Inc. (OTCQB:SOPW): Why this $1 Billion Company Could Fall By More Than 80%
When a stock rises from $.25 a share to close to $3.00 a share in a little over 3 months, it's bound to get your attention. Naturally, I became curious as to the catalyst that is driving this move and most importantly, is the share price sustainable. After looking into the company further it became very apparent that the company is significantly over valued with a market cap of $1 billion. With the stock price at $2.40 per share, investors could potentially lose 80% of their investment (or more).
The company currently reports having 334 million shares outstanding within their most recent 10-Q filing. Buried within the filings are a number of toxic debt conversions that could adversely affect the company's share price in the future.
In the second quarter of 2014, the company increased the amount of authorized shares from 250,000,000 to 1,000,000 shares. Around the same time of the increase in authorized shares, the company issued 40,625,000 shares of common stock to a non-U.S. investor at a price of $.16 a share (Source: 10-Q Filing)
In July 2014 the Company issued a large number of shares via a convertible bond and a private placement at a deep discount. 68,750,000 shares of common stock were issued at $.16 per share along with another 26,562,500 shares of common stock at $.16 per share.
Since the period ending June 30, the company entered into yet another agreement to sell 92,620,000 shares of common stock at a price of $.27 per share. This private placement was concluded on September 17 and increased the number of outstanding shares to a total of 426,771,956 shares.
In total, the company has issued 135,937,500 shares of common stock since May at a price of $.16 per share along with another 92,620,000 shares at a price of $.27 per share. During this same time, the share price has increased from $.20 per share to $2.40 per share, and increase of over 1000%. Since the 92 million private placement took place after the period ending on June 30, 2014, the actual number of outstanding shares is over 425 million shares. At a closing price of $2.40, this puts the current market cap of Solar Power, Inc. over $1,000,000,000.
LDK Solar Co. owns 42.4% of the Company's outstanding shares as of August 19, 2014. On October 21, LDK Solar Co. filed for bankruptcy. Despite the large number of positive press releases produced by the company, they have failed to disclose this material fact.
In addition to the bankruptcy of the Company's parent company and majority shareholder, the Company also has accounts payable due to LDK Solar Co. of $38.7 million. The Company admits within their filings that should LDK Solar demand payment (which is likely due to their bankruptcy filing), that they do not have the ability to make payment without additional sources of financing. With the recent increase in authorized shares, it can be reasonably concluded that Solar Power Inc. will need to dilute shareholders even further in the future.
(Source: 10-Q Filing)
Solar Power Inc. lists their phone number at otcmarkets.com as well as their own website at solarpowerinc.com. The two phone numbers listed are 916-770-8100 and 800-548-8767. Both of these phone numbers will not connect you to the company and will instead put you into a voicemail for a "Susan Carter." Susan Carter appears to have no affiliation with the company whatsoever.
With 426 million shares outstanding, the current market cap of Solar Power, Inc. is over $1 Billion and the company does not even maintain a working phone number. For this reason, along with the many other red flags that exist, we urge investors to take profits immediately before it's too late. Also, with the number of red flags that exist along with the billion dollar market cap of the company, it is very likely regulators will take notice which will then put the stock at a serious risk of a halt.
Disclosure: The author has no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
The author wrote this article themselves, and it expresses their own opinions. The author is not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). The author has no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
Editor's Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major U.S. exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.
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