Is Solar Power the Answer for Your Home?

At this point, most people have heard something about solar power and its many benefits. If you are living in the San Francisco area, chances are you probably even know someone who has solar. California boasts the largest number of homes with solar installations in the country, and it looks like they will probably retain that distinction for years to come. With the Renewable Portfolio Standard requiring 25% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable resources by 2016, solar power is only getting started. And considering that San Francisco is so progressive, it’s no wonder that they have jumped on the solar bandwagon.

With so many people around you making the switch, you may be considering joining the crowd and investing in solar. If you are still unsure, however, here are some good reasons to get solar power for your San Francisco home:

1.  Helping the environment- If you are trying to live a greener, healthier lifestyle that leaves less of a carbon footprint, installing solar panels is actually one of the biggest steps you can take toward that goal. Many of the old power systems that homeowners have are run on oil and coal, incredibly unrenewable resources that destroy the land, pollute the water, and contribute to climate change. By going solar, you can drastically reduce your emissions, plus help cut our dependence on foreign oil, the need to drill and mine our wilderness, and a myriad other bad practices like fracking.

2.  Helping your wallet– When was the last time that you remember hearing about a product or service that was better for the environment and also cheaper than the alternatives? One of the best things about solar power is how affordable it truly is, which is why customers have been flocking to the solar market. There are financial incentives and tax breaks in place to make the initial installation more manageable, after which you may never have to pay a power bill again! The way that solar works is that you use whatever energy that you generate; if you use more than that you have to pay for it, but the excess goes back into the grid (for which you receive credits). The credits can help you cover any times that you might use more than you put into the system, making it very unlikely that you’ll have to pay much.

Image of San Francisco solar power concept

3.  Cutting out the middleman– Having solar energy pretty much eliminates the need for you to do business with a utility company. Rather than having to put up with their increasing rates and questionable charges, you can opt out with solar and avoid them most of the time. Considering what a pleasure being put on hold for half an hour so that you can speak to someone about an incorrect charge is, most people will probably welcome a system in which they don’t really need to have much contact.

These are only three good reasons that you might want to consider solar power for your San Francisco home. Why are you considering the switch?

4 Simple Reasons Why You Should Switch to Solar Energy

If you live in California, it’s safe to assume that you already know about the benefits of solar power, and probably benefit from it yourself. The state is the nation’s leader in solar energy, and it seems like every day there are new solar projects and initiatives happening here. California recently even set a record in solar power usage and generation, but even though we boast so many solar energy users, there are still some people that haven’t made the switch. If you haven’t gone solar yet, you’ll be convinced that you need to once you learn about the benefits.

 Image of solar panels in the Bay area

Financial incentives

California is one of the best states for solar power incentives. The government encourages its citizens to switch to solar power by offering a variety of financial incentives to make the switch. Some programs can give you a significant tax write-off; others can help you cover some of the initial costs with mail-in rebates once the system is installed.

Aside from the discounts you can get from the government, you’ll also notice a significant decrease in your electric bill once solar panels are installed. Either way, there are plenty of ways for you to cash in if you decide to switch to solar.

Minimal maintenance

If you’re a low-maintenance kind of person, you’ll appreciate using solar panels. Solar panel systems don’t have moving parts, so you won’t have to worry about them getting damaged easily. Rain can wash off most dust, dirt, and debris that accumulate on your panels. There isn’t much you have to do to keep them running – as long as they’re properly installed, you’re good to go!

 Home improvement

If there’s one thing that today’s homebuyers like, its green homes. Homes with green energy systems and appliances sell very well, and will help make your home more attractive to buyers. Adding solar power to your home can also help improve the property’s value.

Help the environment

This is one of the main reasons that people decide to start using solar power. Solar power is one of the few 100% renewable energy resources we have. Solar power is clean and is an incredible improvement over oil-based energy systems that pollute the air and sap your wallet. For those that want to make a big difference and truly help the planet, there is no better way.

If you are looking for solar companies in the Bay area to update your home or business’s energy system, you’ve come to the right place! Call or contact us today at Sun First! We can answer any questions that you might have and get you on the way to becoming one of the many California residents who have opted for solar power.

Is It Finally Time for Solar Energy?

San Francisco is by and large a green town, one that puts more effort and conscientiousness than most U.S. cities into developing earth-friendly policies and lifestyles. But for many years, people have felt they cannot make the big jump and switch to solar power. In the past, solar power was not efficient and faced large installation costs. However, many people are saying that now is finally the time for solar energy in San Francisco. Could it be true?

Worker installing solar panels in San Francisco

For many home and business owners, the answer is yes. Here’s what you need to know to decide if solar is right for you:

The numbers have never been better. The government wants you to go green and they’re willing to pay you to do it. That means incentives at the federal, state, and often local level. Installing solar in your home or business can earn you tax credits and rebates, so before you even start to look at energy savings, you’re already facing massively reduced costs.

Solar has become easy. We at Sun First Solar are dedicated to accessible solar energy in San Francisco and can handle all aspects of planning and installation. This includes targeting the panels for maximum efficiency in your location, as well as handling permitting and hookup. Solar panels can be placed on the roof or on the ground depending on your needs, architecture, and preference. Many of these companies also offer maintenance and service, which means that having solar energy is no more difficult than having cable TV.

Offset pays. Solar energy may not completely replace grid electricity for all of your home or business’ energy needs. However, solar can offset your use of metered energy—and the math shows that it’s worth it. For most buildings, energy savings are so great that the entire cost of installing solar is offset within seven years. Since modern solar arrays last up to 30 years, that means massive savings long term.

Different solar setups will be better for different uses, and the nice thing is that more panels can always be added if you want to increase your savings later. What has you interested in solar energy in San Francisco?

California Has 4 Shining Examples of Solar Power Loving Cities

It’s no secret that people in California love solar power. Community support, climate, and business support has helped solar power grow in the state, but when it comes to helping a city go solar, the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard is the true hero. California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard required that 20% of the state’s electricity come from renewable resources by 2010, and the number is expected to be 33% by 2020. The initiative supports energy from a variety of renewable resources, but much of the state’s electricity comes from the sun.

The state standards may be why California seems to be leading the country’s cities with solar power consumption. The Environment California Research and Policy Center has been examining the way Americans use solar power, and their results may change the way people view current environmental policies. According to a report released in the beginning of April, the United States has more than 200 times as much solar photovoltaic capacity (PV) installed today as it did in the year 2002. All of this could be because the price of solar power installations has gone down over the years, and the public perception of solar as a power source has gone up. Most people believed that solar power would become more popular in more suburban and rural areas, but the report shows the opposite. Despite the fact that solar has become more popular and more affordable, the vast majority of solar power users live in urban areas.

 solar panels in San Francisco

Twenty cities that account for just 0.1% of the land area in the country make up 7% of national solar PV capacity. The amount of solar power in those top 20 cities today is greater than the solar power installed in the entire country six years ago. Out of the 20 cities that were examined in the study, four were in the great state of California. Solar energy in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Sacramento  grew in 2013, since these cities had the most installed PV last year.

This is excellent news for California, but leaves people wondering when solar power will catch on in non-urban areas. Cities have a lot of space for solar panel installations, but there’s even more space available in suburban areas and out in the country. If there were more solar installations throughout the area, electricity would become a lot less expensive, and lot greener. Support from more local and state government programs could help solar power become a reality for many people in the suburbs. As panels become more efficient, another drop in price could help solar look more appealing to others. California may be leading in cities, but there are still millions of residents that could benefit from solar power.

San Francisco Solar Power — the Green Solution to the Cost of Living

The rising cost of living in San Francisco due to the influx of commuting workers in the tech sector has been making plenty of headlines lately. It seems like everything is more expensive, from real estate to coffee. Electricity bills are no exception, and every household appliance, from the oven and fridge to the air conditioner and water heater, gobbles up power in order to operate. Luckily, there is an alternative to the traditional expensive and environmentally unsound electricity sources. Solar power can both save money and offer a variety of other benefits at the same time.


San Francisco solar power users enjoy lower electricity bills year-round. After the initial investment in solar equipment and installation, the energy accumulated by the system is free to use. This can save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each year on your energy costs.

Solar power is a great way to make a lasting “green” impact on the earth by removing your home from traditional electricity systems and the strain they put on our ecosystem. The process of drawing energy from the sun uses minimal resources, and does not pollute the environment with carbon or other emissions that result from the use of fossil fuel.

In today’s tech-dependent society, it’s easy to use a lot of electricity without even realizing it. Appliances that stay plugged into electrical outlets continue to draw power even if you don’t turn them on. And if you have an item on your property that uses a large amount of energy, like a hot tub, this will significantly raise your “energy overhead.”

Choosing the right system for yourself will take a careful evaluation of your specific household needs. There are two primary types of solar systems on the market: those that can be “tied to the grid” and those that cannot. The latter type works as its own standalone system, providing clean energy for a variety of different uses. Standalone solar power systems will be ideal if you have a cabin or vacation home that has no other available power source nearby to tap into.

Grid-connected systems are most suitable for homes in San Francisco. Once installed, San Francisco solar power systems can be connected to the energy company’s system, and any extra energy that the home generates can be sold to the power company for credit.

Tax Breaks for Going Green

Now that everyone has received their W2s, people in the Bay Area will be preparing their 2013 taxes. However, many will be disappointed to learn that they’re not getting back as much as they expected. To avoid this next year, make it a personal goal to go green in 2014. Making the pledge to be more environmentally conscious will help the earth, but also make you eligible for tax credits that will help your wallet.



Here are some of the credits that you could qualify for by going green:

Plug-in Electric Vehicle Credit – By purchasing a plug-in electric car, you may qualify for a tax credit between $2,500 and $7,500. This credit is based on how many vehicles a manufacturer has sold; once they’ve hit the 200,000 vehicle mark, the tax credit is no longer available, so be sure to find out how many cars were sold prior to making the purchase. Remember, though, that an electric vehicle is a smart investment even without the tax credit. It not only helps keep CO2s out of the atmosphere, it also cuts your gas bills completely, which can only help your finances.

Residential Energy Credit – By making some updates to your home, you may also be entitled to a tax credit in 2014. Be sure to make energy efficient improvements, such as exterior windows, heating and air conditioning systems, and/or adding insulation to keep warmth in. The tax credit is roughly 30% of the cost of qualifying improvements. Making these changes will not only get you a tax credit, but also reduce your heating and cooling bills.

Business or Residential Solar Equipment – Californians are very lucky because they are now entitled to receive tax credits for installing various types of solar equipment to their homes and businesses. This credit will help you or your company to counter the costs of getting the installations in the first place and then pay off in the long run as heating and cooling becomes virtually cost free. In fact, if your building puts more power back into the system than it uses, you’ll get energy credits that can cover you during, say, a really hot summer or cold winter when you use extra power. The government is working to support businesses and individuals that take steps to protect our environment. You can take advantage by hiring solar companies in the Bay Area to install units.


Who says that doing the right thing never gets you anywhere? When you do your part to save the earth, you can anticipate a better tax return, as well as a lot of other savings.


Solar Energy Continues to Break New Ground: Solar Cell Efficiency is On the Rise

As the country continues to embrace the benefits of solar energy, both private homes and businesses alike, more and more attention is being paid into the research and development of newer solar technology.  There are more businesses investing in solar technology, which is lowering the overall costs of production, as well as allowing solar energy to be more affordable to consumers.  Various companies and institutions are also investing into research that improves the function and effectiveness of solar cells.  One such example comes from researchers from North Carolina State University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


These researchers have recently discovered a simple and functional way to increase the efficiency of solar cells by more than 30 percent.  Researchers created a new polymer called PBT-OP, which was made from two commercially available monomers and one easily synthesized monomer.   PBT-OP shows a more open circuit voltage, which is the voltage available within a solar cell.  NC State physicist Harald Ade said “In this case, we have found a chemically easy way to change the electronic structure and enhance device efficiency by capturing a lager fraction of the light’s energy, without changing the material’s ability to absorb, create and transport energy.”

What does this mean ultimately for the average consumer of solar energy?  Ultimately, it means that the industry is only years away from improving what is already a phenomenal green technology. Living in San Francisco, solar power is always a fantastic investment given how many days out of the year that the sun is present.  When considering installing a solar energy system for your home or business, Sun First! has the experience for everything from project planning through activation of the system.  Solar energy is a wonderful investment, and can provide decades of clean, efficient and free energy.

3 Reasons to Invest in Solar Energy

If you haven’t been paying attention to the news the past year, focus has shifted towards “green” initiatives all throughout the country.  Reality is starting to set in when the average homeowner realizes that their energy bills are rising years after year.  Electricity, gas or other methods of energy not only are costing more, but really put stress on the environment as well.  If you’re still trying to find reasons to make the switch over to solar energy, check out three simple reasons below.


–       Nearly Everything We Use Requires Electricity


Think about the appliances and devices that you use on a daily basis: your smart phone, your computer, lighting, refrigerator and so on.  Over the course of each month, the energy required to keep these devices running add up in the form of an electric bill.  With our society relying more and more on electricity, it simply makes sense to have a source of clean, renewable and basically endless energy to rely on.


–       Solar Energy is Getting Cheaper


Scientists continue to experiment with solar cells, and in more recent news have been able to achieve an almost 50% rate of absorption with a new prototype.  This means that technology in this field is progressing in terms of reliability, simplicity and effectiveness.


–       You Help The Environment


When investing in solar energy in San Francisco or any other location throughout the country, you aren’t just improving your future and energy costs; you also make a positive impact on the environment by reducing emissions, reducing reliance on the grid and increase reliance on a natural and free energy source.


Whether you own a home or want to improve your business through solar energy, now is the time to act and to take a step towards the future.

Report Finds That Energy Efficient Home Owners Need to Consume Less Energy

If you’re a San Francisco resident that uses solar power, it’s pretty safe to assume that you think you’re living a pretty eco-friendly life style. After all, you are using a very clean energy form to power your home, and if you care enough about the environment to use solar power you’re probably taking other steps to live a more environmentally friendly life style. After you convert your home to solar it’s pretty easy to feel like an eco-warrior, but a recent study shows that some energy efficient home owners still have a long way to go in terms of living green.
Shocking Results
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) did a study on energy efficient homes and energy usage, and their research did show that overall homes in the U.S. have become far more energy efficient in the past decade. Don’t get too excited, they also noticed another surprising trend. The study also noticed that some energy efficient homes still used a surprising amount of energy, and some have even managed to consume more energy than older homes.
Homes that meet Energy Star energy efficiency standards are doing their part to conserve energy. HVAC costs in energy efficient homes are far less than costs in regular homes, and if the homes use energy efficient appliances the energy savings are even greater. Since energy efficient homes are on average 30% bigger than regular homes some people theorized that they use more energy because of their size, but their insulation and green HVAC system would eliminate almost any extra cost.
The Rebound Effect in Eco-Friendly Energy
The results of the EIA study were most likely caused by a green version of the famous “rebound effect”. In medicine the rebound effect occurs when symptoms that were managed by medication emerge or re-emerge once the patient stops taking medication or has their medication dosage lowered. In the world of conservation and energy economics, the rebound effect refers to people’s behavior and responses to new energy efficient technology. Sometimes when people use energy efficient electronics they can tend to use them more than they usually would because they use less energy, but their spike in usage almost negates any positive effects their eco-friendly energy can have.
The results of the EIA shows that energy efficient home owners need to be more mindful of the energy they consume. Green buildings are only one part of creating a truly energy efficient society; the people who live in the green buildings need to also do their part to consume less energy.

Faux Solar Facts: The Three Biggest Myths People Believe About Solar Power

solarpowermythSolar power has been in the news a lot lately, especially if you’re a resident of California.  Recently the California law makers passed AB 327, the law that will drastically change the ways California residents use and pay for their solar energy.  Now it’s mandatory for utility companies to buy back solar energy that San Francisco, LA generates across the state from their customers, and also expand their solar energy offerings.

Other states are also changing their laws to make solar power more accessible for residents, and one of our previous blog posts highlighted the states that are doing the most to bring solar power to their residents.   Solar power has never been more of a hot topic in the media, but that popularity has also spawned quite a few myths about solar power.  There are a lot of misconceptions people have about solar power, and some of them are making people miss out on using an affordable and clean energy source.  The next time you hear someone touting these lies about solar power as the truth, make sure that you set them straight.

Myth #1: Solar power is “dirty”

Some people believe that solar power can’t be classified as a green energy because they believe that manufacturing solar cells and solar power plants generates a lot of pollution.  Articles published in the Wall Street Journal and the American Enterprise Institute have claimed that there has been extensive research done on the issue, and that it proves that solar energy shouldn’t be classified as a green energy sources.  Their claims are only half right.  There has been extensive research done on the issue, but none of it shows that solar energy produces more pollution than its use can offset.  The International Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group III examined hundreds of estimates on greenhouse gas emission, and they found that solar energy is one of the cleanest energy sources we can use.

Myth #2: Solar power takes up far too much land

One reason why some people are against solar power is because they believe that it requires too much land in order to operate.  They claim that coal mining and oil and gas drilling requires far less space, and that a lot of the land that’s being used for solar farms could be used for nature preserves and other environmental purposes.  It is true that there are some solar farms that take up miles of land, but those big farms aren’t the true face of solar energy.

The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory did a study on solar land use, and they claimed that a 100-by-100 mile area of desert in Nevada that’s equipped with solar panels could generate enough electricity for the entire United States.  The same report even claimed that 90% of solar power plants and generators could be built on the hundreds of abandoned industrial sites across the country.  That report was written in 2003, and the advances in solar technology could make that number even smaller.

Myth #3 Solar Power is too expensive

If there’s one thing political pundits love to bash about solar energy, it’s the cost.  People claim that solar energy is way too expensive for the average home owner to afford, and for the average local and state government to finance.  The truth is that the price of solar panels has dramatically decreased over the past few decades while their efficiency has dramatically increased.  When you pair that with the fact that many state governments offer their residents subsidies and tax breaks for residents that use solar power, it looks like solar power is more affordable now than it ever was before.