In this week’s podcast, we discuss when it makes sense to look at expanding on the current solar panel system.  We also discuss how we are on our second round of solar when our clients move to a new home.


About Jamie Duran &
Solar Harmonics
Brought to you by Solar Harmonics in Northern California,  who invite their customers to “Own Their Energy” by purchasing a solar panel system or their home, business, or farm.  You can check out the website for the best solar energy equipment installer, Solar Harmonics, here.   Each episode we discuss questions facing people making the decision to go solar. The solutions to your questions are given to you –  straight  – by one of the leading experts in the solar industry, Jamie  Duran,  president of Solar Harmonics.   Feel free to search our library for answers to questions that you’re facing when considering solar.

Produced by
Magnified Media
Solar Cast is produced by Adam Duran, director of Magnified Media. Based in Walnut Creek, California, Magnified Media is an internet marketing firm focused on getting Google local Maps placement, digital marketing, website design, local search ranking and reputation management for businesses of all sizes. Check out their podcast, Local SEO in 10 here!
Magnified Media helping business owners master their marketing by:
– getting them more online reviews,
– getting their website seen and
– creating engaging social media content.
In his spare time, Adam enjoys working as the volunteer director of the Delta Education Foundation and practicing Jiu-Jitsu.

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Solar Expansions [Transcript]

Listen to the Episode Here

Adam (00:00):

Hello Jamie. All right, here we go. Another day. How’s everything in the land of solar?

Jamie (00:06):

It’s going great. Had a crazy as usual. We have a tons of projects going on and tons of people going solar and adding batteries and all kinds of fun stuff.

Adam (00:17):

Yeah. Even though the weather is not so good and in Northern California right now,

Jamie (00:21):

It will be, you know, it is pretty funny on a sunny days. It the, the solar energy is being created as just a astounding, so it’s really cool to see you know, people still interested in solar when it’s, you know, 40 degrees outside and, and football playoffs are on. But yeah, a lot of people are still thinking solar, which is great.

Adam (00:43):

That is good. I know. Yeah. when I get my, my PG&E bill and go gas, Oh no. How can I replace this gas bill?

Jamie (00:51):

But, Oh well. Well, there’s ways for sure. But yeah, it would be a much higher payback, but yeah. In today I would like to talk about kind of our, our solar repeat clients.

Adam (01:05):

Hey one more time.

Jamie (01:07):

I’d like to talk about our solar repeat clients.

Adam (01:10):

Solar repeat clients. Cool. Okay. What so like, huh? So I’ve obviously I guess people who come back for what?

Jamie (01:17):

Or solar or, yeah. Yeah. It’s kind of two different kinds. The first one is somebody who went solar with us originally and maybe they added an electric car or got a swimming pool or, or something like that. And their electricity usage went up and they want to add more solar to their original system. And in general, we say it really makes sense when they want to do five or more solar panels one to four solar panels, we have to get another permit. It’s another PG&E and our connection and another truck roll, which means our guys have to go out, measure the roof again and check the electrical and so forth. And so it’s, it’s kind of a high cost per panel, almost double what it would be if we did five or more where it does make more financial sense for us and the client to to go

Adam (02:07):

Adding onto their existing system. Oh, okay. That makes sense. Cause I mean, I guess they, when you are going to thinking about adding how many panels or how much, if you’re, I guess if you’re a true up comes back and that’s how, you know [inaudible] time to add more.

Jamie (02:23):

Yeah. And sometimes we get clients, they want us to add one panel and that, you know, if they could pay, you know, $2,500 without one panel, so it’ll take, you know, 50 years to recover the cost on that. But you know, if if the true Advil is greater than $1,000, then it really makes sense to kind of look at adding more solar. One of the other big things that you know, we run into is that on the first round we used up their prime roof space for the solar. If it’s, you know, we have a great south-facing roof, we get the most solar exposure and typically we max out that South roof face. So then we’re kind of, you know, for the next round we’re looking at the West side or the East side and, and we don’t get as much solar exposure. So when now we need to add even more solar panels to get to that desired offset.

Adam (03:10):

Yeah, I can imagine that it’s a, it, it’s, I know with two electric cars, sometimes our bill goes up, but I’m like, nah, it does this, the cost benefits, is it there to, to expand our system or not?

Jamie (03:24):

Yeah. Understood. And I agree it’s a, that kind of thing. But you know, we also get a lot of our commercial clients are adding onto their existing solar system because they’re their same kind of boat. Their electricity costs went up since the last time they installed solar. And they are, they don’t, they hate having to pay an electricity bill. So most of our commercial clients, we’re on our second round of solar and one client, we’re on our fourth round of solar, so it, so it’s pretty cool.

Adam (03:57):

Well, why would they go somewhere else? Right. I mean, they have a trusted provider. So

Jamie (04:01):

Crazily we get a lot of people calling us who do not want to go with their original provider.

Adam (04:07):

Right.

Jamie (04:10):

They may have you know contacted, we did have one customer said he will never ever do business with that cuss that, you know, big, big solar company ever again. And I would rather, you know, not, not to not work with them further, so we are happy to do so.

Adam (04:26):

Oh, okay. Well that’s good. So did you mention maybe I missed it, did you mention what’s the, so you said if my true-up bill is over, how much about a thousand dollars? About a thousand dollars. And then to make up for that, I’d probably need obviously more space on my roof or on my side yard or something like that,

Jamie (04:45):

Wherever we can put it. So it’s it, like I said, if we use the West side or the East side, we may have to use more panels than we did on the first round to get rid of that troop bill. So it’s a, it’s a, it’s an analysis. It’s something we look at. You know, the first thing we tell people is you know, trim back the trees so there’s no branches or shading on the solar panels and that’ll increase. We also, you know, encourage them to look at maybe going with a variable speed pool pump if they have a pool and adding a whole house fan if they are, if they have a two story home.

Adam (05:19):

Yeah, I was gonna I was gonna say that I actually mentioned that. What about a whole house fan or other ways to save electricity before that, before going, you know, spending more on solar panels, do you ever recommend to people, Hey, what about a whole house fan or something like that?

Jamie (05:36):

On every two story home, it’s my standard operating procedure to recommend going with a whole house fan. And most people don’t have them and it really should be standard operating equipment. It’ll, it’ll really mitigate the use of air conditioning during the, the heaviest electricity months.

Adam (05:55):

Yeah. I know out here in California you go up to the second story or if you stick your head in the attic, right. That’s, that’s, that’s a whole nother ecosystem up there.

Jamie (06:05):

It is. Again, it can get up to like 130 degrees up there, so it’s especially during the summer. So yeah, it’s it makes a huge difference to install one of those, so,

Adam (06:15):

Oh wow. And is there, so I have that thousand dollar true-up bill coming. Right. So you, you get, we get anyway, notifications. I have that set up. So every month I know what my trip is going to be and I can pay it down now or, or wait is so other than that thousand dollars what else should I, if I’m a homeowner, I should, what else should I be looking at?

Jamie (06:36):

Well really, you know, changing light bulbs out to LEDs instead of the high, high energy. What are those called? I don’t even know the old ones anymore. The halogen light bulbs. And so, you know, those, those will make a little bit of difference, you know, consider upgrading your air conditioning to and a system that has a sear rating. So S E R rating of a 15 or higher those are the new high efficiency. So they use a lot less electricity. Consider adding a mini split. This kinda goes back to what you were talking about with natural gas. And so those are all, you know, there are tons of ways to reduce the electricity usage. But solar kind of is there to wipe out anything that they did not take advantage of on the first time.

Adam (07:25):

Mm. Yeah. So I, I do you when, when your old client calls you and says, Hey, my, my true episodes, give me $1,000. Do you give them, you know, Hey, have you tried this? Do you or use, do use straight go to, okay, well this is, you know, the, the nuts and bolts of the money is, it’s going to be this

Jamie (07:44):

No first we do what we do. It’s like a whole nother proposal analysis. So we start with, you know, is the system producing as much as what we had originally promised. And there’s only in cases where it has not, there’s always been shading. That’s the the problem. And so we go back to chopping down the trees please. Yep. And a lot of times people are really not willing to do so. And they’d rather add more solar panels and turn back the trees and then, yeah, we go into all the different ways. Let’s, let’s reduce your electricity bill, then we can go in with solar. And so you know, it’s but then at the same time, you know, if they’re at in an area where the PG&E shutdowns are happening, it now may be a good time to consider adding the solar and, you know, consider adding a backup battery too.

Adam (08:34):

Ah, so at the same time, it makes it a little more financial sense if you’re worried about, you know, power shutting off for a couple of days. Yeah. I guess, yeah. That, that does make sense. And then financially, ah, would they be able to get that tax credit again?

Jamie (08:50):

Yes, yes. Any new solar. Yeah. And the batteries that it will cause this new renewable energy equipment. So it is a, it, it does qualify for the 26% tax credit, not the original 30%.

Adam (09:03):

So in 2020 it’s at 26%

Jamie (09:06):

Correct. And then 2021 goes to 21%

Adam (09:09):

Ah, better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick as I fired that before. Yeah, that’s, I would not have thought that to be the case. So that’s great news.

Jamie (09:21):

Well, and just the one last one on the second round of solar, I also wanted to mention, we do have quite a few clients now that have had solar with us and then they sell their house and then they move into a new house and then they’re hit with their first electricity bill and they’re stunned. Like, Oh my God, what is always, this is right. I don’t have solar. And now they’re calling us to install solar on their new house, which is awesome.

Adam (09:47):

I know if you don’t have solar right now and you’re listening to this, this is just, you know, your electric bill is just one of the things that you pay every month. But I know from personal experience, having not really pay had to pay attention to that for like the last five, six, seven years. But yeah, if I started getting you know, two, three, $400 electricity bill every month, I don’t know what I would do. Well I don’t pick up the phone.

Jamie (10:13):

Yeah. It’s jarring. So yeah, it’s a, it’s, but what a great compliment that they are happy not only to go with us on the first round, but then go with us on the second round too. We’re we’re really appreciative of that.

Adam (10:24):

Yeah. They’ll repeat customers. Great. I love them. Yeah. Round one. Tough to sell down too easy.

Jamie (10:31):

Yeah. And you wouldn’t even think, you know, construction projects that there’s repeat customers, but there are, it’s pretty, pretty cool that solar has been around long enough to kind of be through this second, second round of home cycles. Yep. Awesome.

Adam (10:44):

All right. Anything else you want to add before we wrap up today’s episode? Let’s wrap it up. Is it good? All right. That was a great one. Thank you. Okay, so everyone I know if you are listening to this, take a second, go to Facebook, follow us on Facebook, it’s straight talk, solar cast, and then if you have a question for an upcoming episode, if you’re in the solar industry and want to be interviewed, even send us a message and we’ll be happy to respond, reach out and answer your question on an upcoming episode if you’re so inclined. Also check us out on Apple podcasts. Give us a five star review and we’ll see you all next time.

Jamie (11:21):

Yeah, share the podcast too with your friends and family. Woo. That’s right. Thank you everyone. Thank you.

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