Solar Gain West = Solar Gain Inc.

If you’re in the state of California, you may have seen your Solar Gain representative or paperwork sporting “Solar Gain West” logos. Solar Gain West is the name of our California arm, but everyone here at Solar Gain Inc is working on behalf of our clients in both Arizona and California to ensure that you have the best solar panel system experience!

A Branch of Solar Gain Inc. licensed in the State of California

Just like our parent company, Solar Gain West designs and installs high quality solar photovoltaic (P.V.) systems for commercial clients. We use the best available products, with the strongest warranties, to offer increased output and reliability with decreased maintenance and operation cost. We improve our customers’ bottom line through targeted application of renewable energy.

Our Services

Solar Gain West has the expertise, experience and holistic knowledge of the solar industry needed to provide our customers with everything they need to integrate solar in their home or business. Our goal is not only to design and install quality solar panels, but also to give each client a tailored system with the lowest cost of ownership over that system’s lifetime. Solar energy is about more than panels, and Solar Gain West offers a suite of services which reflect that belief.

Beyond design and installation, Solar Gain West has developed strong relationships in the financial sector. We ensure you receive the maximum available incentives across local, state and federal levels—including utility rebates, tax grants & credits and depreciation. We also collaborate with your financial institution to help choose the appropriate financing plan with the best terms, whether you are looking for traditional bank financing or one of our specialized loan programs. Additionally, we perform detailed analyses to provide the highest rate of return on your renewable investment.

Money Savings

Solar Gain West uses the best products available to bring you increased output and reliability with decreased maintenance and operation costs. This means you get the overall lowest cost of ownership for the lifetime of your system. And we have partnered with some of the biggest companies in the solar industry to bring you the strongest warranties.

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Introduction to Photovoltaic (PV) Systems

Growing concerns for the depletion of the world’s natural resources and our future energy supply has increased the development and adoption of solar power. The most critical advancement in the development of solar technology has been Photovoltaics, a solar energy system that uses semi-conductors to directly convert solar radiation into electricity.

The ‘photovoltaic effect’ – the ability to create an electrical current using solar rays – was initially discovered in 1839 by Alexandre Becquerel. Since then the technology has developed substantially, with modules becoming more and more efficient and cost-effective. Much of this research was done leading up to the 1970s and was commemorated by Jimmy Carter putting solar panels on the White House. They were taken down by Richard Nixon shortly thereafter, but the pioneering solar spirit lives on as people across the world continued to adopt solar panel systems.

Due to the continued adoption, companies have continued investing in the technology, which has caused the efficiency of most solar panels to increase to between 15-20% – the rest is lost as heat (in comparison, creating electricity from fossil fuels has an efficiency rate of ~40%). This has also resulted in a significant drop in price for solar panels. In the last decade alone, priced have decreased by over 80%.

How Photovoltaic Systems Work

Photovoltaic (PV) systems consist of a number of components. Cells, normally made from silicon, are arranged on a module, and multiple modules are strung together to create the desired system size. When exposed to sunlight these cells produce a small direct current of electricity, and when used en masse will generate a large amount of electrical power with no moving parts, noise or emissions. The power is then directed to an inverter, which changes the direct current into alternating current, which we use in our homes.

Owning a Photovoltaic System

Owning a PV system allows you to create your own power, giving you control over and savings on your electric bill, and ensuring your power is coming from a renewable source and not contributing to the pollution in our atmosphere.

Solar is great because once it’s on your roof, you can just forget it’s there. Systems require very little maintenance and mostly just chug along producing power and helping you live your best life. Many installers, including Solar Gain, offer net metering programs, which allow you and them to monitor the health of the system; but you don’t have to watch too closely – the system will send out alerts if it finds anything wrong.

How Does Solar Integrate with the Electrical Grid?

Traditionally, electricity comes from an electrical utility provider, which produces or purchases power and then distributes it to consumers in a specific region or state. The electricity is distributed along the electrical grid – the utility’s network of conductors, substations, and equipment that distributes electricity from its central hub to the consumer. The grid can span hundreds of miles from the power plants to thousands of homes and businesses.

Solar systems can work in tandem with or independent of the utility grid. Most systems are grid-tied, which means they are exchanging power freely with the electrical grid. During the day when your system over-produces, energy is sent out to your nearest neighbors, and you receive a credit from the utility company. At night, when your system does not produce energy, or when you’re using more electricity than your system is producing, you seamlessly take energy from the power grid.

Battery Back-Up for Your Solar Panel System

By pairing battery back-up solutions like the Tesla Powerwall to your solar energy system, you get added bonuses. First, you can directly use more of your solar power throughout the day and night – or, if your system is large enough, you can disconnect from the grid entirely. If you’re still connected, you can often save even more by shifting your load away from peak demand times – which reduced stress on the electrical grid and gives you savings if you’re on a Time of Use or Demand Charge rate. You’ll save even more with a solar battery system if your utility compensates solar homes and businesses with a discounted ‘solar export rate,’ instead of a direct exchange of power.

Battery back-up options are also great if you live in a place where the power goes out often. A stand-alone solar system will automatically shut off when the grid goes down in order to protect the utility personnel who are working diligently to get lines back up. A solar panel system paired with battery storage will seamlessly provide you with power, and you won’t even notice if the grid goes down.

Facts About PV Systems

  • Multifunctional Land Use: PV systems can cover a wide area (1 Megawatt of Power= 6-8 Acres of Land). While they generate energy from the sun, they can also provide shade for parking structures and/ or shade crops that need to be protected from direct sunlight.
  • Photovoltaic Cells Work On Cloudy Days: Contrary to popular belief, PV systems work while the sun is blocked by clouds, as the rays still penetrate and are then absorbed by the PV cells.
  • Sunlight for an Hour = Sunlight for a Year: It’s calculated that the amount of sunlight on the earth within an hour’s time can provide enough energy for the world for an entire year.
  • PV Cells Face South in the USA: In order to get optimal sunlight, PV cells should face south in the USA, as the equator lies south of the 50 states where the sun is most intense around the globe.
  • The Sun is Powered by Hydrogen: The sun is currently powered by constantly burning hydrogen, and when it runs out of hydrogen, it will start to consume its supply of Helium.
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Energy Independence

There’s been a lot of discussion of energy independence in the news recently. Let’s dive in and discuss!

What does it mean to be energy independent?

Modern society has rapidly evolved over the years and left many countries, including our own, with a powerful addiction to energy. In the United States, our energy comes from a variety of sources, including coal, gas, petroleum, nuclear, solar and wind, but by far the greatest amount comes from fossil fuels. These fuel sources are finite – once we use them, they’re gone forever – and are distributed across the globe.

America currently produces about 40% of the oil it consumes, but domestic oil production has been in decline for decades and the U.S. is increasingly looking to foreign sources to ensure our access to petroleum. Each year, we pay significant sums of money and export jobs to foreign companies and governments to supply our fuel for transportation, electricity, and warming needs. This means that our money doesn’t stay in our communities, can potentially support companies that take advantage of lax environmental regulations and workers abroad, and makes America dependent on other nations.

Although the U.S. does have fossil fuel deposits in the form of coal and natural gas, these resources are finite and domestic supplies could shrink even further depending on use trends and future environmental regulations. Failure to account and plan for this is a serious risk that our country needs to consider.

Americans depend on energy sources from other countries, and in order to become energy independent, we need to take a deep look at our energy usage and sources and switch it up.

How do we ensure America’s energy security?

Fortunately, harvesting alternative renewable sources of energy like solar and wind can go a long way in making America energy independent. Gas and utility prices are increasing, and economists foresee no reversal as access to conventional fuels becomes more difficult and costly. On the other hand, prices for solar and wind power have been dropping steadily as the industry has increasingly made more and more technology and process improvements.

Renewable resources cannot be depleted; once a system is connected to the grid, it will continue to produce power for over 25 years. In fact, there are solar fields in the US installed more than 40 years ago which are still producing power and helping contribute to our energy independence. Investing in more renewable resources will yield more jobs, cleaner air, and less dependence on the whims of foreign countries.

Ensuring the U.S.’s energy security presents a huge economic opportunity as well. According to a study by Mark Jacobson from Stanford University and Mark Delucchi from UC Davis, the cost of transitioning to a 100% clean energy economy is potentially a $100 trillion opportunity. The solar industry in particular has been growing substantially in the past 10 years. In fact, there are now more solar installers than there are coal miners employed in the state of Virginia.

Renewable energy sources will help reduce our dependence on foreign countries, thus helping to ease tensions with countries across the world. Energy independence is a lofty goal, one that we at Solar Gain are working towards, one solar system at a time.