Solar Panels for Homes in Orange County with John Wilson,

John Wilson

John Wilson – Solar Panels For Homes

I am here today to answer questions and to discuss solar energy. So that if anybody has any interest and learning about how it works and what it does and the economic details of it, I could certainly get into that in as much detail as anybody would like. Two things you need to know about solar, right now, today is the cost of solar energy is down, and the cost of Edison energy is up. So do I have any questions? Yes, Sal?

Is it feasible to put that on a mobile home? Now remember, I’m not talking about the old-fashioned type, but it’s actually a modular home with a composition roof.

If the electric meter is separate from the property, then it is feasible. If the electric meter is on the property, it is a much bigger challenge because the engineering of modular homes is done in a factory, and then this-and-that in the city does not inspect the manufacturing –
they move it onto a site and they attach it to a foundation, and that’s that. So the building department doesn’t get involved with solar. You have to take the permit application to the Department of Housing, which is a frigging nightmare, in which no one in the solar business that has ever done that will ever do it a second time. The meter is separate from the house. But you cannot attach the solar to the property. You have to do a ground mount. So if you’re on acreage, we’re very successful at putting solar on property where there’s either a modular or manufactured home, where you can put a ground mounted solar ray and not attach it to the actual unit itself. But if it’s in a park, you’re toast. Now, there is a trailer park right down five, right by Jan Marie or Tustin Ranch Road. They put a big solar ray right up on the back of it by the freeway there, and it probably feeds a common area or clubhouse or lights, or those kinds of things. So, come on. Yes?

So I know that one of the homes that I had at one time, we had solar panels, and I spent all kinds of money trying to get that thing working for heat and all that. And it was like, it works, it was OK  basically. What is it based on? Square footage of a home, so many panels?

Right. Well, years ago, the solar thermal industry was like 100%
rebate. So in the ’80s there were thousands of systems put in very poorly, very rapidly, without a lot of stuff. And anything in hot water, there’s contraction/expansion, so all of the parts and pieces, the connectors, the unions in the system are going to fail. So it’s just inevitable. And so a lot of them didn’t work or were just basically turned off and kind of gave a black eye to the solar industry. Today everybody wants to know the economics, the return on investment. Years ago, you had to . . . Well, the only way to buy solar was . . . I mean, the only way to get solar was to buy it — that’s what I had to do. And you had to put out 20,000-30,000 bucks, and the return on investment is seven, eight, nine years, generally, but now, with the leasing programs, et cetera, no investment is required, your break-even is first day, first month. You just have to have a big enough bill so that the lease works. So if you’re paying
$70-$80 month, a solar system just isn’t going to work. I mean, the cost of solar exceeds the price you’re paying today.

Now, the price you’re paying today is just about a relative time. Obama wants to see 65 cents a kilowatt hour to reduce consumption. So if you’re paying $900 a month in your house, you’ll probably use less power — that’s the theory. Same thing with gasoline — 10 bucks a gallon would make him happy, so. Yes?

How much is it now? What is it now per kilowatt hour?

Well, it’s tiered, so your lowest rate’s 14 cents, or about, and your highest rate is about 31 cents. So if you’re spending 150 bucks a month, at least, 30% or 40% of your bill is in the 30 cent tier, and that’s why it then becomes economic to fix that portion of it. Yes?

My neighbor has a spa . . . He’s had solar for over 30 years, and he pays $7 a month on his electric bill.

Yeah, that’s what my bill was — 5 bucks, 3 bucks, 2 bucks.

Can you do that today?

Yeah. Yeah.

Where would you say, generally, that break-even point is? You mentioned, “Here’s a bill, it’s 80 bucks. Here’s a bill that’s $900.”


So somewhere along the line, there’s got to be some kind of a lease number that kind of factors that out.

About 150 bucks a month. Or an average bill of about 1800 a year, generally, would be the . .
. But I’ve put them in for people with much less than that. If the economic return’s not there, the solution is on par with the cost. You wouldn’t save any money, but we switched them from grid power to central solar energy running this home, which is the environmental solution. So a lot of people, today, think and totally focus on money, where really when you think about it, it’s a miracle that you can take sunlight heating some piece of apparatus on your roof, and your entire house operates from the power generated from that.

So at some point in time, our country is going to face an energy issue. We’ve produced no new power plants, we’ve got no new nukes, we’ve got no new generation, we’ve got a 50 to 75-year-old infrastructure that’s on the brink of failure, and the solution is available. I mean, we could do it today if the focus and the mindset was on it to do it. So, fortunately, there are groups of people that are focusing on that, and some day, maybe it’ll be a common thing to see them everywhere. Yeah?

How much clear sunshine do you need? I mean, you hear about clouds and all this.

Good point. For every . . .

What about rain?

For every location on the earth, there is an average sunshine table that tells us how much energy hits that. There are some micro climates, like on the windward side of Palos Verde Peninsula, where you get a particular micro climate shade, and on the other side it’s clear — this and that. So there are some adjustments to it, but it’s a science –
physics. We know exactly, before we put it in, exactly how much power it’s going to produce. Every spot is a little bit different.

Do you come out and just kind of like do a survey or something like that?

I can do it with Google and satellite imaging now almost . . .
With the exception of seeing some shade or tree structures, or something on property, you can do it. I can do it virtually with . . . Email me a bill. I can do an analysis of it, and then a proposal pretty quick, and kick it back, and you can see what the options are if there are options on the table.

Do you need some energy bills to be able to find that out?

Yeah, one electric bill gives me a history for 12 months. Then update it, I can plug it in, and then spit something out that’s meaningful.

Just one electric bill? That’s it?

That’s it.


One bill can analyze it.

Not the largest bill?

No, because your 12-month-history is on your Edison bill. You’ve got 12 months on there.

I don’t know if I heard this, but people who have a low electric bill . . . I mean, if they don’t have at least $150 a month, then it’s really not worth it to think about it?

It just takes a longer return time on investment. So if your bill is higher, your return is faster. If your bill is lower, it may take 12 years for you, economically, to break even. So I’m getting pulled off the stage. I appreciate your comment. I’m happy to . . . I’m happy to answer anybody’s questions personally at any time. Thank you very much.

If you’re looking for someone you can trust to build your solar project, or if you just want to get an honest second opinion, call John!
John Wilson
949 444 3921