These days there’s a lot of talk about switching to solar power and saving money. But how do you go from thinking about it, to actually taking the plunge and ditching the traditional electric company for good? And how much money can you actually save? That’s where companies like SunPower come in.
Founded in 1985, Silicon Valley-based SunPower makes solar panels that are used by business and residential customers around the world. “SunPower solar panels deliver more energy and long-term peace of mind by creating the highest performing solar power systems available,” said SunPower Executive Vice President of Residential Solar, Martin DeBono, who spoke to RewardExpert.
How it Works
SunPower designs, engineers and manufactures its solar power systems, which include solar panels and the appropriate converters to turn the sun’s energy into electricity for your home. If a customer is interested in switching to solar power, SunPower will first schedule a free consultation, where product offerings and financing options are reviewed. If the customer decides to move forward with a purchase, SunPower’s network of contractors will handle all the necessary paperwork and installation. Finally, the appropriate connections will be made with a local utility provider. “As soon as your solar system is turned on, you start generating electricity from the sun, which can lower your electricity bill,” explained DeBono.
Not All Solar Panels are Alike
At the purchasing stage, a key element for a potential customer to understand is the differences in solar panels. According to DeBono, the most common solar panels used in residential installations are photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, which come in wattages ranging from about 150 watts to 370 watts per panel. “SunPower panels are known to be the most efficient solar panels on the market,” said DeBono. The company’s Maxeon cells, which contain no grid lines that are often seen on the front of solar panels, will produce 70% more energy over the first 25 years and are more resistant to damage. “The construction of our cells make them stronger and more resistant to cracking and erosion,” he stated. SunPower also provides a 25-year complete system warranty, which SunPower says is the best in the industry.
How to Pay for It
A key question facing many homeowners is how to pay for solar panels, with installation costs appearing about the same on paper as a new car (about $30,000). While that seems high, the price of installation has actually come down in recent years, dropping 9% between 2016 and 2017. SunPower offers many financing options, including various loan programs and an option to lease the grid on the roof of your house. Many states and localities offer tax incentives to offset the cost of installation. Plus, under the new tax law, there is a 30% federal tax credit for solar installations this year. That credit will drop to 26% in 2019 and 10% in 2021.
Return on Investment
Nobody shells out big money without expectations for some sort of return. The good news is that the high price of solar panel installation is eventually recouped by lower utility bills. DeBono pointed out that it takes the average customer 5-10 years to recoup their investment, but he adds that this varies quite a bit. “Savings vary depending on many factors, such as location, shade, system size, utility rates, weather, local policies and more,” he said. Plus, now is an ideal time to think about getting a solar system, with the longer spring days just around the corner.
Brighter Days on the Horizon
As solar gains in popularity, the prices are coming down. “While traditional electricity costs continue to rise, the price of solar has fallen 67 percent over the last five years – resulting in more solar power systems,” said DeBono. In addition, a study from the U.S. Department of Energy found that solar panels can actually increase a home’s value in the real estate market. So the next time you look at your electric bill and cringe, think of solar power and check out www.sunpower.com.