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Rooftop Solar Power in 2017

rooftop solar panelsAccording to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, (EIA) a government agency that collects and analyzes information about the energy industry, the solar energy industry is geared up to add more electricity-generating capacity than any other source this year! Solar panels are not just going to “become a thing, " but it already surpasses other forms of energy as the most popular alternative energy source. Planned large-scale solar farms are expected to add 9.5 gigawatts of electricity-generating capacity to the power grid. And that figure doesn’t count electricity-generating capacity from distributed solar, such as rooftop panels.

Many homeowners have already installed or are exploring solar power options at home too. According to a Pew Research Study, homeowners’ increased interest in solar panels reflects both financial and environmental concerns. Nine-in-ten homeowners said they have installed or considered home solar panels to save money on utility bills and 87% say they did so to help the environment.

Other homeowners say getting a solar tax investment credit is a reason they installed or considered installing solar power at home. A federal tax credit for solar projects, which was scheduled to expire at the end of this year, has since been extended five years for residential solar projects.

Many people wonder when the cost of producing power from solar photovoltaic (PV) panels will be equal to or less than buying from the grid as affordable solar panel options could accelerate solar adoption. But that question, as US News reports, is often a comparison of apples to oranges. The answer varies from place to place and from one type of installation to another. Residential electric rates, on average about 12 cents per kilowatt-hour in the U.S., are much higher than wholesale electric rates – the price utilities pay to power generators – which are usually less than 4 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Predictions within the Energy community project solar energy usage and installation to rise, while the costs of solar power drop. Solar energy is predicted to cost less than coal or gas by 2017. MJ Shiao, GTM’s Director of Solar Research, in a roundtable discussion following the tax-credit extension said “solar isn’t just a promising technology. It’s a real, deployable tool and platform for a next-generation electricity grid. The regulations and innovations that come together in the second half of this decade will set the stage for what the future of electricity in the U.S. looks like.”

 

Why a Home Battery Solution is Heads Above the Rest

home energy battery californiaEveryone looking for ways to increase our savings and decrease our stress when it comes to our daily lives.

Electricity bills are one of the largest bills we pay each month, and even after cutting corners, we find that we cannot seem to get it any lower. The home battery solution is a newer and more convenient alternative. These home batteries are quickly becoming a solution that fits every home's need for lower power bills. Here are just a few reasons why:

  1. Home Storage Batteries maximize consumption of your power
    In a traditional solar panel power setup, the solar panels on your roof, and your home are backed up to the grid - this means that if you are not producing enough energy from your solar panels, you will still have power fed to your home from the grid. Typically, if you make more power than you consume, you can sell the excess back to the grid for discounts or credits on your electric bill. However, sell-back fees have changed quite substantially over the years and continue to be subject to change. Residential battery storage lets you control and store all of your excess power. If you have a solar panel system that’s giving you more power than what you use, these batteries store the power for you instead of selling it back to the grid. The power from these batteries is then availed for inclement weather or low sun conditions.
  2. Home Storage Batteries keep your home’s electricity resilient
    If you have solar panels, survival is possible until your solar power runs out and the grid takes over. However if the entire grid is down, you and your neighbors are left with no power at all. The home battery solution means as long as there is power left in your batteries you can continue using your home’s electricity at no cost.
  3. Home Storage Batteries reduce your carbon footprint
    Removing your home from the grid and making it self-sufficient is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint. In the past, ‘going green’ was not a reliable way of living each day comfortably, especially concerning energy sources. Newer technologies like the battery backup system are both earth-friendly and dependable.
  4. Home Storage Batteries dramatically save on your electricity costs
    A home battery system installed into your home’s solar power system means your electricity bills will either be non-existent or so much more affordable than they were, you will barely notice them. The cost savings you will discover in your utility bill will more than pay for the home battery system quite quickly, and you will save hundreds, even thousands of dollars every year on your electricity bills.
  5. Home Storage Batteries are affordable to install
    Believe it or not, solar systems and home battery solutions are affordable to have installed in your home. There are government incentives to install a solar system, and the costs involved is outweighed by the amount of savings each year on your utility bills.

Can my home be retrofitted with home automation?

In some homes, retrofitting is impossible, but there are ways to automate without having to tear down your home. Every home automation system needs a space to house the centrally-installed control equipment. This space needs to be able to accommodate a small server-rack cabinet and, ideally, be close to your existing distribution board. Can my home be retrofitted with home automation?

Many homes have an existing area where services such as the alarm system, CCTV, DVR, DSTV decoder, and router are fitted – that would be the obvious choice for your automation controls as well, space permitting. If not, garages are often good options, as are the unused spaces beneath stairs.

There are situations in which not all of a home's services are located in the same place, and in these cases, you'll need to weigh up the cost and hassle of relocating them to a central position. If this is not an option, you'll need to accommodate at least one CAT6 data cable running from your automation control system to each of the services, wherever they are. That can add up to a lot of cables, and concealing them isn't always a simple matter.

Once your cabling is in place or your services have been relocated, it's time for the fun stuff – selecting the hardware that will suit your lifestyle the best. 4ward-design is a huge fan of systems like Crestron, Control4, and KNX, which are modular and allow for upscaling at a later date. (source)

If you would like to enjoy this amazing technology in your home, contact the electrical experts at Switched Electric. 

The future of electricity is in home automation.

Once you begin to understand the vast possibilities of home automation scheduling, you can come up with a variety of useful, creative solutions to make your life easier. Is there a west-facing window that lets in too much light? Plug in your motorized blinds using a "smart" outlet and program the outlet to close the blinds at the brightest part of each day.

home automation electricianThe real hands-on control begins when you start interacting with your home’s automation system from your mobile device using your remote app. In addition to arming and disarming your alarm system, reprogram the scheduling, locking and unlocking of your doors, reset your thermostat and adjust your lights all from your mobile device, from anywhere you may be in the world. As manufacturers create more and more "smart" devices and appliances, the possibilities for home automation grow limitlessly.

One distinct advantage of the future of home automation is the unmatched potential for electrical savings, and therefore cost savings to you. Your thermostat is already "smart" in that it uses and recognizes a temperature threshold to govern your home's heating and cooling systems. In many cases, thermostats are programmable with different target temperatures that keep your energy usage to a minimum during hours when you're least likely to benefit from heating and cooling.

Even at its most basic level, home automation extends this scheduled programmability to lighting - to suit your energy usage to your regular daily schedule. With even more flexible and advanced home automation systems, certain electrical outlets or individual devices can be set to automatically powered down during hours of the day when you don't need them. Scheduling for isolated devices like thermostats and sprinkler systems, the can be broken down further to distinguish between weekdays and weekends and even seasons of the year.

While set schedules are helpful, many of us keep varied hours - apart from 9 to 5 each day. In cases like these, energy costs are even further reduced by programming "macros" into the automation system and controlling it remotely whenever you need it. In other words, a "coming home" event is programmable that turns on lights and heating during your drive home from work - with one tap on your smartphone. Likewise, a programmable "leaving home" event could save you from wasting energy on forgotten lights and appliances once you've left for the day.

Why should your electrician be licensed in California?

Why should your electrician be licensed in California?When it comes to something as vital as hiring an electrician, you don't want to cut corners. Aside from the obvious safety and fire concerns, you need work that's done efficiently and up to code the first time. When it comes to your home, improvements and repairs go toward the value of your property. Getting quality for your money is less of expense and more of an investment in the long run.

Investigators determined the cause of the deadly September 2015 Valley Fire in Lake County was a bad residential electrical connection. According to Cal Fire, faulty wiring caused the 76,000-acre fire, which also burned into Napa and Sonoma counties and destroyed 1,955 structures, including 1,281 homes. There were several deaths and numerous firefighters injured. 

The charred land and structures left behind by the Valley Fire made it the third most destructive wildfire in California's history and cost nearly $57 million to extinguish.

We tend to assume that anyone calling themselves an electrician IS. This means we are willing to let a complete stranger come into our home to work on the electrical system with absolute trust that they know what they're doing, that they're safe. We verify and reference our babysitters, but many of us don't know how to do this effectively with our electricians.

Unlike most other states, California requires its C 10 license. Verify that your electrician is correctly licensed and fully insured. A certified electrician will adhere to the highest standards of quality and services. Ask to see proof of their Part P qualification, which is required for most electrical work, and the most valuable credential to have.

Make sure your electrician is registered with a governing body like NAPIT or NICEIC by going to these websites and searching to see if they're listed. Another site to investigate is Registered Competent Person Electrical.
You may also want to request recommendations and references. A word-of-mouth recommendation from someone whose opinion you trust can be invaluable when choosing a service. If you can't get a recommendation, then ask the electrician for references. Be sure to follow up.

FEMA reports that 11% of residential fires are started from faulty wiring and electrical malfunction, with another 12% under investigation. Choosing a properly licensed electrician goes a long way in preventing problems and keeping you and yours safe.

Contact the licensed and experience professionals at Switched Electric for all of your electrical needs. With Switched Electric you will have piece of mind that the work will be done right the first time. 

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Overall I was very pleased with Switched Electric's work. I originally had them out for the security light, and then based upon that job brought them out for future jobs. Each job was completed as scheduled and with high quality workmanship. Work site was also completely cleaned when done. And time has passed since job completion—and all is working well.

David M.
San Jose, CA

Switched Electric is the greatest. Seth is skilled, professional, and friendly. He shows up when he says he will and he finishes when promised. His quoted prices are reasonable, and he makes useful suggestions to enhance the job and to save you money. I've worked with lots of contractors, and he's the best.

Linda G.
San Francisco, CA

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Switched Electric services the Modesto area including, but not limited to, the following cities:

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(209) 284-5996 • 3848 McHenry Avenue, Suite 135 • Modesto, CA 95356 • Hours: Monday - Friday 8am - 5pm