Last January saw solar panel pricing hit historical lows worldwide. As a result and despite the economy, the solar photovoltaic industry is having a pretty good year both at the commercial and residential levels.

Solar Pricing At Historical Lows

David Brands | Clary Solar

Granted, the California Solar Initiative's rebates have triggered down to rather meager levels and some say this has tempered the fall of panel pricing in the state with the country's largest monetary stake in solar power. This writer disagrees.

Competition in California for solar business has never been fiercer. Since the nation's financial debacle nearly two years ago, scores of electrical contractors around the country who lost new-construction or repair work or simply ignored PV, have now jumped into PV with both feet.

PV and Growth
Furthermore, as the solar industry is one of the few growth sectors in the nation's staggering economy, PV equipment makers and marketers continue streaming into California and neighboring states. Fueled by the federal solar investment tax credit and renewable energy standards demanded by state governments on utilities, the PV picture gets rosier. Finally, the cost of electricity continues to rise, though at a rather stilted pace for the time being. In short, everybody who's anybody in solar is in or coming to California. And it's spreading.

Solar and Wall Street
Solar stocks, as can be seen in this blog's weekly update, have traveled much the same path as other tech issues. To be sure, solar stock prices are down from pre-crisis levels in 2008 but so are virtually every other stock on Wall Street. Still, there have been more solar start-ups and few failures worldwide and more foreign PV manufacturers are setting up plants stateside. Besides, after a generation of stupendous growth in the stock market, investors are eschewing risk and looking more to bonds for safety, anyway.

Solar Financing
When this writer began selling solar installations in 2002, most prospects had plenty of home equity. They could get an easy $50,000 home equity line of credit with a simple phone call to their bank. Those days are gone, of course, so the PV industry had to get creative. Since then solar manufacturers and dealers have answered the soft market with leasing options, same-as-cash unsecured "bridge" loans, and more standard--and unsecured--term loans.

So, believe it or not, it's a good time to go solar.

5kW Home PV System: $16,078 Installed After Incentives

Use the AC without the worry...

Southern California is seeing some toasty temperatures right now. But staying cool today can mean some hefty electricity bills next month. Smart people are staying cool by going solar. 

My previous post told about unprecedented low prices on solar panels this year. Add this factor to the CA solar rebate and the 30% federal solar tax credit, and staying cool this time of year can mean less sticker shock from your electricity bill.

This is a typical 5-kilowatt system that will meet most of the electrical needs of the average family of four in San Diego. Solar orientation, roof type, roof pitch, and possible shading issues could change this configuration and output.

  • 22 Sunpower Serengeti 228Wdc panels
  • 1 Sunpower 5000W inverter
  • 1 Set standard racking for asphalt shingle roof (tile roof slightly more)
  • 385 Minimum square feet of roof space required for panels

Actual size: 5016Wdc 4244Wac (after inversion)
Production: 7573 Kilowatt hours per year: 631 kWh/month average

$25,798: Clary Solar cash price (including tax)
-2,830: CSI rebate*
$22,968: Net After Rebate
-6,890: 30% Fed Tax Credit
$16,078: Net Total Cost

* CA Solar Initiative for SDG&E customers (Step 7: .65/Wac); SCE customers would get $6544 (Step 5: $1.55/Wac)

Financing options--Unsecured loans
Clary also offers a 12 months same-as-cash option up to $45,000. This option has no application fee and no pre-payment penalty. It basically gives the buyer a year of free electricity

Another route is the 5/15 loan, which is a five-year loan amortized at 15 years. There is a balloon payment at the end of the fifth year or the option refinance as another unsecured loan or tied to home equity at that time. Interest tied to FICO score--680 minimum preferred.

Again, both loans are unsecured requiring no home equity.

Further information can be obtained from David Brands at

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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