Building Energy Equity Since 1984



Solar Electric at Home

Up on the Roof

Throughout our decades of experience, we have learned how to safely and effective install solar panels on every kind of roofing material, from composition shingles to foam roofing. So your roof is safe with us.

Down to Earth

When there is no suitable roof area available for the solar array, a ground rack is a good option. We provide engineered plans for racks on flat ground and even remote hillsides. One recent vineyard installation had a hillside solar rack 900 feet from the inverter and electrical service.

Made in the Shade

Another option we developed is what we call the “Solar Pergola”, a patio cover or trellis structure which not only holds the solar array but provides a shaded living area with multiple benefits.

Grid-tied: with or without battery backup

On many homes, we do simple systems we call “grid-tied”. These are easily wired to a solar circuit breaker your electric service panel. These basic systems are most popular but they do turn off automatically in a PG&E power failure. We also do “grid-tied systems with battery backup”, which in a PG&E grid power failure, continues providing electricity. The clear advantage of a battery backup is the security of knowing that refrigerators and well pumps will keep working in a power failure—especially useful in areas where there are frequent electricity outages.

Solar Hot Water at Home

Ling Residence Roof Installation
Solar pv and hot water
Clearlake, California

Endless supply of hot water

We design and installing effective solar hot water systems, which can collect 3-4 times more solar energy than a solar electric collector, and can provide up to 30 years of free hot water that never runs out, whether you use a tank or on-demand water heater.

Solar water heating systems are particularly cost-effective for homes with electric or propane water heaters, which can be very costly to run. A solar water heating system can provide 30 years of free hot water, with an endless supply.  A good combination is a solar water heating system and a new 95% efficient tank-less water heater.  Such systems can even provide solar heated water to an in-floor radiant heating system.  A passive solar water heater can provide hot water in a power failure.  <copperheart pic>

Clear Lake Veterinarian Hospital
Solar pv and hot water
Clearlake, California

Residential Solar Electric and Domestic Hot Water System
North Coast Solar installed the first grid-tied solar electric system in Lake County, California. This photo-voltaic system was installed on the PG&E grid in 1999 and has been operational ever since. It has a battery backup to maintain power during PG&E outages.

When this system was installed in 1999, solar electric system installed prices were over $10 per watt. Now solar electric system have much lower prices in the $3-4 per watt installed range.

This customer was so happy with their North Coast Solar pv system that they have since added a solar water heating system to their home. And to their business building they have added both a solar hot water system and a solar-electric system with a battery backup. Their business is a veterinary clinic and so the battery back-up option was a plus so that there was no chance of a power failure on the surgery room circuit.

Solar Electric for Business

North Coast Solar has for over 25 years provided commercial solar-electric systems for remote communications sites, schools, municipalities, industrial sites and agricultural water pumping operations. The incentives available for commercial systems are even better than those for residential because of generous depreciation tax benefits plus tax credits. The solar tax credit is available through end of 2016.

Before we come out to do a solar feasibility analysis for your business, we examine your utility bill to assess whether you are on the correct electric rate schedule—the one that is most-effective. We can also provide advice on low cost conservation measures to make sure the building is energy efficient before we size the solar electric system. We believe in making sure a building is energy efficient before adding generation such as solar or cogeneration.

Solar Hot Water for Business

The restaurants, apartments and condominiums where we have installed solar hot water systems benefit not only from avoiding electric or propane fueling costs, but solar tax incentives which are the same for hot water systems as they are for solar electric systems: 30% investment tax credit and 5 year accelerated depreciation.

Floating Solar

For industrial and agricultural operations especially, a benefit of locating solar panels on storage ponds is keeping valuable land area free for other uses. But a floating solar-electric system has even greater conservation benefits. By covering water surface area, a floating solar array suppresses algae growth, which results in fewer mosquito populations. And most importantly in our present California drought conditions, floating solar reduces pond evaporation rates—helping to preserve critical water resources.

This unique floating solar system is called Hydrelio, a French innovation by Ciel et Terre, which is now being used in countries including the United Kingdom and Japan, where 10 megawatts of Hydrelio floating solar is now online. The world’s largest floating solar system to date is also underway in Japan, where the reservoir behind the Yamakura Dam will float 50,000 solar panels to power about 5,000 households—13.4 megawatts.

The Hydrelio has received press coverage around the world, including articles in National Geographic, The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWire and The Huffington Post.

No matter how large or small your storage pond, you might benefit from a floating solar system. North Coast Solar is the USA representative for Ciel et Terre, and we can help you determine site-specific feasibility and economic benefits of a floating solar system, along with system design and financing.

Tracking Solar

Innovative tracking technology allows solar panels to move the way sunflowers do—facing the sun. By tilting to receive direct exposure, a tracking solar system can produce 40 percent more energy than a fixed system.

The tracking solar used by North Coast Solar is American made, developed in Vermont by AllEarth Renewables, and includes ground-tracking controls to obtain accurate positioning in any weather. And though the tracking panels can withstand winds up to 120 mph, they come with an anemometer that automatically lays the panels flat in high winds. Tracking solar can be scaled for large or small projects from a single tracker for a home or an entire “solar farm”.

Case Study: Stony Point Rock Quarry

Stony Point Rock Quarry
Cotati, California
202 KW Solar Electric System

A tracking solar system can draw positive attention to a business, as it does at the Stony Point Rock Quarry, on Stony Point Road near the historic Washoe House in Cotati. On the hillside behind the quarry, North Coast Solar created a 202 kilowatt solar array that draws the eye as well as the sun, and is currently producing as much energy as a 280 KW fixed solar array. The quarry’s electric usage has ranged from 429,000 KWHs to 538,000 KWHs in recent years. The solar electric system produced 439,000 KWHs in it’s first year of operation exceeding the predicted performance.

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