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. Solar carports are now a very popular project at businesses that want the benefits of shaded parking.
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 with Battery Backup
Having a battery backup system for power failures has been on Californian’s minds in this era of wildfires and Power Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) in PG&E territory. Over 20 years ago the first solar electric systems did include batteries and operated similar to an off-grid solar electric system. Around the year 2000, new “grid-tied” solar electric systems came on the market and were popular as they were a simpler, more economic way to reduce electric costs. Grid-tied systems turn off when the utility grid goes down but their lower cost and simplicity allowed them to take over the market. Now battery backup is back and we can provide solar electric systems that are “grid-tied with battery backup” so that the battery can supply power to certain circuits in the home in a utility grid failure or shutoff. The battery can also charge with solar or cheaper off-peak electricity and then discharge when electricity is expensive between 4 and 9 pm. While more expensive and more complicated, these systems can provide security, especially in neighborhoods that experience frequent power failures. We offer battery backup systems from Enphase, SolarEdge and Sol-Ark to fit your particular needs. California’s Solar Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) can provide a rebate to offset the high cost of these new lithium ion battery systems.
Solar Hot Water at Home
Active Solar Water Heating
Evacuated tube solar collector
We design and install 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.
Passive Solar Water Heating
Integrated collector storage system
While active solar water heating is more effective, a passive solar water heating system is simple and trouble-free. A passive solar water heater can provide hot water in a power failure.
Other options for solar water heating include sizing the solar electric system to operate the electric water heater or, better yet, sizing the solar system to operate a “heat pump water heater” that uses one third the electricity of a conventional electric water heater.
Rebates are available for the installation of heat pump water heaters. These will be the future as homes become all-electric as we reduce our carbon emissions.
Solar for Business
North Coast Solar has for over 30 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. There is still a 26% federal solar tax credit available for solar systems installed in 2022, and a 22% credit through the end of 2023.
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 for Schools
Solar school projects are a great way for school districts to lower costs and budget with more predictability. It can also be an educational opportunity for teachers who can use available solar curriculums to teach students about solar energy.
Solar for Wineries
Wineries are an excellent place to harvest solar energy. It helps demonstrate the wineries commitment to sustainability and being a green business. It helps create predictability about electric costs which typically have a high peak in the fall at harvest season. With a solar electric system the winery can generate excess electricity all year and with net metering, credit for that electricity exported to the grid will be applied to the winery’s high bills in the Fall harvest season.
Floating solar can be a benefit at vineyards with irrigation ponds for pumping energy and as an added benefit the solar island provides water conservation by reducing evaporation.
Walter Hansel Winery
Kunde Family Winery
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. We have been working with Ciel et Terre since 2011. Over the last decade Ciel et Terre has installed over 245 floating solar projects, 620 MWs in 30 countries.
Locally we have installed a pilot project at Kunde Family Winery and a 250 KW project at the Kelseyville wastewater treatment plant for Lake County Special Districts.
North Coast Solar is a 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.
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”.
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.
View live AlsoEnergy Monitoring
Over the last 20 years many solar electric systems have been installed that need repair such as needing a new inverter which typically have a 15 year life cycle. We service our own systems and those of other companies that may no longer be around. After 38 years in business we have seen it all. We also take great pride in California’s solar industry and believe customer satisfaction with their solar system is very important to the industry’s integrity and success.