Every solar consumer listens to various sales pitches on what is the best solar panel for their home. At Lighthouse we have built our business on three distinct pillars.
- We stay agnostic to brands.
- Smart designs make better systems with better prices.
- Use the manufacturers that are producing top of class products.
At this point in the solar industry there are many good choices out there. There are definitely many brands we trust and recommend, but if I were to try to cover them all you would give up reading this post. Here are a few of our favorites:
There is no doubt LG solar has made a big impact on our company. In fact, I have them on my own home. They are a large diversified company that makes a really powerful, efficient and attractive solar panel at an affordable price. Solaria is another very strong brand and they offer a really beautiful module with an innovative technology. They utilize a process whereby the solar cells are shingled in the panel, which allows them to pack more space with solar collecting material inside the panel. This has created such a large gain in power yield that other companies are now trying to copy this design. Another standout for us is Qcells. One of the aspects that make this company remarkable for us is that they not only manufacture the solar cells inside the module but they also make the machines that produce those cells. This gives them advantage in production and quality. When you look closely at their panels you can see a type of QR code designed into each cell so that if there is any manufacturing problem they can easily pinpoint it, trace it back to the origin, and resolve the issue. Since this rigorous process is done at the factory they are producing some of the lowest incidence of abnormalities and because their module is engineered rigorously, it rarely fails. This is one of the reasons, along with price, that big utilities like Austin Energy have chosen them for their own 500 Mega Watt utility scale power plant. Of course we all want the best panel for the best price.
Residential design at Lighthouse Solar always starts with three driving questions, focused on the solar resource:
- Which roof plane/planes are optimal?
- How much space is available?
- What is the shade profile surrounding that roof plane?
Physical space is really key to the price and return on investment. If a roof has limited available space then we will regularly look to a panel with higher Watts per panel. (watts/square foot) This allows us to meet the customer’s goal of offsetting the electric bill. Unfortunately this comes at a price. Higher wattage panels cost more per Watt. Although this may be intuitive, an explanation is helpful. If we design/propose two 10,000 Watt systems- one with 360 Watt panels and one with 320 panels the difference in cost could be as much 6500 dollars. This is why design is so important and why we regularly get up on the roof and plan by hand – if we can utilize the space well we can save you money. The details matter and each roof is unique and specific to the energy footprint of the home.
After designing, installing, and monitoring thousands of systems we have gained an immeasurable amount of hands on, direct experience with what works well and what doesn’t. We have built a business based on referrals and we have kept all our promises. We can make efficient and definitive recommendations, because we have done the analysis on so many roofs on homes around central Texas.