Monday, February 25, 2013

Douglas Doherty Electric & Solar Class A.1

Wlecome back to Douglas Doherty Electric & Solar! I am not sure if i have posted this information recently, but I figured it would benefit those of you who may be new or for those of you who have a short memory. Just kidding... If you have any questions after reading this please feel free to email me with them! Enjoy. Electricity generated by solar panels is referred to as PHOTOVOLTAIC energy. Its a long word and a bit tough to pronounce, so you will see it generally referred to as PV. Its kind of pronounced FOTO- VOLT- AEIC. Q. What is a PV system? A. PV technology produces electricity directly from electrons released by the interaction of sunlight with a solar panel made of a semiconductor material. Electrons or Power provided is now direct current (DC) electricity. The basic building block for a PV panel is known as a cell. Many cells put together are known as a module, and many modules assembled together form an array. A PV system will consist of an array of modules generating DC electricity, an inverter to change DC power into AC power, and sometimes battery storage back up with charge controller. Q. What is an Inverter? A. There are two kinds of electricity (power), DC and AC. Homes that are connected to utility power use AC electricity. Flashlights, small radios and automobiles use DC electricity. In order for you to be able to use solar to operate the appliances in your home, an inverter will convert PV power from DC to AC. Inverters can be further classified as units that use batteries (UPS) and those that use the utility grid as power storage (Grid-tied). Inverters are now required to possess meters that will indicate their performance and some manufacturer's supply remote display units that can be mounted inside the home. It is important to check on your inverter regularly to become acquainted with its operation and performance. Q. How much electricity will a system produce? A. The amount of power produced will depend upon how large the system is. In California the average residential customer purchases 6,500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. There is enough sunshine falling upon on the average home to produce this and a system can be designed to offset all electrical needs. The cost to accomplish a 100% system may be prohibitive and sometimes it makes more sense to simply reduce or 'shave' your consumption. Some utilities use tiered rates when they charge for consumption which means that the more energy you use the higher is the cost per kilo-watt-hour. The most economically feasible size is usually between 50% and 75% of your annual household needs. Q. What about blackouts? A. A solar system using batteries for storage can "ride-out" utility blackouts. Batteries add significantly to the expense of a system while providing no payback, need weekly maintenance, are hazardous and will need replacing every five to ten years. For this reason most city dwellers are opting for a "grid-tie" system. Q. What is a "grid-tie" PV system? A. Today in California you may connect your solar system directly into the wires of your utility. Since the "Net Metering Law" allows you to do this you will actually be spinning your meter backwards when your system is generating more power than you are consuming. When you generate excess electricity (more power than you are using) it will enter the grid and be used by your neighbors. Your meter will tally the excess and give credit your account. After a year the excess credits are eliminated and you balance is adjusted back to zero again. In effect, if there are any unused energy credits at the end of the year, the utility received this solar power for free. Q. What is Net Metering? A. Because of the Net Energy Metering (NEM) law, Californians are allowed to "sell" clean solar generated electricity to the utility at the same price at which it was purchased. This is fundamental to the economics of generating your own power and has been instrumental in the development of Distributed Generation (DG) of power. Without Net Metering, the utility would, as it has in the past, sell energy to you at retail but buy any energy from you at wholesale pricing. This is a huge benefit to anybody owning the property now and in the future as there are only a limited of Net Metered systems being allowed in any utility's territory. The current statewide cap of 2.5% of any utility's customer base is will soon be reached and NEM systems will no longer be available. The comparison to the HOV yellow stickers awarded to buyers of qualified hybrid vehicles would apply here. Only 60,000 of these stickers were issued and cars with the privileges of the "fast lane" commute are worth more than even newer versions without the stickers. Q. Just how big is a typical system? A. Typical residential Solar PV systems range in size from fifty to six hundred square feet. A system composed of the very highest efficiency monocrystalline cells will produce 1kW per hour for every 60 square feet. Less efficient polycrystalline cells will require 90 to 130 square feet while thin-film systems need the largest area of all - sometimes as much as 300 square feet to generate 1 kilowatt. Q. What is the California Energy Commission (CSI) Rebate Program A. The State of California will assist you to buy a solar electric system. The California Public Utilities Commission will pay you a lump sum rebate up front or monthly for five years based upon the actual performance of the system. The amount of the lump sum rebate is calculated by using an online tool ( created to take into account module and inverter efficiencies, tilt and orientation, shading and local weather to produce an Expected Performance Based Buy-down (EPBB). The rebate was administered by the California Energy Commission (it was called the Emerging Renewable Program or ERP) but the program was extended and altered on January 1, 2007 (it is now called the California Solar Initiative or CSI). In prior years the rebate had been as high as $4.50 a watt but was summarily reduced to $2.50 in 2007. As of June '09, the rebate level for Edison customers has dropped down to a maximum $1.90 per watt. The rebate paid is now reduced by the degree of shade measured on the panel's surface, the tilt and orientation as well as the inverter efficiency. On July 1, 2009, the rebate was again reduced by using newer performance ratings for solar panels that were mostly lower than in the past. Many other factors are involved in this complex calculation as well. Q. How can I get information on the State's Rebate program? A. You must be serviced by SCE, PG&E or SDG&E utilities to qualify for the state rebate. You may apply for the program yourself by going to their website, . We can also provide the forms and do the necessary paperwork to make your reservation. Q. Is there a program for residents of the City of Los Angeles? A. The LADWP has a similar program for its customers. Information on this very successful program can be found on the web at . We can prepare all of the forms and make the necessary submittals. LADWP is funding systems with a rebate starting at about $4.18 per watt as a lump sum payment and uses an online calculator ( to assess its value using performance related variables (tilt, shading etc.) Glendale, Burbank, Riverside and Anaheim have their own solar programs each with varying rules and strategies. Q. How much does a PV system cost? A. As systems get larger, the cost per watt is lower. A two (2) kilowatt system may cost between $16,000 and $20,000 ($8.00 to $10.00 per watt), while a five (5) kilowatt system may be installed for as little as $35,000 ($ 7.00/watt). All of these prices are figured before the rebates or tax credits. The final cost may be as low as $2.50 per watt (or $12,500 for a 5 kW system) depending upon which incentives your utility may offer. Q. Are there tax credits or any other incentives to go solar? A. There is currently a federal tax credit of 30% for any qualifying residential or commercial solar system. This tax credit is slated to expire at the end of 2016. The Federal (MACRS) and State accelerated depreciation deductions can also significantly reduce the final cost of a system used for commercial applications. Q. Will my property taxes go up if I install a solar energy system? A. In California the value of your property may not be re-appraised by the County Assessor's Office for solar related property improvements, at this time. Q. Are there any other incentives or programs available to help me afford a solar energy system? A. It depends upon where you live. Some municipally owned utilities have established their own programs and some credit unions and banks have special loan rates. For a comprehensive list of incentives, rules and regulations affecting solar energy go to Q. Why is there such a variation in prices? A. Although any solar component that qualifies for the CEC rebate must meet certain minimum criteria, there are wide variations in the way PV modules are made and assembled. Some of the modules recently entering the American market are made in Asia and are less expensive than European or US brands. Also, the cost of installation varies upon whether or not you hire a contractor that uses employees or temporary labor and subcontracts the installation. If you use a firm with an established reputation, one that has employees, carries workman's compensation and liability insurance, you may pay a little more for "peace of mind." Frequently, a firm that has just recently entered the solar arena may offer discounts to gain market share or experience. The California Energy Commission and the Public Utilities Commission do not check the history or background of its participant "contractors" before listing them. As long as its state license is valid a company will be "approved." Although the solar equipment listed on its website is "approved," the CEC & the PUC in no way endorses any of the vendors on its list. The old rule, "Caveat Emptor," definitely applies when you select your installer and equipment. Q. How much do I save? A. The savings will depend on the size of your solar system and the amount of electricity you would normally have consumed. A 2kW PV system which is replacing electricity at 30 cents a kWh might save $1,125.00 per year (CEC Consumer Handbooks "Buying a Photovoltaic Solar Electric System," p.7 or "A Guide to Photovoltaic System Design", p. 8 and 9). Rates in California are increasing dramatically - so savings will also increase proportionally. The highest tier in Edison territory has reached 32 cents, not including state and local taxes. Q. How long does it take for a PV system to pay for itself? A. It is more instructive to think of solar as an investment that yields an annual return, much as a bank savings account provides interest. A solar PV system may generate savings that would equal an annual Return on Investment (ROI) of 7% to 15% per year at today's electric rates. These savings is not taxed as would be the interest earned from a bank savings account. Thus you would have to find a bank account or investment yielding 14% to 28% to equal the return on a solar electric system. No matter what ROI your system would generate, this is ultimately a choice about how you will be buying your power - not whether or not you will be paying for it! There are PG& E rebates for : Cooling & Heating Equipment Lighting Seasonal Appliances Remodeling Appliance Recycling Tax credits are available up to 30 percent of the cost of the project (up to a maximum of $1,500 in 2009 and 2010 for existing homes*+) for: Insulation, duct sealing and infiltration reduction Energy-efficient windows and skylights High efficiency central air conditioners and air-source heat pumps High efficiency gas furnaces and boilers High efficiency water heaters To encourage customers to buy energy efficient products, ENERGY STAR partners occasionally sponsor special offers, such as sales tax exemptions or credits, or rebates on qualified products. Partners also occasionally sponsor recycling incentives for the proper disposal of old products. The search below is provided as a service to consumers to find such special offers or rebates where they exist, based on information that partners submit to ENERGY STAR. Sponsor Special Offer/Rebate Products Dates Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) 1-800-933-9555 Rebate - Mail-in Room Air Conditioners 01/01/2006 - 09/30/2009 Pacific Gas and Electric is offering a $50 for ENERGY STAR qualified room air conditioners. Go to the Web site for more information. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) Rebate - Instant CFL Bulbs 01/01/2006 - 09/30/2009 To buy CFL bulbs at discounted prices, contact or visit your local lighting retailer to see if the discounted bulbs are available. Once at the store, look for products with PG&E orange stickers - these products have already been discounted in the purchase price so you receive the rebate automatically. No paperwork or application is needed. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) 1-800-933-9555 Rebate - Mail-in Dishwashers 01/01/2007 - 09/30/2009 Pacific Gas and Electric Company is offering a $30 rebate for ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers with an Energy Factor of 0.65 to 0.67; and a $50 rebate for models with an Energy Factor of 0.68 or higher. Go to the Web site for more information, including a list of qualified models. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) Rebate - Instant Light Fixtures 01/01/2008 - 09/30/2009 Instant incentive of $5 - $10 per interior or exterior fixture Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) 800-299-7573 Rebate - Mail-in, Recycling Refrigerators & Freezers Ongoing Pacific Gas & Electric, in conjunction with JACO Environmental, is offering a $35 to recycle old refrigerators and freezers. Visit the PG&E Web site or contact JACO at 800-299-7573 for more information. GE Consumer & Industrial Rebate - Mail-in Dishwashers, Refrigerators & Freezers 07/06/2009 - 09/27/2009 Purchase 2 or more eligible ENERGY STAR qualified GE Profile and/or GE Cafe appliances and receive a Visa prepaid card valued from $100 to $500 based on the number of products purchased. Purchases from Best Buy are not eligible for this promotion. For more details, please see Dacor (Distinctive Appliance Corp.) Dollar Incentive: Other Refrigerators & Freezers 05/01/2009 - 12/31/2009 The Dacor Get It While It's Hot free product event offers consumers who purchase a qualifying Dacor package the opportunity to receive a free eligible reward appliance. This is a possible savings of up to $4,670. Examples of select ENERGY STAR® qualified products include the EPICURE 36" Freestanding Cabinet Depth Refrigerator. For more details, please see or call 1-800-793-0093 to find the Dacor dealer nearest you. ASKO Appliances Inc. Rebate - Mail-in Dishwashers 05/01/2009 - 12/31/2009 Purchase an ENERGY STAR qualified ASKO dishwasher before December 31, 2009 and receive a $100 mail-in rebate. This offer is limited to dishwasher models D5122XXL and D5223XXL purchased from an authorized retailer. Visit or an authorized retailer for more details. KitchenAid Dollar Incentive: Other Dishwashers, Refrigerators & Freezers 07/06/2009 - 10/17/2009 The KitchenAid® brand Sweet Celebration escalating cash back event, starting July 6, 2009 and ending October 17, 2009, offers consumers who purchase select KitchenAid® brand appliances, the opportunity to be eligible to receive up to $500 in rebates by mail via a MasterCard Prepaid Card. Consumers who purchase packages of five select products can receive $500, and those purchasing four select products can receive $300. Consumers purchasing three select products are eligible to receive $200, and those purchasing two select products are eligible to receive a $100 MasterCard Prepaid Card. Examples of select ENERGY STAR® qualified products include the KitchenAid® KFC022French Door Bottom-Mount Refrigerator/Freezer, and the KitchenAid® KUDE70F Superba@ Series Dishwasher. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) 800-933-955 Rebate - Mail-in High-Efficiency Gas Storage Ongoing Pacific Gas & Electric is offering a $30 rebate for natural gas storage water heaters with an Energy Factor of 0.62 or higher. Unit must have storage tank of 30 gallons or more. Go to the Web site for more information. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) 800-933-9555 Rebate - Mail-in Clothes Washers 01/01/2009 - 12/31/2009 Pacific Gas & Electric, in conjunction with water utilities throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, is offering rebates for energy-efficient clothes washers. The utilities are offering a $125 rebate ($35 from PG&E plus $90 from the participating water utility) for units with a Modified Energy Factor (MEF) of 2.0 or higher and a Water Factor (WF) of 6.0 or lower; and a $200 rebate ($75 from PG&E plus $125 from the participating water utility) for units with a MEF of 2.2 or higher and a WF of 4.5 or lower. Customers must receive electricity service from PG&E and water service from a participating utility to receive the full rebate amount. Go to the Web site for more information, including a list of participating water utilities.

Friday, January 13, 2012

2012 California Solar Energy Did You Know?

Hello and welcome back to Ask Doug The Electrician! 2012 is here and back to work I go. I'm looking forward to installing the new technology and seeing how the systems are improving. I am very interested in the new installation techniques because I've got quite a few tips! After installing so many systems, you find ways to improve everything! Thanks to recent majore price reductions in solar panels and other materials, more people will now be able to install solar. Whether you connect your solar energy to the grid, off grid, or you want a system for camping or your motorhome, its a great time to just do it. One panel or sixty, its so easy to interconnect you owe it to yourself to investigate. Email me anytime if you have any questions! Hurry.... Here's some more cool Solar Energy Information to think about... California is the nation's renewable energy leader and with the latest large solar energy project, "the Sentinela solar power plant", should provide 275 MW of power, enough to power around 83,000 Californian homes. Once completed, these two new clean energy projects should provide 379 megawatts of power, enough to power more than 112,000 average American homes. They should also provide more than 500 construction jobs. Quick and interesting facts related to solar energy. One kilowatt equals 1,000 watts. One kilowatt-hour (kWh) equals the amount of electricity needed to burn a 100 watt light bulb for 10 hours. A sunny location (like Los Angeles, California, US) receives an average of 5.5 hours of sunlight per day each year. A cloudy location (like Hamburg, Germany) receives 2.5 hours per day of sunlight each year. A 1 kilowatt peak solar system generates around 1,600 kilowatt hours per year in a sunny climate and about 750 kilowatt hours per year in a cloudy climate. A solar energy system can provide electricity 24 hours a day when the solar electric modules are combined with batteries in one integrated energy system. Solar modules produce electricity even on cloudy days, usually around 10-20% of the amount produced on sunny days. The typical components of a solar home system include the solar module, an inverter, a battery, a charge controller (sometimes known as a regulator), conduit/circuitry, and support structure. A typical silicon cell solar module will have a life in excess of 20 years Monthly average residential consumption of electricity in the US in 2008 was 920 kilowatt hours. (Source: US DOE) Monthly average residential electricity bill in the US in 2008 was $103.67. (Source: US DOE) The module cost is around 30-35% of the total installed cost of a solar energy system. Three key elements in a solar cell form the basis of its manufacturing technology. The first is the semiconductor, which absorbs light and converts it into electron-hole pairs. The second is the semiconductor junction, which separates the photo-generated carriers (electrons and holes), and the third is the contacts on the front and back of the cell that allow the current to flow to the external circuit. Crystalline wafers are about 200 microns (a micron = one millionth of a meter) thick. In contrast, thin-film panels are made by vacuum depositing several layers of semi-conductor materials only a few microns thick. Silicon in its pure form (99.9999% pure for solar applications) is very expensive and makes up about 50% of the cost of crystalline panels vs. the semiconductor cost of about 2% in thin film panels. However, thin film panels are not as efficient as crystalline panels and therefore more thin film panels are required to generate the same amount of electricity. A thin film installation can take up to 40 percent more space (and land) to achieve the same total power output as a premium crystalline installation. Thank you for stopping by Ask Doug The Electrician! Happy New Year!

Monday, November 21, 2011

San Francisco commits to renewable energy!

Welcome back to Ask Doug The Electrician! I found this article yesterday and thought it was a big step for San Francisco, and a great opportunity for anyone interested in working in the renewable energy will now have a chance if they want. This should create more jobs for people in the coming future so start learning! San Francisco government officials recently announced that they want their city to be powered 100% by renewable energy by 2020. This is quite a lofty goal indeed, but the announcement is not shocking for this environmentally conscious city. San Francisco and other Bay Area communities have become more focused on creating more renewable resources as the population grows. Solar energy through solar panels would provide a renewable and reliable source of energy. The city government will start accepting bids to install solar panels on the city hall and Davies Symphony Hall rooftops. They also have plans to install solar panels on other city-owned buildings as well. But their initiative doesn’t stop with city buildings. Government officials say that city buildings are only the beginning, and that by the year 2020, they would like to see the entire city powered by solar energy. The new push for solar power adoption is in line with the goals of California State renewable energy initiatives and San Francisco plans to pull their own weight. California is the 12th largest emitter of carbon in the entire world, but widespread use of solar energy in the state would reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses drastically. Thanks for stopping by Ask Doug The Electrician! Doug

Friday, November 18, 2011

1,000,000th kilowatt reached in California

Welcome back to Ask Doug The Electrician!
You know that exciting moment when you watch your car's odometer turn from 99,999 to 100,000 miles? Last month, California's solar industry did something similar: it logged in the 1,000,000th kilowatt, officially hitting a gigawatt of clean, green capacity. California continues to lead the nation with its commitment to solar power.
That was cpoied out of the November California State Incentive newsletter I receive. Extra cool to have been a part of those numbers personally! I hope to learn more and more about the other renewable energies as we proceed into the new year.... Boy this year went fast.

Thanks for stopping by Ask Doug The Electrician!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Third Technological Evolution?

Thank you for stopping by Ask Doug The Electrician! Its Monday, October 23,2011

Ever wonder if your car could just run on electricity, and as long as you could get to an outlet you could go almost anywhere? How about driving and stopping over a specified area on the road and fully charging up your electric car, truck, or public transportation bus? ITS HERE! As a matter of a fact, most of the top car manufacturers already have began creating models for exactly that. Within the next few years you will begin to see more cars, actually, vehicles of all sorts on the roads. You will also see a huge number of charging stations all around your entire city infrastructure.....
How about cell phone integration into your sun or seeing glasses? I myself am interested in the awesome lithium Ion battery technology as well as fuel cell technology. Wow! We are in for such great advances soon. I am very excited and just hope to be around to enjoy and work with them!
Which leads me to think about a current, existing, major PROBLEM!
The current electrical conducting/transportation system that provides electricity to you and your city 24/7 is quite old, and under extreme stress. EXTRA OLD conductors that are justifiably almost compromised, repaired, tapped into, re-installed, and most definitely, EXPANDED BEYOND YOUR BELIEF in the past 20-40 years!
I have tried to take a guess as to how many miles of circuitry myself working for others and Douglas Doherty Electric & Solar has installed! An awesome amount for sure, which I am really proud of. Take that plus add every other electrical and general contractor out there's accumulated approximate totals and it easy to see whats up.
Solar and other renewable energies have also been a huge part of the complete electrical structure. REMEMBER, all grid tied solar and renewable energy systems are ADDED to the existing complete electrical grid! All electrical needs run through those overhead wires, from a source to every single needed outlet, light, or electrical device.....
2012 will be quite a year for energy and how humans control it in a much more compassionate, reasonable and extremely innovative way. It just has to. I really do not to write about the otherwise.....
In conclusion, for today, I leave you with these thoughts of our immediate future, and hope you are SPARKED into coming up with the next revolutionary idea! Do it

Thank you again for stopping by Ask Doug The Electrician!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hold your drill with two hands

Welcome back to Ask Doug The Electrician! Happy Monday to everyone. So last week I needed to get a few wires through the bottom plate or mud sill of a residence. I began drilling and just didn't quite have the right body positioning so I stopped to reposition. Once I had my body in the right position I began drilling again. Once the motor kicked in it torqued the drill and it twisted in my hands, hitting my eye and cheek bone... Bummer. I had all my force against the drill in a forward position and not so much in the side to side. Man that got me good! I stayed in the same spot and finished drilling through and made sure it was adequate. Once my partner saw my face and the blood he asked if I was OK, I went inside to clean up real quick. A day later I had a sore black eye.
So, my fellow friends who intend on drilling with your own drill motors, please remember to use two hands and don't put your face near the motor... Good advise!
Till next time, thank you for stopping by!

Ask Doug The Electrician!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Thank you for stopping by Ask Doug The Electrician! I have had the unfortunate privilege of having the last two weeks off of work, so I have also been a little worried. This year has been very tough for everyone who I have spoken to, and it seems that most of the contracting business owners that I know have been hit about as hard as myself. I have never been in this position for so long, and hope something changes very soon.

I will keep on looking out for others, and hopefully something comes in for us too. Have a great weekend all!
Ask Doug The Electrician!