Stellar Solar Sponsoring Annual Summer Fun on the 101 Event

Stellar Solar is a big supporter of the the local arts, culinary and music communities here in San Diego.

In the past few years we’ve sponsored and powered many  events and shows. We are especially excited to announce that we will be sponsoring the beer garden with Lost Abbey and Port Brewing Company at this year’s Summer Fun on the 101, an annual celebration of local music, highlighting Leucadia.

lost-abbeyPORT_BREWING_CO_CIRCLE_LOGOStellar currently supports several local music venues and radio shows.  The Folkey Monkey, an acoustic songwriter’s showcase that occurs every week, is sponsored by Stellar. In addition, Stellar sponsors the popular local radio show Lick the Plate on KPRI radio, featuring Stellars’ own Director of Marketing David Boylan, who interviews local chefs every week.

The Summer Fun on the 101 is set to be an epic celebration of local music in the Leucadia sun.  Featuring local bands, with such greats as the prodigal jazz duo the Mattson Two, and local brews from Lost Abbey Brewing Co., the event is bringing all the local greats to the table.  Combine the band lineup and brews with over $4,000 worth in raffle prizes, including a surfboard, and you’ve got an event you can’t miss.  Come on out to Summer Fun on the 101, and say “hey” to us at the Stellar Solar tent!


It’s Official: North County San Diego Loves Solar

Cities in North County San Diego are catching the solar buzz.

Carlsbad recently finished a $1 million dollar project at Alga Norte Park, and have another solar installation in the works set for the city’s Safety Training Center.  This installation is estimated to pay itself back in energy savings in 10 to 11 years, which to city officials, is worth it.

The ultimate goal of these city solar installations is to save taxpayers money in the long run.   A solar farm installed in 2013 at the San Luis Rey Wastewater Reclamation Plant in Oceanside is already saving the treatment plant $80,000 a year in tax dollars.  Other cities are opening their eyes to these savings, and are following suit.


Declining Solar Costs

Part of this sudden movement of cities toward solar has been because of the rapidly declining costs.  Solar panels have gotten much cheaper due to China entering the solar panel market, and have become more efficient.  Solar installations have also gotten cheaper and faster as company’s get more experience and as training becomes more accessible to workers.  Combine the low price with the government financing and rebates available, and solar has become more affordable than ever.

Other solar projects installed in North County early on are providing examples of just how efficient solar can be here in San Diego.  The Vista Irrigation District, which provides water to residents of Vista, Escondio, and Oceanside, had solar installed back in 2010.  Thus far the system has been performing better than expected, providing 70 percent of the plant’s energy needs, even though it was only expected to provide 62 percent.


Not Just the City

Businesses, churches, and non-profits are taking advantage of solar savings as well.  Stellar Solar recently announced several new commercial solar projects for businesses and churches, including: Advanced Machining Solutions in Chula Vista, Scrooscoop Fastener in Carlsbad, The Leichtag Foundation in Encinitas, Grace Lutheran Church in Escondido, and Northminster Presbyterian Church in San Diego.  Micheal Powers, co-founder of Stellar Solar had this to say about the recent surge in governmental and commercial solar business: “Business owners, nonprofits and churches are feeling the pinch of electric rate hikes as much or more than homeowners and many have found that going solar can have an immediate impact on their bottom line. The PACE program or “Property Assessed Clean Energy” solar loan is being offered in most areas of San Diego County and is a game changer for these organizations.”

So the proof is there: solar will save money.  Not only have consumers realized this, but now city governments and businesses have done the math and realized that they should make the switch.  The fact is that solar is booming here in San Diego, not only on people’s homes, but on city structures as well.

Fifteen Stars in One Day: A “Stellar” Performance

At Stellar Solar, we work hard at customer satisfaction.

So, it’s no surprise that we have more 5-Star Reviews on Yelp than any other solar company in San Diego. But yesterday, we received THREE 5-Star Reviews in a single day and that’s a first! All three came in from customers of Mark Mihelich! Way to go, Mark and thanks to everybody for doing such a good job, from the folks in the office to the guys in the installation crew. You are what make this such a great company to work with!

Our Yelp:


The Rise of Commercial Solar in the US

Commercial solar is booming.

Why? Business owners are all about cutting costs. Savvy businessmen know that even the most minute of costs, whether it be the price of printing paper, or the energy used to pump AC into an office, can add up to seriously cut into profits.  That’s why commercial solar panel installation has had such a boost in the past few years; the dropping price of solar has made commercial solar too cost effective to ignore.

The Benefits of Commercial Solar

The reasons that these businesses are switching to solar are clear.  First, solar lowers operating costs.  For commercial users, the price of electricity has gone up more than 20 percent in ten years, moving from $0.08/kWh to more than $0.10/kWh.  The commercial sector as a whole consumes 1.3 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh) each year, so combined with the rate increase, billions of dollars are being lost to the rising bills.  Producing their own power means businesses can greatly cut in to these operating costs.commercial solar

The second reason that businesses are going solar is that energy rates are volatile, and companies need stability in order to plan for costs and expenses.  Electric companies can hike rates whenever they want, so commercial solar makes sense for business owners because they can produce their own power without having to worry about the changes in energy rates.  The more predictable energy and operating costs are, the more effectively businesses can plan out their expenses.

Commercial Solar Installation in the US

As of August 2014, the top 25 companies with the most solar capacity have deployed more than 569 MW at 1,110 different facilities; enough power to light up 115,000 American homes.  That’s a growth of 28 percent over last year, and is double that of the capacity in 2012.  The amount of solar installed on businesses across America is now enough to offset 549,296 metric tons of damaging carbon emissions.

A large portion of the commercial solar installed this year was on businesses that have installed solar before and are seeing the positive effect on their bottom line.  These companies are seeing the savings are now aching for more commercial solar panels.  As of August 2014, the companies with the most solar capacity (in Megawatts) are:

  1. Walmart (105.1 MW) – This represents a 15 MW jump from last year, affirming that Walmart is the solar king of all corporations.
  2. Kohl’s (50.2)
  3. Costco (48.1)
  4. Apple (40.7)
  5. Ikea (39.1)
  6. Macy’s (20.8)
  7. Johnson & Johnson (17.8)
  8. Target (14.9) – Target installed 15 new solar systems this past year.
  9. McGraw Hill (14.1)
  10. Staples (13.7)

While Walmart may have the highest solar capacity by a long-shot, they also have many more facilities, and a lot more stuff to power.  Thus, while they may have the most solar capacity, 95% of their facilities still do not run on solar.  Some companies have managed to power a large amount of their facilities through commercial solar panels, such as:

IKEA 87%


VF Outdoor 33%

 Commercial Solar in San Diego

Many businesses and institutions in San Diego have had commercial solar panels installed as a way to cut costs.  Stellar Solar has been a trusted commercial solar company in the area since 1998, and has installed commercial solar panels on several prestigious facilities such as the Salk Institute, Scripps Ranch High School, San Diego Cardiac Center, Loyola University, City of Anaheim, US Foods, Vandenberg Air Force Base, and Cedars-Sinai Hospital.  With the 30% US tax credit, these businesses saved a bundle by having 30% of their commercial solar installation costs subtracted from their federal income tax payments.

So it’s clear as to why businesses are making a mass move towards solar.  It greatly cuts down on operating costs by saving money on energy, and unchains businesses from the volatile rates of the energy companies.  Solar saves money, and provides stability, which is why there has been such a rise in commercial solar installations in the US.

san diego commercial solar

A Stellar Solar System installed on The Salk Institute.


3 Reasons Why Solar Has Gotten So Cheap

The solar industry has changed dramatically in the past five years, some would even say that it’s in a “boom”.

Since 2010, the amount of solar installations has grown exponentially, with the amount of the amount of installed solar capacity topping 6,000 Megawatts in 2014; nearly six times that of the amount installed in 2010.  What can explain this huge uptick in solar sales?

The price.

Graph via

Graph via

While we would like to believe that US citizens have all suddenly woken up to the environmental benefits of going solar, we are more inclined to believe that the falling price, and the savings that are yielded, are the real motivation behind the sudden switch.  In years past solar wasn’t quite worth it, but now homeowners cannot turn their heads away from the numbers.  Solar is now too good of a deal to deny, mostly due to three factors:

1. Cheaper Panels

Probably the biggest contributing factor to the price of solar installations dropping is the fact that solar panels are much cheaper than they used to be.  A recent report by the SEIA found that the price of photovoltaic solar panels has dropped 63% since 2010.  The reason for this can be partly attributed to China, when a few years ago they decided to enter the solar market.  The Chinese opened up a ton of panel factories, so many in fact that there was a surplus of panels once these manufacturers hit the market.  This surplus caused the price of panels to plummet, and they’ve stayed low since.


2. Easier Installationssolar

As with any business, the biggest cost for solar companies is labor – paying the guys who install the solar system.  While solar installers aren’t being paid any less than they used to, they are working faster and more efficiently.  New technologies that allow panels to be simply snapped in place have allowed for installations to take a quarter of the time they used to, which saves the solar companies money, in turn saving the solar consumer money.

3. Financing Options

New financing options have allowed for a new economic class to access solar.  While a new solar system may cost $25,000, solar companies like us at Stellar offer financing options to fit a wide variety of budgets.  Most companies offer a lease or loan option, with lease agreements typically lasting 20 years.  Stellar Solar offers a zero money down, 1.89% solar loan along with a solar lease that is backed by industry leader Sunpower.

So it’s clear why solar panel installation has gotten so cheap, and thusly, so popular.  With a plummet in panel prices, cheaper and more efficient labor, and affordable financing, solar has never been cheaper or more accessible.  Projections show that these prices should remain stable or drop even more over the next few years; a good indication that solar will continue to boom.

It’s Official: America Loves Solar.

Recent Gallup Polls found that about 90% of Americans want a push for more solar.

A recent Gallup poll found that 79% of Americans think that the US government should put more emphasis on solar, while 12% thought that there should be the same emphasis.  That’s 91% of Americans who support the same or further development of solar.

The poll was performed via telephone interviews conducted March 5-8, 2015.  All 1,025 adult (18+ year old) participants were randomly selected in the United States and British Columbia.  The poll is the most recent and extensive of its kind.

The percentage of Americans who believe there should be more emphasis on solar has gone up 3% since the poll was last taken in 2013.  All other sources of energy lost support since 2013; even wind energy is down 1%.  From these numbers, it’s easy to see that America is slowly figuring out that solar is the way to go for renewable energy heading into the future.

Political Uniformity

Perhaps the most interesting conclusion that can be taken from the polls is that solar is popular across the board politically.  82% of Democrats support the development of solar, 83% of independents, and 70% of Republicans.  That’s pretty huge considering that the Republicans and Democrats rarely agree on such issues.  Apparently, solar is too appealing to deny, no matter your political affiliation.

So it’s clear from the results that America is, by a large majority, in support of solar.  With 91% of people polled supporting the development of solar, it’s hard to deny that America sees it as a clear solution to the energy problem.  With political parties in agreeance on the issue as well, it seems as though solar has a bright future in America.



Solar Cars: How You Can Save Thousands on Gas by Going Solar

Filling up your gas tank can be one of the most painful parts of the day.

You work hard for your money, and watching how much of that hard work gets wasted at the pump can be a bit discouraging.  For many of us, gas is a huge expense that can eat up a lot of our money.  If only we could break our addiction to that liquid gold that is gasoline, we could save money we never knew we had.

The good news is, you can break the gasoline addiction.  No, you don’t have to ride a bike, but nowadays, the payoff of owning an electric car is hard to ignore.  The hybrids and full electric cars out there today are becoming more mainstream, and more and more people are waking up to the savings that an electric car can bring.

solar cars

Let’s break down the savings.

A standard gasoline car gets about 20 miles to the gallon.  Gas, although it does fluctuate a lot, is generally around $4.00 a gallon.  So the cost per mile of driving a standard gasoline car is about 20 cents a mile.

The standard electric car these days gets about 3.5 miles for every kilowatt-hour.  The average kilowatt-hour costs a homeowner about 20 cents per kWh.  So the cost per mile of driving an electric car that your charge at home is about 5.7 cents a mile.

So the saving are obvious there.  By switching to electric, the cost to drive your car literally is cut by almost 75%.  Pretty incredible right?  But think about this:  what if your electricity was costing you less?

By switching to solar energy to power your home, you can cut your power bills by more than half. The average solar installation makes the cost of a kilowatt-hour drop from 20 cents a kWh to 7 cents a kWh.

So how does this translate to savings when it comes to driving?

Solar cars, when powered by a solar powered home, will cost only 2 cents per mile to drive.  With electric cars getting 3.5 miles per kWh, at 7 cents a kWh, solar powered cars save you 90% per mile.

So it’s obvious that solar cars are the cheapest way to get around.  The question remains though as to how expensive these electric cars are compared to their counterparts, and how easy they are to attain.

The new hybrid 2015 Nissan Leaf starts at $29,000.  They are now easily available at any Nissan dealership.  A comparable non-electric car of similar size from Nissan, the 2015 Nissan Sentra, a similar sized hatchback, starts at around $16,500.

So let’s look at how the gas savings compare.  Let’s say you commute 30 miles a day, five days a week.  So you drive 150 miles a week, 600 miles a month, and 7,200 miles a year.

Nissan Sentra: 7,200 Miles X 20 cents a mile = 144,000 cents, or $1,440 for a years’ worth of driving.

Nissan Leaf (without solar powered home): 7,200 Miles X 5.7 cents a mile = 41,040 cents or $410.40 for a year’s worth of driving.

Nissan Leaf (with solar powered home): 7,200 Miles X 2 cents a Mile = 14,400 cents, or $144 for a years’ worth of driving.

So if you’re driving a solar powered car, you could be saving around $1,300 a year on gas.  The savings on gas will make up for the price difference between the Leaf and the Sentra in around 9 years, and after that it’s purely savings.

Setting an example for anyone considering solar powered cars is Stellar Solar’s own VP of Sales and Marketing Michael Powers.  Powers drives his Nissan Leaf to and from work every day, and plugs it in to his solar powered home at night. In a recent interview with the Union Tribune, Michael had this to say about his solar car:  “I drive an electric car that I plug into a solar-powered house so that car runs on sunshine, and to me that’s a great idea.”

solar powered cars

Michael Powers mows his lawn next to his solar powered car.


2014 California Solar Report

While it was a record-breaking year for solar nationwide, no state set the solar example in 2014 like California.  See just how much solar California installed in this infographic we put together:

california solar


Michael Powers: Newsmaker

This week, The San Diego Source did a feature video on Stellar Solar co-founder Michael Powers, interviewing him about Stellar and the state of the solar industry.  In the video, Michael speaks of Stellar’s reputation, not only in the residential but the commercial sector of solar installation.  He then goes on to explain the reasons why so many people have been going solar in the past few years.  Michael chalks it up mostly to financial reasons, but adds that public awareness of global warming has helped as well, as people are looking to reduce their environmental impact.michael powers

Michael goes on to explain why now is a better time than ever to go solar.  Currently, the “net metering” rule, as he explains it, allows you to sell the extra power your panels produce during the day back to the utility company for a credit.  At night, when your panels aren’t producing, you then buy power from the utility company using your credit.  This allows you to maximize your solar power production, as it is somewhat “distributed” evenly throughout the day.  California solar has been operating by these rules for the last 20 years.

The net metering rules are set to change once more than 5% of the meters in California are connected to solar.  At the rate that solar has been installed in California in the last few years, we are expected to hit that percentage in the next year or so.  Once we hit that percentage, the utility companies are allowed to renegotiate the rules by which solar is hooked up to their grid.  Michael comments on this renegotiation: “We don’t think there is going to be major changes, but the truth is we don’t really know what is going to be negotiated.”  The good news is that if you hop on the solar bandwagon before these changes, you will be grandfathered into the current net metering rules for the next 20 years.  As Michael puts it: “There has never been a better time to go solar than right now.”

Stellar Solar Makes Angie’s List Honor Roll

Angie’s List, the largest and most respected consumer review site besides Yelp, has just nominated Stellar Solar for their May “Honor Roll”.  The Angie’s List Honor Roll is awarded monthly to nine companies with outstanding reviews, and Stellar was honored this month as one of the top solar companies in San Diego.  Angie’s List is highly regarded as a consumer review site as no anonymous reviews are allowed, and therefore every review is legitimate and must be backed up.

stellar solar angies list

We at Stellar Solar are honored to receive such an award, and would like to thank our loyal customers for writing such complimentary reviews.  For our future customers, we encourage you to use Angie’s List to review our company.  Any feedback we receive is valuable, so please let us know how you’re experience with us was.

From everyone here at Stellar Solar, we just want to say thank you San Diego, for the reviews, and the business.

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