How Solar Power Works: An Infographic

Have you ever wondered how solar power works?

How those weird looking solar panels convert sunlight into power for your home? We at Stellar have found that many people are in the dark about how the process of using solar power for your home works, so we put together this simplified info graphic to help you understand:


how solar power works



Michael Powers:  Solar Power Visionary

Stellar Solar Co-Founder Michael Powers was featured this week on the front page of the UT San Diego business section in an interview covering his extensive experience in and passion for the solar industry. Michael uses solar to power his home, his car, and his life.  Powers has been a huge proponent of solar energy since its beginning in San Diego in 2001, when Powers helped the first three Home Depot stores stock solar panels to be sold to the masses. 

Since Powers’ solar introduction in 2001, he has been on the cusp of the residential solar boom, building Stellar Solar, now one of San Diego’s top solar contractors, with his partners Kent Harle and Brian Grems.  Michael also runs a popular solar energy news blog and eNewsletter called “Terrawatts”, which is a trusted source of industry news for energy professionals.  He is a man who is passionate about solar, and who has made his living through pursuing that passion.

Recently the Union Tribune San Diego sat down with Mr. Powers and questioned him about the state of solar power and its future.  Mr. Powers is a professional at explaining not only how solar panels work, but also how they can save you money.  In the interview, Powers explains the “intermittent” nature of solar power, how when panels produce more power than needed, the extra power is received as a credit by SDG&E.  When panels are not producing enough power, the extra power needed is taken from the SDG&E credit so that it balances out the amount of power used but still costs the homeowner nothing.  Powers also spoke on the increasing amount of direct internet sales of solar, as now, he said, all that is needed is an electric bill and view of the home’s roof on Google Earth, and a quote can be written.  The days of solar contractors having to come out and look at the house to produce a quote are over, which is saving solar companies’ and their customers time and money.

With SDG&E renegotiating the way they bill and credit solar energy producers, Powers also encourages homeowners thinking about going solar to go ahead and make the leap: “anybody who buys a solar energy system between now and around 2017, they’re all going to be grandfathered in.”  Homeowners who buy their solar systems now will avoid the future costs involved with the SDG&E renegotiations.

Check out the full interview here:


The California Solar Initiative: The Policy that Helped Ignite an Industry

Despite the worldwide decline of solar energy installations due to the cutting of government incentive programs, one state’s program in particular has been extremely successful: Sunny California.  In fact, The California Solar Initiative, created by the state’s legislator in 2006 with the goal of putting solar panels on 1 million homes, was a gleaming success, exceeding their initial goal by hundreds of megawatts.  The program was scheduled to continue until 2016, but is being shutdown now, with it’s goals being far met two years early.
Unlike other countries’ solar incentive programs, California’s also worked in stimulating the birth of an industry.  Data from GTM Research reports that 74% of all solar projects in the state were completed without utilizing incentives in 2014.  It is estimated that California installers will deploy over a gigawatt of solar projects this year, most or all of which without the use of incentives.  
So what made the California Solar Initiative more successful than programs in other countries?  How did California get it’s residents hooked on solar?  The key to making the program sustainable from the beginning was using volumetric reductions in incentives.  Basically, the more megawatts deployed, the less payments given out.  This allowed the market to dictate the amount of money being spent, instead of having to rely on lawmakers to make a decision every time a change to the program was needed.
While the California Solar Initiative cannot be fully credited for starting the solar revolution in California, it did make financing solar a reality for thousands of households that otherwise would not have been able to afford it.  It has set California up to be on the forefront of cumulative solar deployment for the entire world, and sets an example for other US state governments on how to incentivize solar energy.  



Solar Power Takes Flight in the Airline Industry

Solar energy is changing the way we power our airports.  Across the nation, states are turning to solar power to cut down on the operating costs and carbon emissions created by powering airports, an initiative that is not only helping the environment, but is also creating jobs.

Last Thursday government officials in Minnesota announced a $25 million solar project to be constructed at The Minneapolis St. Paul Airport, an addition that is anticipated to generate 20 percent of the airports’ electricity.  This move not only further solidifies Minnesota’s reputation as a leader in the the nation’s clean-energy policies, but stimulates the local economy as well by creating a slew of jobs.

The increase in the amount of airports turning to solar is due mostly to the airline industry’s sinking bottom line in recent years.  Energy stands as airports’ second largest expense, right behind personnel, and is so expensive that is causing most airlines to lose money each year.  Solar presents itself foremost as a money saver, which no one can argue with.

The environmental impact of the recent movement of airports moving to solar is significant as well.  The FAA estimates airports are currently reducing ozone emissions by 370 tons a year, the equivalent of removing 20,604 cars off the road.

So it’s clear why airports are turning to solar.  The obvious benefit of cost-effectiveness along with the positive effect on our environmental well-being is becoming too hard to ignore.  Hopefully, this trend of green airlines is indicative of a larger trend of big businesses switching to solar power.


Solar Lease vs. Loan: Which Is Better?


Solar power has never been more affordable, with plenty of financing options to choose from.

Many of the national solar companies rely heavily on 20-year contracts such as solar leases or Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) which have become very popular over the past few years.

However, in most cases, there are other ways to finance a solar investment — such as the new 12-year, 1.99% Combo Loan – that can save customers a lot of money over the long haul and that’s why people are taking a look at them before taking the plunge into solar.

This also allows customers to take advantage of the 30% solar income tax credit, cutting their net cost by about one-third. (Read more here.)


Solar Loans Now Available for Smaller Businesses and Non-Profits Through PACE Financing

Many small to medium-sized businesses would like to go solar to save money on their growing electric bills. Until recently, however, there was simply no financing available for smaller projects in either the commercial or non-profit segments of the market.

All that has changed, thanks to the new PACE program (Property Assessed Clean Energy) being offered in most areas of San Diego County.

Similar to residential PACE loans (also called “HERO” loans), PACE financing allows businesses and institutions that own property to borrow up to 20% of the assessed value of their properties for clean energy and efficiency projects, including solar.

Stellar Solar, voted San Diego’s Best Solar Panel Company by U-T readers for the past 3 out of 4 years, recently became qualified to offer PACE loans through Figtree Financing, a local lender based in Mira Mesa.

Because they often own their own properties, churches and other faith-based groups such as private schools can also take advantage of PACE financing to go solar and start saving on the energy bills immediately.

The best part about PACE loans is that the term can extend for up to 20 years with no money down and the projects are cash-flow positive from Year One. One small business in Mission Hills, for example, currently has an electric bill of about $1,225 per month; between energy savings and tax incentives, the PACE solar loan will generate almost $100,000 in positive cash flow in just the first 5 years alone.

Recently completed 73 kW PV solar system at First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego provides over 80% of the facility's energy needs. New PACE financing allows non-profits like this along with smaller commercial businesses to finance solar projects by leveraging property value.

Recently completed 73 kW PV solar system at First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego provides over 80% of the facility’s energy needs. New PACE financing allows non-profits like this along with smaller commercial businesses to finance solar projects by leveraging their property value to help reduce or eliminate energy costs.

For taxable businesses, PACE loans allow them to re-coup up to 40% of the initial project cost — in the first year alone –as direct cash flow from tax credits, depreciation and state rebate payments.

State solar rebates are expected to run out by the end of 2014 so many commercials properties are moving forward now to reserve these funds. Fortunately, with the PACE financing, projects generally remain cash-flow positive, even without the rebates.

Solar has always been a good investment, allowing people to save money while saving the planet. Now, PACE financing allows small-to-medium-sized businesses to take part while also making sure the business maintains a healthy cash flow for growth.

For more information on PACE solar financing for business and non-profits, please visit or email today!


Stellar Solar Steps Up Video Advertising

Stellar Solar is stepping up their advertising game.  Recently we produced a series of videos to be aired on Youtube and select San Diego television stations. The ads are aimed at informing the public about the benefits of going solar with Stellar, expressed in a comedic yet educational way.

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We know what you’re thinking, and no, these aren’t your normal run-of-the-mill local ads.  The original idea, conceived by Marketing Director David Boylan, is unique and humorous: the video mimics an NFL press conference.  The audience of the conference, all actual Stellar Solar team members, aggressively question Joe Bowden, our own project manager, about Stellars’ 1.99% financing, 30-day installation guarantee, and winning San Diego’s Best Solar Company for the fourth time in three years.  Joe responds to the questions with conviction and fervor: yes, the rumors are true. His confidence nails down the point that Stellar Solar is the clear choice when it comes to solar power in San Diego.

FullSizeRender[1]Joe Bowden, ready for the conference.


The quality of the commercial also sets it apart from the standard local ad.  With its vibrant video, amazing 3d motion graphics and crisp audio, the ad is in the same league as commercials produced by national advertising agencies.  This dedication to quality reflects our high standard when it comes to its reputation, a philosophy that follows into the day to day operations of the company. 


The ad is going to be run alongside national spots on ESPN, CNN, and Fox News, a move our Vice CEO believes will tap into a whole new solar market: “With its sports theme, we’ll be targeting male homeowners through traditional cable buys and very targeted YouTube pre-roll campaigns. Our 1.99% financing and 30 day installation guarantee provide a very strong call to action because at the end-of-the-day these are all about generating leads.”

The ads can be found here:


Stellar Solar Powers Events for Free

Imagine yourself at a concert, grooving to the tunes of a great band.  The event is a typical outdoor concert fundraiser; with food, drinks, and smiles abound.  Everything seems normal, except you can’t help but notice the giant solar panels that are also present.   Solar energy at a concert?  Is this some kind of dream?

No, it’s not a dream.  Right now, Stellar Solar, San Diego’s Best Solar Company, is offering our Stellar Mobile Solar Station for events and happenings of all kinds.  The best part is, it’s free.  Whatever the event may be, from school events to demo days, The Stellar Solar Mobile Solar Station can provide mobile power that can provide for all or most of your events’ power needs at no cost. Complete with a solar powered racetrack, our Mobile Solar Station provides fascination and entertainment for kids and adults alike.

photo 2The Stellar Mobile Solar Station setup at the Talmadge Block Party.


This past Saturday, October 11, Stellar Solar used its Stellar Mobile Station to power the stage at the Talmadge block party, a large event in the neighborhood of Talmadge put on to bring the community together.  This event provides an example of how The Stellar Mobile Station can be put to good use; to help save the community money, and reduce the impact of powering such events on the environment.

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Some of the tents powered by the Stellar Mobile Solar Station.

If you would like more information about how you can power your next event using The Stellar Mobile Solar Station, give us a call at 866-787-6527.


Stellar Solar Wins San Diego’s Best Solar Company 2014

I am pleased to announce that for the third time in
four years, Stellar Solar has won San Diego’s Best of Award for Best
Solar Company in San Diego for 2014.  I am thrilled to win this year
as it proves that our previous results, winning in 2011, coming in a
close second in 2012, and winning again in 2013 were not flukes, and
that we are consistent in the way we do business.

Since we started in 1998, we at Stellar Solar have worked to provide
the best experience possible for our customers switching to solar.
Our no-pressure, no-gimmick, educational approach has been key to our
success, as our only tactic is to show customers how solar can benefit
them.  Our high rate of referral business shows that our customers not
only are satisfied with our work, but also with the way we do business
and trust us enough to recommend to their friends.  Customer opinions
of our company are also well represented online, with our industry
leading 5-star Yelp reviews, our A+ with the Better Business Bureau,
and positive feedback on Angie’s List.

We also offer a variety of financing options that set us apart from
the competition.  Our 1.99% 12-year solar financing is putting solar
within the reach of a much wider segment of homeowners, with the
possibility of bills being as low as $100 a month.  Throw in our
30-day installation guarantee, and it’s clear that we take the extra
step to make the solar experience as positive as possible for our

That said I would like to personally thank everyone that voted to make
us San Diego’s best Solar Company in 2014, and hope to continue to
uphold this reputation in the years to come.

Thanks again San Diego,

Kent Harle


Stellar Solar Powering Harley Davidson Project LiveWire

Our Mobile Solar Station will be powering the festivities around this historic event being held July 24-26 at San Diego Harley-Davidson’s new Morena Boulevard location

Stellar Solar is teaming up with San Diego Harley-Davidson to present the first-of-its-kind Project LiveWire Experience making its way across America offering test rides and engaging displays to the public. Harley-Davidson recently revealed Project LiveWire – the first Harley-Davidson electric motorcycle.

In keeping with the company’s customer-led product development approach, consumers across the country will be able to ride and provide feedback on the bike, helping to shape the future of Harley-Davidson’s first-ever electric motorcycle. While not for sale, Project LiveWire is specifically designed for the purpose of getting insight into rider expectations of an electric Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Even those who don’t ride are welcome to participate through the unique Jumpstart simulator that provides an experience very close to the real thing. Project LiveWire will be at the Morena Boulevard location Thursday, July 24 through Saturday, July 26. The main event is Saturday, July 26 from 12 – 4pm. All three days will feature complimentary solar powered food and beverages from the Stellar Solar Mobile Solar Station.

Stellar Solar is connected with San Diego Harley-Davidson through General Manager Ty Miller who had a Stellar Solar system installed on his home. Kent Harle, CEO of Stellar Solar is and avid motorcycle enthusiast who owns a vintage Harley-Davidson and was thrilled by news of the event.

Stellar CEO Kent Harle on the Harley-Davidson Project LiveWire e Motorcycle

Stellar CEO Kent Harle on the Harley-Davidson Project LiveWire e Motorcycle

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