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The New Solar Lease

29 Mar

These days, everyone knows that buying electricity from the utility costs more than solar and creates more pollution than cars and airplanes combined; but for a long time, the solar investment was so large that it was only popular with the very rich or super environmentalists.  Leasing made it possible to obtain cheap solar equipment with very little money upfront and payments less than or similar to utility payments; but again, it wasn’t so attractive that it could be called a true “no-brainer”…until now!

Sunpower just released their latest panel upgrade that exceeds all other panels in efficiency and ‘real world’ performance and reliability.  The E20 series with Maxeon technology is something that you have to get to know; and you can do this by watching the videos on You Tube at this link:  Take 10-minutes to watch the first 5 videos and you will agree – Sunpower is the best in solar.  And, since Sunpower is both the leasing company AND the manufacturer, Sunpower is also the best lease in solar!

Other companies offer leasing – but it’s for cheap, low quality equipment.  Other companies offer Sunpower – but they don’t have CGD’s experienced construction and electrical people or design expertise.  The ‘No-Brainer’ combination is Sunpower from CGD; email or call and let us show you!

At CGD, we’re going a step further than turning sunshine into electricity – we’re turning it into college funds and retirement accounts!  We don’t want you to touch the nest egg that you have worked hard to build…the money for the kids college or your retirement  – we want to add to it.  Contact a CGD Solar Designer today and they will show you just how much money we can create from sunshine for you.  It costs nothing – so why wouldn’t you?


Your Solar Nest Egg

29 Feb

What Solar Can Do For You

We’ve been doing a little math here at CAGD, creating some savings charts for the latest solar proposals, we have been getting some pretty impressive results.

Even a 2kW solar electric system creates a nice little Solar Nest Egg for you, the homeowner to put towards retirement or the kids’ college fund. We thought we’d share some of the numbers.

If your Solar Electric System saved you $50/month:

Savings in 20 years with conservative utility price increases:

Over $28,000

Savings in 20 years with interest:

Over $51,000

What could you do with your Solar Nest Egg?
Kids College Fund?
Home Improvement?


What will your savings be?

This is a great example, but every solar installation is different, lease or buy? Roof mount or ground mount? 2kW or 10? SCE or LADWP? There are quite a few variables. Interested in finding out what your potential savings could be? Contact us at (818) 705 3474, and we’ll lay out a savings chart for your specific potential solar electric installation.

Have you starting thinking about your taxes?

19 Oct

TAX TIME IS HERE – from a solar perspective anyway!

September is a month that always seems to go by fast – isn’t it?  It takes 6 to 10 weeks to maneuver the solar permitting and utility interconnect process; if you want to get a 2011 tax credit for your solar installation, now is time to ACT.


To make this even easier for you, from now until November 11th, California Green Designs is offering 6-Months, SAME AS CASH on all Sunpower solar purchases along with other Great Financing Offers.

Solar Increases Home Sale Prices by $17,000

19 Aug

New research by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory finds that installing a residential solar energy system increases a home’s value by an average of $17,000 or $5,500/kW.

Solar Adds to the Value of Your Home
The study analyzed 72,000 California homes sold between 2000 and mid-2009, almost 2,000 of which had solar energy systems. It found that homes with solar sold for an average of $17,000 more than comparable non-solar homes.

Homes with solar power attracted higher offers from buyers who wanted to save money on utility bills and reduce their impact on the environment. The increase home sale prices was comparable to the average cost of system installation, and solar homeowners also enjoyed the benefit of dramatically lower electric bills.

How to choose a Solar Contractor

28 Jul
California Green Designs is one of many solar installers in the solar installation market, we want to make sure you feel comfortably entrusting your home with us. This can be a tough decision, as you have to balance factors such as price, qualification and experience. Solar PV energy systems themselves are expensive, complex, and could even be dangerous if installed incorrectly – which is why you should use a licensed contractor with their own full time installation teams. Here are 5 things to look for in a solar contractor before investing in solar.

Researching your Solar Installer:

1. Do they have good references from other homeowners?

Word of mouth is priceless and references from past customers can be hugely important in selecting the right solar contractor. Ask them for referrals and do a background check. Also we recommend do a quick check with the BBB and make sure they have a high standing.

2. Is your Solar Installation Company Licensed and Bonded?

Is your Solar Contractor fully bonded and licensed by the State of California, if so, what is the status of the license and have any complaints been filed against the license holder. This information can also be obtained from the Contractor’s State License Board of the State of California Also make sure that your contractor has both a Contractor’s General and Professional Liability Insurance policy, and a performance bond (typically $100,000).

2. Has the Company been around for a while?

You’re going to be entering a relationship with your contractor, they should guarantee their work for ten years. If they haven’t been around for more than a couple, how can you be sure they will be around in 7 years time. Make sure your solar company has a long history in solar to back up their work. This is why it’s also important for the installer to do it’s own installation, and not hire a subcontractor. A sub may or may not have done many solar installations in the past, and this is someone who will be making holes in your roof and working with electricity.

4. Do they Provide you with a Free on Site Estimate?

Each solar electric system is unique. Differences in roof type, orientation, possible shading, electrical interconnection options and customer requirements mean that there isn’t a “one size fits all” solution to solar. A good contractor will not hesitate to offer you a Free Estimate and a custom solar proposal for your home. He or she will also take the time to answer all your questions about a solar pv system that is custom designed for your needs.

5. Read the Contract

Be sure to read the contract carefully,as questions and be especially mindful of a lease contract if you are leasing your solar pv system. Ask your solar contractor to explain lease terms thoroughly, go through other lease options, and make sure you understand the escalator clause and other lease terms. Also make sure buying the system doesn’t make more sense for your situation.

By doing your homework and comparing various contractors, you are more likely to hire an excellent solar company.

Trees in the long term

6 May

In our recent Arbor Day post on the importance of trees in our everyday lives, we touched on the idea that solar and trees can in fact complement one another. We promised to go into further details on solar, trees and your electric bill. So without further ado, let’s get to it.

Trees can provide one great undesirable effect on solar electric systems, direct shade. At the same time, they can also provide some great benefits, such as shade? That’s right, if trees are not directly shading the panels, but are shading the side of the house or building, your solar electric system and in fact electric bill benefit. The trees keep the home cooler, which reduces your AC needs, and also reduces the heat your home naturally emits through the walls and roof. The reduction of emitted heat means the panels and inverter are cooler, and like most electronics, solar panels and their inverters are more efficient at cooler temps.

Whereas directly shading panels in the solar world is a big no, shading inverters we cannot encourage enough, inverters production is at its optimum in the cooler temps trees and shrubs can provide.

If you do decide to plant new shrubs or trees, keep in mind that the best position for them in Los Angeles, (and in fact the northern hemisphere) is on the west and south side of the house. If you already have a solar electric system or are planning on installing one, its best to look for trees that are a little on the short side, ideally below the roof line, to extend the good relationship between solar panels and trees.  Also keep in mind that with shorter trees, it’s best to plant them closer to the house, so you can get more out of over the course of the sun’s daily path.

If you are interested in a solar electric system, but have large trees around your house, contact us for a free solar site evaluation, we have a tool in our arsenal called a solar pathfinder, that can actually tell us which trees, if any, will shade a solar electric system.

Join us this weekend in Santa Monica at the AltBuild Design Conference & Expo

5 May

We’re excited to be taking part in the 8th Annual Alternative Building Materials & Design Conference & Expo AKA AltBuild, this weekend. It’s one of the most interesting and sustainability oriented Green events in the Country. The event will be held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on Friday May 6th and Saturday May 7th, 2011, from 10am to 5pm.

Stop by the California Green Designs booth and catch up on all the latest news regarding solar. We’ll be showing off one of our largest installations, and have on display two full-sized solar panels, an inverter, and a solar pathfinder – the instrument used to project the daily trek of the sun all year long.

Other events that will be held at the expo include the Energy Upgrade California Networking Event, and the Ask A Pro event organized by the AIA Los Angeles Chapter where folks can get advice on green renovation questions from licensed architects and LEED Accredited Professionals. The Hennessey & Ingalls bookstore will feature architecture, design and eco-friendly books on display and for purchase and the Post Alt-Build Mixer organized by the Westside Branch of USGBC-LA will be held as well.

Come and see the APEX Block Demo Trailer built made of 80% post industrial recycled polystyrene foam and 20% cement. LifeSource Water will provide refills of filtered water so bring your cateens to AltBuild and the ever popular AltBuild Café will offer a complete menu of lunch and dessert options.

Zero Waste will attempt  to capture as many valuable materials as possible through Zero Waste Stations and to encourage bike use to the event, a FREE Bike Valet parking will be set up by the City of Santa Monica.

Event Location
Santa Monica Convention Center

1855 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401-3209

Celebrate Arbor Day

29 Apr

The month of April is the environmental kickoff for the green industry. During April we celebrate not only Earth Day but also, and with just as much passion, we mark Arbor Day.  We are all aware of the many benefits of trees such as their absorption of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and their release of oxygen which is vital to all living things.

Trees also provide much needed shade, keep our climate cool, conserve water, improve air quality, and create their own eco systems for animals and other wildlife. In addition to these benefits, trees are also exceptionally beautiful and their presence in Los Angeles gives our neighborhoods amazing beauty and tranquility. They provide cover for paved surfaces, reduce water runoff and reflected heat. This helps lower airconditioning use. Trees improve the curb appeal of a neighborhood, increasing real estate values by 5 to 20 percent.

As a metric of how environmentally beneficial our work is, we have always kept track of the amount of electrical energy that our solar electric installations produce, and compare it with how many pounds of carbon dioxide we’ve offset, that would have been produced by coal for the same amount of energy. We also compare how many acres of trees would have been needed to offset those carbon dioxide emissions, that we’ve essentially eliminated. To date, we’ve installed over 4.5637 Megawatts of Solar. The average energy produced by this amount of power, is approximately 25.1 Megawatt-hours per day. So, each day our systems eliminate enough carbon dioxide emissions that would have required approximately 4,121 acres of trees, or roughly half a million trees, to offset.

When we design and install Solar Electric systems we are especially careful not to disturb trees. If any tree trimming is needed on a client’s property, we always turn to a qualified tree surgeon, such as Daniel Correa Gardening. We think that trees are a vital part of green technology and their strategic placement can help enhance the performance of a solar system. To find out more, read next week’s blog entry on “Solar, Your Electric Bill and Trees”.

At California Green Designs we love trees. We think trees rock! We have them in our company logo and in our hearts. Happy Arbor Day!Majestic Trees

CAGD Celebrates Earth Day

20 Apr

As this year’s Earth Day celebration approaches (mark your calendars for this Friday, April 22nd), we’d like to reflect on the truly beneficial aspects of what we do as a solar company.  Each day, we enable people living in our communities to take advantage of solar energy and in so doing, we help improve the world we live in. The sun is a truly amazing resource – it sustains life on our planet by keeping temperatures moderate, it gives light, allows crops and plants to grow and among other things, its energy can be converted to electricity which has powered the improvement in the standard of living since Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb.

As a company which specializes in helping people take advantage of solar photovoltaic energy, we get excited about Earth Day. On April 21st, we’ll be at the Earth Day Celebration at the prestigious Fox Plaza building. Located at 2121 Avenue of the Stars in Century City the event will be a great opportunity to meet and talk to people about green issues.

Just last month, an inspirational article written by prominent technology author and entrepreneur Ramez Naam in Scientific American magazine again highlights the really important benefits of solar energy, which is becoming ever more affordable and competitive with conventional fossil fuel energy sources. The Article can be seen at http://

To quote Ramez “If humanity could capture one tenth of one percent of the solar energy striking the earth – one part in one thousand – we would have access to six times as much energy as we consume in all forms today, with almost no greenhouse gas emissions.”

In the article, with data provided by the Department of Energy’s  National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the author goes on to explain that the trend of falling PV module costs has followed an exponential pattern over the past 30 years. The trend follows the famous “Moore’s law” trend seen in computer chip technology, only instead of doubling capacity every 18 months, “Solar Module Moore’s Law” explains the roughly 7% price drop of modules each year.

The author goes on to explain that since retail electricity prices are currently rising by a few percent each year, by 2018, the cost of solar electricity in the average location in the U.S. will cost the same as electricity produced from coal. By 2030, the author says, solar electricity is likely to cost half the cost of coal electricity. A typical solar module with a 20 year life span is estimated to produce about 7-10 times more energy than that which is required to manufacture it and solar technology represents a green power source with virtually no carbon emissions.

That’s good news for the world.

Happy Earth Day From All of Us at CAGD!

Earth Heart

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world. 
Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 
Margaret Mead

A Great Time at Go Green Expo

19 Apr

We had a great time at the Go Green Expo this weekend. One of the premiere sustainable lifestyle events of the year, Go Green was buzzing with excitement. The warm weekend weather made for a great turnout all weekend long, and the excitement of sustainable green living and clean solar energy was in the air. Our team members Patricia, David, Dean, and Shawn talked to a lot of folks interested in solar for their homes and businesses.

We were thrilled by all the interest from so many people who believe that solar energy is a vital part of our energy future and are we’re happy to share its many benefits. We also had a lot of excited participants in our solar charger raffle. Stay tuned for the winner announcement soon. We’re already looking forward to next year’s event and in the meantime look for us at green events all year long, such as Earth Day at Fox Plaza in Century City on April 21.