Choosing the Right Solar Panel for Homes in Long Beach and the Surrounding Areas

Apr 18, 2024 | Solar Energy

In Long Beach, California and the surrounding areas of Carson, Cerritos, Gardena, Lakewood, Norwalk, Torrance and more -  solar panels have become an increasingly popular way for homeowners to invest in renewable energy and reduce their carbon footprint. However, with so many options available, it can be difficult to choose the right solar panel for your home.

Mario Castillo Electric, a leading solar installation company in the Long Beach area, is here to help simplify the process. Let us help explain the essential factors to consider when selecting solar panels that are suitable for your home, budget, and the sunny Long Beach and surrounding area climate.

    Understanding the Technology Behind Solar Panels

    Before plunging into the solar panel marketplace, it's crucial to understand the technical jargon that often intimidates first-time solar panel buyers. Here's our quick primer on the essential terms and how they impact your panel's performance.

    Standard Test Conditions (STC)

    The industry measures panel performance at "standard test conditions" to ensure comparability. However, these conditions are ideal and may not represent real-world performance. Expect the actual energy output of your panels to differ from the STC values, especially on cloudier days or during peak summer temperatures.

    Normal Operating Cell Temperature (NMOT)

    NMOT takes into account the actual average cell temperature, providing a more accurate year-round performance.

    Power Density

    Power density is a measure of how much power a solar panel produces relative to its surface area. High power density panels perform better in low light conditions and are a good fit for homes with limited roof space. However, these panels are usually more expensive, so it's a balancing act to consider the added benefit against the cost.


    Efficiency is the ratio of energy output to the energy input received from the sun. Simply put, it's a measure of how much sunlight your solar panels convert into usable energy. Higher efficiency panels mean more energy for the same amount of sunlight, but they often come at a premium. 


    Solar panels degrade over time, with their energy output decreasing annually. Manufacturers generally specify the degradation rate in their product literature. Lower degradation rates indicate that the panel will maintain a higher percentage of its original output over its lifespan, a critical metric for ensuring that your investment pays off in the long run.

    Temperature Coefficients

    Solar panels are less efficient at converting sunlight into electricity when the temperature rises. The temperature coefficient tells you how much a panel's energy output decreases for every degree above the standard testing conditions. Considering Long Beach, Cerritos, Carson, Lakewood, Torrance and the surrounding cities - and the relatively warm climate, this factor should not be overlooked.

    Solar Panel Types

    Solar panels come in different forms, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Here's an overview of the common types you're likely to encounter in the market.

    Monocrystalline Solar Panels

    Monocrystalline panels are known for their high efficiency and sleek black appearance. They are made from a single continuous crystal structure, which enables a high power density. These panels perform well in warm weather conditions and have a longer lifespan than their counterparts. However, they tend to be the most expensive option.

    Polycrystalline Solar Panels

    Polycrystalline panels are made from silicon fragments melted together. They are less efficient and slightly less expensive than monocrystalline panels. Polycrystalline panels are recognized for their blue color and are similar to monocrystalline in terms of durability.

    Thin-Film Solar Panels

    Thin-film panels are made by depositing one or several thin layers of photovoltaic material onto a substrate. They are less efficient than crystalline panels but are typically less expensive. Thin-film panels are also less affected by high temperatures, making them a potential alternative for Long Beach and the surrounding area’s warmer climate.

    Solar Panel Brands

    When choosing solar panels, it is important to consider the brand as it can greatly affect their quality and performance. Some of the leading brands in the market are REC, Panasonic, Sunpower, Meyers Burger, Qcells, TESLA, and Solaria.

    Mario Castillo Electric recommends REC and Panasonic solar panels. REC solar panels have exceptional performance, which means they can produce more electricity on a smaller roof area as compared to other panels. We also suggest Panasonic solar panels, which are slightly cheaper with varying efficiencies and another great option for those seeking high performance solar energy.

    Important Factors to Consider When Choosing Solar Panels

    With a clear understanding of solar panel technology and types, it's time to narrow down your choices based on your unique set of needs. Here are the key factors that should guide your decision-making process.

    Performance Metrics that Matter

    When evaluating a solar panel's performance, look at the three key metrics: efficiency, temperature coefficient, and degradation rate. While efficiency is vital, especially in overhead costs, a lower degradation rate, and temperature coefficient can ensure that you benefit from consistent energy production over decades.

    Environmental Impact and Longevity

    Solar panels are a green investment, but not all panels are created equally when it comes to environmental impact. Look for companies that use sustainable manufacturing processes and offer a take-back and recycling program for their products. Longevity is also important, as the longer a panel lasts, the more energy it will produce over its lifetime.

    Cost and Return on Investment

    The total cost of your solar panel system will depend on the size of your installation, the type of panels chosen, and any added features like battery storage. Consider the payback period—the time it takes to recover the investment through energy savings—and whether any incentives, tax credits, or rebate programs can help offset the initial cost.

    Making the Right Choice for Your Home in Long Beach and the Surrounding Area 

    Choosing the right solar panel is a decision that should be informed by your particular circumstances and goals. Here's how to ensure that the panel you select is the best fit for you.

    Assess Your Energy Needs

    Start by assessing your current and future energy needs. Look at your past energy bills to understand your consumption patterns and consider any changes you might make in the coming years, such as adding an electric car to your household. Your solar panel system should be tailored to meet these needs while allowing for a comfortable buffer.

    Consultation and Recommendations

    Reach out to solar professionals, like Mario Castillo Electric, for a consultation. We can assess your property, recommend the best panel size and type, and provide a quote. Mario Castillo Electric's insights on solar panels may sway your decision if you prioritize performance and longevity.

    Budget Considerations and Financing Options

    Set a budget and explore financing options if needed. Mario Castillo Electric offers financing options that can make solar energy more accessible as well as programs for rebates on panel upgrades. Remember that while upfront costs may be higher for quality panels, the long-term returns will typically justify the investment.

    Contact Mario Castillo Today

    Selecting the right solar panel for your Long Beach, Carson, Cerritos, Torrance and surrounding area home is a significant decision that can have a lasting, positive impact on your finances and the environment. With the guidance provided by Mario Castillo Electric, you will be better equipped to make an informed choice.

    Mario Castillo Electric is here to help you every step of the way, from the initial consultation to the final installation. Contact us to start your solar energy journey and power your home with the sun.

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