My name is Thom Hiatt. I own a home in the San Diego area, one of the cities that has the most residential solar systems. Environment America says San Diego is #2 while Honolulu is #1. Our sunny days (thank you God) and our high energy costs (thank you SDG&E) come together to create the perfect buying opportunity.

I purchased solar for my home in April 2020. The system was fully permitted, installed and turned on in just 10 days. Our first utility bill after an entire month of solar just arrived. It was $10! And it shows our net energy for the month was -614 kwh. That’s NEGATIVE 614 kilowatt hours!

If you’re serious about getting solar for your home or business, and you’re ready to go, let’s talk, and I will “hook you up” with my guy and you will receive an extra $100. Call me at (858) 877-FREE or write to

How did I go solar?

During the last 10 years, I’ve been interested in getting a solar system, but I was hesitant for a couple of reasons: 1) I felt the technology was quickly improving; I didn’t want to “get in” too early, and 2) I didn’t want to install solar on top of my roof that I knew needed to be replaced in the not too distant future.

Well, thanks to a MASSIVE rain storm that was headed my way (like, no joke, it was going to be a messy problem) I knew I needed to get the roof fixed ASAP. That led me to look seriously at solar, because it would be perfect timing to do all the work at once. And in a VERY short time I had interviewed multiple roofing and solar companies at my home for products, service, value and price.

I signed a contract on the 4th of April, 2020. Just ten days later, the entire job was finished, the county inspected and approved the job, and SDG&E authorized me to turn on the solar system. That’s right, on the 14th of April, the Sun was powering my home! Amazingly, during that 10-day period, there were five solid days of rain and zero work being done. That means all the work was done to both fix the roof and install the solar with just five days of effort. Incredible!

Granted, that’s a pretty quick time frame and should not be expected for every job. I got super lucky. My job happened so quickly, in part, because the coronavirus pandemic had just started and the world had mostly ground to a halt. Fortunately, my solar team was willing to work while others were shut down. A more realistic install period that you can expect is 2-3 weeks, fully permitted.

How many panels?

My system is 6.4kw, which is made up of 16 panels with 400 watts each, at full power. The math is 16 panels x 400 watts = 6400 watts or 6.4 watts. Lots of companies sell solar based on a “price per watt” as the starting point. Then, as you can imagine, the price goes up or down, based on special equipment and services you may want. If I paid a company $4 per watt, that would be a system cost of $25,600. The math is 6400 (watts) x $4 (per watt) = $25,600. Fortunately, I paid a LOT LOT LOT less than that.

Because I bought in the year 2020, I am also eligible for a 26% tax credit that I will receive during the next tax season. So what I spend on solar X 26% = what I will get back from Uncle Sam. (For example, if you invest $10,000 and you get back $2600, your net cost is $7400.) Be aware that the tax credit goes DOWN next year (I think to 22%) and you’ll get less back, so don’t wait until December.

If you want solar, I would encourage you to gather at least two official quotes and then call me at (858) 877-FREE and I will connect you with the company I hired. I am quite certain you will save a bunch of money. It was a great experience. I gathered many quotes and saved at least $6000. I also saved many months. One company told me in March that my system would be turned on in July. No thank you!

With my new system, I have an app that lets me view the current power being generated, how much total power is generated during the day, week, month, and so on. It’s interesting to look at the green bell curve of energy generation in real time. You can literally “see” when there was a cloud above. In April and May, we were generating around 35 kwh per day. By mid-June, with longer days, we are generating closer to 41 kwh. If you’re a total nerd (like me) and you really want to geek out, you can use the app to look at the performance of each individual panel. Have fun!

What’s the hardest part?

The hardest part was figuring out how SDGE actually keeps track of energy use… and bills me. It was not originally clear in their paperwork, and it’s not always clear when you speak to them. UPDATE: After having had solar for 4 months, I now know clearly that I generate power all day long, and the extra power I am not using goes into my “SDGE bucket of credits.” I get to use that credit all year long, if I need it.

In other words, let’s say my system generates 40kw one day, and let’s say on that same day I have a huge party and I’m running the oven all day long and the AC all day long… and let’s say I actually USE 60kw. Well, I would be using the 40kw from my solar, plus 20kw from my bucket of credits. End of story. At this moment, I have 1000kw+ worth of credits in my bucket!

When you get solar, SDGE starts sending two bills to you each month: one for electricity and one for natural gas. My natural gas bill won’t change because of solar.

But my electric bill this past month was $10, which is because you HAVE TO pay them a monthly fee just to be connected to the grid.

Most days we generate FAR MORE than we use. For example, yesterday we generated 41kw but never turned on the AC because the outside temperature was gorgeous. So we’re sending all that extra energy TO the utility.

(This is also a good time to say that there’s really no reason to buy tons of extra panels just because you can afford it or have space. You’re just throwing away your money. It’s better to have a system that produces just slightly more than you use during the year. Add up your entire year’s worth of energy use. If you haven’t used AC in the past, but you want to be able to turn it on when you have solar, add more to your expected use during the summer months.)

At the end of the year, if there’s still extra power I have not used, SDGE will pay me for it, but only pennies on the dollar. They call it “leveling up.” I’m either gonna owe them some money (which I seriously doubt) or they will owe me some money. It’s nothing to get rich off of. (In other words, don’t buy a giant system thinking you will make money by generating lots of extra power to sell to them.)

All that being said, what I have found to be the big benefit is that WE GET TO TURN ON THE A/C and so far it seems it’s “free” to do so. (Happy wife, happy life!) In the middle of the day, our A/C system is using slightly less than what the whole house is generating. So the sun is powering the AC for the house, and that’s great! I get a weekly email from SDGE showing my energy use, and even with some super hot days last week when we had the AC on, the net energy use for the day was still NEGATIVE.

Is it worth it?

Is it worth it to buy a solar system for your home? For me it is, but you need to do your own math, and I am not responsible for your financial decisions in life. I calculated that I will break even after 6.5 years. In other words, 6.5 years worth of electric bills is what I spent on solar (after my tax rebate). HOWEVER, it’s much more than breaking even. You see, during the next 6.5 years, I WILL GET TO USE MY AIR CONDITIONER, and that’s priceless on hot days. If I didn’t have solar, I would still be paying every month for 6.5 years, and I know from my own history I would rarely turn on the AC and suffer.

Other Considerations

ELECTRIC CARS & BATTERIES: You may also be planning to buy an electric vehicle, and you may also want to buy a home battery. Those are factors to consider. A battery lets you store your own power so that you can use it at night. You make it during the day, use it up at night. However, right now, batteries are pretty expensive…. like $5000-10000+. Maybe it makes more sense if you have a car plugged into it.

ELECTRICAL PANEL: Your new solar system connects to the electrical panel on your home. Without going into too much detail, the panel needs to be rated with enough amps to handle the power, etc. Depending on the amperage of your panel, and the size of your system, you may need to upgrade your panel. Fortunately, my guy is an electrician and he will install a new panel; it shouldn’t be an “arm and a leg” of new cost, but it will extend the overall inspection time of your system by 2-3 months, due to the SDGE inspection schedule. Whether you add solar now or in the future, that’s a bandaid you need to rip off, and there’s no time like the present, so you don’t get pushed into the next tax year. Who knows… you may even get a tax credit on the panel upgrade cost.

ROOFING: You may need a part or all of your roof repaired before you install solar. My guy’s team does that. They had to replace my entire roof before installing the solar. (I have the same tiles as before; they just replaced and upgraded all the felt underneath. It was about $3.50 per square foot.) My roofing and solar was all done, in total, within 10 days.

Are you ready to go?

First get yourself a couple of quotes and THEN call me at (858) 877-FREE. When I was looking around, I called a big company (starts with a B) that I have seen a thousand times on TV. I also called a big company (starts with a P) that I hear frequently on my favorite talk radio station. There’s nothing wrong with them. They are professional. They both came out to the house. They both made pretty PowerPoint proposals with cute pictures. They both ran the numbers. And they both wanted a LOT more money than what I ultimately paid to a different installer.

My experience and timeline

  • APRIL 4: I signed a contract and paid a deposit. I needed roof repair first so they started that part.
  • He applied for a county solar permit online.
  • He ordered the panels and other hardware from the wholesaler and I paid for it with my credit card.
  • They finished the install and I made another payment.
  • He went online to request a county inspector who arrived the next morning and signed off on my job. I made the final payment. The county alerted the utility.
  • APRIL 14: SDGE sent an email to me giving me permission to flip the switch and turn the solar system on.
  • JULY 15: It has been really HOT outside this past week, but it has been 75° in my house! And I still have 1000kw+ of credit to use up!

My entire life I have been a pretty picky consumer. I like things to be done well, and especially on-time, and as promised. I don’t take bull from contractors. And I was quite impressed with my licensed solar contractor… So much so that we talked at length and he offered to pay me a small commission for TOP-QUALITY, EXCELLENT REFERRALS to homeowners like you who are truly “ready to go” and don’t want to waste time going back and forth. Ugh… NOBODY likes the back-and-forth, and nobody has time for that.

Save an extra $50

Call me when you are really ready to go, and we’ll set up a meeting at your property… You’ll look at his numbers right there on the spot. You will want to get going on it. You sign up and he’ll get started, and you’ll have something like my “basically free AC” in no time, depending on your overall situation.

If I have referred you, and once you’ve paid him, I will pay $50 to you, to your church, OR to your favorite charity. It’s your choice. When you’re ready to get solar for your home or business, call Thom at (858) 877-FREE or write to

After you have your new solar system, be sure to have your friends and family call me first and they will get the same best pricing and the same $50 gift to church or charity or themselves. Whether your friend calls him or me first, they will pay the exact same price for a great system. However, if you/they want save the extra $50 you gotta call me first at (858) 877-FREE so I can make the referral.

Thom Hiatt
Faith in Solar (referral service)

(858) 877-FREE

The purpose of this web page is to schedule a qualified appointment between you and the solar seller / installer who is licensed and bonded in the State of California.