One of our strongest partners in San Diego, and a fellow vetted Approved Home Pro, is Milholland Solar Electric & Roofing. For over five years, our team has worked closely with Brian Milholland and his team on a variety of solar installation, removal, and/or reinstallation projects.
Milholland has a similar approach to projects as Murray Lampert in that they focus on educating homeowners, providing accurate pricing, and doing quality work with a solid warranty to back it up. We consider Brian the “PhD of Solar.” There are few people in the industry as knowledgeable, and we know that Brian and his team are always going to get the job done right. Brian is also a frequent guest on The Approved Home Pro Show, sharing his expertise in everything from roof repair to combating rising energy costs.
As a design-build contractor, we know first-hand that proper sequencing of electrical, roofing, and PVC solar is critical. If the roofing and panel installation is not completed properly, the roof may leak. Also, with existing tile roofs, great care is needed so that surrounding areas are not damaged.
We see horrible existing solar installations all the time on homes we remodel. Several times we’ve been called back on a leaky roof only to find a solar company has caused damage during installation after our work has been completed. In fact, we just referred a client to Brian who needs their entire solar panel system removed and reset because the installers severely damaged the client’s roof.
We spoke with Brian about Milholland’s parternship with Murray Lampert Design, Build, Remodel, as well as his company’s history, expertise, and the value of solar energy for homeowners in San Diego.
Can you tell us how Milholland Solar & Electric got started?
I started my electrical career in the US Army as a Helicopter Electrician with the 82nd Airborne. Once I left the Army, I returned to San Diego and worked as an electrician for a few local companies before getting my Electrical Contractors license in 1990. In 2007, as the economy slowed and the California Energy Commission began promoting solar through consumer rebates, I sought certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) as a Certified Solar Installer and we began installing solar systems.
In the course of installing solar, we penetrate customers roofs so I thought it only practical to become a certified and licensed roofer to add customer value.
How long have you been working with Gregg and the team at Murray Lampert? What types of projects do you commonly partner on?
We’ve been partnering with Gregg Cantor and the Murray Lampert team for about 5 years, working together on anything solar. If Murray Lampert has a remodel that involves removing, adding, or installing solar panels, they give us a call. Gregg and I have a fantastic relationship, and we collaborate directly which cuts down on any communication or time frame issues. We give each other a call anytime we feel the need, and we see each other on the radio show every month or so and catch up like old friends.
What separates Milholland from other solar installation and roofing contractors in San Diego?
First off, there aren’t that many true local companies who offer solar, electric, and roofing servics under the same company. We are licensed for all three, which make a big difference when engineering a system for a customer’s home. We’re able to customize each system for maximum cost saving and production. We are a true home-grown, local, veteran-owned company. My name is on the door and the customer service begins and ends with me.
What does a typical solar panel project require in terms of installation, maintenance, and repair?
Installation only takes one day, however the entire time frame is about eight weeks from signing the contract until turning the system on. Most of the eight weeks is spent getting permits and utility approval.
During the actual install, we mount panels on the roof and run electrical wiring through conduit from the roof to the main electrical panel. Once the system is approved, we turn on a breaker and the system starts sending power into the electrical system of the home. Any excess power is sent to the utility and the customer is credited on their bill through a process called net metering.
Maintenance and repair are minimal. We use SunPower Solar systems that are warranted for 25 years. They will pay all labor and materials if there is a failure of their systems. It’s important for customers to note that with other manufacturer systems, they are responsible for any labor costs for trouble-shooting system failures and part replacement.
Talk a bit about the role of roofing in the solar installation process and why it’s important?
During the solar installation process we drill holes into the water proofing on your roof for mounting the solar system. Because of this, it’s important that the company performing the solar installation is also familiar with the process roofing installation and repairs.
What is the most common question you and your team receives from homeowners interested in solar installation?
Most customers have seen their electric bills soar recently and they want to know how much of the bill we can cover with solar. Our goal is to offset 100% of a customer’s electric bill. Most customers can go solar with a 10 year low that has payments less than their current electric bill. This locks in their payment, and after 10 years they have free electricity for the life of the system. Our systems are warranted for 25 years, but the full life expectancy of a system is over 40 years.
What changes, challenges, etc. do you anticipate for homeowners looking to go solar following the recent metering changes on March 31st.
After March 31st, customers were forced into a time of use rate for solar with the utility. We have been sizing systems a little larger to make up for this change by the utility.
Even with the larger system sizes, we can still offset 100% of their bill for less than their current utility costs. We’re also able to install energy storage in some cases to offset the time of use rates. However, the payback on those installs isn’t as great as simply adding a few panels. We feel that in the very near future, energy storage will be a part of every system install but the economics just aren’t there yet.
What are some things homeowners can do in preparation for a solar installation project?
Gathering their electric bills and knowing the age and condition of their roof are key factors in providing a quote to a customer. If they have a HOA, contacting them to determine the process for approval helps speed things along. Other than that, our team at Milholland takes care of the entire process with only the need for a few signatures from the customer.
Outside of solar, roofing, and electric, are there other services that Milholland provides?
Those are the big three. We’re hearing from many homeowners who have gone solar in the past and are in need of service on their system, or their system doesn’t offset 100% of their needs and we’re expanding their system.
How can people reach out to you with questions about solar installation, roofing, etc.?
People can reach us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at (858) 541-1097, or online at milhollandelectric.com.