The History of Home Solar

Thomas Caruthers

The company that evolved into Home Solar, Inc. was conceived on a kitchen table in Costa Mesa, California in September, 1982.

At the time, I was a commercial real estate broker and my wife, Lee, was the sales manager for a housewares distributor in Gardena, California.  We were both experienced in sales and marketing and were looking for an opportunity.

However, the Prime Lending Rate was 16.5% and the U.S. economy was mired in a recession; opportunities were few.

I lamented the state of affairs to a mortgage friend who told me he was funding twenty-five to thirty home loans a month out of a real estate office in Garden Grove.  I told him he had to be joking, so he invited me to come visit this office.

When we walked through the door, I thought I was in a sports book in Las Vegas!  The place was crowded with desks and the phones were ringing off the hook.  People were listing home sales on a dry-erase board that circled the office walls and some guy was ringing a brass bell after every sale went up.  The place was crazy!

This was a real estate company that saw an opportunity during hard times.  They represented home buyers using Veteran benefits, which allowed no-money-down, 100% financing for a home loan.  An additional benefit to the veteran was the chance to include a solar system with the home.  Turns out, they were looking for someone who could sell the VA solar program to their home buyers.  That was the opportunity I was looking for.

We formed a partnership with the real estate company and sold solar to their homebuyer clients.  Lee took a leap of faith and quit her good-paying job to run operations.

As they opened satellite territories, we expanded with them.  By 1985, we had offices in northern and Southern California and were serving dozens of real estate offices throughout California and Nevada, selling over 100 solar systems a month.

Of course, nothing lasts forever.  By the end of the decade, the tax benefits expired and solar began to wane.  Instead, buyers wanted efficient heating and air-conditioning systems, replacement windows, water heaters, and insulation; basically, anything that could help them save on monthly utility bills.  By 1991 we’d dropped solar from our product list, but for 28+ years we’ve continued to sell heating and air, windows and insulation.

Turns out solar wasn’t completely dead.  Several major American companies continued to experiment with the R&D of solar power.  In 2005, the federal government introduced another solar tax credit and we were back in the solar business.

This market is different than what we experienced in the 80s: electric power has become the second highest cost of homeownership and energy costs continue to rise.

We realized we can’t be all things to all people.  We had to choose a category and commit to being the very best; we choose solar.  It was where we started and, of all the home energy upgrades, nothing can compare with the benefits offered by a solar system.

Solar is more efficient today and the savings are greater.  With a properly structured finance program, a solar system will actually generate cash-flow to a homeowner.  It is safe to say that many homeowners will have more money in their pockets with a solar system than they would without one.

We know the value of solar, and today we offer what homeowners want:

  • NO IN-HOME SALES.  All counselling is done remotely over the phone and online.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, No Exceptions, No Excuses.
  • All solar counsellors are salaried, no commission sales.
  • Affordable financing options.
  • Win-Win or No Deal.  Annual savings must exceed annual cost.

At Home Solar, Inc. we know as much about residential solar as anyone, and more than most.

Please reach out to us; let us help you enjoy the benefits of solar energy.

I want to leave you with this quote:

“Every two-minutes, the energy reaching earth from the sun is enough to power all of humanity in the world for one year.  It could all be done in two minutes of sun.” Dr. Lamya N. Fawwaz, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST).

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to speaking with you soon,

Tom Caruthers, President

Home Solar, Inc.