Some birds have mastered living in the scorching, dry environment of a desert. But even desert-adapted birds can't handle extreme temperatures like those seen during heat waves.
A heat wave is said to occur when unusually high temperatures prevail for several days in a region. During one heat wave that lasted eight days, all of the eggs that zebra finches had laid or incubated failed.
Native to Australia, zebra finches are flexible with their breeding. They can nest pretty much any time in a year. In February 2017, the birds were nesting during peak Australian summer when the heat wave hit. Maximum air temperatures were above 40°C (104°F) on all eight days.
Ideal incubation temperatures for the zebra finch are 36–38°C. "The temperatures that killed these embryos, they are obviously just too much for the embryos to take," Simon Griffith of Macquarie University in Australia told EcoWatch.
That summer, as part of a larger study, Griffith and his co-worker visited hundreds of nestboxes to check on their status. A handful of these had been occupied. Using a digital egg monitor, the scientists tested from time to time if the embryos in the active nests had a heartbeat. "Before the heat wave we could still see the heartbeat and then after these two or three days of heat when we checked the eggs, the heartbeat had stopped," Griffith said.
Out of 25 egg clutches, 23 had failed to hatch. Just two eggs out of the 100 hatched. Both the chicks died later. "The fact that they lost these eggs wasn't a big problem for the zebra finch but we think it's a bit of a warning," said Griffith. The zebra finch is well-adapted to heat and if it is losing its eggs, Griffith said, "it probably means there are lots of other birds that we weren't studying that also may have lost their eggs."
Being a common bird that can breed every few weeks, the setback did not hugely impact the zebra finch. But other, rare birds may not be so lucky, especially as heat waves become more frequent, extreme and prolonged.
"Widespread heat-related mortality of eggs, similar to that documented here, should be of particular concern for threatened species," said Andrew McKechnie of the South African National Biodiversity Institute. Threatened species with low breeding rates are even more concerning, according to McKechnie who was not involved with the work.
In South Africa, McKechnie documented the death of more than a hundred birds and bats in a single, extremely hot day in late 2020. Most of the birds that died were songbirds. This was despite the fact that adult songbirds have the means to beat the heat.
The zebra finch, a songbird, pants with its beak open to cool down and stays in the shade by restricting feeding to early morning. If there is a source of water nearby, the bird will drink and splash in it. The problem is the eggs can't go anywhere, said Griffith whose work was published in the journal Ibis.
While parent birds may shade their nests from the sun, they may not be able to stop the eggs from overheating. Evidence for this comes from another study published this year. The study reports nest failures in the jacky winter, also a songbird, from a semi-arid part of South Australia. In December 2018, when a heat wave struck, seven egg clutches were in the incubation stage. All of them failed. A year later, another heat wave resulted not only in jacky winters abandoning their nests but in the death of some of the adults.
Climate science is suggesting that things will get worse and certain areas of Australia will become hotter and drier, said Griffith. A lot of birds, including the zebra finch, are right up at the limit of what they can cope with and probably can't adapt anymore, he warns.
Yet, Griffith believes that birds might be able to tolerate higher temperatures if water is available. "Where there will be problems is where there is no water," he said.
Richa is an independent science writer. She writes Birds & Words, a newsletter on all things birds at TinyLetter.com/RichaMalhotra.
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We review SunPower's strengths and weaknesses to help you understand if it's the right company for you.
Solar industry leader SunPower consistently ranks as one of the best solar companies (and solar panel manufacturers) in the country. In this article, we'll take a look at why SunPower solar reviews are so positive and help you decide whether the company is a good fit for your home solar installation.
In recent years, SunPower has focused its business on commercial solar energy systems, but the company has since doubled down on the residential solar market. This is good news for homeowners, as SunPower offers some of the best solar panels and energy-related services on the market today.
|SunPower Solar Fast Facts|
|Service Areas||All 50 states, with Master Dealers in AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, HI, IL, LA, MD, MA, MI, NV, NJ, NY, OR, TX, UT|
|Service Types||Customized solar panel systems, complete with electric vehicle (EV) chargers and backup battery installations|
|Types of Panels Sold||SunPower manufactures its own high-efficiency monocrystalline panels|
|Backup Battery Options||SunPower SunVault™ Storage system|
|Certifications||Solar Energy Industries Association, Cradle to Cradle Sustainability, North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) technicians|
|Better Business Bureau (BBB) Rating||A+ with accreditation|
The best way to figure out whether solar is a good investment for your home is to see how much an installation would cost. To receive a free, no-obligation quote from SunPower or a similar company in our network of pre-screened installers, fill out the 30-second form below.
SunPower has been in the solar business since 1985 and strives to provide a safe and reliable experience to customers. The San Jose-based manufacturer and installer currently offers services in every state. The BBB gives SunPower an A+ rating, which is above the industry average.
SunPower's greatest strength lies in the quality of its products, customer service and the comprehensiveness of the systems it designs and installs. SunPower has a product portfolio of high-efficiency solar panels manufactured by Maxeon, which recently spun out of SunPower to form its own entity. SunPower's Maxeon panels are some of the most efficient and durable solar panels on the market, and they're also the world's first solar panels to be Cradle to Cradle Certified safe, circular and responsibly made products.
With a strong foothold in manufacturing and commercial solar, SunPower has made moves to double down on its residential services; we expect big things. By acquiring Blue Raven Solar in October 2021, a young company with a reputation for excellent customer service and innovative financing options, SunPower demonstrates its commitment to expanding its share of the residential market.
SunPower Solar Services and Installation
SunPower's broad range of services set it apart from the competition. SunPower systems come complete with customized, fully integrated solar and storage platforms as well as add-ons like EV chargers. Unlike most other solar providers that offer products from varying manufacturers, SunPower's PV cells, panels, inverters, batteries and chargers are all produced in-house, are designed to work in tandem and are covered by the same warranty. This cohesion can simplify the process for SunPower's customers.
SunPower Solar Panels
SunPower offers four types of solar panels:
- A Series: Built with the newest Maxeon Gen 5 solar cells, the A Series is SunPower's premiere panel, delivering up to 22.7% efficiency with the world's first 400-watt panels.
- X Series: Built with Maxeon solar cells, X Series panels deliver up to 22.7% efficiency and have capacities up to 370 watts. These panels are perfect for space-constrained projects.
- E Series: Built with Maxeon solar cells, delivering up to 20% efficiency and available in 320, 327 or 435-watt panels, the E Series is a great all-around solar panel.
- P Series: These panels are built with SunPower's unique shingled solar cells. Up to 19% efficiency and available in a range of panels from 380 to 400 watts, P Series panels are optimized for large commercial projects.
SunPower Solar Storage
Unlike most other solar companies, which install third-party battery systems, SunPower offers customers its own SunVault Storage Systems to be paired with its solar panels. SunPro's SunVault Storage and Helix Storage (which is used in commercial installations) offer simple but powerful energy storage solutions.
These batteries are designed for day-to-day use and can significantly add to the amount of energy a customer is able to offset with SunPower solar panels. Best of all, these battery systems provide monitoring systems and backup power when the grid fails — something solar panels by themselves are incapable of.
For customers set on purchasing another brand's battery, there is no need to worry. SunPower panels pair well with other products like the Enphase Encharge and Tesla Powerwall batteries.
SunPower Solar Installation Process
SunPower prides itself on a smooth and easy customer process that can be carried out entirely remotely if preferable. Its intuitive design studio even lets you build your own solar system online from the comfort of your home, so you can see what solar looks like on your roof.
The installations themselves are carried out by partners within SunPower's nationwide network of certified solar installation contractors. SunPower chooses to hire contractors local to the region so that they can customize your solar system according to local weather patterns, building materials and city codes.
An average SunPower customer can expect the installation process to look like this:
- Free online estimate: By giving information about where you live, how much energy you use and your credit score, you can get a free online estimate from SunPower that includes the estimated system cost as well as projected 25-year energy savings.
- Solar consultation: If you want to move forward with SunPower after receiving your free quote, you can set up a free, virtual consultation with a SunPower representative. At this stage in the process, you have the chance to ask any questions about the system's design and how to meet your home's energy needs. After this, you'll receive a proposal.
- Complete paperwork and obtain solar permits and approvals: SunPower will apply for all permits and building approvals from your presiding city or county on your behalf. This process can take up to a few weeks. SunPower will also ensure you're enrolled in any eligible net metering programs.
- Solar system installation: SunPower will arrange for your system to be installed by one of its certified partners. Some states have technicians that are part of the company's Master Dealers program, which is an invite-only, rigorously selected list of SunPower dealers that best represent SunPower's brand. Installations typically take less than a day, depending on the complexity of the system.
- Inspections and permission to operate (PTO): After the system is installed, you'll need to wait until it's inspected by both your city and your utility company before you can turn it on. SunPower will arrange the inspections, and after your system passes, you can start using your solar power.
Solar Panel Warranty
A major benefit of the complete systems SunPower offers is that the entire solar energy project is covered by the same 25-year warranty. This comprehensive warranty guarantees 25 years of 92% output (most other companies are around 80%) and offers free repairs on any flaws in product performance, workmanship or defects.
SunPower's warranty is one of the best in the business, if not the best, and reflects the company's success in executing its core goals of providing a safe and reliable experience for customers.
SunPower Solar Costs and Financing
It's tough to predict the cost of solar for a single provider, as costs depend heavily on your location, home and energy needs. Though SunPower may have a slightly higher average price tag than some other providers, its business focuses on efficiency, and purchasing more efficient panels will save customers more in the long run.
Many small local solar installers offer discounts and deals to undercut big companies like SunPower. That's why it's smart to get quotes from multiple companies and compare them to see which installer offers the best solar panels at the most competitive price. Keep in mind the quality of panels you're considering, as the cheapest solar panels don't always provide the best value.
Financing Options Through SunPower Solar
SunPower offers three solar purchasing plans for customers, all backed by the SunPower 25-year warranty.
- Purchase in cash: Buying your system from SunPower outright will give you the shortest solar panel payback period and the highest return on your investment.
- Purchase with loan: With a third-party loan, customers can fund the purchase of their solar equipment and pay the loan off typically in five to 10 years. If you go this route, you still own the system, your solar panels will increase your property value and you'll be able to claim the federal solar tax credit. However, because of the interest you'll be paying and any applicable loan fees, this option is less advantageous than paying cash.
- Lease solar panels: SunPower offers solar leasing, which means the company retains ownership of the panels and you pay a monthly fee to purchase the power they generate. You don't have to pay much, if anything, for the installation, and your monthly payments are guaranteed to be lower than a typical power bill. But because you do not own the system, it won't add to your property value and you cannot claim the federal tax credit. This is the least advantageous option.
SunPower Solar Reviews
Similar to other larger solar operations, SunPower's size is both a strength and a weakness. Positive SunPower solar reviews praise the company's customer service, installation teams and system performance, yet communication troubles through a large bureaucracy have led to some negative feedback. Overall, it should be noted that SunPower reviews are largely positive.
Positive SunPower Reviews
Positive SunPower solar reviews reflect a successful commitment to its business model of good customer service, the best warranty in the business and highly efficient products. Positive reviews similar to those below usually reflect helpful representatives, consistent system performance and a company true to its warranty.
"We have had our panels for about six or seven years now, and they have performed as advertised. SunPower did replace the inverter several years ago with no fuss, no muss. I highly recommend SunPower for solar power generation." — Warren M via BBB
"My process took longer than expected due to unexpected issues. Throughout the process, the communication was good. They kept me up to date. All staff that came to my house were courteous and professional. They scheduled appointments around convenient times for me. Overall, it was a pleasant experience to get the system up and running. I would definitely recommend this team." — Linda S via BBB
Negative SunPower Reviews
Most of SunPower's negative reviews stem from issues within its chain of communication. SunPower is a massive organization, and at times some customers can feel lost in the shuffle. The company also outsources aspects of the work to local installers familiar with local ordinances, permitting and utility standards. This can lead to some customers wishing for one central point of contact.
Given the size of SunPower's operation, it has an impressively small number of negative customer reviews. Here are a couple of examples:
"We purchased a house that has a leased SunPower solar system. There is a one-time early buyout option that we are considering. SunPower has been impossibly unresponsive to our questions and concerns." — Mark W via BBB
"We've had solar panels for three years. This past May, we were notified that there was an issue with the panels. They have been to our house several times and still can't figure out the problem. They keep sending outside vendors to fix it but no solution." — Samira S via BBB
Our Take on SunPower Solar
SunPower's superior customer service, wide product offerings, complete systems and leading warranty make it one of the most trusted solar providers on the market today. SunPower has an A+ from the BBB and is taking concrete steps to improve any weaknesses to its business model by expanding its availability to homeowners through leases and improved financing options.
Overall, we recommend SunPower to homeowners whose priorities are simplicity, reliability and efficiency. The main downsides to SunPower stem from high initial costs, which can be offset by using high-efficiency products over time. However, some homeowners with plenty of space on their roofs may find better value in a lower-efficiency panel from a different company. Local competitors may also offer more competitive pricing to undercut the larger competition.
|SunPro Solar Pros||SunPro Solar Cons|
|Large service area||Above-average initial cost|
|High-efficiency systems with backup battery and EV charging services||Lack of customization with panel choice|
|Excellent customer service|
|Flexible financing and lease options|
Solar Energy Provider Comparison
To get a better understanding of our rating, let's look at SunPower compared to two other popular national providers: Sunpro Solar and Sunrun. SunPower typically ranks highly in customer services, service areas and warranty.
|Services Offered||Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring||Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring||Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring, maintenance|
|Service Areas||All 50 States||AZ, AR, CA, FL, GA, IL, IA, KS, LA, MS, MO, NE, NV, NM, NC, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA||AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, HI, IL, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, PA, RI, SC, TX, VT, WI, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.|
|Payment Options||Cash, loan, lease||Cash, loan||Cash, loan, lease, power purchase agreement (PPA)|
FAQ: SunPower Solar Reviews
Is SunPower a good company?
SunPower is a leader in the solar energy market for customer service, warranty and panel efficiency. Whether SunPower is the best company for you will depend on your energy needs, but SunPower is a reputable solar company with an impressive track record of customer satisfaction.
Is SunPower going out of business?
This is a misconception. SunPower recently split into two companies, separating from its manufacturing arm now known as Maxeon. SunPower will continue to work closely with Maxeon by selling and installing its products but will focus its efforts more on expanding the services it offers to customers.
Does SunPower make the best solar panels?
SunPower makes some of the most efficient solar panels available today. Whether they are the best for your home will depend on your energy needs. High-efficiency solar panels are typically best suited for homes with limited amounts of roof space.
Are SunPower panels Tier 1?
SunPower's panels are Tier 1, which means they can be used for larger, utility-scale solar installations. Tier 1 panels are not necessarily higher quality than Tier 2 or 3 panels.
Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.