Solar Power Frequently Asked Questions

Solar Power Panel for Homes

Will a solar system work for my home or business?
How reliable are current solar systems?
How does solar work?
Is it difficult to switch to solar?
Do I need to make any changes to my home before installing a solar system?
What is a solar system made of?
What size system is right for me?
How much money will I save?
How much does a solar system cost?
How quickly will the system pay for itself?
What are the financing and leasing options?
What rebates and incentives are available to me?
Should I buy a system now or wait a couple years?
Will a solar system affect my appliances or existing home electronics in anyway?
What happens if I am using more electricity than my solar system generates?
What happens if my solar system generates more electricity than I use?
What is net-metering and how does it work?
What is a “grid-tie” system and how does it work?
How will I know that my system is producing energy?
Does a solar system work at night or on cloudy days?
What will happen to my existing utility bill after I install solar?
Will my property taxes increase?
How long does it take to install a solar system?
Are solar systems under warranty or insured?
What is a battery back-up and do I need one?
What happens if there is a black out?
Is maintenance required and/or provided?
Are there any permits I need to worry about?
Is the solar system installed on my roof or on the ground?
Will my roof handle the weight of a solar system?

 

Will a solar system work for my home or business?

Most likely!  The key requirements for a solar system are sunlight and adequate roof or ground space.  Our solar partners can use satellite imagery to quickly determine whether or not a solar system would make sense for you.  Solar consultations are free.  Spend a few minutes learning more and benefit from a lifetime of savings!

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How reliable are current solar systems?

Solar technology has been around for nearly a half century.  In fact, the current technology in most solar panels has not changed significantly in the last 10-20 years and is incredibly reliable.  Recent advances in mounting and racking systems have made installing solar extremely safe, reliable and fast.  It takes about 72 hours to fully install most residential solar systems.

In California alone, nearly 50,000 homeowners have already installed solar systems on their homes.  Major corporations including Wal-Mart and Federal Express have been using solar panels for years to power their buildings.

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How does solar work?

Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity.  The technology is very similar to the silicon wafer technology that jump-started the whole computer era.  The electricity produced by solar panels is sent to an inverter box (about the size of a large shoebox) which converts the electricity into the standard AC current that you get from your utility company.  That’s it – no moving parts and very few components required – which is why installation of residential systems only takes only a day or two.

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Is it difficult to switch to solar?

No.  A solar system can be installed, tested and running in 2-4 days.

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Do I need to make any changes to my home before installing a solar system?

No.  Your solar system will provide electricity into your home just like your utility company provides you electricity.  Of course, you have to pay your utility company – you don’t have to pay for your solar electricity.

Most residential solar systems are mounted on the roof of the home.  Our solar partners can easily assess your roof to determine if there are any issues regarding the installation.  Some homeowners prefer to have the solar systems mounted on the ground.  Either option is feasible.  To learn more you can request a free solar consultation.

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What is a solar system made of?

You solar system will include two key components.  Solar panels to generate electricity from sunlight and an inverter box to convert that energy into standard AC current for your home.  Besides these components there are the basics nuts and bolts – mounting systems and wiring.

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What size system is right for me?

The simple answer is that most single family residential homes have systems between 3-7kW.  The larger your electric bill, the larger your system will need to be to offset your electric usage – of course, this means larger savings as well!  As a rule of thumb, many homeowners size their system to produce about 70-100% of their current electricity needs.  Our solar partners will provide you all your options, as well as the expected costs and benefits of each.  Request a free solar consultation today.

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How much money will I save?

How much did you pay for electricity last month?  As a rule of thumb, assume that a solar system will account for 70% of your electric usage.  So if you spent $200 last month, you might save 70% or $140 each month.  That’s a savings of $1,680 per year.  Don’t forget that electricity costs have historically gone up 2-3% each year – that’s means you will saving about $2260 on your 2020 electric bill!  Some solar systems save more, some save less, so please request a free solar consultation to get a detailed estimate.

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How much does a solar system cost?

It depends on the size of your system.  One thing is certain – solar systems are much less expensive than they used to be.  The rebates and incentives offered by the US government and most states can cut the cost of the system by nearly 50%.  These rebates and incentives will not last forever, so it’s important to take advantage of them before they expire.  For most single family residential homes your solar system may cost you $10-25K after all the rebates and incentives.

Our solar partners can give you a cost estimate in 5-10 minutes.  Receive a free solar consultation and make sure that you take advantage of all the great rebates and incentives before they run out!

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How quickly will the system pay for itself?

This depends on your electric bill, your location, your current utility rates and other factors.  Many new systems pay themselves back in 5-10 years.

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What are the financing and leasing options?

Financing and leasing options are one of the main reasons the residential solar industry has grown exponentially in the last 2 years.  No longer do you have to pay $10-20K upfront to install a solar system.  With the latest financing and leasing options, you can make monthly payments just like financing a car.  The best part is that your monthly payments, in many cases, are less than the amount you save each month on your electric bill!  Don’t believe it – request a free solar consultation to get an estimate.  There are a variety of financing and leasing options available depending on where you live and your level of credit history.

To learn more details about financing options, please visit our rebates and financing section.

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What rebates and incentives are available to me?

There is a 30% federal tax credit that is applicable to nearly everyone in the United States.  Talk about a sale – 30% off your new solar system thanks to our government.  Many states have additional rebates and incentives.  These rebates and incentives can reduce the cost of your system by nearly 50% but they won’t last forever.  Our advice – take advantage now.

To learn more details about rebates and incentives, please visit our rebates and financing section.

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Should I buy a system now or wait a couple years?

Now is the right time for a couple reasons.  The existing rebates and incentives are too good to pass up.  In many states, the rebates go down over time and eventually expire.  So even though the costs of solar are expected to decrease slightly over the next couple years, the rebates will decrease as well.  In addition, the technology for most residential systems has been stable for many years and won’t change significantly in the next several years.

Most importantly, the longer you wait, the more money you keep throwing away on electric bills.  Do you want to keep paying $100, $200, $300 or more per month to your utility company?  Probably not!

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Will a solar system affect my appliances or existing home electronics in anyway?

No.  Your solar system provides the exact same type of electricity that your utility company does.

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What happens if I am using more electricity than my solar system generates?

If you already get electricity from a utility company, then you can (and should) remain tied to the utility grid.  This means that any electricity you need that is not generated from your solar system will come from your utility company.

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What happens if my solar system generates more electricity than I use?

If your system generates more electricity than you are using then your meter will run backwards and you will get credit for the electricity you produce!  This is very common in the middle of the day when your system is producing a lot of energy and homeowners are often at work. The video below shows a meter running backwards!

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What is net-metering and how does it work?

Net-metering is available in many states including California.  It allows homeowners with solar systems to receive money for the electricity they generate above and beyond what they already use.  For instance, if your solar system produces 110% of your annual energy needs, the electric utility is required to pay you for the additional 10% you have produced.  Net-metering requires that your solar system is a “grid-tie” system – which is means that you are connected to both the utility and your solar system.  This is the most common way to install a solar system as the utility can provide energy when your system is not producing (e.g., at night).

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What is a “grid-tie” system and how does it work?

This is the most common method of installing a residential solar system.  A “grid-tie” system means that you are connected to both the utility and the solar system.  This is the most common way to install a solar system as the utility can provide energy when your system is not producing (e.g., at night).

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How will I know that my system is producing energy?

Most solar energy installers provide an easily accessible online report of your energy production.

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Does a solar system work at night or on cloudy days?

Solar systems work on cloudy days, but they will not produce as much electricity as they will on sunny days.  Solar systems do not produce electricity at night.

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What will happen to my existing utility bill after I install solar?

It will probably drop by 70% or more!  Typically, if your system is sized properly, you will pay almost nothing during the summer months because your system is producing so much energy.  Ready to learn more, request a free solar consultation today.

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Will my property taxes increase?

In many states, including California and New Jersey, your property tax will not increase.  Another great reason to invest in a solar system!

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How long does it take to install a solar system?

It takes anywhere from 2-4 days to install most residential solar systems.

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Are solar systems under warranty or insured?

Solar panels installed by our partners generally have warranties of 20-30 years.

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What is a battery back-up and do I need one?

Battery back-ups are only recommended for homeowners that are not connected to an existing utility grid.  Generally speaking, however, battery systems are expensive and not recommended for homes that have access to the utility grid (i.e., “grid-tie” systems) – this is the case for most homeowners.

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What happens if there is a black out?

In the event of a black out, solar systems are designed to turn off.  This is a safety requirement by most utility companies.

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Is maintenance required and/or provided?

Almost no maintenance is required for typical residential solar systems because they have no moving parts.  It is recommended that you wash your panels twice a year.  Our solar partners provide ongoing maintenance options for you to consider.

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Are there any permits I need to worry about?

It depends on where you live.  If any permits are required our solar partners that service your local area will know and they will generally take care of it.

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Is the solar system installed on my roof or on the ground?

Either.  Most residential systems are installed on the roof given the availability of sunlight and the extremely low profile modern solar panels.

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Will my roof handle the weight of a solar system?

If your roof is in good condition, it’s highly likely that your roof can handle a solar system.  Each panel weighs approximately 30-40 lbs.  Most residential systems will have anywhere from 10-20 panels.  During your site visit, our solar partners will be able to assess the suitability of your roof.

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