Frequently Asked Questions
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How does the tax credit work?
The credit for expenditures made for qualified fuel cell property is limited to $500 for each one-half kilowatt of capacity of the property; the amounts of the other qualified expenditures eligible for the credit are not limited. Also, this credit may be carried over if it exceeds the limitation imposed by section 26(a). (link to IRS Tax Code
- Lease options – Leases are a common method of acquisition, and like any way of going solar, it has its own set of benefits. Leases are popular because they are easy to acquire and show the immediate benefit of solar savings. Another benefit of a lease is the production and functionality guarantees offered by the lease company. See the specific lease terms provided by the installer of your choice.
- Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) – This approach works just as it sounds. The homeowner agrees to purchase the power produced by the system. What this means is that when the sun is out and producing power, you’ll pay on the greater volume. In the winter months, when days are shorter, you’ll pay less as a result of the lower volume. See the specific PPA terms provided by the installer of your choice.
- Cash Purchase – This is a very straight forward approach to the acquisition of the system and also typically an agreement directly between the installer and the homeowner. While this approach may place more responsibility on the homeowner for costs that may arise, it is also the approach with the highest total cash savings over the lifespan of the system. See the specific purchase terms provided by the installer of your choice.
- Finance options & terms – This is a popular approach that has moved the needle from leasing to financed purchase regarding general customer preference in the last two years. There are now financing parties that specialize only in renewable energy financing and offer terms anywhere from 12 years to twenty years for the most part. Another attractive point is that prepayment penalties are very rare, if not non-existant. In many cases, clients may even be able to purchase with $0 down, so it is possible to go from paying the utility to now paying the note on a solar system. See the specific finance terms provided by the lender of your choice.
What are upfront costs?
It does depend on the acquisition methods, but in many finance or lease options, it is possible to pay $0 up front and just go from paying SDGE to paying for the solar. With cash options, there is typically a down payment of some amount due to start work. See the specific terms provided by the installer of your choice.
How do I find choosing the right installer?
This will depend on a few factors, some of them specific to you. If you are looking more for a specific thing like a lease, or a specific kind of panel or technology, that may lead you in one direction. Whereas if you are looking for strictly a cash purchase option, you may consider a completely different installer. Ultimately the best fit for installer should be who can offer you the most benefit for your dollar on the terms that best fit what you are looking for. Just like buying a car, people buy different cars for different reasons.
What are my options if selling my home?
- With most Lease or Power Purchase Agreement options, there usually exists the opportunity to pass the payment on to the next homeowner; under this example, the incoming homeowner would simply assume the monthly payment you are leaving behind. Another alternative may be to buy out the lease. See the specific lease terms provided by the installer of your choice.
- For finance purchased systems, the loan may be required to be paid off with the sale of the home, several loans also allow the monthly payment be passed onto the next homeowner. See the specific finance terms provided by the lender of your choice.
What is the installation process like?
The actual installation of a solar system is surprisingly fast for the vast majority of homeowners. Expect to have a noticeable presence from the crew during regular work hours. Typical installations will take about three days, though, under just the right circumstances, some installations may be completed in one day. Your installer of choice will give you the details as they pertain to your home.
What is a suitable size system for my home?
- This is a question best answered by first considering how your household lives in the home.
- Do you anticipate a home occupancy change (additional occupants or kids going off to college)? That will change your electricity usage.
- Have you considered an electric car, or are you about to purchase an electric vehicle in the certain future?
- And the biggest cause for additional electricity usage: Air Conditioning. Are you currently just barely using AC? Would you use more AC if the cost of power wasn’t an arm and a leg? Or are you already using AC to a comfortable level and dealing with the monthly reminder in your inbox?
How do you estimate the size of a system?
Depending on some of the answers to how your home uses electricity, and how much electricity has been historically used, a system will be designed that best fits the profile of your home’s usage characteristics.
When do I stop paying the utility?
The utility acts like back up power for your home. When your solar is not producing power like at night, you will be using power from the grid. So, unless you go fully off-grid which means full self-generation and consumption with no grid ties which is usually comprised of a solar system, large battery bank, and a backup generator. Until you have legally severed your ties with the grid and have a power generation plan, you will not stop paying the utility.
What is the “payoff period”?
The payoff period for a cash buyer will be the moment in time when the annual savings on electricity otherwise purchased from the utility is equal to the net cost of installing the system.
Does solar increase property value?
This depends on who the buyer is and how you acquire the system now. Unlike other solar proposal sites, we aren’t going to paint a picture just to entice you to buy. Solar does increase the value of your property if the buyer understands the value of solar. It does not add value if the buyer of the home does not see the value of solar. In most cases, especially in cases where the cost of electricity is on the higher end of the spectrum, a home that costs less to operate may have a higher value.
Do I have to clean my solar panels?
In most cases, seasonal rains will keep your solar panels adequately cleaned. Things that may cause the need for additional cleaning may include some of the following:
- Tilt of the panels
- Proximity of dusty parcels of land
- Proximity of roads or agitators of land
- Proximity of trees or vegetation.
What kind of maintenance is there?
Systems installed with today’s technology (3.03.2018) will require very little if any maintenance. Inverters will eventually need replacement, but those installed today have minimum warranties of 12 years and in some cases as high as 25 years. Panels themselves don’t need maintenance unless you leave near a golf course or a baseball stadium with a good team.
What is my utility bill AFTER solar?
This will always depend on the amount of power you utilize after the system has been installed and also the cost of lower-tier power from your utility company. See the specific proposal details from the installer of choice.
Should I buy or lease?
Again, this is another example of why buying solar is something that should be done with ample thought and consideration while in the privacy of your own thoughts and in comfort, not sitting in front of a salesperson making quota. Some homeowners may benefit more from a purchase if they are more certain not to be
What kind of loans are there?
There are different kinds of loans available for financing solar systems. Typically they are unsecured loans with varying interest rates and fees relative to being unsecured. Secured loans are typically secured with real property on which they are installed. See the specific proposal details from the installer of choice.
What is the best loan option for me?
The best loan option for you should be weighed against what your goals are for going solar. You will see higher monthly savings with 20-year terms because you spread the payment, but you may pay more interest by taking this approach if you allow the loan get to maturation date. A shorter term may be a better fit if you’d like to pay the system off sooner and save on interest, but your post-solar savings will be minimized given the shorter term. Some people opt for longer terms and make additional payments against their minimum dues, thereby giving themselves the flexibility to default to the minimum payment at their leisure.
How much will I save?
The higher your current electricity costs are today, the more you will save, as a general rule. This is due to the way in which the majority of utilities charge for their electricity on a tiered level pricing basis. The higher volumes of electricity used, and in some cases the time of day used, the higher the cost per kilowatt hour. Some homes use very little power at the cost of comfort or quality of life, which sets an artificially low level of use. In a case like this, homeowners typically install for electricity production on a multiplier basis to cover future usage resulting from a more comfortable way of life in the home.