Here are some common questions about Solar Energy.
How Solar Energy Works
What is photovoltaics (solar electricity) or "PV"?
The word has two parts: photo, a stem derived from the Greek phos, which means light, and volt, Photovoltaics could literally be translated as light-electricity; they convert light energy to electricity.
What are the components of a photovoltaic (PV) system?
A PV system is made up of different components. These include PV modules (groups of PV cells), which are commonly called PV panels; one or more batteries; a charge regulator or controller for a stand-alone system; an inverter for a utility-grid-connected system and when alternating current (ac) rather than direct current (dc) is required; wiring; and mounting hardware or a framework.
How long do photovoltaic (PV) systems last?
A PV system that is designed, installed, and maintained well will operate for more than 20 years. The basic PV module (interconnected, enclosed panel of PV cells) has no moving parts and can last more than 30 years. The best way to ensure and extend the life and effectiveness of your PV system is by having it installed and maintained properly. Experience has shown that most problems occur because of poor or sloppy system installation.
How do I know if I have enough sunlight for PV?
A photovoltaic (PV) system needs unobstructed access to the sun’s rays for most or all of the day. Shading on the system can significantly reduce energy output by 50%. Climate is not really a concern, because PV systems are relatively unaffected by severe weather. In fact, some PV modules actually work better in colder weather. Most PV modules are angled to catch the sun’s rays, so any snow that collects on them usually melts quickly. There is enough sunlight to make solar energy systems useful and effective nearly everywhere in California.
Watts, Kilowatts (KW), Kilowatt Hours (KWh) - What are you talking about?
To begin, a kilowatt is a metric that equals 1,000 watts of power. Wattage, in turn, is a capacity metric that indicates how much power a device can provide over a relative amount of time.
Watt-hours and kilowatt-hours define the amount of work performed or energy used in one hour of time. A simple analogy is that speed is a metric that defines distance travelled over a period of time while energy is a metric that defines power used over a period of time. Using that same 1,000-watt microwave for an hour would use up 1 kilowatt-hour of energy.
When talking about residential energy use, it is most common to use kilowatt-hours. Your monthly energy bill will report your usage with this metric, and when evaluating energy upgrades such as a solar installation, companies will talk about what size your system would need to be in kW in order to meet your kWh needs.
For example, the average U.S. household uses 11,000 kWh of energy each year (according to the latest data from the Energy Information Administration). Using that information, we can estimate that monthly energy use is roughly 915 kWh and daily energy use is about 30 kWh for the average home in the United States.
Are there codes or covenants that prohibit solar?
No codes or covenants can restrict the installation of a solar system. Our Energy Specialist checks for any codes or covenants that may present a challenge and resolves concerns directly with your covenant director or HOA.
What about inspections and permits?
We’ll take care of it all! We’ll work with you and your city to try and accommodate your busy schedule when getting inspections. Each city has its own rules on scheduling and we will work to find a day that works best for you. We take care of the whole process.
How are you mounting the system onto my roof? Is it going to create leaks?
This is one of the areas that Eco Solar Home really prides itself. Unlike competitors systems, our mounting system is installed into the structure of your home or building, right into the truss below the roof. This will stay sealed and won’t move with expansion or contraction, therefore it will not move or create holes. If there are any rare cases of penetration to your roof, it is completely covered under your warranty.
Our mounting system has proven to be the most reliable and safest method of installation in the industry, which is why roofers consistently recommend us over the competition.
Should I Re-roof before installing solar panels?
If you add solar to your roof today and then a few years later wanted to reroof, it’s not that expensive to quickly remove the panels from the roof, re-roof, and put them back on. In most cases, the amount of power that you would have saved by installing solar is greater than the cost to remove and reinstall the panels, so it would actually cost you more to wait.
If you plan on re-roofing this year, we suggest you go ahead and do it at the same time as the solar installation. This way, our installation team can work with your roofer and we can make sure that your roof warranty is preserved. It’s extremely common for roofers and solar installers to work together on projects.
How big should my solar energy system be?
This depends on how much electricity your home or building uses, the size of your roof, and what percentage of your energy use you want to produce with solar. Solar energy system sizes for residential homeowners usually range from 2 kW to 10 kW. Commercial systems can range from 25 kW to well over 100 kW
Why should I buy a solar energy system from Eco Solar Home Improvement?
Three reasons: Quality, Experience, and Integrity. We don’t just put a solar energy system on your property and leave it at that. We want you to get the most out of your new investment. We provide several comprehensive services to optimize your new system and we work with you on every detail of the system to deliver a customized product that meets all your wants and needs. Everything is turn-key, so your system can be installed while you’re at work, with most installations lasting only 1 to 2 days.
Our installation team is one of the most experienced in the state and many years of experience on the job. They are truly craftsmen with a keen eye for quality and aesthetics – so you end up with a beautiful addition to your property that is as good as it looks.
Price for Solar Panels
Why should I purchase a PV system?
Compared to the power you are buying right now from the electric utility, solar power can cost half as much per kWh.
Example: Today you are buying electricity from the utility at $.12/kWh and over 3 years time, you could be paying up to $.20/kWh as the cost of electricity increases over time (FACT: 4% annual increase in electricity costs based on historical data). When you produce your own power with solar, you could be paying $.08/kWh and you would NOT be subject to any inflation so you can lock in your electricity rate forever! (Solar energy is not stored unless you have an energy storage component such as batteries.) During the day, you will use the solar energy in your home. If you produce more than you are using, you will sell that power back to the grid in the form of “store credit.” Then you buy it back at night or on days when you use a lot of energy. If you produce more than you use on average for the month, the extra amount carries over to the next month.
How many panels do I need? How much do they cost?
This is maybe our most common question. In order to know how many panels you need, our solar consultants must determine your annual kilowatt usage through a year’s worth or an estimate of your year’s worth of electrical bills. Based on those needs, we’ll know how many panels you require. Cost varies from panel to panel, as well as your shading analysis and solar system layout, and we custom select which panels are right for your home. Because we work with so many options, the best way is to simply schedule a 45-minute no-cost, no obligation solar consultation today at 323-736-1949
Can I finance the cost of a solar energy system?
Absolutely. We have close relationships with local banks and lending companies that offer loans for solar energy systems. We will discuss all available financing options with you before, We will work with you to find the best financial solution for you. Generally, the payments for the system amount is at or below what you would normally pay for the electricity. This allows you to lock in today’s energy rates for the future. As the price of electricity rises, your payments will stay the same. At the end of your loan, all further production will be free.
If I install solar, am I “off the grid”?
Not fully. Although there are state-of-the-art battery back-ups to now store as much DC solar energy that you convert into AC power as possible, you’re still connected to the utility company. Think of it like an ATM: in the daytime, you overproduce your home’s energy needs and deposit it into your bank vault (your utility company). At night time when the sun is gone and you need electricity, you withdraw your deposits and your utility company is happy to return the energy because you’ve already given them so much. The excess amount each year can, in some cases, be sold back to you or you can always have it go against your next year’s worth of usage. This is all tracked through your net meter.
What incentives and rebates are available from the state or government?
Residential and commercial customers receive a 30% Federal Tax Credit. For commercial, there is no cap on the tax credit and solar costs can be depreciated over 5 years (accelerated depreciation). Other local incentives are available depending on your specific address. Our Energy Specialist will share applicable incentives with you and walk you through the application process.
Recently extended to 2020, Uncle Sam is covering the bill for 30% of your gross cost. You can then subtract any local rebates from that reduced cost. The credit and rebates you receive can then be re-amortized into your cost to allow you to achieve a cash-positive savings plan as soon as year one.
How is a solar electric system designed, installed, and maintained?
You could install a photovoltaic (PV) or solar electric system yourself. But to avoid complications or injury, you will probably want to hire a reputable professional contractor with experience in installing solar systems. PV systems have few moving parts, so they require little maintenance. The components are designed to meet strict dependability and durability standards so they can stand up to the elements. However, they are fairly sophisticated electronic systems, so installation usually requires the knowledge and experience of a licensed electrical equipment contractor.If it’s designed correctly, a solar system might be able to provide power during a utility power outage, thereby adding power reliability to your home. Finally, some individuals live in areas where the cost of extending power lines to their home is more expensive than buying a solar energy system.
What happens if the light goes out?
Most solar power systems are connected directly to your home or business and the electrical grid. Some solar power systems have an energy storage component which provides backup power during a power outage. If you have ever been without power, you may feel that adding energy storage is critical to your home or business. Fortunately there are many options we can provide for backup power such as the Tesla Powerwall.
Do your systems include a warranty? What about the installation?
Each of our systems come with a “worry-free” warranty on the installation and labor. This guarantees that it is fully functional and installed to your complete satisfaction. The specific warranty for your system and parts will depend on the type of solar energy solution you’ve had installed. Warranty terms generally range from 10-25 years.
What are some things that aren’t covered in the warranty?
Nature and acts of God are not covered under any manufacturer warranty. Prior to installation a survey of existing condition of the buyer’s property (such as the roof and electrical equipment) will be conducted to insure a proper installation. Simple homeowner maintenance and inspections are required to ensure the system will last for many years.
Eco Home Solutions
What other energy savings solutions do you provide?
Eco energy solutions are your answer to all of your home or business energy needs through the industry’s most energy efficient, top rated, and bill saving improvements. Eco Solar Home offers a complete list of upgrades including: Cool Roof Installation, Heat Resistant Pain, High-Efficiency HVAC, Pool Pumps, double- or triple-pane Windows and Doors, LED lighting, and much more.
What is Title 24?
This is the name for California’s Energy Commission’s energy efficiency standards, which have saved Californians billions in reduced electricity bills since 1977. These standards conserve electricity and natural gas and prevent the state from having to build more power plants. The Commission accounts for the savings by using forecasting models for residential and commercial energy consumption. The savings are calculated by determining the energy savings associated with a more efficient building standard or appliance. Savings accumulate over time as older equipment and appliances are replaced with newer, more efficient models and older buildings are retired and replaced with new construction. Many of SolReliable’s Green Energy Solutions, such as double- or triple-pane windows and doors, are directly recommended by Title 24.
Cool Roof shingles
To keep your energy costs under control and preserve your property and possessions, we ensure every roof repair is done right to help resolve any issues you’ve been experiencing.
We offer our customers with a warranty on our labor, so you’ll feel secure for the long-term. If you do decide to replace your roof, Eco Solar Home can install a new energy efficient COOL roof for your home, which will not only shelter your home from the elements, but will also reduce your home’s HVAC energy bills.
What is HVAC?
HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning. Essentially, HVAC refers to the systems that heat your home, cool your home, and the ducting that ensures it’s all carried out.
What kind of remodeling do you provide?
Kitchen, bathrooms, patios, architectural plans, new construction, and more. We can draft new plans or work with existing plans. We receive great joy from hearing your remodeling dreams and crafting them into reality.
How long do remodeling projects last?
Every remodeling project is different and we approach each uniquely. Consequently, the answer to this question will only be obtainable once a green remodeling project manager has assessed your needs. Remodeling projects have been as short as a few weeks to as long as months of work to complete. It simply depends on the scope of work involved.
Utility rates and utility rate structures are subject to change and cannot be accurately predicted. Your electricity usage may also vary from month to month. Projected savings from your solar system are therefore subject to change. Tax incentives are subject to change or termination by executive, legislative or regulatory action.