Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What should I expect after my solar is installed?

A: Your electric bill goes away as your system produces energy. Energy is a net agreement (PG&E sells it to other people), then you get a credit when electricity goes back onto the grid.

Q: What is net metering?

A: We’ll work with PG&E to install a net metering system. Net metering allows you to use your utility company as the storage of your energy. As you produce watts of electricity, your meter will literally spin backwards and, as you use electricity at night, you will pull this from the grid as you have in the past.

Q: What is the process for switching to solar?

1. Once you pick up the phone and call Earth Electric, we’ll examine your monthly energy usage and determine the size system you’ll need (see next question below).
2. A custom quote will be delivered to you within 24 hours.
3. From here, we will set up a site survey to measure your roof and make sure the solar energy system will work with your current electrical system.
4. We then send you a contract to sign.
5. Once the contract is signed, we draw up the plan, pull a permit from the city/county, and schedule your home for installation (installation is generally complete within 2-3 weeks of signing the contract).
6. We call the city/county and schedule the inspection.
7. Once we pass inspection, we take the inspection card and submit all paperwork for Net Energy Metering from PG&E (typically takes 1-2 weeks).
8. Connection is approved by PG& E and they submit a Permission to Operate letter – you’re ready to press GO!

Q: How do I know what size solar energy system I need?

A: This depends on your average energy usage and how much energy you want to produce. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” here folks. Earth Electric can help you understand how to interpret your monthly energy consumption and how it can be balanced by solar energy production in the most effective way possible. Each month has different sun hours and we’ll need to examine when your usage is highest.

Q: What is the PACE program?

A: PACE (Properly Assessed Clean Energy) Programs allow property owners to fund their energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water efficiency improvements with little or no money down. The program is based on home equity and is paid off over time through their existing property taxes.

Q: Do solar panels work on foggy or cloudy days?

A: If the California drought has done anything, it’s increased our days of sunshine, but you might not suspect that solar panels also work well on foggy or overcast days. Solar panels are very efficient in cooler temperatures and fog can actually enhance morning light to produce more energy!

Q: How does solar energy work?

A: Solar panels consist of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. The inverter is what then converts the DC electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity that powers your home.

Q: What are the current government rebates or credits?

A: Unfortunately the California Solar Incentive has run it’s course and is no longer available. However, the Federal Tax Credit is still very much available and provides a 30% credit for your federal taxes. This is a credit, not a rebate, so in order to qualify, you have to have paid in that amount (this is not generally a problem for most working families).

Q: How much does solar energy cost?

A: It’s tough to nail down a single value, but many Californians can install solar for under $10,000. Variables include the size of the system you want to install, how much energy you use, and the rebates/credits available that offset the total cost. Years until the system has paid for itself is determined by how much energy your system will produce.

Q: Will my solar energy system have a warranty?

A: California State law says contractors must offer a 10 year warranty. We offer a 15 year warranty. We will repair at no charge during that 15 years any issues to do with workmanship. Manufacturers also typically provide a 25-40 year product warranty.

Q: How long do I have to wait to see the savings?

A: Electricity bill savings will begin as soon as your system is connected. An average homeowner will notice a 10-30% savings within the first year, and those savings will be greater each year as energy rates continue to rise.

Q: What are the differences between micro inverters and string inverters?

A: Micro Inverter – A small weatherproof inverter installed behind each solar module. Converts the DC power generated by the solar panel into AC power right at the panel. This is a new development in solar power.
String Inverter – Also called a central inverter. With these, solar panels are connected together into strings and the DC power is wired to a large inverter in a central location. It converts the power for all the modules at once. This has been the traditionally approach over the last 40 years.

Q: What solar brands do you work with and/or recommend?

A: We are brand neutral and have no exclusive agreement with any manufacturer, which means you get the best product for your budget. Our top sellers are LG and Solar World, but we can also install any other brand. We have moved away from ET Solar and Canadian Solar brands because of all the issues they’ve had in the past.

Q: Is it better to lease or purchase a solar energy system?

A: With lease and PPA contract options, you can end up trading your monthly electric bill for payments to third-party financing companies. When you purchase or finance your own system, you’ll experience immediate savings and your system will end up being cheaper in the long run. Owning the system increases your property value and allows the system to be covered under homeowner’s insurances.

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for a free custom energy analysis, rooftop survey, and estimate.