Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What should I expect after my solar is installed?
A: Your electric bill goes down and away as your system produces energy. Energy is exchanged with the utility as a net agreement, then you get a credit when electricity goes back onto the grid.
Q: What is net energy metering (NEM)?
A: We’ll work with PG&E (and some local municipal utilities) to implement a net metering agreement on your behalf. Net metering allows you to use your utility company as the storage of your energy. As you produce electricity over and above your consumption, your meter will literally spin backwards for credits. The utility then sells that electricity to others nearby.
Q: What is the process for switching to solar?
1. We’ll examine your monthly energy usage and determine the a system size to cover around 100% of that usage.
2. A custom quote will be delivered to you via email within a day or two in most cases and then we’ll chat about the details and options on the phone.
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.
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 electrical usage and how much energy you want to produce. Most people want to offset around 100% of their electricity bills but there’s no “one-size-fits-all” here folks. Earth Electric will evaluate your actual monthly usage and compare it to the associated number of sun hours in order to calculate your system size, including future plans for expansion if appropriate.
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 as opposed to credit scores and is paid off over time via existing property tax payments (in most cases). The interest can be high, however, and pay close attention to the fine print about what happens when or if you have to sell your home before the loan is paid off.
Q: Do solar panels work on foggy or cloudy days?
A: Solar panels are very efficient in cooler temperatures and fog can actually enhance morning light to produce more energy! A solar panel finds its happy place at around 77 degrees with direct sunlight and clear air but will generally convert any sunshine that it can get it’s face on.
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 ran its course several years ago and is no longer available. However, the Federal Tax Credit (ITC) is still very much available and provides a 26% credit for your federal taxes in 2021 and 2022. This is a credit, not a rebate, so always check with your tax professional to confirm you’ll be able to take advantage of it. If you’re buying storage as well, the SGIP rebate can still help offset some of the cost. Be aware that the process is long and tedious and credit calculations could change between the time you purchase your system and apply for the credit. Definitely take advantage of it but it’s best to count on it only when you have the rebate check in your hand.
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 25 year warranty that includes 5 years of labor and a 10 year roof 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 under each solar module. Converts the DC power generated by the solar panel into AC power right at the panel. The most popular and established company in this space is Enphase Energy.
String Inverter – Also called a central inverter. Older technology would force each string of modules to operate as a unit and at the lowest point of production. Newer technology pairs the inverter with a DC optimizer which allows each panel to produce at its highest capability. The most popular and established company in this space is SolarEdge Technologies.
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 Hanwha, but we can also install most brands (except SunPower).
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.