Find answers to many of our Frequently Asked Questions about solar energy.
Going Solar- The Basics
Is going solar environmentally friendly?
According to a case study done by the Centre of Renewable Energy Sources, and The Department of Environmental Engineering Solar energy technologies, Solar Energy Technologies provide obvious environmental advantages in comparison to other conventional energy sources. Some of these advantages include the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the prevention of toxic gas emissions, the ability to reclaim degraded and unused land, a reduction of required transmission lines of the electricity grids, and the improvement of the quality of water resources.
While sometimes it may be difficult to see the direct environmental impacts of going solar, if you step back and look at the big picture, Solar Energy and renewable resources are ways as individuals that we can support our planet. Our current energy resources are finite, making the switch to solar energy means you can collect and utilize a natural resource, with unlimited potential, without doing extra damage to the planet.
What does it mean to be Energy Independent?
Another step towards energy independence is being able to keep the lights on in the event of a Public Safety Power Shut off. A solar system alone won’t keep your power on, but if you have solar panels partnered with Battery Storage, like an LG Chem system, you can stay up and running when everything else goes dark. Being energy independent can be your families and businesses’ solution to combating PSPS.
The Cost Of Going Solar
How does your solar system pay for itself over time?
What is the Solar Tax Credit?
Does going Solar Increase my property value?
How much does a solar system cost?
Can I sell back my Excess energy to the grid?
How do I compare Solar Energy Bids?
What is included in your bid should be the cost of any hardware needed, panels, labor, permitting, paperwork and installers business expenses. Some items will vary depending on if you are installing a solar battery system and/or need work done to your roof.
Some additional items to compare are price per watt, warranties offered, the quality of the solar equipment you will be installing, and the financing options for your solar system.
Is going Solar in California a good financial option?
Installing Solar Power
What can I expect during a Simply Solar Installation?
When the sun comes up on Day 2 it is time for the team to to finish up any work that needs to be done including the DC conduit connection to the roof inverters… or in regular terms, all electrical connections will be checked to ensure when it’s time to flip the switch to ON that is also time to celebrate a fully functioning solar panel system!
How to prepare for a Solar Energy Consultation?
- Is your roof in the right shape or are there some repairs that need to be done? You don’t want a shiny new solar system on a less than optimal roof!
- Is your home in the right location to collect solar energy? We assess the shading, any other obstructions, and the direction your home faces. There are some alternatives to roof installation, like a ground mount solar panel system.
- We will look over your existing bills and how long you have owned your home to assess what the costs will look like and how to maximize your return on investment.
- We will look through energy storage options, and see if that makes sense for your installation and the usage you want to get out of your system.
There is a lot of info out there about Solar Power in the Bay Area. We are here to remove the intimidation, help you simplify, and make the best renewable energy choice for you.
What solar permits do I need, and how long do they take to clear?
What could cause delays when installing my solar system?
Solar Battery Storage
What does a Solar Battery do and why do I need it?
The most appealing impact of a solar battery is they can ensure you have backup power when the power goes down. PSPS shutoff? County wide black out? No thanks, not for you! Your home or business will keep the lights on while everyone else’s power goes out. Now keep in mind that the battery has limits, so I wouldn’t plug in and be playing your electric guitar when the power goes out, but charging your phone and letting Hendrix play guitar for you is totally fine. Your solar consultant will give you the full lowdown of how much battery backup you will need!
How much solar battery storage do I need?
Can I add a solar battery if I already have a pre-existing solar system?
What’s the difference between AC and DC Battery?
DC or direct current flows in one DIRECTion. Direct current energy is what your solar panels collect. The way that this direct current energy is used for your home is through the inverter that is required to run any solar system.
So what’s the difference between an AC battery like a Tesla Powerwall and a DC battery like an LG Chem Resu? When you collect DC energy from your panels, it has to convert to AC energy to power the home. If you have an AC battery, it has to convert from DC to AC a second time to power the panels to then power your home. During this process you actually lose some of the energy you could have stored or sold back to the grid. When you utilize a DC battery system, the energy only has to go through the inverter to AC power once, meaning your system loses less energy during the conversion process. Losing less power translates to more energy for your home, and more money in your pocket.
Living With Solar Power
Will my solar still work if it is not sunny out?
This is also where NEM (net energy metering) comes to the rescue. Excess solar energy generated by your panels during max sunlight times will offset energy the cost of energy that you pull from the grid when you pull from it at night or other times when your system isn’t operating at full capacity. A bonus to staying connected to the grid.
How do I best protect my solar system from a disaster? (earthquakes, rain, fires)
A trusted solar installer will ensure that building and fire codes are always taken into account when installing your solar panels. The racking systems that hold the panels to the roof, when installed properly, can withstand very high winds, and even minor earthquakes.
The impacts of most disasters are out of our control. One thing that a Solar system can provide during some disasters that cause us to lose power, is a sense of security, because if the power goes out, and your system is set up with battery storage, you can keep the lights on.
What are some reasons my energy usage increases, and how do I avoid these increases?
More people vs less people living in your home/on property after original system sizing will dramatically impact your energy usage. If you plan on having your mother/grandfather/best friend move in in the near future, it is important to let your solar consultant know this. Typical kWH usage per person in a home is 250kW-300kW hours per month, i.e. the more people living in your home, the more solar panels you will need.
If you add new or large electrical devices to your solar system this will affect your usage. Some high impact devices include AC Units, Hot Tubs, and those tiny Space Heaters that we have all used at one time or another.
Your solar panel provider can use an amp meter to provide an energy audit to assess where the additional kW usage is coming from.
At the end of the day, don’t let your PG&E bill shock you. A few ways to be vigilant and energy efficient are, using energy efficient light bulbs and appliances, turning off the lights, turning off and unplugging appliances, being cognizant of what electricity you are using daily, monthly, etc.
How do Solar Cells work in a solar panel?
The DC electricity then flows to the frequently referenced solar system inverter, where it’s converted to the type of electricity that is needed to power your home, alternating current (AC) electricity.
How long does a solar panel last?
Now just because your panel’s lifetime reaches 25-30 years, this doesn’t mean your solar system just stops working and you lose your solar power, it just means the amount of electricity they produce decreases.
Proper care and cleaning to keep them in tip-top shape guarantees you will receive the most significant solar savings possible during the next 25 to 30 years.
Our top three tips to making your panels last longer: A great solar provider that has your back, keeping them cleaned and maintained, and saying kind things to them daily to make them happy. Okay, that last one might have been a joke.
Where do you place your solar panels?
Different roof types will require different solar mounting systems. I.E. how you mount on a flat roof vs a pitched roof. Panels are placed in groups together or arrays, which is an ordered series. The perfect roof pitch for solar panels is equal to the latitude and the location of the installation. Don’t worry you don’t need to stare at a map and figure out the distance that you are from the equator, your Bay Area solar specialist will do that for you.
Alas, at the end of the day if you do not have a great place on the roof for your solar panels, you can always ground mount your system. Ground mount solar panels can be a great option for home and business owners alike because then your roof type and direction of your home do not matter.