Solar PV (Photovoltaic) System: Frequently Asked Questions
Q. WHAT IS A SOLAR PV SYSTEM?
A. A Solar System is a device that generates electricity when exposed to sunlight. It literally spins the electric meter backwards, providing you free solar electricity day and night! A properly sized system will spin your meter backwards at maximum efficiency in the Central Valley an average of 6 hours a day over the course of the year (2000+ hours a year).
Discover how solar works by watching our short video. Click here.
Q. WHAT IS TIME-OF-USE (TOU) METERING?
A. A TOU plan from PG&E bases the price you pay for electricity on the time of day and the time of year you use energy. With TOU, you typically pay more for electricity during peak hours (Commonly between the hours of 9am and 7PM weekdays) in the summer. You pay less during all other hours (off-peak) and in the winter. TOU can be very beneficial to Solar PV owners since, under the net metering laws, the power company must credit you at retail rates for any excess power you produce. This means, if you can “sell” your excess electricity at peak rates and buy it back at off-peak rates, your PV system will have a greater impact on lowering your energy costs.
Q. IS A SOLAR PV SYSTEM RIGHT FOR YOU?
A. There are several excellent reasons to invest in a Solar PV System:
1.) A Solar PV System saves you money while producing clean, reliable energy that reduces your dependence on the utility grid.
2.) A Solar PV System will produce energy for 30+ years, protecting you against future rate increases.
3.) The equipment is relatively low-maintenance (no moving parts) and will increase the value of your property without increasing your property taxes.
Q. WHAT IS A GRID-TIED SOLAR PV SYSTEM?
A. A grid-tied Solar PV System’s output is directly linked through your meter to the distribution lines that normally provide you with electricity. The grid both effectively “stores” any excess power produced by your PV system and supplements power when your demand for electricity is greater than your opposite solar production. Grid-tied Solar PV Systems avoid the need for a costly battery storage system.
Q. HOW LONG WILL MY SOLAR PV SYSTEM LAST?
A. Power House Systems, Inc. uses PV panels with a 25-year limited warranty. Although panels have a useful life expectancy of more than 50 years, it is normal for panels to slowly degrade as they age, (on average .25 – .50% annually) causing some reduction in output. Inverters have a 10-25 year warranty.
Power House Systems, Inc. provides a standard 20-25 year warranty on all equipment to make sure that clients don’t have additional costs during this phase of the system’s life. Even with the cost of services and repairs, which are very minimal, the systems are very reliable and cost effective.
Q. HOW MUCH DOES A GRID-TIED SOLAR PV SYSTEM COST?
A. Due to the dramatic reduction in the cost of solar equipment over the past 10 years, now almost everyone can benefit from solar.
Many factors determine the final cost of a grid-tied PV System, such as: system size, type of mounting system, roof material and pitch, wiring runs and various other installation details. At present, a typical roof-mounted PV System costs from $3 to $4 per watt (DC) before rebates and tax credits. For example, a 2.5 kilowatt grid-tied system (approximately 2,880 to 3,200 DC watt input) now only costs around will cost $10,000 to $12,000 before state rebates and tax credits.
Soon, the federal 30% ITC Tax Credit will disappear, so there will never be a more cost-effective time to buy than right now.
Q. WHAT IS THE RETURN FOR A SOLAR PV SYSTEM? IS COST-EFFECTIVE?
A. The variables affecting the return on your PV System include: your electrical use, system size, future electric rates, available rebates and tax credits, loan amount and financing rate, and system output and performance, among others. Though it’s hard to determine your exact return, solar has been proven to pay back. Paying PG&E will never pay you back.
When you invest in a Solar PV System, your monthly payment will help increase the equity in your business rather than simply disappearing to PG&E. Plus, interest paid on your mortgages is tax-deductible.
The financial benefit of your Solar PV System will increase dramatically as electrical rates rise, because your loan payment will remain the same!
Q. HOW LONG WILL THE INSTALLATION TAKE?
A. 1.) Required approval from a homeowners’ association, including covenants, conditions, and restrictions that may exist,
2.) Permit problems or illegal structures or issues you anticipate if a building inspector visits the property,
3.) Roof condition, including need for (and cost of) repair or replacement before installation,
4.) Need for (and cost of) removing trees or other vegetation that may shade the Solar PV System area.
Q. CAN A SOLAR PV SYSTEM BE MOVED IF YOU RELOCATE YOUR BUSINESS?
A. Yes. Costs to move systems vary.
Q. IS FINANCING AVAILABLE?
HOW A PHOTOVOLATIC SYSTEM WORKS
Sunlight striking the solar panels is collected by solar wafers or “cells” and is converted into an electrical DC charge. This electrical charge is routed to an inverter, which converts the DC charge into usable voltage and AC electrical power. This power is then routed to your utility.
WHAT KIND OF PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS ARE AVAILABLE?
Three systems types are available:
Bill Reduction System (grid-tied) – This allows you to sell any excess power your system produces to the utility – at retail rates.
Blackout Protection Systems (grid-tied with batteries) – This provide limited backup power should your utility suffer a blackout or other energy disruption.
Off-Grid – used for sites which have no connection with the utility and operate entirely independently.