Solar FAQ’S

  • December 2, 2014

Frequently Asked Questions about Solar

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How does solar work?

Solar photovoltaic panels are made up of tiny silicon cells that collect solar radiation from the sun and convert it into an electrical current. The solar panels are all wired together creating a complete array. The electricity from the array travels into an inverter located on your property. The inverter then converts direct current (DC) from the array into alternating current (AC). This is the electricity that is used to run appliances, TVs, computers, etc. You are now harnessing the power of the sun.

Will a solar PV system work on my home, farm, or business?

There is a very good chance solar will work on any home, farm, or business. The biggest factor will be the amount of sunlight the property gets throughout the day. The second most important factor is the amount of open roof or ground space available at the property. Sunworks will visit your property and give you a FREE solar evaluation. While our project developers are at the property, they will survey the site to evaluate what size solar power system will fit within the property as well as your personal and financial needs.

How do I receive my credits for the solar energy produced?

When you begin to generate your own solar power, your electricity bill will drop significantly. How much you can save depends on the size of your solar system, your electricity usage and electric utility rate schedule. Any power that you don’t use from your solar electric system spins your meter backwards, and you receive a credit from your utility company. This is called Net Metering. The credits can be applied at retail rates, and in the middle of the day that means your credits add up quickly. You then draw the power back at night when rates are low. In most states, the more power you use, the more you are charged based on your tiered usage. Solar helps by eliminating your usage in the high tiers and thus brings down your bills by shaving off the expensive power first. This is called Tier Shaving. Lastly, electric rates have historically gone up at a higher rate than inflation over time. So the ability to fix your long term cost of energy yields a higher return on your investment over time.

Should I wait for new solar technology before I buy?

The answer is no. The time to invest in solar is right now with the generous tax rebates, state incentives, and with current technology you can’t go wrong. As long as the sun continues to shine and we continue to use electricity for our homes and businesses, the benefits of solar will not change. Sunworks offers many solar component options to our customers. Also, we continuously evaluate new solar technology and will offer it to our customers once it becomes a reliable and cost effective option.

How do I know what size solar system I’ll need?

Sunworks will help you make informed decisions when selecting a solar solution. We assist you with understanding the configurations available in today’s market including differences and trade-offs among various solutions. Our team will perform the due diligence necessary to gather data about your business, property lines, flood zones and local restrictions. We will also determine your required electrical capacity, solar metrics, and load characteristics. Using an in-depth, consultative approach, we will explore your site with an open mind and apply solutions that take every important factor into account. Sunworks will provide an accurate custom proposal to help the owner decide the best possible solution for them.

Is there maintenance required?

We will be your partner by operating, maintaining, and monitoring your system for optimal performance. Your system will be monitored by Sunworks based on live performance data that allows us to diagnose and address issues quickly. Our goal is to minimize any potential downtime so that you can focus on your core business. Sunworks technicians will check your components, analyze your annual energy production and determine when your solar panels need to be cleaned. We ensure that your system performs flawlessly over the course of its operational life.

Is solar power reliable and how long will it last?

Yes, solar technology has been around for over 50 years with many of the initial solar technology still in operation today. The solar systems being built today are extremely reliable and the solar panels used are designed to produce at least 80% of their initial power over 25 years. In fact, solar panels carry a manufacturer’s warranty of 25 years and the inverters carry a 10-year warranty. Our comprehensive 25-year warranty works in parallel with all the traditional manufacturer warranties. This 25-year warranty reflects our commitment to professionalism, trust, and service.

What solar panels do you offer?

Our in-house team includes seasoned, electrical and mechanical industry veterans who know the industry. They will select the proper components specifically tailored for your performance needs.  These components will minimize electrical loss during transmission,
optimize inverter loads and wire runs, and take advantage of design efficiencies. We will recommend components that are specific to your application needs to ensure maximum performance of your solar system. We have cultivated professional relationships with multiple manufacturers of panels, inverters and mounting systems. Through our extensive supply chain research, partner studies, and relationships with manufacturers, we will help you choose the products that will serve you best.

What happens when it’s dark or cloudy?

The solar system will produce its best energy in direct sunlight and will produce slightly less energy on a cloudy day. During the night, your system does not produce any energy. However, your Sunworks solar electric system is designed to draw enough power during the sunny days to offset the cloudy, rainy, and dark periods of the year. The solar system will be interconnected to the local utility grid so power can automatically be drawn from the grid whenever needed. No power interruptions will be experienced as the switch between the solar PV system and the utility grid happens seamlessly and effortlessly.

Is switching to solar power difficult?

Sunworks has designed, engineered and constructed over 7,000 solar projects. We understand the nature of utility integration and how it affects your long-term cost savings. Successful projects are dependent on coordination and connection with your local utility. We will determine when meter integrations or panel upgrades may be necessary, protecting you from costly surprises. We ensure maximum performance, a seamless interconnection process, and timely Permission to Operate (PTO). We will manage your solar project from beginning to end, including permitting, design, procurement, construction, operation and maintenance (O&M).

How long does it take to get a solar system up and running?

For a typical residential installation, it will take about 3-5 days and your typical agricultural and small commercial installation will take roughly 1-3 weeks from the day we begin the installation. The length of the projects time depends on the complexity of the property and the size of the system. Sunworks will include an estimated installation time in your custom designed Sunworks proposal.

What permits are needed?

As part of Sunworks service to you, we will obtain all building permits and design your system to meet required building codes. We will arrange for the electrical, building and utility inspections. Our project manager will be on-site to make sure that everything is up to code. Sunworks takes care of your project every step of the way so you don’t have to.

What if my roof is older and needs repairs?

It is ideal to install solar panels on a roof that is in good condition. While a Sunworks project developer is out at your property prior to the installation, he / she will check to make sure that your roof is structurally sound for a solar installation. Then once the solar panels are installed, they actually help to protect your roof from the elements.

I wonder if a solar system makes financial sense for me?

Sunworks will provide you with a set of financial solutions that establish the path toward long-term stability, predictability and cost savings. We work with design engineers to develop a financial model that considers all rebate programs and interconnection efficiency to achieve the highest returns possible. You will save money on electrical costs for years to come as well as increase the value of your home, farm, or commercial building. Typically our solar customers see a Return-On-Investment (ROI) within 3-8 years. With some areas offering greater rebates and incentives you might be able to pay back your system sooner.

When going solar, what rebates and incentives are available?

When someone decides to go solar, many times the fact that the incentives and rebates are both real and substantial is a large factor. Both the state and the federal government offer a combination of incentives and tax credits that offsets some of the total systems cost. These are tremendous financial incentives to homes, farms, or businesses that choose solar. An important thing to keep in mind is that these government programs are that most rebates decline over time. So now is the time to take advantage of these incentives while the rebates are still high.

Click here for more information on the California Solar Initiative.

Disclaimer: You should always confirm the availability of the incentives and consult your tax advisor about the eligible solar financial benefits.

When do I realize the Investment Tax Credit (ITC)?

The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar electric systems is 30 percent of the cost, un-capped for both residential and commercial solar installations. You will realize the ITC tax credit when you file your tax returns.

Should I notify my home owner’s insurance if I go solar?

Sunworks recommends that homeowners contact their insurance carrier prior to installation to determine the impact solar might have on the yearly premium. Typically, a homeowner will see very little impact on their premium from the installation of a solar electric system; however it is still in your best interest that you ensure coverage at the start of your project. In addition, Sunworks recommends that even though solar systems come with a long term manufacturer and workmanship warranty, your homeowners or liability insurance should cover the cost of any unexpected accidents, or weather related issues.

Does Sunworks have financing options available?

Sunworks offers a variety of financing options to fit your specific needs and budget for your home or business. We recommend custom tailored solutions that are suitable for your unique cash flow and tax requirements considering various ownership models, including direct purchase, equipment lease, capital lease, debt financing and power purchase agreement (PPA). Our solar purchase and lease structures are designed to provide you with the most appropriate options and competitive rates available.

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